What I’m Thankful For

by Monica M. and Debra M.

Alternate Universe "Regents"

Disclaimer: The M7 characters in this story belong to MGM.

Notes: This is just a short little fic looking at what the boys would each be doing for the Thanksgiving holiday. It takes place in the Regents Universe which started in the story Seven Toy Soldiers and continued in Fish Tales and Fathers and A Mother’s Worst Fear.

Dean Parker barely noticed as one by one many of Regents’ students left for the long Thanksgiving vacation. Oh, he would wave goodbye to those few who waved at him or call out a farewell, even remembering the student’s name, if the boy called out to him first. But the main focus of the dean’s attention was a group of seven boys who were waiting for their own families to come and pick them up. And as far as Parker was concerned it was taking far too long.

He was at least grateful that Josiah Sanchez and Buck Wilmington had remained though they had their own cars to go home in. Those two, along with Chris Larabee could at least keep the others out of trouble until they were completely out of his hair. Or at least that was Parker’s hope. But considering the history of the seven boys during their time all together at Regents, the dean knew that it could be wishful thinking. These seven seemed to want to live by their own rules. Parker simply had the unfortunate task of trying to make them live by his and the school’s.

But as soon as the last boy left, Harry Parker was on vacation for five days. Yes, not having to deal with these seven boys or even have to wonder what they were up to for five full days…why that was exactly Parker’s idea of a wonderful vacation. It was what he was most grateful for this Thanksgiving and he considered himself to be incredibly blessed for it. It might not sound like much to an outsider, but he had learned to take what he could get, especially when these seven boys involved.

He watched them now, the boys gathered around a bench just off to the side of the school’s main drive. Ezra Standish had secured himself a spot on the end of the bench, though there were several times when his friends threatened to push him off. Next to him was John "J.D." Dunn. The youngest of the group was speaking animatedly with Buck who leaned down over the back of the bench and was the one most often trying to push Standish off. On the other side of J.D. sat Nathan Jackson who was in a conversation of his own with the standing Josiah. A little off to the side, but still very much a part of the group, stood Vin Tanner and Chris. It amazed Dean Parker how even though the boys seemed to be involved in individual conversations, they seemed quite able to keep track of what the others were doing and interject their own thoughts and comments whenever they felt the inclination. Of course the very idea of their friendship, let alone the strength of it, simply amazed the dean.

Parker’s musings on the nature of the seven’s friendship was interrupted as a cab drove up and stopped just short of the bench. A smile briefly touched Parker’s severe features as he could just make out J.D. stand up from the bench and move to gather his bag from the pile that the boys had made of all the stuff that they were taking with them. He was not surprised that it was the youngest of them that was the first to leave. His father, Jonathan Dunn had called earlier in the day to verify his arrangements for having a cab pick up J.D. and take him to the airport for his flight to Baltimore. The dean watched now as J.D. said goodbye to his friends and he wondered about just how eager the young boy might be about leaving them to meet his father’s new family for the first time.

+ + + + + + +

J.D. went suddenly quiet as the cab pulled up in front of him and the cab driver acknowledged with him that he was the fare. As he stood he realized the others had also gone quiet as they all regarded him intently when he turned and faced them. Their expressions were a mixture of concern and encouraging looks. He smiled broadly trying to look more confident than he felt.

"See you guys next week," he told them. He received a chorus of well wishes and goodbyes and Buck stepped forward.

"Take it easy, kid," the junior said softly, his blue eyes alight with reassurance and fondness.

"I will, Buck," J.D. replied and turning he stepped down, opened the cab door, threw his bag onto the seat, then climbed inside. Closing the door firmly, he continued to smile until the cab moved away and he could no longer see his friends.

He leant back into seat, exhaling deeply. He was nervous about meeting his stepmother and his half brother and sister. Although at only six and two years of age respectively, he was reasonably hopeful he could endear himself to his half siblings. The core of his apprehension lay in gaining approval from his father’s wife, his stepmother. Over the past two months he had established a promising connection with his father yet he was astute enough to know the decision about accepting him into his father’s new family rested with his stepmother.

He was very thankful for the opportunity. He hoped her acquiescing to his father’s wish that J.D. join them for Thanksgiving was a sign that she would give him a chance. And that’s all he asked for. A chance. He wished once again that his aunt had of been able to accompany him on this visit as planned. However, she unexpectedly received a fully paid opportunity to travel to England for two weeks and research specific areas of her master’s thesis. She had called J.D. over a week ago, and offered to still accompany him if he needed her but J.D. could sense her overwhelming excitement and he assured her he would be alright on his own. He was proud of her academic achievements in college and hoped to follow in her footsteps into the world of information technology. She promised to visit him at school for a weekend visit as soon as she could after she returned. And J.D. knew she would come and that they would have a great time together as they always did.

His aunt was one of the reasons that his last Thanksgiving with his mother was a fun and happy one. Remembering last November, his thoughts naturally drifted into the loving and cherished ones of his mother. He knew she would be happy that he had settled well at school and found six good friends. Especially Buck. He smiled. His mother would have really liked Buck. He was very sure of that.

He knew he had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. The opportunity to spend this holiday with his father and his family was an important one but what he was truly thankful for is that no matter what happened over the next few days, he had six amazing friends to return to.

+ + + + + + +

The six remaining boys watched the cab drive off, as did Dean Parker. When he returned his attention to where the teenagers waited, he noticed that Vin had moved over to sit next to Ezra on the bench and that Buck now stood with Chris and spoke to him. That was one of the things that marked their friendship as so special; there was an amazing fluidity in the dynamics of it. Actually that was also one of the things that frustrated the dean as well. If there were only certain ones of them that got along so well, then he could have hope of separating them and keeping them out of trouble. But so far the closest he had come to finding a weakness was putting Chris and Ezra together without the others. However that combination was extremely volatile, as the dean had learned all too well. And so like the other five boys, Parker worked to ensure that those two were kept apart.

Of course, volatility was also present in the friendship between the two sophomore roommates. Dean Parker knew without a shadow of a doubt that Vin and Ezra were responsible for a multitude of campus pranks. The only problem was that he could not prove it. But he was a patient man and there was a lot of school year left. And one day they would slip and Parker would be right there to catch them. He dreamed of that day, just like he dreamed up all types of punishments for the two boys. It would be a crowning achievement to his career.

For now, though, he could only watch as the boys talked and teased as they continued to wait for their own rides. Parker almost wished that he could walk over to hear what was being said as it seemed that Vin and Ezra were leading the others in taunting Buck. Although from appearances it seemed that Chris, Nathan, and Josiah alternately defended Buck and teased him as well. But they grew quiet again as another car pulled into the drive and stopped in front of their bench. This time it was Nathan who stood to grab his bags.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan had been pleasantly surprised to learn that his mother would be coming to pick him up. But he knew he really should not have been. For Nicole Jackson, Thanksgiving was a very special holiday as it meant traveling home to her family in Louisiana. Nathan had known Christmases where either his mother or father or even both had to work, but they always made it a special point to clear their schedules for this holiday. And while Nathan dearly loved when the three of them could spend a nice Christmas together, he was not sure he would trade the huge Thanksgiving family gatherings for anything. And there was no other way to describe a Fontenot family gathering other than huge. And they were also incredible with all the delicious food and the opportunity to be with aunts, uncles, cousins and so many other relations that sometimes they could not completely trace the family ties. It was indeed what Nathan was most thankful for.

"Don’t eat too much!" Buck teased as Nathan hefted his bag onto his shoulder.

His roommate laughed and teased back, "This is the one time of year when I know I’ll get some good home cooked meals."

"Hey!" Nicole protested. "I heard that!" But the wide smile on her face belied her tone as she pulled her son into a warm embrace.

Releasing him so that he could put his bag into the trunk of the car, Nicole turned her attention to the other five boys, she guessed that J.D. had already left. She grabbed Buck and hugged him fiercely. "And you shouldn’t be one to talk. It doesn’t look like you miss too many meals yourself."

When he could breath again which was after Nicole ended the hug, Buck shook his head. "It’s all muscle," he answered as he patted his stomach.

Nicole joined in the laughter of the others, but left the taunting to Ezra and Vin. Instead she turned to Chris and took the stiff young man into a hug, although a much briefer one, as well. She received the barest of squeezes in return, but she knew that it was a lot from the aloof teenager.

Josiah stood next to Chris, waiting patiently for his own embrace, which Nicole readily gave him. Unlike Buck or Chris, Josiah truly returned her hug and Nicole held him a little bit longer and a little bit tighter. Josiah was special to her, not only because he was Nathan’s closest friend. On occasion she and Josiah had discussions whose topics varied from current events, politics, religion, or just anything that was on their minds. She found his thoughts to be fascinating and articulate on many topics, with many interesting points of view.

And because of those discussions she knew that things were not always easy at the Sanchez household, but she was beginning to believe that things had gotten worse. She had not had an opportunity to learn anything from Nathan, but she would have to remember to ask him about it.

Giving his back one last rub, Nicole released him and turned her attention to the two younger boys who sat on the bench. Without warning she reached out and ruffled their hair affectionately. "Now you two need to eat. Both of you are nothing but skin and bones!"

Ezra and Vin immediately began to protest that they were not but Nicole shushed them with a look and a shake of her head. Chris and the others marveled at that but decided that maybe mothers’ did have a power far greater than the might of man. Because the two sophomores remained silent as they worked on straightening their hair.

"Alright boys, you all have a good Thanksgiving. And take care." With that and a final wave she moved back to get into the driver’s seat, giving Nathan an opportunity to say goodbye to his friends before he got into the car. They shared a look and smile before they drove off to enjoy their Thanksgiving vacation with all their family.

+ + + + + + +

From where he watched, Parker laughed as each of the boys submitted to Dr. Jackson’s ministrations. Then his long wait to see all of them gone continued as Buck moved to take the open seat on the bench. Grinning, he gave Vin a playful shove. The Texan in turn shoved Ezra and took the southerner by surprise and landed him on the ground. Parker clapped his hands at the sight as he laughed out loud. He only wished that he had a camera to record the moment for posterity. Standish quickly regained his feet and dusted himself off. Whatever response he might have had would have to wait though, as a black limousine now pulled up into the drive. The outrage on Ezra’s face quickly disappeared under his façade of impassiveness, but even Parker could read the reluctance of the sophomore. He supposed Ezra did not have much to look forward to in terms of a family gathering. Like J.D.’s Ezra’s Thanksgiving would be shared with the strangers that passed for his stepfamily.

+ + + + + + +

The brief shot of pain that Ezra felt when his backside met the ground was quickly replaced by disbelief even as he stood back up. It was not so much disbelief that Vin had pushed him to the ground, after all it was just the kind of maneuver that the southerner would have pulled if he had been in a position to do so and he knew that Vin was not one to miss an opportunity. No, what Ezra had a hard time believing in was the almost brotherly camaraderie he felt around these other boys. But while he had difficulty in believing in it, the others had made him learn to trust in it. So as he dusted himself off, Ezra’s quick wit formulated a properly scathing retort to unleash on Vin. He knew that the Texan would not be insulted but would take it in the spirit that it was offered. But the words never made it past Ezra’s lips as he spied the limousine out of the corner of his eye. And any joy that the southerner had been feeling quickly fled at the sight.

It was time for him to go, and Ezra was not ready or really willing. He loved his mother very much, but he would not be spending this Thanksgiving with his mother but rather with Maude Standish Carlisle III. And there was a difference, no matter how much Ezra wished that it were not so. But his mother had changed ever since the death of his father. They had not been as wealthy as Robert Carlisle III, but they had led a very comfortable lifestyle. Ezra was still confused about all the details because his mother told him very little, but they had lost all that when his father died. And it seemed to him that Maude was searching desperately to find that level of comfort and happiness once again. And she believed that would come when she had the security of money, and lots of it. Those were the tenants that she sought to teach Ezra. And he had begun to become one of her disciples in that faith.

But then he had found himself forced into this school, into a room with one of these other six, and finally into this brotherhood. He still struggled with it, still found himself pondering whether he truly belonged among them or not, if they really accepted him or not. But their friendship, the comfort and happiness it brought him, was directly opposed to what Maude taught him and caused him to have doubts about that as well. For while Buck’s mother was well off and Nathan’s parents and J.D.’s father were comfortable, the others could not say the same. But here they were all equals, here money meant nothing. But it was here that Ezra felt more comfortable, far more so than in the world of the Carlisles that his mother wanted him to live.

The southerner dusted himself off slowly, keeping his back turned to the limo, as if he hoped that if he pretended not to see it then he would not have to get inside it. But he heard the driver’s door open and knew that the driver probably had strict instructions to bring him along even if it meant bodily getting him in the car. Ezra sighed as he looked over at his friends and found it harder than he thought to say goodbye. As if sensing that, they did their best to make it easier for him.

Buck tossed him a wink and said, "Give ‘em hell!"

Ezra straightened a little more fully at that, but before he could respond, Chris beat him to the punch. "The little devil can’t help but give ‘em hell, Buck. It’s his nature."

The sophomore chuckled, his grin flashing his dimples as he shook his head softly. Josiah quickly picked up the line of teasing. "Now I would not call Ezra a little devil, Chris. After all, our young southerner here, could best ol’ Lucifer at his own game."

"Perhaps I already have," Ezra laughed enigmatically.

"Well just take care to come back with your soul intact," Vin laughed along with the others, but there was a look in the Texan’s eyes that Ezra read plainly. Of all of them, Vin knew best that there was a fine line that his roommate walked between his friendship with them and the life his mother wanted. And Vin was reminding Ezra that the side he belonged on was with the rest of the seven.

Tossing them all a salute, Ezra strode over to the limousine. With an imperious air he ordered the chauffer who stood patiently by the passenger door to get his bag. The chauffer gave the young man an unimpressed look, but then reluctantly turned to do his job. As Ezra grinned over at them, the others simply shook their heads. And with that, he climbed into the car and comforted himself with the thought that no matter how tedious his stepfamily would be over the long holiday, he would at least get to return to this brotherhood. A grin slipped back onto his face as he began to think about his dimwitted stepsiblings. Perhaps this holiday weekend would not be a total waste of his time or talents, and he would be very thankful for that.

+ + + + + + +

Just as the southerner was finally climbing into the limousine, a police cruiser pulled into the school drive. Parker was actually surprised to see that Clint Larabee had come for his son. But then the two had begun to repair their relationship that had suffered greatly after the death of Sarah and Eve Larabee, so perhaps Parker should not have been as surprised as he was. Clint had been taking every opportunity to do things with his son. That had never been in more evidence as when he had taken Chris and all his friends fishing for a weekend. The dean had always respected Officer Larabee, but that respect grew by leaps and bounds when Clint returned from that weekend with his sanity still intact.

As Vin also stood up to grab his bag, Parker suddenly remembered why it was Clint that came to pick up both his son and Tanner. Vin’s foster parents had shopped online for the cheapest airfare possible. Unfortunately the flight times were at an ungodly hour Wednesday morning. The Texan was going to stay over at the Larabee’s who would then take him to the airport. Dean Parker had no doubt that Vin cared little about the inconvenience as he would do anything to get to be with the "parents" that he had become very close with. And he knew that both of the Larabees understood that as well and that was why they were being so accommodating.

+ + + + + + +

Clint had watched Ezra leave in the limo and was grateful that he would not have to hear the southerner’s mouth. And now as he stepped out of the cruiser, the cop paused, looked around and met Dean Parker’s eyes. A very soft smile touched Clint’s lips as he immediately recognized what Parker was doing, waiting for all seven boys to leave. And Clint completely understood, it was exactly what he would be doing if he were in Parker’s place. Not wanting to give the dean away to the remaining boys, Clint turned to them and called out a greeting.

As he acknowledged their return greetings, Clint walked around the cruiser and looked over to Buck and Josiah, "You boys heading out, too?"

"We’ll be right behind you," Buck promised for them both.

"Good. Be safe out there. Everyone’s in a rush to get home." The two boys nodded soberly at Clint’s words of warning.

As he grabbed his and Vin’s bags, Chris wished that his father’s last words were true for him as well. But the truth was that he was not in that much of a rush to return to the home that still held so many memories of what the holidays used to be like before the death of his mother and sister. Holidays were always hardest for those who had lost a loved one. But there was just no way to completely understand that unless it happened to you, as Chris had regrettably learned.

Chris remembered how the first holidays after the accident his mother’s family had desperately tried to include them, to ensure that they were not left alone. But it had been hard on all of them and what should have been a joyous occasion had merely been awkward. The next year they had joined the Larabees for the holidays but that had been just as awful. It was just too hard to see whole and happy families when he and his dad were all that was left of their shattered family.

And so this year they had decided to just stay home, just the two of them. The plan was to find a restaurant, and just about any one would do as long as it was open for business, and eat their Thanksgiving dinner there. Then they would go home and enjoy the football game on TV. Maybe it was not the most picturesque of all holidays but Chris would be happy to just have the holiday go by without any fuss. He believed both he and his dad needed that.

Buck’s loud voice drew Chris’ attention back to the present. "So who are you picking to win the big game? The Redskins or Cowboys?" the junior asked Clint about the football game on Thursday between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, though his mocking grin was directed at Vin.

"Don’t have much of a preference," the cop answered. "I just want a good game."

Buck nodded, accepting that answer and then quickly turned his full attention on Vin. "What about you, Vin? Who do you want to win?"

The younger boy sighed as he considered his answer, then with a grin he responded, "Well you’ve always got to root for a cowboy."

But now Clint had picked up on the teasing. "What about when those Cowboys are playing against some Texans?" he asked, talking about the new football team, the Houston Texans.

"Well then, that’s a win/win situation," Vin quickly shot back.

"Oh come on, Vin, you have to pick a team," Buck pressed.

"Who says?" the sophomore demanded.

Chris shook his head at both his father and Buck. "Since Vin’s out here with us, maybe he’s a Colt’s fan."

"Now don’t get all crazy," Vin laughed. "I might be up here, but I’m a Texan through and through."

Buck jumped at that comment, "So you do like the new team better!"

Knowing that Buck could go on all day about football, Chris swung Vin’s bag at the junior, smiling wickedly when Buck let out a loud oomph as it caught him in the stomach. Grabbing the bag from Chris, the junior then tossed it over at Vin who caught it easily with a smug look.

Seeing that they boys were ready to go, Clint nodded his farewells to Josiah and Buck as he walked back over to the driver’s side. Chris could see the respect and fondness that his friends had for his father as they said goodbye to him. The senior glanced over at his dad over the roof of the cruiser and found himself feeling very proud of Clint, for all that he had managed to do in such a short amount of time. And with that, Chris suddenly realized that he was incredibly thankful to have his father and have this opportunity to spend this Thanksgiving just the two of them.

Vin waited until Chris had stowed his bag into the cruiser before adding his own bag. Chris naturally sat in the front passenger seat so after flashing a grin at Buck and Josiah the Texan climbed into the back seat and rolled down the window. He now wished Ezra had not left just before them. He would have enjoyed teasing the southerner about traveling in the back of a cruiser. Buck must have caught the look and he stepped forward and bent so he could talk through the window.

"All you need is your partner in crime sitting beside you to complete the picture," Buck teased.

"Don’t know what you mean, Bucklin," Vin replied good-naturedly.

Buck snorted and tried to reach into the cruiser and give the sophomore a playful shove but the Texan moved too quick.

"Buck!" Clint called out over the top of the cruiser. "Stay out of trouble, you hear?"

Buck’s jaw dropped and as the cop slid into the driver’s seat, Vin flashed the taller boy a smug look. Before Buck could protest, Josiah moved him aside.

"Enjoy your visit home, Vin," the senior rumbled sincerely.

"Thanks, Josiah. You, too," Vin replied. Then he watched Josiah and Buck farewell Chris and Clint and then Buck confirmed arrangements to meet up with Chris over the weekend. Less than a moment later Clint moved the cruiser away from the curb. Vin rolled the window back up and buckled up.

He was still smiling at Josiah’s words. Enjoy your visit home. Home. He truly believed he had one now. He had grown very close to his foster parents. So much so that he had finally allowed himself to remove any doubts. Their deep affection for him was open and unconditional. He knew home would always be their little ranch in Texas. This Thanksgiving he was thankful he could now believe that.

As Clint and Chris dropped into an easy-going conversation in the front, he realized he had another reason to be thankful. His friendship with Chris. He rarely thought much about why they had been drawn to one another or why a lot of the understanding they had of each other came more through non-talking than talking. He just figured this time of year was appropriate to be thankful for the brotherly friendship he had with Chris Larabee. As Clint turned sideways and gave his son a crooked teasing smile, Vin decided he had to also be thankful that he had observed some healing between the younger and older Larabee. To be able to spend the night at the Larabee home before traveling on to Texas just made this holiday all the more special for him.

+ + + + + + +

The two remaining boys looked at each other and then as one they hefted their own bags and began the walk over to the student parking lot. Parker stayed waiting. He would not be satisfied until he saw all seven of the boys leave the campus, so he would wait until he saw Josiah and Buck drive off.

Buck paused as they reached Josiah’s Chevy first. He watched as Josiah pulled on the temperamental rear door until it opened. The senior threw his bag on the seat and closed the door loudly.

"You change your mind about Saturday, let us know," Buck stated, referring to the earlier conversation where he had invited Josiah to his place like he had Chris.

"Thanks, Buck, but I told Hannah I’d take her to the movies," Josiah replied.

"She has a habit of ditching you for her new friends," Buck reminded him gently.

Josiah nodded silently as he leant against his car. "And that may happen again but I’m hopeful I can talk her into spending time with me. Who knows. I may even get to meet some of these ‘new’ friends," Josiah replied pensively.

Buck smiled already picturing the intimidating and protective way Josiah would behave around his younger sister’s new friends, especially the male ones. He was well aware of Josiah’s concerns for his sister’s rebellious new lifestyle and he hoped both brother and sister managed to spend the time together, Buck felt they both needed it.

"You know she’s always had that little crush on me. Perhaps I could talk to her? Give her the benefit of my wealth of wisdom," Buck suggested, trying to lighten the moment.

Josiah regarded him impassively before he reached out and thumped the junior’s shoulder. "Have a great Thanksgiving, Buck. Tell your mom I said hi," Josiah told him as he shook his head slightly and opened the driver’s door to his car.

Buck chuckled warmly before replying. "You too, Josiah." Then he waited until Josiah had turned over his engine and started reversing before he walked the extra twenty feet to his Mustang. Settling into his car, he selected some music, turned it up loud and less than a minute later was driving down the school drive towards the exit.

He was looking forward to spending the next few days with his Mom. Beatrice had cleared her schedule and the Wilmingtons were going to kick back and enjoy a catered Thanksgiving dinner. He knew how much she had been looking forward to this time off together. After the terrifying events on Halloween night, Beatrice was still coming to terms with what had happened and why. Initially she had been very worried that he had been traumatized by the ordeal and so he had been honest with her. Except for some disturbing dreams nothing that happened that night still bothered him. He knew it was different for her and he hoped that when the court case was over in about a week and he, Gage and his mom had testified and successfully put Darryl Dolt away that she could start to put her fears behind her.

They had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And Buck was thankful. For a wonderful and loving mother like Beatrice and for close and loyal friends. Friends that never hesitated to try and find him and get him out of danger completely ignoring the risks to themselves. No one could ask for better friends than that and Buck didn’t intend to try. Smiling, he turned the music up even louder and headed for home.

+ + + + + + +

As he drove home, Josiah could not help but consider the true meaning behind the Thanksgiving tradition. It was not just about the big dinners and family gatherings. Nor was it just about a dinner all those hundreds of years ago between two completely different cultures. He supposed that depending on the people celebrating it, Thanksgiving could really mean different things to different people. And that was especially evident between him and his six friends.

Of them all only Ezra and J.D. were facing somewhat similar situations since they would both be dealing with stepfamilies. But both boys were approaching their situations completely differently. J.D. wanted to be accepted, maybe even needed to be. But Ezra could not care less about what his stepfather and his children thought of him and had no qualms about expressing that sentiment. Nathan was having his big dinner with his extended family. Chris and his father were attempting to slip past the pain the holidays brought by eating out and then watching football games. Vin was getting a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving with two people that he cared very much about. Buck and Beatrice would spend their holiday still healing from the events of Halloween. And he, Josiah, was going to spend his Thanksgiving with his father and sister in their own special way.

As was their tradition, his father would cook the turkey, Hannah would handle the desserts, and Josiah would take care of everything else. Usually they managed to set aside the differences that plagued them during the rest of the year and enjoy themselves. They would just be a family of three enjoying a special dinner. Most likely they would split up shortly after the dinner and do their own things the rest of the day. But what mattered was that for that short amount of time they would be a family with no recriminations. Josiah could wish that there would be more days like that in their lives. But he feared that it was a hopeless cause and was simply thankful for the one.

After all, there was simply no way of knowing what would be happening in their lives next year. Josiah still did not know what he planned to do after graduation. His father was becoming even more active as a missionary. And Hannah, well there was no telling what Hannah would be up to next year. Josiah prayed for the best for her. He loved her so very much but was finding it more and more difficult to reach her. He debated with himself whether he should speak to his father about Hannah, but finally decided against it as he feared that Bernardo just might make things worse.

So he would enjoy this year’s Thanksgiving with his father and sister. He would do everything that he could to make it an enjoyable one. He hoped that his father and sister would have the same intentions.

+ + + + + + +

Dean Parker had not moved from his post until the two cars disappeared around the curve of the school’s drive. Overwhelming relief filled him. All seven of the boys were gone and off his campus. Even better than that, none of them would be his responsibility for the next five entire days. That was 120 hours of relaxing bliss. And Parker would be sure to be thankful for each and every one of those hours. Just for reassurance he glanced back at the now empty bench and could not help but grin. "Oh yes, that is definitely what I am most thankful for," he said to himself as he turned and walked back into the school to gather his things so he could leave for his own home and Thanksgiving dinner.


Continues in Tidings of Comfort and Joy

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