The door opened, and a bull in a sharp suit entered.
"Ah, Jerry," Damian said, "You have an update?"
Jerry handed the tiger a file, before sitting down. "Yes, sir."
Damian looked through the list of names, making sure the one that interested him was in there. "Well?" When he did, he closed the file, and set it on his desk.
"The managerial reorganization is proceeding well. We've identified those who have just done the bare minimum to keep their job, and we're now looking for the best position to promote them to, to ensure they will fail miserably, and will either quit, or we'll be able to fire them."
"Good. How about the employee restructuring?"
"We should be starting that in a few weeks, a month at most. We want the management situation stable before we inform the employees of the take over." Jerry paused, seeming to collect his thoughts. "Sir? Why are we doing this?"
"It's good factory. With a few upgrades, we should be able to increase productivity. People will always need mattresses, Jerry."
"Yes, Sir, I know that. I mean the company paid employee training. That's going to cost us millions, and all it's going to do is let them get paid not to work. I can guarantee that none of them are going to bother learning anything."
"Really Jerry? So, tell me. Why do you think all those people are poor, and stuck working a dead end job?"
Jerry started talking, Damian listened, but didn't pay attention. He has bags under his eyes. He hasn't been sleeping well, his shirt buttons are straining, and his belt is one notch too tight. He isn't exercising enough for what he eats, but he isn't willing to admit it. He's fiddling with his wedding band. He's been married for twenty years, so it isn't because he isn't used to it. He isn't turning it, he's moving it back and forth. It's a reminder of something bad. Subconsciously, he wants to take it off, but he won't let himself do it. He's having trouble with his wife, it's serious, but he is considering toughing it through.
"So, if I understand," Damian said, once Jerry was done, "you feel they are where they are, because they don't work hard enough, they are lazy, basically." Jerry nodded. "I see, so tell me, if you're marriage were to fail."
"What does my marriage have to do with this?" Jerry asked, forcefully. He's getting flustered, he sees my comment as an attack. Damian waved a hand. "I'm just using that as an example." He paused. "You're married?"
Jerry nodded. There, he's calm again. He believes I didn't know, so meant nothing with it. Even a small manipulation like that sent a slight thrill through him. Which only served to remind him it had be a long time since he had really let loose on someone. Maybe he could get one of his nephews to volunteer?
"So, if it were to fail, would it be entirely because you didn't try hard enough? Isn't possible that outside forces might be involved?"
Jerry nodded, reluctantly.
"Then, can't you accept that it's entirely possible these people," he tapped the folder, "might be trying as hard as they can, but just have the deck stacked against them? Look, Jerry. I want to do this, because educated employees are much more productive than uneducated ones. Yes, I'm certain some of them will just see that as a paid vacation, but those will weed themselves out by themselves. We're going to be left with people who can do the job better, even if they don't manage to learn the skills needed to climb the corporate ladder, they will be able to improve how the work gets done, which will make the factory more productive. This will help them, and it will help us, you'll see."
"Yes sir," Jerry said, standing, and heading you. He wasn't fully convinced, but that didn't bother Damian, Jerry did what he was told, to the best of his abilities, no matter his personal belief.
Of course, that had been total bullshit. Something he'd come up on the moment, a good sound bite, if a long one. He'd have to condense it, and have it printed, to help moral, and reassure them they weren't going to lose their job in this. No, the fact that all those people were going to get an education out of this, a better life, was completely irrelevant. He only cared about one of them. And he didn't actually care about her. He only cared because of her relationship to his nephew.
He hadn't lied to Patrick, when he'd told him his mother would spit on anything he gave her. So he wasn't going to give her anything, he was simply going to lay door after door before her, and she'd have to open them herself.
He looked at the picture on his desk, the only picture, except for the family picture, he had. It's was of him, at five yours old, sitting on his father's lap, both of them were waving at the camera. He hadn't perfected how to smile then, so it looked fake.
"You know, father, there are days, when I regret you made me promise to look after our family."
* * * * *
It had been on his father's death bed. He'd been rushed to the hospital, after being crushed by a car, when the lift broke. Everyone was there, they had operated on him, and done the best they could, there would be other operations, but at that point, they wanted him to rest. No one could see him for a few hours.
Damian wouldn't have any of that. He was going to see his father, and they weren't going to stop him. He talked to the head nurse, a large gorilla, who had been posted in front of the door, because Damian wasn't the only one who had tried to get in his father's room. Damian talked in a low voice, to ensure no one else heard what he told the gorilla. Within two minutes of listening, he had started shedding fur, in fear. A minute later, his eyes were wide, the pupil dilated, and his black fur seemed to get pale. Thirty seconds later, he opened the door to let Damian in.
It wasn't that he loved his father, he didn't. But this man was the only person to look at him without any fear. His brothers love him, he knew that, but they were also afraid of him. He didn't hold that against them, they were right to be afraid. But this man didn't. His eyes had held concern, and worry at times, but never fear, and that made him special to Damian.
"Hey dad," he said, softly, sitting. He called him Dad, because his father preferred that, it made him feel that Damian cared, even if he knew he didn't.
"Damian," his father croaked, his voice weak and raw."How bad?"
Damian looked his father over. Both legs were broken, one arm crushed, one broken. One lung was punctured, his spine broken in three places, a lot of internal damage. His father's breathing was still labored, even after the operation, the machines he was connected to didn't tell an encouraging story.
"It looks very bad, dad."
"I'm not making it, am I?"
"I don't think so, dad." Was this one of those cases, where he should have lied? Possibly, but he and his father had made a pack, a long time ago, they would never lie to each other, no matter what.
His father nodded weakly.
"Damian, promise me something. Promise you'll look after our family."
"I will, dad."
"Promise me." His father insisted. Damian had hoped to avoid that. When he promised something, he stuck to it, no matter what, so he did his best to avoid making promises. His father knew that.
"I promise, dad."
"And try not to hurt to many people."
"I'll try." At least that hadn't been a promise. He had already promised not to hurt his brothers, as well as to only hurt people who deserved it. Another limitation would have been troublesome.
"I think I'm going to sleep now."
"Alright dad." Damian turned to leave, then stopped. He kissed his father on the forehead, thinking that would be an appropriate gesture for the situation.
His brothers asked him how he was, and Damian just shrugged. He'd never promise them the truth, and he knew they would be more comfortable believing there was hope.
He sat in the first seat he found, and started thinking. If he was going to take care of the family, he was going to have to change his pans. The company he started had only been something to keep him busy, keep his mind occupied. He'd never intended to make anything of it, but now, now he would have to expand, he'd need more money, more power, to accomplish what his father had asked of him.
Damian thought, and through his thought he was aware of a code blue in his father's room, the worry his brother's expressed, the relief, the arguments, and the blame. He didn't participate, busy with his thought. It would have to be a multinational, he couldn't do what needed to be done on a local level, he was going to have to be able to affect the entire world.
At some point, there was another code blue, doctors rushed in, worked on his father for a time, and then left. His bothers and uncles went in the room, and he looked up. He had been thinking for twelve hours. He went to the room's door and looked in.
Dominic looked at him, crying. "He's gone." Was all he said.
Damian nodded, and left. What people might think of him, he didn't care. He never had. They probably thought he was overwhelmed by the death of his father, and couldn't tolerate being here anymore. He didn't care that his father was dead, and he was leaving because he had work to do.
* * * * *
"But I have to admit, you gave me quite the wonderful challenge."
"Mister Orr?" his secretary asked of over the intercom. "You're three O'clock is here."
"Thank you Alice, send Mister Hammer in."
Damian sat back in his seat. "So," he asked the fox, as he took the seat on the other side of his desk, "what do you want to cover in this session." He smiled at his biographer and prepared himself for an entertaining two hours.
* * * * *
Patrick got out of the bathroom, showered and dressed. It was just a little pass noon.
"Hey mom," he said, stopping by the living room.
"Hi Patrick, what time did you come in last night?"
"Around four am. There was a private party at he bar, and Bruce asked me to stick around. Make sure they didn't get too rowdy."
She turned from her chair, to look at him. "You know I don't like it when you work that late."
"I know mom, but he paid me overtime, and we need the money, I wasn't going to turn it down. I put it in your checkbook."
"Not all of it, I hope."
"Nah, I kept thirty bucks, that's going to see me through the day."
Damian had been right.
His mother had been ecstatic when he'd show up, she'd been worried sick about him. She didn't scowl him or anything. But things weren't alright. After that, they didn't talk for the next two days. She'd be gone by the time he got up, and in bed by the time he came back form work. He just had to make sure to be out of the house before she came back from work.
They reach a compromise a few days after that, they weren't going to talk about what had happened. Patrick wanted to bring it up, but he knew he wouldn't be able to stay calm, and he really didn't want to be angry at his mother again. So he didn't bring it up, and tried to figure things out on his own.
After three weeks, he had decided he needed to talk to someone.
"I'm going to head out, Mom. There's a few things I want to take care of this afternoon."
"Okay, honey. Oh, I won't be here for dinner, so just make yourself something."
"You don't have to do overtime, mom. If we need more money, I can find something else. Joey, at the scrap yard is always willing to let me help out."
"No, it isn't that. There's a meeting at the factory, after my shift. Seems we were bought out, and they're going to explain how the transition is going to happen."
"Are you going to lose you job?" He really hoped not. His mom wasn't overly skilled, she'd had to take care of him, instead of getting an education, so if she lost her factory job, she'd only have the waitress one, until she found something new, and in this economy, that wasn't going to be easy. Maybe he should talk to Joey about working there for a few hours every day. It wouldn't be much, but anything would help if she went down to one job.
"No, no. I'm sure everything is going to be alright. They seem like really nice people."
Patrick wished he could be as optimistic her, but you didn't often hear about buyouts going well for the employees. Something caught his attention on the muted television. "Can you turn up the volume?"
Margarette looked at the TV, and raised the volume. The police commissioner was standing at a podium, putting some of her papers in order. In the bottom right corner there was a 'live' icon slowly flashing. She was a gazelle, in a sharp looking deep blue suit.
"Thank you for coming," she said. "I called this press conference because today, we are celebrating a major victory against gang violence."
Text scrolled along the bottom of the screen. 'Leaders and lieutenants of Sarato, The Claws, and Infernals, arrested, gangs in disarray.
"Over the last few months, we have been conducting a series of under cover operations, we have been infiltrating multiple gangs, and this morning, proceeded to arrest the leaders of the Sarato, The Claws, and the Infernals. With them, we also arrested all their lieutenants, as well as most of their gang members.
"When I became commissioner, I promised the citizen of San Francisco I would address the city's gang problem, this is only the start. This was possible in large part due to the citizens of this fine city, who donated their money so we could afford to properly fund the gang task force, and who remained vigilant, informing us of what they were up to. If we are going to call this a war on gangs, we need to all be in it together.
"Know that the police isn't going to rest, this is only the beginning. Gangs are parasite on this city, it's time to get rid of them."
Patrick was stunned. It couldn't be a coincidence, Damian had actually kept his word. He'd said that Patrick wouldn't have to fear for his safety anymore. That hadn't stopped him from constantly looking over his shoulder when he was moving about neighborhood. It was true that he hadn't been bothered once in these last three weeks, when before that, if he went two days without being harassed, or threatened, by someone from the Saratos, he considered that a miracle.
But he hadn't actually believed he was ever going to be safe from them. Not after beating up one of their lieutenants, when he tried to force him to join them. Patrick didn't want to have anything to do with the gangs, unfortunately, his refusal, meant that for the last five years he'd had to fight them off regularly.
Could he really be free of them now?
He turned, to head to the kitchen, and looked at the picture on the table in the small entryway, of his mother and 'father'. He'd grown up dreaming of having a father in his life. Of what it would be like for the two of them to play catch in the front yard, teaching him to drive. He'd wondered what kind of man he had been, other than a war hero. Would he have been kind, would he have loved him, even with the way he was?
He wondered why she hadn't taken the pictures down, now that the truth was out. Was she trying to deny it? Or maybe it was just that she had grown use to the idea of the family they represented. They family she dreamed she had? He didn't have to imagine anymore. He had a father, well, two. That was going to get really confusing at times. He just hoped he could ever be comfortable around them, even if they were . . . What they were.
He put the picture down, and made himself a sandwich. After that he said good bye, and headed out, eating while he walked. The place he wanted to go to was a ways away.
* * * * *
He entered the small church, and as always, he felt a little smaller, standing in the house of God. He dipped his fingers in the basin of holy water, and crossed himself, and then walked between the pews.
The church was empty, it being in the middle of the afternoon, on a Tuesday, Patrick wasn't surprised. He was a little relieved, actually. He wasn't sure how comfortable he would have been in this unknown church if it had been crowded with its regular parishioners.
He sat on one of he pews, and looked at the cross, where Jesus was crucified. Like every depictions of him, his antlers had been broken off at the base, broken and made into a crown, all the points pressing in his head.
He looked down, and noticed someone had left a bible in the nook on the pew in front of him. He took it, and leafed through the pages for a moment. He looked back up. "God," he whispered, "Why did you make me this way?"
Someone put a hand on his shoulder, and said "Can I help you?"
Patrick jumped out of his fur, he landed a couple of feet away, and turn, panting in fright. He was looking at an otter, in a cassock, and she was also panting, a hand on her heart. It seemed that his start, had frightened her as much as she had him.
"I'm sorry," he said, when he found his voice again.
"It's alright, I should have made sure you were aware I was here. I'm Mother Rosetta. I don't remember seeing you here before." She sat on the pew.
"I'm Patrick." He sat, a respectable distance away. "I'm not in your parish. I live in the brownstone district."
"That isn't exactly close by, what bought you to our church?"
Patrick hesitated a moment. "I wanted a different point of view. I read a couple of the blogs on your site, and they were, refreshingly balanced." She tilted an ear toward him. "Father Durony, the priest at my church, he's . . . very old fashion."
"I take it he's older," she said, with a knowing smile. He nodded. "Yes, they do tend to view God was being brimstone and fire, while I see Him as embodying love. Now, why don't you tell me what the problem is?"
"I'm . . ." He froze. He couldn't say it. He'd been practicing saying for the last few days, an yet, he couldn't manage to get the word out.
"You don't have to say it, if you aren't comfortable," She comforted.
He breathed, to calm his nerve. "No, I have to say it. Not saying it makes it feel like it's easier to ignore." Worry crossed her face. Patrick closed his eyes, took a few breaths. "I am gay." There's he'd said it . . . and nothing. No being struck down, no bursting into flame. He opened his eyes in surprise. She was smiling at him.
"I take it you were expecting something to happen?"
"I know it's stupid, but yes, I was. It isn't like God has turned anyone into a pillar of salt recently."
She chuckled. "I take it, you are having difficulties coming to term with your sexuality?"
"Yeah. Ever since I've been a kid, I've been told how being gay's a sin, how God hates gays, that they are the work of the devil, stuff like that. If being gay is so wrong, why did he make me that way?"
She looked at him for a moment. "God doesn't hate gays."
"But the bibles says it's wrong." He shook the bible he was holding in her direction.
"The bible was written by people, not by God."
"But they wrote the words of God, didn't they?"
She thought about it for a moment. "Lets say, for a moment, that those who wrote the bible, were indeed, lets call it, channeling God. Lets say that's true. Do you think that one of our minds could hold the mind of God, and not miss something, or get something wrong? God's mind is infinite, he knows everything, and sees everything. Our minds are very much limited. Even if we were to try to hold all that God is, we couldn't, at best, we could only hold a very small part of it. And if his mind is anything like ours, it's probably a pretty chaotic place, so it stands to reason the writing of those people wouldn't be complete, or maybe not even correct."
"So, you're saying that the bible isn't entirely accurate, because we couldn't understand everything God might have meant."
She smiled at him. "No, that's not what I'm saying. That is something someone could argue. I personally don't believe the bible is the word of God."
Patrick stared at her.
"Shocking, I know," she grinned. "Think about it, we now know the bible has been modified at least once, and almost certainly multiple times, to fit the views of the rulers of the time. No, I'm not saying there aren't some good ideas in it, but in the end, I am not willing to believe that God would have a hand in penning something with so much hate and anger in it. God doesn't hate you, he doesn't hate anyone."
"How about his enemies?"
"God doesn't have enemies."
"Of course he does. All those jihadists and terrorists?"
"They aren't God's enemies. God made them, he made all of us, how could they be his enemies?"
"But they follow other gods."
"No, they don't. At least, I don't believe they do. They might have given God a different name, but there is only one God, not just one True God, simply one God."
"Then why are they attacking us?"
"Because they're people, they aren't perfect. For what ever reason they decided to, they are using God as an excuse to make war, instead of following God to peace."
Patrick had to think about that one. It was true enough, he'd seen a lot of people proclaim God's name, when doing something that God would never approve of.
"Then what about God's first creations? He had to hate them for disobeying him, he destroy them, after all."
"Did he? The bible simply says that he removed man from Eden, for eating the apple. I prefer to think that he took them somewhere else. Maybe to a world of their own, where they could learn the consequences of their acts. After all, when we asked permission to eat the apple, he warned us we would have to leave. That once we would have the knowledge the fruit brought, Eden wouldn't be for us anymore."
Patrick leaned back in the pew.
"After man was removed for Eden," she recited, "God elevated us, the animals, to take his place, to care for eden."
"Except the snake," Patrick added, absentmindedly.
Mother Rosetta smiled. "Yes, except for the snake. Because of the part he played in offering the Apple to man, he has been fated to always crawl on the ground as a simple beast. But for the rest of us, we grew, we cared for Eden, until the day our curiosity grew too strong, so we asked to taste the apple, and we left Eden."
"Do you think we'll ever make it back there?"
"I don't know. God seems to want us to. That's why he sent his son to us, to show us the path to follow to make it back. Did you ever think about why Jesus came to us as a cervid, instead of, say, a lion, or a tiger?"
"No, I never thought about it."
"I believe it was so we would see that power or strength wasn't what would get us back to Eden. Cervids aren't exactly known to be strong, although they certainly aren't the weakest of us. He wanted us to see that it would be our actions that would lead us back to Eden."
Patrick looked at the bible he was holding, and rubbed the cover. "If I can't use the bible to figure out what's right and what's wrong, what do I have to find my way to Eden? How am I suppose to do it?"
"God gave you the tool you need to find your way back." She reached over and put a hand on his chest. "He gave you a heart. He gave you the ability to feel, to care, and to love. If you follow your heart, if you are nice to your neighbor, you will eventually find your way back."
Patrick let out a short sardonic chuckle. "I hate to break it to you Mother, but nice doesn't exactly cut it in this world."
"You're right. When I say nice, I don't mean you should just lay down and let other trample you. God wants you to defend yourself, he wants you to defend others, if needed be, but do so without malice. Don't seek revenge, seek justice. Keep anger out of the fight."
"That might be easier said than done," Patrick commented. She tilted her head. "I have some anger issues."
"How bad is it? Have you felt like you wanted to hurt someone?"
"No, nothing that bad, I mostly just scream a lot."
"When was the last time?"
"A few weeks ago, I found out something pretty big, and it wasn't easy to deal with."
"What was it?"
"I'm sorry, I'm not ready to talk about that yet."
"I understand. When you are, you know where to find me. I'm just what, a five hour's walk away?"
Patrick chuckled, "It was just three."
She looked at him. "Just three, he says, like that's an easy walk."
"I like to walk," he replied.
"Tell you what." She pulled a pen, and wrote a number on a paper. "Here's my cell number. If you ever need to talk, call me, day or night."
"Thank you," he said, taking the paper.
"Will you be staying? I give a mass in about an hour."
Patrick checked his watch. "I can't. I have to work tonight, and with the walk, I'll be there just in time."
"Alright, you are always welcome here." She stood. "Have a good day, and God bless you."
"Thank you Mother." Patrick left the pew, stood, looking at Jesus, crossed himself and turned to leave. He stopped by the entrance, next to the donation box. He didn't normally give anything, he had so little already, but he dug in his pocket and pulled out a ten and a twenty.
He wouldn't be able to go home, so he'd have to buy something to eat on the way. He looked at the money. Ten buck wasn't going to get him much, but he could manage. He put he twenty in the box. He'd grab a sandwich and a soda on the way. If he got the munchies during work, he could snack on the peanuts.
* * * * *
Patrick took a deep breath, and enter the bar.
He'd spent the lat two weeks thinking things over, and talking with Mother Rosetta. He'd decided he had to get to know the world he was part of, he couldn't just read about it online.
He'd picked Rooster, because it was the closest gay bar to his place, being a two hour bus ride away. It wasn't in the gay district, there was no way he was going there, he'd heard enough stories to know it wasn't his kind of place. So he'd called Bruce, and told him he had to take the nigh off, to deal with personal stuff, and he came here, a quiet bar, a little out of the way, with what was suppose to be a quiet atmosphere.
The music wasn't too loud, some country song, by the little he could pick out. The bar was probably half full, tables and counter. He took a stool, and ordered a beer, paying for it on the spot. He sipped it slowly, taking in the atmosphere. He was happy to note that wearing jeans, a t-shirt and jacket made him fit in.
He was halfway through it when someone came next to him, and put an arm around his shoulder. Patrick froze.
"Hey, buddy. You new here? I've never seen you before. And trust me I would have remembered a body like yours."
Patrick force himself to turn his head, to look at the man almost completely draped over him. He was a dog of some sort, rottweiler, maybe. He didn't sound drunk, but his breath stank of rum.
He leaned in closer to Patrick. "You know, we kind of have a tradition here, where the regulars get to show the new blood a good time."
"Harold, leave the kid alone." The barman said.
Patrick stood suddenly. "This was a mistake," he mumbled, pushed Harold away and headed out. He couldn't believe he'd come here. This place was no better than the others he'd read about, he'd been an idiot to think otherwise.
"Hey buddy!" Harold yelled behind him.
Patrick ignored him. The door closed behind him, cutting off what ever else Harold said. If this kind of sleaze was what it meant to be gay, he wanted no part of it.
"Hey Buddy!" Harold had followed him outside.
"Leave me alone."
A hand landed on his shoulder and spun him around. "Listen here, buddy. You don't get to come in here, parade that yummy body of yours and then run off when someone responds to the advertisement."
"What the fuck are you talking about? Just go back inside. I'm not looking for any trouble."
The rottweiler came in close. "I'm not offering you trouble, I'm offering you a good time." A hand grabbed Patrick's crotch and squeezed.
He didn't think. His fist flew and the man staggered back. "Don't you fucking dare touch me, you fag." Patrick growled.
"I don't care what you say," his speech was starting to slur, "You want me, and you know it. I'm just going to have to show what you're missing."
The man came at him. Patrick sent a jab at his muzzle, making him reel back, and then swung hard across his muzzle.
The rottweiler spun and crashed to the ground.
Patrick looked at him panting. For a moment he worried that he'd killed the man, but then he saw he was still breathing. He turned and walked away. Fuck, this hadn't been what he'd wanted.
A hand landed on his shoulder, and Patrick spun around, fist raised. What the asshole back for more already?
A jaguar was taking a few steps back, hand raised. "Whoa, kid, calm down."
"What the fuck do you want?"
"I was parking, and I saw what happened. Are you okay?"
Patrick hesitated a moment, and then lowered his fist. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Okay, that's good. You look a little rattled, do you want me to give you a rid somewhere?"
Patrick had a vision of a car stopping next to him, window lowering and a tiger saying "come in, kid. I'm going to give you a ride home." And of how uncomfortable that ride had been.
"I'm fine. I can get there on my own."
"Okay kid, you be careful out there."
The jaguar turned and headed back to the parking lot. Patrick was about turn, to leave, when he called out "Hey, Mister."
The jaguar turned.
"Thanks for caring."
The jaguar looked at him for a moment, head tilted to the side. "You're welcome. Have a good night."
Patrick turned and started walking.
Well, at least he hadn't punched that guy. He had actually seemed nice, at least he cared enough to check on him, a complete stranger. Not like that fag, who had been all over him and thought that they'd have sex just because he said so.
Patrick hmmmed. Okay, he had something. The fags were the sleazy ones, and gays were like that jaguar, normal guys, other than they were attracted to guys. Okay, he could make that work. He was gay, but he wasn't a fag. And he would never be one.
* * * * *
Tom turned, maybe the kid had changed his mind about getting a ride.
"Thank for caring."
Tom tilted his head. 'Thanks for caring?' jeez, what world did he live in, that he had to thank someone for that? "You're welcome," he said. "Have a good night."
He watched the kid turn and take a few steps, before heading to his car. Once in he checked to make sure the kid was still moving away, and then made a call. "Tom Bracha, reporting in. The kid had an altercation, he took care of it. But I had to expose myself to make sure he was okay."
While the other person talked, he reached in the back seat, he pulled a baseball cap, but this one had openings for his ears, it wouldn't do. "Yeah, I can follow him, he's on foot, but if something else happens, and I have to intervene, there's no way he's going to believe it's a coincidence."
He pulled another cap, good. This one didn't have openings. He put it on his lap and looked on the back seat where his sports jacket was. "Okay, that works. Do we have the busses on this route covered? I doubt he's going to be walking all the way home. Okay, good. You also need to send someone at my location. The guy the kid punched will need to be looked after, to make sure he doesn't start anything."
Tom closed the phone, took off his suit's jacket and replaced it with the sports one. He stepped out of his car, folded his ears against his skull and put the baseball cap on. There, with that, and keeping his hands in his pockets, his silhouette was completely changed. There was no way the kid was going to make him. He followed him at a good distance.
Tom didn't ask questions. He might find it strange that the company was having him and a few teams follow and protect the kid, but after what the company had done for him, if they asked him to jump off a building, he probably would. He might not even bother checking to make sure they had something setup for his landing.
Not too long ago the kid had deserved four teams, watching him at all time. The orders were to made sure the kid stayed safe, and unaware of the surveillance. Tom had had to stop three attempts on the kid, by what looked to be gang members. He knew of five other attempts over a three week period. After that, it was only one team, then after a month, it was down to one man on him, only with support when needed.
Tom didn't know who the kid was, if it wasn't for the fact he lived in the brownstones, he'd think he was someone important.
Someone fell in step behind him ten minutes later. Tom heard a Zippo flip open, a cigarette being lit and then a long drag.
"You know those things are going to kill you, right Donovan?"
"I'm more likely to die of lead poisoning." A gruff voice replied. "I've got the kid. You go back to your girlfriend. We have Sandy on the buss he should take, and Emerson on the one after that. So he's covered."
Tom turned right at the next intersection. He was going to keep going for three blocks, and then make his way to his car through the alleys, to make sure no one was following him. He checked his watch, she'd still be up. He took out his phone. "Hey hun, how are you doing? Good. I'm going to be home early, within the hour. They decided to lockup the building for the night, something about problems with the gas line. Yeah, I'll still have to report in the morning, if only to find out what's going on. See you soon."
As far as his girlfriend was concerned, he worked as head of security for Royal Security. Which was true, he did have a position by that name there, he even had a desk, but was almost never there. He was almost always in the field.
He didn't like lying to her, but after ten years of doing Black Ops, he knew the benefits of keeping loved ones in the dark.
* * * * *
Patrick came home, carrying two bags of groceries. It was almost five. He'd have time to put them away, take a quick shower and then head to work.
"Hi mom," he said, she was putting her jacket away, having just come home from work.
"How was work."
"It was good," she replied with a smile, and Patrick had to pause, to look at her. It had been a very long time since he'd seen his mother smile. Not that she had been unhappy before, she'd just always been too tired to smile. Now, with the raise she'd gotten at the factory, she'd been able to quit the waitressing job, and she had time to relax when she got home.
Patrick was almost done with the groceries, when she poked her head back in the kitchen. "Remember, I won't be back until Tuesday evening."
"I told you about this last week. The company is flying me to New York City for training to become a supervisor."
"It's this week?"
"Yes, I leave tomorrow, I'll be there all weekend."
"Okay, cool, have a good trip then, I won't see you tomorrow."
"You be good. No party in the house."
Patrick rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't dare, mom."
He kissed her on the cheek, before going to get his shower. He was going to have to make arrangements not to work Saturday. With his mom out of town, it was the perfect time to go visit his other family. He'd have to remember to call them. He wasn't showing up unannounced this time.
* * * * *
Patrick knocked on the door, before he remembered there was a buzzer. The door opened, and Arthur was the one behind it again. "Hey Patrick. Come on in." Like the other time, he was only wearing pants, but this time they were jeans. "We're having a Smash Bros tournament." He lead Patrick to the living room, where he saw the biggest TV ever. The thing had to be at least six feet across.
He remembered seeing the living room, but the last time it had only been in passing, and it had been disorderly. This time all the cushions were on the couch and people were sitting on them, the four in the central couch had the controllers, and were screaming insults at each other.
As best as he could determine, it was Aaron, Alexander, Adam and one of their fathers. The others were cheering them on. He stood behind the couch, watching them play. He'd never really gotten into video games. A few of the people he'd known when he was younger had them, but he had been too busy working, to play.
He watched the characters punch, slash and use special moves at each other. He winced a few time at what seemed like particularly vicious blows. The players changed as people won and lost. Someone offered him a controller, but he passed on it. While he was finding it entertaining watching the fights, he wasn't interested in playing.
It was the seventh or eighth game, when someone honked outside. Someone ran to the window, Aiden?
"Uncle Damian's here! Adam! He has a new car."
Adam dropped his controller, and ran out of he room. Making the other players curse, and Anakin jump in his place.
Not being too interested in the game, Patrick followed Adam. He ended up in a large garage, with two cars, two minivans and space for three other cars. The door opened, and a silver car rolled in. Patrick didn't know much about cars, but he could tell this wasn't a normal car. It didn't have any logos or even model name on it.
As soon as it stopped, Adam was looking at it closely. The driver's door lifted open, and Damian stepped out. He chuckled as he watched Adam.
"Okay, the front side molding is off a GT-R," Adam said, running his hand over it. "The doors aren't from any model I recognize, but they are obviously designed after a Ferrari. "The rear molding's right off the F-Type." He stood and looked at the trunk. "How come there isn't a spoiler? What's the point of the sport design, if you don't have a spoiler."
Damian took out his key chain, and pressed a button. The spoiler lifted up.
"Oh, my god! This is brilliant." Adam ran to the front of the car. "I have to see the engine. Please, Uncle Damian, you have to let me see the engine." He was practically jumping from one foot to the other.
Damian looked at Adam, then the car. "How about I make you a deal." He said, and a lot of enthusiasm left Adam.
"What . . . What kind of deal?" there was actual worry on his face, and Patrick wondered what was going on.
"We go camping, just the two of us, for a week. Once you're done with your classes."
"A, a week?" Adam's ears were folded back, his tail was perfectly still, and he seemed to have trouble breathing.
Damian placed a hand on his shoulder. "You don't have to give me an answer right now. I'm here all day. Just think it over."
Damian headed for the stairs leading up to the house, and Patrick grabbed his arm. "What the fuck was that about?"
"What do you mean?"
"You just offered to go camping with him, and he looks like he's heading for the electric chair."
"Oh, that." Damian smiled, and there was absolutely no mirth in it. He ran a finger along Patrick's cheek. "You can always go camping with me, and find out."
"Absolutely not." Someone said behind Patrick. One of his father's was coming down the stairs. He looked at Adam and shook his head.
"And why not?" Damian asked. "He's old enough to make his own decisions."
"Because he has no idea what he'd be getting into. I don't like Adam going with you, but he knows what's in store. Patrick doesn't."
"Look," Damian said, pointing a finger at him. He paused, then cursed. "Which one are you?"
"Wait," Patrick said. "You can't tell them apart either?"
"No," Damian growled. "The only time I know which one's which is when we're having sex."
Patrick stared at him for a moment. "You have sex with them?"
"Of course," Damian replied. "How else should brothers show their loves for each other?" He looked at Patrick. "How do you think the kids do it?"
Patrick just stared at him, while his mind formed images. His stomach rebelled at them, and Patrick ran up the stair.
"That's just fucking great," Daniel growled. Upstairs, a door slammed shut.
Damian took a step and raised his hand to pacify his brother. "How was I to know he was going to react that way?"
"Don't bullshit me. You knew exactly how he was going to react. You don't love us, so you said that specifically to get him to react."
Damian didn't do anything for a moment, and then smiled. "Okay, you got me."
"Why? Damn it, Dam, why did you do that? He's just starting to become comfortable around us."
"Of course he is. Look at you, wearing pants, I'm guessing everyone up stair's behaving, keeping their hands to themselves. Daniel, if I let you take it at a comfortable speed, the kid's going to go to his grave a virgin. He hasn't even had sex yet."
"How do you know that?" Daniel's eyes went wide. "You're having him followed?"
Damian stared at his brother. "Really? That comes as a surprise to you? What did you think I'd do? Close my eyes and hope for the best? It's my family we are talking about. I am not going to leave anything to chance."
"I told you we would handle it! Damn it." He turned. "I need to go check on him."
Damian grabbed his arm. "Let one of the kids do it."
Daniel glared at him, but he didn't try to get out of the hold.
* * * * *
Patrick was bent over the bowl, but he wasn't throwing up, for which he was grateful. He wasn't moving, thought, because his stomach still felt like it might decide to heave at any moment.
After a few moments, his stomach calmed enough that he felt confident getting up. He closed the cover and sat on it. He shook his head. What the fuck was he getting himself into.
There was a knock at the door.
"It's busy," he said.
"I know. It's Arthur, can I come in?"
Patrick thought about it, he wasn't sure he wanted to see any of them right now, but Arthur had been nice to him. Maybe it was because he was so much smaller than the others, but Patrick felt safer with him.
"Yeah, sure." Patrick stood to go open the door, but it opened before he'd even moved. "Do you have a key to it?"
"No, the door wasn't locked."
Patrick looked at him. He'd forgotten to lock it in his rush to head for the bowl? He guessed that made sense. He sat back down. And looked around. Only now realizing he was in a large bathroom, with a stand up shower that could probably hold everyone in this family. He forced himself not to form that image. He had enough of thinking about that right now. There was also a large Jacuzzi tub. The floor might have been marble, the walls were some sort of black stone.
"Are you okay?" Arthur asked, as he sat on the edge of the tub.
"Not really. No offense, but you're family's crazy, you know that?"
Arthur smiled. "I guess, that unless you grow up in this environment, it can look that way."
"And you're okay with it?"
"What are you talking about at this moment?"
"Your fathers, and your uncle."
"Ah, so it's finding out they have sex that sent you in here."
Patrick shook his head. "No, I think that I might have been okay with. It's when he said you guys did it too. How can you do that?"
"Why shouldn't we?"
"Because it's wrong?"
"The . . ." He's been about to say the bible, but he remembered his conversations with Mother Rosetta. "Everyone!" he finally said, knowing full well that was as lame as it got.
"Because you are brothers. Damn it!"
Arthur looked at him for a moment. "Patrick, what I'm about to say, I don't say it to imply anything about what your mother might or might not have done right, okay? Try to keep that in mind."
Arthur took a deep breath. "My, our fathers, they raised us not to have any hangups about our sexuality. We've had sex for a long time. Almost certainly a lot longer than you're comfortable knowing. I love my brothers, so I have sex with them. For me, and them it's as simple as that. We don't see anything wrong with that. Actually, it's when we encounter someone like you, and really most people out there, that we don't get it. Why do you feel there's so much baggage that comes with sex?"
Patrick couldn't answer that. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn't say why. "I guess you guys are expecting me to just jump in bed with you?"
"No, we don't expect that." Arthur stood and moved close to Patrick. "We hope that you'll reach a point where you're comfortable with that, because we love you Patrick. You're our brother, and we love you, and we would love to be able to show you how much we love you." He lightly kissed Patrick's cheek.
Patrick was surprised by the gesture. No one but his mother had ever kissed him. He felt his ears warming up.
"Do you think you're going to be able to continue hanging out with us? Or do you prefer going home?"
Patrick thought about it. If he went home, he'd be spending the rest of the day alone, as well as the night, unless he went to the bar. And to be honest, except for Damian, everyone had been well behaved.
"You uncle Damian isn't the most sensitive guy out there, is he?"
Arthur chuckled. "That's putting it mildly."
"You guys all have an eccentricity, one of your , our fathers said that last time. What's his?"
Arthur shook his head. "No, trust me on that. If you're not comfortable having sex with us, you don't want to know about him."
"It has something to do with the camping trip, doesn't it?"
Arthur took his hand. "Patrick, if you press this, you are going to be running away from here screaming. Uncle Damian's more extreme than the rest of us, that's all I'm going to say."
Patrik nodded, Arthur's seriousness about this making him think that he really shouldn't press. "Okay, I think I'll be able to stick around."
Arthur led him back to the living room, where someone finally convinced him to take one of the controller. He mostly lost, but had a couple of lucky win. At one point he noticed that Damian, and his fathers weren't there anymore, and he forced himself not to think about it.
Dinner was pizza, ordered from Dominos. Patrick couldn't believe people as rich as them also ate Dominos. When the evening was late enough, they offered for him to crash, they had extra bedrooms.
He declined. He wasn't comfortable spending the night. He also refused to let Damian drive him home, but he agreed to have Adam do it.
When they went to the garage, Patrick noticed that he hood to Damian's car was up.
* * * * *
Patrick was in the living room, it was empty. The large television was off. He wondered where everyone had gone to. He went to he couch, the game console was on the floor, with the controllers, so they could be nearby. He turned to leave, and there, before the opening to the hallway, were his brothers. Naked and dancing seductively, grinding against each other, and gyrating for him.
He swallowed hard. He tried to step back, but there was someone behind him. He turned, and looked into one of his father's eyes.
"I can't wait to welcome you into our family, Patrick," he said, in a husky voice. He leaned in, kissed him, and grabbed his ass.
* * * * *
Patrick woke up with a gasp. His heart was beating a mile a minutes, and he had trouble breathing for a moment. What the fuck had that been about? He wondered. Then he felt wetness on his belly.
He lifted the covers, and there, he got his answer. He couldn't believe it. He had never cum in his sleep, ever.
He saw again, his father kissing him, and felt the hand on his ass, and his entire body shivered in response.