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Harris Phelps unlocked and opened the front door. He initially would have been suspicious about a knock on the door at 8 pm, but he was almost sure he knew who was on the other side.

“Hello Daniel.”
“Hi,” he said sheepishly, clutching his backpack against his slim, pigeon chested form like a shield.
“Things bad tonight?”
He nodded, looking at his feet. “Lotta screaming. He punched me pretty hard in the shoulder, I can feel the bruise forming already. I am so behind on my homework, I don’t know if I can catch up during the Thanksgiving break. I really want to graduate this year. So I was um…hoping…for tonight…”
“I understand. Come in.”
“It’s ok?”
“Yes, it’s always ok.” Harris stepped back and gestured into their two-story home.
Daniel sighed in relief. “Thank you Mr. Phelps. Is Shane ho-”
He looked up the stairs for the source of the voice. Harris’s son rushed down the steps at the sight of him, his face furrowed in concern.
“Aww Danny. Is everything alright?”
He shook his head and sniffled. “No, it’s not. We’re short again this month. He said it’s my fault we can’t have Thanksgiving.” He began to weep and Shane swept him into a hug. “Shh shh it’s not your fault.”

Debra Phelps came out of the living room to see what was going on. “Oh it’s Danny again. The poor dear.” She put her hand over her mouth, and looked at her husband with a questioning eyebrow. Harris nodded. She tsked and shook her head, standing back to let Shane comfort his boyfriend.

Harris shifted on his feet, feeling awkward, watching his teenage son embrace and lovingly pet another teenage boy. He was trying to be accepting but it was so foreign to him. He coughed. “Um, did you get dinner Danny?”
He shook his head, still buried in Shane’s neck.
“I’ll fix you a plate.” Before Danny could answer, he was gone.
Debra rolled her eyes. “There he goes. Are you two going to go upstairs for a bit after this, or do you want the living room to yourselves?”
Shane gave his mother a look of gratitude. “We’re gonna go upstairs I think. Danny’s worn out. I think he needs a meal and some rest.” He was rocking Danny side to side as he said this.
“Make sure you check him for bruises. Take pictures of whatever you find. This is the last straw. After the holiday weekend, we’re going down to the police and settling this.”
Danny lifted his head. “Mrs. Phelps, I really appreciate all your family does for me, but I’m going to be 18 in April. I just want to get over this and move on.”

She pursed her lips. “You can’t let him get away with hurting you.”
Shane interrupted. “Let’s talk about this later alright?”
Debra pressed her lips together but didn’t reply. Harris came back into the room with a plate and a cup of iced tea.

“Thanks so much, Daddy. We’re gonna go upstairs for a bit.”
“Alright now. The guest room should be prepared.” He passed the plate and glass to Shane, and clapped Danny on the shoulder. “Get some rest.”
Danny nodded.
Shane carried the items upstairs with Danny at his heals.

Mrs. Phelps had a lot to say to Harris after they went to bed.


Upstairs, Shane and Danny camped out in Shane’s room for a bit. Shane checked him over, took a picture or two. He was alarmed to find Danny shaking and his skin cold.
“Why didn’t you wear your coat over here silly?”
“It doesn’t fit well anymore,” he explained, smoothing his shirt down. “God, I can’t believe how much homework I have to do. I just wanted to do my homework, how hard could that be?”
“Shhh…. you don’t have to fuss over that now. We don’t have school until Monday.”
“I’m so behind!” Danny cried, his hands trembling as he went for his backpack. “I just wanted to do my homework and graduate and and -” he was beginning to hyperventilate.
Shane took the backpack out of his hands. “Danny – Daniel! Stop. Stop. Look at me.
Danny was so surprised to hear an adult voice come out of Shane that he forgot to hyperventilate. It was so reassuring to hear him be firm with him, to be in control of things. Shane was his rock.
“ Look at me. Deep breaths. In. Out. In. Out. It’s ok. Your homework is going to get done. I’ll help you. The library is open on Saturday.”
Danny nodded. Shane noted the bags under his eyes, the sallow hue to his skin. He gave Danny the cup of iced tea to sip, and coaxed him into eating some porkchops by hand-feeding him with the fork. It wasn’t long before his appetite reared up, and he devoured everything on the plate, much to Shane’s satisfaction. It was easy to coax him into the guest bed for a long night’s rest.

They let Danny sleep in the next morning. Shane made pancakes and bacon for everyone. It was a simple morning, but for Danny the domestic stability was a soothing balm to his jittery soul. He ate as much bacon as he wanted and felt like a prince. He joined Shane outside to rake leaves, and they ended up playing in the piles. Shane was delighted to hear him laughing. After, when they tumbled into the house with red cheeks, they were given tea and ended up helping Debra peel apples for pies and potatoes for the mashed spuds for Thanksgiving dinner. Harris prepped and stuffed the bird.

As the late morning faded into early afternoon, Danny began to feel increasingly out of place. An aunt was on her way for the feast. The grandparents were coming in an hour. Shane was looking devastatingly handsome and grown up in fitted tan corduroy slacks and an oatmeal and navy sweater. Danny felt ugly next to him in ripped jeans and an old T-shirt. When the family was distracted by a situation involving a shortage of water glasses, Danny slipped upstairs.

He returned a moment later with his old backpack off one shoulder. He stood in the entryway to the kitchen, shuffling his foot against the carpet.
“Um,” he said.
Shane straightened and looked up at his boyfriend. “Danny?”
“I um – it’s getting late. I don’t want to be in your way when your family comes. I bother you guys too much and overstay my welcome as is, so I’m gonna go. Thank you for everything. Again,”
Before anyone could answer, he made his way to the door.
“Danny!” Shane called after him.
“Daniel wait.” This time it was Harris.
The young man froze in the hallway. “What?” he asked, suspicious.
Harris caught up to him, Debra behind him.

“It’s ok if you stay,” said Debra.
“But I’m not part of your family…it’s a family holiday,” he said weakly, his arms tightening around his backpack.
Debra took his arm and walked him to the dining room. “Come here a second. "Look at the table. There’s ten chairs. It’s me, Harris, and our son. Then it’s Harris’s parents, my parents – that’s 7. Aunt Megan, and cousin Reyna is 9. The other one is for you. We set a place for you.”

Danny just stared at the chairs. He worked his jaw a few times, then looked at Shane for support. Shane was giving him a warm smile, obviously in on it.
“I – I-.. I-”
“Dammit Danny, you helped make the pie you at least gotta eat that,” Shane said in an exasperated tone. His quip broke the tension and they all shared a laugh. Danny brushed tears out of his eyes with the back of his hand.

“Well, there’s a little more than eating pie.” Harris put a large hand on his wife’s shoulder. We were going to ask you later, but I think it’s appropriate now.“ He glanced at Debra. Debra nodded and put her slimmer hand over her husband’s. Confusion formed on Shane’s face. He wasn’t in on this.

Harris cleared his throat. "We would like to invite you to stay with us for the rest of the school year. We’re not going to be using our guest room for the time being, as Patricia is off studying abroad for the year, and it’s obvious you need some stability in your life. Plus, Shane likes you, and I think it’d be good for you.”
“Oh Daddy do you mean it?” Shane gasped. “You really mean it? Mom? Is he telling the truth, Danny can stay with us?”
“Yes,” she said with a nod. “It’s the best thing. I can’t sleep knowing that his daddy is going to put Daniel in the hospital one of these days. We’ll set the deadline at May, and we’ll go from there. Daniel? How do you feel about this?”
Danny’s face was blank. He walked over to the table in a daze and ran his fingers over the rim of the plate with his name card on it. His lower lip began to tremble and he collapsed into a squat and buried his face into his backpack. His entire body shuddered, wracked with sobs. “Yes,” he said, the words thickly muffled.
Shane dropped to his kneels and put a supporting arm over him.
“Yes, a million times yes!”
Debra sniffled and even Harris had a hard time swallowing his emotions.
Shane got Danny to stand up again by offering more hugs.
“Seriously, thank you guys,” he blurted out, hiccuping. “You have been so amazing. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to thank you all.”
Debra found herself opening her arms for a hug too and Danny was eager for the love.
“You just thank us by getting good grades.”
“And uh,” Harris coughed and gestured to Shane. “You two keep it appropriate ok? I know you’re um, dating, but we do mean it when we say separate rooms.”
“Dad!” Shane hissed, turning bright red. Danny groaned and wiped his face on his shirt.
“We’ll be good Mr. Phelps. I swear. Shane is so important to me, I wouldn’t risk it. I just want to graduate, and try to figure out what I’m doing after high school.”
He clapped Danny on the back. “Good. That’s what I want to hear. Now put your backpack away, I need your help in the kitchen with-… Megan, how long have you been standing there?”
“…Am in the middle of something?” she asked, her daughter peering around her legs.
“No,” Debra insisted, putting on a winning smile. “Not at all. We were just having a family moment. Shane, go find something for Danny to wear. Meet us in the kitchen.”
He nodded and stole a sniffling Danny away.

“Who is that?” the stray aunt asked.
“One of Danny’s friends. He’s going to be staying with us for the time being. Problems at home.”
“Oh, is he? Such a sad-faced boy. Poor lost lamb.”
Debra nodded sympathetically and went to get her a glass of wine and some juice for Reyna.

Upstairs, Danny was trying on one of Shane’s button up shirts. Shane had taken a few minutes to allow Danny to wash his face and then he himself combed Danny’s hair back into a ponytail. Danny eyed his clean-cut self in the mirror as he got the top button done on the shirt. He turned around and looked for Shane’s approval. Shane beamed.
“You look handsome. Now let’s find you a belt so my pants stay up on you…”
“Wait, Shane…seriously. I really need to thank you first. Your family is awesome. I just want to say that I really appreciate this. I love them and you so much.”
“You love me?” Shane repeated, flushing prettily.
“Yes. I really do. You’ve shown me such kindness, how could I not?”
Shane cupped Danny’s freckled cheek. They leaned in toward each-other and shared a sweet, light kiss. Danny swallowed a lump in his throat. He hadn’t felt anything so wonderful in a very long time.
“Happy Thanksgiving Danny.”
“Happy Thanksgiving to you too Shane. You know, for the first time since my mother died, I actually feel like I have something to be thankful for this year.”
Shane couldn’t hold it in anymore and finally had to wipe away tears too. Danny kissed them all away.

Text is fictional. Source is OP. Happy Thanksgiving~


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