Sorry about the long delay, this chapter did not wish to come and I still am not very happy with it, however I wish for the story to move on and I can only do that if this chapter is done and over with. While it might look like Troy's life in on the mend a few more hiccups awaits him so there will be more drama in the future.

On a second note, during the last week I have re-read what I have written hoping for inspiration and saw a few mistakes here and there, English is my second language and I do not have a beta and although I re-read what I have written several times before publishing all the mistakes belong to me. Sorry!

The next few days brought noticeable changes in Troy. He started to take part in conversations by himself without being prompted. He also started to ask for permission for doing things. Jack would have preferred that he did not ask for things like 'May I go outside' however he was willing to let it go for the moment.

Before they knew it another week had gone by. Jane, one of their older foster children the Bolton's had had, had come down from LA for the weekend. Troy left shelf conscious with her arrival. Everyone else in the family he had met lived right here in Albuquerque whereas she had specifically arranged so that she could come and met him. Coach Bolton and Mrs. Bolton had picked up on his nervousness explained that she was the nicest person however Troy felt like she was measuring him against something and knew that he came up lacking.

It was Daniel that came to his rescue. Troy had spent the entire Friday with Jane and was feeling really down. While talking on the phone that night Daniel told him that not that Jane had not liked him however if she hadn't than he shouldn't worry about it so much, he couldn't get everybody he met to like him and it would be wise versa. Someday he was bound to meet someone he would not like. This was a new concept for Troy, he was just meeting a lot of new people and he wanted people liking him and never considered whether he would like these people or not. Not liking other people was a new concept for him and Daniel had given him fruit for thought.

The new theory came to be put into practice over the weekend. On Saturday the Bolton's had agreed to spend the day with their friends the Evans family.

Vance Evans and Jack were high school friends that never lost touch. They had even played basketball together for East High back in the day. Vance had gone on to take his families money and take the business world by storm and make his families money into one of the greatest fortunes around New Mexico. He was also the one that advised Jack about what to do with his family money so they would never be in trouble.

They were known to get a phone calls in the middle of the night telling them that the first thing they needed to do in the morning was invest in a Japanese company and so and so.

Vance had gone to marry an eccentric girl he had met in college. May was into all sorts' of eastern philosophy and Vance fell in love with not only her but with all her ideas and philosophies as well. Jack and he they were still very good friends and tried to get together whenever they could. The Evans' were even sending their children to public school so they would get the same experience that Vance himself had gotten.

The Evans had two children that were the same age as Troy. Twins; a girl named Sharpay and a boy named Ryan. Julie was slightly worried about the twins' reaction to Troy, while was Ryan sensitive and kind she knew that Sharpay could be bunt and a bit unkind when she chose to be. She was glad that Jane was coming along with them, Sharpay adored Jane and would be more interested in seeing her then spending her time with Troy.

They had agreed to spend the day at the Evans Country club first playing golf and then having dinner with them. They drove up to the club in the afternoon and were met at the gate by May who gave them all hugs and kisses and led them through the vast country club to the golf course where the rest of the family was awaiting them.

Vance and Jack greeted each other as usual like they have not seen each other for years and were reunited once again after a war. What shocked everybody was the causal way Ryan said, "Hey Troy."

Everyone looked at them with a bit of shock, "You guys know one another?" asked May surprised.

"Yeah, we are in the same homeroom," supplied Ryan.

"Hello" was the quiet response they got from Troy.

"Wow, he actually speaks," was Sharpay's contribution to the conversation. "I don't think I heard you speak once all last year," she went on. It was Jane who cut her off by starting a conversation with her about what she had been doing in the drama department.

Vance ever aware of her daughter and her ways moved the conversation along, "why don't we take this thing on to the golf course?"

And they were off. After a few holes Jack finally convinced Troy to try a swing. He positioned him and showed him what he was supposed to do and had to fight of Vance who also was trying to show Troy and telling Jack that he had it all wrong. When Troy finally was allowed to hit the ball Ryan let out a whistle.

"That was some shot. Are you use this is your first time playing the game?"

Troy just looked at the ground he was not comfortable with people complimenting him.

"You are a natural to this game," went on Vance saving him from answering. "What do you say Jack? We need to get this child some lessons so he can be a hell fire on the grass."

Jack looked over at Troy and not really sure how to answer this particular question. Then he went on with a natural "We'll see, we'll see."

They convinced Troy to play a few more holes and Troy could say that generally enjoyed himself. He also made light conversation with Ryan, he never initiated the conversations but didn't shy away from them when Ryan came over to talk to him.

He stayed away from Sharpay because he had no idea how to talk to her and was grateful when Jane kept her well away from him. When Jane saw him looking her way she had given him the slightest of eye winks telling him that she would keep her at bay. He had found himself shyly smiling back at her knowing that they would be alright. He realised that he was putting Daniel's theory into practice and he might just not generally like Sharpay.

The rest of the day had passed surprisingly pleasant. The golf was great and he had found himself agreeing to take lessons so he could be better and found himself sitting next to Ryan during dinner and having a conversation about classical music which he enjoyed. Overall the day was a success.

Before they knew it, it was once again Sunday. Everybody had called into say they were once again attending. This time their excuse was that Jane was in town. Troy was more relaxed this weekend knowing what to expect. He got even more relaxed after Daniel showed up. He had brought Troy a very heavy gift.

He claimed that Sunday was the gift giving day and he hadn't had the opportunity to welcome him properly into the family as he had missed last week's gathering. Troy had gotten over his shyness very quickly with Daniel and had torn into the gift like any fourteen year old would have done and after seeing what was in the gift had thrown his arms around him and had given him a hug.

Daniel had made a comment along the lines that he was the only fourteen year old boy that he knew who could possibly get that excited about receiving books. He had gotten him the entire Forgotten Realms series that had Drizzt Do'Urden in them.

When Chloe arrived she didn't even waste a moment before making an attempt at being in Troy's arms. So once again she spent the entire day in his arms while Troy was dragged around the back yard this time being part of the conversations and having a good time all around.

The next day at the youth center Jack was watching Troy free playing with some of the boys and enjoying himself. Troy was laughing as the boys actually played something between basketball and football where everyone was chasing each other and travelling with the ball seemed to be ok when everyone else tried to jump on you when you had the ball.

Normally Jack would have blown his whistle and told the boys to choose whether they wanted to play football or basketball and to stop horsing around but seeing Troy laughing out loud as he was jumped on by all the other boys he did not have the heart.

"He seems to be enjoying himself," said Meredith as she joined him observing the boys.

"He has been a lot better this week," Jack stopped and thought over the week, "he has been asking for more and more things he can do."

"You seem frustrated about it," observed Meredith. Jack took his eyes of Troy to look at Meredith and after a minute of evaluating her went back to watching his son.

"Someone ever tell you are too observant for your own good?"

Meredith just smiled, "are you dodging the question or are you going to answer."

"It is frustrating. I mean when he asks questions like 'may I go outside to the garden?' It is supposed to be his home. He should be able to do some things without asking permission for it. I am actually surprised that he doesn't ask for permission to go the bathroom!" Jack was surprised that he was angrier than he actually was.

"I told you at the beginning this would not be easy. But don't worry, I can tell you that it will get easier. If you get really frustrated know that I am here for you as well." Meredith let that sink in before she went on.

"Troy is smart and he is adapting very quickly. Perhaps you should give him whole answers to some of his questions. Such as this questions will be always answered as 'yes' so please don't ask it again."

Jack just looked at Meredith. "Don't walk on egg shells around him. It is ok for him to see you frustrated and angry even. The important thing is that he knows that you will not remain angry or punish him unfairly."

Jack thought on this, he was a passionate man and it was difficult to be around Troy when he was always so nervous with him. He wanted an easy relationship with him. Just the other day Troy was moving things around his room after he was told he could and was struggling. Jack had made the move towards his room to help and he stopped in his tracks when Troy had frozen on the spot. Jack had asked whether Troy would be more comfortable if he didn't enter his room and while he had rejoiced that Troy had said 'yes, he would prefer it if he did not' he was hearth broken about it. He realized that Meredith was continuing the conversation.

"I spoke with Julie she said he was finding it easier to choose his own clothes in the morning."

This was something that Jack could add to, "Yes, she told him to pick a t-shirt from the closet this morning, took Troy 15 minutes to make it downstairs but he did it."

Meredith nodded her head some things would be easier than others but things would take time. A life time of habit, things you had to unlearn to do was difficult even for adults let alone a teenage boy who expected to be punished for the wrong choices. "Our aim is for him to be independent in that at least by the time school year starts."

She was silent for a minute watching the boys when suddenly she said, "I think he needs a friend."

"Excuse me?"

"You know when you have a friend, someone you play with."

"Yes I know what a friend is, am I just supposed to pick a child of the street. These things are ok when your child is seven you can call a friends son or daugther over to play but not when they are fourteen. Aren't teenagers supposed to find their own friends?"

"Stop being so sarcastic Jack. We are just trying to give Troy a leg up when it comes to social situations and finding him a friend might be a good thing."

"Suppose we do find this child, what are we supposed to tell this particular child about Troy?" asked Jack sarcastically. He knew children this age could be very cruel when they chose to be and high school was a place where you could be quiet, shy and a loner but you probably couldn't get away being different.

"I know what you are thinking. See if you can think of anyone around you that wouldn't freak out or run of to tell everyone else. You don't have to tell the boy everything about Troy, in fact it would be better if you told him the minimum, such as that Troy's father wasn't the most caring person in the world and that he was removed from his home for his own protection. Let the other boy fill in the blanks. And in time if Troy wishes to share details with his friend and then that's up to him."

On the drive home Jack was smiling as Troy spoke to him about the game all the way home. Jack thought about what Meredith had said and shared it with Julie and they discussed it long into the night but could not find a solution.

The situation sorted itself up the following day. Jack was surprised; it was like Meredith was psychic and if he didn't know any better he would have guessed that she had set up the situation but if she had how he would never know.

It was late in the afternoon. They had just gotten back from the youth center. There was an hour and a half to dinner and Troy had been shooed out of the house by Mrs. Bolton to go and do something fun. He had found himself in the tree house in the backyard.

The tree house had been built by Jack and Mark. It had then gotten many additions by the rest of the children that came afterwards and who had claimed the house as their own as everyone had added their name into the house. There was a plank in the house that actually said 'Claimed Jane March 7th 1986'. Underneath that came everyone of the children that lived in the Bolton household and the date that they claimed the tree house, Troy was fascinated.

Troy hadn't been up in the tree house until that Sunday when he was dragged up to it by James, Claire's older son. Until that time he had not been sure if he would be allowed in the tree house but he had been secretly dying for it. He figured that if he was invited into it no one could be angry at him.

Mark had come along and climbed up to the house to see what they were doing. Troy had tensed up especially after James had shown him all the names that the house belonged to. Mark had smiled and told him the story behind the tree house, the need he had for running away and that Jack and him had built the house and afterwards Jack had told Mark that he now had somewhere to run away to. He had spent many days in the tree house while he lived here.

He had then told Toy that the house now belonged to him and would continue to belong to him as long as he called this place home and they would be honoured to share their tree house with him. He had then taken out a pocket knife and handed it over to Troy and told him to add his name to the list. Troy was reluctant to do but couldn't help the feeling of intense happiness that came over him once he was done. Suddenly the tree felt like it was his.

He was now lying on the veranda (so to speak) of the tree house, he had bought up some of the pillows from the pool side and lounging on them while reading a book when he suddenly heard someone enter the garden from the side. Hearing the commotion that followed the boy Troy ventured a guess that the boy was running away. The boy had a full head of afro hair was wearing a big smile that Troy could see even from his place up in the tree. The noise that followed the boy was also not frightening.

The boy carefully walked over to the tree house and climbed up the ladder like he had done it many times. He was momentarily surprised when he saw Troy but didn't have time to say anything as two other giggling girls followed him into the garden. The weird haired boy looked over at him with pleading eyes before hiding in the house. The girls that followed him came to stand underneath the house and they too were surprised when they saw that it was Troy looking down at them.

"Excuse me," said one of the girls and from the look of her Troy would have guessed that she was the younger sister of the one he was now hiding.

"I am looking for my lank head of a brother and he usually hides in this tree house."

Troy was at a lost, it was driven into him that he always tell the truth no matter what but this was a strange situation.

"Sorry I haven't seen anyone," he couldn't believe that he was outright lying.

"Really?" asked the other girl.

"I have been up here for a while not only would I have noticed someone climb my tree house, I would have seen them enter the garden as well," he replied putting emphases on the 'my' part of his sentence so it was also for the benefit of the boy that was hiding as well.

"Oh well," said the girls, "if you see him could you let him know that we are looking for him." They said clearly disappointed at not being able to find their target.

Troy watched them exit the garden the same way they came discussing where they should look.

"Pssst... are they gone man?" came the whispered question from within the house.

"Yes, it is safe to come out," replied Troy, sitting up and leaning against the house to see the boy better.

The boy came around the house and had a huge smile on his face. "Thanks a billion man, that was my younger sister and her best friend and they want me to play house. Not cool man!"

He said as he took a seat facing Troy. It looked like he had no indication that he would leave. When Troy didn't say anything the boy went on.

"So this is your tree house. I was under the impression it was Maxim's and I know he doesn't use it and that he is off at college. Just so you know I have permission from the previous owner to be here."

Troy wondered if the boy knew about the Bolton's. "I live here now," he said not giving anything away just in case.

"New foster kid eh?" was the response from the boy.


"So what happened to your real folks?" asked the boy, he was either very inconsiderate or just every innocent about the way the world was.

"My mother died at child birth and my father was declared unfit for fatherhood by the state of New Mexico and he is awaiting trial or so I am told."

"Really? Unfit? Was he really?"

Troy was taken aback by the question; he had just assumed that everyone else was right and whatever his father had done was not right. For the first time he found himself answering truthfully.

"I don't really know,"

There was a comfortable silence for the next couple of minutes that both boys didn't seem to mind before the other boy went on.

"Well this is my hiding place from my younger sister when she gets into one of her moods. This time she wanted to play barber shop. Can you believe that? Do you think I am gonna let anyone touch my hair?"

Troy wondered how he was supposed to answer, in his opinion Chad need a haircut. He need one since they were in pre-school but no one apparently told him that.

"I am Chad by the way, just so we are not just strangers sitting in a tree."

Seriously this guy didn't know who he was? "We actually have met," said Troy not really giving anything away.

"Really? I would have remembered meeting you, and I don't."

"You are Chad Danforth. Born and raised right here in Albuquerque. You have five sisters, three who are older and two who are younger. Your oldest sister has gone of the college last year and the other one is a senior this year. You complain to whoever listens about the hardships of being the only boy in the family but also the perk of having your own bedroom for the last two years. You hope to play for the Red Hawks of University of Albuquerque when you graduate from high school, playing for the Wild Cats of course and hope to play professional basketball after university, marry a super model and have only boys for children."

Chad looked speechless which in Troy's opinion was a feat in itself. Chad was a very honest and easy going guy who could easily apologize for mistakes and carry on. It was very obvious that this guy sitting in front of him knew him and in return had expected to be recognized.

"I am sorry we have obviously have met before... so perhaps you could refresh my memory?" he asked carefully.

Troy actually found himself laughing out loud. He didn't really know what he was laughing at, the fact that he was more invisible in school then he thought or was he insignificant that people just forgot about him.

"What's so funny," demanded Chad clearly offended. He was not supposed to remember every single person he met so what if this guy knew more about him then he was comfortable with.

"We are in the same homeroom class in high school," came the unexpected reply. "Further more we have been in the same class since pre-school," said the boy looking straight at him willing him to disagree. "In fact I sit right in front of you in homeroom."

Chad felt the blush going up his face and was lucky that you couldn't really tell that he was blushing. Not remembering a guy you met was one thing but not even recognizing someone who was in your class was something else altogether. He thought really hard about school and homeroom and all he could come up with was dark shaggy blond hair and a head that always looked down in front of him. He really looked at the guy in front of him and all he could connect was that this guy had the same hair.

He swallowed his pride and went on, he was after all sitting in the guys tree. "I am very sorry, I should know you but I don't. That is probably because I am an idiot who never pays enough attention to what is going on around him and I would like to make it up to you. May we start again?" he asked.

Troy thought about what was being offered and realised that he had nothing to lose. "Sure," he replied but didn't say anything else just because he had agreed didn't mean he was going to make it easy for him.

Chad took a deep breath and held out his hand "I am Chad Danfort not the most observant guy in the world apparently."

Troy reached over and accepted the hand shake. "Troy Thompson," after a beat he went on people would find out anyway, "the latest foster child to the Bolton family."

Troy could see when he said his name the light behind Chad's eyes went off as he finally recognized the name and put the face and the name together.

Troy found himself having a conversation with someone his own age far more easier than before. Before this summer he had always had found himself an outsider to the conversations that happened around him, when he was asked what he was into it was hard to answer when he didn't even know what the question had meant.

However this summer he had had more conversations then he could remember and thanks to Coach Bolton who was in a hurry to give him a crash course on anything that was out there, he found himself being able to hold his own and talk about all that Chad wanted to talk about.

They sat in the tree talking about anything and everything until Mrs. Bolton called Troy in for dinner. That was Chad's sign to leave.

"Man, I enjoyed myself. Not to sound like a chick but I have been missing male companionship this summer and just hanging with a guy just talking was nice."

"Yes, it has been nice," agreed Troy.

"You mind if I come over again?" asked Chad.

"I am always here," replied Troy. He would have to tell the Bolton's about Chad tonight and ask for their permission to see if he could come over. He was slightly worried about what they would they say about today but he had been told over and over again that they would never be angry on the first offence.

"Cool man," said Chad getting up and stretching.

As they crossed the basketball court to the back of the garden where there apparently was a gap in the fence that you could slip though Chad asked, "Can't remember if you play or not?"

"Yes, I play," replied Troy and then couldn't end up adding, "probably whop your but too."

"Oh you are so on. I will be here tomorrow morning nice and early to take that challenge on."

Feeling brave Troy replied, "make sure you bring along some tissues to use 'cause you will cry when you lose."

Chad threw his head back and laughed "Oh I can tell, this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship," he said before slipping thought the gap and going back to his own house.

Troy stood there for a few more moments feeling like his life was a runaway train that he had no idea of what was going to happen around the corner. As he heard Mrs. Bolton call him again he realised that he did not wish to get of the ride he rather see where it took him.