Chapter 4: Insight

Brandon pulled to a stop in front of the dinner a smile crossing his face as he spotted his best friend and the people they were taking to the lake with them. Jack was holding one of their favorite kids, Anna, in his arms and talking with her father. Brandon climbed out of his truck and made his way across the parking lot, stopping to greet the kids and their families as he went. By the time he reached Jack and Anna he was holding Steven Phillips in his arms.

Both Anna and Steven were the youngest of the children coming with them to the camp. They were only six. Steven was suffering from a rare form of bone cancer, so far his treatments seemed to be working, but the doctors were guarded in their hopes for a recovery. Anna had leukemia, she was in stage three. This was unfortunately her second bought with the disease and her second trip to the camp. It was only two years earlier that she had had cancer the first time. She had only been in remission for six months before the cancer came back with a vengeance.

Jack and Brandon had already planned events separate from the rest of the children, most of who were in their early teens. Anna and Steven's parents were close friends, having met through Brandon and Jack when they introduced the two younger children.

Maggie, Anna's mother, was a single mother. Anna's father had died when Anna was a year old. He had been an employee of the Jefferson's and was actually the reason that Brandon had decided to go into emergency medicine. Brandon was with Eb when he was injured. It had been just the two of them waiting for help to arrive. Brandon had known nothing of first aid and could only watch helplessly as Eb died.

Kent and David, Steven's parents, had immediately taken to both Maggie and Anna, Steven and Anna were practically inseparable. Brandon laughingly called Anna Steven's shadow. The two were very close and had very little tolerance for those that would keep them separated. It was one of the reasons that Brandon had taken Steven from Kent. The older man had been stowing the rest of Steven's gear into the bus. It had been decided that the kids would all ride down together on the bus and that the parents would follow after them in their own cars.

The next two weeks was for the children, but it was also for the parents as well. It was a time for the parents to relax and not have to worry about the day to day care of their children. The camp organizers also factored in counseling sessions and adult activities for the parents.

When Brandon got close enough Jack grabbed him and Steven, pulling them both into a hug, making the two children laugh in delight. "Are we ready to go?" Brandon asked.

"Just about, most everyone has their stuff loaded up. I just need to put my stuff in you SUV and we are ready to go." Jack said with a grin. Jack was as excited as Brandon about the next few weeks.

Like Brandon, Jack lived a very sheltered life. He never dated and Brandon was one of the few people that he was allowed to go around at any time he chose. Jack had been betrothed to marry since he was born, a betrothal that his late father had contracted with the Clearwater family. It was a way for the Parnell family to keep their spread and a way for them to better their place in society.

That was not, however, the reason that his brothers kept him so sheltered. Jack's oldest brother had once been a womanizer who went to the opposite spectrum after the woman he loved had married another man do to his behavior. Anthony, his second oldest brother, was something of a legend in the area, he had fallen in love with a man and was set to marry him when he was killed by another man, after he had been caught in the man's bed with his wife.

Since then neither man spent much time dating and they both went out of their way to protect and shelter Jack from the rest of the world. If Jack were any other type of boy he would have rebelled, it would have done him no good, but he would have rebelled. However, Jack saw nothing strange about his life, nor did he think it was lacking in any way. If he wanted to go to a party he went with Brandon, for that matter they usually accompanied each other everywhere. When the fall came he would be attending TriTech as well. He was going for a pediatric nursing degree. Where Brandon wanted to working in emergency medicine, Jack wanted to work closer with children like Steven and Anna.

"Well let's get your stuff loaded and get on the road." Brandon said making Jack grin at him again.

Steven and Anna hugged the two boys then demanded to get down. Both Brandon and Jack watched them closely as they made their way to the bus. Once the two were among the other children and their parents Jack and Brandon turned and began to gather Jack's things to stow in the SUV.


AN: Anna and Steven will be seen more in this fic, so will their parents. Not just while they are at camp, but after as well.