The Shunning by JMH


1. Chapter 1

            "Hello, may I help you?"  The pretty brunet secretary smiled,
as she looked away from the computer screen on her desk to the tall, smarty
dressed, and blond young man standing in front of her.

            "Yes...  I'm Dr. Steven Nash... I have an appointment with
Dr. Richardson," he replied.

            The woman raised a long nailed finger as her other hand busied
itself with a phone.  "Just a moment... Dr. Richardson, your 9:00 AM is
here," she said into the receiver.

            "You can go in now," she said after she had hung up the phone.

            "Thank you," Steven said, as he followed her into the chief
administrator's office.

            "Steven...  so you're finally here."  The middle aged and half
bald figure of Dr. Timothy Richardson smiled as he stood up from his folder
laden desk.

            "Always happy to do a friend a favor," Steven replied, as he
shook his old med-school mentor's hand.

            "This is more than a favor I am asking of you," Tim said, as he
waved a hand to an empty seat.

            "Hey, what can I say... life's been good to me.  It's about
time I gave something back to the community."

            "Still...  giving up a very profitable practice in the suburbs
to join us in the trenches of inner city medicine, where less than half of
our patients have health insurance."


          "As I said, life's been good," Steven said, as he pulled on the
cuffs of his long sleeved shirt.

            "Is that an Armani?" Tim said in disbelief.

            "Would you kill me if I said yes?" Steven chuckled.

            "I might rip it off you and sell it on E-Bay.  It might at
least help us pay one nurse's overtime."  Tim replied.

            "I'll be sure to dress more casually the next time then."

            "That might be a good idea... this hospital is not located in
the best part of town, if you have not noticed.  If it wasn't for the fact
that we are the only inner city hospital left in town, I'm not sure the
state would keep us open.  As it is, we are under-funded and
under-appreciated, and underpaid."

            "That will not be a problem for me," Steven said confidently.

            "That is what I am not sure about... the people you will be
treating are not the high end, well mannered clients you are used to
dealing with.  Most of them are at the end of their ropes mentally, not to
mention financially.  Luckily, most drug companies' PR divisions have taken
pity on us.  They keep us fairly well supplied.  All we have to do is give
them a receipt, so they can claim a tax write off, and mention how generous
they have been to us in our newsletters."

            "I see you have not lost your cynical attitude."  Steven
laughed.

            "Watch it yuppie... back when you were in diapers I was a free
thinking idealist, with plenty of hair, plenty of sex, and enough spunk to
have myself almost thrown out of med school.  Now I'm a bald, fat, divorced
father of three who's not gotten lucky in ages and whose radical idealism
has become a rusty old cog in the machinery of this hospital's
administration.  The only benefit I get from this place is that I make so
little that my ex can't sue me for alimony."

            "Well then, I guess me being here will help brighten up the
place.  When do you want me to start?"

            "Today...  if you have time."  Tim replied.

            "Today...  You've not even given me the grand tour."

            "Don't worry... as this is your first day, I'm only going to
hit you with one patient."

            "Just one... come on, I'm used to working from 7:00 AM to 10:00
PM."

            "I know.  You're career has been most impressive.  The patient
I have in mind, though, is a special case."

            "Oh?"

            "Yes...  he's one of our own doctors."

            "This dreary place finally got to him?" Steven asked, as he
looked up at the mildew stained ceiling tile.

            "If that were true, he would have left us long ago," Tim
replied.  "You see, the man I am referring to is Dr.  Gavin."

            "Archangel Gavin?" Steven said, remembering the name from the
news.  The man was head of the ER at Memorial Hospital and, from what local
media said, he was supposedly a miracle worker.

            "Yes...  that's what the media call him.  Among the staff,
though, he is known as the Stone King."

            "I take it then that his bedside manner is lacking?"

            "No...  he is very warm and sympathetic with his patients, and
very patient with the staff.  It is just that once he walks outside of this
hospital, it is as if a switch is flipped.  He becomes cold, unresponsive,
and unbearable to be around."

            So he's not the life of the party?"

            "That's putting it bluntly.  Remember the storm three weeks
ago?"

            "Yes...  played havoc with the telephone and power lines."

            "It also brought more people to our ER than we are used to
handling.  With the phone lines dead we couldn't get in contact with the
exchange to have them call in more doctors... at least not all of them."

            "You mean they don't pay you enough to have cell phones?"
Steven asked with disbelief.

            "No...  it just turned out that Dr. Gavin has never owned one."
Tim sighed.  "That's why I sent Stephanie, one of our candy strippers, over
to his place to bring him here."

            "And what did she find... that he secretly has his own
Frankenstein lab?"

            "No...  she found nothing, and that's what has us worried."

            "How can you be worried about nothing?"  Steven asked confused.

            "You don't get it... there was nothing at his place.  No TV, no
furniture, no appliances, no refrigerator, not even a bed.  All she saw was
a single garbage can, a twelve pack of diet Sprite, a pile of neatly
stacked clothes, a thick quilt, and a telephone lying on the floor."

            Steven sat silently as he let what Tim had just told him sink
in.  He could think of several reasons why a famed doctor might live such a
minimalist life style... but none of them really made much sense.
"So... you want me to find out what's really up with Dr. Gavin?"

            "Yes...  this hospital can't afford to lose its best
physician... not one whom it uses as its poster boy for all of our
fundraising.  It's not just his iceberg personality, and lack of interior
decorating.  It's that over the past few months, staff has reported finding
him crying in the doctor's lounge or in empty exam rooms.  Something is
wrong with him Steven.  He's not happy."

            "Does he know you and I are having this conversation?"  Steven
asked.

            "He knows... The moment after you walked into my office Tara
paged him.  He should be waiting for you in his office."

            "So...  he wants treatment?"

            "In a manner of speaking."  Tim said evasively.

            "Why do I sense a little underhandedness on your part?"  Steven
chuckled.

            "Would I ever stoop to something so low?"  Dr.  Richardson
winked.  "Tara will take you to his office.

            "Fine, keep your secret.  I'm certain Dr. Gavin will tell me
what method of blackmail you're using this time."  Steven said as he stood
up to leave.

            Exiting the office, Dr. Nash caught Tara applying lipstick
while staring into her tiny compact.  "I hope you are not going to such
efforts on my behalf."  Steven smiled.

            "Dr.  Nash!"  The secretary squeaked as she snapped the mirror
closed.

            "Dr.  Richardson said you were to show me to Dr. Gavin's
office."

            "Of course sir... if you will follow me."  Tara said as she
stood up, walking in front of Steven, doing an excessive amount of
swishing, to Dr. Nash's amusement.

            Leading him down the basement past the morgue, she quickly
turned around after reaching the end of a poorly lit hall, holding a small
white card in her hand.  "This part of town might seem drab, but I could
show you a few of the more interesting sights."

            "Like the gay bar three blocks away?"  Steven asked, taking
great pleasure in the look of shock and disappointment that grew on the
woman's face.

            "Damn it, Tim said nothing about you being gay."

            "You know Tim... he likes keeping secrets... gives him a sense
of empowerment."

            "That bastard," Tara swore.  "Well I guess Andy will win the
bet."

            "Bet?"  Steven asked with an arched eyebrow.

            "It's sort of a tradition around here... whenever an eligible
bachelor comes, we unmarried girls and the few gay boys see who sleeps with
him first."

            "How big is the pot this time?"  Steven asked.

            "A little over five hundred dollars this time," Tara replied,
clearly miffed.

            "A big stakes game."  Steven laughed.

            "Yeah...  which is, of course, all Dr. Richardson's fault.  He
passed around a few old photos of you back when you were a med student."

             "Hmmmm... then I must not be as good looking as I think I am.
My face is worth at least three grand."

            "Oh...  you're one of those."

            "Charmingly handsome?"

            "No, you're still a bastard... just now I know you are one of
those egocentric bastards."

            "Naw...  I'm a psychiatrist, not a surgeon."  Steven replied.

            "Could have fooled me."  Tara retorted.

            Reaching into his pants pocket, Steven took out a money clip.
"Here's five hundred dollars, add that to the pot."

            "I don't see why I should.  I'm not going to win it."

            "But wouldn't you enjoy watching all your friends scrabble
about trying to win a cool grand?"

            "That's Dr. Richardson's pastime, not mine, but I see your
point.  It would be fun to watch all them clawing at each other," Tara
said, just as her beeper went off.  "I have to go now."

            "Take care," Steven said, turning to face the smoky glass door
before knocking on it.

            "Come in."  A man's voice replied.

            Opening the door, Steven walked into a tiny dark office, the
only light coming from the x-rays that were displayed across an entire
wall.  At one end of the room, sitting behind a small desk, sat a man
dressed in a long white doctor's coat, resting his head in his hands.

            "I take it you are Dr. Nash?"  The man asked.

            "Yes," Steven said as gently as he could.  For some reason he
felt as if the room he was in was littered with broken glass.  "You are
Dr. Daryl Gavin?"

            "Yes...  I still seem to be," Dr. Gavin chuckled nervously.

            "May I take a seat?" Steven asked, pointing to the folded metal
chair resting against the wall.  It seemed that Daryl did not get many
visitors down here in the dark recesses of the rundown hospital.

            "Yes...  I'm sorry.  Dr. Richardson told me you were coming
last week.  I should have cleaned up the place," Daryl said, as he seemed
almost to scurry from his seat to the light switch, flooding the room with
white florescent light.

            Now able to see the room clearly, Steven was surprised to find
that it was not the total wreck he had at first assumed it would be.  The
desk was covered with charts but all of them seemed neatly organized into
well kept stacks.  The floor was not only clear of any litter, but shone
with a polish that had been lacking in the parts of the hospital Steven had
seen so far.  In fact, the only thing that seemed out of place was the
atmosphere of sterility that filled the room.  It was as if the room was
not the office of one of the city's busiest doctors, but a museum's example
of what a doctor's office was supposed to look like.

            Remembering what Tim has said about what was found at
Dr. Gavin's home, Steven began to wonder if he was dealing with someone
with an obsessive compulsion for cleanliness.  "So, tell me, how did Tim
blackmail you into agreeing to see me?" Steven asked, deciding light humor
was the best approach.

             "He threatened to fire me."  Daryl replied as he returned to
his chair.

            "You knew that was a bluff... didn't you.  He can't fire his
best doctor, not the one who brings in so much needed funding," Steven
said, wanting to get an idea of Dr. Gavin's grip on reality, and only
receiving a shrug in reply.

"Come on... you can do better than that."  Steven pressed.

"I knew he would most likely not fire me, but I saw no reason to challenge
him on the issue.  I'm needed here, that's all that matters," Daryl replied
with little emotion.

"And I must say you have done an excellent job," Steven said, thinking of
the nickname the staff had given Dr. Gavin... Stone King.

"It's what I have to do," Daryl replied.

"And why is that?"  Steven asked curiously.  "Certainly you have received
offers from other hospitals... I mean you are the archangel."

"I hate that name," Daryl said with disgust, showing the first hint of
emotion Steven was able to observe from him.

"Not the religious type?" Steven snickered.

"I am!" Daryl insisted, his eyes opening wide.

            "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend."

            "Not your fault.  You know nothing about me."

            "From what I understand, nobody knows much about you... other
than that you are a brilliant doctor."

            "Now that is my fault."  Daryl chuckled with a weak smile.

            "Well, that's why I'm here, to help you figure things out."

            "I don't think I want that."

            "And why's that?  Do you like being miserable?  Because, quite
frankly, after ten years of medical practice I've not seen a patient as sad
looking as you."

            "That's suppose to impress me?"

            "No...  that's supposed to worry you."

            "That may be, but I don't see what help you can offer."

            "I can be an ear for you.  Help you sort things out.  There are
also some pretty amazing medications available now."

            "I can't take drugs," Daryl said quickly.

            "That's a peculiar thing for a doctor to say.  Then again,
doctors are supposed to make the worse patients."

            "It's not that... I just can't be taking anything that's
mind-altering."

            "You a Mormon or Scientologist?"

            "No..."  Daryl said in a tone that did not invite further
discussion.

          "We can talk about that later," Steven replied, knowing when not
to press.  "Tell me why you're so unhappy?"

            "Because I deserve to be."

            "Now that's not very American of you.  Is this not the land
where the pursuit of happiness is a God given right?"

            "..."  Daryl remained silent.

            "Ok...  why do you think you don't deserve to be happy?"

            "Because of the things I have done, the crimes I have
committed," Daryl said evasively.

            "Crimes?"  Steven asked with an arched eyebrow.  "You're not
thinking of committing a crime or hurting someone?"

            "No...  it's not like that.  I've never broken the law, not
even had a speeding ticket," Daryl said.

            "Then what did you mean by saying you've committed crimes?"
Steven asked as he saw Daryl squeeze something hidden under his shirt.

            "I've committed crimes against my church and family."

            "I see... you sure you're not a Mormon?"

            "No Dr. Nash... I'm not," Daryl replied, once again in a tone
that did not invite further questions.

            Hearing his cell phone go off, Steven did not get to his next
question.  Unhooking the phone from his belt, he opened it.  "Hello?"


            "Hey Steve."  A very familiar voice replied.

            "Hey Patrick... is this going to be a short call?"

            "They already have you seeing patients?" the Man chuckled.

            "Just one... sitting with him right now."

            "Is he cute?" Patrick asked.

            Steven looked across the desk, giving Daryl a quick look before
responding.  "You might say so."

            "Well I hope you remember why you are really there... no monkey
business."

            "Yes...  I've learned my lesson."  Steven sighed.

            "Good...  I was just calling to let you know that the store
only had pre-frozen salmon so I went for the Ahi tuna.  Does that sound ok
for dinner?"

            "Sounds find with me... just be careful with the pepper this
time."

            "But I like pepper."  The voice on the other end pouted.

            "Patrick..."  Steve warned.

            "Fine...  I'll cook yours separately."

            "Thank you."  Steve said as his eyes noticed Daryl starting to
fidget.  "Is there anything else?"

            "Yes...  I got the Stockton report ready.  It will be waiting
for you on your desk."

            `Thanks...  hopefully that will be the last one I have you do."

            "Considering what happened... so do I.  Take care."

            "You too," Steven said before closing his cell phone.  "Sorry
about that... family stuff."

            "I see."  Daryl replied just as his beeper went off.

            Steven watched as Doctor Gavin looked at his pager, the
expression on his face melting into a frown.  "You have to go?"

            "Yes, I'm sorry.  We have a TSTL upstairs."

            "A TSTL?" Steven asked, not recognizing the lingo.

            "Too stupid to live." Daryl sighed as he stood up.  "The nurses
came up with it."

            "Not a very nice thing to say," Steven chuckled.

            "You have to know the patient," Daryl replied, heading for the
door.

            "I see... in med school I think we called them `repeat
offenders'."  Steven said as he followed after Dr. Gavin.

            "Funny," Daryl chuckled lightly.  "Shall I have someone show
you the way out."

            "I'm going with you... gives me a chance to see the archangel
in action."

            "Fine...  but stop referring to me as the archangel, gets on my
nerves."

            "Would you rather I call you the Stone King?"

            "My name is Daryl," Dr. Gavin grunted.

            "Alright Dr. Dare."

            "Daryl."  He corrected.

            "No, I think I like Dare better," Steven insisted.

            "Whatever," Daryl sighed, opening the door to the stairwell and
taking the steps two at a time.

            Following Dr. Gavin to one of the ER's exam rooms, Stephen had
to control a burst of laughter when he saw the patient.  Lying on his
stomach on the exam table, the man had what looked like half a clarinet
sticking out of his ass.

            "Well Ed... want to tell me what you were trying to do this
time?" Daryl asked, his face remaining stoic as he slapped on a pair of
latex gloves.

            "Don't bother Dr. Gavin... he's too stoned," Jessica, a short
black nurse replied.

            "What about what's his name... his friend Sid?"

            "Rotting in jail hopefully," the nurse replied.  He's the one
the police decided sold Mr. Baron whatever shit he is now on."

            "Language..."  Daryl sighed.  "This is a hospital not a bar."

            "Sorry, Dr. Gavin," Jessica apologized, waiting for Daryl to
turn to examine Ed before sticking out her tongue at him.

            After watching Daryl apply an anesthetic, and carefully remove
the instrument section by section, Steven had to admit he was impressed.
Most doctors, even in the ER, would not have acted so calmly, not when the
removal of the clarinet's mouth piece soon triggered a spray of fecal
material.

            "Code brown... we have a code brown in exam room three,"
Stephanie laughed on the intercom, while Dr. Gavin went to the sink to
clean his face.

            "You ok?"  Steven asked concerned.

            "Yes, fine... should have seen that coming," Daryl replied,
wiping his glasses clean before turning to face Jessica.  "Clean Mr. Baron
up and see him on his way."

            "That's all?" Jessica asked, surprised.

            "I would put him on pain meds, but it took a court order to get
him off them last time," Daryl replied.  "I gave him Celebrex last time,
but thinking it was like Vicoden he tried to get himself stoned on it.  Had
to pump his stomach."

            "We could keep him here a few days... at least till the
swelling goes down."

            "You know I would like to do that, Jessica, but with the bed
shortage I can't justify it.  I tried to get him a bed in a mental
facility, but since the shrinks at the state hospital don't see him as a
danger to anyone they won't give him one."

            "Maybe I can help?"  Steven offered.

            "You got any pull with the state hospital?" Daryl asked.

            "No...  but I do sit on the medical boards of three private
ones."

            "Ed doesn't have insurance."  Dr. Gavin warned.

            "Don't worry... I can pay for it."  Steven said as he reached
for his cell phone.

            Three phone calls later, Mr. Baron was in an ambulance being
taken to a private hospital located outside the city.

            "Thank you," Daryl said to Steven when he reached the end of
his eighteen hour shift four hours later.

            "Not a problem... just wish I could have gotten you to go along
as well."

            "You really think I'm that bad?" Daryl asked, as he walked into
the doctor's lounge.


            "No...  you're not schizophrenic.  You are certainly suffering
from a depressive episode however."

            "So, what is your recommended prescription?" Daryl asked, as he
popped three quarters into the soda machine and selected a root beer.

            "Well, since you have already said you won't take any
medication... I think I would concentrate on cognitive, followed by
behavioral therapy."

            "So...  you believe my depression is caused by delusional or
misguided thinking?" Daryl chuckled before taking a swig of his soda.

            "You're a doctor.  Did you do a psychiatry rotation?"

            "No...  but I did take a basic psychology course."

            "Ah...  and were you like most 101 students, thinking you could
self diagnose yourself after a single course?  I know I did."  Steven
laughed.

            "No...  it did teach me enough to know I really didn't want
someone fumbling through my head though."

            "But you are going to let me `fumble' about inside you, as you
say."

            "Only because I would find Dr. Richardson's attempts more
annoying," Daryl replied, wiping the foam from his mouth.

            "Good...  then I expect to see you in my office tomorrow,"
Steven grinned.

2. Chapter 2

                      Chapter 2



            "I'm home."  Steven shouted from the front entry before hanging
his coat in the nearby closet.

            "Finally...  I've been wanting to eat for the past two hours,"
a near identical voice replied.

            "You could have eaten without me Patrick," Steven replied as he
made his way through several rooms to the kitchen.

            "I told you I was cooking tuna tonight.  If I cooked it when I
wanted to, it would have dried out and gone cold before you came home,"
Patrick said to the sizzling sound of uncooked flesh hitting hot oil.

            "Did you remember not to put so much pepper on mine?" Steven
asked, as he looked over Patrick's shoulder.

            "Of course," he replied, turning his face, a near copy of
Steven's, to kiss his twin brother's lips.

            "Mmmmmm...  now this kind of spice I don't mind," Steven
chuckled as their lips parted.

            "Well this is all you are getting tonight... got a date,"
Patrick replied, flipping the pan seared fish over.

            "Work, or pleasure?" Steven asked, as he went to the counter
where a salad bowl stood.

            "A little of both."  Patrick replied.

            "Oh?"  Steven asked, as he picked out a chunk of tomato.

            "Yeah...  remember that cute guy at the club last week?"

            "Of course... how could I not?  You were with him the whole
time," Steven said as a piece of avocado slipped from his fingers.

            "Well he gave me a call today; seems he wants to hire me for a
job."

            "What is it this time... blackmail, embezzlement, jealous
boyfriend?"

            "Don't know yet... all I know is the target," Patrick said as
he took the fish out of the pan, letting the oil heat up before cooking his
brother's tuna.

            "Someone important?" Steven asked.

            "A local celebrity," Patrick replied.

            "Who?"  Steven asked, now curious.

            "You know the rule... You don't tell me about your celebrity
patients and I don't tell you about mine."

            "Fine...  be that way," Steven said, as he took his plate from
his twin before heading to his office.

            There, sitting on his desk was a single DVD... the Stockton
report.  Putting his plate down, Steven took the disk out of its protective
case and placed it in his computer's DVD drive.  Within seconds a video
began playing, the last recorded session he had done with Mr. Nathan
Stockton right before the man had killed himself in front of his doctor.

            Nathan had been like most of Steven's patients... first
generation success stories, many times being the first in their family to
go to college.  Having come from a similar background, Steven felt he had
good understanding of the issues and emotional insecurities faced by some
people new to money.  That, at least, was what Steven had first thought
when Nathan stepped into his office.

            Nathan...  having grown up in a small Southern Baptist farming
community in Georgia, had been a local football legend... good enough to
earn a scholarship to go to college in Athens, the first of his family to
do so.  In his second year, however, a hard tackle received while making a
winning touchdown had torn his Antilles tendon, ending his career and
costing him his NCAA scholarship.  His coach however, not wanting to see
the promising young man's future destroyed, made a few calls to certain
well-to-do alumni who raised enough money to allow Nathan to finish
college.

            Getting a degree in accounting, Nathan scored exceptionally
well on the GMAT; well enough to get into Wharton's.  So...  against his
father's advice, Nathan left Georgia for Pennsylvania, working as a part
time accountant.  From then on life moved into the fast lane for
Mr. Stockton.  Heavily recruited right out of business school, he quickly
became one of his company's leading investment bankers, making his first
million before turning 30.

            Using that money, Nathan paid off his family's mortgage on the
farm and bought his parents a pair of new cars.  It was a couple of years
after that when Nathan's physician referred him to Steven for depression.

            For the next three months Steven had listened patiently while
Mr. Stockton complained about his family's never ending demands for more
money while at the same time refusing to take any action to stop it.
Eventually, Steven started to suspect that Nathan's problems had nothing to
do with his family... at least where money was concerned.

            It was with these kinds of patients that Steven was glad he had
his brother.  Having worked as a police undercover officer until a case
ended with him getting shot at, Patrick had retired to the less strenuous
role of providing security and private investigations.  So... whenever
Steven suspected one of his patients was not being totally open and honest,
he would use his brother to dig up whatever secrets were really eating away
at them.  It might be unethical, but Steven felt it was for his patients'
own good.

            When Patrick came back with the deal on Mr. Stockton, Steven
was both impressed, and a little horrified.  As it turned out, Nathan was
not just cheating on his wife but was cheating on her with a much older
man... one of the rich alumni who had helped pay for his college education.
  Knowing Mr. Stockton's religious background, Steven began to wonder if
the money he was giving his family was not out of feelings of generosity,
but of guilt.

            If that had been all of it, Steven would have been sure he knew
how to guide their meetings to help Nathan reach some resolution.  That
wasn't all that Patrick found out however.  His brother didn't know if
Mr. Stockton was aware of it, but the man he was sleeping with was HIV
positive.  This placed Steven in a difficult position, for he was sure that
Mrs. Stockton did not have a clue about her husband's ambiguous sexuality.

            Considering how he came by the information and the code on
ethics dealing with patient confidentiality, Steven knew he could not go
behind Mr. Stockton's back and tell his wife to get tested, but his
conscience would allow him let one of his patients put another person's
life at risk.  So they came to their last meeting.

            Showing Nathan the evidence his brother had gathered, Steven
had expected some sort of response, but all Mr. Stockton did was thank him
for the information and then left ... his face pale.

What happened later still haunted Steven's dreams.  Not liking how
Mr. Stockton left, he had called his house to check up on him, only for the
police to answer the phone.  On learning that Steven was Mr. Stockton's
psychiatrist; the police had him report to the station at once.  On
arriving there, Steven learned what happened to Mr. Stockton after he left
his office.  First he had gone to the house of his gay lover and killed
him.  Then he went home and killed his wife before killing himself with a
single shot to the head.

Steven knew what he should have done... tell the police everything about
his last meeting with Nathan, but he didn't.  He knew if he did, he would
never free himself from the guilt that still haunted him.  Three people
were now dead, and while not all his fault, he had been the catalyst, the
one drop too many that had broken the weak forces holding Nathan's sanity
together.

After watching the entire video, Steven took the disk out, snapping it in
half with his hand, a sharp shard cutting into his palm, destroying the
last piece of evidence of what he had done.

 


3. Chapter 3


               "Hand all healed?' Daryl asked Steven the third week of their daily
sessions.

            "Yeah...  looks like the cut is going to leave a scar for me to
remember it by," Steven grunted between sips of his morning coffee.

            "Sorry to hear that."

            "Don't worry about me... this is your hour."

            "But all we seem to do is talk about me," Daryl complained.

            "It's called professional detachment.  Surely you were taught
that in med school."

            "Everyone here seems to think I got a PhD in it."

            "Is that true?"

            "Maybe," Daryl admitted.  "Quite frankly, though, I don't see
why anyone would want to get to know me in the first place."


            "You are the archangel," Steven said before he could stop
himself.  From the way Daryl was now glaring at him, he knew Dr. Gavin
still did not like that nickname.  "Sorry... I forgot, but you have to
admit...  after saving the lives of five people whom others have declared
dead is a pretty remarkable feat.  It's one of the reasons why I respect
you."

            "Saving lives is what doctors are supposed to do."  Daryl
shrugged.  "I'm sure that in your own practice you've helped rescue people
who might have ended up killing themselves or others."

            Squinting from a sudden twinge of guilt triggered pain, Steven
closed his eyes for a second.  "We're not here to talk about me," he
repeated.


            "I'm sorry."  Daryl apologized.  "It's just..."

            "Yes?"

            "Never mind... it's not important."

          "Not important in that it's not important?  Or that it is on the
long list of things you don't want to talk about."

            "I don't want to talk about it," Daryl replied, as he tried to
look to see what Steven was scribbling down.

            "You really think I'm going to let you see what I am writing?"
Steven chuckled.  "That would be the same as you letting your patient's see
their charts."

            "I'm a doctor... I'm not used to not being able to read other
doctor's notes."

            "Well get used to it."  Steven said as he held the pad close to
his chest.

            "Sorry," Daryl apologized again, biting the nail of his thumb.

            "Relax Dare... I'm not going to bite your head off."

            "Stop calling me Dare."

            "Not going to happen."  Steven smiled widely.

            "Is giving your clients annoying nicknames part of your way of
keep professional distance?"

            "No...  not really.  You're the first."

            "Lucky me," Daryl sighed.

            "See...  you are getting better.  Three weeks ago you would
have just glared and not said a word."

            "I'm trying," Daryl said sarcastically.

            "Good...  then I think we are ready for the next step."

            "Oh?"

            "Yes...  I think you should invite me to dinner."

            "Now that is definitely not something I would call professional
detachment."

            "Still, I would like you see where you live."

            "I think you know how I live... if not you must be deaf for it
is all the nurses are gossiping about... that, and which one of them is
going to sleep with you first."

            "You've put money into the pot?"  Steven asked curiously.

            Daryl shrugged.  "A dollar."

            "Not a big stakes gambler?"

            "No...  not part of my religious beliefs."

            "I've noticed you seem to have a lot of those.  When are we
going to finally talk about what kind of church you belong to?"

            "Not any time soon," Daryl said, his eyes darting towards the
clock on the wall.

            "Are we out of time already?"  Steven said in mock surprised.

            "Seems so."

            "Alright.  Then I will see you later tonight... does nine sound
ok?"

            "I never said..."  Daryl started to argue.

            "I know your address Dare, so unless you plan on selling your
house and moving in the next five hours, I'm going to be at your door."

            "But!"

            "Doctor's orders," Steven said sternly just as Daryl's pager
went off.  "Seems like I've kept you over.  Better get going."

            "Finally," Daryl sighed, leaving the office.

            An hour later, just as he finished making his rounds, Steven
received a phone call.  "Hello?"

            "It's me... Tim."

            "Hey...  what's up?"

            "That's what I wanted to ask you.  Did you know Dr. Gavin just
called in sick?"

            "No...  he seemed perfectly fine when I saw him.  Is he ok?"

            "That's what I want to know.  In the six years that man has
worked here he has never called in sick... even when it was obvious he
was."

            "Ahhh...  I see.  I think I know what's wrong," Steven laughed.

            "Please tell me," Dr. Richardson demanded.

            "I think it's his nerves."

            "Aren't you the one who's supposed to make sure that doesn't
happen?"

            "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs," Steven
said defensively.

            "Just make sure he comes out an omelet and not a plate of
scrabbled eggs," Tim warned.

            "Trust me... I have everything under control."

            "So what is it that has our archangel stressed out?"

            "He and I have a dinner date... at his place."

            "But there is not even a stove at his place from what I
understand," Dr. Richardson said, concerned.

            "Now I have given him a reason to get one.  I mean, unless
there is something I don't know, he's not spending his money on anything.
If I were to guess what Dare is doing right now, it's that he's rushing to
the nearest Best Buy or furniture store to see if he can try to make his
living situation seem halfway reasonable."

            "I hope you're right.  Still... is having dinner with one of
your patients professional of you?"

               "He's not really left me with much of a choice.  As far as I
have determined through the limited subjects he's been willing to talk
about he has no social life, no friends, no family that's he's willing to
speak about.  He doesn't date and doesn't go out to bars or clubs.  His
life is just a repetitive cycle of going between work and home."

            "Sad isn't it?"

            "Yes," Steven agreed.  "For all I know, I am the only person he
talks to who has no connection to his job."

            "Just don't let me find out you're dating him," Tim warned.
"You can if you want but you need to warn me.  Might do him a hell of a lot
of good.  From what I remember of you in med school...  he's just your
type.  I just don't know if he's gay.  Hell... he could be a 32 year old
virgin for all I know. "

            "I know... sometimes I think I should stop trying to be his
doctor."

            "You got it that bad for him?"

            "I've been having dreams."  Steven admitted.

            "I see... then I think I should let you in on a secret," Tim
chuckled.  "The bet on Dr. Gavin is still going on."

            "How big is the pot?"  Steven asked, thinking it had to be only
a few hundred dollars.

            "That's the interesting part... as it stands now it's over ten
thousand dollars."

            "What?  I thought I was doing well at an even thousand.  How
did Dare's get so big."

            "Because every year for the past six years almost everyone in
the hospital adds some money to the pot," Tim explained.  "It's now seen as
a mercy fund since everyone believes he must suck in bed."

            "Still ten thousand dollars is ten thousand dollars, but I
don't see any of them fighting each other to get at Dare."

            "After six years of trying everyone's given up.  The staff put
money into the pot now, not because they think they can win, but just to
continue what has become a sad joke."

            "Does Dare know how much money is now on him?"

            "I'm sure he does, but I've never heard him talk or joke about
it."

            "Well...  this makes it more interesting," Steven chuckled.

            "Of course if you really think you have a chance at collecting
you'll need to put some money into the pot first," Tim warned.

            "Sure...  who do I give the money to?"

            "As it would so happen... that person would be me," Tim
laughed.

            Three hours later, and a hundred dollars lighter, Steven was
rushing home to pretty himself up.  Not that he planned to jump Daryl's
bones that night.  He wanted to take his time with this seduction.

            Patrick certainly guessed something was up when his nose caught
the sent of one of his own expensive colognes.  "Hey... that's mine!  Do
you know how expensive that shit is?" He said as he barged into the
dressing room they both shared.

            "It's a special occasion,." Steven said evasively.

            "Really...  does that mean you will actually have dinner before
you fuck whoever you are going out to see?"

            "No...  I'm off to see a patient."

            "Wearing a red silk shirt that is one size too small for you,
black leather pants, and a cologne which is described as `ravishing'?"
Patrick smirked.

            "He will not always be my patient," Steven said defensively.

            "At least promise me he's not married," Patrick pleaded.

            "No...  he's not married, but he might be a virgin."

            "Oh God... why do I sense another migraine headache coming on?"
Patrick moaned.

            "You better not be," Steven said, knowing that if his twin got
one, more often than not he would get one as well.  "Don't worry Patrick, I
promise to be on my best behavior."

            "That's what you always say.  Remember your conference in
Brazil...  you brought back crabs."

            "How can I... you'll never let me forget."

            "Someone has to act as your conscience," Patrick smirked.

            "I won't sleep with him until I stop being his doctor.  I
promise."

            "Really?"  Patrick asked, skeptically.

            "Yes, I promise even though this is all conjecture.  No one
knows if he's even gay.  As I said... he might be a virgin," Steven said.

"But you're sure to have fun finding out.  Just remember to keep Jr.  under
wraps."

"You think getting out of these leather pants is easy?" Steven laughed.

"They would be if you would just buy the right size," Patrick pointed out.

"But the smaller size shows my ass off better," Steven pouted.

"Don't I know it," Patrick agreed, squeezing both cheeks of his brother's
firm butt.

"We will continue this later," Steven promised, even as he felt himself
harden.

"Promises, promises... you're just full of them today," Patrick laughed.

"This is one promise you know I will enjoy keeping though," Steven said
before lightly kissing his twin.

"That's what I'm counting on."

4. Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Arriving at Dr.  Gavin's address Steven was surprised, after all he had
heard, to find that it was a significantly large place in a very well-to-do
neighborhood.  The front lawn, while devoid of the colorful flowers and
pruned bushes that marked the other houses, was well kept.  Daryl's car,
parked in the driveway, seemed out of place.  Not that it was a rusty
bucket of bolts.  It was that it was a Honda Accord at least two models,
maybe three models old, with the old boxy design.  With every other
driveway containing a sleek Mercedes, BMW, or Lexus, Steven felt as if he
was crossing into a different time zone.

On reaching the front door, Steven heard the heavy sound of a hammer
followed by the high pitched squeal of an electric drill.  Curious as to
what Daryl was up to, Steven wasted no time ringing the doorbell, bringing
the ruckus coming from inside the house to a sudden halt.

A few moment's latter the door jerked open, showing the half naked, sweat
drenched and exasperated Dr. Gavin.  "You're early," he said, breathing
heavily.

Steven, finally seeing the hard muscular body that had been hidden
underneath Daryl's baggy clothes, coughed nervously as he tried his best to
will away the hard-on growing in his tight pants.  "Should I come back
later?" he asked nervously.

"Like next month?"  Daryl asked, his blue green eyes looked pleading.

"I was thinking more like ten minutes... enough time for you to finish
whatever you were doing and get cleaned up."

"Wouldn't make a difference," Daryl said, wiping at what seemed like a
constant stream of sweat that was running down his face.  "You know, most
doctors I know set up their appointments several weeks in advance."

"This is a house call," Steven snickered, as he squeezed both hands into
his front pockets in an attempt to adjust his pants.

"Then you might as well come on in," Daryl sighed before walking back into
the house.

Following after Daryl, Steven had to hold back a lust filled moan as his
eyes followed the movement his gorgeous ass, only covered by the thin
material of the blue shorts he was wearing.  "Damn you Patrick," he
whispered under his breath as he followed Daryl into what he assumed was
the living room.

Looking around Steven saw the product of Daryl's efforts.  The room, while
still far way from looking comfy, was not completely empty.  There were two
unfolded metal chairs, a sleeping bag in one corner, a microwave in
another, and what looked like a medium sized, half built, do it yourself
table.  Also laying about the room were a dozen discarded Wal-Mart bags.

"Well... I'll give you an `A' for effort, but a `D-' in style."  Steven
laughed as he felt himself starting to sweat.  "Is it me or is it hot in
here?"

"Sorry... forgot to lower the air-conditioner," Daryl said as he rushed
toward the wall thermostat, almost slipping on a few of the plastic bags
before reaching it.

"It's July you know... winter won't be here for a few more months.  What
did you have it set at?"

"Eighty-five degrees," Daryl said apologetically as he turned the dial
down.

"Do I really want to know why?" Steven asked.  If there was one thing he
hated about his leather pants, it was how sticky and uncomfortable they got
when he started sweating.  Of course it would not be so bad if he did as
Patrick recommended and wore the correct size.

"It's more energy efficient," Daryl said, as he made his way back more
carefully.

"Dare... I know eventually our country is going to face a serious energy
crisis, but setting the thermostat so high is not efficient; it's
just plain crazy."

"Sorry," Daryl apologized again.

"Don't be... as far as I know you might like living in a sauna," Steven
said as he started unbuttoning his shirt.

"Well I don't.  I just don't like wasting money."

"Really?  They don't pay us a lot, but you can at least afford a higher
electric bill," Steven said, quickly biting his tongue.  He was being over
critical.  "I'm sorry... I should be minding my own business."

"Not your problem.  Isn't your job to help me see where I am
acting... `unreasonably'?" Daryl sighed.

"Ok... then you wouldn't mind me asking you a few questions?"

"You can... I'm just won't promise that I will answer all of them," Daryl
replied.

"Fair enough.  I guess I will start with the big one first."

"The one where you ask my why, a successful doctor such as I, am living
like this?"

"Hell yes!"

"All I can say is that this is my life and I have the right to live it the
way I want."

"And I agree with that, but unless you have some financial issues I don't
know about, none of what I've seen so far makes any sense."

"I know, and I am sorry, but I really can't explain much to you."

"You are making helping you very difficult you know," Steven sighed.

"But don't you like the challenge?" Daryl smiled nervously.

"A challenge is one thing, even the game Twenty Questions can be fun at
times, but most times you won't even give me a yes or no answer.  I find
that fucking annoying."

"Fine... we will play a game of twenty questions then."

"Only if you promise to answer me honestly without any mind games or trick
answers," Steven demanded.

"I've never been dishonest with you," Daryl said defensively.

"But you can't say you've been very forthcoming about things."  Steven
glared as the air coming from the air conditioner began finally to cool the
room, sending a shiver down his spine.

"I will be this time," Daryl promised.

"Fine... are you in financial trouble?"

"No," Daryl replied.

"Are you a wanted criminal?"

"No."  Daryl laughed.

"Are you suicidal?"

"No," Daryl replied after a short pause.

"Have you ever been suicidal?"

Daryl lowered his head.  "Yes."

"Have you ever wanted to hurt yourself?"  Steven next asked.

"Be more specific."  Daryl said after a long pause.

"Have you ever wanted to cut yourself?"

"No."  Daryl said quickly.

"But you do hurt yourself in some fashion?"

"Yes."

"Is living like this how you punish yourself?" Steven asked, not knowing
what else it could be.

"Yes."  Daryl nodded.

Finally getting somewhere, Steven could not stop a smile from forming on
his face.

"You find this funny?"  Daryl asked accusingly.

"No... I find it quite sad, but I'm happy that you're being more open than
you have ever been with me before."

 "I told you I would answer honestly."

"I know," Steven replied sympathetically.  He could tell by the expression
on Daryl's face that these questions were not easy for him.  He just wished
he could ask questions beyond those that could be answered by a `yes' or
`no'.

"Next question?"  Daryl asked, looking up to show the tears running down
his face.

"Do you have any close friends?"

"No."

"Do you have any family?"

"No."

"Are your parent's dead?"

"Yes... that's ten questions."

"I know... Did you ever have any brothers or sisters?"

"Yes... nine left," Daryl said, the tears running down his face increasing.

"A brother?"

"Yes."

"Older?"

"No."

"Any other siblings?"

"No."

"So both your parents and younger brother are dead?"

"No... five left."

Wait a minute... you said you have no family."  Steven said, sensing a
trick.

"I don't."

"But..."  Steven said confused.

"You asked me if both my parents and younger brother were dead.  I never
said I had a younger brother."

"But you said `no' when I asked you if he was older than you... wait a
minute, if he's not older or younger than you he has to be your twin?"

"Yes... four questions left."

"That was meant to be rhetorical."  Steven grunted.

"It was a yes or no question."  Daryl replied.

"Fine... be that way.  Just be kind enough to give me a moment to sort
things through.  I don't want to waste my remaining questions.

"I can wait all night... I'm off tomorrow."

"So am I."  Steven could not help but snicker, letting many pleasurable
possibilities pop into his head.  Knowing Daryl had a twin... a dead twin
at that, he really only had one question that truly needed to be answered.
That left three questions he could use for more selfish reasons.

"Is the reason you punish yourself anyway related to the death of your
brother?"

"Yes..."  Daryl whispered, nodded his head.

            "I'm sorry.  I can't imagine how losing him felt and still
feels for you.  Now for the easy questions."

            "They'd better be."

"I promise... you might even find them fun.  Are you gay?"

"What?"  Daryl shouted in disbelief

            "It's a yes or no question... and be honest."

            "Yes."  Daryl glared.

            "Really...  you're really gay?" Steven said excitedly.

            "Yes..."  Daryl said, as if embarrassed.

            Nothing would have made Steven happier than to ravish Daryl
right then and there, but his promise to his brother held him back.  Still,
there were a few more things he needed to know.  "Are you a virgin?"

            "No."  Daryl shook his head nervously.  "Two questions left."

            "Even more interesting," Steven chuckled.  "Are you attracted
to me?"

            "Yes...  and that's all I am going to say on the subject."
Daryl said in a defiant tone.

            "We'll see."  Steven grinned moved in on Dr.  Gavin.  "Last
question... will you let me kiss you?"

            Daryl did not say a word but closed his eyes, leaning ever so
slightly forward, his lips barely parted. Taking that as a yes, Steven met
Daryl's lips, touching them ever so gently before letting his tongue slip
into his mouth.

            "Is this what you call professional detachment?" Daryl asked,
catching his breath after the long kiss ended.

            "It's what I call giving each other what we both want and
need," Steven replied as he reached over and touched Daryl's face tenderly.

            "I can't do this... I don't deserve it, and you're out of
questions."  Daryl said as he pulled away.

            "We'll have to do this again then."

            "Not anytime soon," Daryl replied in a begging tone as he tried
to distract himself with the pieces of half finished table.

            "Don't worry about this cheap junk.  Let's go out," Steven
said,

            "Go out?" Daryl asked in disbelief.

            "When was the last time you spent a night on the town?"

            "To be honest..."

            "I see... then this will be your first adventure.  That is
unless you would rather we stay here and fuck each other silly?"

            "Let me get dressed."  Daryl said all too quickly.

            "But I like how you're dressed now," Steven whined as he
followed Daryl to his near empty bedroom.

            Steven watched with interest as Daryl slipped off his running
shorts before putting on a pair of khaki pants and a dark blue t-shirt.

            "Is this alright?" Daryl asked, as he spun himself around for
Steven's inspection.

            "It'll do for now," Steven chuckled, running a pair of fingers
down the other man's chest.

            "Stop it," Daryl said weakly, as he lightly brushed Steven's
fingers aside.

            "I can't help it Dare.  What can I say... I have a weakness for
twins."

            "You're my doctor... try to remember that," Daryl pleaded.

            "I could always quit," Steven offered, barely keeping his lust
under control.

            "You want to give up on me?"

            "Giving up is not the problem," Steven laughed, rubbing the
growing bulge in the front of his pants.  "But you're right... I should at
least try harder to pretend we have only a professional relationship."

            "Let's get going... I think I will feel safer around you with
other people around."

5. Chapter 5

    Patrick sat in a far corner of the bar watching his target from
a distance.  Wearing one of his many faces and hisfavorite deep purple
dress, he watched with a bemused smile the clumsy, nervousbehavior of the
other man and the lusty overconfidence of his companion.

            "Behave yourself brother."  Patrick smirked between sips of his
sparkling wine.

            Patrick knew he should have told Steve days ago that the man he
was spending so much time spying on was the same man his brother had both a
professional and personal interest in.  This was especially true with all the
peculiar information he had gathered on the famousDr. Gavin.

            Stillhe had to admit, Daryl, or Dare as his brother had
nicknamed him, was indeedmore than cute.  He was freaking gorgeous,and a
twin to boot, which made the man exactly Steven's type.  The ironic twist
was that it made Dare exactly Patrick's type as well.

            Seeing his brother leave Dare's side for long line to the
bathroom, Patrick saw achance for a little fun.  Waiting untilSteven was
out of view, he stood up and swished his way over to where Dare wassitting
nervously at the bar.

            "Surprise!"Patrick said with his best imitation of his
brother's voice as he covered bothof Dare's eyes.

            "I think I have had enough surprises in one day, Steven," Daryl
replied, turningaround to see Patrick in all his fabulous glory.  "Steven?"

            "Don't you like my dress?  At least this one is the right size,"
Patrick said.

            "Uhmmmm..."  Daryl replied nervously.

            "Oh come on Dare... what's the point of being gay, if you are
not willing to dress uplike a queen every now and then?"

            "I just never knew you were into this sort of thing."

            "I'm into a whole lot of things... including you," Patrick said
as he moved in closer.

            "Ialready gave you your kiss for the night," Daryl said as he
moved backnervously.

            "But I'm a whole new person now," Patrick laughed as he spun
around in his longpurple dress.

            "That's for sure," Daryl said uneasily.

            "Come on... let's go to my place," Patrick said just as he saw
his brother reach the front of the line.  "I promise to get out of this
getup.  Then we can have some real fun."

            "Such as?"

            "We could play dress up.  I have this fabulous sea green dress
that would match perfectly with those pretty eyes of yours."

            "I'm not dressing up like girl at some debutant ball."

            "I do not dress up like a girl!" Patrick said offended.  "I
dress like royalty."

            "Sorry,my mistake," Daryl apologized, trying hard not to laugh.

            "Your majesty," Patrick corrected.  "You must address me as your
majesty."

            "As you wish, your majesty," Daryl bowed.

            "That's better... now let's go," Patrick said just as he saw
Steven pop out of the restroom.

            "You know my place is in no place for entertaining," Daryl said
as he allowed himself to be led away.

            "But we are not going back to your place.  We're going to mine."

            "We are?" Daryl asked nervously.

            "Don't worry Dare... I'm not planning on raping you.  We are
just going to play a few games."

            "Justn ot another game of twenty questions."  Daryl warned.

********************************

            Seeing the all too familiar man dressed in a royal purple gown
Steven knew he was in trouble, even more so when he saw his twin leading
Daryl out of the club.  With the crowded dance floor between him and his
kidnapped love interest, Steven had no easy time trying to catch up
withDaryl.  As a result, by the time he gotoutside, all he could see of the
pair were the departing tail lights of hisbrother's SUV.

            "Damn you Patrick," Steven cursed, as he raced to his own car
with every intention of beating them back to the house.

            That of course involved Steven breaking more than several
traffic laws, which during the heavily patrolled streets of a Friday night,
only led to him being stopped by the police.  Considering that he had both
been speeding, passing through red lights, and had a few drinks at the club,
the officer was more than generous.  With his blood alcohol level just a
fraction of a point below the legal limit, the policeman ticketed Steven
only for speeding on the condition that he agree to spending a night in the
county cooler.

            Steven,hatig letting his brother win, almost turned the offer
down and accept the reckless driving charge, but looking at the ticket the
officer had just handed him, he saw that the man had written down his home
telephone number.  Looking up at the police officer, he saw the man given
him a wink.  As he watched the man head back to his patrol car from his side
view mirror, Steven suspected that the man was doing an unnecessary amount
of swishing.  To say the least Steven never did end up jailthat night... he
did get handcuffed a few times though.

******************

            "Now don't you look as pretty as a princess."  Patrick grinned
as he turned the stool around to show Daryl his handywork.

            "I look ridiculous," Daryl sighed, looking with distain at the
red beehive wig ontop of his head.

            "That' like most true royalty... you're big boned."
Patrick explained.  "Now you sit still while I go get my camera...and don't
touch anything!"

            "I'm not going to let you take a picture of this."


            "Too late," Patrick said just as a flash bulb went off.

            "Now that you've finished humiliating me... can you help me get
this stuff off?  All this glitter is starting to get into my eyes."

            "Of course."  Patrick said.  Undressing Daryl was going to be
almost asmuch fun as it had been to turn him into a princess.

            Liftin gthe large wig gently off Daryl's head, Patrick then
unzipped the back of the green dress he had made the doctor put on, letting
the tips of his fingers rundown the spine of the man's back.

            "You made a beautiful princess Dare... but I must say you make a
better prince."  Patrick whispered as he used a cotton ball totenderly wipe
the makeup from Daryl's face while his free hand continued tomassage the
good doctor's muscular back.

            "I'm neither," Daryl sighed, leaning back against Patrick.

            "Am I not a queen... can't I bestow titles of nobility on those
I see as worthy?"

            "I'm not a good person."

            "Let me be the judge of that," Patrick said as he pulled the
dress off Daryl's shoulders.

            "I shouldn't be doing this," Daryl sighed.  "I haven't done
something like this in ages."

            "ThenI think you're well overdue for a little fun."

            "Yes...but do I want to pay the price later?"

            "I'm clean... I can even show you the lab results."

            "It's not that.  Its father... he would not approve of me doing
something like this."

            "So far you're not doing anything... I'm doing all the work."
Patrick chuckled between the kisses he was now planting on Daryl's sinewy
neck.

            "I'm sorry... it's been so long I guess I've forgotten how to do
this sort of thing."

            "It's like riding a bike... once you've learned how you just
need to go byinstincts.  Don't try to think your way through it... feel your
way."  Patrick suggested as he pulled the dress down from the front of
Daryl's body.

            Helping Daryl to his feet, Patrick slipped the rest of the dress
off his chiseledframe.  "For someone who doesn't get outmuch you sure look
like you spend a great deal of time at the gym."

            "I work out at home... our bodies are reflections of our souls.
We are supposed to take care of them."

            "So,no drinking or drugs but plenty of sit-ups?" Patrick
laughed.

            "Basically,"Daryl nodded.

            "Your turn now," Patrick said, turning aroundso that Daryl could
unbutton the back of his purple gown.

            The touch of Dare's fumbling fingers tickled Patrick as the man
nervously undressed him.  Kicking his high heels off beforestepping out of
the dress, Patrick sat himself down on the white ottoman infront of the
mirror.

"I might dress like a queen but those heels are a bitch," he laughed as he
rubbed his sore feet.  "Can you give me a foot massage?"

"Never given one before, but I'll try," Daryl said as he sat on the
carpeted floor.

"Mmmmm... you're a natural," Patrick cooed, as he removedhis own wig,
makeup, and press-on nails.

When halfway done,Patrick reached down and took Daryl's hand in his,
letting it feel it's way uphis leg till it rested between his inner thighs.
"Do what you want to do Dare, not what you think you should."

Watching Daryl nod silently, Patrick let out a deep moan as he felt a warm
hand slip past theopening in his boxer shorts, taking hold of his cock.
"That's it Dare, hold it like you own it,like it is a part of you."



As soon as his cock was free, Patrick watched with surprise as Daryl, moved
his head forward,nuzzling his face against the muscle of his sex.  "Taste
it Dare... I know you want to."

"I shouldn't," Daryl protested.

"Stop `shoulding'all over yourself; you're making a mess."  Patrick
laughed.  What would you like us to do then?" Patrick asked, running his fingers
through Daryl's short brown hair.

"Just to hold you...  to not spend another night alone."

"I would like that too," Patrick replied.  "Care to join me in the bedroom?"

6. Chapter 6

 

Arriving home shortly after dawn, Steven had hoped to catch Daryl and his
brother in midst of passionate lovemaking.  Instead however he found his
brother in bed alone, a content smile on his face.

"You seemed to have had a pleasant evening," Steven said as he tossed his
brother's purple dress on top of the bed.

"It was entertaining to say the least," Patrick replied, before stretching
out his long body in a yawn.

"First of all Daryl was my date.  Second, what were you doing at the
club... I thought you had to work."

"You might not believe me Steven... but keeping an eye on Daryl is my job."

"You mean the archangel is the man your new client has had you spend so
much time spying on?"

"Yes... paying me triple my normal fee too."

"I thought you had a rule against sleeping with the men you are paid to dig
up dirt on."

"I thought your profession had a rule about not dating your own patients."

"It was a house call," Steven insisted.

"At a gay nightclub?" Patrick smirked.

"Behavior modification and desensitization therapy," Steven said all too
quickly.

"Is that the line you used on Daryl when you talked him into going?"

 "In not so few words... yes."

"I see..."

"Oh don't get on your soapbox.  I'm sure you were not so honest about your
intentions.  I would bet half my medical practice that you didn't tell him
you are my brother."

"Which is entirely your fault.  You're the one who has not told him about me
so that when he saw me he automatically assumed I was you."

"How could he have mistaken me for you?  You were in a fucking dress.  Not to
mention the fact that you are one of the most nelly queens I have ever
met."

"That still makes me royalty," Patrick insisted, throwing his dress back at
his brother.  "Anyway...Daryl didn't seem to mind, not even when we played
dress-up."

"Oh God... you didn't."

"I did," Patrick said, reaching for the nightstand for his digital camera.
"See for yourself."

Taking the camera,Steven looked through the pictures till he found the one
showing Daryl wearing a red beehive wig and green dress.  "I must say he
looked better in it than you ever have."

"It's his eyes...  they're a better match."

"So what else did you two do?"

"We gave each other massages, let him play with junior for a little bit,
and then we went to bed and snuggled."

"That's all?"

"Well, I did give him a guest pass to gym I go to.  He's supposed to meet me
there latter this weekend."

"But where is he now?  You're not an early bird Patrick so I know you didn't
drive him back home."

"He woke me up around five this morning telling me he was taking a cab
back."

"I see..."  Steven said, placing the camera back on the nightstand only for
his eyes to catch the glimpse of a worn out checkbook.  Curious, he picked
it up, stepping back just in time to avoid his brother's reach.

"Hey... that's not yours!"

"It's not yours either," Steven pointed out as he opened it.

Walking backwards into the bathroom before his brother could untangle
himself from his bedsheets, Steven locked himself inside.  Going through
the pages he discovered that the checkbook was in fact Daryl's and that
while he did not seem to be in any financial trouble... the flow of money in
and out of the account made little sense.  On top of his five thousand
dollar a month salary, on the first of every month a twenty thousand dollar
deposit was made by a source only labeled as `Father'.  Adding to the
peculiarity of the situation, almost a soon as the deposit cleared the bank,
it was soon withdrawn and handed out in large chunks to several
local charities.  As a result, while Daryl was clearing 300 grand a year, he
was only keeping around 25 thousand a year to support himself.

"You really are punishing yourself."  Steven sighed just as the door popped
open.

"Finished with that?" Patrick asked, as he calmly started putting away his
lock picking kit.

"I take it that Daryl didn't accidentally leave his checkbook here?"

"I have a job to do," Patrick said defensively.

"Does that include seducing Dare?  Because, if whatever scum is paying you
this time asked you to mind fuck with one of my patients..."

"The one you want to screw?"

"That's different!  I honestly want to help Dare."

"So do I Steven...  have you never heard the term `double agent'?"

"I don't understand."

"I don't fully understand it all myself.  Right now I am depending totally on
my instincts, and what my they are telling me is that something fishy is
going on."

"I could have told you that," Steven snorted.

"I know... that is why I think we are going to have to break the rules
again.  I am going to have to use some of my more underhanded methods to dig
up whatever past Dare has tried so hard to bury,while you are going to have
to break your patient confidentiality with him and tell me what you know."

"I'm not sure I can do that... not so soon after Nathan.  What if I screw up
again and more people end up hurt or even dead."

"Steven... I don't know how you feel about Daryl, but I'm in love with him
and I don't understand why.  There is something about him...something that
feels so familiar, like what you and I have.  Ever since I started
investigating him he's been a constant feature of my dreams."

"Mine too," Steven admitted.

"Do you understand why?" Patrick asked with a pleading look.

"Yes... but I can't tell you without breaking confidence."

"I need to know Steven."

"Do you love him...really love him?  Promise me this is not like one of your
other infatuations."

"Like the two years I insisted I was really a redhead?"  Patrick chuckled.

"Exactly."

"I promise you...  unlike the 70's I have no intention of letting this
disco party come to an end."

"You always have to joke about this sort of stuff," Steven sighed.

"Someone has to lighten the mood."

"Well I love him too Patrick... and I will tell you why.  He's a good man in
a world filled with not so good people... including me.  He's saved so many
lives, helped so many people that when I compare my own accomplishments next
to his, I see how empty and selfish my life has really been. Yet... even
with all the good he has done, it breaks my heart to see him so unhappy.  It
makes me want to embrace him to take away all his pain, make him see him the
way I do, and in doing so redeem myself in some way."

"I feel the same way."  Patrick said, standing up to embrace his brother.

"I'm so ashamed," Steven sobbed.  "I killed that family."

"We both did."  Patrick said, rocking his brother in his arms.

"He had a twin you know.  That's what's really eating at him... I think he
feels responsible for his death."

"That's why he feels so familiar." Patrick chuckled softly.

"Because he is also a twin?"

"Not just that...  it's because he carries some of the same guilt we do."

 "Now you know all that I do... other than the fact that he is indeed gay
and is not a virgin."

"That's good to know... wouldn't want to waste my time chasing after a
straight man.  Do you think he and his twin got it on like we do?"

"Now that is one porno tape I would not mind having," Steven laughed,
nuzzling against his brother.

"Do you think Daryl would be opposed to a three-way?"  Patrick asked as he
worked on the silver buttons of Steven red shirt.

"Now you're really getting me horny," Steven laughed, as his shirt fell to
the floor.  "He doesn't even know that there are two of us."

"Mind if we keep it that way for a while?" Patrick asked, ripping down the
buttons of his brother's pants.

"The next thing you are going to suggest is that we set up a schedule."

"That's won't be too hard.  You get him at work and every weekday evening but
Friday.  He's mine at the gym and on weekends."

"But I want him on the weekends," Steven pouted, as his brother struggled
to pull down his tight pants.

            "Come on, I'm giving you four and a half days out of seven.  I
think that is more than generous."

            "But you want a monopoly on play time... Saturday morning
cartoons and all."

            Considering that technically he's still your patient and
therefore off limits... playtime would just be wasted on you."


          "I'll drop him as a patient then."

            "No...you can't do that.  Right now you got him talking,
something he might stop doing if he wasn't seeing you
professionally,"Patrick pointed out.

            "But that mean you'll get him first."

            "Better me than some stranger."

            Better me over you," Steven insisted as Patrick finally got his
pants down to his ankles.

            "How about this... I promise to keep things pretty vanilla if
you agree to let me come with you on your next shopping expedition.  I'm
tired of building up a sweat just trying to undress you."

            "Deal."  Steven grunted as he felt his cock pulled out of his
shorts before feeling it embraced by the familiar warmth and shape
of Patrick's mouth.

            Later,when both were resting in bed, their limbs entangled,
Steven began to cry softly.

            "What's wrong?" Patrick asked, concerned, looking up from where
his head was resting on his brother's chest.

            "Just imagining the hell Dare's gone through in loosing his
brother, made me think how I would feel if anything ever happened to you.  I
then remembered the last time you were working undercover... how you got
shot.  It did not hit me until now that I could have lost you."

            " But didn't," Patrick said comfortingly.

            "But I could have.  Whatever happens with Dare, I don't want it
to come between us."

            "Like that could ever happen... remember Bo?"
 
            "Oh god... was I really that nasty to him?"

            "You practically threw him out of the house when he tried to
talk me into bare-backing."

            "I'm the only one who's allowed to do that."  Steven grunted as
he ruffled Patrick's hair.

            "Yes...you're just lucky he was a closet case or he might have
pressed charges."

            "Yes...but do you remember Vain Trey?"

            "Vain Trey?"  Patrick laughed.  "He wasn't anymore vain than
when I play dress-up."

            "There's a difference... You needed to spend all that time in
front of a mirror to put your makeup on.  Trey on the other hand was a bald
man who kept a compact in that man-purse of his."

            "Will you ever forgive me for making you endure him?"

            "I'll consider it."  Steven winked.  "I think Dare will be
different though.  First, this is one of the few occasions where we have
both fallen for the same man at the same time.  Second, and more
importantly, I've yet to find any deceit in him.  Unlike almost every man I
have ever dated he doesn't lie nor does he try to use the truth as a sledge
hammer to get what he wants.   I can actually relax and let my guard down
around him."

            "Iagree," Patrick replied, tickling thesides of his brother's
body.

            "We need to be careful with this one Patrick.  A person like him
doesn't come into our lives often.  I don't want to screw this up."

            "Neither do I," Patrick said as his alarm clock went off.

            Turning to look at the clock, Steven was surprised to see it was
only nine o'clock as his brother usually did not get out of bed till noon.
"Starting early today?"

            "Got a meeting with the client," Patrick said as he rolled off
his twin.

             "What are you going to tell him and when are you going to tell
me what you know?"

            "Nothing about last night or what you've told me.  I will tell
you what little I know when I get back."

7. Chapter 7

 

An hour later:

 

            "Hello Mr. Fisher."  Patrick smiled as he sat himself down in a

High back leather chair.

 

            "I hope you have more information than you did last time," the

black haired, grey eyed man said coldly.

 

            "About Dr. Gavin's finances?"

 

            "Yes...that is what I am paying you for."

 

            "I do have more information."

 

            "Well...tell me," Mr. Fisher pressed.

 

            "It’s quite simple really... he gives it all away."  Patrick

grinned, eager to see his client's response.

 

            "Gives it away?  You mean every month he tossed tens of thousands

of dollars off the roof of some building?"

 

            "Not literally.  He gives it to charity...anonymously of

course."

 

            "That is something he would do.  What about his living

arrangements?  I don't really believe that he's actually living like some

hermit."

 

            "I’ve photos this time to prove it."  Patrick said as he handed

Mr. Fisher a computer disk.

 

            "And what would you have me do with this?" the man asked with

distaste.

 

            "Uhmmm...put it in a computer and load up the images."

 

            "We aren’t permitted to use computers.  It goes against our

religion."

 

            "I see..."  Patrick said as he made a clicking sound with his

tongue.  I will just have to give you printouts then."

 

            "Never mind... just tell me what the photos show."

 

            "As I said before... a whole lot of nothing.  The house is still

practically empty, except there are now a couple of metal chairs, a microwave,

and a half finished table."

 

            "This does not make me happy," Mr. Fisher said as if that were a

crime.  "Do you have copies of his bills?"

 

            "Yes, “Patrick replied, happy that he had taken the time to

photocopy them instead of scanning them onto the disk.

 

            "These are much lower than I expected them to be."  The man said

with greater displeasure.

 

            "When my man arrived, the thermostat was set at 85.  With no

refrigerator and the lights off most of the time he's not really using much

juice," Patrick explained.

 

            "I should have never let him go," Mr. Fisher grunted, crumpling

the papers into a tiny ball.

 

            "Excuse me?"  Patrick asked, hoping his client would finally tell

him what this was all about.  He was at least sure of one thing...this was

not an issue of embezzlement."

 

            "My name is not Mr. Fisher... its Rev. Gano... Brian Gano."

 

            "That church up in Montana?"Patrick said, controlling himself

enough to limit his comments.

 

            "Yes...Daryl is our lost sheep.  Even though he has left our

flock, we have tried our best to take care of him.  The house, the money,

his education, all of it was provided by us even though he abandoned his

church."

 

            "So the deposit entries marked `Father' are from you?  You're

the Father?" Patrick asked, remembering what he knew of the `cult'.

 

            "Yes...after the old Father died, I took his place.  He was my

real father by the way."

 

            "I see..."  Patrick said nervously, waiting for a pamphlet,

bible, or whatever tool of conversion Brian's church used.

 

            "Don’t worry Mr. Nash... membership into the Blessed is only

allowed through birth, marriage, or five year purification processes."

 

            "And how did Daryl become a member... by birth?"

 

            "Yes...not like that was a hard guess," Brian chuckled.  "His

ancestors were the original family who welcomed us onto their land when our

people were caught in a blizzard.  He is the last surviving member of

that family and is therefore very special to us."

 

            "I see..."  Patrick said, clicking his tongue as the pieces

started falling into place.  "So I take it he is an only child?"

 

            "No...he had a brother, a twin actually.  He died under

unfortunate circumstances," Brian said as he moved uncomfortably in his

chair.

 

            "Oh?"

 

            "Suicide."

 

            "How tragic."

 

            "You have no idea how it devastated our community, especially

when Daryl left us soon after.  He was supposed to marry my sister."

 

            "I see."

 

            "No you don't see."  Brian said angrily.  "You have no idea how

important that marriage was to me, my sister, and all my people."

 

            Patrick arched an eyebrow, funny that Brian listed himself first

among sufferers.

 

            "Is there anything else you need of me?"

 

            "Yes...I do.  I've done a little investigating myself... into

you."

 

            "Oh?"  Patrick said.  This time it was he who was sitting

uncomfortably.

 

 

          "I know about your ‘alternative' life style but don't worry; in

this case it's an asset."  Brian chuckled.

 

            "How so?"  Patrick asked, not yet ready to relax.

 

            "Because Daryl’s gay... everyone in town knew it but looked the

other way because of the family he belonged to.  Still, I'm afraid to say it

is one of the things that led him away from us?"

 

            "So what do you want from me?"

 

            "I’ve read all your reports but in none of them have I heard

mention of any love interests in Daryl's life.  In truth that concerns me

more than how he spends the money I have given him.  We Blessed believe

that one has to have love in one's life if a person is to be considered

whole."

 

            "What is it you are asking of me?"

 

            "Would it be asking too much of I paid you to seduce him?"

 

            "What?"  Patrick laughed.

 

            "When Daryl left us he had just lost his brother, the person who

meant more to him than life itself, causing him not to just turn his back on

his church but from opening his heart to anyone else as well if your reports

are accurate.  If you could help Daryl to love again he might come to

forgive us for what happened to his brother David."

 

            "I’ll think about it but first I need to know exactly what

happened to his brother...the detective in me doesn't believe it was a

simple suicide."

 

"Do you know of any suicide that was simple?"  Brian replied.

 

"True... still the more you tell me the better I will be able to get

Dr. Gavin to forgive you."

 

Letting out a deep sigh Rev. Gano nodded before beginning.

 

**********************************************************

 

 

 

            "Well?"  Steven shouted from his exercise room when he heard the

front door slam closed.

 

            "You would not believe the conversation I just had."  Patrick

said as he sat himself down at the weight machine.

 

            "Does your client want you to now hire a bunch of snipers and

ambush Dare?"

 

            "Ambush yes... shoot no, at least not with real bullets."

 

            "Oh?"  Steven asked, slowing down the treadmill to a fast walk.

 

            "The best way I can describe it is that he wants me to give Dare

sex therapy...literally."

 

            "Wow...may I ask why?"

 

            "Yes...but unless you are up to doing a marathon I suggest you

get off that treadmill," Patrick said.

 

            "Along story I take it?" Steven asked, hopping off.

 

            "Over a hundred years long," Patrick warned.

 

            "Give me the Cliff Notes version then."

 

            "I can sum it up in just four words... Church of the Blessed."

 

            "I knew it... I knew he had to belong to some way out religion,"

Steven grinned.

 

            "He’s not just a member of the Blessed... his family was one of

the founding members."

 

            "Well, considering that the church owns the land of the largest

natural gas reserve in the country that must mean he's really rich."

 

            "You have no idea..."  Patrick said, his eyes still wide from the

meeting with Brian.

 

            "Educate me then."

 

            "Ok...I'll tell you, but this is sort of a church secret so you

can't be going around telling anyone."

 

            "I understand," Steven nodded.

 

            "The church doesn't own the land... they only signed a 120 year

lease on it, which expires very soon."

 

            "What happens after it expires?"

 

            "It goes back to the original title holders... or in this case

`holder'."

 

            "You don’t mean..."  Steven said his own eyes now wide as well.

 

            "Yes...our very own archangel is about to become a very rich

angel."

 

            "Does Dare know anything about this?"

 

            "According to Rev. Gano, the great and mighty `Father' himself,

Dare does know.  The twenty five grand he receives a month from the `Father'

is just a small fraction of the gas royalties owed to him?  The rest is in

a gigantic trust account that Rev. Gano has control over until the lease

expires."

 

            "If Dare is so rich... why in hell is he living as if her were

destitute?"

 

            "You know why.  You told me yourself... to punish him over

the death of his brother."

 

            "Did you learn anything about that?"  Steven asked hopefully.

 

            "Yes...but I need a stiff drink first.  Hearing about it was

hard enough.  It's another matter for me to say the words myself."

 

            Three shots of brandy latter Patrick began.  "Like most things

that motivates people, the tragedy around Dare's life centers around money;

in this case a whole shit load of money.

 

            "The gas fields?"  Steven guessed.

 

            "Yes...when Dare and his twin David were only four their

parents died.  Their car slid off the road during a snowstorm and their

bodies were found until the spring thaw.  That's the official version, and

what Dare was made to believe at least."

 

            "And the unofficial one?"

 

            "According to Brian they were murdered, executed... by the

unanimous vote of the church leadership...the Father, the sheriff, the

mayor, the judge, and the CEO of NM Mining Industries, which practically

employs half the people in the community."

 

 

         "But why and how did they get away with it?"

 

            "They did it because Dare's parents didn't want to renew the

lease for another 120years.  They felt they would have better luck

convincing the children when they came of age.  They got away with it

because the town went along with it."

 

            "So everyone in town knows?"

 

            "The older folk do."  Patrick nodded.

 

            "What happened to Dare and David after their parents died?"

 

            "They were adopted by the Father himself.  Who else would the

church have mold the two Gavin brothers into compliant followers."

 

            "But something tells me that it didn't work out that way."

Steven chuckled.

 

            "You’re right, it didn't.  First off David never really adjusted

to living in the minister's family.  According to Brian, David was a

constantly involved in fights at home and school.  It got so bad that the

Gano's had to eventually home school him.  That made matters worse until

they decided to home school Dare with his brother, as Dare was the only one

who could calm his brother down."

 

            "And Dare?"

 

            "He took his parents death badly as well, but remained a fairly

sweet boy.  This of course is coming from a man who’s still in love with

Dare."

 

            "What?"

 

            "Rev. Brian Gano, the Father."

 

            "How old is this man?"

 

            "Just two years older than Dare."

 

            "So the leader of one of the most conservative religious groups

in the country is really a closet queer?"

 

            "Yep...which you can guess made his father real proud."

 

            "What happened?"  Steven asked.

 

            "They got caught of course.  Brian's father showed a great deal

of restraint in regard to Daryl.  He had to, considering that he didn't

believe David would ever agree to sign a new lease.  As a result, everyone

in that highly conservative community gave Daryl and Brian's affections for

one another a blind eye.  That was, of course, until Brian turned eighteen,

the age when he was required by church law to marry."

 

            "I take it his wife was not in a sharing mood?"

 

            "That, added to the fact that after the first year no child had

has been born, infuriated Brian’s father no end.  He didn't dare punish Daryl

however."

 

            "So he punished Dare indirectly, through... David?"

 

            "Yes...  on the day they refer to as Pardoner’s Sunday, the

members of the church are allowed to declare their crimes for the year and

receive absolution from them.  That's what its original purpose was at

least.  These days the so called blessed use it to list the sins they

believe others have committed against them. On Dare and David’s seventeenth

Pardoner's Sunday the only person the congregation accused was David... the

hammer blow being when Brian accused Dare's brother of leading him into the

sin of sodomy."

 

            "But Brian was sleeping with Dare and the whole town knew it!"

Steven said, his anger rising.

 

            "Yes...but it was David who was accused.  Since Brian made the

accusation and had been the first to ask forgiveness, he was declared

innocent and clean in the eyes of the church."

 

            "But not David."

 

            "No...not David.  There was a trial where David was found

guilty.  As punishment he was to be shunned for five years.  He never made it

through the first."

 

            "What happened?"

 

            "He killed himself."  Patrick said as tears started running down

his face.  "You see they blackmailed Dare... threatened to have him shunned

as well if he didn't obey the church order not to talk to his twin. For a

while they believed Dare was obedient... that was until they discovered the

stacks of letters the two brothers had found some way of passing to each

other.  Brian's father then took a different approach... he had Dare locked

up in the house, his son forced to shun him.  It did not take long before

the flow of letters stopped.  Two months of no word from his brother was all

it took before David committed suicide."

 

            After the funeral Dare changed... much of the rebelliousness

that had been his brother’s trait started showing up in him until shame,

guilt, whatever, made him leave Montana."

 

            "So the Father's plans were ruined regardless of what he did."

Steven chuckled without humor.

 

            "If only it had ended there..."  Patrick sighed.

 

            "There’s more?"

 

            "Not involving Daryl but Brian.  When Daryl left and refused to

come back, Brian turned his grief into rage.  For the past six years the

Church of the Blessed has been in a state of civil war with the members of

the old guard being removed one by one."

 

            "At least without bloodshed I hope."

 

            "Of five men who ordered Dare's parent's murdered, only one of

them is still alive, and he's in a mental institution.  Brian did not admit

to killing the others, but he didn't deny it either, when I asked."

 

            "What did he say then?"

 

            "He only laughed," Patrick said, as a cold shiver ran down his

back.

 

              "I see... I think we can both assume that he had some part in

their demise. Is his father the one who is still alive?"

 

            "Yes...he had his father shunned three years ago, had the same

effect on him as it did David, only that Brian was prepared when his father

tried to kill himself.  There's an isolated mental hospital somewhere in

Montana where Brian's father spends his days locked up in a padded room."

 

            "And Brian is the man who you've been working for?"  Steven

asked accusingly.

 

            "Hey...don't get mad at me... I just found out about this shit

myself.  I read up on the Blessed years ago... I just didn’t know how crazy

they really were until now," Patrick said with raised hands.  "What do you?

think?"

 

            "To be honest I don't know what to think... Right now I just

want to know who I am supposed to be mad at."

 

            "Brian’s father... he's the one who started all this."

 

            "Yes...but he couldn't have done it without the help of others.

A small part of me is even mad a Dare for not speaking up when Brian falsely

accused his brother."

 

            "If you have any understanding of the kind of community Dare

grew up in you wouldn’t blame him.  He has blamed and punished himself more

than enough, or have you not yet realized that the way he lives is his way

of experiencing what his brother went through?"  Patrick said.

 

            "But no one is shunning him."

 

            "No...what he does is worse.  He shuns himself.  He ignores his

emotional and physical needs.  He refuses to listen to himself.  He does not

give him love."

 

            "When did you become the shrink?"  Steven said, impressed.

 

            "I took notes watching you," Patrick chuckled.  "Now that we

know the truth ... what are we going to do?"

 

            "We’re not going to tell Dare that we know... I learned that

lesson at least."

 

            "And Brian?"

 

            "Do you trust him?  I sure don't.  Regardless of what his father

did, no man should act so cold towards one's family."

 

            "When was the last time you talked to mom?" Patrick asked.

 

            "Six...maybe seven months ago," Steven said guiltily.

 

            "See...so don't be so quick to judge."

 

            "Ok...want to explain why you are defending a man you just

described as a monster?" Steven asked confused.

 

            "Brian might be many things... even a killer but I believed him

when he told me how ashamed he still feels over what happened."

 

            "And he should."

 

            "Yes...but he doesn't know what to do now that his need for

revenge has burned itself out.  He's lost and lonely and needs help."

 

            "You sound like you are describing a homeless puppy," Steven

smirked.

 

            "Ina way he is... this is his first time away from his church

let alone the state of Montana.  He tries to act cold and stoic but behind

all that is a man I believe who is genuinely frightened by the outside

world."

 

            "Then why did he leave his little commune in the first place?"

 

            "Twelve thousand people is not a small group, not in Montana at

least."  Patrick replied.  "He's here because he wants Dare to come

back home with him."

 

            "So he can sign a new lease?"  Steven said suspiciously.

 

            "No...not entirely at least.  According to Brian the church

feels ashamed over what they did to Dare's family... the one that gave their

ancestors their homes over a hundred years ago.  Dare's refusal to come

back to them is being called the `great exile' believe it or not.  They

believe they have lost God's blessing and won't get it back until Dare

returns and forgives them."

 

            "I take it Rev. Gano has been promoting this mythological

belief?"

 

            "Yes...but because he believes it.  He's read the news articles

and is well aware that Dare's been christened the archangel.  He's been able

to use that and the stories of how Dare's has brought back people from the

brink of death.  Hearing Brian talk about it, Dare is the second coming,

third coming, or whatever number they are on.  I don't know."

 

            "And what do you believe... am I going to have to worry about

you are running away to Montana to join some crazy cult?"

 

            "Don’t worry Steve.  I'm not going off the deep end... yet.  I'm

just telling you what his church believes."

 

            "All the more reason to keep those nut cases away from him."

 

            "That is what I am trying to get you to see."  Patrick said,

clearly flustered.  "Brian and his followers are desperate... they want

Dare back and from my professional perspective one of three things will

happen.  One... we both do what we're good at with me protecting him while

you do your psychiatry thing and help Dare reach some resolution with his

past.  Two... we could do nothing and have the best thing that has come into

our lives get stolen away from us."

 

            "And three?"

 

            "Weds our best to keep these nut cases away from him only for

them to get desperate enough to resort to violence."

 

            "I don’t want these kind of people near Dare.  You know what I

would pick but you're the security expert."

 

            "I don’t like our choices either Steve but there is only so much

I can do.  I can only protect Dare against rational threats.  Religious

fanatics, by their nature, do not always act rationally.  The best we can do

is try to minimize the damage."

 

            "You want Dare to go back to Montana?"  Steven asked accusingly.

 

            "No...I want him to move in with us where I know I can keep him

safe!"  Patrick said angrily.

 

            "I’m sorry... this is just too much for me to take in."

 

            "Think about how I feel.  You know how bad I am at multitasking."

Patrick said as he poured himself another drink.  "At elastic was able to buy

us some time.  For some reason Brian believes that Dare will be more open to

going back if he lets ‘love' back into his life."

 

            "And he picked you to achieve that?"  Steven smirked as he poured

himself bourbon.

 

            "He openly admitted that he's having me watched.  He might be

even watching you for all I know.  He has the resources."

 

            "Theses starting to get dangerous Patrick.  Are we sure we want

to get involved in this?"

 

            "I don't know why but I feel as if some invisible force is

guiding me toward Dare.  I can't abandon him Steve, not now, not when I know

what's at stake."

 

             "Would you be surprised if I felt the same way?"

 

            "Must be my fault... Brian must have a contagious form of

Irrationality."  Patrick laughed.

 


8. Chapter 8

 

Walking into the gym Sunday morning, Patrick found Daryl sitting

by himself in the lobby dressed in a white t-shirt and a pair of delectable

blue running shorts.  He was going to have to make sure that Daryl took the

treadmill in front of him, not wanting to miss a chance of gazing at Daryl's

cute ass.

 

            "Hey...you made it."  Patrick greeted.

 

            "I’m surprised not to find you dressed in a sport's bra."  Daryl

joked.

 

            "Exercise is usually beneath royalty but since I can't be a

queen every day I bring my more boring self here three times a week."

Patrick chuckled.

 

             "I don't know why... I saw the set up you had back at the

house."

 

            "Yes...but it's a little hard to get motivated just by your

lonesome.  If you have not noticed there's lot of motivation here."  Patrick

said, pointing to a few of the naked men in the locker room.

 

            "I noticed."  Daryl replied... his dimpled cheeks blushing.

 

            "Of course since I have you with me this time you have to let me

show you off to the others."

 

            "What?"  Daryl asked confused.

 

            "I would be amiss if I didn't do my best to spread the good

cheer of envy and jealousy amongst the other men."

 

            "You’re terrible," Daryl chuckled.

 

            "Just promise me you will play along."

 

            "The most I can promise is to keep my mouth shut."

 

            "That would be perfect... they'll think you're a total moron

then.  Nothing makes a gym bunny more jealous than a queen dating a man who

is not only hotter than they are but also dumber."

 

            "Why?"  Daryl asked confused.

 

            "It’s part of the myth of the gay food chain.  All you have to

know is Hot equals Dumb... partly because any person with a real nine to

five job doesn't have the time or the energy it takes to get a perfectly

sculpted body but also because dumb people are automatically assumed to be

easier to get into bed with.  It’s sad but in some gay circles being a slut

is seen as a plus."

 

            "So...let me see if I understand this.  You want me to pretend

to be a dumb slutty jock whose has spent the last several hours having wild

sex with you?"

 

            "And you got it on the first try."  Patrick laughed, coming to a

sudden halt when he saw a tear run down Daryl's face.  "What's wrong?"

 

            "Nothing..."  Daryl said as he reached over and

touched Patrick’s face.

 

            "Something is defiantly up."  Patrick pressed.

 

            "You remind me so much of my brother Steven.  He liked playing

dress up too.  David would have loved your dresses."

 

            "I’m sure I would have liked his as well."

 

            "No you wouldn't have... think Amish but with even blander

colors."

 

            "Hey, I would have you know I have a nun's outfit stored away

somewhere."  Patrick replied.

 

            "I miss him so much Steven.  He was more than the last member of

my family.  He was my other half... wild and carefree like you are."

 

            "If you think I'm wild then I better not let some of my stranger

friends get near you," Patrick laughed.

 

            "I think I could handle them... after six years in the ER I've

seen most everything.  I'm not as saintly as people think I am."

 

            "Hang around me long enough and you will find yourself with a

pair of horns and a tail."

 

            "Now that will be interesting," Daryl chuckled.

 

            "Come on... take that bland t-shirt of yours off.  No point

having a six pack if you let no one see it," Patrick said, quickly having to

correct himself.  "Make that an eight pack."

 

            After Patrick had his fun showing Daryl off, he spent the next

two hours showing him how to use the different pieces of exercise equipment,

returning to the locker room surprised and a tad jealous of his guest.

 

            "I still can't believe you got the body you have without

spending a single day at a real gym."

 

            "What can I say... good genes."  Daryl laughed.

 

            "Some people have all the good luck," Patrick sighed, leading

Daryl to the steam room.  "Now this should feel like home to you."

 

            "Almost," Daryl nodded.  "Sorry about earlier Steven, I should

have cooled the house down before you arrived."

 

            "Not a problem," Patrick laughed.  He had not been the one who

had to enter that sauna.

 

            Leading Daryl to an unoccupied bench, Patrick leaned against the

slick wet walls. His eyes glaring at any of the occupants who dared even

glanced in their direction.

 

            "I can’t believe I'm out of the house."

 

            "We’re surprised too."  Patrick said before he could stop

himself.

 

            "We?"

 

            "Us at the hospital."  Patrick quickly said.

 

            "Well, now you can tell them I'm more of a clay figurine then I

am of stone."

 

            "Why did you come... it must not have been easy."

 

            "It wasn’t, but I missed you."

 

            "But it’s only been two days."

 

            "I missed being with you."  Daryl corrected.  "I don't know what

it is about you, Steven, but I feel normal around you."

 

            "Normal how?" Patrick asked, hating himself for not being able

to tell Daryl who he really was.

 

            "Normal in that I can pretend that my brother never died when I

am with you."

 

            "It hurts that much?"

 

            "It’s made me the man I am today." Daryl replied.  "But maybe I

can become someone else with you."

 

            "Are you asked me to go steady?" Patrick asked surprised.

 

            "Steady? “Daryl asked confused.

 

            "Date...you want to date me?"

 

            "Hahahaha...back home they call it courtship and it's

completely arranged by our parents. “Daryl laughed.

 

            "Well..."  Patrick said in a deep Southern accent."  "Are you

courting me kind sir."

 

            "I guess I am," Daryl said as if surprised by his own words.

 

            "Then I accept your gentle proposal.  Now be so kind and kiss

me."

 

            Where did you learn how to talk like that?"  Daryl asked after

their lips had parted.

 

            "Where did you learn how to kiss like that?" Patrick said,

covering his hardening cock with his hands.

 

            I guess it's like you said... it's like riding a bicycle.  Once

you know how it’s all instincts."

 

            "You must have had a good teacher then."

 

            "I guess I did... now your turn.  Where in the world do people

talk like that?"

 

            "I take it you haven't been to Atlanta, or seen `Gone to the

Wind' even?"

 

            "What’s that?"

 

            "Atlanta or the movie?"

 

            "The movie... I've never been to one."

 

            "Let me guess... it's against your religious beliefs?"

 

            "Yeah..."Daryl said, embarrassed.

 

            "What about TV?"

 

            "That too."

 

            "But surely there's a television in the doctor's lounge."

 

            "You know there is... but you'll never see it on.  It broke two

years before I started my residency."

 

            "Sorry, I must have forgotten," Patrick replied before changing

the subject.  "Well, we are going to have to change that.  The last Star

Wars movie is coming out next week and I have this fantastic Queen Amidala

costume I've been dying to wear."  Patrick said as he stood up to leave for

the showers.

 

            "Does anyone at the hospital know about your taste in women’s?

clothing?

 

            "No...so don't go about telling anyone," Patrick said,

panicked. If people at the hospital started making cross dressing jokes to

his brother, there would be hell to pay.

 

            "Hey...I know how to keep a secret," Daryl said as he turned

the shower on full blast...on cold."

 

            "Turn the fucking water off."  The man under the next nozzle

cursed.

 

            "Sorry."  Daryl apologized, quickly excusing himself, leaving

Patrick to shower alone.

 

            Leaving the shower, Patrick found Daryl was already dressed,

sitting on the bench looking nervous.

 

            "Don’t let that man get to you.  He was being a jerk."

 

            "No...it was my fault.  I'm just used to taking only cold

showers."

 

            "Saving money on the gas bill?"

 

            "Yeah...pathetic I know," Daryl said, as he waited for his

brother to get dressed.

 

            "For an ER doctor I would think you would have more backbone."

Patrick said as they left the gym.

 

            "In the ER I really am the Stone King.  I’m just not used to

making mistakes."

 

            "You’re only human."

 

            "I know but after six years of working trauma do you know how

many patients of mine have died under my care?"

 

            "Considering the neighborhood I would assume quiet a lot."

 

            "Seven."  Daryl said flatly.

 

            Considering that, until Mr. Stockton, his brother had not lost a

single patient in eight years of practice, that number at first seemed high.

Then Patrick remembered that fatality rate found in a psychiatrist office

was not anywhere near the kind of numbers for in the ER.  "Archangel indeed,"

he finally responded.

 

            "It’s becoming an annoyance."  Daryl grunted.  "My record has

become a matter of hospital pride.  They took me off the night shift and cut

my number of eighteen hour days.  I became a doctor to save lives but

because I did such a good job they're taking that away from me."

 

            "You could always go to another hospital."

 

            "And abandon Memorial?!  Do you have any idea what would happen

to that place if I left?"

 

            "Continue to treat patients as usual," Patrick replied.

 

            "But..."  Daryl protested as he stopped by his car.

 

            "Daryl...you are a great doctor but I'm not sure if I believe

that being just a great doctor is enough to make you happy.  If you think

that if you save enough lives, you're going to get your brother back... it's

not going to happen."

 

            Daryl pounded his fist against his car.  "Dang it... why not!

Why can't things work out that way?  Why can't huge amount of good wipe out?

an equal amount of evil?"

 

            "Because we are human and therefore not perfect, but a mixture

of both good and evil," Patrick said, struggling for the words he was sure

his brother would use.  "You're trapped in a black and white world like a

1950's television set.  You think people are either all good or all bad.

Your problem is that you are under the misconception that you are evil.

People, hell, entire governments have told you what a good person you are,

but you refuse to believe it because of a single event that happened in your

past."

 

            "I'm sorry... I let my temper get away from me."

 

            "Good...I wish that would happen more often."

 

            "Really?" Daryl asked suspiciously.

 

            "You can't really love a person fully if you're not willing to

get angry at them at times."

 

            "That's not what I've been taught."

 

            "I know... but we have plenty of time to teach you some new

tricks.  You're not an old dog yet."


10. Chapter 9

            Hearing a beeping sound coming from his pocket, Brian Gano
reached inside and pulled out one of the few technological wonders of the
outside world that he had allowed himself... a cell phone.

            "Hello?"

            "Can you here me on this tiny thing Father?"

            "Yes Sheriff I can,"  Brian sighed.

            "Amazing."

            "Save your wonderment for later.  What's happened?"

            "You're sister is gone... that's what happened."

          Brian let out a deep grunt.  Just what he needed... more
problems.  "Do you know where she has run off to?"

            "Uhmmm... according to your ma she went looking for you,"
The Sheriff said nervously.

            "Imbeciles..."  Brian swore to himself.  Maybe Daryl had the
right idea of leaving.  His month outside of  New Hope Settlement, had
surely opened his eyes to the larger world.  "Did I not leave clear
instructions that you were to not let her out of your sight?"

            "Well, she sent me to the market to pick up a few odds and
ends you see."  The Sheriff floundered.

            "She trick you... you, the man in charge of law an order in
New Hope.  Luckily, I so happen to be in a position as to be able to
relieve you of that post."

            "But Father."  The Sheriff protested.

            "Oh come on Sheriff... you knew this day was coming.  The
only reason why I picked you was so that your son could take over one
day.  Now put Landon on the phone."

            "Yes Father, Forgive me Father..."

            "Just put Landon on," Brian sighed.  He was only 34 years
old... too young to feel comfortable having a 58 year old man fawning over
him.

            "Yes Father..."  a younger, more reverent voice eventually
came from the phone.

            "Landon... my sister had gone and done a terrible thing."

            "I know father.  What would you have me do?"

            "Find her, and bring her back home as gently as you are able
to manage and keep her there.  I don't want her ruining things.  You're
the Sheriff now.  I believe you know how to keep things under control?"

            "Yes Father... I won't fail you."

            "I know you won't.  Remember that I love you and all of the
Blessed."

            "I love you too," Landon replied, in a tone that revealed
his feelings went deeper than mere admiration.

            Closing the cell phone, Brian went back into the large office
he was now renting where a man stood by, tapping a clipboard.  "Sorry
for the interruption.  You were just about ready to show me how to use
this... rat."

            "It's called a mouse sir," the man said, covering his
mouth to hide a chuckle.

            Brian did his best not to glower at the man.  He hated
looking like a fool, especially in front of a total stranger.  If only
Daryl was here to teach him.

Chapter 13

            "What is this?"  Daryl asked when he found Steven in his
office, a stack of boxes on the desk.

            "You're gateway to the twenty-first century... or in your
case at least the late 90's.  Either one would be a significant
improvement from the 1950's you've been living in."

            "You mean the black and white televisions?"  Daryl
replied., remembering what Patrick had said.

            "Yep... I think that's all they had back then,"  Steven
said, not getting the reference.

            "So what amazing bit of sinful corrupting technology do you
have in these boxes?"

            "Now that's no way of looking at it," Steven squinted.

            "I'm joking.  I just have to warn you though florescent
lights were only approved fifteen years ago back home, and even then many
people avoided the buildings for several months out of fear that the
white light would blind them."

            "That too was a joke... right?"

            "No, I'm afraid it wasn't," Daryl sighed.  "Open the
box."

            "It's a computer!" Steven shouted, as he lifted the tower
out of its box.

            "A computer?" Daryl replied, a little taken back.  "You
really shouldn't have."

            "I didn't really know what kind to get you, so I went
online to Dell and picked every option they had available,"  Steven
said, taken up by his own excitement.

            "How much did that cost?" Daryl asked warily.

            "About six grand."

            "But I can't afford that!"

            "Who said anything about you paying for it?  I got it for
you as a gift,"  Steven said, a little miffed.

            "But..."

            "Dare..."  Steven said in a tone that warned he was not
about to have his gift refused.

            "But we don't believe in accepting gifts."

            "Not even birthdays or Christmas."

            "Nope."

            "Wait a minute... say a neighbor needs a cup of four.  You
are telling me that under your religion's rules you wouldn't even be
allowed to give her one?"

            "That's different... the rule that says we can not let a
fellow member go hungry takes precedence."

            "Ok... how about a box of nails?  For whatever reasons
someone in the community needs a simple plain box of nails... you're not
allowed to give him even one?" Steven said, feeling that Daryl was
purposefully being difficult.

            "No... not without bartering." Daryl replied, a little
amused by the bright shade of red Steven's face was turning.

            "You mean your people still dicker with the barter system?"

            "It's the oldest economic system in the world," Daryl
replied.

            "I don't understand."

            "Considering that every family in the community owns
significant shares of NM Mining and giving the royalties it pays... we had
what you would call a slight inflation problem," Daryl said with a hint
of embarrassment.

            "I don't understand."

            Well... since we are not allowed to buy goods outside the
community without the approval of the Father, the only people we could
trade with on a daily basis were each other.  Given basic laws of supply
and demand... your one little nail would be selling for around 15
dollars... a whole box could run over 500.  Going to the barter system
turned out to be a lot easier to deal with."

            "Dare... you know I love you but your people are plain
crazy.  Every day you seem to surprise me on how normal you turned out."

            "Probably because I'm the only one who's gone to a real
university."

            "What about your doctors, lawyers, nurses, dentists, and
such?"

            "We have a community college but would you be upset if I
told you we use the old apprenticeship system?" Daryl asked worriedly.

            "God forbid I ever go there and need an operation."

            "To be honest, I wouldn't want old doc Foley operating on
me either.  Luckily NM Mining has its own emergency clinic.  For anything
serious, our people are sent there.  It's just..."

            "Yes, tell me.  Can't be any crazier than what I've heard
already."

            "You see they have to get the approval of the Father before
they can go, and he always requires that the patients remain sedated the
whole time while they are gone from New Hope."

            "I stand corrected," Steven moaned, before giving Daryl a
bear hug.   "God I'm glad you're somewhat normal."

            "Now about this computer," Daryl said once Steven had let
him go.

            "You're going to get over this Blessed nonsense and accept
my gift."  Steven said sternly.

            "If only if it were that easy," Daryl sighed.

            "We'll barter then..."  Steven said, reaching for a half
chewed pencil.  "I hereby accept this fine writing utensil in exchange
for this lousy computer.  There... does that meet your religious
requirements?"

            "Are you sure you're not schizophrenic?" Daryl chuckled.
"First... you just told me this computer cost you around six thousand
dollars.  A fair value trade on that pencil would be a paper clips or a
few staples."

            "Can't I place whatever value I want on this pencil?"

            "You can, but according to church law I'm not allowed to
take advantage of another person's misplaced value on an item."

            "Now I'm certain you are trying to be difficult on
purpose," Steven accused.

            "See why we don't give gifts?" Daryl retorted.  "You've
been to my house so you know I don't have anything worth six thousand
dollars to trade with you... not even my car is worth that much."

            "Speaking of your car... does it even have airbags?" Steven
asked, at the mention of another thing he wanted Daryl to work on
updating.

            "No... it's an 87 model.  Air bags were still only an option
back then."

            "I'm going to get you a new one... just for your own
safety."

            "Fine," Daryl sighed.

            "What?"  Steven said surprised.  "No arguing, no haggling,
no spouting of insane religious dogma?"

            "Well if you insist... one of the oldest church laws clearly
states that each member has a duty to help protect one another.  As a
result, the only gifts that are ever given in New Hope are some form of
firearm."

            "So... because I want to give you a car with airbags, you're
allowed to accept it."

            "Yes."

            "Can't I just say that the computer is also for your
protection?"  Steven said.

            "What am I going to do... throw it at some would-be-attacker
or use it as a mace?"

            "Won't you give me just a little wiggle room?"  Steven
pleaded.

            "No... you will just have to keep it until I have something
to trade it for."  Daryl said as Jessica walked into the office.

            "It's that time of the year again," the nurse laughed as
she shook a small plastic barrel filled with money.

            "Well here's my token dollar."  Daryl said as he pulled
out a folded dollar bill.

            "What's this?"  Steven asked, surprised.

            "It's our annual collection for the Dr. Gavin virginity
fund."  Jessica grinned.

            "That's not what it's called," Daryl blushed.

            "Ahhh... I remember.  And where does the pot stand now?"
Steven grinned.

            "I think we are going to break the twelve thousand mark this
year."  Jessica replied.

            "Good..."  Steven said as he reached into his pocket and
took out his money clip.  "Here's another five hundred to make sure
that happens."

            "Why thank you Dr. Nash.  You better be careful Dr. Gavin...
I think Dr. Nash might try to win his money back,"  Jessica said before
leaving.

            "I'm counting on it."  Steven grinned lustfully.

            "Steven..."  Daryl said nervously.

            "Well Dare... it turns out you do have something to barter
with... something that's worth twice what this computer cost."

            "I'm not going to sleep with you over a computer Steven."

            "No... you're going to sleep with me because you've been
wanting to for weeks now."

            "I'm your patient... it wouldn't be professional."

            "I'm glad you said that!" Steven said as he reached into
his satchel and pulled out a blue document.  "Your discharge papers."

            "What?" Daryl said surprised.

            "I'm releasing you from my care as a patient."

            "I know what a discharge is.  Why are you giving me one?"

            "Because I decided that your depression is situational, not
chronic and given that the best way to handle such depression is by
removing the patient from his depressing environment, I'm taking the
necessary steps to enact said treatment."

            "By quitting?"

            "Yes... or at least that's part of it."  Steven said,
hesitating for a bit before continuing.    "I want you to move in with
me."

            "What?"  Daryl whispered.

            "I don't want you living alone in that big empty house of
yours... it's a major cause of your depression.  You've been shunning
yourself for too long."

            "Shun?"  Daryl asked.

            "Yes... that's what I determined what you were doing.  You
were shunning the outside world."

            "Maybe I am... but why did you use that particular word?"

            "If the shoe fits..."  Steven said, trying not to look
guilty.  "What's wrong?"

            "That word has a special meaning to my church and to me...
it's what they did to my brother.  It's what drove him to kill
himself.  Now I want to know why you chose to use that word," Daryl
demanded.

            "I wanted to tell you after you moved in, and I would still
rather do it at the house but there is a secret I've been keeping from
you, and if you want me to tell you now I will."  Steven whispered.

              Just at that moment, Daryl beeper went off.  "This will
have to wait until later," he sighed.  "Sorry if I seemed angry."

            "Trust me... you have every right to be angry with me."

            "We'll just have to wait and see."  Daryl said before
leaving.


11. Chapter 10




While busying himself setting up the computer, Steven
cell phone went off. "Hello?"

"Well... what did he say?" Patrick's voice said.

"He hasn't given me an answer yet... we sort of got into
an argument."

"That's not like Dare... so that mean it has to be your
fault.  What did you do Steve?  Did you fuck things
up?" Patrick asked accusingly.

   	"It was a slip of the tongue," Steven said weakly.

	"Out with it," Patrick demanded.

	"I used the word `shun' in front of him."

	"God... did I end up with all the brain when we were
born?" Patrick swore.

	"I know... it was a big mistake."

	"I told you to read those files I gave you... it is a
pretty accurate list of topics not to discuss with
Dare... the top one being anything to do with shunning."

	"I'm sorry... I really meant to read them and even went
to my computer to open the files but then I got
distracted on wanting to give Dare a computer."

	"You tried to get him a gift?"  Patrick moaned.

	"Don't start... it took me forever to find something
for him to barter with."

	"And what would that be... knowing you, you got him
some over-powered over-priced machine that he will
never use."

	"Sex."  Steven replied.

	"What?"

	"The hospital has been keeping a pot which goes to
the person who beds Daryl first."

	"And how big is this pot?"  Patrick asked
suspiciously.

	"Twelve thousand dollars."  Steven laughed.

	"He's mine!  I saw the most fabulous dress EBay that
I've just got to have."

	"Sorry... you have to be hospital staff."

	"I could always drop by in my nurse's outfit,"
Patrick threatened.

	"Don't you dare!"

	"That's the whole idea... me doing Dare."

	"Stay away from him Patrick.  If you want the dress
so badly I'll loan you the money."

	"I have a better idea.  How about we both sleep with
Dare at the same time and split the money 50/50."

	"Now that would be fun,"  Steven chuckled.

	"So it is a deal?"

	"Yes... I'll bring Dare home as soon as we get off
work."

	"I'll be sure to have the whips and chains ready
then,"  Patrick joked.

	"I forgot... which boyfriend of yours left those
behind?"

	"It was Tom."

	"What ever happened to him?"

	"I don't know... I dumped him when he wanted to put me
in that sling,"  Patrick replied.

	"I think we still have that stored somewhere in the
basement,"  Steven chuckled.

	"Good... keep it there.  That thing gave me the creeps.
 Is there anything else up?"

	"Yes, I gave Dare his discharge papers today... dang he
didn't sign it."

	"You better make sure he does," Patrick warned.

	"I'll do that now," Steven said.  "Catch you later."

	Snatching the paper from the desk, Steven rushed back
up to the ER, grabbing Jessica.  "Where's Dr. Gavin?"

	"In trauma.   A pregnant woman came in with a gunshot
wound... it hit the baby.  The woman is going to
survive.  Our archangel is trying to save the child."

	"Damn..."

	Going to the observation room, Steven looked into the
trauma unit.  The nurses were getting ready to roll
the mother out while Daryl seemed to be working with
lighting speed on the premature baby.  Twice the
infant needed to be resuscitated with Daryl continuing
well past the standard time that such efforts were to
be made.  In the end, the archangel of Memorial
Hospital achieved another miracle... the infant leaving
for the operating room in stable condition for further
surgery.

	When Daryl finally left the room, he looked tired and
haggard even as he wore a weak smile on his face.
Half the ER staff, including Steven clapped and
cheered when Daryl came out.

	"That's one you're going to have to write an article
on for the Journal of Trauma,"  Dr Richardson said,
slapping Daryl hard on the back.

	"It was what I had to do," Daryl replied, sounding
exhausted.

	"Tim... I think Dr. Gavin could do with the rest of the
day off," Steven said.

	"I think you're right," Dr. Richardson nodded.  "Take
off Daryl... you deserve it."

	"I..." Daryl said as if he was going to protest before
slumping to the floor unconscious.


"He did it again..."  Jessica sighed, as she started sticking
electric monitors on Daryl's chest..

      "This has happened before?" Steven asked, concerned.

       "Every time he saves someone who everyone here knows should be down
cooling in the morgue."

      "Exhaustion?"  Steven guessed.

      "That's what Dr. Gavin claims... I'm starting to think otherwise."

      "What do you mean?"

      "Are you a religious man?" Jessica asked, taking hold of the small
crucifix around her neck.

      "I filed a restraining order on God several years ago.  He's not
allowed within 500 yards of me," Steven joked.

      "But you spend so much time with Dr. Gavin..."  Jessica seemed
surprised.  "I don't fully understand what it is he believes, but I do have
a great deal of respect for his faith.  Don't you?"

      "I have a great deal of respect for him... I just don't see why he
bothers being a member of a loony cult.  He's a doctor for goodness
sakes... an educated man."

      "That might be how you feel... but most people are not so pessimistic
as to not believe in miracles."

      "Or angels?"  Steven chuckled.

      "Why not... I don't know if Dr. Gavin is one, but I do believe God
has a special purpose for him.  Do you have any idea how much money he
gives to the community each year?"

      "I have some idea," Steven nodded.

      "There is a small children's home a few blocks away from here for
AIDS patients whose parents are either dead, in jail, or just too
incompetent to take care of their children.  It's called the Henderson
Home... after a girl who came to our emergency room."

      "Is she still alive?"

      "No...  she's on the short list of patients Dr. Gavin has lost.  It's
his money that supports the home."

      "Isn't your last name Henderson?"

      "Yes...  the girl was my niece," Jessica said, a tear rolling down
her face as she ruffled Daryl's hair.

      "I see," Steven sighed.

      "You're in love with him... aren't you Dr. Nash?"  Jessica asked
after a long silence.

      "It's that obvious?"

      "Not by anything you've done."

      "Then how do you know?"

      "By the way Dr. Gavin looks at you.  I don't believe he would look at
you the way he does if you didn't love him as well.  Promise me you are not
doing this for the money."

      "I'm not," Steven swore.

      "Good...  then I leave Dr. Gavin to your care.  He usually sleeps
this off in a few hours."

Chapter 16

      "Care to explain this?"  Patrick asked, clicking his tongue between
each word as his brother wheeled an unconscious Daryl into the house.

      "There was an emergency at the hospital.  A child almost died but our
archangel here performed another one of his miracles."

      "And passed out?"

      "Seems to be the tradition," Steven chuckled, as he guided the
wheelchair towards the guestroom.  "Help me get him on the bed."

      Once Daryl was under the covers, Steven began to slip out of his
clothes as did Patrick.  Soon both were on either side of Daryl, their
limbs wrapped around his body.

      "Uhmmm..."  Daryl groaned when he started to wake up.

      "Wakey wakey," Steven chuckled before planting a kiss on Daryl's
forehead.

      "Steven?"  Daryl said as he slowly opened his eyes.

      "And me," Patrick said, kissing the back of Daryl's neck.

      Quickly Daryl turned around, finding Patrick's grinning face.  "I..."

      "This is the secret I wanted to tell you," Steven said quickly.

      "Twins?"

      "Yes," Patrick nodded, letting the tip of his finger draw away one of
Daryl's tears.

      "Which one's which?"

      "I'm Steven... the one who likes to wear dresses is my brother
Patrick."

      "Why...  why didn't you tell me?" Daryl demanded.

      "It started off as a joke I was playing on Steven... but then things
got complicated," Patrick said when Steven didn't speak up.

      "A joke?"

      "Not on you Dare... but on each other," Patrick said quickly.

      "I understand... David and I did the same sometimes.  Twins... I
don't believe it.  It does explain a lot though."

      "You're not mad... are you?"  Steven asked worried.

      "No Steven... I'm not.  I'm actually happy, giddy almost."  Daryl
laughed.

      "Why?"  Both Patrick and Steven asked at the same time.

      "Because now I know you two are not schizophrenic and because I
finally feel like I've found a real home."

      "So you will move in with us?"  Steven asked hopefully.

      "Yes...  if you think you can put up with me," Daryl chuckled.

      "Then there is only one thing you need to do."  Steven said as he
reached for the nightstand to pick up the discharge paper.  "Sign!"

      "Think I should sign this with my own blood?" Daryl laughed.

      "If you will get you to move faster," Steven grunted.

      "I'll get a pen," Patrick said, hopping out of bed.

      "Sorry, forgot about that," Steven said when Daryl rolled on top of
him.

      "It's ok... I'm too happy to get angry over such a little thing."

      "You really are?" Steven said surprised.

      "I am... I don't like that you two lied to me but the truth is too
wonderful to make me angry."

      "Here's your pen," Patrick said, handing Daryl the ballpoint.

      Placing the paper on the hard abs of Steven's body, Daryl signed and
dated the discharge.  "There, it's done."

      "Finally!"  Steven said, a wicked grin on his face as he ripped the
buttons off Daryl's shirt.

      "Hey!"  Daryl protested.

      "Don't worry about it... you will soon be able to afford a new one."
Steven said.  "As it turns out, the jackpot going to the hospital staff
member who beds me first is much higher than yours."

      "Why do I suspect you had a hand in seeing to that?"  Daryl chuckled.

      "Well here's the check," Steven said... removing it from the table.

      "This is a hundred and twenty thousand dollar check..."  Daryl said
flabbergasted."

      "Plus some change," Patrick said, lifting up a collection barrel
filled with twenty dollar bills."

      "You can thank Jessica for the extra change," Steven explained.

      "I can't accept this."  Daryl insisted.

     



 "This isn't a gift Daryl... its payment for services rendered.
You've more than earned it, or you will have by the time we let you out of
this bed," Steven said, rolling Daryl onto his side so that Patrick could
wrap himself around Daryl's back.

      "I'm not a whore," Daryl said weakly as his pants were ripped off his
body.

      "But you're definitely horny," Steven said hungrily, as he used the
opening in Daryl's boxers to tear them off.

      "Just one question before we start," Patrick said.  "Are you a top or
a bottom?"

      "It's been ages but back then I was sort of versatile."

      "Perfect," both brothers said with wide grins.

12. Chapter 12

             "You were amazing," Steven cooed as he ran a hand up and down the length of Daryl's body, rubbing in the sweat and released cum of their passions.

 

            "It's been so long... I almost let myself forget what it felt like," Daryl said, his voice exhausted but at ease.

 

            "Enjoying yourself Patrick?"  Steven asked, looking down to where his brother was still busy sucking on Daryl's cock.

 

            "I'm almost done," Patrick replied.

 

            "You're not going to get any more out of me Patrick... you've drained me dry," Daryl chuckled.

 

            "Well I'm not done with you," Steven said, reaching for a bottle of lube, wetting his bare cock with it.

 

            "Steven?"  Patrick asked, a little shocked.

 

            "Can I?"  Steven asked his brother.

 

            "It's a commitment."  Patrick replied.

 

            "It's one I want to make."

 

            "What's going on?"  Daryl asked.

 

            "My brother wants to fuck you."  Patrick replied.

 

            "Again?"

 

            "This time without a condom."  Patrick explained.

 

            "Unless you two gave me something I am very sure I'm clean."

 

            "You are... I had Jessica do some blood work on you while you were sleeping," Steven said.

 

            "So..."  Daryl asked confused.

 

            "It's one of our rules..."  Patrick started to explain.  "Both of us agreed to practice only safe sex with our outside partners and get tested twice a month.  Steven wants to change that."

 

            "Why should he?  It's a good idea."

 

            "Because of another thing we decided.  We're both in love with you Dare... as much as we love each other, something neither of us ever thought would happen," Steven said.

 

            "We've decided to retire from the dating field... let the other men fight over the leftovers.  We got the best pick of the litter,"

Patrick said, as he hugged both of Daryl's thighs.

 

            "You don't have to."  Daryl blushed.

 

            "We want to... to prove our commitment to you Dare," Steven said as he rolled Daryl onto his side.

 

            "There's nothing you need to prove.  I trust both of you."

 

            "You're right Steven...  he does like being difficult."

Patrick chuckled as he took the lube from his brother and started rubbing its contents on Daryl's manhood.

 

            "At the same time?" Daryl said, shocked when he realized what the brothers were up to.

 

            "Yes," both of them said.

 

            "Imagine we are just one body making love to you... for we are of one mind when it comes to loving you," Steven whispered into Daryl's ear as he pushed himself inside the man's body.

 

 

            "Patrick?"  Steven asked when he woke up and Daryl walk naked into the bathroom.

 

            "Yes?"  His brother whispered.

 

            "Thank you."

 

            "You're welcome... and thank you."

 

            "What for?" Steven asked, surprised.

 

            "For giving me my first night of sleep without any nightmares."

 

            "You should be thanking Daryl... not me."

 

            "But this would have never had happened without you," Patrick insisted.  "Dare doesn't love me like he loves you."

 

            "What?  He's crazy about you.  You're the one who reminds him of his brother."

 

            "And you're the one who reminds him of Brian," Patrick argued.

 

            "How can you link me to that man?" Steven said, clearly offended.  From the bathroom he could hear the sound of running water.

 

            "I don't know how Dare feels about him now but he did love

Brian once," Patrick replied.  "He loved him a great deal."

 

            "That may be, but I'm sure he loves you more than me."  Steven insisted.

 

            "Let's not make this into a contest," Patrick sighed.  "Let's just both agree neither of us would be where we are today without the other."

 

            "I can live with that."  Steven said.  "Dare must be showering."

 

            "What time is it?" Patrick asked.

 

            "Five."

 

            "Oh God... we've married an early bird," Patrick moaned.

 

            "We've not left this bed since eight last night," Steven pointed out.

 

            "I know... my stomach just reminded me."

 

            "Shall we go join Dare in the shower and wash up?  Then we can head to nearest coffee shop."

 

            "Sounds like a plan to me," Patrick said, planting a quick kiss on his brother's cheek before jumping out of bed.

 

            Moving much slower, Steven was only halfway to the bathroom when his brother ran out laughing.  "Oh my God!"

 

            "What?"  Steven asked.

 

            "You've got to see this," Patrick said, pulling his brother inside the steam filled room.

 

            Looking though the hot mist, Steven eyes darted to the open shower door where Daryl was busy washing his hair... his now platinum blond hair.

 

            "Fuck!"  Steven swore, bending over in laughter.

 

            "What?"  Daryl asked, turning the water off.

 

            "Uhmmm Dare, what bottle did you use?"

 

            "I don't know.  I can't read too well without my glasses,"

Daryl said, looking at the shower floor where at least a half-dozen lay.

 

            "I think he used this one."  Steven said, reaching into the shower, picking up a bottle labeled hair bleach.

 

            "Oops," Patrick said nervously.

 

            "Oops is right."  Steven said, "You forgot the clean out the

shower after you kicked Greg out."

 

            "Did I just do something wrong?" Daryl asked.

 

            "That depends," Steven chuckled.

 

            "I think it looks nice... would look better with a different hair style though," Patrick said as he ran his fingers through Daryl's thick mop of hair.

 

            "That's just adds another item to our list of things to do."

 

            "Will you two please stop talking like I'm not here?" Daryl demanded.

 

            "Fine...  but you have to promise to close your eyes first,"

Steven said, moving so he was now blocking the bathroom mirror.

 

            Taking Patrick's offered hand, Daryl stepped out of the shower, letting himself be guided to the front of the bathroom mirror which Steven had wiped clean.

 

            "Ok...  you can open your eyes now," Steven said.

 

            "Oh no..." was Daryl's first reaction.

 

            "It's not that bad... I have a friend who can style it for you."  Patrick said.

 

            "Consider this your baptism into the modern era."  Steven chuckled.

 

 

            Not having any clean clothes on hands, Daryl depended on

Patrick doing a few quick bobby pin alterations to give him something to wear since he was a good three inches shorter than the twins.  Once dressed, the three went to the closest coffee shop to get a quick bite to

= eat and to discuss the day's plans.

 

            "You sure you don't want a cup of coffee?" Steven asked Daryl.

"It's going to be a long day."

 

            "I'm fine," Daryl replied, taking a quick sip of his orange juice.

 

            "Where are we going first?" Patrick asked, as his hand worked at cutting up a stack of buttermilk pancakes.

 

            "While you two were busy getting dressed, I called Albert.  By the time we arrive at his office, everything should be taken cared of."

 

            "Who's Albert?" Daryl asked before stabbing a fork into his breakfast sausage.

 

            "A real estate agent."

 

            "Are you moving?" Daryl asked confused.

 

            "No...  but you are."

 

            "Oh...  right.  Wait a minute.  You want me to sell my house?"

 

            "Do you really need to keep it?" Patrick said.

 

            "But you can't sell it." Daryl replied.

 

            "Why not?"  Steven asked.

 

            "Because I don't own it... the church holds the deed."

 

            "Then go call them up and tell them you don't need it anymore."

Patrick suggested.

 

            "I haven't talked to the Father in years..." Daryl said hesitantly.

 

            "Consider this your chance to give him your two week notice,"

Steven said as he handed him his cell phone.

 

            "I knew this day would come eventually," Daryl sighed as he took the phone and left the table.

 

            "Do you think he's going to be able to go through with it?" Patrick asked.

 

            "I don't know," Steven said, his eyes following Daryl as he walked out of the restaurant.

 

            It was not until the sun had cleared the horizon that Daryl came back.  "It's done."

 

*************

 

            "Father...  there's a call for you."  A dark suited man whispered in the barely lit bedroom.

 

            Waking up slowly, Brian untangled himself from the body of the man sharing his bed, taking the offered cell phone.  "Hello?"

 

            "Father..."  a strong baritone voice replied.

 

            "Mayor Gamble."

 

            "Daryl called."

 

            "What!"  Brian jumped.

 

            "Daryl called your office but as you are not here the call was redirected to me."

 

            "What did he say... is he coming home?"  Brian demanded.

 

            "No...  he called to say he was moving out of the house the church purchased for him.  He wants us to sell it and give the money to charity."

 

            "Do it."  Brian said.

 

            "But..."  the mayor protested.

 

            "I'm not in a mood for an argument.  Now give me the number

Daryl used to call you."

 

            Once he had scribbled it down, Brian ended the call, quickly pushing the phone number into the cell phone.

 

 

 

 

***************

 

        Steven was driving when his cell phone went off.  Pushing the intercom button, he turned on the speaker.  "Hello?"

 

            "Ah Patrick... why am I not surprised to find you on the other

line."  Brian's voice spoke.

 

            Before Steven had a chance to respond Patrick quickly removed the cell phone from its console, taking the conversation private.  "Can I help you?"

 

            "Where's Daryl... is we with you?"  Brian asked.

 

            "Yes."  Patrick replied flatly.

 

            "Can I speak with him?"

 

            Patrick looked in back of the car where Daryl was sitting, his ears covered by a pair of Steven's headphones, his head moving to the beat of the techno CD Steven had wanted him to listen to.

 

            "He's occupied at the moment... can I take a message?"

 

            "No...  I have a better idea.  Let's all have lunch together.

I'm sure you can arrange that."

 

            "He is going to be pretty busy today."

 

            "Don't worry... I won't be taking much of your time.  I just want to check up on him.  He made a big decision today... a lot sooner than

I guessed he would.  I have you to thank for that.  Your bank account will soon reflect my gratitude."

 

            "No need to do that."

 

            "But I insist.  Just be sure you, Daryl, and that cute brother of yours driving next to you are at Marriot on Sixth Street sometime around noon.  Have a good morning."

 

            "But..."  Patrick said to a now dead phone.

 

            "What's up?"  Steven asked after Patrick returned the cell phone to the consol.

 

            Patrick looked back to make sure Daryl was still listening to music before turning the car radio on full blast.  "That was Brian."

 

            "That jerk!" Steven shouted only for his brother to raise a finger to his lips.

 

            "What did he want?" Steven asked in a quieter voice.

 

              "He wants to have lunch with us."

 

            "I hope you told him to shove it."

 

            "I did but..." Patrick said, glancing at the cars around him.

"We're being followed."

 

            "Should we try to get away?"

 

            "No...  I don't think that would do any good.  I think your car is bugged."

 

            "But you can get rid of them... can't you?"  Steven asked.

 

            "If I had my gear with me... yeah."

 

            "Tell me you at least have a gun on you."

 

            "Do I ever leave the house without one?" Patrick said, lifting

up his pants' leg, to reveal a small handgun strapped to it.

 

            "So should we stop by the house and get your stuff?"

 

            "No...  not worth the risk.  He wants us over for lunch so we better do it.  If I start removing stuff now, he might think we don't plan on showing up... that would be bad." Patrick said as he took out his own cell phone.

 

            "Don't you worry about your phone being bugged?" Steven asked as his brother put an ear piece into his ear.

 

            "They could have but it wouldn't do them any good.  The signal on my phone is double encrypted and uses a different frequency then what is used with normal cell phones."

 

           "I wondered why yours was so big... I thought you were trying to compensate for something," Steven joked.

 

            "Very funny," Patrick said as he started dialing a number.

"Hello Alex?"

 

            "Alex?"  Steven almost choked.

 

            Alex had been one of Patrick's on and off lovers going all the way back to when the two met in basic training.  Whereas Patrick had joined to help pay for college, Alex wanted to be a career soldier.  Steven had often listened to the almost comic adventures the two men had back during the first Gulf Wars.  After leaving the military and getting a degree in criminal justice, it was three years before the two cowboys were reunited. Alex, having gotten caught giving a blow job to one of his instructors in officer's training, had been pushed out of the service.  The man's love for guns and covert ops however did not let him leave the military lifestyle completely.

 

            Steven did not know for sure what Alex had for a job but deep down he suspected that the man had become a gun for hire.  More than once had his brother received a long distance phone call from Alex sending

Patrick off packing to some far corner of the Earth.  The last time had been during the US invasion of Afghanistan, with his brother being gone for almost three weeks.  When he came back it was with a black eye, a chipped tooth, and an arm that Patrick claimed he had only strained but Steven was sure had received a bullet.

 

            Now it seemed Patrick was going to collect on the favors he had earned from all those times he had to go save Alex's ass.

 

            "Well?"  Steven asked after his brother had removed his ear piece.

 

            "Got him curious so... he has agreed to help," Patrick chuckled.

 

            "That all?"

 

            "You know Alex... always eager to help a friend."

 

            "He wants to fuck you... doesn't he?"

 

            "Alex has never fucked me Steven."

 

            "You mean Mr. Commando is really a nelly bottom?"

 

            "I didn't say that either..."

 

            "Then what?" Steven demanded.

 

            "If you've not noticed Alex can be a little obsessive," Patrick said.

 

            "I have noticed that."

 

             "Have you never noticed how immaculately clean and tidy he is?"

 

            "So he doesn't have anal sex because he doesn't want to get dirty?"

 

            "Exactly."

 

            "But isn't being a soldier a dirty business?"

 

            "That's the funny thing about it... so long as he has a gun in his hand he doesn't care about getting dirty.  He's wanted to fuck me for a long time but you know I would never allowed firearms in bed...  especially if they're used is sex-play."

 

            "So what is he going to do to help?"

 

            "Well for starters he's going to case out the Marriot and find out what room Brian is staying in.  If I remember correctly the area is crowded with tall buildings, so there will be no problem for him to set up a sniper position."

 

            "A sniper!  Is that really necessary?" Steven asked shocked.

 

            "Just taking precautions.  If all goes well Alex will meet us back home... then the real planning can start."

 

            "Planning for what?" Daryl asked... having just reached the end of the CD.

 

            The twins looked at each other nervously.

 

            "We are going to hook up later with an old army buddy of mine,"

Patrick said.

 

            "Neat," Daryl said, taking the headphone off.

 

            Seeing a juice bar just off the road, Steven pulled into its parking lot.  "I need a drink."

 

            "This early?" Daryl asked confused.

 

            "I think I need one too.” Steve agreed.

 

        You got your flask on you?" Patrick asked.

 

            "Never leave home without it," Steven said, opening open his coat to show the silver flask.

 

            Come on Dare... we need to talk," Patrick said.

 

            After entering the juice bar and being served a round of foamy virgin Pina Coladas, Steven took out his hipflask and emptied its contents into both Patrick's and Daryl's drink, leaving his own untouched.

 

            "I don't drink."  Daryl said, pushing the tall glass away.

 

            "Trust me, you want to," Steven insisted.  I know I want to but one of us has to drive."

 

            "Just tell me what you two have to say.  I'll decide later if getting drunk would be the appropriate response."

 

            "Your call was traced," Steven said while Patrick was busy draining his drink through a straw.

 

            "I don't understand."

 

            "While you were listening to music Brian called."

 

            "Brian?"  Daryl said, shaking his head in disbelief.

 

            "He's here in town.  He wants us to bring you to the hotel he is staying at to have lunch with him."

 

            "Brian is here?"  Daryl felt as if his heart was about to explode.  He knew trying to sell the house would lead to trouble.  If anyone could cause more trouble in his life it was Brian.

 

            "Drink up," Patrick suggested, pushing Daryl's glass back in his direction.

 

            This time Daryl did not hesitate.  "Gosh I forgot how awful this stuff tastes," he said, after taking a swig, a foam mustache left on his face.

 

            "You've had alcohol before?  Steven said surprised.

 

            "Brian's father kept a stash hidden in the root cellar.  We would sometimes spend whole nights down there," Daryl explained before gulping down more of the spiked drink.

 

            "Hehehe...  I knew you had it in you," Patrick chuckled.

 

            "Hey...  don't expect me to make a habit of this," Daryl replied, his glass already half empty.

 

            "Well Dare... what do you think?" Steven asked when he noticed

Daryl cheeks were now flushed.

 

            "About Brian?  Sure... let's go see him."

 

            "Do you really want to do that?" Patrick asked worriedly.

 

            "Why not?  I'm actually happy he finally got the courage to leave home."

            "But do you know why he left home?" Steven asked.

 

            "To get away from his father... the Father," Daryl laughed, his voice starting to slur.

 

            "Dare...  Brian is the Father.  He's here to bring you back home," Steven said, regretting that he had put so much vodka into Daryl's drink.

 

            "Hahaha...  but Brian hates his father.  He wanted to get away as much as I did."

 

            "Dare you're not listening... Brian is the Father.  He now leads New Hope."

 

            "What?"  Daryl asked confused, reaching to finish the last of his drink.

 

            "I think you've had enough," Steven said as he took the glass away.

 

            "I don't understand... Brian's dad said he would never let a fag like his son lead the church," Daryl said, leaning back in his chair.

 

            "Well he leads it now Dare," Steven said, elbowing his brother.

 

            "Things fell apart after you left Dare," Patrick said, no hint of drunkenness in his voice.

 

            "How so?" Daryl asked, shaking himself as if to clear the fog in his head.

 

            "Brian led a secret revolt... people died, his father is now locked up in a mental hospital."

 

            "A mental hospital?  That can't be right," Daryl insisted.

 

            "Brian had his father shunned Dare," Patrick said.

 

            Hearing that word did more than several pots of coffee could in clearing Daryl's mind.  "No... I know Brian.  He would never do that to  a person, even his own father."

 

            "I don't understand it myself, so you will have to question

Brian yourself over his motives."  Patrick said.

 

            "Brian is really now the Father?" Daryl said, in a tone that showed that he still did not fully believing it.

 

            "He is," Steven said, reaching under the table to hold Daryl's hand just to find that Patrick's was already there.

 

            "And he wants to bring me back to New Hope?"

 

            "He does," Patrick nodded.

 

            "I don't want to go back."

 

            "We know... that's why I called my army buddy.  We're all going to work together to see that nothing happens to you," Patrick promised.

 

            Just at that moment a shadow fell on all three men.  Looking at its source they saw three broad shouldered men dressed in black suits.

 

            "Secret Service?" Steven chuckled.

 

            "No..."  Daryl said, recognizing the small circular pendants on their lapels.

 

            "Friends of yours?" Patrick asked.

 

            "No, I don't know any of them... which has me worried."

 

            "The Father sent us to remind you that you all have a busy schedule to keep and should be hurrying on," the man on the left said.

 

            "Who are you?  You're not from New Hope," Daryl demanded

 

             "You have been gone a long time Mr. Gavin.  Things have changed... for the better," the same man said, as if daring anyone to say otherwise.

 

 


13. Chapter 13

 

 

 

            Back in the car, the twins heard Daryl let out a deep moan. "What has Brian done?"

 

            "I take it that those three were members of your church?" Patrick guessed.

 

            "If they were... they sure didn't act like any Blessed I have ever known."

 

            "They sure did to me," Steven grunted as he put the car into reverse.  "Cold, stoic, robots."

 

            "Exactly...  which is almost the opposite of how the people in New Hope really act."

 

            "I don't get it... when I first met you, you were pretty cold and stoic," Steven said as he drove out of the parking lot.

 

            "That was because I was trying to... to hurt myself.  I wanted to experience what my brother went through."

 

            "You were shunning yourself," Steven said flatly.

 

            "Yes...  yes I was," Daryl admitted.

 

            "So how do people back home act?"

 

            "Cheerful...  happy... a bunch of cheerful happy lemmings.  Not unless you’re gay.  Then they’re a rabid blood thirsty mob but they still try to be very cheerful about it when they come to get you." Daryl replied.

 

            "Well those three were anything but cheerful... they were plain creepy," Steven grunted.

 

            "And armed to the teeth," Patrick added.

 

            "Really?"  Steven asked surprised.

 

            "Each one had minimum of three guns apiece and at least one knife."  Patrick was an expert in identifying the bugles under a man’s clothes… including the deadly kind

 

            "What have you done Brian?" Daryl said again to himself.

 

            "So where do you think the Father found these thugs?" Steven asked his twin.

 

            "I'll get my people on it." Patrick said as he took out his phone again.

 

            "They're not from New Hope or even Montana," Daryl replied.

 

            "They did have sort of a citified look to them," Patrick agreed.

 

            "Where are we going?" Daryl asked.

 

            "We're getting this shit over with now," Steven said.

 

            "Good idea... he wouldn't be expecting that," Patrick agreed.

 

            "I don't understand... we are going to the hotel now?" Daryl asked.

 

            "Yep...  that's unless you really don't want to see Brian?"

 

            "No, I need to see him.  I need answers," Daryl replied.

 

            "Good because we're almost there."  Steven said, pointing to the Marriot Hotel.

 

            If they had caught Brian off guard, he didn't show it when the three of them entered the room.  In fact the man wore a bemused smile on his face from the high back chair he was sitting in, a cigar in his hand.

 

            "I hope the three of you didn't rush to get here on my account," the dark haired man chuckled.

 

            After they had walked halfway towards Brian, Daryl did something that shocked the twins... he went down on his knees and bowed before his former lover.

 

            "Father..."  Daryl whispered.

 

            "Daryl."  Brian said with a faint whisper that was barely audible.

 

            The twins watched as Brian placed his cigar in a nearby ashtray before standing up and making his way toward where Daryl remained bowed.  Placing a hand on top of Daryl's bleached hair, the man ran his fingers through its long strands.  He then closed his hand into a fist, offering the ring on his finger to Daryl's lips.  After Daryl had kissed the ring.  Brian grabbed Daryl by both shoulders and lifted the man back onto his feet.  "I've missed you Daryl.  Have you missed me?"

 

            "Every day," Daryl replied, his eyes still looking down at the carpeted floor.

 

            "Look at me Daryl," Brian said, placing an index finger under the man's chin, raising his head up.  "Look at me Daryl," Brian said more insistently when he found Daryl's eyes still closed.

 

            "Look at me Daryl!" The Father eventually shouted, this time causing Daryl to pop both eyes open.

 

            “There now... was that so hard?" Brian said, his voice once again calm.

 

            "We are not supposed to gaze upon the face of the Father,"  Daryl whispered.

 

            "That never stopped me or your brother.  It was a silly custom in the first place so I got rid of it after dad stepped down," Brian said as he circled around Daryl as if he were examining a piece of art.

 

            "That's not all you've changed," Daryl said accusingly, his nose wrinkling from the smell of the cigar.

 

            "You mean this?" Brian asked, taking quick strides to the ashtray and picking up the cigar.  "That's funny coming from you...  how many of the rules of discipline did the two of us break when we were kids?"

 

            "What about these outsiders?" Daryl demanded, pointing to the six armed men in the room.

 

            "True believers of the faith."  Brian said defensively.  "After becoming the Father I decided our church needed to expand.  I became quite the missionary."

 

            "I don't understand.  It takes twenty years to become a full member of the Blesses."

 

            "Another stupid custom."  Brian laughed as he went over to where a man, dressed in a gray suit stood.  "Daryl... I would like you to meet Missionary Peter Thomson.  He's the one who helps me see where to find the people who will lead our church in this new century."

 

            "Where did you find them?" Daryl asked.

 

            "The streets," Peter said.  "Among the homeless, drug addicts, hustlers, and disaffected youth.  With the funds the Father generously provided, the church now has hostels, shelters, and youth centers all over the country.  You would be amazed how lost many American youth are. Parents these days treat most of their kids like fashion accessories or score cards.  All it takes is love and a little motivation and you can not only make them your friends but be willing to give their lives for you.  I should know.  I've had three or four to exactly that for me."

 

            "What have you done Brian?  What are you doing with this... this evil man?"

 

            "I'm rewriting all our holy texts," Brian said, slipping back into his leather chair.

 

            "But why?"

 

            "For you Daryl... I've done all this for you."

 

            "What?"

 

            "What happened to your brother and to us was a sin, a sin I have committed myself to repenting for."

 

            "I don't understand.  How can you erase over a hundred years of tradition?"

 

            Brian reached over and took the hands of two of his bodyguards.  "Can't you see what I've done?  We are now the chosen people, not those cattle whose only good use is breeding."

 

            "You mean gay people?" Daryl asked.

 

            "Yes...  us men!  It came to me one night like a divine vision.  All our texts refer to God as a man and as everyone knows Jesus was a man too.  Now if both were divine, and both were capable of perfect love, then should men not aspire to achieve that same love?"

 

            "You've gone mad," Daryl accused.

 

            "No...  I've become a prophet," Brian insisted.

 

            "A prophet of doom... our people would never go along with this craziness," Daryl replied.  "You will destroy everything our people have built... have stood for."

 

            "But what have our people ever built?  For nearly two hundred years our `people' have been living off the kindness and generosity of your family.  And how did we treat you in return?  My father had your parents killed Daryl.  They didn't die in a blizzard."

 

            "That's not true," Daryl stammered.

 

            "It is... my father told me himself.  You're parents threatened to not renew the lease on the land the church uses.  My predecessor, thinking he would have better luck with you and David, had them killed.  It's the same reason why my dad had to get rid of David.  He wouldn’t’ cooperate either"

 

            "No...  David died because I shunned him."

 

            "But why was he shunned in the first place?  Dad feared that  David would influence your decision on renewing the lease.  He had to find some way of separating the two of you."

 

            "So you are telling me my brother died over money that I have never wanted?"

 

            "Yes," Brian said as he stood up and embraced his former lover.  "Can't you now see why I must reshape our church?  It must be purged of corruption and hate and rebuilt on the foundation of true love.  I can't do it though without you."

 

            "I still think this is madness Brian... a gay cult?"

 

            "No...  a true religion for a people who have been abandoned by all other faiths."  Peter said.

 

            "I'm sorry Brian, but I can't go along with this," Daryl said, gently pushing the man away.

 

            The Father grabbed Darly by his arms and forced his old friend to remain where he was.  "But you don't know what's at stake or how much we need you."  Brian's face was now red with anger and frustration.

 

              "You need to pray Brian... try to find your way back to the person you once were."

 

            "I can never go back Daryl...I have HIV," Brian whispered.

 

            "How did you get that?" Daryl said, shocked.  New Hope had been such a tight community that it had been blessed in being free from all sexually transmitted diseases.

 

            "Giving my love to our chosen people."  Brian said guiltily.

 

            "You slept with outsiders?"

 

            "So many I've lost count," Brian admitted.

 

            "Including hustlers…?"  Daryl remembered.

 

            "Yes...  I waited for you, hoping you would come back but you never did.  Then I met Peter and together we came up with the idea for a new church based on love.  I wanted to make sure though that every one of my new followers loved me..."

 

            "Slut..."  Patrick said, covering his mouth as if he were coughing.

 

            "Yeah slut..." Brian chuckled weakly.

 

            "What do you want from me Brian?"

 

            "I screwed up Daryl... I got sick but I didn't stop having sex.  Remember Tammy?"

 

            "Your wife?"

 

            "Yes...  she's now sick.  So are most of our old friends... Landon, Glenn, the people who I've put in charge of New Hope. Your old friend Stan is not sick though."

 

            "Stan was always sensible," Daryl replied.

 

            "It didn't make him smart enough to see what would happen by helping you run away," Brian retorted.

 

            "You've not hurt him... have you?"

 

          "No...  I made him CEO of NM Mining.  Even so the ungrateful wretch refuses to have much to do with me."

 

            "As I said... he was always the sensible one.  You have not answered my question though. What do you want with me?"

 

            "New Hope is facing a crisis. You know our marriage customs.  Once the first child is born the parents are allowed to sleep with whoever they want. Outsiders and locals combined over a quarter of the community has gotten sick... that I know of.  Almost none of them are getting treatment.  They expect God to heal them.  We have our own doctors but they are about as useful as faith healers and witch doctors and I can't be sedating 3000 people each month to go to the mining doctors . We need our own doctor...  one that is trained in modern medicine and who understands our customs.  Our people need the Gavin family again... they need you Daryl."

 

            "Damn you Brian... damn you for being so stupid, damn you for betraying our church, damn you for putting me in this position and twice damn you for shunning me."

 

            "I have done a lot that needs forgiving.  I know... but can't you find it in your heart to forgive me Daryl.  Everything I did I did for you... to change things in New Hope so you would come back home."

 

            "And it seems you've succeeded," Daryl sighed.

 

            "You mean it... you'll come back home with me?"

 

            "I would be damning myself if I didn't.  But you have to do some things for me Brian."

 

            "Anything Daryl.  You name it and it's done."

 

            "Get rid of this bastard."  Daryl said, pointed a finger at Peter.

 

            "Done."  Brian said with a snap of his fingers.

 

            "Now wait a minute."  Peter said, stepping back as Brian's followers closed in on him.

 

            To Daryl and the twins' horror one of the men pulled out a gun, quickly screwing in a silencer.

 

            "Brian!"  Daryl shouted.

 

            The Father, now sitting back in his chair gave Daryl a blank expression as the man with the gun shot Peter in the heart, the missionary falling back into the waiting arms of the other men.

 

            "Why did you kill him?"

 

            "Because his sins demanded it... he was stealing money from our people not to mention planning to kill both of us."

 

            "Why would he kill me?"

 

            "Did you not forget that since my father legally adopted you if you were to die, everything you own, including the gas fields, would go to me?  My father remembered. That's why I had to get rid of him, in case he decided to have you killed like David and your parents."

 

            "I shouldn't go back... I shouldn't," Daryl said, afraid of what additional madness he would find if he went back home.

 

            "Before you decide, there is someone else you should talk to." Brian said, snapping his fingers, this time triggering the opening of the bedroom door.

 

            Standing in the doorway, looking dirty and disheveled was a plain dressed woman with long black hair.  Next to her was a blond man holding a gun.

 

            "Diana?"  Daryl said in disbelief, on seeing Brian's sister.   The woman had been the one the former Father had wanted him to marry.

 

            "Daryl..."  the woman said in a hoarse, disused voice.

 

            "Get that gun away from her Landon!"  Daryl demanded as he hurried toward the woman's side.

 

            "Oh Daryl... finally someone who will talk to me," Diana cried as she raced to meet her former betrothed.

 

            "Why isn't anyone talking to you?"  Daryl asked, confused as he tried to comfort his old friend.

 

            "Father had me shunned."  Diana wept.

 

            "Brian or dad?"

 

            "Dad."

 

            "But surly your brother can  remove it."

 

            "Not going to happen" Brian said darkly.

 

            "She's your sister Brian!"

 

            "Tell him sis... tell him why dad had you shunned."

 

            "I did something terrible... unforgivable," Diana whispered.

 

            "You will never convince me of that."

 

            "But it's true... and when I tell you, you will feel the same revulsion the rest of the church feels toward me."

 

            "I promise you Diana, I won't feel that way."

 

            "Don't make promises you don't know you can keep," Brian chuckled.

 

            "Let her talk," Daryl barked at Brian.

 

            "Remember when David was shunned?"

 

            "Yes...  you and I were the only ones who tried to stick by my brother.  It was you who passed the notes between us."

 

            "I did more than pass notes."  Diana said nervously.  "I comforted your brother."

 

            "Comforted him how?" Daryl asked.

 

            "The two were fucking each other!"  Brian shouted, his voice filled with rage.

 

            "Interrupt your sister one more time and you will never see me again Brian," Daryl swore.

 

            "Fine..."  Brian said, getting out of his chair to smoke out on the balcony.

 

            "I'm sorry Diana," Daryl sighed.

 

            "It's alright... my brother has every right to be angry with me."

 

            "I don't see why."

 

            "Because of the unforgivable sin I committed.  I only comforted David a few times but that was all it took for his seed to grow inside me. Remember how sick I was the month before David killed himself?"

 

            "Yes...  I thought it was the flu."

 

            "So did dad... that was until mother told dad she thought I was pregnant."

 

            "What happened then?" Daryl asked.

 

            "Father sent me to the mining clinic.  I was too sedated to know what happened there but when I came back father was very angry.  It was the same day that Brian started shunning you."

 

            "I remember."

 

            "Dad then forced me to commit an unforgivable crime.  He made me go to David and tell him I was pregnant and that unless he killed himself his child would be shunned as well.  That's why your brother killed himself Daryl...  not because of you."

 

            For the first time in his life, Daryl felt his faith abandon him.  Even after he had run away from New Hope, he had remained a believer. Diana statement wiped that all away.  He could no longer see any good in his church.

 

            "You hate me now... don't you?  You're going to shun me as well?"

 

            "No Diana... I don't hate you.  I hate our church for what it did to us," Daryl said, as he hugged the woman close to him.

 

            "What happened to the baby?"  Daryl asked after a long silence.

 

            "I don't know... when it came close for the baby to be born dad sent me back to the mining clinic.  When I came back I was no longer pregnant and I had this scar."  Diana said as she lifted up her shirt to show it."

 

            Daryl ran his finger down the scar as if not sure if it was real.  "They did a c-section on you."  He whispered.

 

            "Is that an abortion?"  Diana asked worried.

 

            "No...It’s another form of delivery."  Daryl said, a storm of emotions raging through him.  A part of him was very angry... angry at what his adoptive father had done to his own daughter.  Another part of him was excited by the possibility that a part of his brother might still be alive. If there was such a child, Daryl knew of only one person who would know where such a child was... Brian.

 

            "I need to talk to Brian... will you be ok?" Daryl asked.

 

            "Yes...  you are coming back home with us though, right?"

 

            "Maybe...  But if I do it will only be for a short time," was all Daryl could promise at this point.

 

            "Well?"  Brian asked, puffing in his cigar when Daryl joined him on the balcony, not prepared when Daryl punched him right in the jaw.

 

            "How long have you known?" Daryl demanded.

 

            "Honestly...  I only figured it out yesterday," Brian said, waving his bodyguards off.  "Sis decided to take advantage of my coming here to run off on her own... with Stan's help I assume.  Took Landon a few weeks to track her down and when he did she was in pretty bad shape so I had a doctor examine her.  That's when I learned what a cesarean section was.  Knowing that dad most likely had it done at the clinic I had Stan look into it."

 

            "And what did you learn?" Daryl pressed.

 

            "That the doctors removed a pair of twins from her."

 

            "Twins!"  Daryl said excitedly.  "Where are they?"

 

            "I don't know... the records don't say.  As soon as I go back I plan on question dad about it though.  Care to join me in that visit?"  Brian said.

 

              "You've thought of everything... haven't you?"  Daryl accused.

 

            Brian reached into his pocket and pulled out a gun, pointing it at his head.  "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to bring you back home Daryl... even kill myself."

 

            "Put that gun away."  Daryl said with disgust.

 

            After seeing Brian return the gun back to its holster Daryl began to list additional conditions.  "I can't just leave here you know... I have patients of my own that need taking care of."

 

            "I've already seen to that... tomorrow you will resign from Memorial."

 

            "But they need me there."

 

            "Not as much as the hospital needs more money."  Brian pointed out. "After you resign I will see that a ten million dollar donation is made to Memorial... more than enough money to hire three or four good doctors and nurses to cover for you."

 

            Looking back into the hotel room Daryl saw the nervous expressions on the twins' faces.  "Still, I don't know if I can leave. I've fallen in love Brian."

 

            Brian dropped his remaining cigar over the edge of the balcony, embracing Daryl with his now empty hands. "I know Daryl.  You don't know how happy I am you have found the Nash brothers.  I was beginning to worry you would never let yourself fall in love again."

 

            "Not jealous?  Daryl chuckled.

 

            "I'm green with envy."  Brian said as he rocked his former lover in his arms.  "I like your new hair."

 

            "Are you flirting with me or just trying to be funny?"

 

            Brian tightened his hold on Daryl.  "I've missed you so much Daryl."

 

            "I too... it hurts to see what has become of you.  Maybe if I never left..."

 

            "If you had never left, I would have never gotten the courage to stand up against the Father and eventually he would have had you killed."

 

            "I want you to stop the shunning of your sister."  Daryl said.

 

            "You know I can't do that."  Brian sighed.

 

            "Why not... you're the Father."

 

            "I tried Daryl... but our people have not forgiven her.  They still believe she is a baby killer.  No matter how many sermons I could give on the subject you know our people will never forgive her.  Hell... I can't even bring myself to forgive her.  That's why I wanted to ask you if you would take her in when you come back home.  You were supposed to be the one to marry her."

 

            "Alright..."

 

            "Good...  how soon until you think you can settle your affairs here.  I have a jet waiting at the airport that can fly you to New Hope at any time."

 

            "I need to talk with Steven and Patrick first... but regardless of what they say I should be ready sometime tomorrow."

 

            "Then I will meet you at the airport sometime tomorrow."  Brian said, giving Daryl another tight hug before letting go.  "Never doubt that I still love you."

 

            "I know..."

 

            "Aren't you going to tell me you love me too?"

 

            "After all you've done?"  Daryl demanded.

 

            "I'm willing to do a whole lot worse to get you to love me again," Brian replied.

 

            "Don't Brian... please don't."

 

            "I think you should go now... your friends as starting to look worried," Brian said as he handed Daryl a large cell phone.

 

            "What's this?"

 

            "Patrick's cell phone... the real one.  You can also tell him that he will find his gun toting friend back home, unconscious but otherwise unharmed.

 

            "What am I going to do with you Brian?"  Daryl sighed not able to stop his hands from touching the man's familiar face.

 

            "So you do still love me."  Brian smiled, nuzzling against Daryl's touch.

 

            "I loved you Brian... almost as much as David.  I hate what you've become but I can't stop feeling something for you."

 

            "May I kiss you?"  Brian asked, a tear rolling down his face.

 

            Daryl didn't say a word, answering by closing his eyes and leaning forward.  Soon he felt Brian's lips against his mouth, the man's warm wet tongue slipping out, letting Daryl taste the flavor of saliva and tobacco.

 

            Eventually pulling away, Daryl saw the tears that were now streaming down Brian's face.  "Are you going to be ok?"

 

            "Now that you will be coming back home... Yes, I think I will," Bryan said.

 

        "Well?"  Steven asked when Daryl left the balcony.

 

            "Here's your cell phone back," Daryl said, handing it to Patrick.

 

            "I don't believe it... they cloned my phone and I didn't even notice,"  Patrick said.  "That means they knew about Alex."

 

            "Brian promised they didn't hurt him.  He should be waiting for us back home."

 

            "What about you Dare?" Steven asked as the three of them left the hotel.

 

            "I feel so tired," Daryl said as he rested his forehead on Steven's left shoulder.

 

            "I'm sorry," Steven said, hugging Daryl tightly to him as they rode down the elevator.

 

            "When will you be leaving?" Patrick asked.

 

            "Tomorrow," Daryl whispered

 

            "That doesn't give us much time to pack," Steven said as he took out his cell phone.

 

            "Us?"  Daryl asked confused.

 

            "Do you really think we are going to let you go back to that mad house without us?"  Patrick chuckled.

 

            "But don't you have jobs and lives here?"

 

            "If you've not noticed... we're not actually what you would call poor," Steven said as he began dialing a number.

 

            "It's what we want to do Dare so don't try to talk us out of it," Patrick said.

 

            "Thank you... I don't know how I would handle Brian's mess without you two."

 

            "You don't have to go you know... Brian could build a new hospital and fill it with the nation's best physicians with the money he controls."

 

            "But my people would never go to such a hospital.  They don't trust outsiders.  That only leaves me.  There is also another, more personal, reason.  I'm an uncle."  Daryl chuckled.

 

            "What?"  Both twins shouted.

 

            "My brother would have been the father of a pair of twins if he had lived."  Daryl said.

 

            "Do you know where they are?"  Steven asked.

 

            "No...  but I know someone who most likely does.  That's why I have to go back.  I need to find my brother's children.  Only when I know they're safe will I be able to forgive myself."

 

            Thanks to the half dozen phone calls Steven made on the way back home, there was a long line people by the front door, waiting for them.

 

            "Who are these people?"  Daryl asked.

 

            "Friends, business associates, and former lovers."  Steven said as he shook the hands of several of those present.  "Our war council."

 

            Seating the gathering around the long table in the dinning-room, Steven began the meeting.  "As I told all of you, certain events have arisen that will require Patrick and I to be away from town for a while.  I would like all of you here to come with us."

 

`             "What is this all about?" one man asked.

 

            "And how will we be compensated?" another asked.

 

            "It's about money... a shit load of money," Patrick said as he started passing out folders which contained the financial information he had gathered on Daryl and the Church of the Blessed.

 

            "These numbers are quite impressive."  A bald but young looking man said.  "How real are these numbers?”

 

            "Daryl?"  Patrick asked.

 

            "If anything they underestimate the amount of money involved. They do not list any of the money held in government bonds and private accounts."

 

            "So are you telling me that the members of the Church of the Blessed are looking into diversifying?" an investment manager named Andrew asked.

 

            "In a manner of speaking," Patrick chuckled, nodding to Daryl.

 

            "New Hope has been cut off from the outside world for too long.  There are many things my people need."

 

            "Such as?" the bald man asked.

 

            "If you want to find out you wouldn't mind signing a non-disclosure agreement."  Steven chuckled as he passed another set of documents out.

 

            "Before I sign anything... can I have an estimate on what kind of resources are going to be made available to me?"

 

            "Since we have not yet examined the situation fully we can only give you an estimate but just from the accounts holding the money from Daryl's gas royalties and stock dividends you are looking at a chance to manage well over eight billion dollars."

 

            "That does not explain why I'm here," a well-manicured man said.

 

            "You could not expect us to leave the bright lights of the city for the barrens of Montana without our hairstylist."

 

            "Very funny," the man laughed sarcastically.

 

            "Sign the nondisclosure and we will be able to explain why we need you Tommy," Patrick said.

 

            "All right... but if you are expecting me to set up a beauty parlor out in the sticks...  the customers better be good tippers," Tommy replied as he removed the pen from behind his ear.

 

            Once Steven gathered the signed papers, he nodded to go ahead.

 

            For the next two hours Daryl explained his past and the events that had led him to leaving Montana.  Then... often stuttering over his own words he told the gay men gathered around him of the AIDS epidemic that was now killing his people because of the actions of a broken hearted madman.  The fact that they would not allow outside doctors to treat them had left Daryl no other choice but return home.  Near the end, Daryl started begging the gathered people for their help... pleading with tears running down his face.

 

            Mark...  a doctor whose entire medical practice focused on the treatment of HIV was the first to stand up.  "Sit down Dr. Gavin, you've convinced me, but can you explain to me how such a thing could ever happen?"

 

            "You have to understand our beliefs.  On many things we are very conservative, but on one issue we are a bit liberal.

 

            "Sex?  Mark asked.

 

            "Yes...  at least for our women.  Since all of our marriages are arranged and because our faith makes it difficult for an outsider to become one of the Blessed, it makes the role our women play very important. That is why, after a married couple has their first child, they have the right to sleep with whoever they wishes.  This has not only allowed for our numbers to increase but helped remove some of the problems caused by forced marriages."

 

            “Did these outsiders have to have an arranged marriage when they joined?”  Mark asked.

       

           “I can only assume yes.”  Daryl replied.  He had already figured out how it had spread like wildfire in the community.  Whether they liked it or not the women would be forced to marry the outsiders.  They of course would quickly want to leave them after they gave birth to their first child.  If the outsider had HIV then it was likely so did the wife and every man she might have slept with.  Safe sex was a foreign concept for the people of New Hope.  "Because we are required to marry at age eighteen, all of them have wives.  Brian forced most of these new comers to sleep with him.  Since he was positive many of the new comers also became positive.    They infected their wives and the wives infected other men... Most still don’t know they are infected."

 

            "Then there could well be more than 3000 people infected."  Mark said.  The virus could have infected three or four times that number.  This could be worse than some places in Africa."

 

            "That's what I am afraid of," Daryl nodded.  “It is also why I have to go back.  Unlike the doctors at the mining clinic they won’t see me as an outsider so they should let me treat them.

 

            "You still have not explained why you need me," Tommy, the hairstylist, said.

 

            "You've seen the effect the virus has on people over time... not a few of your clients go to you because you not only make them look good, but healthier as well."  Steven said.

 

            "It's all façade," Tommy blushed.

 

            "Yes, but considering the psychological benefits..."  Steven said.

           

           "I don't come cheap you know."

 

            "Daryl?"  Steven smiled.

 

            "Considering that almost every family in New Hope are practically millionaires from the gathered savings of many lifetimes and not having anything to spend money on... I think they'll be able to afford you."

 

            "Well, the first thing I'm going to do is fix that bad bleach job of yours," Tommy promised.

 

            "That's two," Patrick said, raising a pair of fingers.

 

            "Make that three," a broad shouldered, half dressed man said as he walked in, looking hung over.

 

            "Glad to have you aboard Alex," Patrick winked.

 

            "Well I do owe you more than a few favors... guess it's about time I started paying them off.  It might take me a week, but I'll have my boys set up in New Hope.  Give them a shovel, a string of razor wire and enough ammunition and not even an army of religious fanatics will dare cross you."

 

            "This is not a war," Daryl said.   Daryl looked at Alex and noticed something familiar about him.  Wasn’t he once one of his patients?

 

            "Of course not, Dr. Gavin," Alex said in a tone that fooled no one.”

 

            "Don't worry Dare... Alex knows his stuff," Patrick said encouragingly.

 

            By the time the meeting was over, all seven men had agreed to go to New Hope to help Daryl and the twins.  Given all the people who the seven would bring with them, in all Daryl would have a small army of doctors, nurses, lab technicians, a whole accounting department, Alex's platoon of guns for hire, as well as few people from Patrick's security company.  Andrew would work towards diversifying the church member's investments while Tommy worked on adding a little color to the townsfolk's appearance.  The bald man, Hank, who was an architect, would oversee the building of a new hospital and housing for everyone.

 

            "Well Daryl, what do you think?"  Got ourselves a pretty good team?" Steven asked.

 

            "Yes...  Thank you for calling all of them.  I wouldn't have known who to turn to for help," Daryl said while Tommy tried to repair his hair.

 

            "Comes from my days in the Peace Corp."

 

            "When were you in Peace Corp?"

 

            "Back when Patrick was playing soldier," Steven explained.

 

            "I thought about joining the Corp," Daryl admitted.  "The idea of running away to some far corner of the Earth and do some good in the process was very attractive to me."

 

            "Then you should hook up with me.  My team is always visiting far distant places and we could use a new medic," Alex grinned, lust in his eyes.

 

            "Hands off Alex... Daryl's mine," Patrick warned.

 

            "Care to arm-wrestle me over him?" Alex asked, flexing his massive biceps.

 

            "No," Patrick laughed.

 

            "Then you wouldn't mind me giving Dare my standard recruitment speech?"

 

            "That's completely up to Daryl" Patrick said.

 

            "What's this?"  Daryl asked just as his head lowered back into the bathroom sink by Tommy.

 

             "I just want to know if you have what it takes to be one of the few, the proud, and the..."

 

            "The queer?" Steven snickered.  He had heard this speech before.  He also knew what it would lead to, Alex being one of the less than three men that had slept with both him and his brother.

 

            Alex ignored Steven's comment, instead pulling out a gun, dropped its clip and emptied its chamber before tossing the metal piece toward Daryl, who caught it mid-air.

 

            "Care to join me on the firing range tomorrow morning?" Alex asked.

 

            "Haven't shot a gun in years..."  Daryl said as he examined the piece.  Years of hunting and being part of a community paranoid about outsiders one learned how to shoot before one learned long division.

 

            "There're very few things that match the rush I feel with the sharp recoil of an M-16," Alex said as he went down on his knees next to Daryl, taking the gun back.

 

            "Alex...  Dare is sort of taken," Steven warned.

 

            "As if." Alex snorted.

 

            "As of yesterday," Steven replied.

 

            "You're not even past the trial period," Alex insisted.

 

            "I am in love with the twins Alex."

 

            "So am I... been crazy about them for years," Alex laughed, slapping Daryl's legs hard.  "You on the other hand..."

 

            "Alex!"  Patrick said, grabbing his army buddy by the ear, pulling him out of the room.

 

            "What's gotten into you?"

 

            "Would you be shocked if I told you I've had my eye on our archangel for some time?"

 

            "I don't understand."

 

            Alex lifted his shirt up, revealing his massive smooth chest, marred only by a circular scar that Patrick could not help but touch.  "It was a local job... vigilante stuff.  A local gang called in some favors with their Colombian suppliers who in turn got in contact with me.  They wanted revenge for three of their members who died in a drive by. Since two innocent school girls died as well, I took the job.  Took a bullet in the chest for my trouble.  They sent me to Memorial."

 

            "Where Dare works in the trauma unit."  Patrick whispered.

 

            "Yes...  that man did more than save my life Patrick.  He changed me.  Since he saved my life, I have felt clean.  Did you know I haven’t washed my hands since this morning?
 

 

            "No...  I didn't know." Patrick said amazed.

 

            "I was so happy when you called... I've been wanting to hook up with you again for months.  I was even thinking of going back to Iraq just so you would have to come rescue me," Alex said before pausing to take a deep breath.  "I know Steven and I have not had the best relationship... he thinks I take too many risks and get you into trouble."

 

            "It's not that... Steven is still trying to do his best to forget that he too had once been a hillbilly boy from the red hills of Alabama."

 

            "I'm a Georgia boy myself."  Alex chuckled.

 

            "I know... and that's what annoys Steven so much.  You remind him that the New England façade he picked up at Boston College is exactly that...  a lie."

 

            "He shouldn't hate his roots."

 

            "I know that and so do you, but he doesn’t and probably never will."

 

            "What your brother really needs is to get rid of that foot he has jammed up his ass."

 

            "No...  What I think he really needs is for someone to finally pop his cherry."  Patrick chuckled

 

            "You mean you've never fucked him?"

 

            "He won't let anyone near his ass."

 

            "You think Steven would like me better if I were to..."  Alex left hanging.

 

            "You are really not thinking Steven is going to let you fuck him?"

            "You never know... maybe he's been waiting for some old fashioned southern boy to sweet talk him into it."

 

            "I know you Alex... you're not as charming you think you are."

 

            "Why dear... how can you say that after all the toil and sweat I have given trying to win your sweet heart," Alex said, deepening his accent as he lifted his old army dog tags off, putting it around Patrick's neck.

 

            "Alex..."

 

            "I know you're in love with Dare... you've not been able to talk about much else, not to mention the place Steven has in your heart, but if there is any place left for a southern gent like me I would like to have a place in your heart too."

 

            "I don't know how much I can give you or how my brother will react.  Also... don't expect me to help you get into Dare's pants."

 

            "Not a problem.  I'll have Steven eating out of my hands in a matter of weeks.  As for Daryl pants... I'm already halfway in them."  Alex chuckled.


14. Chapter 14

 

        At eight o'clock that night, the group caravanned to the airport.

       Ever since leaving the shooting range, Alex was always within arm’s reach of Daryl, Patrick observed.  Something had happened between the two men but neither was willing to talk about it.  As for his brother, it was quite a while before the wide eyed look left his face.

 

        After all six cars had parked at the private airstrip, Alex left Daryl's side for the first time in hours to make sure his men had the place covered.  This gave Patrick a chance to ask a few questions.

 

        "What's going on between you and Alex?"

 

        "Nothing. At least nothing to be worried about."  Daryl replied.

 

        "Then you wouldn't mind telling me."  Patrick pressed.

 

        "He was a patient I treated."

 

        "Not just treated, but saved from what I understand." Patrick remarked.

 

        "I know." Daryl sighed.  "I'm sorry but I think Brian has gotten to Alex."

 

        "Brainwashed him?"

 

        "No, At least I don't think so.  When his men captured Alex, he and Brian had a long chat.  Brian knew at once that Alex had been one of my patients.  He's been keeping a very close eye on my career."

 

        Steven spoke up from the driver's seat."  What did they talk about?" 

 

        "About Alex's dreams. How since his trip to the ER I've become a constant subject in them.  I've told Alex that it is most likely because of remaining emotional trauma from almost dying.  I'm afraid Brian has convinced him otherwise."

 

        "Oh shit. Just what we need, another armed fanatic."  Steven cursed.

 

        "No. It's not like that.  Alex thinks Brian is a creep and doesn't trust him.  It's only that he has come to agree with Brian about the mythology the Father has been building around me."

 

        "Which is?” Patrick pressed.

 

        "That I am possessed by some divine spirit."

 

        "Do you believe that," Steven asked.

 

        "No. I know my own imperfections.  I'm not a saint or an angel but,"

 

        "Yes,” The twins asked.

 

        "But sometimes I wonder if some of what Brian believes is true. That when I want to save another person's life, really want to, I can give away a part of myself to save them."

 

        "That might explain why you pass out."  Patrick nodded.

 

        "This is stupid."  Steven said, leaving the car.

 

        "Steven!"  Daryl shouted.

 

        "Let him cool off."  Patrick said, quickly pushing the button that would lock the doors.  "It's about time his agnostic view of reality was challenged but let's not go there right now.  Explain Alex to me."

 

        "He told me his life was mine."

 

        "Probably he feels he has some sort of Wookie life debt,"

 

        "Wookies,"

 

        "That's right, you've still not seen a Star Wars movie," Patrick sighed.  "He feels he owes you his life."

 

        "Maybe, but can that explain why almost every person who should haven died but didn't because of me eventually tell me the same thing, our lives are yours.  Even a girl who was just three years old."

 

        "Now that is strange," Patrick nodded.  "What do you think it means?"

 

        "I know what Alex thinks it means, he treats it literately."

 

        "How so,"

 

        "He believes that he did die back in the ER, or at least a part of him did, with my own life, energy, soul, whatever you want to call it, replacing it."

 

        "So what he should be saying is 'his life is your life."

 

        "That pretty much sums it up."

 

        Patrick chuckled.  "Dang, no wonder he wants to get into your pants,"

 

        "He wants to sleep with me?"

 

        "Dare, come on, you can't expect me to believe you are this clueless."

 

        "Well I won't."

 

        "Don't make a promise you can't keep.  You saw how he handled Steven.  You want to tell me you can't picture him doing the same to you,"

 

        "I have pictured it, and it frightens me to be honest."

 

        "I know he's big but," Patrick chuckled.

 

        "It's not that, it's just that last night I dreamt he and I made love, and it was wonderful, almost as wonderful as when we make love. Only when I woke up, my whole body was shaking with terror, my heart almost beating out of my chest.

 

        "What do you think that means,"

 

        "I don't know.  A part of me wants to make love to Alex but the very thought of acting on those feelings puts in mind the image of a crazed man jumping off a cliff."

 

        "Then don't do it."

 

        "I don't know if I can stop myself.  Not if I keep on dreaming about him."

 

        Patrick let out a sigh before responding.  "There are medications out there, drugs that Steven can prescribe that can put you in such a deep sleep so that you won't be able to remember your dreams.  Do you think that would help?"

 

        "Our church,"  Daryl began only to be cut off by Patrick.

 

        "Stop it Dare, enough about your church!  What is the point of believing in something if it stops you from finding happiness?"

 

        "I'm sorry," Daryl apologized.

 

        "If only I could merge your blind faith with Steven's skepticism," Patrick chuckled, the harshness gone from his voice.  "Will you ask Steven for the pills,"

 

        "Yes, I will.  I promise," Daryl said just as Alex knocked on the tinted glass of the window.

 

           "You two do know we have a flight to catch," the man chuckled, his eyes focused only on Daryl.

 

        "We better get going," Daryl sighed.

 

        "Not without me giving you this first," Patrick said, leaning forward to kiss Daryl on the cheek.

 

        "Thank you Patrick," Daryl said, squeezing the hand of the man who was friend, brother, and lover all in one before exiting the car.

 

        Walking toward the midsize jet, the two stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

 

        "This is it Dare, the point of no return," Patrick whispered.

 

        "I'm ready, nervous but ready," Daryl replied.  "I love you."

 

        "I love you too Dare."

 

        Hand in hand the two climb up into the plane's cabin where Steven was already seated.  Just looked at his brother's face Patrick saw the pain his brother was in.  Where he, Patrick seemed to be getting closer to Daryl every day his brother's relationship with the man they both loved seemed to be in limbo.

 

        Patrick knew what the problem was, he just didn't know how to help Steven fix it.

 

 

        "Can I talk with you Patrick," Steven asked mid-flight.

 

        "Sure," Patrick nodded, letting go of Daryl hand.  The pill Steven had given him would keep Daryl asleep for another three hours at least.

 

        Following his brother to the back of the plane where the roar of the engines would prevent eavesdropping, Patrick sat himself down in a leather chair.  "What's up?"

 

        "Why do I keep on fucking things up?" Steven asked, his tone one of hurt.

 

        "Relationships are never an easy thing to build."

 

        "You seem to have no problem with it," Steven said bitterly.

 

        "Well let's compare our records.  Each of us have had almost the same number of boyfriends, right,"

 

        "Yeah."

 

        "But if recollection serves me right, most of mine last twice as long as yours."

 

        "Maybe," Steven said grudgingly.

 

        "Also, where I have had five live-in boyfriends you have had none until Dare."

 

        "You saying I can't handle making a commitment,"

 

        "No, I am saying you have no experience making commitments.  It I not something that comes naturally or can be taught.  It is something that only comes from experience."

 

        "So I am in 'virgin' territory.  That does not explain why I lose my temper so often."

 

        "That's my fault, I've spoiled you by letting you get your way too often."

 

        "What should I do Patrick??  Even Alex is doing better than I am with Dare."  Steven sighed, pointing toward the mercenary, now sitting next to Daryl where Patrick had been sitting.

 

        "The two of them have a special connection."  Patrick said.  "You would have known that if you had not had your latest temper tantrum."

 

        "That's what I'm talking about.  I don't understand how an educated man like Dare can believe some of the shit he does."

 

        "It's called faith, you should try to find yours again."  Patrick said sharply.  He too did not like some of the things Daryl believed but he was not the skeptic his brother was.  "Not everything can be explained by tidy numbers or facts."

 

        "But we don't believe in God."

 

        "You don't.  You have only assumed that I didn't as well because I never openly disagreed with your narrow views."

 

        "What,"

 

        "Steven, when was the last time you called mom,"

 

        "Her birthday," Steven said guilty.

 

        "That was over nine months ago."

 

        "Steven, she only lives five miles away from us."

 

        "You know why I don't call her," Steven said defensively.

 

        "Because she would try to invite you to church," Patrick laughed.  "She'd invite you and you would say no like always but feel guilty about refusing.  Damn, I should have your job."

 

        "I'm only human."  Steven said weakly.

 

        "Yes. Try to remember that some times.  Try to remember that as humans there are forces out in the universe that are greater than us and incomprehensible to us.  That's where faith comes in."

 

        "I can't believe in God and I don't see how you can after years of listening to our father's hate."

 

        "Fine, but you need to believe in something Steven or lose Dare completely," Patrick warned.

 

        "I do believe in something, someone that is."

 

        "Dare?" Patrick guessed.

 

        "Yes, I believe he is the only good, selfless man in a world filled with self-centered people.  I believe he is the man I am meant for.  I believe in my love for him."

 

        "Then you're halfway there," Patrick said encouragingly.

 

        "What's the other part?"

 

        "Remembering that Daryl too is human."  Patrick chuckled.

 

 

        Daryl woke up slowly, finding six blue eyes and three smiling faces looking down at him.

 

        "We've landed Dare," Alex whispered.

 

        "Already," Daryl yawned.  "It took me almost two days to drive out to California."

 

        "Planes do tend to move a bit faster."  Steven could not help but to chuckle.

 

        "How far from New Hope are we," Daryl said as he stood up.

 

        "Not far, we landed on the airstrip Brian had the mining company build two years ago," Patrick said.

 

        "An airport in New Hope," Daryl said skeptically.

 

        "Brian seems pretty determined to modernizing the place," Patrick said.

 

        Once on the tarmac the four men saw that a welcoming committee was waiting for them, led by Brian, Sheriff Landon, Mayor Will, CEO Stan, and Judge Kevin... all of the men who had once been among Daryl's closest friends.

 

        "Thank you for coming home," Brian whispered as he embraced Daryl.

 

        "I had no choice," Daryl replied coldly.

 

        "I know, and for that I'm sorry.  I think you know everyone here."

 

        "Yes, of course," Daryl said, shaking each of his old friends’ hands.  When he took Stan's, he noticed the man's hard stare as he felt a slip of paper put in his hand.

 

        Quickly putting his hand in his pocket to hide the message, Daryl let himself be led away into one of the waiting cars, new cars by the look of them.  It was not until the car started moving that Daryl realized that he had been separated from the rest of his group, finding himself alone with Brian.

 

        "It's ok Daryl, I just wanted a chance to talk with you privately," the Father said when he noticed the worried look on the other man.

 

        "What do you have to say that can't be said around my friends?"

 

        "That I am still in love with you."

 

        "I think they are aware of that," Daryl replied.

 

        "You don't understand.  I guess I'm not being very clear.  Since your parents are dead and you are not married, the role of arranging your marriage falls to me as the Father."

 

        "Am I not still betrothed to Diana?"

 

        "She's been shunned Daryl.  You know our law, you cannot marry a person who has been shunned."

 

        "Who would you have me marry then, Father?” Daryl said coldly.

 

        "Why, me of course."

 

        "But,"

 

        "Can you name one single church law that forbids two men from marrying," Brian challenged.

 

        "That's because none of our ancestors ever considered the possibility."

 

        "Still, the law is the law."

 

        "I don't want to marry you Brian," Daryl said flatly.

 

        "But you do love me,"

 

        "Yes," Daryl sighed, hating being honest.

 

        "Then we have more going for us than most of our people have,"

Brian insisted.

 

        "Now I see why you wanted to talk to me alone.  You knew my friends would never let this happen."

 

        "But it's going to happen Daryl," Brian said flatly as the car turned onto a paved road that Daryl knew all too well.

 

        "We're going to the church now!"

 

        "Yes, all our people are there waiting for us."

 

        Reaching into his pocket, Daryl took out the scrap of paper, scribbled on it was a single word, 'trap'.  He should have read the message as soon as Stan had given it to him.

 

        Brian reached over and took the slip of paper away from Daryl.  "I see Stan is up to his usual tricks, little good they will do."

 

        "I won't marry you Brian, I won't say the vows."

 

        "Who said anything about you being the one to say the vows," Brian chuckled, in reference to the fact that in church marriages, the future husband spoke for both groom and bride.  "Think about it, we can't have the Father go up to the altar and remain silent like some woman."

 

        "But you want me to!  I won't go through with this."

 

        "But you love me Daryl," Brian said in a pained voice.

 

        "But I don't want to marry you," Daryl replied.

 

        "Then I guess you leave me no choice," Brian sighed, as he took out a sheet of paper from his coat pocket.

 

        "What is that?"

 

        "It was to be my wedding gift to you but because you won't marry me I guess I will have to throw it away," Brian said as he rolled the window down.

 

        "What's on that piece a paper,” Daryl demanded, his eyes frozen on the page flapping in the wind.

 

        "Just an address, to an orphanage," Brian chuckled.

 

        It took less than a second for Daryl to realize what Brian was hinting at.  Instead of getting him to beg Brian for the address, Daryl rushed toward the Father, even with his seatbelt still on.

 

        For a brief moment the two men struggled, Daryl only able to tear away one corner of the page before Brian managed to throw it out the window.  Popping his seatbelt free, Daryl opened the nearest passenger door open, intending to jump out after it.  He would have almost made it had

Brian not tackled his left leg as he made his leap.  As a result Daryl ended up being dragged several feet before Brian was willing to let him go, Daryl'n leg causing the car to jump when it was run over.

 

        Daryl did not remember much of what happened in the following hours other than he was in a lot of pain.  He did recognize Brian's voice constantly begging him for forgiveness.  He thought he remembered entering the massive auditorium of the church sanctuary which seemed to be filled with the sounds of crying.  The last thing he could recall was the sound of an ambulance siren.

 

        Waking was painful.  It was as if every bone in his body had been broken by what happened.  Opening his eyes Daryl saw he was in an empty hospital room, both arms and one leg in castes.  Swirling his tongue in his mouth he could also feel the gaps where several teeth had been broken.  It was his left hand however that his eyes froze for located on the bottom of his ring finger was a thick gold ban.

 

        For a long time he bounced in and out of consciousness, each time with a new pain.  It did not take Daryl long to realize where he was and what was happening.  He was at the mining clinic and like all Blessed who visited it, the Father had given orders that he was to remain sedated while the doctors worked toward repairing his body.

 

        It was not until he awoke to find new teeth in his mouth that he had his first visitor, Stan.

 

        "I tried to warn you Daryl.  Why didn't you read my message?  Why didn't Diana warn you?"

 

        "I'm sorry Stan," he mumbled.  "I didn't read your message until it was too late.  Diana didn't warn me either."

 

        "Figures, she lost whatever backbone she had when her brother wouldn't remove her punishment."  Stan sighed as he sat himself on the edge of the bed.  "I've missed you."

 

        "So have I, in the end you were the only one I could count on." Daryl smiled weakly.

 

        "I owed it to you, you saved my life... more than once in fact."

 

        "All I remember is the lake," Daryl whispered.

 

        "Yes, I almost drowned but you rescued me.  Your first miracle." Stan chuckled.

 

        "It wasn't a miracle."

 

        "It was to me.  Brian thinks so too.  That's why he doesn't dare have me shunned."

 

        "Is there anyone else around here half sane," Daryl asked.

 

        "Everything fell apart after you left.  Without the blessing of your family to protect us, everyone turned on each other.  The only person I truly trust is my son."

 

        "So you got married."  Daryl chuckled, regardless of the pain it caused.

 

        "Yes, I did my duty, but that's it.  Helen didn't mind.  We've never been fond of each other.  She even brings her other lovers to my house to make love."

 

        "Is she infected," Daryl asked, concerned.

 

        "I don't know, I hope not.  Only the outsiders Brian has brought in and a few of us higher ups have any clue how bad it really is."

 

        "What about you Stan, have you found any happiness in your life,"

 

        "I have my son, he's been my only source of joy," Stan said as he placed a gentle hand on Daryl's bruised stomach.  "I've missed you Daryl. I've missed the old days."

 

        "I had to leave. Don't you still believe that?"

 

        "More than ever, which has me confused as to why you are here now. Why didn't you stay away where you were safe?"

 

        "Because of two reasons.  This plague that Brian has unleashed on our people, it has to be stopped."

 

        "I agree. What is the other?"

 

        "David, He and Diana had a pair of twins together.  The old Father stole them from her and put them in an orphanage somewhere."

 

        "So you came to get them back,"

 

        "Yes," Daryl nodded.

 

        "As a father I can understand that, more than I can agree with you thinking you can save our people," Stan said as he took a dirty, crumpled piece of paper out of his jean pocket.

 

        "I was at that so called wedding. I hope you believe most of the locals were horrified by it."

 

        "But none of them stopped it," Daryl pointed out.

 

        "With all these heavily armed outsiders patrolling the town can you really blame them? Everyone is scared Daryl, including me. Anyway, you were yelling and screaming the whole time during the ceremony, mostly out of pain.  I was able to piece together enough of what happen to know that Brian had something you had wanted but he had thrown out the window. Leaving the church I searched the road, only finding this single piece of litter."  Stan said, handing the page to Daryl.

 

        "Whitmore Home for Boys." Daryl read.

 

        "I looked it up, it's in a town about a hundred miles south of New Hope."

 

        Now knowing where his brother's sons were, Daryl wanted to leave the hospital and go right to them.  Just the effort to sit up racked him with too much pain however.

 

        "Don't try to move Daryl," Stan stated emphatically.

 

        "Do you know where my friends are?" Daryl asked once the pain had eased some.

 

        "Yes, it seems you have quite a few.  Right now they're bunkered down at your folks place.  One of them, Alex I think, has threatened to blow the entire gas field sky high unless you are returned to them."

 

        "You better do as they say, Alex is an expert at mayhem."  Daryl chuckled.

 

        "You know I would like to do that Daryl but…"

 

        "I know you have your son to think about.  If things get too bad for you, get to my friends, they'll protect you."

 

        "We'll see.  I'll go over to their place tonight and give them the address to the children's home."

 

        "Be careful."  Daryl warned.

 

 

That night:

 

        "How you doing Kevin," Stan asked worriedly, looking to the back seat of his truck.

 

        "I think I'm more bruised than Mister Gavin."  The thirteen-year-old youth said from under the blankets that covered him.

 

        "Trust me son, you're nowhere close."  Stan laughed.

 

        "Are we even still on the road," the boy asked.

 

        "Nope, haven't been for the last three miles."

 

        "I thought so."

 

        "I'm sorry Kevin but I don't want the outsiders to notice us on the road.  After this hill, the ground is pretty flat."  Stan said, trying not to show the worry he was feeling.

 

        With the moon less than a third full, there was very little light for Stan to use as he guided his truck over the hill that would lead to the ranch of the Gavin homestead.  Having hiked this hill with Daryl as a youth, he knew all too well that the side of the hill was littered with boulders.  Still he did not dare turn his headlights on, not after the Father had declared a sunset curfew for everyone but the outsiders.

 

        Except for a few hard bumps Stan almost succeeded in guiding his vehicle all the way to the bottom only for the ground to shift from under the truck, causing it to slide rapidly down the remaining hundred yards, only to be stopped by a giant boulder, triggering the release of the airbags.

 

        Stan, touching his slightly burned face, winced with pain.  That did not worry him as much as the silence coming from the back of the truck. "Kevin, you ok back there,"

 

        Not getting a response, Stan freed himself from his seat, got out, and pulled his seat back to get access to the back seat.  Reaching for the blanket, he found it damp, causing his pulse to quicken.  Taking a risk, he reached up and turned on the interior lights, finding his son, unconscious, a deep gash on his head.

 

        Not knowing what else to do, Stan carried his lanky son in his arms, walking at a slow pace toward the lights of the old Gavin home. "Come on Kevin, you can make it."  Stan cried, walking half blind from the constant flow of tears.

 

        Blind, and deaf to everything but his own grief, Stan did not notice the flashlights aimed at him, nor the shouts of several men until he almost fell forward into a trench, jerked back at the last minute.

 

        "Hey now, watch yourself."  A man with a southern drawl said, lifting Kevin out of Stan's arms.

 

        "Please save my boy," Stan wailed, when he realized he had found the other people.

 

        "Don't worry sir, my best medic is checking him out.  Now sit down and let Kurt look you over."

 

        "There was a rock slide.  I lost control. I shouldn't have come."

 

        "Well you're here now and you're safe," a redheaded man said calmly as he began removing Stan's blood stain clothes to make sure he wasn't hurt before letting out a loud whistle.  Why is it that almost every person here is a hottie?"

 

        "Keep your mind on the task at hand," the commander, Alex, warned.

 

        "He seems to be ok sir, the blood is most likely the boy's," Kurt said a few moment's latter, triggering another wail from Stan.

 

        "Please sir, try to calm down.  There are a few questions I need to ask you," Alex said as calmly as possible.

 

        "I'm sorry, he's my boy ok?"

 

        "Kurt, go check on this man's son," Alex ordered.

 

        "Yes sir," Kurt nodded, before running off.

 

        "While we wait for him to come back, why don't you tell me why you were trying to drive blind through those hills?"

 

        "Because I promised Daryl I would."

 

        "You've seen Dare," Alex asked excitedly.  "Where is he?  Is he ok?"

 

        "I saw him a few hours ago.  He's in bad shape but the doctors are taking good care of him.  Brian even had some plastic surgeons flown in from Chicago."

 

        "Why does Dare need plastic surgery?" Alex demanded, his voice heated.

 

        "There was an accident of some sort where he got dragged by the car he was in."

 

        "And how did that happen," the commander pressed.

 

         "Brian threw something out the window, something Daryl wanted very badly, so badly that he jumped out of the car after it."

 

        "Damn it," Alex swore just when Kurt came back.

 

        "My son, is he going to live," Stan asked desperately.

 

        "He is going to be fine sir, a deep cut and a concussion.  He woke up while Hector bandaged him up.  Kevin is riding in the jeep now heading\ back to the house so that the doctors can close the wound up with stitches."

 

        "Can I join him," Stan asked worriedly.

 

        Seeing Kurt look in his direction, Alex nodded his head.  The two men were almost gone when Stan remembered why he had taken such risks in the first place.  Running back to the commander, he offered the man a slip of paper.

 

        "What is this,"  Alex asked.

 

        "It's what Daryl tried to jump after.  It has the address of the orphanage David's boys are at," Stan explained.  "Please save them."

 

        "I will.  If you need anything Kurt will get it for you," Alex said before going to his own jeep.

 

        Turning on the computer he had on the dashboard, he plugged in the address.  Within moments, his GPS gave him a map to the Whitmore Home for Boys.

 

        "A and B squad meet me at the barn, we got ourselves a mission,"

Alex said over his walkie-talkie.

 

 

        "Now what do we say Aaron," a wrinkled old woman asked, a short ruler in her hand.

 

        "Thank you for coming Father Reeves," Aaron said as one hand rubbed his sore ass.

 

        "Just try to do better next week," the cold faced priest said. "What is the point of confessing your sins if you are not willing to repent,"

 

        "Oh they'll learn eventually Father, that I promise," the woman, Sister Margaret, promised.

 

        "Hopefully before they join the rest of society."  Father Reeves sighed before picking up his hat and left.

 

        "There, he's gone.  Now you can go get your brother out of whatever hole he hid himself in this time.  No supper for him however. I'm not going to waste the good Lord's food on an unrepentant sinner," the nun spat.

 

        "Would you mind then if I gave him half my supper,"

 

        "Knowing you, if I say no you'll only eat half your meal, excuse yourself to the bathroom, only for Adam to finish your meal for you."

 

        "So why go through all that effort?  You know what I am going to do.  You know you haven't been able to tell us apart since you had your cataracts removed so why don't you serve two plates at the table.  That way you can keep a fuzzy eye on both of us."

 

        "You have always looked out for your bother."  Sister Margaret sighed.  "Why those two nice families sent you back here I will never understand."

 

        "Because you talked them out of adopting my brother you old hag," Aaron said under his breath as he went looking for his twin.

 

        Aaron was the good one of the pair and when he was younger many families had tried to adopt him.  The problem was that most quickly dropped the idea when they saw what kind of hellion his twin Adam was.  During the two trial periods where Aaron was adopted separately, he had used every trick he had learned from his brother to get him sent quickly back to the home.

 

        Sometimes Aaron wondered if sabotaging his own adoptions had been the right move, but only for short periods.  Eventually, a night like this one would come and remind Aaron how much his brother needed him.

 

        Going to Sister Margaret's bedroom, the last place the nun would think Adam would hide, Aaron gave the agreed upon knock before entering the room where he once again found his brother dressed in the nun's bland outfits.

 

        "What do you think?" Adam asked, turning around dramatically to face his brother.

 

        "I think you better put everything back before the old hag catches you," Aaron replied, trying his best not to laugh.  Laughing in the Whitmore House was one of the fastest ways to get assigned extra chores.

 

        "She never comes to this end of the house until she's ready for bed," Adam insisted.

 

        "Come on Adam, dinner's ready."

 

        "Let me guess, fish," Adam said sourly.

 

        "It is Friday," Aaron replied.

 

        "But why do we have to have fish on Friday, I've read the bible the old hag keeps under her bed.  Nowhere does it say we have to eat fish on Friday."

 

        "You better stop reading it."

 

        "Why? Why shouldn't I be able to quote back the same verses the old hag and Father Reeves use on us,"

 

        "Because it gets you in trouble."

 

        "Like that matters now.  No one is going to adopt us Aaron, we're too old.  You should have jumped ship when you had the chance."

 

        And leave you behind,"

 

        "You would at least be happy.  You might have also been able to snag a few of your new mom's dresses and mailed them to me.  Everything the old hag has is old and grey."

 

        "And getting too small for you," Aaron couldn't help but point out.

 

        "See, I should stop eating now so I won't grow more."

 

        "If you do that, the old hag might be able to tell us apart again and we wouldn't be able to get away with half the stuff we, or I should say you do."

 

        "Yeah, I guess you’re right," Adam sighed, as he started to take the clothes off.

 

        After eating their bland meal of steamed fish and overcooked vegetables, the two washed the dishes, as was their assigned chore, being the oldest boys living at Whitmore they were expected to help out more around the house than the other boys.  Then the brothers joined the rest of the children upstairs for the night.  It was still light out.

 

        "Three more years,"  Adam sighed, looking out the window at the setting sun.

 

        "What," Aaron whispered.

 

        "Three more years till we get out of this hell hole."

 

        "And that's a good thing? We have nowhere to go."

 

        "The streets would be better than here."

 

        "In the summer maybe, but come winter the old hag's open door would look like a welcomed sight," Aaron pointed out.

 

        "I'm sorry Aaron," Adam whispered after the room had been plunged into darkness.

 

        "What for,"

 

        "For keeping you here."

 

        "You know I will never leave you Adam."

 

        "I love you."

 

        "I love you too."

 

        "Can we?” Adam asked hopefully.

 

        "Yes, we just got to make sure we wake up before the old hag catches us."  Aaron said as he pulled down his sheets and moved over so his brother could join him.  The two soon fell asleep in each other's arms.

 

 

        Sister Margaret had fallen asleep in front of the television, where she had been watching a catholic program hosted by two priests on the public access channel, when the doorbell woke her up with a start.

 

        "Goodness gracious!  Who could be coming at this hour>“ The nun said to herself as she scurried toward the front of the house.

 

        "Hello?"  She asked behind the screen door at the tall man who towered over her.

 

        "Sorry madam to disturb you at this hour, but I was wondering if you could help us,"

 

        "If I can."  The nun replied.

 

        "Thank you.  My engine stalled just a block from here, so I was wondering if I could borrow your phone and intrude on you while I wait for a tow truck.  I would have used my cell phone but there’s no real coverage in this neck of the woods."

 

        "Why certainly, please come on in.  Just try to be quiet, the children are sleeping."

 

        "I promise to be as quiet as a mouse," the man promised.


15. Chapter 15

               Half awakened by the sounds of whispering Daryl jolted his eyes open when he felt several pairs of hands lift him off the bed and transfer him to a gurney.

 

               "He's awake," An unfamiliar voice said before one that Daryl had longed to hear spoke.

 

               "Don't make a sound Daryl, we're trying to rescue you," Steven or Patrick said; Daryl did not know which.  If his mind was clear of fog he would have guessed Patrick.

 

               Holding back the pain caused from being jostled around, Daryl's heart quickened as he was wheeled out of the clinic and taken to the airfield where he was put onto a helicopter.

 

               It was only when the internal light popped on that Daryl could see the faces of his rescuers, finding to his surprise that it was Steven, not Patrick who was now holding his hand.

 

               "God Daryl, you look like shit," Steven said as tears began to roll down his face.

 

               "That's about how I feel," Daryl said.  "What are you doing here?"

 

               "I already told you, I'm rescuing you.  Didn't think I had it in me, did you?"  Steven chuckled.

 

               "But where's Patrick?" Daryl asked.

 

               "Where's Patrick," Steven said as if he had been offended.  "Not thank you, not I love you, not where's my nephews?"

 

               "Stan told you where they are?" Daryl said excitedly.

 

               "Yes, that's where Patrick is, getting your boys.  By the time we land and clean you up a bit they should be halfway home," Steven promised.

 

               "Thank you God," Daryl cried.

 

               "Don't forget me," Steven insisted.

 

               "Yes, thank you Steven."

 

 

              

 

 

               "These have to be them."  Patrick said once the gas had cleared. They didn't want any of the children to wake up and witness the boys' kidnapping.

 

               "How do you know," Hector asked from behind his gas mask.

 

               "Don't they look like twins to you?"

 

               "I guess."

 

               "Take that mask off."  Patrick scolded.

 

               "Sorry sir, yes, they do look similar."

 

               "They look like Steve and I when we were kids," Patrick chuckled, looking with affection on how the two were embraced.

 

               "We should get moving sir."

 

               "Yeah, you take the one on the left."

 

               Carrying the twins down the ladder, it was a short jog to the waiting Suburban.  Once everyone was inside and back on the highway toward New Hope, Patrick took out his cell phone and gave Alex the all clear.

 

               Halfway back, the gas began to wear off, as both twins slowly opened their eyes, it taking several minutes before they were lucid enough to realize they were no longer in their beds."

 

               "Hello you two," Patrick said in his friendliest of voices.

 

               One of them yawned.  "What?"

 

               "Aaron," the other twin said, a hint of worry in his voice.  It seemed he was the more lucid of the two.

 

               "Don't worry, this is a rescue mission," Patrick explained.

 

               "Uh," the scared one said as he tried to shake the one named Aaron awake.

 

               "Stop it!" Aaron barked, finally waking up.

 

               "Hello," Patrick grinned, causing both boys to scream.

 

               "Want me to gas them again," Hector joked.

 

               "I wish," Patrick sighed, before turning back to the kids.  "Shut Up!"

 

               Both boys went dead silent.

 

               "Good, now listen you two.  As I said before this is a rescue mission. Your Uncle Daryl sent me to get you away from that awful woman you were living with.

 

               "Uncle?"  Both boys said, taken aback.  They've never heard of them having any uncle.

 

               "Yes, and before you two start wondering why he didn't come for you all sooner, he only found out where you were today."

 

               "Why do you have guns?  You didn't kill anyone did you," Aaron asked concerned.

 

               "What a stupid question," Adam scolded.  "Do you really think that old hag would let us go?  They most likely had blown off her head with a machine gun."

 

               "No Aaron, we didn't kill anyone.  One of my friends kept 'the old hag busy while Hector and me rescued you."

 

               "Rats, I would have liked to have seen the old hag full of holes," Adam said disappointed.

 

               "Don't mind Adam, he likes being difficult," Aaron apologized on his brother's behalf, only to be elbowed by Adam.

 

               "Trust me I know how twins can be, I am one."

 

               "Cool."  Both brothers said at the same time.

 

               "Is our uncle your twin," Aaron asked, while Adam busied himself looking out the car window.

 

               "No, but he had a twin.  His brother was your father."

 

               "And what happened to him?"  Aaron asked.

 

               "I'm afraid he died before you were born."

 

               "And our mother?"  Aaron asked, elbowing his brother to get his attention.

 

               "She's alive," Patrick replied.

 

               "See, I told you we were abandoned," Adam said before going back to looking out the window.

 

               "Not true at all Aaron," Patrick said, seeing the pained look on the young man's face.

 

               "Then why did she leave us at Whitmore?  Why didn't she come back for us?"  Aaron demanded, on the verge of tears.

 

               "Just like we are kidnapping you, you were kidnapped from your mother."  Patrick explained.

 

               "Kidnappings are fun," Adam blurted out, bouncing in his chair.

 

               "Don't mind him, he's retarded," Aaron said, his eyes not leaving Patrick's face.

 

               "Am not, I'm smarter than you!" Adam insisted.

 

               "Ok, he's a HDAD."  Aaron corrected himself.

 

               "Ritalin, Ritalin, Ritalin."  Adam laughed.

 

               "He never takes his meds," the brother explained.

 

               "That's because they make me boring," Adam replied.

 

               "I got a gas grenade right here, just say the word," Hector joked.

 

               "Don't tempt me," Patrick said.  Until Daryl was well enough, he was going to have his hands full with these two.  At least they were taking their kidnapping well.

 

               "Sir, can I ask you another question," Aaron asked politely.

 

               "Of course, if you agree to call me your Uncle Patrick, or if you prefer Aunt Patty."

 

               "Aunt Patty," Aaron and Adam both laughed.

 

               "I'll explain it to you two later," Patrick promised.

 

               "Why are we going to our uncle and not our mother," Aaron asked.

 

               "Don't worry, your mother will be there when we arrive but it will be Uncle Daryl who will be mostly raising you two."

 

               "Why," Aaron asked.

 

               "Because that was what was decided," Patrick replied.

 

               "Our uncle won't try to separate the two of us, will he?" Aaron asked worriedly.

 

               "He loves you two too much to ever do a thing like that."

 

               "He must be stupid then, nobody ever wants me," Adam replied.

 

               "Shut up Adam.  You are going to mess things up," Aaron said angrily.

 

               "It's true," Adam insisted.  "You're the only one people want to adopt."

 

               "But haven't I always come back to you?"  Aaron asked, clearly hurt.

 

               Patrick let out a deep sigh. It was so clear to him.  Aaron was in love with his brother but Adam was blind to the fact.  "Don't worry Aaron. When we get home I'll force Adam to take his meds even if I have to shove them down his throat myself."

 

               "Good," Aaron said, reaching over to hug Patrick's arm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               "Daryl, they're here," Steven whispered to his lover when he heard the shouts of excited young voices.

 

               "Can I see them,” Daryl asked hopefully from the bed where he was resting.

 

               "Matt?” Steven asked, turning to the doctor.

 

               "Just for a little bit.  You really need your rest Daryl."  Matt stressed.

 

               Eventually Patrick's head darted popped in the room.  "May we come in?"

 

               "Yes," Daryl said eagerly.  As he pushed a button to raise the bed.

 

               The door opening wider, first Patrick then two lanky boys walked in nervously.

 

               "I don't believe it, they look just like David."  Daryl said amazed.

 

               "Don't they," Patrick beamed.  "They're like miniature versions of you.  Boys, I would like you to meet your Uncle Daryl."

 

               "Hello you two."  Daryl smiled, glad he at least now had a full mouth of teeth.

 

               "What happened to you?" Aaron frowned.

 

               "Sort of fell out of a speeding car."  Daryl chuckled.

 

               "That was stupid," Adam laughed.

 

               "Maybe it was." Daryl smiled.

 

               "Cut it out," Aaron said, glaring at his brother.

 

               "It's ok," Daryl said.

 

               "Are you really our uncle," Aaron asked timidly.

 

               "Don't he look like it," Steven said.

 

               "He looks like one of Sister Margaret's patchwork quilts," Adam replied.

 

               "Maybe I do, but I am your uncle," Daryl insisted.

 

               "What are you going to do with us," Aaron asked.

 

               "I'm going to try to raise you two boys, from what I've been told you're a pair of hellions."

 

               "Dang, he knows our secret,” Adam said, glaring at Patrick.

 

               "Don't worry, your father was a bit of a hell raiser himself, Daryl chuckled.

 

               "I promise I'll try to keep Adam out of trouble if you don't try to separate us,” Aaron pleaded.

 

               "I won't ever do that.  I very much doubt I could keep the two of you apart if I tried."

 

               "Thank you, Aaron whispered.

 

               "Time for your nap," Matt finally interrupted.

 

               "But," Both Daryl and Aaron protested.

 

               "Doctor's orders," Patrick insisted.  "Now go hug your uncle goodnight."

 

               Aaron went first, taking great care to see that Daryl was not hurt. Adam was more hesitant, having to be nudged by his brother to lean forward and hug his uncle goodnight.

 

               "Thank you Patrick," Daryl said as Matt started lowering the bed.

 

               "Anything anytime," Patrick said, leaning down to kiss Daryl on the forehead.  "You rest and get better now."

 

               "Ewww!"  Adam shouted.

 

               "Shut up Adam!"  Aaron said, threatening to elbow his brother.

 

               "Come on you two, time for both of you to go to bed," Patrick said, leading the pair out of the room.

 

 

               "Aaron,” Adam said an hour after he and his brother had been sent to their new bedroom.

 

               "What Adam?”  Aaron said, feeling both physically and emotionally exhausted after all that had happened.

 

               "I think our uncle is a fag."

 

               "Why do you say that?"

 

               "I don't know, just this feeling I got.  I think our Aunt Patty is his butt boy."

 

               "Adam!"  Aaron said, sitting up from his bed.

 

               "Didn’t you notice?" Adam replied.

 

               "Does it really matter?  They took us away from Sister Margaret and Father Reeves, no more confessionals, no more hours saying Hail Mary's."

 

               "Fine, you stay here.  Me, I'm getting out of this fairy house," Adam said as he jumped out of bed.

 

               "Adam," Aaron hissed as his brother sneaked out of the room.

 

               Adam didn't really plan on running away.  Not when he noticed there wasn't another house within miles.  He just wanted to explore his surroundings.  Sneaking past the other adults, he made his way down to the basement where he heard the sound of laughter and jazz music blaring.  On reaching the bottom of the stairs he saw the most muscular man he had ever seen in his life, dancing with what looked like a tall, big boned woman, wearing a deep purple dress.

 

               "You always were an excellent dancer my dear."  The muscular man laughed.

 

               "I did have a good teacher."  Adam heard the woman laugh in a voice that was less than womanly.

 

               "Aunt Patty indeed."  Adam could not help but laugh.  He did have to admit though, Uncle Patrick did have good taste in clothes.

 

               At the end of the song, the strong man dipped Patrick down into a passionate kiss, Adam seeing his uncle staring right at him. "You can come out of your corner now Adam."  Patrick chuckled.

 

               "How did you know it was me?  Most people can't tell me and Aaron apart."

 

               "You forget I too am a twin," Patrick chuckled, taking off his wig and placing it on Adam's head.

 

               "Dang, this place isn't going to be half as fun as I thought," Adam whined.

 

               "Well since you're awake, want to help me out of this dress," Patrick asked, turning his back toward the boy.

 

               Carefully, as if afraid his fingers might damage the glittering sequins Adam undid the laces that held the dress up.

 

               "Why, you can be a conscientious young man when you choose to be," Patrick chuckled as he slipped the dress off.

 

               "Are you a fag?” Adam asked, in an attempt to disprove the theory.

 

               "Well that was short lived," Patrick chuckled while Alex gave Adam a hard shove.

 

               "Ouch, do that again and I will scream rape," Adam threatened, glaring at the larger man.

 

               "Go ahead, no one here will mind," Alex chuckled.

 

               "Why, you a fag too?"

 

               "You're right, this one will be a challenge," Alex said to Patrick, ignoring Adam's comment.  "If anyone can get him over his internalized homophobia it's you."  "Did you just call me a fag?" Adam asked, wrinkling his nose.

 

               "If the shoe fits," Alex shrugged before looking back at Patrick.  "I'm going to check on Daryl."

 

              "Good, that will give us girls a chance to chat," Patrick said, smirking at Adam.

 

               "Well," Adam said nervously, as Patrick started removing his fake eyelashes.

 

               "Well, shall we play a game," Patrick said, going over to his rack of outfits.

 

               "What sort of game,"

 

               "Dress up of course."  Patrick said, pulling out a sea green gown.  "This one looks fabulous on your uncle Daryl."

 

               "Can I try it on, please," Adam said his eyes wide with excitement.

 

               "I see no reason why not," Patrick chuckled.  "Now go sit by the mirror and I'll help you with your makeup while you tell me about your brother."

 

               "Alright," Adam said eagerly.

 

 

               It was well after three in the morning when Adam, exhausted but happy, crawled into his brother's bed.

 

               "I thought you were going to run away," Aaron mumbled, embracing his brother.

 

               "I got a little side tracked."  Adam confessed.

 

               "You got caught."  Aaron chuckled.

 

               "I got to put on dress though.  Aunt Patty has an entire collection," Adam said excitedly.

 

               "So I take it you won't be running away any time soon."

 

               "At least for the moment," Adam said grudgingly.

 

               "Or until you find a way of taking all those dresses with you," Aaron said knowingly, laughing until he felt his brother's lips kiss his bare neck. "Adam?"

 

               "I'm sorry," Adam said as he moved to leave the bed.

 

               "Don't go, I'm not mad.  You just surprised me is all."

 

                "I'm such a fag," Adam said, hot tears running down his face as Aaron held him.

 

               "So am I bro," Aaron confessed.

 

               "I know, Aunt Patty told me.  He told me you loved me, really loved me."

 

               "I do."  Aaron admitted.

 

               "And I love you too."

 

 

 

               Daryl awoke to the touch of an exploratory hand on his body.  Opening his eyes, he saw Alex's unshaven face looking at him with awe and longing.

 

               "Am I hurting you," Alex asked, concerned.

 

               "No, actually I feel a lot better," Daryl said.

 

               "Good, I didn't know if it would work," Alex smiled.

 

               "What work? What did you do?" Daryl asked, noticing the gray that now colored Alex's hair.

 

               "I returned a part of what you gave me," Alex said.

 

               "What," Daryl said, confused.

 

               "It was the least I could do," Alex said, rolling Daryl on top of him.

 

               "You shouldn't have done that, you could have died."

 

               "I should have died two years ago when you saved my life," Alex insisted.

 

               "What now?”  Daryl whispered, he could feel Alex's massive sex hardening against his body.

              

               "That's totally up to you.  But know this, we are bonded now Daryl.  I did not just give you back a part of what you gave me.  I also gave you a part of myself."

 

               "I can feel it."

 

               "I tried to take that damned ring off you," Alex said, holding Daryl's left hand.  "It's on so tight it will have to be cut off."

 

               "I know, I tried to take it off when I was in the hospital."

 

               "We'll get it off.  I promise.  In the meantime, I want you to have this." Alex said, handing Daryl a large ring.

 

               "What's this?"

 

               "My class ring."

 

               "You went to the Citadel?” Daryl read from the inscription.

 

               "Yep, sort of an old family tradition."

 

               "I don't know what to say."

 

               "You don't have to say anything, I already got your answer."  Alex chuckled, grinding himself against Daryl's hardening cock.

 

               "What about the twins,"

 

               "Steven was hard to convince, but they've agreed to add me to our little family."

 

               "They didn't ask me," Daryl chuckled.

 

               "Was there ever a need," Alex said between heavy kisses.

 

               An hour later, Patrick walked in carrying a breakfast tray, his half naked body showing the dog tags Alex had given him.  "You two having a happy honeymoon,"

 

               Alex looked around and smirked.  "I think we're going to need a larger bed."

 

               "Steven is looking into that right now," Patrick said, sitting on the edge of the mattress.

 

               "Kiss?” Daryl said, sitting up to meet Patrick's lips.

 

               Daryl intended the kiss to be a light peck on the lips but Patrick would have none of that.  He pressed down hard, almost falling on top of Alex and Daryl in the process.

 

               "You and I are going to need some alone time," Patrick insisted.

 

               "But we are on our honeymoon," Alex whined.  He had been hoping to have Daryl for himself for a few days at bare minimum.

 

               "We agreed to share," Patrick pointed out.

 

               "Then take those shorts off and get your ass in here," Alex said, slapping Patrick on the back.

 

               "As you already pointed out, we need a larger bed," Patrick laughed.  "Anyways, it's time for Daryl to eat."

 

               "I already fed him, gave him a nice protein shake, didn't I,” Alex said, nudging Daryl.

 

               "Actually I'm famished," Daryl said, taking a strip of bacon off the tray.

 

                 "Good.  Once he's finished eating, clean him up and bring him to the living room.  It's time we had a meeting," Patrick instructed Alex.

 

               "Mind if we take our time," Alex grinned.

 

               "As long as you don't exhaust him," Patrick chuckled.

 

 

 

 

               Kevin watched at his dad with wide eyes.  Stan was lying on his back on a sofa, the redhead lieutenant laying on top of him, the two men chuckling softly.  For the first time in a long while his father seemed genuinely happy, with Kurt and him often exchanging several kisses with each other.

              

               Kevin would have been happy as well if there had been other kids to play with.  There were the twins Adam and Aaron, but the two of them seemed preoccupied with each other.

 

               Letting out a sigh, Kevin almost jumped when he heard a thumping sound that grew louder as it came down the hall into the living room until a bruised man, supported by a cane and Commander Alex, walked slowly into the room.

 

               "Daryl," Steven said, standing up from his chair to embrace the other man.  "Are you sure you should be out of bed?"

 

               "I'm fine."  Daryl said reassuringly, as Alex helped him sit down in a lazy-boy.

 

               "How are you two?" Daryl asked his nephews.  "Sleep well?"

 

               "They're fine, even though I don't think they got much sleep." Patrick chuckled when the boys did not answer.

 

               Seeing the sparkle of glitter in one of the boy's hair, Daryl chuckled.  "How are you Stan?"

 

               "Don't worry Dr. Gavin, I've been taking good care of your friend," Kurt said as he ticked the sides of the body beneath him.

 

               Steven clapped his hands to get everyone's attention.  "Well if everyone can disentangle themselves from their present love interests we can get down to business."

 

               "Can anyone bring me up to speed," Daryl said as he propped his legs up.

 

               "We are basically living under siege."  Steven began.  "After your daring rescue, Brian's people have been watching the roads.  So far they are not stopping us from coming and going but we can't leave the ranch without having our vehicles searched."

 

               "Is that legal," Daryl asked.

 

               "According to the police, all they are doing is standard drug searches," Alex grunted.

 

               "Basically we believe it is to make sure you never leave the ranch," Patrick explained.

 

               "Don't we still have the helicopter," Daryl asked.

 

               "The police came for it last night, saying we didn't have a landing permit.  We could always call in another one though," Alex said.

 

               "With the Father's connections with the state officials you wouldn't make it to your first refueling."  Stan warned.

 

               "Only if we used official airstrips," Alex replied.  "It would not be too much of a problem for my men to set up fuel depots someplace where Brian's people wouldn't think of looking."

 

               "Sounds like a plan to me," Steven said.  "The sooner we're out of this hell hole the better I'll feel."

 

               "You're not really thinking of leaving us," Stan said worriedly.

 

               "After what that madman did to Dare?" Alex shouted.

 

               "I got what I came for Stan," Daryl replied.

 

               "Only because I helped you," Stan insisted, lifting Kurt off him. "Our people need you Daryl.  The mother of my son needs you."

 

               "What's wrong with mom,” Kevin asked.

 

               "She might be sick, very sick Kevin," Stan said.

 

               "But you can help her right, take her to the clinic where you work,"

 

               "The Father is not letting any of our people go to the clinic anymore.  He doesn't want the outside doctors to know the extent of our people's situation," Stan explained to Daryl.

 

               "Dare, we're not staying," Steven insisted.

 

               "If you don't stay, all that will be left of New Hope will be one giant graveyard."  Stan argued.

 

               "If we stay here we might end up being buried here as well," Alex said.

 

               "You owe me Daryl.  When you wanted to run away I was the one who arranged for you to meet you know who," Stan said.

 

               "You know who?" Steven and Patrick said at the same time.

 

               "You didn't have to bring that up," Daryl said, his face blushing.

 

               "Want to tell us who this mystery stranger is," Steven pressed.

 

               "How many times do I have to tell you I'm not a saint," Daryl said evasively.

 

               "Want to take the boys out of the room," Steven asked his brother.

 

               "And miss out on something like this," Patrick asked as he sat himself in Daryl's lap.  "Come on hon, spill, and don't leave out any of the juicy parts."

 

               "I'm going to get you for this Stan."  Daryl glared.

 

               "I don't see why you are so embarrassed."  Stan chuckled.  "You did what you had to do.  It's not like he was ugly.  He was really cute, still is in fact.  Well he's more handsome then cute these days."

 

               "Do tell," Patrick said, a wide smile on his face.

 

               "I was cheating on Brian," Daryl said under his breath.

 

               "Really," Both Patrick and Steven said.

 

               Stan spoke up. "Both Daryl and I were apprentices at NM Mining.  As it turned out the governor's son was doing a medical internship at the clinic there."

 

               "You fucked the governor's son?" Steven said shocked.

 

               "Or did he fuck you?" Patrick asked, curious.

 

               "A little of both," Daryl admitted.

 

               "While Scott drove Daryl out of town, I made sure no one knew until it was too late.  Cost Scott's dad the next election."

 

               "I take it that led to a falling out," Steven asked.

 

               "More like me being thrown out," Daryl replied.

 

               "By Scott or his father," Alex asked.

 

               "His father, having a gay son was one thing.  Us having sex in the governor's mansion was another."

 

               "You dirty dog!"  Steven laughed.

 

               "So have you been in contact with Scott recently," Daryl asked Stan.

 

               "He comes by once every two years, he's a member of Congress now."

 

               "With a token wife to hide his sexuality?" Steven guessed.

 

               "He was married but only for three years, been a bachelor ever since.  He always asks me about you, Daryl, whenever he comes by during an election year."

 

               "Sounds like the congressman is still in love," Alex chuckled. "Should we ask him to stop by for a visit?"

 

               "Oh gosh," Daryl sighed.  "I think three is as many as I can handle at one time."

 

               "It is an election year," Stan chuckled, while Kurt nuzzled against his neck.

 

               "Having him on our side would prove useful.  I very much doubt that Brian would pull any shit while the congressman is here," Alex said.

 

               "Thinking you are up to making few campaign contributions?" Steven gave Dare a sly wink.

 

               "I don't know,” Daryl said nervously.

 

               "Scott still cares about you Daryl, he did save your life once," Stan said earnestly.

 

               "Give me a cell phone," Daryl sighed, giving up.

 

 


16. Chapter 16

Scott Whitmore walked through the halls of the most powerful government in the world, waving at his fellow Senators as he made his way to the underground tram that would take him back to his offices.

 

        Having risen from the House of Representatives to the Senate only during the last election, the junior senator had risen quickly to becoming one of the Senate's most influential voices, finding his way onto the powerful Finance Committee.

 

        Scott had known for a long time that there was something different about him.  Back when he was a doctor, he saved the lives of people who should have died.  When his father pressed him into politics his incumbent opponent didn't lose, he dropped out of the race when the polls showed Scott leading by a massive percentage.  Of course it did not hurt that the small but wealthy community of New Hope backed his campaign due to the good will he had built there during his time as a doctor.

 

        Still, even without their support, Scott did not believe he was confident in thinking he could have won without it.  He felt he was being guided by the forces of destiny toward great things which nothing would stop him from achieving. In fact he had never failed to obtain that which he committed himself to obtaining… except one time.

 

        "Good evening sir." One of his interns said, the young woman handing him a list of scribbled down messages.

 

        "Any one of these important," Scott said as he scanned them.

 

        "There was one from New Hope," The girl replied.

 

        "Really," Scott said surprised, shuffling through the notes.

 

        "Daryl Gavin," Scott asked. “When did he call?"

 

        "About two hours ago, while you were debating the Henderson

Amendment."

 

        "Cancel all my appointments," Scott said as he hurried to his office.

 

        "But there is a committee meeting in one hour."

 

        "Cancel that too, and see if you can get me on the next flight back to Helena."

 

        "Yes sir," The girl nodded, knowing it best not mention the upcoming votes.

 

        Closing and locking his office door, Scott stared at the phone sitting on his desk, not sure if he wanted to make the call.  He had not heard from Daryl in over ten years, not since that election night his father had lost the governor's race.  Deep down though, Scott knew that Daryl was caught up in whatever grand plan his life was following.  He had known that the day he had saved the young man's life.  That is why it had hurt all the more when they parted ways.  Out of every person he had ever loved Daryl was the only one who really understood him.
 

        With a shaking hand, Scott picked up the phone and dialed the listed number.

 

        "Hello?"  A stranger's voice answered.

 

        "This is Senator Whitmore, I am returning Daryl's call."

 

        "One moment."

 

        "Hello?" a more familiar voice answered.

 

        The voice was a little deeper, a little more mature but it was indeed Daryl's voice.  "Oh my God, it is you."

 

        "Scott?" Daryl asked.

 

        "Yes, damn Daryl, how are you?  Where have you been hiding yourself  for the past twelve years?"

 

        "I grew up, became a doctor like you," Daryl replied.  "Been working in an inner city hospital."

 

        "Wow, but what the fuck are you doing in New Hope.  That's the last place I would expect you to be."

 

        "Some things have come up."

 

        "Good or bad?" Scott asked.

 

        "A little of both."

 

        "Well tell me the good news."

 

        "You remember my brother David,"

 

        "Yes, such a tragedy."

 

        "I just found his two sons, they were at the Whitmore Home."

 

        "That shit hole? My great aunt, you know the one who became a nun, set up that home.  Believe me it was not out of the kindness of her heart.  That place is pretty much a foster-home milk farm she gets to milk the government for the kids’ social security money.  Except for the cheeks she could care less about those kids.  I thought they tore it down long ago."

 

        "It's still standing."

 

        "But you got them out of there?"

 

        "Yes, they're living with me now."

 

        "Ok, that's the good news.  What's the bad?"

 

        It took almost two hours of questions and explanations before Scott felt he had a grip on the situation and when he did understand, a part of him wished he didn't.

 

        "This is a bad situation Daryl."

 

        "You telling me,"

 

        "If you were anyone else I would tell you to take the kids and run like hell.  I know what kind of person you are, or at least once were so I’m guessing you won’t leave those bastards to rot in their own filth."

 

        "What would you have me do?"  Daryl asked

 

        "Stay right where you are, and expect me at your place sometime before dawn."

 

        "Alright, thank you Scott."

 

        "And Daryl," Scott hesitated.

 

        "Yes,"

 

        "There's never been anyone but you," Scott said, quickly slamming the phone down.

 

        "Dang it, why did I have to say that," Scott cursed.

 

        "Well," Steven asked when Daryl closed the phone.

 

        "He's coming.  He'll be here sometime before dawn."

 

        "I think someone has high placed admirer."  Steven chuckled, lying back down on the blanket he and Daryl had put down in the outside yard on the grass.

 

        "It's not like that, quite the opposite," Daryl insisted.

 

        "You mean he was your hero,"

 

        "Scott is ten years older than me, not to mention he once saved my life."

 

        "I understand. When I was in the Peace Corp, I slept with the man who was sort of my mentor.  The question I have for you is how you feel about seeing him again,"

 

        "I don't know, we didn't part company on the best of terms."

 

        "But you still have feelings for him,"

 

        "When I left New Hope, I was still very upset about David.  That, and trying to adapt to life in the outside world, and my age left me very dependent on him.  I didn’t like that."  Daryl tried to explain.

 

        "But do you still love him,” Steven pressed.

 

        "It was so long ago,"

 

        "Do you?" Steven insisted.

 

        "I love you and Patrick. I am also like Alex."

 

        "Yet,"

 

        "I'm such a slut," Daryl sighed, rolling onto his stomach.

 

        "So are we all," Steven said, just as the sound of Patrick and

Alex's laughter could be heard coming from the next blanket. I take it you haven't found anybody like him in your life?"

 

        "Your brother and you are more than enough for me."

              

        “Yet…"  Steven always knew there had to have been someone in Dare’s life before them.  He had first assumed that person had been his brother.  Now, he wasn’t so sure.

  When Darren didn’t reply Steven felt like exploding. "My God, you really are still in love with the senator."

 

        "I told you it's not like that."

 

        "You desire to see him again, don't you, for him to touch you, kiss you, make love to you," Steven said as he explored Daryl's body with his lips.

  Slipping the robe off Daryl's body, Steven climbed on top of him, kissing, licking, and touching Daryl's chest and nipples.  For the first time in a long while he had the man he loved all to himself.  As gently as he could he made love to Daryl, slowly entering the man's body with his sex, one hand caressing Daryl face while the other stroked his cock, their lips never parting.

 

        "I could die now as the happiest man in the world," Steven whispered after both of them had settled down from their climax.

 

        "I hope you don't," Daryl chuckled softly, running his fingers through Steven's blond hair.

 

        "Let's run away. If we go now we could reach Canada and be married the next day."

 

        "I ran away once and looked what's happened."

 

        "You're not blaming yourself for Brian's actions? If you are, I'm

= going to have to tickle you to death," Steven threatened.

 

        "Brian, my people, none of them would be dying now if I hadn't left."

 

        "But you would have never have become a doctor and saved the lives you have."  Steven insisted.

 

        "And I wouldn't have met you and Patrick," Daryl replied.

 

        "You mean meeting us is just as important to you as the hundreds if not thousands of lives you've saved,” Steven said in disbelief.

 

        "Jesus had to die for our sins to be forgiven, but only you and

Patrick were able to get me to forgive myself," Daryl replied.

 

        Stunned, Steven knew of only one way to respond to such a statement and that was to make love to Daryl all over again, this time not gently but with all the passion his emotions could muster.  The two of them must have started shouting at one point, for soon both Alex and Patrick were running towards them and what had been only a twosome turned into an orgy as the others joined in, Daryl being the focus of all the other men's attentions.

 

        Consumed by the act of love, Steven lost track of both time and his number of orgasms, at one point blanking out.  At some point during the early hours of morning, before the sun had risen, he was jostled awake. Opening his eyes he saw Daryl walking away toward a taller shadow, the two meeting just as the sun reached the horizon, filling the valley with light. With the sun rising in front of Steven, it almost appeared as if an aura of light was wrapped around both Daryl and the stranger.

 

 

        "You're still hurt," Scott whispered as he saw Daryl's naked body limping toward him.

 

        "I'll live," Daryl chuckled.

 

        "Let me help you," Scott said as he reached a hand toward Daryl, only for Daryl to take a step back.

 

        "I don't know if I want you to heal me again."

 

        "But your leg."  Scott said, taking a step forward.

 

        "I can survive that.  I don't think I can survive a greater burden than you have already given me."

 

        "It was never meant to be a burden," Scott insisted.

 

        "But that's what it became.  I've used up almost all of what you gave me, trying to save as many lives as I could.  Now, just when my people need me, I don't have the strength to save them."

 

        "They don't deserve it," Scott replied.

 

        "Is that God's will, for my people to die?"

 

        "I've never pretended to know God's will Daryl, you know that."

 

        "But this power, it had to have come from somewhere."

 

        "Maybe, but that's all it is, power, lacking both the guidance and wisdom on how to best use it," Scott said as he reached for Daryl only for him to step back again.

 

        "I don't want that responsibility anymore."

 

        "As I said, it was never meant to be a burden, but to help you find happiness."

 

        "And I found happiness."  Daryl said, looking back where the others were, Steven gazing blindly in his direction.

 

        "I noticed.  I'm glad.  It pains me to see that you are still not whole however."

 

        "I will never get back what I lost with David."

 

        "I could," Scott offered.

 

        "No, I don't want to lose that pain.  It has become like an old friend who will never leave me."

 

        "Like I did," Scott said sadly.

 

        "Daryl," Steven voice shouted.

 

        Turning back to look at Steven, Daryl was distracted just long enough for Scott to lunge forward and grab Daryl hand.

 

        Looking back at Scott in shock, Daryl felt for the second time in his life an exhilarating rush of power fill his entire body, causing him to fall down on his knees.  Like water washing away sand, the bruises, cuts, and scars covering Daryl body disappeared.

 

        Just like the first time, Daryl was blind to everything but the all-consuming white light that filled his vision.  Then, sooner than he had expected, everything went black as he collapsed.  When his vision returned he could see Steven and Scott wrestling on the ground, Patrick and Alex standing over him, looking confused.

 

        "Dare, you ok?” Patrick asked.

 

        "Yes, no, no I'm not," Daryl said, not able to remove the wide grin that was on his face.  It was just like before… only the feels were stronger.  Whatever Scott had done to him the first time he had done a lot more than just heal him.

 

        "What did you do to Dare,” Daryl heard Steven shout as the man pinned Scott to the ground.

 

        "Nothing that will harm him," Scott said calmly.

 

        "Are you alright Dare," Steven asked, not letting go of Scott.

 

        "Let him go Steven," Daryl said as he stood back up.

 

        "But,"

 

        "I recommend you take Daryl advice.  He's trying to save your life after all," Scott chuckled.

 

        "You really think you can take all three of us on,” Steven asked.

 

        "Scott don't," Daryl pleaded.

 

        "Then you better get your friend off me," Scott warned.

 

        "Steven, get off Scott, he didn't hurt me."

 

        "Not until he tells me what he just did to you."

 

        "Steven, for your own sake, get off him!" Daryl shouted.

 

        Patrick, not deaf to the fear in Daryl's voice, nudged Alex forward so that together they could pull Steven away.

 

        "At least some of your friends have a little common sense," Scott said as he brushed the dirt and grass off him.

 

        "Why did you do that, I told you I didn't want the burden or anymore of your gifts," Daryl shouted at Scott.

 

        "I did it for your own good.  Hopefully you won't waste them this time," Scott replied.  “You and I are what we are.”

 

        "Saving lives was a waste,"

 

        "You can't use the power I gave you without me knowing about it.  I know exactly who you've save and what's happened to them afterwards."

 

        "Then how can you call it a waste,"

 

        "Do you know how many people you've kept alive, who really should have died, the ones who are being forced to live in pain, crippled, or even brain damaged,"

 

        "They live."  Daryl said defensively.

 

        "Only as shells of their former selves," Scott argued.  "That's why I quit being a doctor and went into politics.  As a doctor, I did as you did, keeping people alive well past the point that is humane."

 

        "You saved my life."

 

        "And you saved Alex's.  But for every life that was worth saving, we both extended the suffering of hundreds more."

 

        "So why politics?" Daryl asked.

 

        "I learned that, just as we are able to heal people's bodies, we can influence their minds.  Using the gift that way I have helped guide the country to become a place where you and I will be accepted for what we are."

 

        "But what right do you have to do that,"

 

        "Why not?  You've seen into my heart.  You know all I want is to use my power to help humanity.  Is that not the same thing you want?  I say again we are what we are.  You cannot keep denying it."

 

        "I know," Daryl sighed.  "But why did you give me more of your power when I didn't want it?"

 

        "Because even as powerful you think I am, I am still only one man.  There is only so much I can do."

 

        "But why me,"

 

        "For three reasons.  Out of all the people who I have saved with my power, you are the only one who has used the power I have given them to save others.  The second is something I just discovered about you.  I can't control you, you or any of the people you've touched.  After a few years of people doing whatever you want them to, I find this situation quiet liberating."

 

        "And the third,"

 

        "I think you know the third," Scott said as he walked toward Daryl.  "I told you on the phone that there's been no one since you."

 

        "I'm not some lost kid anymore."

 

        "I wouldn't still be interested in you if you were," Scott said as he wrapped his arms around Daryl's waist, pulling him closer, the others frozen in place as he kissed his chosen.

 

 

 

*****

 

        At the same time as Scott passed on more and more of what he was into the first and only man he had ever loved, a man standing atop a hill overlooking the ranch had just put down his binocular and dialed the Father.  “It is as you predicted Father. The lost one has brought him back to us.”

 

        “Good.  I knew out lost sheep would bring the wolf back.”

 

 

 

*****

 

        "Do any of you know what the hell is going on," Steven asked Patrick and

Alex from where they were huddled together in the living room.

 

        "I think this is the point where you will finally have to make that leap of faith I told you about," Patrick replied.

 

        "I'm not making any promises but go ahead and tell me."

 

        "Alex," Patrick asked.

 

        "As both of you know, I once ended up in Dare's ER with gunshot wounds to the chest.  Daryl more than saved my life, he gave me new life, new energy, new power. After we rescued him I gave him much of it back to help heal him.  You've seen the results," Alex said, touching the gray that now mark his short curly locks.

 

        "You want to me to believe that Dare has this strange mystical power that can be transferred between people?

 

        "I told you this would take a leap of faith." Patrick reminded him.

 

        "But where did he get this power from?"

 

        "Weren't you listening outside?  It clearly came from Scott," Patrick said.

 

        "And where did he get it,"

 

        "No one knows," Alex said.

        "Well I'm going to find out," Steven said, as he stood up to go looking for Daryl and Scott, only for Alex to tackle him.

 

        "No you don't, Daryl told us to sit put," Alex grunted, using his superior strength to hold Steven down.

 

        "But you have no idea what Scott is doing to Dare, he might be hurting him."

 

        "Do you really think Dare really would ask us to stay away if he was in danger," Patrick said.  "He's trying to protect us.  Whatever the Senator is I don’t think I could put a scratch on him if he didn’t want me to."

 

"But who's protecting him," Steven demanded, as he struggled to free himself.

 

"You can't protect Dare from this kind of power," Alex said.

 

"How can either of you say that?  Don't y'all care about him?" Steven demanded, his anger causing him to slip back into his southern accent.

 

        "We do, but the only thing we can do for Dare right now is not add to his problem by having him worry about keeping us safe," Patrick scolded.

 

        "Fine, you two just be that way," Steven said as he finally freed himself from Alex.

 

        "Don't!"  Patrick shouted after his brother to no avail

 

 

 

        "Was it as you remembered it," Scott asked, sticking his tongue out to lick the underside of Daryl's earlobe.

 

        "No,” Daryl whispered.  "Each time has always felt different."

       

        "Good, I always try to make it so.  May I ask you some questions though?"

 

        "You've never needed my permission before."

 

        "You're no longer a kid I can push around," Scott joked.

 

        "If I remember things, I was the one pushing you around," Daryl chuckled.

 

        "You did have a lot of spunk back then.  May I ask?"

 

        "Yes."

 

        "Why did you leave me?  Don't blame it on that fight we had when dad lost the election.  I'd bet my life you wanted to leave well before that."

 

        "I was in pain."

 

        "Why didn't you tell me?  You know I could easily take it away."

 

        "But I didn't want it to go away," Daryl said angrily.  "I knew if

I stayed you would find out and make it go away."

 

        "This is about David, isn't it?"

 

        "Yes, I shunned my own twin."

 

        "Because they forced you to," Scott replied.

 

        "I could have fought longer, done something, anything to save

David.  I needed to punish myself for failing him in a way that you would have never allowed.  That's why I left."

 

        "How did you punish yourself Daryl?"

 

        "I shunned myself, denied myself the love the church taught me that all people need in order to live."

 

        "You're right, I would have never let you do such a thing to yourself.  Reminds me of the offer I made to you after your brother died."

 

        "And I turned you down."

 

        "And I still think that was a mistake.  I could have destroyed New

Hope, ignite gas buried beneath it.  It would have put an end to this madness once and for all."

 

        "It would have killed thousands of innocent people."

 

        "None of the Blessed are innocent, naïve maybe, but not innocent, not with the complacency they've shown to the crimes their leaders commit."

 

        "Can I ask you a question?”  Daryl said after a moment of silence.

 

        "That would only be fair."

 

        "Did you ever sleep with Brian?"

 

        "What?"  Scott said taken aback.

 

        "Have you ever slept with Brian,” Daryl repeated.

 

        "I never have, nor have I ever wanted to," Scott replied.

 

        "But you did give him some of your power," Daryl insisted.

 

        "I think you know the answer to that," Scott said as he left the bed.

 

        "Why," Daryl demanded, sitting up.  "Don't you know what's he's done with it?"

 

        "I'm well aware of what he's been up to.  He's been keeping me up to date on everything, except where it deals with you."

 

        "And you've allowed this madness,"

 

        "You wouldn't let me destroy New Hope my way, so I gave Brian the power to do it himself."

 

        "I want you to put a stop to him."

 

        "There's no need, Brian has used all the power I gave him.  Soon he will be dead, all the unrepentant Blessed will be dead and this sad chapter in your life will be closed."

 

        "I thought you wanted to help mankind,"

 

        "I am, by removing this small dark chunk of it."

 

        "But."

 

        "Do you still cling to your church's teachings Daryl after everything you've witnessed?"

 

        "Some of what we believe is good," Daryl said weakly.

 

        "Not enough to save the life of David," Scott pointed out.

 

        "What should I believe in then?"

 

        "Only two things, yourself and your loved ones."

 

        "Which includes you?” Daryl asked.

 

        "You tell me, mind reading is not one of my talents."

 

        "You've destroyed everything."

 

        "Not everything... only those who have harmed you." Scott replied.

 

        "But that makes everything my fault," Daryl insisted.

 

        "Only if you want it that way," Scott said, offering his hand to

Daryl and its healing touch.

 

        "I don't want them to suffer."

 

        "I can make it so they don't but you must trust me.  Take my hand Daryl."

 

        Daryl took a step towards him.


17. Chapter 17

 

        Steven, had listened just outside the door, could not believe what he had just heard.  It was insane.  Scott was acting as if all he had to do was snap his fingers to bring fire and brimstone down upon the town.  Daryl believed it though, he was even going to let it happen, something which completely baffled Steven.  Part of him wanted to see how deep the two men's obvious delusion psychosis was, but then again, Daryl believed it was true.

 

        When Steven thought about it nothing that had happened ever since that first day he met Daryl made much sense.  Out of all the bizarre events that had happened of late, Steven knew of only two that he would call true miracles.  The first one was that he had finally forgiven himself for the Stockton tragedy.  The second was the extent of his love for Daryl.

 

        To his shock, Steven found that he indeed believed in something, or in this case, someone.  That's all that really mattered in the end.  It did not matter that he did not believe in whatever power Scott claimed to have. So long as Daryl believed it was real, Steven could not let the man he loved take part in such horrific act.

 

        Ramming his body against the door, he burst into the room, finding

Daryl almost within arm’s reach of Scott's offered hand.

 

        "Don't do it Dare!"  Steven shouted.

 

        "But I have to, I don't want this pain inside me anymore."  Daryl said even as he stopped walking forward.

 

        "It's for the best Steven," Scott said, his eyes not leaving

Daryl's face.  "These people need to die, they are a cancer, a disease of the human soul.  All I am doing is sparing the only one of them who is redeemable.  Do you love Daryl so little that you would have him suffer so?"

 

        "I hate the Blessed as much as you do for what they did to Dare but don't they deserve a second chance to redeem themselves,"

 

        "Why should you care?  You don't believe in God," Scott replied, his hand only inches away from Daryl.

 

        Steven stood silently, knowing his next words would decide everyone's fate.  "I believe in Daryl."

 

        "Why," Scott, said, lowering his hand.

 

        "Because he makes me believe that I can become a better person.

You would destroy that if Daryl were to let his people die."

 

        "Even though most of them deserve to?” Scott asked, taking a step away from Daryl towards Steven.

 

        "There is always a chance for forgiveness," Steven said, amazed by his own words.

 

        "So you would let people live crippled lives?  You believe it is better to live and suffer than be granted peace through death?"

 

        "I do, if there is one thing I have learned as a psychiatrist it is that suicide is never a good answer."

 

        "So be it," Scott said, letting a smile grow on his face before looking back at where Daryl was frozen in place.  "Rest Daryl.  You’re suffering is over. Daryl took Scotts hand. There was a flash of light then nothing.

 

         Steven saw his lover slump to the floor like a puppet whose strings had just been cut.  Running to the man's side, he held Daryl tightly.

 

        "Thank you Steven, I knew I could count on you."  Daryl smiled weakly, his whole body coated with sweat.

 

        "I couldn't let you let Scott kill all those people no matter how much I hated them."

 

        "They were never in danger of dying, at least not immediately.” Scott chuckled as he looked down at the pair.

 

        "What?"  Steven asked confused.

 

        "I'm sorry Steven."  Daryl said guiltily.

 

        "It was a test...for both of you," Scott said, joining the two on the floor.

 

        "What?" Steven repeated, this time with a hint of anger in his voice.

 

        “I am no angel but you might as well consider me one.  I was sent… or I should said changed into what I am now to punish the people who call themselves the Blessed for the crime of killing Daryl's parents and his brother."

 

        "You don't really expect me to believe that."  Steven said skeptically.

 

        "I am what I am."  Scott replied; “…and Daryl is what he is.  The only people who were truly blessed in that valley was Daryl’s family.  Daryl’s parents were as I am now.  They were changed to serve a purpose but that purpose was never realized because the Blessed’s leaders decided to kill them.  Daryl, as their son, can still serve that purpose but only if that is what he wants.  I needed to test him to see if he still wished to serve that purpose.

 

        "Whatever,” Steven grunted.  "Why were you testing us?"

 

        "To see if the possibility of redemption was possible."

 

        "Daryl's people or everyone,” Steven asked suspiciously.

 

        "Good, you're starting to catch on.  The answer is both," Scott chuckled.

 

        "What was my test?"

 

        "You should know, you would not have been able to pass it without knowing."

 

        "Faith?” Scott asked.

 

        "Yes."

 

        "I don't understand."

 

        "You have to understand what Daryl's test was to fully understand your own."

 

        "What was Daryl's test?"

 

        "Ask Daryl," Scott suggested.

 

        "Dare," Steven asked, looking down at the man's exhausted face.

 

        "Scott chose me to bear the burden of my people's guilt.  It was by my example that he was going to decide their fate."

 

        "But you're a saint."  Steven laughed.

 

        "A saint who until now has never once turned to God for his own forgiveness." Daryl replied.  "I had to be willing to sacrifice everything and take Scott's hand out of the need for forgiveness in order to save myself from my own destructive guilt.

 

        "This is the second time I have given Daryl this test.  He failed the first time when he could not ask for forgiveness for the death of his brother.  Brian and the tragedy he bestowed on his people was the resulting punishment. Still I had faith in Daryl that he would pass this test and save his people from the second, forgiving himself for failing the first time... to pass that one he needed the help of another, he chose you.  That is why you were tested."

 

        "And what was my test,"

 

        "Your test had two parts. First, like Daryl you had to be able to forgive yourself, in this case the indirect part you took in the death of

Mr. and Mrs. Stockton and Mr. Stockton's male lover.  Faith, as you already know, was the second part.  You had to defeat your own skepticism and believe in something, in this case you had to prove you believed in Daryl."

 

        "And what would have happened if I failed,"

 

        "If you had failed then when Daryl touched my hand it would have triggered a massive gas explosion that would have destroyed New Hope and sent so much pollution into the air as to trigger a new ice age."

 

        "I'm glad I passed.  There is something I don't understand. You cannot make me believe you are the agent of a benevolent force.  No God would put the burden of an entire people's sins on more man."

 

        "You're right again.  As I said before, Daryl was wise in picking you."

 

        "You're no angel.  What are you really and why would you punish the entire world for the actions of some kooky religious cult."

 

        "Sleep Daryl," Scott commanded, and the man's eyes quickly closed.

Scott then looked back at Steven.  "What I am about to tell you is for your ears only.  You will remember but never be able to communicate it to anyone."

 

        "I understand."  Steven nodded.

 

        "We are not fully human, me less so than Daryl."

 

        "You expect me to believe you are some sort of advanced alien,"

Steven chuckled.

 

        "I expect you to believe that there are forces beyond your understanding. That is why your faith was tested.

 

        "What are you then?"

 

        "Living energy that you might call ghosts, spirits, demons, gods, some weak, some very strong."

 

        "Some Jedi like Force," Steven joked and laughed.

 

        "No." Scott laughed as well.

 

        "Is Daryl just a spirit, a ghost?"

 

        "No, he is mostly human.  A part of him though is like us, lying dormant unless need wills it to reveal itself.  Most of the Blessed are like that."

 

        "Why Daryl then?  Why did you pick him to bear the Blessed's sins?"

 

        "Would you believe he offered his people the best hope of forgiveness?"

 

        "Knowing the kind of person he is, I do.  I still don't understand why any supernatural force would target the Blessed over a pair of murders. People are killed every day."

 

        "It was what Daryl's parent's wanted.  The Gavin family, more than any of the other Blessed, are connected with the spiritual, which makes sense since it was the Gavins who introduced the trait to the Blessed when they saved their ancestors during a blizzard."

 

        "So you are saying that Daryl's ancestors were not human."

 

        "They weren't."  Scott nodded.  "They were beings formed out of both faith and need.  The original settlers’ faith that something would save them from the storm was so strong that it caused those who became the Gavin’s to take on human form and save them."

 

        "Out of thin air,"

 

        "From your perspective."

 

        "I find that hard to believe."

 

        "Then you will have an even greater problem believing this, until forty years ago, there was no natural gas under New Hope."

 

        "You're right I would.  You saying another spirit turned itself into the nation's largest gas field."

 

        "There was no need, Daryl grandfather willed it into existence when a drought killed off the Blessed's cattle which had been their sole source of income."

 

        "Then I think I know where you came from and why Daryl was chosen.

You are not the angel of judgment, you are whatever leftover negative energy Daryl's parents left behind when the Blessed betrayed and murdered them."

 

        "You are smart," Scott laughed.

 

        "I still don't think it was fair to put him through this."

 

        "That no longer matters, he's free now, his obligations fulfilled.

He can now live a normal life without being tested further."

 

        "He will no longer be able to heal the sick,"

 

        Scott nodded.  "Not in the fashion he once did.  Not unless the need is so great that Daryl calls on it again.  That part of his nature has gone dormant again. It is not gone and is still within his reach.  It will always be a part of him.” "My purpose having also been served I too will soon just be a normal man. Daryl and I have both deserve well-earned rest.  You are another matter."

 

        "What do you mean," Steven said nervously.

 

        "Our power cannot so simply evaporate, it has to go somewhere," Scott replied.

 

        "It's going to me?"  Steven felt like he was going to choke.  He didn’t want this power any more than he was sure Dare did.

 

        "Yes, most of it anyway.  Some will also pass to Daryl's nephews."

 

        "But I don't want it."

 

        "You already have it, always have had it in fact.  All you needed was having enough faith to call on it which is what you did to save Daryl’s people.  This will be hard for you to understand but you, like the gas field also appeared out of nothing in your mother’s womb.  Your mother was never meant to have twins."

 

        "And my brother,"

 

        "Perfectly normal, that is why Daryl had to choose you.  He could have picked Alex, but he gave up his power to Daryl to help heal him.  So you see in the end you were the only one Daryl could pick.  Luckily you figured things out in time."

 

        Steven sighed, he didn't feel lucky.  "What happens now?"

 

        "That is totally up to you.  Only one thing is certain, you will soon become the Father."

 

        "Yeah right. Why would I lead a religion I despise?"

 

        "The same reason the Gavin family exists, to save them."

 

        "But what if I don't want to save them,"

 

        "You would not have stopped Daryl from reaching me if you really believed that."

 

        "Well, if it is as you say, then I'm going to be making some serious changes."

 

        "And that is exactly what the Blessed need."  Scott chuckled, his eyes beginning to droop.

 

        "Can I ask you one more question," Steven said, sensing the time of questions was running out.

 

        "Yes, I think I can answer one more," Scott whispered tiredly as he rested his head against Daryl.

 

        "What's going to happen to Daryl and me?”

 

        "He will love you as he's always has, but he's destined for another." Scott whispered.

 

        "Who?” Steven demanded but it was already too late. Scott was deep asleep.

 

        Holding Daryl in his arms, Steven rocked him as he cried uncontrollably.  The moment he felt a weight lift off his shoulders for an even heavier one replace it.  With the power that was now within him Steven knew who Daryl would end up with.  In saving Daryl, Steven had lost him. The pain of reaching that realization was almost too much for him to bear.  It would prove to be a much greater burden than the one he now carried as the new Father of the Blessed.

 

        So consumed by grief, Steven did not notice two figures entering the room until one of them spoke.

 

        "Finally, someone whose still awake," Adam said loudly.

 

        Turing around Steven saw the two Gavin boys, Aaron wearing a worried look while Adam, dressed in Patrick's geisha outfit looked annoyed. "Come here you two, help me put your uncle back to bed."

 

        With mostly Aaron's help, Adam didn’t want to mess up his makeup, Steven placed both Daryl and Scott into bed, covering them with a thick quilt.

 

        "Do you know why everyone but us is asleep?"

 

        "I do," Steven started to say, wanting to tell the twins everything Scott had told him, only to have his voice to leave him.

 

        "Well?"  Adam asked.

 

        "I'll tell you when you're older," Steven said, not knowing why but knowing what he had said would prove to be true.

 

        "Uncle Daryl looks happy at least, last time I saw him he looked like he was hurting," Aaron said from where he was sitting on the bed.

 

        Looking at Daryl's face Steven saw that Aaron was right; Daryl's lips were smiling, and the furrow that once marked his forehead gone.  "Your uncle is now free”

 

        “Like how you freed us from the orphanage?"  Aaron asked.

 

        "Will they ever wake up?” Adam asked.

 

        "They will, as soon as the wind of change stops blowing."  Steven replied as he caressed Daryl's face, silently promising to the man he loved that he would live up to his responsibilities.  He watched as Daryl and Scott snuggled closely to each other as they slept.  It was as if the pair had been a couple of many long years.

 

Epilogue

 

        The wind of change rarely comes but when it does it can have the power of a hurricane.  The very moment Steven found his faith, a series of events were triggered, starting with the unexplainable disappearance of what had been believed to be over a trillion cubic feet of natural gas under the town of New Hope.  Also on that day, federal warrants for the arrest of Brian Gano and his inner circle were issued.  Many tried to flee but Brian, refusing to believe that his own downfall was nigh, was handcuffed and taken right from his pulpit screaming 'he lives,' over and over.

 

        With Brian's arrest, the spell the Father had weaved over locals and outsiders alike was lifted.  It was not long before the extent of the AIDS epidemic became front news worldwide.

 

        Since the church coffers had been practically emptied by Brian's actions and Peter's embezzlement, only two people had the resources and the will to help the Blessed.  That person was Daryl Gavin and Scott Whitmore. While Daryl was the one whose family the church had betrayed Daryl had been collecting 40 years-worth of gas royalties that when including interest had accumulated into a multi-billion dollar fortune.

 

        While Daryl provided the resources and treated many of the sick, it was Steven who rose above the crowd to restore order to New Hope.  After three years, and even against his protests, the Blessed declared Steven

Nash the Father by a unanimous vote and, just as Steven swore he would, he brought many changes to the church.

 

        One thing remained a mystery to Steven however. Though Daryl eventually moved in with Scott after the former Governor won a seat in the Senate and moved to Washington, Steven was sure Daryl had yet to meet his one and true love.  Then, on the day NM Mining finally closed their doors for good, a stranger arrived on the doorstep of the old Gavin ranch which had become Steven’s home.

 

         The man’s very outdated clothes were a few inches too short, fitting poorly on his incredibly thin frame.  The man's hair was light brown with a hint of gray and very long, as was his beard.  Talking to the stranger Steven found the man very confused but certain that he belonged here.  It was when Patrick handed the man a cup of coffee that Steven saw the scars that marred the man's wrists.

 

        "Those bastards," Steven cursed, with rage and joy at the same time.

 

        "What?"  Patrick asked, confused.

 

        "I think I know who our guest is.  First call Tommy and tell him to get his ass over here.  I want to see what this man looks like after he's cleaned up a bit."

 

        "And what are you going to do,"

 

        "I'm going to have a long talk with Stan."  Steven said as he reached for his cell phone.

 

        It took a lot of digging and the making several veiled and not so veiled threats but Steven eventually found out at least where their guest had come from.  As it turned out, the man had been in a coma and had been receiving medical treatment from a hospital in Helena; only one doctor and a now elderly nurse knew of the man's identity.  Five years ago, on the very same day the gas fields had vanished, their John Doe woke up. The man had then been transferred to a rehabilitation facility where, due to his physical and mental condition, he had remained until two weeks ago when NM Mining defaulted on his bill.  It seemed the man had walked all the way from Helena back to New Hope without food, water, or protective clothing.  The single most important fact Steven was able to discover was the man, now 37, had only been seventeen when first admitted to the clinic.

 

        By the time he had all the information he could get from Stan, Patrick had been waiting frantically for his brother to get off the phone.  "You won't believe who I think this person is!"

 

        "Want to make a bet?”  Steven chuckled.

 

        "Have you called Daryl yet?"

 

        "No, I need to see for myself."  Steven insisted, going down to the basement where Tommy had been working on their guest.

 

        Cut, shaved, and bathed, the man sat in front of Patrick's mirror, dressed in a white bathrobe.  His cheeks were thin, his eyes sunken, and his arms and legs were as thin as toothpicks but the resemblance was strong.

 

        "Well is he?" Patrick almost shouted.

 

        "Call Daryl, but don't tell him anything other than he is to catch the next flight from DC and get back here," Steven said.  Patrick dialed the number before his brother finished speaking.

 

        Twenty four hours later Daryl came walking into the house.  "What's up and it better be good. The White House correspondent dinner was last night and you knew how much Scott and I were looking forward to attend."

 

        "We have a guest," Steven said as calmly as he could.

 

        "Oh, anyone I know."

 

        "You can say that," Patrick said, His eyelids were open so wide that his eyes looked like they might pop out.

 

        "Is there something wrong?  Who is it?" Daryl said, not blind to the tension in the room.

 

        "Go sit down Dare."  Steven suggested.

 

        "Why?  Brian didn't escape from the mental hospital, did he?"

       

        "No, but I want you to be seated with what I am about to show you."

 

        "But,"

 

        "Are you trying to be difficult again?  I thought we broke you of that habit," Steven grunted, pointing to the sofa.

 

        "Sorry," Daryl said, finally sitting down as instructed.

 

        It was a good thing Steven had Daryl sit, for their guest didn't get within ten feet of him before Daryl turned red as if he were choking and passed out.  Recovering in less than a minute, he jumped up and screamed, causing their guest to do the same.  For a while both Daryl and the guest circled around each other screaming at each other until the thin man charged Daryl and surprisingly tackled him.  The two then rolled on the floor until they came to a sudden halt, the only sound being their mutual sobs, Daryl repeating the name of his long dead brother.

 

        Whatever had happened to David, being reunited with his brother restore his memory. Over the coming months he slowly regained his memory and health thanks to Daryl's constant help and many long group sessions with Steven.  By the time Adam and Aaron came home from college, David was back to being as close to his old self as Daryl ever remembered.  Aaron automatically attached himself to his father but Adam remained skeptical.

 

        One night while Steven was working late in his office, both brothers came into the room.

       

        "Thank you," Aaron said, ever the polite one.

 

        "Yeah thanks," Adam said less than enthusiastically.

 

        "What for?"  Steven asked, putting his pen down.

 

        "For giving Uncle Daryl what he wanted more than anything, regardless of what it cost you," Aaron said, a tear running down the young man's face.

 

        "I don't understand."

 

        "For giving Uncle Daryl David back."

 

        "I didn't give him back, the man came here on his own."  Steven chuckled even as he felt a dull pain in his heart.  Ever since David had come back, Daryl had less free time for him.

 

        "No, he didn't," Aaron said with a wink.

 

        "Want to tell me what your brother is tiptoeing around,” Steven said, looking at Adam. 

 

        Where Aaron was polite and always couched his words carefully when he spoke, Adam remained as blunt, and to the point, even when it was not appropriate.  "Sure, I don't know why he won't go out and say it.  He wants to thank you for being a fat assed cheater."

 

        "What?"  Steven said, even more confused.

 

        "You're a cheater, you didn't give Daryl what he really wanted.  You only gave him a photocopy, a facsimile, a clone.  You could have had Uncle Daryl all to yourself eventually but because of some subconscious feelings of guilt you created David, version 2.0."

 

        "I didn't!"  Steven started to argue then he remembered what Scott had told him of Daryl's grandfather, the one who had created the gas fields that had been under New Hope and been created out of thin air when all their cattle had died.

 

        "You did."  Both Aaron and Adam insisted.

 

        "Oh God, what if Daryl finds out?” Steven said as he ran his finger through his hair.

 

        Seeing realization dawn of Steven, Aaron continued.  "We don't know for certain, since we can't read minds, but both of us suspect Daryl already knows.  Why do you think Uncle Daryl had those sessions with you?  He wanted you to know everything he knew about his brother because what you know…"

 

        "David would know," Steven sighed in disbelief.  Scott had said Daryl was destined for another but Steven had never suspected that he would actually create the person out of thin air that Daryl would love above all others if not in a romantic sense.  It proved one thing to Steven, he did not have as much control over his powers as he first believed.  "Will stuff like this happen often?” Steven asked worriedly.  "Us changing the very fabric of reality?"

 

        "We don't know, all we know for sure is that this is only the beginning."  Aaron replied.

 

        "What do you mean?"

 

        "David," both brothers replied before Adam took over.  "He is much stronger than any of us."

 

        How can that be, I created him."

       

        "Yes, because you inherited Scott's power, you are much stronger than us since we both have to share what power Uncle Daryl once had.  David is different.  You created him out of pure need, pure faith, pure energy.  He is therefore as powerful as the original Gavins who were the one who saved the Blessed from the blizzard over a 120 years ago."

 

        "Is that a good thing or bad?"  Steven asked, unsure which way it was himself.

 

        "It all depends," Aaron sighed.

 

        "On what?" Steven demanded.

 

        "On the only person David or you really care about."  Adam whispered.

 

        "On Daryl?"

 

        "Yes."  The brothers replied.

 

        "Is this… is this another test,” Steven asked, his voice trembling.  When it came to the power Daryl and Scott and Steven himself possessed, tests of any sort were always bad as far as he was concerned.

 

        "It is, the final one."  Aaron whispered, his voice barely audible.

 

        "How soon?"  Steven asked, his heart beating with a deep thump as his face became flushed.

 

        "Soon," a third voice said as David walked into the room.  Steven did not even make it to his feet before he fell unconscious on top of his desk.

 

        David, dismissing the brothers, took out his cell phone and dialed the hospital.  "Hello, the Father just had a heart attack; please send an ambulance right away."

 

        Scott had said Daryl’s power would only return if the need was great enough and he had no other choice.  It was time to put that theory to the test.