Eric 382

Book 1

Chapter Three

8:00AM – Sunday, September 18th, 2004

By the time morning arrived, both boys had embraced each other in their sleep, and were fairly well tangled together.  Brent woke up as he felt something poking against his belly.  Before he had a chance to remember where he was, he felt Lance starting to wake up as well.

"Brent?" Lance sleepily asked with confusion.

Brent was so shocked to realize where he had slept for the night, that he fell onto the floor while trying to get himself out of bed. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry", he tried to nervously get out.

"That's okay, I kind of liked waking up with you next to me, it made me feel safe", Lance blushed brightly as he realized what he admitted.

Brent didn't answer, but instead only looked up into the sleepy eyes of Lance as if to try to decide if Lance was telling the truth or not.

"So" Lance continued after giving Brent a few seconds to think, "Last night… Did I…?"

Lance didn't have to finish his question as his pleading eyes gave away what he wanted to know.  "Yeah" Brent answered not wanting to lie to his friend. 

Lance hugged his knees to his chest, and started to silently cry.

"But it's okay. I think it was kind of cool." Brent got up from the floor and cautiously sat next to Lance.

"Yea right" Lance continued to sob; "Now I freaked you out like everyone else."

"Actually" Brent answered a bit more hesitantly, "I think you look really cute when you're sleepwalking."

Lance stopped crying long enough to notice that Brent was starting to blush.

"When I found you last night, you were up and moving around, but it was like you were totally relaxed.  Your face was so calm and peaceful almost like it belonged to an angel.  When I touched you to see if you were awake or not, it was like you totally melted into my arms, and you let me guide you back to bed just like that. It was one of the most special moments I've ever shared with someone, and if that's what it means to sleepwalk, I wish I could sleep with you every night."

Now both boys were blushing with embarrassment. A few moments later, Lance reached over and hugged Brent tightly, whispering 'thank you' into his ear.

"That was the nicest thing I've ever heard you say!" Brent heard the familiar voice of Randy as he looked to see the translucent form of his friend standing next to the bed.

"Randy!" Brent shouted as he pounced off the bed and into Randy's arms.  A moment later, there was a loud thud as Brent went flying right through Randy and hit the floor.

"Yea," Randy replied slowly, "I guess I should have warned you about that."

"Gee, Thanks" Brent turned himself around and rubbed the spot on his head that hit the wall.

"Um, are you okay?" Lance looked down toward Brent with a shocked and worried expression.

"Oh yea" Randy grinned as he glanced quickly at Lance and then back down toward Brent, "He can't see or hear me, but he can hear you talking to me."

"Sorry", Brent slowly stood back up and walked toward the bed, "I um... well..."  Brent sat back down on the bed next to Lance, who was watching very intently. "This is going to sound really weird, but I can kind of see Randy, and he can talk to me."

Lance continued to stare intensely at Brent, but said nothing.

"Friday night this angel came. I think he said his name was Saint Mikey or something... and Randy was there too... and he made it so that I could see and hear him... and Randy told me that it was okay if I shared my heart with someone else... and that's why I don't feel so bad being around you... and...  and...”  Brent was running out of things to say.  The entire time he was talking he continued to watch Lance for any sign of acknowledgment, but Lance continued to stare at him.

Randy faded away as he started to walk toward Lance.

[Let's do this; tell him to hold up some fingers behind his back and under the pillow, and I'll tell you how many he is holding up.]

Brent looked around franticly, "Where did you go? I can still hear you but you disappeared."

[I'm still here, I'm just not visible right now because it's hard for me to do what I need to do and be visible.  Now hurry up and tell him before he starts freaking out again.]

"Oh,” Brent quickly looked back toward Lance, "Randy says to put your hands behind your back and under the pillow or sheets or something and then pick a random number of fingers to hold out, and he'll tell me how many you have."

Lance's expression did not change as he continued to look toward Brent in disbelief, but he very carefully put his hands behind his back.

[Three fingers... no, he changed it to five... no, he switched to four.]

"You started out with three fingers, then went to five and then to four." Brent watched as the confused look on Lance's face changed to a look of shock and surprise. "Now you believe me?"

Lance nodded slightly and then spoke in a very quiet voice, "Ask him to tell me what's in my box under the bed."

[Oh man, Brent, it's a picture of his mom and dad.  They are both dead.  Hold on, I'll be right back.]

Brent reached over and hugged Lance and whispered softly into his ear, "Your parents."

Lance returned Brent's embrace and nodded as he buried his head in Brent's shoulder.

[Brent, Saint Mikey says that both his parents are here and happy and that his mom says that she is really proud of her buttercup.]

"Your parents are both watching over you and your mom says she is really proud of her buttercup", Brent whispered.

"That's what she used to always call me", Brent started to cry more as Brent softly rocked him back and forth on the bed.

After a few more moments, there was a knock at the door, and Mr. Chuck's voice could be heard, "Come on boys, breakfast is nearly ready."

Doug woke up quickly as he heard something hit the wall with a thud from the room next door.  Wiping the sleep out of his eyes, he slowly crawled out of bed, and started to walk toward the door to investigate what had caused the noise.

"Doug?" Greg called out from his bed.

Doug looked over and saw Greg was awake and sitting up in his bad, moving his hands around as if trying to find something.

Immediately, Doug walked over and sat next to Greg as he picked up one of his hands and held it between his own for a few moments.  As he did this, Greg seemed to relax.

"Could you not look at me first, that's just weird." Greg asked in a small voice.

"Sorry." Doug started to slowly move his head so that he was looked all over the room.  As he did this, Greg seemed to smile.

"With Creg, we didn't have to touch."  Greg's voice became a little shaky.

Doug tousled the six-year-old's light red hair, "I know.  Try not to think of it much.  I still think it's amazing how you can even do that at all."

"I miss him."  Tears started to form in Greg's eyes.

"I know" Doug released Greg's hand and the two embraced each other in a comforting hug.

Greg pulled himself out of the hug after a few minutes, "Did Brent sleep in here last night?"

"No, I think he slept in Lance's room", Doug answered distantly as he got up and started to pull his bed sheets up so that they looked somewhat presentable.

"Lance let him sleep in his room?" Greg started to get out of his own bed.

"I guess." Doug pulled up Greg's bed sheets as well.

A few minutes later, a knock was heard on the door, "Boys, come down for breakfast now."

Brent was surprised at the smell of bacon as he walked downstairs with the rest of the boys for breakfast.  At the home he had been staying at since his dad died, breakfast was usually cereal and juice, but here they were having eggs, beacon and toast. 

For the most part, conversation during breakfast was rather light.  At one point Mr. Martin, who was the main care giver for that day, asked how Brent slept last night.  Doug stated that Lance let Brent sleep in his room which seemed to make everyone else stop and look at Brent.

"It's just that Lance normally does not let anyone else sleep in his room", one of the other boys mentioned after seeing Brent's confused look.

"So does that mean Brent would be interested in spending the night again tonight?" Mr. Martin smiled as he grabbed another piece of toast.

"REALLY?" Both Brent and Lance shouted at the same time.

Mr. Martin smiled, "Tomorrow I'll check about letting you transfer over here, but for now you have permission to spend the night again.  You just need to run over and pick up some extra clothes after breakfast."

"That would be really cool", Brent tried to say over the cheers of the other boys.

It was nearly 10am by the time that breakfast was finished, and the boys were able take their showers and get dressed to leave.  Greg tried to talk Doug into going along with Lance to Brent's home until Brent had promised him that he would spend some time outside with him as soon as he got back.  After letting Mr. Martin know that they were leaving, Brent and Lance were on their way.

"Isn't that cool?  You might be transferring over to my place!"  Lance smiled happily as he walked next to Brent down the sidewalk.

"Yea, that would be really awesome", Brent replied in a somewhat dreamy voice as he sniffed in the fresh air.  For some reason, today seemed to be a bit brighter to him than other days.  Perhaps it was the fact that he was with someone he felt to be really special.

"What's wrong?" Lance looked curiously toward Brent, misinterpreting his tone.

"Huh? Oh, nothing", Brent snapped out of his daydream, "I was just thinking that for the first time since Randy was killed, things seem to be looking up."

"Cool!" Lance reached over and gave Brent a quick hug as they approached the second street that they would need to cross.

[Brent, hold up a minute.]

Brent stopped suddenly which caused Lance to once again give him a curious look.

"Randy just told me to stop."  Brent tried to answer Lance's question before he asked it as he looked around to try to figure out why Randy had asked him to stop.

[Turn left here, and then go into the alley that's about a half block down. I think there is a kid there who might need some help.]

"Come on! I think there is someone Randy needs us to help", Brent half-shouted as he started running down the street with Lance close behind.

As soon as they turned the corner into the alley they found a small boy who couldn't have been more than eight or nine years old huddled up on the ground sitting next to a large wooden crate.  The only part of the young boy's face that was visible was his thin platinum blond hair.  As they got closer, they could here soft sobs coming from him.

Brent knelt down next to the boy while motioning for Lance to stay back a little. "Are you alright?"

The boy looked up suddenly with a panicked expression on his face.  His tear-filled bluish-green eyes darted around as if looking for a means of quick escape.  He started to relax slightly when his gaze fell onto the concern-filled eyes of Brent, and when he saw the same concerned expression on Lance.

"Why do you care?"  The boy sobbed as he tried to wipe some of the tears from his eyes.

"Well..." Brent started to reply as he struggled to think of a good answer.  Obviously, he couldn't tell him that Randy sent them, which would be way too hard to try to explain.  "I guess I know how it feels to feel really sad about something, and I hate seeing others feel the same way."

"I don't need your pity, just leave me alone." The boy buried his face in his arms again as if to signal he was done talking.

Brent turned himself around so that he could sit next to the boy, and lean up against the crate as well.  "Sometimes it makes you feel better when you talk about it, and maybe there is something I can do to help."

The boy looked back up at Brent, surprised to see that he was still there.  "What?  I don't even know who you are."

"Oh, sorry.  I'm Brent, and that's my friend Lance."  Lance nodded slightly as Brent introduced him, and then he sat down on the other side of Brent.

"Jude", the boy said slowly as he still tried to decide if he could trust the other boys or not, "It doesn't really matter anyway, if I told you, you will just laugh and make fun of me like the other guys did."

"I promise, what ever the problem is, we won't laugh at you, or make fun of you."  Brent's voice was full of assurance.

"Yeah", Lance added his agreement.

"Whatever! You can say that but I still know you will."  Jude sniffed as he wiped more tears from his eyes.

Brent was about to reply, but Lance jumped in before him. "Jude, I have a problem where sometimes I'll walk in my sleep, or have an accident in bed, and I'm twelve years old.  So trust me, I know how it feels to be laughed at, and I can promise you we won't laugh at you."

"But that's something you can't do anything about", Jude challenged, "My thing is... well... it's just silly."

"It must be important enough for you to cry over, so please tell us?"  Brent pleaded.

"Okay", Jude took a deep breath, "I was hanging with some of my friends, and we were talking about stuff, and some of them were talking about girls that they thought were hot and all, and I mentioned... well... I mentioned a boy's name that I though was cute, and well..."  Jude's voice trailed off as he braced himself for the laughing and teasing that he knew was sure to come.

Brent nodded and smiled, "There is nothing wrong with that.  Some guys like girls, and some guys like other guys.  There is no difference."

"Yes there is.  They started calling me names like faggot and queer and kept making fun of me." Jude sobbed.

Brent lifted Jude's chin up so that he was looking directly in his eyes. "Jude, Lance and I are boyfriends.  We both care a lot for each other, and we are both boys.  Just like Lance can't control his problems, you can't control who you love.  The kids you were hanging around were not really friends.  Real friends would accept you for who you are, and wouldn't make fun of you just because you're different."

"He's right", Lance added, "Some kids don't understand, and other kids will come up with any excuse to make fun of others, maybe because they are a little fatter or thinner than normal, they have different color skin, they talk a little differently, or they are attracted to different types of people.  And the right word to call a boy who likes another boy is gay."

Jude looked at both Brent and Lance in shock, not quiet sure what to say.

Brent lightly placed his hand on Jude's shoulder.  "Your still kind of young, so it might be a little too early to say for sure if your gay or not.  If you think boys are cute instead of girls, that's a good indication that you might be.  But you still need to wait a few more years to see if you really are.  And if you are, there is nothing wrong with that.  There are a lot of people that are gay.  Some very important people are gay, and they have very happy lives."

"Wow!"  Jude seemed to be lost in thought trying to process everything that his new friends had just told him.

"Hey, Brent and I are going to the children's home he lives in so that he can pick up some clothes.  If you come with us, we could get you cleaned up a little, and maybe you can make some other friends that will accept you for being you."  Lance started to stand up and offered his hand to Jude.

"Really?"  Jude was surprised as he accepted Lance's hand and stood up as well.

"Yea", Brent added, "It's not far away, and it would be cool if you wanted to join us."

"Okay, sure!"  Jude had a very small smile as the three boys headed back out of the alley.

The boys arrived at the children's home that Brent was staying at to find the twins, Arvid and Dynal, outside shooting hoops on the basketball court.

"Wow, how did you manage to drag Arvid out into the sunlight?"  Brent giggled as he walked up to the edge of the court.

"Hey! I play outside sometimes." Arvid shot the ball toward the basket, but the ball hit the rim and bounced back off.

"Yea, only when I drag you out by your ears."  Dynal caught the ball and threw the ball from behind his back and easily landed a basket.

"Showoff!" Arvid left the court and walked over to where Brent, Lance, and Jude were standing, "Actually we were waiting for you to get here.  Oh, and who's your friend?"

"Sorry" Brent replied, "Arvid and Dynal, this is our new friend Jude.  Jude, these are our twin terrors."

"Wow, it must be nice to only be twins."  Jude smiled as he watched the confused faces that resulted from his comment, "I'm actually a triplet. But trust me; it's not always what it's cracked up to be."

"So why were you two waiting for us to get back?" Brent decided that it would probably be a good idea to try to change the subject.

"Oh yea!"  Arvid started.

"Mr. Curtis was shouting in the office this morning." Dynal continued.

"Someone called here on the phone, and your name was mentioned a few times." Arvid added while looking toward Brent.

"Along with something about being transferred to another city." Dynal finished.

"That's weird", Brent replied in a distant voice, "I know Lance's home was going to try to look into getting me transferred there, but that's only a few blocks away."

"We are going to have to be back soon." Lance noticeably glanced at his watch a few times.

"Oh yea, I brought Jude over so he could get cleaned up a bit, and I need to grab some clean clothes for tonight."  Brent decided not to worry about the twin's information for now.

Since it was getting close to lunchtime anyway, everyone decided to head inside.  Jude headed to the bathroom while Lance followed Brent and the twins to their room.  While Brent started looking in one of the dresser drawers for some clothes, the twins jumped on their beds, and Lance started looking at the various pictures and other trinkets that were lying around on the dresser and shelves.

"All of these pictures look like they are pictures of the twins.  Do you have any of yours here?"  Lance asked as he looked toward Brent.

"No.  Most of my stuff is still back at my old house."  Brent grabbed a pair of cut-off jean shorts and a gray and black Nike t-shirt.

Just as Brent finished getting his clothes together, Jude walked into the room.  With his collar length platinum blond hair nicely combed, and all evidence of any tears washed from his face, he could pass as a fairly presentable eight years old.

"Okay guys, we're out of here." Brent stated to the twins once he saw that Jude was finished.

"C-ya Brent!" Both twins answered at the same time.

With a final chuckle, Brent, Lance, and Jude headed back to Lance's home.

"So why did the twins have a bunch of pictures of themselves in their room?"  Lance asked as the three boys walked side-by-side on the sidewalk.

"Don't know", Brent shrugged his shoulders, "I never really asked them."

"Oh", Lance looked up toward the sky to see a flock of birds flying by, "Hey Jude, you going to eat lunch with us today? I'm sure there'll be enough for you."

"Really? That would be cool."  Jude answered as the boys crossed the final street that led to Lance's home.

Just as the boys were about to walk up the stairs that would lead into the house, Jude stopped and had a distant look on his face. After a few seconds he then looked toward Brent and Lance, "Actually, I'm going to have to get home pretty quick.  I just forgot about something important I have to do."

"Oh, okay.  Well it was cool meeting you."  Lance started to say as Jude started jogging down the street.

Brent and Lance looked at each other with confused expressions as they walked up to the door.  Before either boy had a chance to reach for the handle, the door flew open to reveal Doug standing behind the screen.

"Took you guys long enough", Doug smiled as he opened the door to allow Brent and Lance to enter, "Come on, lunch is almost ready!"

After lunch was over and cleaned up, Lance and Brent decided to spend some time outside with Greg and Doug.  One of Greg's favorite things to do outside was to swing, since he could do that on his own fairly easily. Since there were three swings, Doug and Brent decided to swing along with Greg while Lance played on the monkey bars which were close enough that he could still hear what the other boys were talking about.

"Do you think you will like staying here instead of at your other place?" Doug asked after the boys had been swinging for a few minutes.

Brent had been thinking of that same question right before Doug asked it.  He was thinking about how the last three weeks had been at the home he was staying at, and how almost none of the other kids ever talked much to him, except for his roommates.  Then he started thinking about how just in the last two days, almost all of the kids here had gone out of their way to include him in the group.

"I think so" Brent answered after snapping out of his daydream and realizing that Doug had asked a question, "You guys seem to be a lot nicer here."

"Cool!"  Greg shouted as he did a flying jump out of his swing and onto the ground with a thud.

Brent was just about to jump out of his own swing and try to help him when he noticed the happy smile on Greg's face in regards to his accomplishment.  Doug started to slow down his swinging as well, but instead of going to help Greg back to his swing, he just glanced between him and the empty swing.  A few seconds later, Greg got to his feet and walked over and grabbed hold of his swing almost as if he could see.

"Nice job Greg!"  Lance praised as he swung himself around on the monkey bars and landed on the ground.

Brent looked at Greg and Doug for a few moments as he tried to figure out what he just saw. "Doug, he can see through your eyes, can't he?"

Doug tried his best to giggle, "What makes you think that?"

"I don't know.  Just the way that Greg was starring down at the ground, and how you seemed to be looking at both the swing and him instead of going to help him.  It was almost as if he oriented himself to get back to his swing by using your point of view as a reference."

The other three boys sat silently with stunned expressions on their faces until finally Greg's eyes started to tear up.

"What's wrong?" Brent asked fearing that he had said something bad.

"Now you're going to hate me, and think I'm some kind of freak."  Greg answered softly as tears started to trickle down his face.

Doug got out of his swing and walked over and gently pulled Greg out of his swing and sat him down on the ground so that he was sitting in Doug's lap.  Immediately Greg put his head on Doug's shoulder. Both Doug and Lance glanced over at Brent waiting to see what he would say next.

Knowing that his next statement would not only make or break his friendship with Greg, but also have a big impact on how Lance and Doug looked at him, Brent thought carefully about what he was going to say.

"Greg", Brent got out of his own swing and knelt down next to Doug and Greg, "I'm not going to hate you or think anything bad about you. Actually, I think what you did was really awesome."

Greg continued to bury his head in Doug's shoulder showing no reaction to Brent's comment.

"You have a very special gift.  One that seems to help you live a little bit more of a normal life than if you didn't have it.  That can only be a good thing."  Brent's sincerity caught Greg's attention, as he lifted his head off of Doug's shoulder a little.

"So you don't think I'm weird?" Greg asked softly.

"No way!" Brent ruffled Greg's hair a bit, "I think that was way cool!  I wish I could do something like that."

Greg sat up and smiled a little as he wiped the tears out of his eyes.

"See, Doug and I aren't the only people that think that's cool", Lance added as he too moved down to sit closer to where the other boys were sitting.

"It's not all that good; I can only see little flashes every now and then.  I use to be able to do it really good with Creg." Greg seemed to be cheering up a little.

"Who's Creg?" Brent asked before realizing that it might not have been such a wise thing to ask.

"Creg was Greg's twin brother.  He died along with their mom in a car accident about a year ago." Lance answered in a quiet voice.

"I'm sorry."  Brent's voice was filled with regret as he feared how Greg might take this.

"That's okay." Greg's voice still remained somewhat cheerful, "he and mom are in a better place now."

"That's good that you can look at things that way.  I know a lot of adults who can't understand things like that." Brent nodded.

"Hey Lance" Doug asked obviously trying to change the subject, "Did you really let Brent sleep in your room last night?"

"Yea." Lance was a bit surprised by the quick change of topics.

"How come you never let anyone else sleep in your room?" Greg asked bluntly.

"It's probably best that we not talk about that." Brent quickly added as he could see the hurt in Lance's eyes.

"That's okay", Lance spoke softly, "It's only fair to Greg since he shared something with us."

Brent nodded as he moved himself closer to Lance so he could put his arm around his shoulder, and give him whatever support he could.  Lance immediately responded to this by leaning onto Brent's side and resting his head on his shoulder.

Lance looked down at his feet as he started to talk.  "Sometimes at night I'll sleepwalk and it usually freaks out anyone that is sleeping near me."

"It doesn't freak me out; I think you are kinda cute when you do it."  Brent quickly added.

"What does sleepwalk mean?"  Greg asked as he crawled off of Doug's lap to pay more attention to what Lance was saying.

"I guess it means that sometimes part of my body wakes up but my brain stays asleep, so I'll get out of bed and walk around and stuff without knowing it."

"That sounds scary", Doug stated.

"It's not really scary for me, because I'm still asleep and don't realize what's going on.  I usually don't even know that I did it, unless someone wakes me up or tells me the next morning." Lance hugged Brent tighter for support.

"It's not something he does on purpose", Brent added, "In fact he has no control over it, so there is no reason he should feel bad about it.  Is there, Lance?"

"I guess not." Lance looked up into Brent's eyes.

"So does that mean you're sick, or that you will always do it forever?"  Greg asked.

"No, it's just something that kids, mostly boys seem to do a lot.  I saw a doctor about it one time when I was younger and he said that most kids will stop sleepwalking on their own when they are about 12 or 13 and are starting to go through puberty."

"That would be cool if you stopped soon." Doug nodded reassuringly toward Lance.

"Yea, but until I do, I'll probably keep freaking people out.  That's why I keep getting moved to so many different homes.  No one wants to deal with a kid that sleepwalks and freaks out all the other kids."  The sadness in Lance's voice started to become more apparent.

"That's just like me", Greg's voice turned sad as well, "I always get moved around to different homes a lot as well, because no one wants to have to deal with a blind kid."

Lance let go of Brent and crawled over to Greg to give him a hug.  "I guess that means the two of us have a lot in common."

Greg nodded.

"Well, you are all together now, and hopefully all of you will be able to stay here together." Brent tried to cheer up the mood a bit.

"What do you mean us?  Hopefully you will be transferred over here as well, and then we will all be together."  Lance looked questioningly toward Brent.

"Yea, that would be really cool as well." Brent agreed.

The boys spent the next hour rotating through the various parts of the play area.  In addition to the swings, Greg also enjoyed the see-saw.  Brent and Lance had to take turns helping him with the monkey bars, and spotting him on the rope ladder.  The slides were fun sliding down, but were a bit harder getting up to the top of them.

Finally, Greg and Doug decided that they were going inside to play a board game, which left Lance and Brent alone outside.  Brent went back to the swings, and sat down on one only to be surprised by Lance running over and sitting on his lap.

Lance let out a giggle at the small grunting sound that Brent made when he sat down.

"You sure this thing will hold both of us?" Brent Joked.

"Hey!" Lance pretended to slap Brent on the neck before he pushed off the ground with his legs which caused both boys to start to swing slowly.

"So why do you think Jude took off like that earlier?" Brent asked after they had been swinging for a few minutes.

Lance shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe he really had something to do?  Or he didn't like that I am living in a group home?"

"Maybe", Brent pondered, "But he didn't seem to have a problem with where I was staying."

"I hope we see him again sometime.  He was kind of cute."  Lance smiled as he leaned his head back to look at Brent to see what his reaction would be.

"I'll give you cute!"  Brent poked Lance in the ribs causing him to burst into a fit of giggles.

"Well, he was", Lance tried to say through the giggles as he reached up and pulled Brent's head down a little so that he could give him a kiss on the cheek, "But you're cuter."

Brent stopped poking Lance, and looked at him with a somewhat confused expression.

"Was that okay?"  Lance's eyes looked deep into Brent's to see if he had somehow done something wrong.

Brent thought to himself for a few moments as he tried to figure out exactly what he was feeling.  He then returned Lance's gaze and nodded his head slowly, "Yea it was.  Could you do it again?"

Lance got off of Brent's lap, turned around, and sat back on his lap so that they were facing each other. Ignoring the questioning look on Brent's face, Lance wrapped his arms around his neck and gave him a long passionate kiss on the lips.

"Wow!" Brent whispered into Lance's ear as the two boys held each other while swinging gently, "I love you Lance."

"I love you too."  Lance whispered back.

The two boys spent another hour of quiet time together outside before they decided to head back in and see what everyone else was up to.

Brent and Lance entered the common room to find all the other boys in a heated game of Monopoly.  The game had already been going on for a while, and it had come down to Doug and TJ being the two main players that were left.

Within thirty minutes, TJ had won the game and everyone, including Doug, congratulated him on a job well done.

By the time the game was picked up and put away, it was time for everyone to get ready for dinner.  Dinner consisted of spaghetti and meat balls with garlic bread, and garden salad.

Brent noticed that the lady that brought out Greg's food still called out the food placement for him, but he had to smile as he noticed Doug looking over several times at Greg's plate as well.  Since he wasn't sure how many other people knew about Greg's ability, he decided that it would probably be best not to say anything about it.

After dinner TJ and Martin stayed to help out with the dishes while the rest of the boys went back to the common room to pick out a movie to watch. Tonight's movie was 'The Wizard of Oz'.

Everything was rather uneventful through the movie except for when Martin returned from helping in the kitchen, and somehow managed to trip over the table that was holding a bowl of pop-corn that some of the boys were sharing.

After the movie was over, all the boys said goodnight to each other, and headed upstairs to their rooms.

After both boys were in the bedroom, and the door was closed and lights turned out, Lance climbed into his bed, and Brent crawled into his sleeping bag.  Both boys stripped off their t-shirts at the same time and giggled at what was quickly becoming a shared nightly ritual.

"I'm glad you're here", Lance said in a sleepy voice.

"Me too", Brent answered as he yawned

"Good night Brent", Lance turned himself on his side.

"Good night Lance", Brent closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

A short while later, Brent opened his eyes to find light coming through the bedroom door which was now open.  Within seconds he was on his feet and heading toward the door as he had a fairly good idea what was going on.

Sure enough, Brent found Lance slowly making his way down the stairs.  "Lance!" He called out, trying not to be too loud and risk waking anyone else.

When it was clear that Lance was not answering him, Brent decided to follow him downstairs.

"What are you doing?"  Brent asked trying to get Lance's attention.  Just then Brent smelt some type of smoke.  While he was quickly trying to figure out what kind of smoke he smelled, the glint of flames coming from the kitchen caught his eye.

[Brent, you need to wake him up, and then wake up the other boys.]

"How do you wake up a sleepwalker so they don't flip out?" Brent asked quickly glancing around to try to find where Randy's voice was coming from.

[It doesn't matter, just wake him up and get him outside, and hurry!]

Brent nodded as he grabbed Lance's shoulders and turned him around.  "Lance! Come on buddy, I need you to wake up for me!"

Lance seemed to try to hug Brent as he casually looked around the room, still showing no signs of waking up.

Brent started to shake Lance as he heard the crackling of the fire getting louder behind him, "Come on Lance! Wake up! Please!"

Lance put his head down and started shaking it slowly as he tried to pull himself away from Brent.  After a few more tries, and Brent nearly having to shout, Lance finally woke up startled and confused.

"What's going on?" Lance asked in a panicked voice as he instinctively pushed Brent's hands away from him.

"Lance! Lance! Are you awake now?" Brent asked quickly as he grabbed hold of Lance again.

"I think so", Lance answered still very much confused.

"Okay, there is a fire in the kitchen, and now the dinning room. You need to get out of the house and get help. I'm going to wake everyone else up."

Lance ran toward the door as Brent ran back upstairs and started banging on the bedroom doors for everyone to wake up.  He then noticed the flight of stairs going to the third floor and ran up those quickly and banged on the two doors he found upstairs.

Within moments, the sound of screaming and panicked kids filled the halls as everyone ran around in chaos and trying to get out of the house. 

By the time Brent ran back down to the second floor, the flames had already started burning in the hallway and were making their way to the third floor.  Noticing that all the doors seemed to be open, he quickly followed the last set of kids back down to the first floor and out of the house.

"Randy, is everyone out?" Brent shouted as he ran across the street to meet with the rest of the kids and adults that were gathering and watching the house.  Already the sound of sirens could be heard approaching in the distance.

Lance noticed Brent, and immediately ran toward him, "Are you okay?"

"Yea, I think so.  Is everyone out?  Randy didn't answer me when I tried asking him." Brent replied as he gave Lance a quick hug.

Lance seemed to get a worried look on his face as he glanced around at the other kids that were outside, "Where's Greg and Doug?"

Brent quickly glanced around at the kids as well while the first set of fire trucks started to pull up.  He then glanced toward the second floor of the house and saw Doug opening one of the windows, and then ducking back inside the room.

"Oh god!"  Lance yelled as he started to run back toward the house.

Brent quickly grabbed hold of Lance's shoulder to pull him back.  Seeing that Brent was loosing his struggle to hold Lance back, TJ ran over and helped as well.  "There is nothing you can do", Brent shouted, "The place is completely engulfed in flames"

"Let go of me!" Lance struggled to break Brent and TJ's hold.

"The firemen are here, let them do their job", Brent shouted back.

Lance stopped struggling and starred intently at the burning house, the fire trucks that were moving into position, and the window that Doug had opened and had smoke pouring out of it.

Brent took the arm he was using to hold back Lance, and twisted himself around so that he had Lance in a strong protective hug. "They will be okay, you'll see."

"Randy tell you that?" Lance asked a bit softer so that only Brent could hear him.

Brent shook his head. "Randy hasn't answered me since he told me to wake you up.  I don't know what's up with that."

Lance flinched as part of the roof of the house collapsed.  Several streams of water were already being shot toward the house, and a ladder was being moved into position near the open window.

"Please be okay, please be okay", Lance said softly as he watched one man climb up the ladder and disappear into the window, and another man at the top of the ladder waiting next to it.

A few moments later the man on the ladder had one boy in his arms, and a few seconds after that the first man crawled back out the window with a second boy clinging to him.

Brent and Lance finally managed to make their way over to one of the ambulances where Greg was standing wrapped up in a blanket being looked over by one of the paramedics, and Doug was being strapped down and loaded into the back of the ambulance.

"You okay Greg?" Lance asked as he saw the tears trickling down Greg's face.

"He threw himself on top of me", Greg managed to say.

Brent pulled back lightly on Lance to let him know that he shouldn't ask too many questions. Brent and Lance both realized that they were just wearing their sleep boxers when someone put a blanket around each of them.

It took nearly 30 minutes for all the kids to be checked out, and for the older kids to be asked a series of questions by the police.  The fire was starting to get under control, and many of the adults were starting to arrange for the boys to be taken to different homes to spend the night.

Greg was still crying silently as Lance held him and was gently rocking him back and forth.

"You think they would let you stay at my place tonight?"  Brent asked as he noticed other boys starting to get into various police cars, and being driven away.

"Greg has to come with us." Lance rubbed Greg's back a little as he continued to rock him.

Brent nodded and ran over to one of the adults who seemed to be coordinating things. "Excuse me sir".

The man looked up from a pad of paper he was using the top of a police car to write on.

"I stay in the Stone Crest Home a few blocks away, and I was wondering if two of my friends could stay there tonight if you are looking for places for everyone."  Brent tried to sound as polite as he could.

"Stone Crest, huh?" The man asked as he looked down at his notepad, "Actually we just talked with them and they said that they could take two.  Who are your friends?"

Brent pointed out Lance and Greg as the man nodded his understanding.  A few minutes later, all three boys were in the back of one of the police cars being driven the three blocks it took to get to Brent's home.

By the time they arrived at the house, two of the caregivers, Mr. Curtis and Mr. Roy, who were already up took the boys inside to get cleaned up.  Greg was still clinging tightly to Lance as they walked inside.

While the boys were trying to get washed up, one of the adults tried to peel Greg off of Lance.  When Greg refused to let go, Lance had to explain that he was blind, and his best friend that normally watched him was taken to the hospital.

Lance finally managed to convince Greg to let go long enough so that both boys could get washed up.  Immediately after, he re-attached himself.

Brent grabbed some clean t-shirts and boxers for himself and Lance from his room, and one of the adults found something clean for Greg to wear from the room of one of the younger boys.

It was nearly one am before the boys made it out to the common room to lie down on the couches.  Lance lay on his back on one of the couches with Greg lying on Lance's stomach.  Brent lay on the couch that was closest to Lance.

"I think he's asleep already", Lance whispered once the lights were turned off and the adults left to go back to bed.

"He's been through a lot today and tonight", Brent whispered his reply, "Doug was everything to him.  That and Doug was his eyes which he has lost again."

"I hope that Doug is going to be okay." Lanced yawned as he tried to adjust his position on the couch to get more comfortable without waking up Greg.

"He didn't look like he was doing too good when they were loading him into the ambulance earlier." Brent signed.

[He got burnt pretty badly when he threw himself over Greg to protect him]

"Randy!" Brent whispered excitedly causing Lance to glance toward him, "Is he going to be okay?"

[He's definitely going to live, although I don't know how bad he's going to be.  We won't know that until tomorrow.]

"Oh" Brent thought about everything that had happened and what to ask next, "Why didn't you answer me earlier when I tried to talk to you?"

[I'm sorry bro, but I was busy.  I'll tell you all about it tomorrow, I promise.  But you guys need to get some sleep now.]

"Okay" Brent nodded.  He quickly filled Lance in on the information he had just learned from Randy, and with a final set of good night's the two boys drifted off to sleep; completely exhausted from the days events.