Gabriel walked with his head down eyes glued to the open book in front of him. His knees buckled as he tripped over something in his path. His book and backpack went flying scattering his things on the sidewalk. Pain radiated from his knees from the sudden impact with the hard cement. Blinking he pulled his feet beneath as he tried in vain to figure out what he had tripped over.
The answer became apparent when a harsh voice above him asked "what do we have here?" Gabriel watched as JB nonchalantly picked up his book reading the title aloud for everyone to hear "How to Build a Time Machine." The snickers and laughter from the growing crowd of students was enough to make anyone cringe.
Ignoring him for the moment Gabriel gathered his scattered things shoving them into his backpack. Standing he faced the boy "JB" he held his hand out "my book please."
"Come and get it" the boy challenged holding the book just out of reach.
Scanning the crowd Gabriel noted the identical smirks and glee in their eyes as they anticipated his coming humiliation. "Just give me the book" Gabriel said trying to reach for it only to have JB toss it to another boy who giggled derisively at the sudden game of keep away.
"You want it" the boy taunted "come and get it."
Before Gabriel could react someone darted from the crowd. A blur of pink hair ran past him knocking the boy down. Taking advantage of Landon's surprise attack. Gabriel grabbed his book before launching himself at JB.
It didn't take long for the crowd of excited students to draw the attention of the teachers. A few minutes later Gabriel and Landon were standing side by side in front of the school principle.
"Fighting of any kind is prohibited on school grounds" the man said giving each boy a disapproving look.
Landon glanced over his shoulder "where's JB and Ron? They started it."
"I don't care who started it" the man snapped "I'm ending it. Your parents have been called."
Landon's eyes narrowed "why aren't the others in here? Aren't they in as much trouble as we are for starting the fight?" He gave the older man a bold glare "or are they exempt because they're normal?"
"Landon don't" Gabriel pleaded.
"Don't what?" he demanded "the man is obviously a homophobe. Those other boys are as much at fault as we are for fighting but they're not in here. We are. Why? Because are parents are gay."
"Your parents sexual perver.....err...preferences has nothing to do with my decision to suspend you for fighting," the principle advised them.
"Yeah tell it to someone who cares," Landon mumbled "if that were true the others would be in here too."
"Your parents have been called" the man said pointing towards his office door "you can wait for them in the lobby."
Clearly dismissed the boys left the room under the baleful glare of the principle. Sitting down Gabriel hissed "why did you have to get involved?"
"You weren't doing anything" Landon glared at him "was I supposed to let JB turn you into the laughing stock of the school?"
Shrugging Gabriel sighed "I already am. Why should this be any different?"
"You don't give yourself enough credit" Landon protested "besides your my brother. I wasn't going to let anyone treat you like that."
"What do you think we should do?" Andrew asked turning to his husband.
"I think" Charlie stopped gt up and and walked over to the window.
Andrew followed him with his eyes "you think Landon's right don't you?"
Nodding Charlie ran a hand through his hair "every once in a while an asshole comes along and reminds me...." Charlie turned towards the man he loved more than life itself "I'm sorry. I wish it wasn't this way. I don't condone fighting. The boys deserve what they got. It's not right the other boys involved weren't suspended as well."
Andrew stood up joining Charlie by the window threading his fingers with Charlies "that's what I was afraid of." He spoke quietly "it doesn't help that Gabriel is so obsessed with time travel. It opens him up to ridicule."
"I'm sure that's what started all of this," Charlie sighed "Landon said the boys tripped him to take his book."
Smiling fondly Andrew surmised "a time travel book no doubt."
"What else does our son read?" he chuckled softly "it's just his bad luck that the principle is a jerk."
"Maybe it's time we consider home school for Gabriel" Andrew suggested.
"I'd like him to develop interests outside of time travel," Charlie said an obstinate edge in his voice.
"That's just it" Andrew said reaching up to stroke Charlie's cheek "he's not. He's still focused on time travel. He has his heart set on it. It's time we accept that this is what he wants."
Silently Charlie pulled Andrew close "I know...I'm not ready to let him go."
"I never said we had to let him go" Andrew held onto Charlie tighter "that's an impossibility. He's our son."
"We're going to have to someday" Charlie murmured. Pulling Andrew close "it's our job to make sure he's ready when he goes."
"I know but I'll never let go" Andrew shook his head "he's our son. I'll carry him in my heart always."
"And mine" Charlie smiled finally accepting what Andrew was telling him "that's an always and forever thing."
"What brings you here" Andrew asked somewhat surprised to find his sister knocking at his door.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded walking past him as bossy as ever. "I had to hear it from Elissa."
"Hear what?" he asked somewhat confused. Not an unusual feeling when dealing with his twin.
"That the boys have been suspended from school." she gave him an exaggerated sigh. "That's unfair when the other boys involved in the altercation are still in school."
Andrew turned to Randy in greeting to give himself time to digest Indira's words. Randy gave him a rueful grin "you know how she gets when she knows she's right."
"You could sue the school for discrimination." Indira continued walking across the floor, her heels tapping on the tile. "The principle clearly has issues with you as parents. It's a gross misuse of power if you ask me."
Charlie couldn't help but laugh at her "aren't you the one who told us this was the way we'd be treated? You made Andrew miserable trying to keep us apart."
"Yes I know and I'm sorry" her voice contrite "that was awful of me. Will I be forever haunted by my past mistakes?"
To everyone's astonishment real tears trickled down her cheeks marring the perfection of her makeup. "No of course not" Andrew hugged her close "in your own weird way you were looking out for me."
Sniffling she dried her eyes "thank you." She looked towards Randy thankful that despite everything he had ultimately decided to stick by her "I had good friends and family who never gave up on me."
Putting an arm around her Randy kissed her cheek. "We all make mistakes. The problem now is learning from them."
"I know. That's why I want to fight this suspension" Indira said her voice rising as her indignation was reignited. "As a former idiot I want to make amends and fight on behalf of my nephews."
"We appreciate that" Andrew said feeling Charlie draw him close to his side. "What point would we be making? I don't want to do anything that will make my children's lives more difficult in that school. The girls haven't had any problems yet and I'd like to keep it that way."
"Do you know that for sure?" Indira asked "are they just saying what you want to hear?"
"If you think they'll open up to you. You're welcome to talk to them" Charlie said. He hoped she was wrong though. He didn't want anymore worries to have to deal with on top of what was happening with the boys.
"Excuse me" Andrew cried covering his mouth and running from the room.
"Is he?" Indira pointed at Andrew's retreating figure, mouth open wide. "What's wrong with you? You already have five kids."
"Indira" Randy cautioned squeezing her hand.
"That'll be six kids" she sounded appalled at the mere idea.
"I know" he said softly "be thankful it's not you."
Leaning towards Charlie she gave him a glare, "Haven't you heard of birth control?"
"Yeah" Charlie could feel his patience slipping the way it always did whenever he was near his sister-in-law. "You know what they say? Nothings a 100% except abstinence." That was another concern he had. Starting over with twins when the older kids were almost grown. He stood up "if you will excuse me I should check on Andrew."
Randy stood up as well, "we'll see ourselves out."
"But I haven't spoken to the girls yet" Indira protested
"We'll do it later" Randy said taking her by the elbow guiding towards the front door. "Tell Andrew goodbye for us."
"I'll do that" Charlie said grateful that Randy was able to handle Indira as well as he could. He knew that was no small task despite all the changes she had made. She was still a challenge. He for one could only take her in small doses.
"They wouldn't talk to me," Emmaline said to the unspoken question that hung in the air.
"I thought for sure they'd open up to you" Andrew sighed.
"As much as I hate to say it but Indira may be right." Emmaline laughed at their astonished faces "yes I know. That principle is a prized pig. Those boys Gabe and Landon tangled with are his nephews. So it's not a simple case of homophobia. Nepotism maybe."
"I don't want our kids going back to that school" Andrew stated. "I know that Gabriel brings a lot of attention to himself with his obsession with time travel but it's still no excuse for others to bully him."
"That's no excuse for anyone to be bullied" Emmaline said heatedly.
"Sweetie calm down," Nathan said putting an arm around her. "You know what the doctor said."
"I know. I'm sorry." She smiled at him before turning her attention back to Charlie and Andrew. "Have you considered private school?"
"We have" Charlie nodded.
"I think its best the girls stay together" Andrew added "Gabe I think will be better off being home schooled."
"You know if we let him home school, Landon will want to stay too" Charlie pointed out.
"Then he'll home school on the condition he does the work. If he doesn't he goes back to school," Andrew said crossing his arms.
"Do you thick you can handle the two of them?" Charlie asked. "You'll have your hands full with the twins."
"Oh" Emmaline cried excitedly "you're pregnant too?"
"Don't you remember Indira telling us?" Nathan asked.
"No" she shook her head "to be honest I blank a lot of things Indira says."
"To be fair she didn't exactly say you were pregnant," Nathan continued. "Just that it was irresponsible to have more than two kids in this day and age."
"She's never been one to hold back her opinion" Emmaline rolled her eyes. "I think it's wonderful though. You're such good parents." She reached over taking her husbands hand. "After all the fertility treatments and miscarriages. I didn't think we'd ever have our own child. Now I'm doubly happy knowing he'll have cousins his own age to grow up with."
"I'm so happy for you" Andrew cried giving her a warm hug.
Charlie stood up "come on Nathan let's leave these two pregnant people to talk babies, while we take a look at that new car of yours."
"I'm bored" Landon announced stretching and yawning exaggeratedly.
"Landon is your work complete?" Andrew inquired as the teenager started to move from his chair
Sinking back into his chair Landon mumbled, "can't we at least go outside? I promise I'll be good. I'll do the work...."
Andrew shook his head "we tried that once. You did anything but work on the assignment." Tapping the table Andrew said "sit" his voice firm, authoritative. An indication of his resolve not to be argued with or badgered to change his mind.
"Fine" Landon slunk back in his chair with an injured air.
A few minutes later Andrew left the room to check on the babies. Gabriel put his book down to give his brother a stern stare. "You'd be done by now if you'd stop complaining."
"It's boring" he whined "this is worse than school."
"Only because you don't have an appreciative audience for your antics." Gabriel murmured, "I like it." Picking up his book he resumed reading.
"How can you read that technical mumbo jumbo?" Landon tugged the book from his brother's hands. "The Mechanics of Time Warp Theory."
"I want to be prepared" Gabriel jerked his book back. "Besides I'm done with the assignment. I'm just waiting for you."
Pushing his hair from his face with his hands Landon groaned. "Why didn't you say something? I'd have made sure I was done."
"It's the only time I have to read anything with you around."
"You're weird" Landon rolled his eyes picking up his pen.
"No more than you" Gabriel shrugged turning his attention to his book.
Laying his pen aside Landon watched his older brother for a moment.
"What?" Gabriel demanded glaring at his brother from over the top of his book.
"What do you think time travel will be like?" he asked.
"Why?" Gabriel asked cautiously. "Are you planning on trying to convince our parents your the better candidate for the job?"
"Oh no" he shook his head sending his long hair flying. "I don't want to time travel. Never did. Only pretended to because you wanted it so much." He picked up his pen scribbling answers randomly across his paper aware of Gabriel's eyes upon him.
Setting his book aside Gabriel gave all of his attention to his brother. "I don't know what time travel will be like. I doubt anyone knows." Pointing to his book he continued, "there's only so much I can learn from books. It's more science fiction then anything else."
"In other words" Landon smirked "its a waste of time reading about it."
Shrugging Gabriel gathered his things, "pretty much." When he was done he said "when your done I'll be outside by the pool."
After changing into his swim trunks Gabriel was sitting on the edge of the pool. He didn't notice the two men as they approached.
"Hello nephew" a deep voice spoke behind him.
Jumping to his feet Gabriel almost lost his balance. Recovering himself enough to keep from falling into the pool. He demanded "who are you?"
"We're you're Uncles" the other man said in a voice not as deep as the first speaker, "Zeke and Zachary."
"You're not my Uncles" Gabriel protested looking behind them. Hoping his dad or brother would come.
The men exchanged glances "don't we look familiar?"
Frowning Gabriel gave the two men a scrutinizing glare. A gasp escaped his lips as he remembered where he had seen them before. The pictures. They were in some of the pictures in his parents photo albums.
"He knows" Zeke nodded his purple hair flopping in his face.
"He does" Zachary nodded with approval "it confirms what I suspected."
"His abilities are rare." Zeke relished the look of consternation that flashed in the boys eyes, "and dangerous."
Gabriel took several cautious steps backwards attempting to put space between him and his so-called Uncles. Eyes darting around wondering if he could escape if it became necessary to run. He'd be no match in a physical confrontation with the older more fit men. A hundred different scenarios scurried through his mind as his brain assessed his chances.
"Didn't the watcher tell you?" Zachary asked moving closer to the skittish boy "she really should have if she's going to send traveling through history."
"Quinn" the woman's name came unbidden to mind. He didn't like the way the men's eyes brightened at the mention of her name. Almost as if they were a couple of hunting lions about to pounce on their prey. "Dad" Gabriel called relieved when the familiar figure approached them.
The two men turned simultaneously. Their smiles faltered when Andrew demanded "who are you?"
"He can see us" Zeke said as if his brother didn't know.
"Obviously" the older man mumbled. Addressing his words to Andrew he plastered a fake smile on his face "we came to check on our nephew."
"Dad they were asking questions about Quinn." Gabriel informed his dad stepping around the men to stand beside his dad.
"You know Quinn?" Andrew asked a false conversational quality in his voice.
"We've met her a time or two" the man admitted. "She doesn't approve of us or what we do."
"What do you do?" Gabriel asked growing bolder knowing he wasn't alone anymore.
"Join us and find out" Zeke suggested. "We could use someone with your abilities. Your dad too."
"What ability is that?" Gabriel asked before his dad could say anything.
"You'll find out." The men's eyes moved towards something behind them.
"Hey guys who are you talking to?" Landon asked upon hearing them talking. At first he thought they were talking to each other. Now they seemed to be holding a conversation with someone he couldn't see. It was bothersome to know his dad and brother saw things that no one else could.
The travelers took the momentary distraction as their chance to leave. When Gabriel turned back to their visitors he shouted "they're gone."
"I wonder what they meant by us having special abilities" Andrew mused. Dreading having to tell Charlie about this encounter.
"I think it's because we can see them and no one else can," Gabriel said ignoring the look of disbelief on his brothers face.
"I don't trust them" Andrew stated. "I don't like them offering us to join them. Join them to do what?"
"Don't worry dad I won't join them," Gabriel assured him. He was curious though. Could they be all that bad? They were relatives of a sort. He couldn't imagine anyone they were related to being bad guys.