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I stood in front of the two, disappointed in both of them. Neither one seemed to understand why I was making a big deal out of what they tried to do.

“Justin, we were just helping.” Brian tells me.

“That room is really big.” Joan tells me.

“Penny made that mess all by herself, and she will clean it up by herself.” I tell them.

“What harm would there be in us helping her?” Joan asks me.

“I want her to learn to pick up after herself.” I tell her.

“Once we helped she'd see having a clean room was easy.” Brian tells me.

“If you two do it all, she would think that's how it's done.” I tell him.

“We let her carry stuff.” Joan tells me.

“While you two folded it and put it away. Which means she thinks she doesn't have to do it. Neither of you are allowed anywhere near that room until she's done.” I tell them.

You can really see they're related by the twin scowls. Normally, the mess that Penny makes would drive Brian insane if anyone else did it, but not his princess. Joan seems caught in Princess Penny's Web too. Nathan developed Brian’s habit of wanting things where they belong, well, in his bedroom at least. Penny developed my habit that Brian finally broke me of, of throwing things anywhere. Normally I clean up after her, but not this time. She left her skates where I tripped on them and ended up in a pile of dresses and dolls. I looked around and found a half eaten candy bar from who knows when, so I didn’t cave when she turned her baby blues on me, but these two did.

I sat in front of them to keep them from sneaking up there and a half hour later Nathan came down munching on something.

“What is that in your mouth?” I asked him, praying that Fluffy still had food.

“Candy.” He tells me smiling.

“Where did you get that?” I ask.

“Penny gave it to me for cleaning her room.” He tells me, running when I tried to get him to spit it out.

“Penny is going to make a great manager one day.” Brian tells Joan.


Mel showed up in my office, looking worried about something.

“Brian, Michael got released. I'm worried, since no one has seen him.” She tells me.

“He went to the program Carl set up for him.” I tell her.

“How are you so sure? Deb said he refused.” She tells me.

“Dan and I made sure he didn't have a reason to stay.” I tell her.

“You didn’t tell us?” She asks.

“We took care of it. He realized it would be in his best interest not to stay. We took away the only reason he'd want to.” I tell her.

“How, no one wanted to give you a restraining order?” She asks.

“Dan was able to convince a judge that he'd end up with Michael back in a crowded system if we didn't get one. Mel, we did it so our lives didn’t revolve around waiting for Michael to do something worse than he already has. I don't want our kids to have him around.” I tell her.

“Hopefully he stays away.” She tells me leaving.

“You could have told everyone.” Justin tells me, after likely hearing it from Mel.

“I was going to, but I liked not having to hear his name. We've had years of being able to be a family without the shit being there.” He tells me.

“It still had to be hard for you to do that, he was someone you called your friend at one time.” He tells me sitting on the couch next to me.

“When I thought he was just misguided, but not when he tried to hurt the people I love.” I tell him.

“How did it feel to be my hero?” He asks.

“You’re not mad?” I ask.

“You did it to protect us, it wasn’t just me this time, but our children and friends. And I wouldn’t have been mad if you only did it for me. I realize it's not because you think I can't handle things but because you love me.” He tells me.

“Want to go get coffee?” I ask.

“Let's not tempt fate, nothing seems to be worth that.” He tells me seriously.


I was standing around talking to my group after a session. I found it wasn't hard to talk when people around you had dealt with the same things. Brian pulled up as usual to give me a ride home, even when I told him he didn’t have to, but I loved that he wanted to.

“I think you have an admirer.” Brian tells me, when Stuart waved at me.

“He's one of the counselors who works for the rehab. He just comes by to see if Blake needs any help most of the time.” I tell him.

“I'm sure Blake really appreciates the help.” He smirks.

“They care about us.” I tell him.

“Mom he's interested, trust me, I know that look.” He tells me.

“Brian, I'm an old woman. My time for that is over.” I tell him.

“Only if you really believe that. I never saw myself having the life I have, but it was there if I reached out and grabbed it. I could still be drinking my life away, but I didn’t want to miss the promises Justin held for me.” He tells me.

“You deserve only good things in your life for all the bad there was. Justin was just God’s way of making up to you for leaving you with us.” I tell him.

“And you deserve a chance to see that all men aren’t going to be Pop. I think you need to start seeing what the world still has left to offer you. If God gave me Justin, then he might want to give you a chance at happiness too.” He tells me.

“If he asks me, I'll think about it.” I tell him.

“Mom, girls can ask to, it's not like it was when you were dating.” He tells me.

We got to my house and Claire was there, crying on my steps. Being sober meant realizing I raised a someone who cries over anything. It was easier to ignore when I drank.

“We could make a run for it.” Brian jokes.

I couldn’t help how good it felt to see him happy and carefree. “Please. It would only have her at your door, and my babies don't need that.” I tell him, getting out.

“Mother, I'm being evicted all because you wouldn’t watch your grandchildren.” She tells me.

“What did they do now?” Brian asks.

“They had a party with a bunch of thugs. The thugs stole the landlord's car. John swears he didn’t know it was stolen but the guys who stole it said John did it. They want to charge him with theft and our landlord gave us until next week to get out.” She tells us.

“Then why are you here instead of looking for a place to live?” I ask.

“She expects you to let her live here.” Brian tells me.

“You have room and then you could help with Peter. I'm going to need Brian to help with John, he's going to need a good lawyer.” She tells us, holding out her hand to me.

“Claire you need to look somewhere else, because I can't have you or the boys around.” I tell her.

“See, she's still the same uncaring mother we knew.” Claire tells Brian.

“It's sounds more like she knows what having you and the boys around would do to her recovery.” He tells her.

“She could still attend her little social gathering, it's not like she has a life without clinging to one of us.” She tells Brian.

“I'm sorry Claire, but I wouldn't want a potential date to run when he sees you or the boys. Good luck with finding a place to live, but it won't be here.” I tell her. “ Brian, I'm sure you have better things to do with my babies than listen to this one.” I tell him kissing his cheek before he gets more of Claire than he needs.

I wave as he pulls away and turn to Claire. “It's time for you to stop making Brian feel like he owes us for the things we never did for him. You need to learn no one gives you things, something I'm learning at my social group.” I tell her, leaving her outside.

I pulled out the paper Stuart wrote his phone number on and decided to get with the times.


Emmett needs to calm down, he knows things go wrong when planning a wedding, but he seems to forget the many things he’s had to do to marry people.

“I can’t believe I accidentally invited my brothers and sisters.” He freaks.

“Are they coming?” Grant asks.

“They got an RV from some cousin four times removed to come in. Which means most likely someone one of them married, apparently they have to see the queers idea of a wedding.” He tells me, laying his head on Grant's shoulder.

“Did they think it was going to be all disco balls and pink taffeta?” Grant jokes.

“Honey, their idea of a wedding is standing around a keg hoping the bride is having the groom’s baby and not theirs.” Emmett tells us seriously.

“I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Lindsay tells him, holding him when he turns to her.

“My brother asked if we have something to hook up the RV to. Alex is going to run screaming from this wedding.” Emmett tells us. Brian walks in, takes one look at Emmett and leaves us to deal with it.

“We could rent some place for them to stay, I’ll make it your wedding present.” Grant tells him, since he’d been stuck trying to figure out what to get his Dad and Emmett.

“Grant, you’d end up having to buy it after what they’ll do to anything nice.” Emmett tells him.

“Emmett I’ll find a fleabag motel, it will be like home for them, only with running water.” Grant giggles after hearing so much about the family.

“Why couldn’t they just ignore me the way they have for years? Alex and I should have just run off.” He tells us.

“Emmett, there is nothing your family could do that would make me not want to make you my husband.” Alex tells him, coming into the living room.

“I just wanted us to have a wedding where my brother didn’t think bletching was how you said I do.” He tells us, making all of us snicker. “Laugh now, but wait until my sisters see Brian and Dan, then you’ll be sorry.” He tells us.

“Think we could find a way to get them to think the wedding is in Mexico?” Dan asks, looking worried.


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