This is the end of the Day's End series.
Title: All You Can
Series: Day's End
Ken looked at Jess and Brixton seated at the kitchen table eating cold cereal. The faces of the two were so different from last night. Last night, Ken and Jess had ridden up to Wes and Link's house and picked up Brixton. Ken had invited the men to go eat with them and the two had eagerly accepted the invitation. Link had suggested a pizza joint just outside the city limits.
The small locally owned restaurant was the perfect place for them to have their last night with Brixton. The menu was simple; no fancy goat cheese or stuffed crust pizza, so the men ordered a couple of large pepperoni pizzas and pitchers of soda. The place even had a couple of old pinball machines. Brixton, who'd grown up in the age of nintendos and playstations, lost every game, but had lost with good grace. Silly taunts and manly slaps on the back, the men had spent the evening laughing.
But a phone call from Ms. Lindy first thing this morning had changed everything. Brixton would be picked up and taken to family court this morning where he'd be handed back to his father.
"You know you can call us anytime, right?" Ken asked the teen as they ate their breakfast.
"Yeah. But I doubt I'll need to. Dad blew his cool and there's nothing he hates more than someone being out of control. Especially himself. He'll just ignore me. Forget I ever told him I was gay. All I have to do is get through this year and next. Then I'm outta here," Brixton said.
The doorbell rang as Ken started to reply.
"I'll get it. It has to be Ms. Lindy." Jess jumped up from the table and went into the living room.
"Will he pay for your college?" Ken asked. He wanted to make sure the boy had a future.
"I'm sure he will. How do you think he'd look in front of all his club friends if he didn't?" Brixton scoffed. "Besides, grandmother left me some money in a trust. I can't get it until I'm 25, but I could petition the court for tuition if I needed to."
Ken shook his head. The kid had things figured out, so much more than he had at that age, but he still wanted Brixton to know he could come to them if he needed.
"Looks like you've got it all figured out. Just know that if there's any trouble, or you just want to talk, we're just a phone call away," Ken said quietly as Jess led Ms. Lindy in.
"Good morning," Ms. Lindy said. "I'm sorry, we don't have a lot of time. Brixton was that your bag by the door?"
"Yes, ma'am," Brixton said.
Ken watched as the teen took his bowl to the sink and rinsed it out. Then the four of them walked into the living room.
"Here, take these. Just in case." Ken held out some pamphlets for a couple local organizations that helped gay teens.
"I don't need those," Brixton said stiffly.
Ken contained the growl that threatened to come out, but gritted out between his teeth, "you never know what can happen. Take them."
Brixton gave him a small smile, the first one since last night. "Ken, seriously. This is the age of the internet. I know how to google."
"Yeah. Just want you to know where you can get help if you need it," Ken grumbled, trying to hide his embarrassment. Hell, when he was a kid, he would have given anything to have the resources the kids had today. Then suddenly Ken found himself being hugged by Brixton.
"Thanks, Ken. For everything. I'm gonna be alright," Brixton whispered. He released Ken and took a step back. Holding out his hand, he turned to Jess and said, "Thank you, Jess. I know this was hard on you."
Ken watched as Jess's shoulders were thrown back, his chest puffing out, and he knew his lover felt uncomfortable. But Jess surprised him.
Clearing his throat loudly, Jess reached out for the teen. Then he awkwardly hugged Brixton.
Ken couldn't hear what Jess said to the boy, but he knew it was something special when the boy's finger's tightened their hold on Jess.
"Come on, Brixton. We need to be at the courthouse by 8," Ms. Lindy said in her no nonsense voice.
Ken turned to growl at the woman for interrupting, but stopped when he saw the tears in her eyes. He knew she had a job to do, rules to follow, but the moisture in her eyes, confirmed Ken's good opinion of her.
Brixton didn't look at either man as he walked out the door.
"It's hard. I know that. But you two have made a difference. Thank you." And with those abrupt words, Ms. Lindy followed Brixton out.
Ken turned and saw Jess standing there. His boy looked lost.
"This sucks," Jess spit out.
"No! Fuck that! He's going right back to that asshole father of his! And there's not a fuckin' thing we can do!"
Ken knew what Jess was feeling. Hell, he felt the same. But they had made a small difference. Ken had to believe that; why else would he work with these troubled teens. He just had to help Jess see that they had done all they could.
"Stop." Ken's voice was hard.
"I said stop. You either stop or go get the paddle. Your choice." Ken waited. He could see Jess trying to decide if he wanted to get the paddle or not. Ken hoped Jess didn't need that today. Oh, he'd give it to Jess, but it wasn't what either one needed today.
He let out a sigh of relief when Jess slumped down onto the couch.
"Why do you wanna do this?" Jess asked.
"What?" Ken felt off balanced. He wasn't sure what Jess was asking.
"You wanna foster more kids. I know you do," Jess said. "You're too on top of things, to have just accidentally left our names on the foster list."
Ken walked over and sat down beside his boy. "I'll take our names off if you want me to. But I do think we have something to offer."
"What did we give Brix? Not a fuckin thing."
Ken leaned back and looked at Jess. "Maybe not. But he knows we're here for him if he needs us. That's one smart kid, Jess. Smarter than you or I ever were at that age. I think he'll probably do just what he said. He's going to play his father's game for the next 2 years and then once he's gone off to college, he'll never look back. But he will make it."
"Ya think so? Ya hear about so many kids killing themselves. Especially gay kids."
"Yeah, I think he will make it. And as we know where he goes to school and where he lives, it won't be too hard to keep an eye on him," Ken said.
"And you wanna do this again?"
"Foster? Yeah, but not if you're against it."
"No. I'm not against. But how do we handle shit like this?" Jess's voice was full of pain.
Ken grabbed him and held him hard. As he let him go, he said, "You just have to know that at day's end, you've done all you can."
Jess sighed and pushed himself up off the couch. "If you hadn't made me take yesterday afternoon off to beat my ass, we could've taken today off."
Standing up, Ken laughed. "You needed your ass beat yesterday. Beside, the best thing for both of us to get back to our own routine."
As they headed to the door and to work, Jess mumbled out, "Yeah, until the next one comes along."
Each of the men got into their trucks. Ken started his truck and started to back out of their driveway. Suddenly he stopped. Rolling down his window, he yelled out, "Hey, what did you say to the kid?"
Jess waved and drove off, but Ken had seen the bit of color come up his boy's face. He'd have to wait until tonight, but he'd get it out of Jess one way or another.