Brad thought the drumming circle was actually kind of cool. He had expected everyone to have the same rhythm and the music they made to sound like the Native American CD he had once listened to at the home of members of one of his sperm donor's previous churches. What he discovered was that while some people had great rhythm, Mr. Kennedy had very nearly none at all. This did not stop the man from playing his small drums and chanting along with the others. Surprisingly, Brad found that he was rather proud of his art teacher for pressing on with his performance. It reminded him very much of the phrase he had heard in the churches he had attended for so long. "Make a joyful noise."
It wasn't long before he was coaxed by Mr. Kennedy's smiles and nods to sit beside the man and take a turn on the drums himself. He didn't play much better than the man had, but somehow it just felt *right* sitting beside him, leaning a bit onto his shoulder and playing the drums while the man chanted. When the drumming ended, he noticed his mother smiling at him and Mr. Kennedy with a very strange look on her face. It wasn't exactly a bad look, but he suddenly gasped when he realized what it was. She was looking at both of them with love and pride.
"Your mother looks quite happy, son," Mr. Kennedy said softly from beside him. The man gasped and clapped a hand over his mouth looking at Brad nervously.
"Yeah, she does, Dad," the teen returned with a happy smile of his own.
"Bradley, I feel that this is the point at which I should be saying that I will never try to take the place of your father, but I have to confess, it is my intention to my utmost best to do exactly that."
"That sounds like a great plan to me," Brad agreed as he hugged the man tightly. He then giggled and looked up to Mr. Kennedy's face. "Does this mean I get to call you Dad in art class from now on?"
"It most certainly does not." They both turned to see Ms. Phillips standing beside them. "School policy is quite clear that while being taught by your parent or guardian, the student will refer to them in the same manner as all other students in the class."
"Oh, well, I suppose that does make sense," Brad admitted.
"Where the policy is unclear regards what you may call him anywhere else on campus," the woman added with a smile.
"So, you mean that I have to call him Mr. Kennedy when he is in his official role as my teacher for that class, but between classes and at lunch I can call him whatever I like," Brad said for clarity.
"Yes, not unlike your paramour's penchant for addressing me as Miss Switch whenever he is not in my classroom," she confirmed.
"Thank you for the information, Fawn," Mr. Kennedy smiled. "I confess had you not overheard our conversation, I would have sought you out for those answers before Brad goes home for the evening."
"I would have asked before I said anything at school as well," Brad assured them honestly. "I was actually just teasing when I asked you that, but I'm glad to know for sure all the same."
"Robert, might we impose upon you for a bit longer so that Bambi and I and our children can discuss their Wiccaning ceremonies?"
"You know you are always welcome in my home, Fawn," Mr. Kennedy smiled. "Perhaps while you speak with the kids, I can show Louise and Brad around the place."
"We will request yours and Louise's presence at some point if the children are in agreement," Ms. Phillips informed him.
"Fawn? Really?" the man blurted.
"It isn't an actual request yet," she pointed out quickly.
"It is such an honor to be considered. Thank you, my sister, in all but blood," he said as he grabbed her and hugged her tightly.
"Unhand me, Robert," she grumped, but she was having trouble hiding her smile as she did.
"Brad, let's get your mother and start the tour with the most important place for you and me, the studio," Mr. Kennedy grinned like a little schoolboy and practically bounced away.
"I think you made him very happy, Ms. Phillips," Brad grinned almost as much as the man had.
"I'm sure you're right, Bradley," she agreed. "I can think of no one but your intended father and your mother for this responsibility, though." When he looked as if he were about to ask more, she nudged him to the yard. "I believe Robert will damage himself internally if you do not make haste to join him in his studio."
"Yes, ma'am, you may be right," Brad laughed as he looked over and saw Mr. Kennedy waving him over very energetically. He rushed over to join his mom and his art teacher as they walked into the small building in the backyard. It was sometime later that his mother knocked on a tabletop beside him with a large tin can full of paintbrushes.
"Now that I have your attention, we have been asked to join the meeting inside," she told them with a smile of exasperation.
"Oh, of course, my dear," Mr. Kennedy replied blankly.
"Mom, how did you know that they want you guys in there? Haven't you been here with us?"
"Brad, I left the two of you jabbering away in a flurry of words like charcoal and acrylics and lighting over half an hour ago," she said pointedly. "While you menfolk were talking shop, I took the liberty of preparing a dinner for all of us."
"You fixed dinner in my kitchen?" Mr. Kennedy blurted.
"Was that a bad thing?"
"Not at all, I'm just surprised there was food there to fix," he confessed with a blush.
"There wasn't, so I went out to the grocery store and got some," she replied with another direct look. "We will be discussing your kitchen Robert Kennedy," she warned.
"It is your kitchen now, my love," he said quickly. "I can barely use the microwave."
"Nor can you clean it apparently," she scolded lightly. "I can see I will have my hands full with you."
"I will do my best to be everything you want of me," he vowed as he kissed her hand lovingly.
"EEW no PDA's in front of the innocent child," Brad teased.
"Well, it's a good thing there isn't an innocent child in sight," Mom retorted.
"Mom!" Brad squealed, but he laughed as well. They walked into the house then and Brad announced that he would hang out in the kitchen or something.
"Brad, could you come in, too," Ronnie called from the living room.
"First let me thank you for letting us have this discussion in your home, Robert," Ms. Phillips started. "We could have had the time at our own home, but by having the talk here, it saves time and energy contacting the two of you later."
"I'm still not clear what you would need to include me for," Brad's mom questioned.
"We know that we haven't known you all that long, Louise," Aunt Bambi told her. "But I felt such a great connection to you when we met, and it's just grown since we've gotten closer. That's why we wanted to ask you if you would consider being a spirit parent for Ronnie and Rosie, essentially you would be their god-mother and if something were to happen to the two of us, we would hope that you would take them in as your own."
"I can assure you, Louise, that we had planned to ask this of you before we discovered your connection to Robert, who we are asking to be the other spirit parent," Ms. Phillips.
"And I wanted to make sure that you were ok with all of this, Brad," Ronnie added. "If something happens to my parentals here, you and I would basically become brothers. I wasn't sure that was something you could...."
"Ronnie, shut up already," Brad laughed. "Of course, I'm ok with you as a potential brother, but let's hope it never comes to that. Not because I would have a problem with you, but because I don't want you to lose your new Moms anytime soon."
"Thanks, dude," Ronnie sniffled. "I know it's a lot to ask after what I did."
"I keep telling you, Ronnie, what you did was ask your friend Brad for help getting out of the mess with your sperm and egg donor," Brad said as he gave Ronnie a one-armed hug. "Anything else that happened is all forgotten and in the past. You're my boyfriend's cousin and my god-brother now, bro. Nothing is going to change that, ever."
"Thank you for taking such a mature and supportive stance with Ronald," Ms. Phillips smiled. "It means a great deal to all of us that you set the example of caring for and accepting us."
"Yes, that goes for all of us, son," Mr. Kennedy said proudly.
"Thanks, Dad," Brad blushed.
"I am so proud of you, Brad," his mom said as she squeezed him in a hug.
"Wait a minute," Ronnie blurted. "Son? Dad? What did I miss here?"
"I'll tell you about it over dinner and then we can go find our boyfriends and show yours around this great metropolis of ours," Brad smiled. Chris had taken Aaron to the theater to wait for Ronnie and Brad to have this little family meeting.
"Yes, have a good time boys, but remember tomorrow is a school day, so be home on time," Aunt Bambi reminded them.
"If you don't come back to our home tonight, give me a call and let me know where you will be staying, son," Brad's mom told him.
"You're letting me sleepover somewhere? On a school night?"
"Yes, son I am trusting you to be mature and responsible," she returned. "I know you won't let me down. And while you are out on the town with your boyfriend, I will be explaining how and why a microwave oven should be cleaned at least once a week to someone here."
"Yes, dear, as you wish it, dear," Mr. Kennedy blushed.
"Louise, I wish you all the strength and stamina of the Goddess," Ms. Phillips said seriously. "I have been taking care of him since we went to college together and I can assure you, it will be a full-time chore."
"I'm not that bad," Mr. Kennedy protested.
Ronnie however, had gotten curious. He had snuck into the kitchen and opened the microwave. "OH DUDE, that's just wrong!" he blurted. "It looks like you exploded a live animal in there or something."
"Well, I had projects to grade last week, and I had this fabulous idea for a new clay piece I want to do..."
"Robert Kennedy, for the sake of health and safety, I accept your gift of this kitchen," Brad's mom said as she walked into the room in question and pulled out a chicken and rice casserole from the oven. "Let's eat, everyone."
"My oven actually works?" Mr. Kennedy asked wide-eyed.
"Dad, try not to scare Mom off too much until after you put a ring on it and she can't get away," Brad stage whispered.
After the meal ended, Brad and Ronnie left for the theater and Ms. Phillips, Aunt Bambi, and Rosie left for their own home. The thought briefly occurred to Brad that he should feel strange leaving his mom alone in the home of a single man, but he found that he really couldn't feel anything but happy about it. He did have to get in a little tease, though.
"Mom, if you're not coming home tonight, just give me a call to let me know where you'll be staying."
"Bradley!" she squealed and blushed. She swatted him playfully on the rump as he and Ronnie rushed out the door.
"Dude, I can't believe it. Your mom and Mr. Kennedy," Ronnie mused as they walked the few blocks to the theater. "Are you sure you're ok with that?"
"You know what? I really think I am just fine with it," Brad answered. "He clearly has been in love with her for a long time, and she for sure wasn't in love with my... with him. I'm really happy for them. Plus, I will get extra lessons in art all the time."
"You really like art that much?"
"Let's swing by my place after we catch up with Aaron and Chris. I want to show you the sketchbook I've been working on for my art project, since I couldn't do the clay modeling. I think you should see Paris, since you were reading him in English."
"Dude, I think when you invite a guy over to see your artwork, it's just supposed to be the one guy you're dating, not his cousin and his boyfriend, too. Although, I won't say a word to anyone if groups are your kink."
"RONNIE!" Brad blushed intensely. "I didn't mean it that way."
"I know that, but if you're my god-brother, I gotta tease you sometimes," Ronnie replied and stuck out his tongue.