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The Talon House

What's the difference between me and you?


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What's The Difference Between Me And You?

Chapter 11 - by Nick

Nick could see his dad waiting for him on Friday afternoon as the bus came to a stop. He wondered why Jim was home so early, but he was also glad to see him. As he got off the bus behind Taylor, Jim walked up to him, smiling.

"How come you're off work early, dad," Nick asked.

"I didn't want you to go to the wrong house, buddy," Jim said. "We're all moved in."

"Really," Nick asked excitedly.

"Really," Jim answered with a smile.

"Can Taylor spend the night tonight," Nick asked hopefully.

"Is it ok with Mr. Charles," Jim asked.

"It is," Taylor said. "Me and Nick kind of already asked him yesterday."

Nick smiled at Taylor when he, then he looked up at his dad for an answer.

"Why don't you ride your bike to Taylor's when we get home and help him carry his things," Jim said with a smile, giving Nick's shoulder a squeeze.

Taylor crossed the street, and Jim and Nick waited until he made it across, then they turned and started toward their new house.

"Can I go see grandma and grandpa," Nick asked.

"Sure buddy," Jim. "Let's go inside first so I can show you your room."

Jim unlocked the door, making the alarm chirp, and Nick walked in behind him. Nick looked around and almost had to blink. There was all new furniture in the living room, and as they walked back toward the family room, there was a brand new TV. There were already pictures everywhere, and the blinds that were up the first time Nick walked inside were replaced by curtains.

Nick walked into the kitchen and laid his eyes on the refrigerator, which had the same water and ice buttons as his grandparents' refrigerator had.

"Well?" Jim asked.

"I can't believe it," Nick said as he continued to look everything over. "Everything's new."

"Do you like it," asked Jim.

Nick nodded and smiled, then he walked over and hugged his dad. He had never really paid much attention to the furniture in their old house, or to small details like the curtains or the counter tops. But in this house, all of that just seemed to jump out at him.

"Let's go upstairs and see your room, pal," Jim said smiling down at Nick. They made their way up the stairs and opened the first door they came to. It was an extra room, and it had their old TV and couch in it. There was also an empty fish tank sitting on their old coffee table. Nick figured that this would be the new TV room, just like the one they had in Modesto.

As they walked down the hall, Nick opened a second door, and it was a totally empty room. He looked up at his dad, who said, "We'll use it for something, I'm sure." Nick smiled because he knew that the chances of his dad ever using that room were almost zero.

"Ready to see your room, Nick," Jim asked as he closed the door.

He opened a door near the end of the hallway, and Nick followed him. Everything was set up the way it was at Tom and Linda's.

"I get to keep my computer," Nick asked when he saw it sitting on the desk, right across from his dresser.

"Grandma and grandpa bought it for you to have, son," Jim said. "I thought you knew that."

Nick smiled and sat on his bed, as if he were sitting on it for the first time, then he jumped up and opened his closet, which had all of his shirts and pants hanging in it, just the way Jim always arranged it.

"What do you think, babe," Jim asked.

Nick didn't answer. Instead, he just walked over and hugged his dad as hard as he could. They walked out of Nick's room and directly across the hall to Jim's room. It looked to Nick like it was even bigger than Tom and Linda's room. It had all of the things that Tom and Linda's house had, plus there was an extra closet and a sink that was outside of the bathroom instead of inside, which was where Tom and Linda's sink was. The counter was huge, and the sink itself was right in the middle of it.

Jim had a brand new bed in his room. It was a giant bed, not like the one Jim had at Tom and Linda's. That one was big, but this one just seemed massive. Jim reached down and picked Nick up, holding him up over his head, then he playfully threw him on the bed. Nick jumped up and charged his dad who was still standing in the same spot, and Jim grabbed him and tossed him back onto the bed again. Jim sat on the bed and Nick rushed him from behind, but Jim was waiting for him. He grabbed Nick and lifted him over his head over and over, like he was lifting weights, then he tossed him back onto the bed.

Nick got up and ran toward his dad again, who stood up this time and trapped him in his arms.

"I've got you now," Jim said with a laugh. "You're trapped."

Nick struggled for a few seconds, and then he just gave up and let Jim handle him. Jim turned him upside down, making his shirt fall and exposing his belly, and then he locked his lips around Nick's belly button and blew hard, which made Nick laugh from the tickling feeling. After a few seconds, Jim turned him right side up and Nick rested his head on his dads shoulder and hugged him.

"I love you daddy," Nick said, lifting his head to give his dad a kiss.

"I love you too honey, Jim said. "Let's go downstairs and see if grandma and grandpa are home yet."

As Jim carried him down the stairs, Nick made his dad stop at each picture along the way so he could look at it. Finally they made it to the kitchen and Jim sat Nick on the counter and found him a snack. He tried calling Tom and Linda, but they were still gone.

Nick ate his snack and left for Taylor's.

"Hi Nick," said Cindy, Taylor's step mom as she opened the door. "It's nice to finally meet you."

"Hi ma'am," Nick said politely as he stood in front of her. "It's nice to meet you too."

"Taylor's upstairs getting his backpack ready," she said smiling. Nick smiled back at her and followed her to the stairs. They walked together to Taylor's room, and Nick saw Taylor's face light up when he walked in.

"I'm almost ready," he said as he zipped his backpack, which looked over stuffed. Nick dug into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with his new phone number on it, which he handed to Cindy.

"Here Miss Cindy," he said. "My dad said to give this to you or Mr. Charles. It's our new number."

Cindy took the paper and smiled, then she got a funny look on her face when she looked over at Taylor, who was having trouble zipping his backpack. His Scooby Doo doll was popping out every time he tried to pull the zipper closed, and it was obvious that the bag wouldn't close.

"Sweety, what are you doing," Cindy asked in a soft voice. "It's not going to work that way."

Nick knew why Taylor was stuffing Scooby in the backpack. He didn't want to have to carry him to Nick's house outside where everyone would see it.

"Mom," Taylor said with an irritated voice. "I don't know what else to do."

"I'll carry it, Taylor," Nick said. He didn't want Taylor to be embarrassed, and it wouldn't bother him if anyone else saw him with the doll.

Taylor took Scooby out of his backpack and handed him to Nick, who took him and hugged him, then said, "Hi Scooby." Cindy and Taylor both smiled at him, and Nick noticed that as they were walking downstairs, Taylor was holding her hand. When they got to the front door, Cindy gave Taylor a hug and kiss and told him she loved him.

"I love you too mom," Taylor said in a sweet voice.

When they got back to Nicks house, Tom and Linda were there. Nick gave all three of them the grand tour, then they all walked out to the backyard, where Jim talked about his plans for a hot tub and a wooden deck. While his dad was talking to Tom and Linda, Nick and Taylor went back upstairs. From his bedroom window, Nick could see the backyard, and he and Taylor looked out the window together.

"I think Miss Cindy's sweet," Nick said to Taylor.

"She is really sweet," Taylor said. "She's not my real mom though."

Nick wondered about what happened to Taylor's real mom, but he never asked about her before because Taylor never really mentioned it before. "Where is your real mom?" Nick asked.

Taylor looked down and didn't answer. Nick could tell that Taylor's feelings were hurt about something, so he just stayed quiet and didn't say anything. Finally, Taylor spoke up.

"She lives in Tennessee," he said. "She's going move to back though, and I'm going to go live with her when she does."

"Are you going to go to a different school?" Nick asked, hoping that the answer would be no.

"No, she'll move here so I won't have to," Taylor said as he walked over to Nick's bed and sat down. He picked up his Scooby Doo and cuddled it in his arms, but he put it back down when Nick slid open his bedroom window. Nick and Taylor were listening as Jim spoke with Tom and Linda about grilling out that night. Taylor still looked sad, so Nick decided to ask him if he wanted to watch a movie. Instead, they sat on the beanbag and watched Spongebob Squarepants. While they were watching, Nick sat as close to Taylor as he could, and eventually, they ended up snuggled together while they watched. Nick could tell that Taylor really missed his real mom, and he didn't want him to be sad about it, so he rubbed Taylor's back while they watched. While he was rubbing Taylor's back, he thought about how he felt about Taylor. He knew that he really cared about him a lot, and he felt like they were growing closer. Then Taylor looked at him and smiled, and Nick had to catch his breath.

"Thanks, Nick," Taylor said as he snuggled closer to Nick. "I feel good now."

"Me too," Nick said as he looked into Taylor's eyes. "I don't want you to be sad anymore."

"I won't be, Nick," Taylor said, resting his head back on Nicks shoulder.

"You're my best friend, Taylor," Nick said. "I love you."

"I love you too, Nick," Taylor said. "I'm glad we're best friends."

Nick was overcome with emotion when he heard Taylor say that he loved him, so he wrapped his other arm around Taylor and hugged him. Taylor already had both of his arms around Nick while they were snuggled together watching TV, so he used them to hold on tighter while they hugged.

Jim opened the door and saw them on the beanbag, and he smiled. "I'm going to barbeque, guys," Jim said. "How many hamburgers should I make for you?"

When Jim went back downstairs, Nick stood up and walked over to his bed, where he laid down and looked at the ceiling. Taylor went to use the bathroom, and when he came back in the room, he laid down on the bed next to Nick.

"You can use my pillow too," Nick said, moving over a little bit so that there was room for Taylor to put his head on the pillow. When Taylor got closer, Nick smiled at him and said, "I like it when we're alone."

Taylor smiled and moved closer, so that he was lying on Nick's chest. Nick wrapped his arms around Taylor and gave him another hug, and then he smiled as he looked at the top of Taylor's head.

"How come you still have your school clothes on?" Taylor asked him. "Usually you change when you get home."

Nick realized that Taylor was right. He didn't change this time. He got so excited about seeing the new house that he completely forgot everything. Normally he would get home, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, then change into his play clothes. Today, he got as far as his snack, and that was it.

He knew that he would eventually have to get up to change, but he felt so good laying on his bed with Taylor that he didn't want to move. Finally, he got up and took off his shoes, shirt and pants, then he noticed that Jim hadn't put out anything for him to wear, so he went to the window and opened it.

"Daddy," he yelled to the backyard.

"Yes sweetheart," Jim hollered back.

"I need to put my play clothes on, but you didn't get any out for me," he said.

"Hold on a second, babe," Jim said. "I'll be up in a little bit."

Nick turned around and saw Taylor watching him with a grin on his face, and he blushed. He knew that Taylor was looking at his butt.

"I never went to the bathroom," Nick said as he walked out of the room. He stopped at the door and waited for Taylor, who he wanted to follow him. They went into the bathroom and Nick stopped to look at the toilet. He had a hard time using different bathrooms and he had to get used to this one, just like he had to do at his grandparents' house. "What's wrong?" Taylor asked.

"Nothing," Nick said. "I'm just looking at it."

Finally, Nick dropped his underwear and sat down. Taylor giggled as he watched Nick try to get comfortable, and Nick used his legs to try to kick him softly for teasing him. When Nick was done, he washed his hands and they went back to his room.

Jim still hadn't come up to get Nick his clothes, so he opened the window and looked back out and saw his dad still cooking over the grill, talking to Tom and Linda. He sat back down on the beanbag next to Taylor and watched TV. While they were sitting together, Nick was watching Taylor, who seemed to be quiet all of the sudden. Nick reached over and touched Taylor's hand, and Taylor smiled and rubbed Nicks back with his. Nick was enjoying the feeling of having Taylor rubbing his back. It made him feel safe, somehow, so he snuggled closer. Nick looked into Taylor's eyes, and even though they didn't say anything to each other, he could tell that Taylor was feeling sexy. That was making him feel sexy too, and he just wanted them to stay that way. He could still hear his dad's voice out on the patio, so he wrapped his arm around Taylor and rubbed his back too.

Nick opened his legs as wide as he could get them to let the air in his underwear. It was hitting his crotch and making him feel good. He was still looking into Taylor's eyes, and he smiled because he was feeling really good.

Just then, they heard Jim walking up the stairs, and they panicked. Taylor pulled his hand out of Nick's, and they both stood up as Jim opened the door. "Sorry buddy," Jim said as he walked to Nick's closet.

"It's ok dad," Nick said nervously. Taylor walked out of the room, went straight to the bathroom, and closed the door. Jim took out a pair of shorts and a shirt for Nick, and then he walked them over to the bed.

"Is everything alright, son," Jim asked.

"Yes sir," Nick said.

"Is something wrong," Jim asked suspiciously.

"No," Nick said guiltily, and he could tell that Jim knew he was lying.

Jim took him by the hand and led him to the master bedroom, where he closed the door.

"Nick, now's not the time to lie to me about anything," Jim said. "You have a guest, and grandma and grandpa are downstairs. Is there something you need to tell me before we eat?"

"No, sir," Nick said shaking his head. "I didn't do anything wrong."

Nick knew he was busted when that came out. He could tell by the look on Jim's face that he wasn't buying the story. Jim gave him a measured look that Nick knew well, then he sighed and shrugged.

"You need to take a shower, baby," he said. "I'll put your clothes on my bed."

Nick turned around and looked at his dad, who had a smile on his face. Jim wrapped his arms around Nick and hugged him, then he said, "Use my shower, son."

Jim took Nick into his bathroom and started the shower while Nick stripped, then got in.

"When you're done, bring the brush downstairs," Jim said before he left. "I'll tell Taylor to come downstairs and eat. Make sure you wash good."

After his shower, Nick got dressed and carried the brush with him to the backyard. He sat next to Taylor and let Jim brush his hair out, then he ate. After dinner, everyone sat in the backyard and enjoyed the weather. Eventually, Lori showed up, still dressed in her military uniform, and she sat down and visited with everyone.

"Let's go inside," Nick said to Taylor as it started getting later.

"Ok," Taylor said as he followed Nick in the house. Once they were inside and on the couch alone, Taylor smiled at Nick and batted his eyes.

That smile was almost too much for Nick to handle. He smiled back at Taylor, and then he crawled closer to him on the couch and gave him another hug. While they were hugging, Nick reached down and took Taylor's hands in his and they both sat up, smiling at each other. Nick could have sworn at that point that he felt electricity running from Taylor's hands into his, and it was almost impossible to let go. He wanted to say something, but he didn't know what to say, so he just sat there for a minute and enjoyed the feeling of holding Taylor's hands. After a while, Nick and Taylor sat back down in their spots, and while they watched TV, Nick grabbed Taylor's hand and held it. Taylor rested his head against the couch and turned to smile at Nick, who was feeling content to be able to hold Taylor's hand.

It was getting dark outside, and as comfortable as Nick and Taylor were on the couch, they eventually got up and walked back out to the backyard to visit some more with everyone.

"Well, he's just starting the school year," Jim said. "I think that if you want to do it, now would be the time. You can get him here and get him settled."

"I just don't know how he'll feel about moving," Linda said, looking upset. "It makes me sick to my stomach when I think about what he goes through."

Tom was rubbing Linda's back as she spoke, and Jim looked equally disgusted.

"I just don't understand how someone could just decide that they don't want their kid anymore," he said. "James is a good kid, too."

"It's going to be hard to do it with the baby coming," Tom said. "I just don't see where we have much of a choice."

"You know he can always live here," Jim offered. "You guys need to have your privacy with the baby, and I won't mind at all."

"Well, I'm not going to have him stay even one day in foster care," Tom said. "I'll have him here by Monday, and we'll decide what to do from there."

"Nick," Jim said, turning the attention back to his son.

"Yes sir," Nick answered.

"I want you and Taylor to please go inside, son," he said. "The adults are having a conversation."

Nick and Taylor got up and walked toward the back door, and Lori followed them in the house.

"Do you guys want some dessert," she asked as she made her way into the kitchen. Nick and Taylor followed her and Nick turned to Taylor and said, "She makes good dessert. I hope she made a pie."

Just as Nick was saying that, Lori uncovered a sweet potato pie, and Nick smiled at her. She also uncovered a plate of cookies that she made. She cut extra big slices of pie for Nick and Taylor, then she piled cookies on their plates, and they sat at the table together, ate, and chatted. Nick and Taylor barely got through half of the slice that Lori had cut for each of them, and Nick never touched his cookies. Finally, Jim came inside with Tom and Linda, who were leaving, and he stole some cookies off Nick's plate.

Nick got up, hugged, and kissed his grandparents, and then he went back to the table with his dad to sit with Lori and Taylor, who were talking about Taylor's step mom.

"I bet she loves you a lot," Lori said smiling. "You're so cute. How couldn't she?"

Taylor blushed and smiled, then he told them all how his dad and Miss Cindy got married when he was in first grade, and when Lori found out Taylor's last name, she was able to figure out who his dad was. They all sat together for about an hour talking and visiting, then Jim told the boys that it was time for bed.

"You can stay up in your room if you want to," he said. "But I want you to at least be ready for bed, ok?"

Nick and Taylor both gave Lori a hug before they went upstairs, and Jim followed them upstairs. While Taylor got ready, he got Nicks pajamas out of the drawer and told Nick, "Come with me."

They walked across the hall to Jim's room, where Jim closed the door and talked to Nick alone while he put his pajamas on for him.

"Son, your cousin James is going to be staying here with us for a while," Jim said as he dressed Nick. "I want you to be nice to him when he gets here, ok?"

"Yes sir," Nick said. "When's he coming?"

"Grandpa's leaving to go get him tomorrow," Jim answered. "So we're going to get your old bed from grandma and grandpas and set it up here for him so he can have his own room."

"Ok," Nick said as he smiled up to his dad, who was done dressing him. Jim reached down and tickled him, and then he asked, "Are you and Taylor having a good time?"

Nick smiled and nodded at his dad.

"How late are you going to stay up," Jim asked.

"Not late," Nick said. "I promise we'll go to sleep soon."

"Son, I want you to do me a favor tonight," Jim said. "If you think you can, you need to not come in daddy's room tonight, ok?"

Nick knew the reason why, and he giggled. "Ok, daddy," he said through his giggle.

"If you need something, you need to knock, ok?" Jim said.

"I will," Nick said.

Jim kissed Nick on the cheek and smiled at him.

"Do you need to go to the bathroom before you go to bed?" he asked.

Nick smiled and shook his head no, so Jim stood up and lifted Nick up off the bed, carrying him to the hallway and putting him down in front of his bedroom door. Nick went into his room and crawled into the bed next to Taylor. Jim followed him to tuck them in, then he went back downstairs.

While they were lying on the bed, Nick scooted in closer to Taylor, who was smiling at him again. Nick grabbed Taylor's hand and held it as they laid in bed and talked.

"My cousin's going to come live here," Nick said. "I feel sad for him."

"Why don't his parents want him anymore?" Taylor asked.

"I don't know," Nick answered. "But my dad says we all have to be nice to him when he comes."

"Is he going to have his own room," asked Taylor. Nick nodded and Taylor smiled at him.

"Lori's going to spend the night tonight," Nick said giggling. "My dad said I have to knock if I need him for anything.

"I wonder if they're going to hump," Taylor asked, making Nick laugh.

"I think they will," Nick said, and then he pumped his crotch in the air, imitating what he thought it would be like and laughing. Taylor was laughing along with him and he said, "I wonder if they'll make a baby."

Nick smiled and said, "Maybe I can have a little brother if they do."

"I wish I had a brother," Taylor said as he laid his head on Nick's chest.

"Me too," Nick said. "Maybe we can be brothers."

"Yeah," Taylor said smiling up at him.

"Are you tired yet," Nick asked as he ran his fingers through Taylor's hair. Taylor looked up at him and grinned.

"Do that again," he said, so Nick ran his fingers through Taylor's hair again.

"I'm not tired yet," Nick said.

"Me either," said Taylor as he hugged Nicks chest.

"I have to go to the bathroom," Nick said as he got up.

Taylor and Nick both got out of the bed and went into the bathroom, which was at the other end of the hall, and closed the door. Nick stood in front of the toilet and went, then he waited for Taylor to take his turn. When Taylor was done, he washed his hands and Nick reached down and playfully grabbed Taylor's butt, making him smile.

"No fair," Taylor said. "You're wearing jammies, I'm not."

"That's why I did it," Nick said teasingly. Finally, it was his turn to wash his hands, and while he did, Taylor grabbed his bottom, just like he was expecting him to. Nick turned around and flicked water in Taylor's face off of his hands, and Taylor got him back by filling his hands up with water and pouring it down Nick's shirt, then he ran back to Nick's room as fast as he could before Nick could get him back.

When they got back in the room, Nick closed the door and closed in on Taylor, who was curled up in a ball on the beanbag laughing, and waiting for Nick to get him back. Nick took his wet shirt off and walked over to Taylor, who was still laughing, and he bunched it up and shoved it down the back of Taylor's underwear. Taylor stood up and walked around the room, looking silly with Nick's shirt shoved inside of his pants, and he sat down on the chair at Nick's desk and said, "Ooh, it's soft and cushiony."

Nick walked over to the desk and held out his hand to Taylor, who grabbed it. Nick pulled him up, then reached into Taylor's underwear and pulled his shirt back out. He held it up to his nose and said, "You mean soft and stinky," which made them both laugh. Taylor sat back down on the chair and Nick threw his shirt in the laundry basket, then he turned on the TV again turned off the light switch. They both ended back up on his bed and Nick snuggled up to Taylor this time. Taylor gave Nick another smile, and Nicks head started to spin, so he decided to say something.

"You have a cute smile," Nick said.

"So do you, Nick," Taylor said grinning and turning on his side so that he was face to face with Nick. Their noses were almost touching and Nick took note of the fact that Taylor's lips were mere inches from his, and he almost dared himself to lean forward and steal a kiss from his friend. Out of nowhere, Taylor produced a short but loud burp that made them both sit up and giggle. Nick was the first to lay back down while Taylor leaned back against the palms of his hands and took a few breaths.

Finally, Taylor laid back down beside Nick and snuggled up to him. Nick wrapped his arms around him and they hugged.

"Nick," Taylor said. "That was nice."

"Even if my dad and Lori make a baby," Nick said. "I still want you to be my brother, ok?"

"Ok," Taylor said.

"Goodnight, I love you," Nick said as he handed Taylor his Scooby Doo doll.

"I love you too, Nick," Taylor said. Eventually, they both fell asleep.

***

Nick opened his eyes and looked around. The sun hadn't come out yet, but he could smell food. He looked at Taylor, who was sleeping next to him and he smiled. Even though it was still early, Nick felt like he had slept long enough, so he crawled out of bed. He went to the bathroom, then he came back in and shook Taylor, who opened his eyes for a second, then rolled over and went back to sleep. The air conditioner was making it cold in the house, so Nick pulled the covers over Taylor and put on his slippers, then he went downstairs to see his dad.

Nick walked into the kitchen expecting to see his dad cooking, but instead, Lori was standing over the stove. Nick walked past her and to the refrigerator, where he looked for juice.

"Good morning Nick," she said as he searched for his juice.

"Good morning Miss Lori," he said politely, smiling at her when he shut the refrigerator door.

"Are you hungry," she asked. "I'm making scattered potatoes and eggs."

"It smells good ma'am," Nick smiled. "It woke me up."

Lori smiled at him as he climbed up onto the counter, looking for the right cupboard to find a cup.

"Over here," she said as she reached up into a cupboard by the sink and grabbed a cup for him. "Is this one ok?"

"Yes ma'am," Nick said as he took the cup from Lori. "I washed my hands."

Nick wasn't sure why he said that, and he blushed and looked down right after he did. He wasn't sure what to say to her. Most of Jim's girlfriends didn't spend the night, and if they did, Nick didn't see them the next morning. Lori must have been special to his dad for her to be there that morning, Nick thought. Nick sat on a stool at the counter and watched Lori cook. Soon, she had a small plate of potatoes ready, and she put it in front of him.

"Would you mind being my taste tester," she asked.

Nick shrugged and picked the fork up off the plate and took a bite. The flavor exploded in his mouth, and he quickly took another bite. He couldn't remember a time when he had food this good.

"Miss Lori, this is good," he said happily, as he dug into his plate with his fork. He took one last bite then she took the plate from him and put it in the dishwasher.

"Let's go see if Taylor and daddy are ready to wake up yet," she said smiling. Nick hopped off the stool and they walked upstairs together. Nick opened the door to his room and saw Taylor sitting up in the bed, stretching his arms and yawning.

"Good morning," Nick said as he sat down on the bed with Taylor, who was still half-asleep.

Taylor rubbed his eyes and smiled back at Nick.

"Are you hungry," Nick asked.

Taylor smiled and nodded, then he picked up his Scooby Doo doll and hugged it.

"You can bring Scooby if you want," Nick said.

"He'll be ok up here," Taylor said as he put Scooby back down. Nick watched Taylor yawn again, then he got up and Taylor followed him out the door. Nick waited by the stairs while Taylor went to the bathroom. When Taylor came out, he walked up to Nick, gave him a hug, and said, "Good morning." Nick smiled while he hugged his friend, then he asked," Were you cold when you woke up?"

"Yes," Taylor said nodding his head. "It's cold in here."

"You can wear my slippers if you want," Nick said, kicking them off. "Your feet won't be cold anymore."

Taylor stepped into the slippers and smiled at Nick, who took his hand as they started to walk downstairs.

"Good morning Taylor," Lori said as they came into the kitchen holding hands. "Awwww. What's wrong, guys?"

"Taylor's cold, Miss Lori," Nick answered, "I gave him my slippers though."

"I know it's chilly in here," Lori said looking up at the air vent. "I think your daddy has the air conditioner set too low."

Nick knew that she was right about that. The heat and humidity was horrible for them when they got to Virginia. In California, there was almost no humidity at all, and the heat was dry. Jim couldn't get comfortable, no matter what he did.

"I think my dad needs to live in Alaska," Nick giggled. "He's always hot."

Nick and Taylor sat down at the table and waited to be served. Right after they sat down, Jim walked into the kitchen, gave Lori a kiss, then walked to the table and kissed Nick good morning.

"How was your first night here in the new house?" Jim asked as he took his seat.

"It was good," Nick said. "But we're all cold."

"Cold," Jim asked. "How can you be cold? It's a hundred degrees outside."

"Daddy, you're an Eskimo," Nick said teasingly at his dad, who smiled and shook his head.

Lori brought everyone their food and sat down, and soon, they were all quiet and concentrating on the super delicious scattered potatoes that Lori made for them. Nick was hoping for grits that morning, but he had almost completely forgotten about them as he stuffed his face with his breakfast.

"Guys," Jim said as breakfast was ending. "I want the two of you to be ready in about an hour. We're gonna go somewhere later."

"Yes sir," Nick answered for both of them.

"Thank you for making us breakfast Miss Lori," Taylor said as he got up from the table with his plate and took it to the sink. Nick watched with his dad as Taylor rinsed his plate off and put it in the dishwasher. Nick saw his dad give him a look that he couldn't explain, but he knew his dad was wondering if he was going to do the same. Nick shrugged his shoulders, got up, and walked out of the kitchen with Taylor, leaving his plate at the table.

When they got up to Nicks room, Taylor crawled back under the covers and shivered. Jim had turned off the air conditioner, but it was still chilly.

"Are you ok?" Nick asked as he got in the bed next to Taylor, who's teeth were chattering.

"I'm cold," Taylor said. "It's freezing."

Taylor snuggled up next to Nick, who wrapped his arms around him and rubbed his back. Nick looked back down at Taylor, who laid his head on Nick's chest and yawned.

"Are you still sleepy," Nick asked.

"A little bit," Taylor said. "Breakfast was good, but it made me tired again."

Nick giggled and rubbed Taylor is back harder.

"I'm kinda sleepy too," he said. He reached for his remote control and turned on his TV. While they were watching cartoons, Nick noticed that Taylor fell asleep. He smiled and enjoyed the feeling of Taylor's warm body up against him while he laid there.

"Nick, Taylor, get up," Jim said as he sat on the bed. Nick opened his eyes and saw his dad looking at them, and he realized that he must have fallen asleep.

"What time did you go to sleep last night," Jim asked.

"Not late," Nick said. "Breakfast made us sleepy again."

"Well, I know you're sleepy, but we have things to do," Jim said. "I'm going next door to get your old bed for James. I want you two up and in the bath or shower when I get back, ok?"

"Yes sir," Nick said.

Jim got up and walked out of the room, but Nick didn't feel like moving. He was so comfortable in the spot he was in, with Taylor snuggled up to him, but he knew they had to move.

"Taylor," he said as he shook his friend. "We have to take a bath."

Taylor opened his eyes and looked up at Nick, then he smiled and Nick had to catch his breath.

"Ok," Taylor said as he pushed back the covers.

"I have bubbles," Nick said as he got out of the bed. "We'll put them in if we want."

They walked to the bathroom as Jim was coming out of his bedroom, so Jim followed them and started the bath for them.

"Don't splash water on the floor," Jim said as he playfully put both of them in a headlock. "You guys are going to be ok in the tub while I'm next door, right?"

"Yes sir," Nick said.

"Ok," Jim said. "Lori's downstairs if you need anything."

Jim turned off the water and walked out of the bathroom. Nick waited until his dad was down the hall and moving down the stairs, then he closed the door. While Nick was sitting on the toilet, Taylor undressed. Nick pulled his shirt off and kicked his pajama bottoms and underwear off the rest of the way while Taylor grinned at him. Nick smiled back at him, and then he used his legs to tangle Taylor's legs and pull him closer.

"You're silly," Taylor said smiling. "Hurry up so we can get in."

"I'm hurrying," Nick said as Taylor stood next to him. "Quit rushing me or else."

"Or else what," Taylor asked in a teasing voice.

Nick didn't answer him. Instead, he reached around and pinched Taylor on the back of the leg.

"Hey!" Taylor said laughing. "No fair. You're sitting down. I can't pinch you back."

Nick finished and got up to get in the bathtub, and when he did, Taylor grabbed his bottom and giggled.

"Ha, ha, I got you back," Taylor said.

"No you didn't," Nick said grinning. "It didn't count."

Nick sat down in the tub and waited for Taylor to get in. When he finally did, they took turns lying down under the water. They ended up splashing each other and pouring water over each other's heads.

"The water feels nice," Taylor said. "It's nice and hot."

"We can make it warm again if it gets to cold in here," Nick said. "We'll just add more hot water."

Nick knew that he wasn't allowed to do that, but his dad was next door, so he would never find out if he turned on the hot water or not.

"Will your dad get mad if you do that," Taylor asked.

"No," Nick lied. "He lets me do it if I want too."

"Wash my hair," Taylor said as he handed Nick the shampoo and slid backwards so he was closer to him. Nick poured some shampoo in his hands and started scrubbing Taylor's hair, making sure he had a lot of suds in it, then he took the pail that he was using to pour water over Taylor's head earlier and rinsed the suds out. When Nick was done, he put his nose to Taylor's head and smelled it. Taylor leaned back up against Nick's chest, then he smiled up at him, making his heart race.

Nick handed Taylor the shampoo bottle, and they switched places. After Taylor washed his hair, Nick grabbed the bar of soap and stood up, washing as much of his body as he could reach. When he was done, he handed the bar to Taylor, who did the same thing.

When they finished, they went into Nick's room and found an outfit Jim laid out for Nick on the bed. Taylor got his clothes out of his bag and got dressed, and then they went downstairs, where Jim and Tom were carrying a mattress through the front door. They got it upstairs, then they set it up in the room that Nick was sure his dad would never use. Jim and Tom then moved the dresser and TV from the other spare room into the room for James, and they were done.

"Grandpa," Nick asked. "When are you going to be home?"

"I'll be home by tomorrow, kiddo," Tom said.

"I'll miss you," Nick said as he hugged his grandpa.

"I'll miss you too buddy," Tom said. "Are you going to take care of grandma while I'm gone?"

"I promise," Nick said.

Tom left and Nick and Taylor put their shoes on and waited for Jim to come downstairs. Finally, Jim came downstairs with Lori, and they left.

"Where are we going daddy," Nick asked from the backseat as they backed out of the garage.

"We need to get your cousin a few things for when he gets here," Jim said. While they drove, Taylor took out his Pokemon cards and tried to show Nick how to play, but Nick shook his head.

"That game's gay," Nick laughed as he handed Taylor his cards back.

"Be nice, Nick," Jim said from the front seat.

"Well, it is," Nick said as Taylor giggled.

They pulled up to a furniture store and went inside. Nick and Taylor walked around and tried to sit on every recliner and couch they could find. They were in the back of the store when Jim tracked them down.

"Are you done yet," Jim asked with a sarcastic look on his face. "Come on, weirdo's."

Nick and Taylor ran to the front of the store, way ahead of Jim who was walking with a look on his face that said, "I'm not with them."

Jim pulled the car around to the back of the store, and some men tied a desk to the roof, then they put two nightstands in the trunk, which wouldn't close all the way, so they had to tie it shut. Jim drove back to the house, and he carried everything in by himself. When he was done, they all got back in the car and went to Super Wal-mart for groceries. When they were done, Jim stopped across the street from the Wal-mart at a gas station, and Nick saw a pet store. He begged his dad take them there, and Jim gave in.

"Awww, I want a puppy," Nick said as he looked at all of the cute puppy's that were sitting in cages.

"Look at this one daddy," he said when he spotted a cute beagle. "He's so cute and little."

Nick looked up at his dad and he could tell that he was thinking about it, so he knew it was ok to push.

"Please?" he said hopefully.

"We'll think about it, ok?" Jim said. "It's a big responsibility, son."

"I can do it," Nick said.

"We'll talk about it together later, ok?" Jim said. "I promise son."

"Ok," Nick said, feeling disappointed.

They drove home and took all of the groceries out of the car. Jim put them away and made lunch. Nick and Taylor ate, then they hopped on their bikes and rode to Taylor's house. They ran inside and Taylor ran up to his dad, who looked happy to see him.

"Did you have a good time, sport?" Charles asked as he gave Taylor a bear hug and put him back down.

Taylor smiled and nodded, then he told Charles all about Nick's house. Taylor gave Cindy his backpack with all the dirty clothes, and then they ran upstairs to his room.

"Do you want to spend the night again?" Nick asked as he lay on Taylor's bed. "We can get my dad to rent us some DVD's and stay up all night."

"Is it ok," Taylor asked.

"Of course it is," Nick said. "My dad likes you."

"Ok," Taylor said smiling.

Taylor went downstairs and asked his dad if he could stay at Nicks again.

"As long as it's ok with Mr. James, it's ok with me," Charles said.

"Thank you daddy," Taylor said as he smiled and gave his dad a hug and kiss.

Taylor moved from his dad to Cindy, who was smiling at him.

"I missed you," she said as he hugged her.

"I missed you too mommy," he said. Nick watched from the stairs and blushed as the three of them sat together. Even though he knew that Taylor's parents were nice, he never stopped to look at them as a family before, and it made him think of what he didn't have at home. Even though Cindy wasn't Taylor's real mom, she was part of his family. It made him feel a little guilty, but Nick was starting to get jealous, so he walked back up the stairs to Taylor's room and sat on the bed to think.

Taylor eventually made it back upstairs and he packed his bag. Nick called his dad first, just to be sure that it would be ok, and then they were out the door. They took Taylor's things back to Nick's house, then they rode their bikes for the rest of the day.

When it was time for them to check in, they put their bikes in the garage and asked Jim to take them to Video Update and rent them some movies. While they were in the store, Nick noticed a group of boys who looked older. They weren't with any adults, and Nick wondered how old they were. They were definitely cute as far as Nick was concerned. Jim paid for the movies that Nick and Taylor picked out, and they left.

When they got home, Jim ordered a pizza. Nick and Taylor put in the first movie, sat on the couch, and watched it. While they were watching, Nick put his arm on Taylor's shoulder and squeezed it. Taylor turned and grinned at him, then he snuggled up to Nick and they both relaxed. After a while, the doorbell rang. Nick and Taylor jumped up off the couch and ran to the kitchen to get a piece of pizza. Jim ordered two pizzas. One pepperoni for Taylor and a Hawaiian veggie for Nick. Taylor made funny faces while Nick ate his pizza, so Nick chewed up his pizza, then stuck his tongue out at Taylor with the chewed up pizza sitting on top of it.

When they were done, they went back into the family room to watch their movies. Lori came over later and the four of them watched the movies together.

"Awwww, that's so cute," Lori said when she saw Nick and Taylor snuggled up together on the couch.

"We're brothers," Nick said smiling.

"How nice, buddy," Jim said.

Finally, as the second movie was ending, Nick couldn't keep his eyes opened anymore. He felt his dad lay him down in his bed and kiss him goodnight, and when he opened his eyes, he saw Taylor lying next to him, sleeping.

"Goodnight, son," Jim said smiling down at him.

"Goodnight, daddy," Nick said. "I love you."

"I love you too baby," Jim said. "I'll see you in the morning, ok?"

"Ok, daddy," Nick said yawning. He rolled over and curled up to Taylor as his dad turned off the light and shut the door.

"Nick?" Taylor said when the door closed.

"Yeah," Nick answered.

"Goodnight," Taylor said.

"Goodnight," Nick said.

Nick started to close his eyes when he felt Taylor kiss him on the cheek.

"I love you," Nick said.

"Love you too," Taylor said. "See you in the morning."

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