Trace and Blake are in Officer Scott’s car talking. Blake can’t believe his wish is coming true. He wished the other day for someone to take him into their home. Now he needs to pick a place to stay while the whole adoption thing is figured out by the adults. The City Center Shelter is safe, the beds are comfortable, and the food is decent. The young man looks at Trace.
“I want to stay at the City Center Shelter,” he says.
Trace thinks for a minute and wonders if Blake is taking into consideration the distance between this shelter and his alternative school. Would Blake rather stay at the alternative school or attend public school? These are all important things to consider before he enters their household. Trace has some serious doubt that the thought of school has even entered Blake’s mind.
“So what about schooling, have you thought about how you’re going to go to school while you’re at the shelter?”
Blake just shrugs his shoulders. Trace ignores it and moves on to his next question.
“Okay, so do you want to keep attending the alternative school or go to public school?”
Again, the teen shrugs his shoulders. This time, Blake’s lack of concern for his schooling upsets Trace just a little bit.
“Blake… you really need to care about education, buddy. It’s important!”
Blake looks at Trace and wonders if this means that he won’t want him in his house. “Maybe if I apologize, things will be okay,” he thinks.
Trace has no way of knowing of the insecurity that his future son feels. It’s a good thing that the young man in front of him is at least sorry for not caring. Maybe this means he’ll at least think about his education. Blake does exactly that. He comes to the conclusion that, for now, he’s at least enrolled in the alternative school, so maybe it’s best to stay there until he’s settled into his new home.
“Officer Andrews… I think I want to stay at the alternative school, at least until I get settled at your house.”
A smile came across the adult’s face. There is a plan for what the next week holds anyway. Now the big question in Blake’s mind is how long it will take to actually be part of a family. He wants to know, but he’s also scared to ask. He doesn’t want to come across as pushy or desperate, so the question gets pushed to the side for now.
“Okay, Blake, we need to get you to the shelter, so head over to the other car.”
They both exit the police car and head over to the car where Ian is waiting for them with Officer Scott.
“Thanks for the assist, Officer Scott,” Trace says.
Blake echoes a “Thank you, sir.”
Officer Scott tells them that is was all in a day’s work and asks where they’re going now. “Back to the City Center Shelter, Officer Scott,” answers Blake.
“Good luck, Blake. Trace, I have to get back to my rounds before crime starts running rampant,” Scott says and smiles as they shake hands.
“Thanks, Scotty. You’ve been a great help,” Trace replies. Scott walks back to his car, gets in and drives off. Together, Blake and Trace get into the car with Ian.
It’s funny, because Ian has had this thought since seeing Blake, but he now knows that their lives will never be the same again… and he’s fine with that. One would expect Ian to be upset or worried about the way things are heading, but he’s not. In fact, he has always known that eventually there would be a child in the household. He was just expecting a younger kid.
Blake is feeling a little intimidated over being in a car with two guys that he hardly knows. Normally, he would never get into a car like this, but he trusts Trace and Ian. Now he had better not be wrong about them, otherwise this could really end up bad. Another stray thought has entered Blake’s mind. For the first time since meeting these two guys, he’s noticed just how cute they are. In fact, it’s even caused a slight stirring within his body. What would they think if they knew this thought was making its way around his body? Bringing up images of his mom quickly dumps those feelings and thoughts from his mind.
Trace, Ian, and Blake arrive at their destination, City Center Shelter. The trio gets out of the car and heads up to the front door. Trace pushes the button and immediately the voice comes across the speaker.
“Hello, City Center Shelter, can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m Trace Andrews. I’m here with my partner and Blake Kimball,” Trace replied to the soft female voice that came across the intercom. Blake seemed to respond to her voice. It makes Ian wonder if Blake knows this woman.
“Come on inside.”
The buzzer on the door sounds and the group enters the building. Blake leads the way into the building. He stops at a man who is sitting behind a small desk before moving on. The guy behind the desk stands up and waves a metal detecting wand over the guys. Ian and Trace had to empty out the contents of their pockets before being allowed to move on. They all get waved on and again, Blake seems to be leading the way; that is until Trace steps ahead of him, almost bypassing another check-in point. This time the guys come to a window and sitting behind it is a very stern looking lady who is only a few years older than Trace and Ian. Her face shows no sign of compassion or caring until Blake approaches her window. Trace swears that a smile came across her face the instant she saw the teen. Trace was determined to get past her, but she was having none of it.
“It’s okay, Sally, these guys are with me.”
Blake seems to be proud of the fact that he can face her and not feel one bit intimidated. She didn’t feel any better about the two adults regardless; she has always had a soft spot for the youngsters who come to stay at the shelter.
“If you say that these guys are with you, Blake, then that is fine with me. Now, how can I help you guys?”
Trace stepped up to her window and started talking.
“We need to talk to someone in charge.”
Sally pushed a button on a control panel in her small room and a door opened up to the right.
“Just go to the first door that you come too.”
The group moved through the automatic doors and came to stand right outside the first door. The name on the door reads Lee Hansen, Director. Trace knocks on the door. A deep voice welcomes them into the room. Blake opens the door and the guys enter the room and take a seat.
“Well hello there, young man, I know your face, but I don’t know your name.”
Mr. Hansen reaches out his hand to Blake, who takes it. It shocked Blake that this man knew his face. He doesn’t remember ever seeing him before in his life. There have to be hundreds of kids who pass through this building each year and he remembers one kid’s face? Mr. Hansen’s comment to Blake was a testament to the fact, that this shelter is one of the best in the city. The man behind the desk looked at Ian and Trace.
“How can I help you?”
Trace explains Blake’s history to Mr. Hansen, hoping to get some compassion from him. The guys know what’s coming next, so they take each others’ hand for support. Ian begins.
“The bottom line is that we want to take Blake off the streets, but we don’t know how. We were hoping that maybe you could point us in the right direction.”
Mr. Hansen is surprised that someone who isn’t related to Blake would want to take him off the streets. Maybe surprise isn’t the right word… maybe shocked is a better word.
“Why would you want to take this kid off the streets?”
“What?!?” ask Trace and Ian incredulously as their jaws drop.
It’s quiet for a second and then the director speaks up again.
“You don’t have to answer that, your reactions spoke volumes. Blake, do you want to live with them?”
“Living with them has to be better than living on the streets. They’ve never done anything to indicate that they’re anything but sincere. They were the first people to approach me, apart from the shelter volunteers and workers, to show any compassion,” Blake replies.
Again there was silence while Mr. Hansen thought about what’s been said.
“The fact that he trusts you means a lot to me, but there is more to it than simply wanting to take him off the streets.”
Trace’s heart drops when he hears this; all he needs is for everything to be legal. He doesn’t want someone saying that they kidnapped this kid. Blake looks at Mr. Hansen with pleading eyes.
“Mr. Hansen, sir, I don’t’ have anyone who is willing to help me out, so please, I really want to be with them,” he says.
Mr. Hansen has listened carefully to everyone sitting in front of him. He would love to have one less kid to worry about at night. With money getting tighter and tighter, by these men taking in Blake, there would be more money available for someone else. It would also free up a bed. Beds are always in need here. They always end up turning someone away because of a lack of beds. Lee knows the streets are no place for a kid, or anyone else for that matter. He isn’t sure why Blake trusts these guys, but he does and that is okay with him.
“Okay, okay, I’ll help you.”
At that moment the room echoed with hearts pounding in the chests of two future fathers and one hopeful teen.
Trace and Ian are both glowing right now and Blake is super excited. Still, there are few problems to hammer out.
“Blake is going to need a place to stay until things get set up…”
Blake is hoping that Mr. Hansen will give permission for him to go home with the guys now.
“Well, he can stay here until everything is set up,” Mr. Hansen said.
“Thank you, sir!” Trace and Ian echo each others’ words. Blake begins to cry happy tears. Trace pats him on the back. Ian stands up and shakes Mr. Hansen’s hand. The director stands up and whispers something into Blake’s ear. Ian looks at Trace and Trace looks at Ian, both guys are ecstatic, but still confused by the process of adoption. Then it hits Ian that they need to tell their parents about this so that they’re not caught off guard.
Mr. Hansen looks at Blake.
“Are you hungry?” he asks.
The minute that the possibility of food is brought up, Blake’s stomach begins to rumble.
“I guess I am hungry.”
The guys excuse Blake so he can go eat. Now that Ian and Trace are alone with him, Mr. Hansen tells them that he’ll expedite Blake’s adoption. Then he hands them some papers to fill out and then turns to leave his office. As he leaves, he turns back to the men.
“I need those papers before you leave today so that I can get this ball rolling.”
With that said, he turns and walks away, leaving Trace and Ian to fill out the papers. Meanwhile, Blake is down in the dining room. Unknown to the guys, an excited Blake has already told the lady at the front desk.
Sally walks into the office and begins to talk to Trace and Ian.
“What you did Friday made that kid’s day. I don’t know why you did it, but I wanted to thank you.”
“Thank you,” Ian says as he turns to her.
“No, thank you!” Sally says with a smile. Then she continues to talk to the guys. “Very few people care enough to do what you folks did last night.”
Trace speaks up this time.
“What we did last night was nothing.”
Sally’s voice takes on a stern tone.
“Do not even go there with me. Blake speaks very highly of you,” she says.
Ian and Trace think just as much of him as he does of them. They don’t know where he gets his inner strength, but they know that they could never live on the streets. What they don’t know is that Blake sometimes cries for hours. What hurts Blake the most is when people just completely ignore him. They act as though he doesn’t even exist.
“Look, regardless of how you feel about Blake and how you feel about what you’ve done, you two are heroes,” Sally says, trying to get them to see that what they did was amazing. Ian doesn’t feel like a hero and neither does Trace.
“Sally, is it okay to call you that?” Trace asks before continuing his thoughts.
“Of course it is!”
“We just did what felt right at the time and we will continue to do so, too.”
She wishes that more people would do what they knew to be right. Maybe the world wouldn’t be so cold. What they don’t see is how their actions are helping to keep Blake from being hurt or killed. She knows all too well that kids on the streets sometimes go to drugs, to sex, or to stealing to get by; maybe, just maybe, Blake will be okay.
As Blake is finishing his lunch, he bumps into one of the volunteers who has befriended him. Blake and the volunteer move to an empty table and start talking.
“Mark, you won’t believe what’s happening in my life!”
His 15 year old body can hardly contain his excitement. He wants to tell everyone about Trace and Ian, but he’s learned to hold back his excitement because he doesn’t want to be disappointed. In the back of his mind, there is the question “What happens if they can’t take me in?” No… no, he won’t let that get to him.
“Spill it, buddy, what’s going on?”
Mark at this point is dying to know in the news.
“There are guys upstairs right now, who are going to adopt me.”
Mark doesn’t share Blake’s happiness.
“Really?” he asks, because he isn’t sure what to think. Two guys are going to adopt this kid, and he can’t see the danger in that? Blake is a typical kid and they don’t think at all. “Oh well, it isn’t really my problem,” he thinks to himself.
“Yeah, one of them is a cop and the one, well, I think he’s a school teacher.”
At this point, Mark has pretty much stopped listening and his eyes are watching Blake’s lips move. Mark excuses himself and walks back upstairs.
As he walks upstairs, he meets Mr. Hansen, who is headed downstairs.
“Mr. Hansen, do you know anything about Blake Kimball being adopted by two men?”
Mr. Hansen smiles.
“Yes, I think it’s awesome. It’s about time someone wants to do more than just donate to help out,” he says.
Mark just can’t get over the fact that Mr. Hansen knows about the adoption and thinks that it’s awesome. “Aren’t there laws protecting kids from guys like this?” Mark thinks to himself as he stares at Mr. Hansen.
“I’m sorry, Mr. Hansen, but I think that Blake would be better off on the streets instead of in that home.”
Mr. Lee looks at him in total disbelief. Rarely does he ever get angry with a volunteer, but this guy has stepped over the line and needs to be put in his place.
“You really think that Blake would be better off staying on the streets?”
“Yes, I do!” Mark didn’t even take time to think his answer through before opening his mouth.
“How can anyone be so stupid?” thought Lee as he listened to that last comment that Mark uttered.
“Do you realize that we lost a kid last night because he overdosed on drugs? Two weeks ago, we lost a girl. The FBI and the cops have no clue where she is, and yet, you think Blake is safer on the streets?”
Mark never once blinked an eye as Lee was talking to him. There was no sorrow or compassion for those two kids on Mark’s face.
“Look, I’m sorry but my opinion still stands,” Mark said, as Lee studied his face for any signs of compassion. It’s obvious that Lee isn’t happy with Mark, but Mark still can’t see it.
“In what way do you volunteer here at the center?” Lee asks, trying to size up what he would lose if he got rid of Mark.
“I’m one of the counselors.”
Mark can’t see what’s coming, but it’s not going to be pretty.
“Well, now you work in the laundry for a month and if you don’t like it, you can leave.”
Mark is mad. He can’t believe what this… this man is doing this to him.
“You can’t do this, I’m an actual counselor.”
“Umm… you might be a big time counselor outside of this shelter, but here in this shelter, you are just one of my volunteers and I have final say as to where my volunteers serve.”
Mark’s not happy, but he wanted to do this as his way of giving back, so he decides to stick with it.
“Mr. Hansen, I’m sorry that you disagree with me. I didn’t come here because of some need for glory. I’m here because I want to be here. I just think there are some people who shouldn’t adopt kids.”
“Well, I respect your opinion, but I will not have you telling me what to do.”
Meanwhile, back in Mr. Hansen’s office, the guys have handed Sally their papers. They have asked her to tell Blake that Ian would be by on Monday morning to drive him to school. They need to head home so that they can make their phone calls so their parents, won’t be caught off guard by Blake’s home coming.