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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

TLR Chapter 73

Jax's leg ached and bouncing in the cart didn't help.  When James pulled up to the infirmary Heath was waiting at the front door with Jax’s wheelchair.  He saw the worried expression on James’s face and walked up to his older partner pulling him into a comforting hug. 

James leaned into the hug and returned it, taking the comfort offered by his younger partner which let Heath know just how concerned the older man was.

Letting James go, he carefully picked Jax up and sat him in the chair.  Looking back up he told James, “Why don’t you go home and clean up.  Bring some warmer clothes back for Jax.” 

Heath turned back to Jax glancing at his knee.  “His knee is a little swollen but doesn’t look too bad, James.  Go on we’ll be ok.”

James leaned down and hugged his youngest lover.  “You do what the doc tells you,” he reminded Jax.  “And remember I love you.”

“I love you too, James,” Jax whispered. 

James moved back to the cart and headed for home.

“I’m sorry,” Jax said looking up at Heath. 

“I know little boy,” Heath responded.  “Let’s get you inside and fixed up.”  He squeezed his young lover’s shoulder then pushed him into the infirmary and back into one of the exam rooms.


When James arrived at their home he walked into their bedroom and found Jax’s sweat suit then headed into the master bathroom to take a quick shower. Before returning to the infirmary James wanted to call Jeff so he finished dressing he got a beer from the fridge, took off the top and took a long draw then he dialed his friend.

Jeff heard his phone ring. He took it out of his pocket and saw that it was James.  "Jeff here, James. Is everything alright?  Is Jax ok?"  he asked, fearing the worst.

James said, "Jax is fine. His knee is a little swollen, but nothing to worry least it's what Heath told me."

"That's a relief then." Jeff said, then he asked, "Is there something I can do for you, my friend?  What's up?"

James hedged, "Umm...I know this might sound really odd, me being the owner and founder of the resort and all it stands for..." he trailed off.

"Ah," Jeff replied, understanding what his best friend wasn't saying.  "You're worried about dealing with Jax."

James said, "Yes, I've never...well spanked him before and this is certainly something deserving of a spanking.  I'm not quite sure how Heath will feel about this either, I'm pretty sure he'll agree with me, but I'm still a bit nervous about it."

"You know that you'll have to go a little slower with Jax, but in the end he'll understand what he's done wrong and why he deserves a spanking.  If he's anything like the other brats, he'll be feeling very guilty right about now, and will feel relieved after it's all over and done with. I know that between you and Heath, that boy is loved, and I know that he knows it as well."

James said, "Thanks Jeff, what if he says he hates us and wants to leave?" he asked a note of trepidation in his voice.

"I know you and Heath are going to talk things over with him ahead of time. You can talk about the consequences, explain them to Jaxon.  He's been here long enough now that he should understand the discipline aspect of our relationships." Jeff reassured, "He is always welcome to talk to Mutt if he has any questions. In the meantime, I’m sure you and Heath will explain things to him in a way that he can understand.  If he doesn't agree to a spanking, then you'll find another punishment that he can deal with.  But he has to know that what he did was wrong, and deserves some consequence."

James said with relief that his thoughts had been affirmed, "That makes sense."

"And lastly, the boy adores you and Heath. I've seen it in the way he looks at the two of you.  I can't imagine him ever saying that he hates you or wants to leave."

James smiled ruefully to himself and said, "I'm being a worry wart then hmmm?"

"Just a bit, I think." Jeff chuckled.  "You and Heath are kind, caring people, my old friend.  Jax knows that and will respond to that." 

James said, "Thanks Jeff, I guess I needed to hear that and to be reassured."

"You're a natural. Just follow your instincts, JW."

James chuckled. "Okay."

"Let me know how it goes and tell Jax that Mutt will be there for him if he needs him.  Speak of the little devil, he's just arrived. Do you need me for anything else?"

James replied, "No, I don’t think so. Thanks for being there for me."

"Always for you my friend.  Good night. I'll see you in the morning."

"Good night and I'll let you know how things went."

Jeff hit the off button, then turned to smile at his husband who apparently came with enough stuff to last a weekend.  He smiled and led him toward the blanket on the beach.


Jax didn’t say much while Heath checked his leg.  He tried not to moan as the doc moved it around.  “You were lucky this time, Hon.  Just a little swelling.  It’ll probably be sore for a couple of days.”  Heath sat back on his stool.  “Do you want to tell me what made you and the others leave camp and try to raft the river?”

Jax mumbled, “It was just something to do.  We never thought we would lose the raft.”  He was looking everyplace but at Heath.

The doctor reached out lifting his lover’s chin with his finger.  “Look at me, little boy.”

“Yes sir,” Jax answered pulling his eyes up to look at Heath’s hazel ones.  “Are you two going to send me away?  I mean, ah, I messed up pretty bad.”

“Jaxon Wilder, we would never send you away.  We love you,” Heath answered, worried that Jax would still be insecure about them wanting him.  “There isn’t anything you could do that would cause us to send you away.”

“B…but …”

“No buts, Hon, we love you.” James said from the door.

Heath stood and crossed to James kissing him on the lips.  "Let's take our partner home, JW."

James responded and returned the kiss and then smiled. “Let’s get him into his sweat suit then we’ll head that way.”

Between the two men they got Jax dressed in warmer clothing and smiled in relief that their youngest lover was all right after his ordeal on the river and the rapids.

The three of them headed for home and once back at the house the two tops got their brat settled on the couch.  Heath got Jax a glass of juice.  Leaving him alone they went into James's office to discuss his punishment.

James said, " know we have to give Jax a serious consequence this time?"

The young doctor nodded.  "He put his life in danger and didn’t follow the rules I know you set down for him, hell, for all of them. He knows he messed up," Heath said.  "I think he is expecting something from us."

James agreed, "Yes, and putting his life in danger is unacceptable. We both know what the consequence is for that."

"As much as I hate to have to do it, he needs a spanking," Heath said what James had been thinking.

"Yes, he does. He's been pushing the limits now for some time, especially a couple of weeks ago when he tried to sneak down to the beach and hurt his knee again.

"You're right, JW.  So what are we going to do about it?" Heath asked.  "Who's going to do it?"

James said, "First, just like any other top and brat we're going to talk with him about it. I think since I was the one who was there and he broke my rules I probably should be the one to spank him."

"We need him to know that we agree on his punishment," Heath agreed.  "We need to support each other too.  And I agree, you probably should be the one to do it. Are you ok with spanking him, JW?"

James replied, "I'm a bit nervous, but yes, I'm okay with it. Despite what we think is needed Jax is the one who needs to accept and be good with what we want to do. If not, then among the three of us we need to find an acceptable disciplinary measure."

Heath nodded at the older man’s reminder that Jax was the one who needed to accept and agree to a spanking.  "I'm a bit nervous about the spanking too, but if he agrees, to tell the truth I'm glad it's you doing it the first time."

James gave Heath a wry smile. "It wouldn't be easy for either of us."

Heath stood and hugged his man.  "Well, let's not keep him waiting any longer."

James nodded and hugged Heath tight both for his lover’s sake and for his own. He released the young doctor and opened the door to allow his partner to leave the office first.

Jax looked up when the door opened.  He was nervous and it showed.

James went to sit on one side of their brat and put a hand on the young man's shoulder. "Jax, I want you to know that both Heath and I love you very much."

Heath sat down on the other side of Jaxon and put his large hand over the younger man's smaller one. He gave his brat a small, sad smile. "Take a deep breath, Jax. It will be alright."

"I...I'm ok..." the young man said.  "I love you both too."

James said, "We're all nervous Jax, this is the first time we've all had to come together to discuss a serious situation. What you did today was very dangerous and could have cost you your life. I was very worried about you when I woke and there was no sign of you or your friends."

"I'm really sorry, James," Jax mumbled then remembering a conversation he had with his older partner several weeks ago raised his head and spoke clearly, "I promise to never do something like that again."

James exchanged a looked with his other partner and nodded. “I’m glad to hear that Jax, but it doesn’t change what happened today.”

"It was nearly as terrifying for me to hear that you'd disappeared. You were gone for hours, Jax, and no one knew where you or any of the others were," Heath added.  "Do you realize that if anything had happened to you boys, no one would have known? We might never have found you."

"I'm sorry, we just didn't think about getting hurt."

James said, "That's not an uncommon thing for young people to do. Heath and I talked about a way to help reinforce the lesson to remind you to think about not only how dangerous what you did was, but how much we love you and how much it worried and scared us."

"Wh...what are you going to do?" the boy asked.  "I said I would never do it again."

Heath squeezed Jaxon's hand reassuringly and looked at James.

James took a deep breath. "Jax, I know you said you’d never do it again. This isn't any easier for Heath and me than it is for you. We talked about me spanking you because I was the one who was there and who's rules you broke.  We believe it's the consequence that is most appropriate and that I should be the one to do it.  If you don't agree or have serious objections Heath and I will listen and together will work something else out.  Remember we told you in the DP you are the one who has all the power, not us."

With wide eyes Jax answered, "Y...yes sir."

James asked, "Yes Sir, you understand you have the power or yes Sir, you agree that a spanking in this situation is acceptable?"

"Both, I guess," Jax whispered.

The older man asked gently, “Are you sure? If there’s any doubt we want to know about it so we can discuss it.”

The young brat shook his head. “I know it’s deserved and I know I can ask for something different if I didn’t believe it was the right thing.”

James nodded. “All right. Just so we are all in agreement.”

Jax whispered, “We are.”

"Then I'll take my leave," Heath said quietly.  "This is a very personal thing, especially for a first time, and you don't need an audience."

He leaned forward and gave Jax a kiss on the forehead then got up to give James a quick hug before leaving.  "I'll see you two in a little while."

The young man held on to his younger partner's hand, not wanting him to leave

Heath felt Jaxon's grip tighten and he wrapped the young man in a hug.  He kissed Jaxon's cheek and said, “Don't worry, little boy.  We've all been where you are now, and we understand you're worried.  Neither James, nor I, will ever give you more than is deserved, and no more than you can handle.  We'll never harm you.  Do you understand, Hon?"

Jax finally loosened his grip and let Heath go.  "Yes, sir, I understand.  I know you won't harm me.  Mutt explained it to me," Jax answered.

"Then you also know that once it's over, that means it's over.  You know it means that you're forgiven and that no matter what we do we will always love you."

The young man nodded.

Heath pulled Jaxon into a hug until he felt the younger man relax marginally.  “I'll see you two in a bit then."

Jax hugged Heath back then let him go.  He turned to James and said, "I...I don't know what to do James."

"I'll help you," The older partner said quietly.  “First, come sit next to me and let's talk about what you did. I'd like to know how it came about that the three of you disappeared."

Jax did as he was told and sat next to his oldest partner.  "Well, I couldn't sleep cuz it was too hot so I went down to the dock," he started his tale.  "I guess Tris was hot too cuz he followed me to the dock and then Jare did too."

Jax paused then added, "We were talking and then Tris noticed the mouth of the river.  And someone said we could explore it."

James said, "That someone, I'd guess, being Jarrod."

"Yeah, but he didn't force us to go with him," Jax defended the older twin.  "Me and Tris both thought it would be fun and we thought we would be back before you woke up.”

James arched an eyebrow.  "So you were aware that you were breaking the rules?"

"Um...well, yeah, we knew we weren't supposed to leave, but..."

James asked deceptively quietly, "But what? What kind of excuse can you give me for not following the rules of safety?

Jax looked at the disappointment in James's eyes.  "I don't have an excuse, Sir.  We were wrong to go."

James nodded. "Thank you, Jax, I do appreciate that. Do you understand why I'm going to spank you?"

"Yes, I understand," the boy softly answered, "I broke your rules and I put myself in danger."

James nodded.  "That’s right so now I'm going to put you over my lap and spank you with my hand over your jeans as this is our first time. If it happens again though your pants and underwear will come down and you'll receive the spanking on your bare backside and if we agree an implement other than my hand will be used.” He asked gently, brushing a hand through Jax's hair, “Are you ready?"

“Yeah, I guess so, but are you sure you have to smack me?" Jax said trying to avoid the spanking one last time.

James chuckled softly, "Yes, I'm very sure I have to smack you."

"Ok," Jax said turning to face James.

James gently, but with deft hands helped Jax across his lap making sure his bad knee was well supported, while at the same time making sure the young man's backside was in the optimum spanking position. Wrapping a strong arm around Jax's waist, snugging him up close to his stomach, he patted the bottom before him in warning before administering the first of many stinging swats. James was using more wrist action than actual arm swing, knowing it would be very effective.

Jax sucked in a breath when James's hand fell the first time.  He was determined not to cry out.  As that hand fell he was having a hard time not moving around.

James's hard hand continued to fall heating the young man's bottom well.

"I'm sorry James," the boy hissed.

James said, "I know you are, Hon." His hand didn't pause for even a second. He shifted his legs in order to raise Jax's bottom and began to heat the under curves and sit spots.

Jax threw his hand back to stop those hard spanks.  "Stop, please stop."

James without missing a beat took the offending hand and pinned it to Jax's back and said, "No throwing your hand back young man. You deserve a hot bottom."  He smacked the backs of Jax's thighs hard for the offense before returning to heating the under curves and sit spots.  James wanted his brat to feel an ache in his bottom every time he sat for at least the next day.

Jax tried not to fight his top but the heat growing in his rear was making it difficult.  Finally, with tears falling on the couch he gave up and cried.

James, once he heard Jax's genuine crying gave the hot bottom before him a few more swats then began rubbing his back and speaking nonsense to calm him.

It took a minute or two for the young man to realize that his oldest partner was rubbing his back not smacking his butt.  He tried to push off his partner’s lap but James just tightened his hold.

Soon the older man carefully lifted Jax into a sitting position on his lap making sure his sore bottom didn't touch anything and cuddled him.

Confused at first Jax tried to pull away without success.  James strong arms held him gently but firmly.  Jax allowed himself to cuddle into his man.  "I'm sorry, James." He moaned.

James said, "I know you are, Hon, and all is forgiven now.  You've paid the price and the slate is clean between us."

"Good, cuz that hurt," the young brat whined.

James nodded.  "I know it did. I've been on the receiving end before myself and a spanking does hurt.  It's supposed to remind you to not do this again."

"I...I'm never breaking one of your rules again, James, I promise."

The older man hugged Jax tight. "I know, Hon, at least at this moment, but you're young and will still make mistakes or poor choices or break rules."

"Where's Heath?" Jax asked.

"Let's go find him, Hon." James lifted Jax into his arms easily and walked to the room they shared and said, "Knock on the door for us Jax."

The punished boy did as he was asked and the door opened as soon as he knocked.

James said, "Our boy wanted to know where you were. I knew you'd be waiting." The older man smiled down at Jax. "We’ll help you get ready for bed.

Heath let his partners in the room and followed James to the bed where he lay Jax down. The young doctor went into the bathroom and came back prepared to help the older man to care for their young brat.

James helped Jax out of his jeans and into a sleep shirt so his bottom wouldn’t rub against anything rough. He took a warm wash cloth from Heath and washed Jax’s face and handed him tissues to blow his nose. Then he slipped into his own sleep pants and tee shirt climbing in next to Jax. He cuddled the boy, brushing back his hair kissing his forehead. "Please tell Heath over there I didn't kill you," he teased.

"I think I better wait till tomorrow to tell him, James, cuz I'm not sure you didn't kill my butt," the young man giggled.

James chuckled and ruffled the young brat's hair.  He smiled when Jax said, “Love you, James."

Heath slid his hand across Jax and clasped James' hand.

James smiled. "I love you too Jax.”  He squeezed Heath's hand in return.  “You too Doc."

"Get some sleep little boy," the doctor ordered.  “You too JW.  And I love both of you."

James looked over at Heath and grinned. "Yes Doc." He stage whispered to Jax, "We better follow the doctor's orders."

"Yes, sir," Jax said with a yawn.  "Niters"

Once James saw Jax was asleep he smiled over at Heath. "Thanks Heath for being there for me. I love you...good night."

"We are in this together, JW," Heath whispered.  "Love you too.  Night."


Once Coral and Ryan arrived at their bungalow, Coral turned toward his brat with his arms crossed and a frown on his face.

Ryan looked at Coral, "What?"

"Do you want to explain why you disobeyed a direct order to stay put and went out in search of the guys?" He asked. "I told you to stay with James.  Why did you disobey?"

Ryan frowned and said, "The older men were all standin' around doin' nothing so I started to do something, go look for them."

"Con and Brian, as well as myself, were all out looking for them.  We didn't need to run the risk of losing another one of you.  It was bad enough that we had the three of them gone without a word or a trace.  Taking off after I told you to stay put was irresponsible and dangerous.  And don't tell me that you're security or that you know your way around. You were told to stay with James and that's all there is to it."

Ryan argued in frustration, "But I was the only security left and they did need to be found."

"And they would have been found.  Con and Brian were tracking them from the other end.  We did NOT need another person searching and possibly getting lost.  Or missing for hours like the other guys were.  We had enough to worry about without you inserting yourself into the whole mess.

Ryan said, "I didn't know.  I thought they were going to be out there for hours.

"And what would have happened if you'd gotten hurt? It's easy to slip on those stones at the river's edge.  What if you’d run across a bear or a bull moose or another animal that felt threatened by your presence?  You of all people should know better than to go into the woods by yourself with no back up.  Do you have anything to say that won't get you deeper into trouble, little boy?"

"I don't understand why you're so concerned Coral, I've been in these woods millions of times and nothing has ever happened," he told his partner with a frown.

"The point isn't that you have been in the woods, Ryan.  The point is you were told to stay at the cove with James. The point is that you could have gotten hurt. The point is that we wouldn't have known where to find you. The point is that you could have been out there for hours by yourself and injured and we couldn't have gotten to you in time.  What would little Castiel have done? He depends on your care and you just have had him home for only a week.  What would I have done without you, little boy.  Do you understand what I'm saying?" Coral took a deep breath while he waited for Ryan to answer.  He needed to be calm and not yell at the boy.

"But none of that happened Coral. They were just standin' around and doin' nothin' but talkin'!"  Ryan did bite his lip thinking about the pain he could have caused Coral and Cas.

"I was searching along the access road, and Brian and Con were searching along the river bank.  That was more than enough people out at the time.  We would have recruited more people, including you, if we hadn't found them by dark.  Even then, little boy, you would have been searching with a partner and not by yourself.  From what I understand, the others were making things ready for when they got back to the camp site. You could have helped there, rather than sneaking off into the woods when they were busy.  And you did sneak, Ryan, since no one knew you'd gone.  What you did was immature and irresponsible. Castiel needs a caretaker who can be responsible."

Ryan looked down.  "I didn't think of any of that," he pouted.  "I mean about it being sneakin', and I’m responsible to Castiel.  I was glad we left him with Shorty after all.  It was the responsible thing to do for him.”

"If you had thought that what you were doing was right you would have told someone," Coral said again, "So you can understand why I don't believe you didn't think it was sneaking out? And as I remember I had to convince you to leave Castiel.  You wanted to take him with us."

Ryan huffed in frustration.  "Fine. I was sneakin' because I wanted to find my friends. And I'm immature and irresponsible...don't know why you'd want to be with someone like me then and if I’m so bad then Shorty can find a more responsible person to care for Castiel as I know you wouldn’t want to."  Ryan got up and began to walk away.

"Stop right there, Ryan," Coral thundered, at the end of his rope with the boy. "That's something else you need to understand.  You can't just run off every time someone says something you don't like."

Ryan stopped and turned, tears in his eyes. "Yeah...another thing I'm a problem with."

The older man walked up to Ryan and took the boy by the arm and turned him to look at him.  "If I didn't love you, I wouldn't care. I'd let you do whatever you wanted.  Go out, get drunk, wander off into the woods any time you like, do things that may not be the best decision for Castiel. But the fact of the matter is that I do love you. I worry about you. I can't stop that."

Ryan threw himself into Coral's arms and began to cry. "I'm such a screw up," he told Coral, "I don’t know why you love me."

"There are things we need to work on, Ryan.  One of them is your impulsive nature.  Not thinking ahead.  Especially when it comes to your own well-being.  I'm here to guide you. To help you. To protect you when you won't protect yourself.  You're not a screw up, you just need to learn to think before you act.  This is something you should remember from the academy.  Always count on your partner.  And I'm that partner.  You can count on me and if I have to paint your backside red to get it through your head, then that's what I'll do."

Ryan bit his lip.  "I'm sorry Coral."

"I am too, Ry," Coral said more calmly.  "Come sit with me a minute," he said, drawing Ryan down onto his lap and pulling the young man into a comforting embrace.

Ryan allowed Coral to pull him down onto his lap and having become more used to Coral doing this with him automatically snuggled close.  It gave him a sense of security and safety although he wouldn't voice that.

Coral rubbed Ryan's shoulder and down his arm.  "If anything happened to you, Ry, I don't know what I'd do. You mean the world to me, and I want you to be safe. I want you with me for a good long time.  Castiel needs you for a good long time as well.  What you did today... scared me." 

"I didn’t mean to scare you."

"You need to think ahead, Ryan. I'm here to help remind you, in any way I can, that you are a worthwhile person, and that you are loved.  If I have to tan your hide on occasion, then that's what I'll do."

Ryan continued to snuggle close. "I don't like a sore backside Coral," he pouted.

"I know you don't, Angel, so we can get this done and over and you are forgiven or we can stretch it out and I can ground you and give you chores to do."

Ryan wrinkled his nose, "I'd rather just get it over with."

"Then stand up, unbutton and unzip your jeans and get over my lap," Coral said gently, helping Ryan get up.

Ryan bit his lip. "Please Coral...c-can you do it?"

Coral nodded in understanding. He reached up to undo the zipper and button and guided Ryan over his lap.  "You understand why you're getting a spanking, Ry?"

Ryan was trembling and his hands were shaking.

Coral felt the young man trembling and he rubbed his back with one hand while he carded the boy's hair with the other.  "It's alright, Hon.  Soon it'll be over and done with.  Can you answer me now?"

Ryan said, "Because I was impulsive and didn't think?"

"That's one reason," Coral said, pulling Ryan's jeans and underpants just down to below his buttocks.  "What else?" he asked as he continued to rub Ryan's back.
"Disobeying an order," Coral offered when Ryan didn't answer immediately.

Ryan squirmed as he felt his jeans and underpants being pulled down.
"And?" Coral prompted.

Ryan looked over his shoulder at Coral.  "And?"

Coral gave the pale cheeks across his lap a quick, stinging smack.  "Scaring everyone half to death with your little disappearing act," he said, bringing his hand down with another sharp whack.  “Putting yourself in danger," he said, smacking the now pink cheeks again.

Ryan wriggled at the stinging smacks. "I'm sorry," he sniffled.

"Have we pretty much covered everything now, Ry?" Coral asked, bringing his hand down to accentuate every other word.

“Ow! Yes!" Ryan yelped.

Coral watched as the pink skin darkened to a light red. His heart broke with every swat, but he knew that if anything had happened to Ryan he'd have been devastated.  The man brought his hand down ten more times, watching as the skin grew darker and darker red.

Ryan yelped with each stinging swat and began to cry.

Coral couldn't take it anymore and stopped the spanking.  He hated to cause his brat pain but if it was what was needed to remind Ryan to keep himself safe, then that was what he would have to do. He began to rub his brat's back and thighs to comfort the crying boy. "Shhhh, it's all right now, Hon. It's all over and done with," he said softly.

Ryan tried to wriggle around and off Coral's lap, wanting to be held once more, still crying.

Coral helped the young man turn toward him, being sure to keep the boy on his hip.  He hugged Ryan close and kissed the top of his sandy colored hair, pulling Ry's head down onto his shoulder so that he could cry himself out.  He continued to rub his brat's shoulder and arm and to cuddle the smaller man as best he could in that position.

Ryan wrapped his arms around Coral's neck and cuddled as close as he could, craving the loving contact with the other man. "I love you Coral even if you set my bottom on fire," he told him softly, snuggling tightly against the firm body and feeling safe.

"I love you, Ryan, no matter what," Coral replied quietly.  He began to rock slightly side to side and hummed a somewhat familiar tune while he petted his brat's hair. 

Coral could hear the deep, even breathing that indicated that Ryan had fallen asleep.  He picked him up gently and carried him to their bed, being as careful as he could while taking the boy's jeans and underwear the rest of the way off before tucking him into the bed.

Coral went over to the bunkhouse to collect Castiel from Bo as Shorty was busy talking to Jarrod.   Taking the soft kitten back home he placed him next to Ryan where he usually slept, even though he knew the young man didn’t think Coral knew about him slipping out of bed and bringing the little thing to bed with him where it purred half the night.  Then he undressed down to his own boxers and slid into his side of the bed, wrapping an arm around his young lover and pulling him close. The kitten batted at Coral and the man stroked the furry little thing until it too settled down.

Ryan stirred, "Coral?"

Coral's eyes trained on his brat, “Yes, Hon?"

"You were right...I mean about today, I didn't think about how you or the others might feel and this little guy.” He stroked the soft fur lovingly.  “I'm not used to worryin' about others. I've been pretty much on my own for the past four years and with no one to worry about me and so I don't worry about anyone else either. I don't guess my parents ever worried if I was all right or not," he sighed.

"You have me now, as well as James, Jeff, and pretty much every resident on the resort. We all care about you.  Don’t forget little Castiel here, although he won’t be little for long.  They all showed you how much they were concerned today.  A wise person once said to me, ‘Your past might be who you are today but it isn't who you will be tomorrow'.   Learn from today.  Understand that you're not alone anymore and that people love and care about you.  You now have a helpless animal who depends on you to care for him.  If nothing else tonight, I hope you can take that lesson with you."

Ryan nodded. “I will Coral.” He stroked the soft ball of fluff. Castiel set up a loud purring and Ryan smiled and settled down to sleep listening to the soothing sound.

Coral smiled as well as he too settled down to sleep.

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