Shandon Liam Cobrane was having an absolutely lousy day. It seemed to him as though the student population had gone insane. He'd checked to see if 'the stoners' had lit another pile of pot in the ventilation ducts again. He'd even had the gas lines checked surreptitiously to avoid panic, because he just could not figure out why the students were behaving as they were.
To be sure, Thanksgiving was coming up, and then Christmas, but that did not explain why students were seemingly, suddenly, inexplicably, breaking rules up, down and sideways. He'd handed out eight detentions that morning alone, and ten more in the afternoon. On a regular day he'd average five at most.
The night before, some students had broken into the school and spray painted graffiti in the gymnasium. If one boy named Mekhi hadn't cleverly painted his name on the wall they would never have known where to start looking for the culprits.
Mekhi, unwilling to take the rap alone, quickly gave up his fellow conspirators, who were all sentenced to a paddling and suspension. The duration of their suspension would be spent repainting the gym with a color chosen by the school with paint paid for by the culprits.
Misters Barnes and Cobrane knew that the boys didn't have the money to pay for the paint and that their parents would have to split the cost between them, which did not please their parents, who described to their children in great detail what would happen to them once they were home.
Between the aftermath of several pranks that went wrong, a student who was so nervous that he threw up on Cobrane's shoes, students who'd been referred to him for repeatedly not handing in their homework or acting up in class and the school nurse walking off the job because one of the boy's had pulled up her skirt, that was the only pleasure Shandon Liam Cobrane had experienced all day.
By the time he got home that evening he was frustrated, and so angry that he was grinding his teeth. His jaw hurt from the constant pressure. He kicked his shoes off on the porch and took off his socks, even though he'd cleaned up at school hours before.
"Welcome home, Shan." Said Elias, understandingly, "Bad day, huh? Come here, let me help." he said as he took his lover bodily and sat him down at the table, where he began to massage his shoulders.
"Don't." complained Cobrane, pulling away.
"Come on, hon, you'll feel better once you relax a little. Can I make you some tea?"
"Whiskey." he replied.
"That bad, eh? Well, you know we don't keep liquor in the house so it'll have to be tea. A little honey and lemon, the way you like it?"
Cobrane got up and went to his room without answering. He picked out comfortable clothes and fresh socks and went to take a shower. He felt as though no matter how often he washed today he'd never get the smell off. He scrubbed himself three times head to toe before he was satisfied.
When he was done he found that Elias had put his dirty clothes, including the soiled socks, in the washer, and dinner was on the table along side a cup of tea which had obviously just been poured.
"Feel better?" asked Elias with a little smile.
"Why do I do this?" Cobrane complained as he picked at the food. "Why do I put myself through this every day? What on earth made me decide to take a position as a Vice Principal in a high school? Teenagers are ******* insane and they're taking me to the asylum with them!"
"Language," Elias reminded him. "At least you're not with them eight hours a day like you were when you were still exclusively teaching." Elias offered.
"No. Now I have to deal with the worst of them throughout the day and then sit and watch them for two hours after school because their parents don't do anything to control them at home. If it weren't for detentions half of them would never do their homework."
"Well, the worst of it is over for the day, so sit back, relax, take some deep breaths and have your dinner before it gets cold." Elias said with another smile, giving his lover a kiss on the cheek before sitting down to his own dinner.
Cobrane ate his dinner silently, not joining in any of Elias' attempts at conversation, or commenting on the good news of his promotion and possible partnership at the law office where he worked.
When he finished dinner he got up and nearly threw his dish and utensils into the sink. Elias winced at the sound but didn't comment until his lover drank off the last of his tea and threw the cup into the sink, cracking the handle off of the cup and splitting the plate down the center.
Cobrane let lose a string of invective and kicked the door of the cabinet beneath the sink.
"Shandon Liam Cobrane, I've had enough now!" Elias said sharply, "Everyone has bad days and I realize you had a less than stellar one today but we don't take it out on the dishes or the cabinets, and we certainly don't use language like that. Get the spatula." he said, moving his chair away from the table.
"Elias, that's not necessary, honestly. I'm sorry. I'll throw the pieces away and I'll see if I can find..."
"You can't replace those pieces, Shandon, if that's what you were about to say. This set is over ten years old, it's the first thing we bought as a couple. Now go get the spatula."
Cobrane stood silently for a moment, debating on whether to refuse or not. Elias had always told him he could say no if he felt he didn't deserve it.
Elias tilted his head forward and looked up at his lover. "Do you really believe that your behaviour, actions and language have been appropriate tonight?" he asked simply.
Shandon opened the drawer and took out the wide wooden spatula they kept for these occasions and handed it to his man.
"Over my knees, Shandon."
Cobrane licked his lips and began to put himself over Elias' knees.
"No! You know the drill." Elias scolded.
Cobrane sullenly unbuckled his belt and undid the fastenings on his slacks. He pulled them down to his knees before placing himself over Elias' knees.
Elias tugged his lover's underwear down until it was just below his cheeks and began spanking. He didn't say anything throughout the punishment.
Finally, judging by his lover's squirming and the deep red of his backside, Elias stopped.
"Now, do you want to tell me what's going through your head?" Elias asked with Shandon still over his knees.
Shandon tried not to but he couldn't suppress a sniffle. "I... I don't know." he tried.
Elias put the spatula aside and used his hand to deliver a quick, sharp smack to his lover's backside.
"That's not an acceptable answer."
"Ow! I... I just... why didn't I finish studying for my law degree? Why did I take a teaching job? Why did I take the position as Vice Principal? Is this where I'm going to be for the rest of my life?" Shandon said, unable to prevent a couple of rogue tears and wiping his eyes with a hand.
Elias helped his man up, readjusted his clothes and gently sat Cobrane on his lap. He wrapped his arms around his lover and Shandon rested his head against his lover's forehead, feeling spent and much calmer. It felt good to let someone else take charge for even a little while.
"You took the job as a teacher because you felt you could do some good for the kids that kept popping up in the court system, so many of whose parents you felt were failing them."
"You took the job as Vice Principal and DOD because you felt you could help the kids straighten out before they ever got into the court system."
"Look how much good I did there." Cobrane said, wrapping his arms harder around himself, causing Elias to do the same. "Two kids just this year put in prison."
"Two, Shan. Two out of how many hundreds? And you've been Vice Principal there for three years. Think about it Shandon Liam." he said sternly, "Two boys out of hundreds over the course of three years. According to what you told me they were trouble since grammar school. Some kids just can't or won't be helped no matter how hard you try. Maybe the detention center will succeed where no one else could. Maybe not, but it's not because you didn't try."
"You tried to get those boys involved in school activities, you tried to get the parents involved with their children. You'd have succeeded with one if it hadn't been for the influence of the other, Shan. Remember that."
"And what about that boy you told me about just a few weeks ago? One child, alone and abused by his peers. Because of a gut feeling you had, this child now has more friends than he knows what to do with and he's blossoming. He arranged a fund raiser? Presented it to the board when just a few months ago no one except his tormentors knew he existed? That's pretty amazing, Shan, and it's all because of you."
"You are doing good where you are." he said gently, "And if I have to use this spatula every day to remind you of that, I will."
Shandon smiled tiredly and kissed Elias' forehead. "Thank you, 'Li. I can always count on you to keep my feet on the ground."
"And you remind me that life doesn't have to be taken so seriously all the time, Shandon Liam Cobrane." Elias said softly as they stood and hugged. Their kisses became deeper and deeper. Shandon's slacks, which Elias had tugged back into place began to fall southward again.
"I can't. Not yet." Shandon said breathlessly, "I have to clean up the mess, and it's my day to do dishes."
"They're not going anywhere." Elias said, kissing him more deeply, cupping his hands around still warm cheeks.
"So what was all that about kids today?" asked Amadeo, once they'd reached the relative seclusion of the gazebo. "I mean, I don't mind the idea but we're only sixteen first of all. We have years to worry about things like that... but what on earth made you start talking about that in school?"
"You were telling me about how Carmie felt about Beth Ann spoiling the kids and it just made me wonder if... you know... we'd ever have any? What kind of parents we'd make. If we'd spoil him. He could call you daddy and I'd be papa." Angelo said with a wistful smile.
"Ange," 'Deo said with a sigh, "I don't believe we'd ever be allowed to adopt. Even if only one of us went there pretending to be a single man, I think we'd be turned down."
"But then there's surr..."
"I know that." Amadeo said testily. "I'm sorry to interrupt hon, but... which one of us do you suppose is going to approach a girl with this idea? How many girls do you suppose would be willing? And which one of us would... which one of us would... I mean, I'm not sure, but I think that in order to have legal guardianship of a baby, one of us would have to be the biological father, so which one of us do you suppose..."
Angelo was quiet for a while. "I always said that I'd only ever do it for love, and after Paulie explained how it worked... We promised we'd wait til we were adults anyway." he replied, trying to deflect the subject, sorry now that he'd brought it up. He couldn't imagine having sex with a girl and he hated the idea of Amadeo being intimate with anyone but him.
"We still have two years yet before we're adults, and then there's college, and finding jobs, and a place to live. We'd have to be financially stable before we could even think of children, and then, as I said, we'd have to find a woman willing to... well, you know." said Amadeo, rationally.
He also disliked the idea of having sex with a woman even if it meant a baby for him and Angelo, and disliked even more the idea of Angelo doing it. The idea of being that intimate, without love, without any real pleasure, mechanically. The image that came to mind was unpleasant to say the least.
He wondered what the odds were of finding a woman willing not only to have loveless sex but to carry a child only to give it up. The idea seemed less and less possible the more he thought about it.
"We could ask Ethel..." Angelo said tentatively.
Amadeo laughed out loud and immediately apologized when he saw the look on Angelo's face. "You could ask her, but I have the feeling you'd end up buried in a wall somewhere after she punched you out. Personally, I like you in one piece."
Sobering he took Angelo by the shoulders and pulled him into a hug. "Look, hon, we have several years yet to even worry about that, OK? In the meantime, lets just practice and be great uncles. After all, it's all right if we spoil the kids. As a matter of fact it's expected.
"That reminds me!" Angelo shouted happily.
"Ow! My eardrums! What reminds you of what?" 'Deo asked, smiling, theatrically rubbing his ears.
"My brothers are coming for Thanksgiving! All of them! Matty and Iggy with their wives and kids and even Luke with his new girlfriend. We'll get to be the doting uncles for the long weekend! I can't wait for you to meet Matty and Iggy, and the kids are little angels, really, they're sweeter than Squirrel Nut Zippers!"
"Than what?!" 'Deo demanded, bewildered, completely forgetting to ask how they planned to get everyone into the tiny kitchen.
"Awww, they're the best candies! Mamma would give Luke a nickle and he'd take me to the little corner store and I'd get a whole bagful of Squirrel Nuts for a penny. The caramels were even better 'cause you could actually see the little bits of nuts in them. I haven't seen them since we moved here." he added, dejectedly.
Amadeo made a mental note to ask Mrs. Di Marco to ask her sons to bring Squirrel Nuts with them when they came to visit. He very much looked forward to meeting Angelo's older brothers and their families. Plus he really wanted to see for himself how good these candies were.
"Well, Thanksgiving Day I'll have to spend with my family. My oldest sisters, Vani and Rene are coming with their families, and Rene is due in a few months too, so she's going to have Christmas with us, but they have to leave on Saturday night, so it looks like we're all good for Sunday dinner at my place.
Angelo opened his mouth to protest that it was too much for Mrs. Rossi to handle when Amadeo reminded him that it was his mother's idea in the first place. "Mostly to get rid of all of the left over turkey, so don't get a big head." he joked.
Angelo doubted that with eight grown kids and grandkids there'd be little if anything of the original holiday dinner left. He also knew that no matter what Mrs. Rossi cooked it was going to be great. He also knew that his mother was not going to show up empty handed either.
Also, apparently Angelo and Amadeo's father's had been 'sampling' the wine in the Di Marco cellar and found, so far, that they were quite tasty and each had been unique. Joshua had gone so far as to have a wine connoisseur come in as well.
Each of the bottles had been meticulously labeled with the type of grapes or fruit that that particular wine had been made from. The type of wood it had been aged in, and the year it had been bottled.
The connoisseur had been salivating for more than one reason by the time he'd tasted the open bottles and seen what was left on the wine shelves. He'd made offers on several of the bottles, all of which Joshua declined.
Angelo knew that at least five of those bottles had the Rossi's name on them and even though they were teenagers, Angelo hoped that he and his brothers would get to taste a little. He wasn't taking bets, but 'hope springs eternal', as the saying went. And if his mother and father didn't allow them just one little taste, there was always the possibility that they could sneak just a little bit when no one was looking. Right?
Hope Springs Eternal
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man