"I wish I’d known he was a teacher at our school before I introduced you as my boyfriend," Danny said softly.
"Nothing to worry yerself over, it can’t be undone so don’t give it anymore thought. Besides, I kind of like having someone outside our little circle know I’m your boyfriend."
"It’ll be cool having a gay couple living next door, we can ask them stuff."
"See, now yer thinkin’ right. Maybe if he catches on there, he could be our faculty advisor, if we can get the gay kids to form an alliance or something."
"That’s a good idea Liam, it would be so cool if I could kiss you in public at school and not have to worry."
"Me too Danny; but I can kiss you now and I will." Liam kissed Danny passionately as they stood under the wisteria arch over the gate. They were interrupted by Terri calling them in.
"Where do you lads fancy going for dinner?" Connor asked.
"Anyplace is good, I’m easy," Liam said.
"Me too," added Danny.
"Well, we could just go to Carli’s kitchen, it’s a diner but they have good burgers and great fries," Terri suggested.
"It works for me, I know the place and it’s close," Connor agreed.
The boys agreed and the decision was made.
In the car, Liam explained their meeting with two of the next-door neighbors.
"Oh yes, that little T.J. is adorable; not fond of clothing but very adorable. He reminds me of another boy who didn’t like clothes when he was four."
"Mom!" Danny yelped.
Terri laughed evilly and smiled broadly.
"He is cute, you have to admit that much," Liam said.
"Yeah, he is. I didn’t know the tee was all he was wearing though."
"Don’t worry about it Danny, I wasn’t keen to be dressed proper at that age either."
After dinner at the diner, they returned to Connor and Liam’s house so that Terri could retrieve her car.
"Well, school beckons in the morning and we have a bit to do before we can get to bed, so I think we need to let Connor and Liam do the same," Terri announced after a pleasant few hours had been spent."
Goodbyes were spoken and kisses exchanged.
"I hope you can stay over soon, we’re so close to the school we can walk there and wait for Mom or Connor to take you home," Danny suggested.
"That’s true, if your Mam agrees."
"You know she will; it works out for her too," Danny assured.
"Ha, now I have someplace to stay when Da goes on trips while I’m in school."
"See, now yer thinkin’ lad," said Danny, throwing one of Liam’s phrases back at him.
"Ah, we’ll make a proper Irishman of you yet."
"Thanks, I’d like that."
"I’ll miss you but I’ll be dreamin’ of yas."
"I wish you could stay over tonight."
"Nah, it’s you and yer Mam’s first night in yer new home. It’s a special night fer the two of yas. Be sure and tell her how much you appreciate what she’s done, she does it all fer you and that’s no joke."
"I know,Liam. We’re all we’ve ever had in the world and now there’s so many possibilities."
"It’s been a hell of a week, Danny; and one of the best in me life, you were the best part of it."
Danny hugged Liam as tight as he could but couldn’t speak. Emotion had blocked his throat, but the message got through all the same. The boys kissed one final time and they carried Danny’s guitars down the stairs and loaded them into the car.
Liam watched them drive off and suddenly was immensely tired.
Connor noted this and asked, "Do you fancy a shower before bedtime?"
"Yeah, I think so. Will you be joinin’ me then?"
"Another time, Lad, I’ve some things ta do before morning. I’ll come up soon and say goodnight.
"It’s probably just as well, after the winding up Danny gave me before he left.
Connor laughed and Liam headed up the stairs.
Connor and Liam often showered together, they enjoyed the closeness and Liam was still small enough in size that Connor could easily cuddle him under the falling water. They had done this occasionally since Liam made the transition from baths to showers.
Once Connor had seen to the preparations, he checked in on Liam. He had just slid into his bed.
"Any lingering worries about the thing in the park, Lad?"
"I don’t think so, Da. If it gets to be too much I’ll come and crawl in with you."
"You know I never cease to be impressed by what a fine young man you are."
"Thanks, Da," Liam said groggily.
Connor kissed his son on the cheek, cut the lights and went to his own shower and bed.
When Connor arrived at his bed, he found it already occupied. He killed the lights, put his mobile on the charger and lay down next to his sleeping son. Liam moaned faintly and snuggled his back up to Connor’s chest. It had been quite a weekend for the both of them.
Around 1:00 a.m., Liam jolted awake with a yelp. He lay there a bit disoriented until Connor spoke in his ear. You’re fine, Lad; safe as houses.
"Just a bad dream, Da; I didn’t get there quick enough and he hit my Danny in the head. I went off the deep end and nearly murdered him. I couldn’t stop hitting him."
"Just a dream, Lad, just a dream. You know as well as I, you would never hurt anyone without cause and you aren’t the type to go berserk."
"I know, Da, I’m glad I was here with you though. It’s been a tough few days, eh?"
"My sweet boyo, you are always welcome with me. I love you more than anything in this world."
"I love you too, Da; still I’m sorry I woke you."
"I’m glad you did, Son. I’ll never grow tired of our time together."
"It will be a long time before I outgrow it, Da, Danny really seemed to enjoy it. He said you poked him a couple times, but I’ll bet he poked you back."
"That he did, Lad, he’s a sweet child though and he seemed to need something and I hope I was able to help him."
"Well, he’ll be back for more I’ll bet. I hope you don’t mind. He actually thought I might be angry about it."
"I didn’t think you would be. He’s not had a lot of men in his life to give him that sort of affection."
"He said one of his Mam’s men was free with hugs and kisses. Not pervy just real affection."
"Well he’s welcome here anytime, and I think it’s reciprocal. It will be nice that you can muck about together at their house until we can get to you."
"Da um, this may be none of my business, but I think Terri fancies you quite large. She’s worried about being in a relationship with her boss."
"I know, Lad, and it is your business. It would affect all four of us. We’ve talked and we’re proceeding carefully."
"She gave me a grillin’ about Erica and Skiva but I didn’t tell her much."
"Well, she’s bound to be curious you know."
They chatted about a couple more things, but Connor soon realized it was a one way conversation. He kissed Liam’s ear and allowed himself to drop off.
When Connor got out of bed to do his morning run, Liam woke up with him. Liam was dressed and had a light breakfast cooked when Connor got back. After that, Connor showered while Liam loaded the dishes in the machine and gathered his instruments and loaded all his gear in the car.
He was a bit ahead of the crowd when Connor dropped him off with their usual hugs and kisses.
Liam entertained himself playing guitar after he answered Danny’s message that he was on his way.
Cheri arrived first and they chatted a while, then sang a tune or two; Amber wasn’t long in arriving.
"Where’s Danny?" They both wanted to know.
"He said he was just walking over a few minutes before you got here, Cheri; I expect he’ll be along soon."
"Walking?" Cheri asked.
"Oh yeah, you missed that part. Terri found them a house about three blocks away on Ward."
"That’s so cool, that place he was living before was practically a prison for him. I read how some city contractor nearly destroyed the place because they hit the wrong pipe or something, and the whole place was flooded with sewage."
Danny appeared shortly after in the company of his new neighbor.
"There’s me boyo; morning, Danny; morning, Mr. Lewellyn." Liam called.
He rose, hugged Danny hello and shook Greigh’s hand.
"Hi, Uncle Greigh, how’s T.J. and Bryce." Cheri asked.
"They’re both fine, they should be stopping at T.J.’s Pre-School about now."
"Uncle Greigh?" Liam asked Cheri.
"He’s my mom’s little brother. Pretty cool as uncles go."
"T.J. loved that poem you recited for him; I had to look it up so he could learn it properly."
"That’s a pity; I kind of liked his version. It was certainly funnier."
"Yes, he is creative and makes up nonsense lyrics to pop songs all the time," Greigh replied.
"I think he’s really smart and very cute. He’s just out there and at full volume," Danny said.
"Oh yeah, as far as being out, Sir, we aren’t yet at school. Some of our friends know, but we’re not really officially out." Liam added.
"Oh, that’s right; Danny did introduce you as his boyfriend. T.J. interrupted before I could clarify that."
"We’re going to try and organize a gay student alliance, if we can get enough kids to join us." Cheri announced.
"That’s a wonderful idea; McAuliffe is a good school for it too. It’s already zero tolerance for hate speech."
They were interrupted by the sound of Mr. Sheddler opening the large gate next to the school office. They all waved to him and he waved back with a pleasant smile.
"Well, I need to set up for my first class and it looks like you have instruments to store. I hope you all have a good day in school." Greigh said.
A chorus of "see you later Mr. Lewellyn" sounded as cars began disgorging students.
"Shall we go and get an eye opener at the caff?" Liam suggested.
The general consensus was affirmative.
They occupied one of the large round tables in the weak sunlight of October.
Sean Cleary joined them and they talked about their respective weekends.
Two girls asked if they could use the unoccupied chairs and were invited to sit with them.
"Hey you’re that new kid, the Irish one, right?"
"I don’t think Sean’s all that new, he’s been going here since school started this year."
"What? No, I meant you; you’re him, aren’t you?"
"Well, I’m me if that’s what yer on about, what’s yer point?"
"Just everybody is talking about you; you know, because of the way you play guitar and sing and just seem cool."
"Did any of the lot of yas catch that?"
"I think she’s saying we’re celebrities."
"Yeah, that’s what I meant. I’m Layla and this is Kat."
"Nice to meet you, I imagine we should go and stuff these into the lockers in the Music Room," Liam said.
“I saw Mr. Levi going that way," Cheri offered.
"Good, you can show him your new guitar," Liam told Danny. "And you don’t need to mention me, okay?"
"Okay, if you say so."
"Good morning all," Mr. Levi greeted them. "Hello Amber, would you like to unlock the other side so you can stow your violin?"
"Yes please, Mr. Levi," taking the keys from his desk.
"Let’s hear something on the new stick, Danny," Cheri commanded.
Danny uncased the guitar and began to play the Albinoni piece that he played for Liam. After that, he played Rondo ala Turca.
"That sounds wonderful, Daniel; what maker is that?"
"It’s a Buscarino, I just love the way it sounds and feels."
"It’s a fine guitar, Daniel, and worthy of your talent."
"We better leg it to science, Danny, Cheri already left." Liam suggested.
Danny stowed his guitar and they made for Mr. Culver’s classroom. They arrived with a couple of minutes grace.
Science class went well. Danny was absorbed in taking down some notes on the lesson when Mr. Culver called him by name.
"Sorry, Sir, I was writing some of the class work down before I lost it."
"That’s fine, Daniel; the class was having an open discussion regarding new materials."
"Do you mean materials like Graphene or like research documents?"
"Ah yes, that’s a good point as the term refers to both. We were referring to carbon fiber actually but Graphene is another material worth discussing."
"Okay sir, Graphene is a material composed of a single atom thickness of carbon atoms in a matrix. It has a huge potential to improve things like carbon fiber increasing strength while reducing weight. It also has applications in desalinization of seawater and MIT has a long running experiment in that field. I’m a little reluctant to discuss other applications because I don’t know what their current classification level is and then there’s the proprietary factor." Danny finished speaking as he finished his notes and looked up to find the entire class staring at him, including Dr. Culver.
"Is something wrong?" Danny asked.
There was a whisper in the back, "Nerdhat," the whisper became a chorus and it wasn’t long before Daniel was wearing the crown for the first time.
"That was the most eloquent, if absent minded, explanation I think I’ve ever heard. Why haven’t you discussed this in class before?"
"Well, Mr. C., I did actually. I asked about Carbon Fiber and Graphene, but you didn’t have any information at the time. Recently I’ve had access to someone who knows about both and their possible integration."
"I see, hence the proprietary issues and of course classification restrictions."
"Yes Sir, Mr. C."
"So class, should the government restrict knowledge of material processes based on national security issues?"
Mike Silva raised his hand. "I think you could draw a parallel to open source with computer software."
"True, there is an analog to this discussion there however; software that controls military hardware like drones or smart bombs remains classified."
"So, are you suggesting a firewall to stretch the analog if I may; open research to a point and then it’s classified?"
"It would seem so, Mike, the MIT program is addressing a very important problem and that research is largely shared. But that’s only half the battle; once you remove the solids, what do you do about the biologics?"
This time Cheri raised her hand and stood. "I can speak to that, in Africa a simple transparent water jug is used to kill microorganisms in well and river water. They just hang several jugs of water in the sun and the UV does the sterilization work. There’s even a table online indicating exposure times. If you were to combine the two processes you would have a water factory."
"Very good Cheri, that makes me wish we had two nerd hats."
"Thanks, but it would mess up my hair."
"So class, what we can take away from this discussion amongst other things, is that no single technology is the answer to any problem. All the various disciplines must come together and share discoveries in order to solve global problems. If the issue of simple desalinization becomes viable at a low cost, one of the reasons to go to war vanishes."
The signal for end of class sounded and everyone applauded. They weren’t applauding a particular person, just celebrating the discussion. It seems that a little hope can do wonders for a person’s outlook.