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As they left Perkins, Teri was proud of her little troupe. She had expected at least some problems, especially considering that there were three boys in the group she knew nothing about. Sean and Cory made sure the new boys were included in the conversation; the adults didn't have to even speak up once to calm the discussions.
When they reached the vehicles, JJ stopped and asked Terri "Who's going to ride with who?"
"What do you mean? There's room enough for all of you kids in the Suburban; it DOES have nine seat belts! Cory and Sean can sit up front, you and the twins in the center, and the rest of the boys in back."
When he heard this, Ty bounced around as he exclaimed "YES! That means you get to sit with us, Adam!"
They all managed to get into the SUV without any problems, and shortly thereafter the convoy was on its way back to Teri's place. When they pulled into the drive, an awed Jacob announced "Wow, you guys have a nice place here! It's HUGE!"
Teri laughed. "For right now, at least, it's your place too. But don't become too attached to it, we are going to have to get a lots bigger place, especially if you guys get to stay."
Everyone piled into the house. Teri pulled Sean and Cory off to the side as they entered. "Boys; do you think you can be responsible for the rest of these guys in the pool for a little bit? It's still warm enough for you to all be out there for a while, but I want no horseplay."
They both nodded their heads yes, then Cory asked "What about suits? Sean and I are the only ones who have any here."
" That's a problem," Teri answered. "I guess the privacy fence will hide you all from the neighbors, so this time I'll let you guys skinny-dip. But, nobody goes any further than the pool room unless they have shorts on. Speaking of which; Cory, see if you can find two more pairs of shorts for the twins like the ones you gave Kyle."
" OK, mom; in fact, I think I'll grab clean shorts for all of us." Cory replied, and then took off to his bedroom.
Teri gathered the rest of the boys around her. "All of us adults need to sit and talk for a bit. Why don't you guys all go swimming in the pool, since most of you don't have suits, you can skinny-dip tonight. Sean and Cory are in charge; listen to them. Also, nobody comes in past the pool room without shorts on. Adam, you can get in the water as soon as I put some liquid bandage over your open sores, but no wrestling around or rough housing." She looked at the twins. "Cory is getting some shorts for you two to put on after you get out."
A few minutes later, Cory came bounding down the stairs with an armful of shorts; just as a blushing Adam came out of the bathroom wearing a towel, liquid bandage obvious on his chest and back. The twins stood frozen, shocked by the damage inflicted on Adam. Ty slowly walked up to his brother, tears streaming from his eyes. "I will NEVER forgive them for what they did to you!" he choked out. Ty then pulled Adam down so he could kiss his cheek, and whispered in his ear "I don't want you to ever leave me Adam."
" We will get over what they did to us together, Tyler. When I found out I had a little brother I was so happy, then I was told you were dead. Now that I'm with you, I never want to leave you again." Adam replied, tears welling in his own eyes.
The two brothers separated and joined the other boys. Sean led the group back through the rear mudroom to the pool changing room. The twins and Adam hesitated at first about showing themselves, but when they saw the rest just dropping their clothes and then walking around, Adam threw his towel into the corner and the twins pulled down their shorts.
Everyone just stood there for a minute, checking out each others bodies, and then Sean spoke up. "Okay, guys. First, now we can tell these two apart; Jacob's the one with the foreskin sticking past the end of his wand. Second, follow me; let's hit the pool!"
They walked through the doorway on the other side of the mud room, and everyone but Sean, Cory, and Ty stopped in wonder. There in front of them was a full-size Olympic swimming pool, surrounded by an eight-foot privacy fence. There was even a diving board at the far end and a slide at the shallow end!
Before anyone had time to recover, Sean spoke up. "Alright, here are the house rules. Nobody goes past that line in the middle, or uses the diving board, unless an adult is out here. Mom wants us to take it easy since we are by ourselves; but if Cory or me tells you to stop doing something, that means stop now. From personal experience, get wet before you try the slide. Now let's have some fun!"
Shortly a game of tag got started. It quickly became "dick tag", with each of them giving the tagee a thorough inspection while tagging them. The twins, especially Jacob, received more than their fair share of tags from Kyle and Ty.
Adam and JJ were the first to drift off to the side. They stood off in chest-deep water away from the others, facing each other with nervous smiles on their faces.
" Wanna play around?" JJ asked quietly.
Adam giggled. "Sure, but what if they notice?"
JJ smiled broadly. "The only ones who might care are the twins, maybe Ty too, but I doubt it. Everyone here is really cool about being gay, so it is not a big deal."
" Okay, if you say so, I'll trust you."
JJ slowly reached out and took Adam's boyhood into his hand. He gently caressed the most private places on Adam's body, marvelling at the softness and the smoothness. Adam reached over and began doing the same to JJ, shyly exploring his new friend. JJ began investigating Adam's foreskin with his other hand, it was the first time he had even known someone who was uncut, and there was no chance of him skipping this chance to explore the rare find. Adam shuddered from the new sensation as he moved his other hand to join the first in it's explorations. They moved together slowly, their bodies instinctively moving to the sensations they were feeling. JJ moved one of his hands to the back of Adam's head and carefully pulled Adam's face to his. He began by just pressing his lips to Adam's, but then started trying to explore Adam's mouth with his tongue. To his surprise, Adam opened immediately, trying to passionately explore with his own tongue. It took a minute for them to sort out what to do, but shortly they were tongue wrestling like pros. All thoughts of the others were gone from their minds as the sensory overload drove them to the edge. Both boys started moaning, the sound being muffled by each other's mouths but still audible. Suddenly, they broke the lip lock; and as their bodies spasmed uncontrollably, a loud groan escaped uncontrolled from both of their mouths. Both boys' bodies became stiff; a few seconds later, they collapsed against each other.
Adam recovered first, and as he looked up, he turned beet red. "Oh, shit! JJ, turn around, please?"
JJ looked at Adam, saw his blush, and turned around. Once both boys were turned, a round of applause rang through the pool area. All six of the other boys were sitting on the edge of the pool, smiling as they clapped their hands. They continued clapping as they all stood up.
Sean went into the water, and came up to the two boys. "That was awesome, guys! I wish I had a camera when you both got off; it was unreal! Let's join the rest of the guys; you need to rest after all that."
The two beet-red boys followed Sean to the end of the pool and climbed out. Cory met them there, and asked with a giggle "Does that mean you are boyfriends now?"
It was the perfect thing to say to break the embarrassment, as both JJ and Adam giggled and nodded their heads. Everyone was standing together, congratulating the new couple, when Jamie suddenly spoke up.
" Did that feel as good as it looked like it did from here?"
Adam smiled, "Yep, it felt awesome!"
" I can't even guess how to say how good it felt!" JJ chimed in.
Jacob giggled. "It feels good when Jamie and I touch each other in the bathtub too, but we don't make funny noises like you two did!"
Jamie blushed redder than a fire engine. "I can't believe you just told them that!" he said as he playfully slapped Jacob.
Everybody laughed, and after then Sean spoke up. "Hey, guys, I don't know about you, but I'm getting hungry. Let's go get dressed so we can raid the 'fridge. All this swimming and watching those two make out has made me hungry!" When Sean saw the looks JJ and Adam were giving him, he decided it would be best to run into the house before they strangled him.
JJ and Adam took off after him; by the time the rest of the boys caught up to them in the pool room, Adam had Sean pinned on the floor while JJ was tickling him unmercifully.
The boys managed to get dressed after a few minutes without any further incidents. Cory had planned ahead; as he passed out the clothes, he announced loudly that Jamie was getting the red shorts and shirt, while Jacob was going to be in all yellow. "Now you can stay dressed when anyone need to know who is who!" Kyle quipped. This brought a round of giggles from everyone, and they headed out to invade the kitchen with smiles on their faces.
In record time, the counter was filled with tubs of ice cream, toppings, and dishes. As the boys systematically destroyed the kitchen, the adults came out of the office. As soon as they saw the kids happily competing to create the grossest combination, they all broke into laughter.
" Do you clowns realize you have to clean up before you eat those?" Teri chuckled.
Eight grinning faces smiled back at her, then returned to the mayhem.
Dan shook his head. "I think I'll go check messages on my answering machine real fast. I'm gaining weight just watching this bunch!" He then headed back into the office.
A few minutes later, Dan yelled out "OH MY GAWD!"
Teri and John rushed into the room. "What's wrong, Dan?" Teri asked.
" Listen to this!" Dan replied.
Dan placed the phone on speaker, and replayed the message he had just heard.
"Dan, this is your aunt, Ann Richardson, from Lexington, Kentucky. I just finally caught up with Jeremy and Sarah, and they told me what happened. I am sending an e-mail which will explain further; but to make it short, you are my eldest son. The e-mail has the details of what happened after you were born. I have already explained everything to your brothers; Jerald Jr., Kevin, and Tim, and they look forward to the possibility of meeting with you. I sincerely hope one day you will be able to forgive me, and that we will be able to meet."
Dan pressed nine to save the message, and then looked over to Teri. "Could I possibly borrow your computer for a few minutes?"
" By all means, Dan. The Internet lockout is engaged, so I'll have to log in for you first." Teri replied as she turned on the system. Once she was logged in, she disengaged the lock and turned the computer over to Dan. She then headed towards the kitchen to see just how bad the boys and the kitchen looked.
The boys had decided to pair off while eating the ice cream. Sean and Cory were feeding each other, with the pairs of Adam and JJ, Kyle and Ty, and Jacob and Jamie copying them. Just as Tyler managed to insert the latest spoonful in a giggling Kyle's mouth; they all froze as they heard Dan yell from the office.
" HOLY SHIT! My BROTHER is Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys!!!"
Eight mouths dropped open, as the spoons fell unnoticed to the floor. There was a stunned silence as their young minds processed the information they had just heard. They then suddenly jumped off of the barstools and stampeded into the office, screaming "NO WAY!" as they barreled through the doorway.
As they crowded around the adults trying to see if it was for real, Dan spoke out. "Hold it, give me a minute and I will print it out so you can all see it." He printed the e-mail and passed it to Cory. "Cory, why don't you read this out loud to everyone for me?"
Cory glanced at the paper in his hand, and then began reading aloud.
Date: August 21, 2004
Subject: Hello, Daniel:
You may not remember me. I'm your Aunt Anne from Lexington, Kentucky. We haven't seen each other in many years, but I know that you are doing well for yourself in Des Moines. I want to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of your lovely wife, Sharon. I know that she will be sorely missed by you and your family.
The reason that I am contacting you now, after all these years, is because I need to be truthful to myself, to you, and to your brothers. Yes, you have brothers, three younger brothers, to be exact. I am just going to come right out and say it; you are my son, Daniel Scott Richardson.
When your father Jerald Sr and I were younger, we had a boy, you. We were barely struggling to make ends meet, and we couldn't support a child. So we agreed to let Jerald's brother, Jeremy, and his wife Sarah raise you as their own son. We gave you up so that you could have a better life than we could ever give you. Three years later, when things were looking up for us, we had another son, Jerald Jr. Your Dad and I started to look for you, but Jeremy and Sarah had moved away, and we had lost contact. We never gave up looking for you. Two years later, in 1969, Tim was born, and in 1971, Kevin was born.
Daniel, you have a family that loves you very much, and would like to be there for you right now. You have a wonderful aunt and uncle, Jackie and Harold Littrell Sr. You also have three wonderful cousins, Harold Littrell, Jr and Brian Littrell, and Chip Dodds. Kevin and Brian are part of the Backstreet Boys, and Chip is a Commander in Starfleet, assigned to the Starship Enterprise.
Kevin is married to a wonderful girl, Kristin, and Chip is married to a wonderful boy, Joshua. Chip and Joshua also have an angel for a son, Justin.
Please allow us the chance to become a family again. I have always loved you, son. I want you to believe that.
If you wish to get in contact with Kevin, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can contact Chip at email@example.com; Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Brian at email@example.com.
Take care of yourself
The room fell silent as Cory finished the letter. After about a minute, Kyle spoke in a small voice. "Daddy, when do we get to meet Uncle Kevin?"
" I'll tell you what," Dan replied after a moment's pause, "I'll write an email tonight and we will see if we can all get together soon. I have always known that I was adopted; Jeremy and Sarah never kept that from me. They told me that someday they would find my mother and reunite us. I'm not sure who found who, but it looks like you guys finally will get to meet your grandparents. Why don't all of you go out and finish your ice cream, and I'll get a couple of very important emails sent out."
Reminded of their food, the boys returned to the kitchen. They picked up their spoons off the floor, tossed them in the sink, and then resumed eating with some clean spoons. There was no conversation, each boy deep in thought about the news in the email that they just heard. As they finished, Adam spoke up.
" Man, JJ. I can't believe it! You and Kyle have an UNCLE in Backstreet!"
" Adam, you are wrong on one thing," JJ replied, "he is OUR uncle. Me, Sean, Cory, and Kyle swore that we would be brothers forever. You, Ty, Jacob, and Jamie are a part of that now. Even if we are not related by family, you are all my brothers, which means any relatives of mine are yours too."
Teri and Dan walked up to the boys with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. "Did you guys really do that?" Dan asked.
" Yep, we did. It's okay, ain't it dad?" JJ responded, while giving Dan the puppy dog eyes.
" Yes, JJ, it's fine. I'll just have to get used to having a whole bunch of sons; and I'm proud of all of you."
At that, the entire group of boys mobbed Dan and Teri, enveloping them in a massive group hug.
John and Joe were standing in the foyer outside the office, watching the happenings in the kitchen. "Now that's a Kodak moment," Joe stated. "It would be better if CPS was willing to release the twins for adoption, but at least they agreed to long-term foster care with Teri for now."
" True." John replied. "The best thing for those boys is a stable family, and I very much doubt their parents will be authorized to get them back. Hopefully sometime soon, CPS will release them for adoption."
Teri and Dan finally managed to escape the mob surrounding them. "Boys," Dan chuckled' "we actually just came out to get some drinks. I just finished sending emails to your grandma and Uncle Kevin, so this should surprise them. I still have to send out some to Chip and Brian, so I'll be a little bit. I was wondering one thing; you guys are all excited about your Uncle Kevin, what about Brian, or Chip's husband, Joshua?"
" We know Brian's a part of Backstreet too, but what do you mean about Joshua?" Sean asked with a puzzled look.
Teri smiled, then walked over to the intercom unit on the wall and placed one of the boys' CD's in the player. She selected the track she knew would spark their thoughts, and then pressed PLAY.
The first notes of "Bye, Bye, Bye" from N*Sync's "No Strings Attached" CD filled the house. You could hear the boy's jaws popping as they dropped when each of them realized who Joshua was.
Surprisingly, Jacob was the first to be able to speak. "Holy smoke! Joshua is JC in N*SYNC! AWESOME!! When do we get to meet him??!!"
Dan chucked. "I don't know yet, buddy. With him and Chip having a son, plus his band schedule, it might take a bit. Let me go finish the emails, we might know in a few days."
Dan grabbed his drink, and then went back to the computer. As he was pressing SEND on Brian's email, the last one he had to do, his Inbox suddenly had two messages in it. The first one was from Ann.
Thank you so much for responding, son. It made me cry with joy to see that you took not knowing who your birth parents were and turned it into a career of helping children without loving families recover. I still feel a little guilt, even though you told me not to. Kevin should be sending you an email soon, he is making travel arrangements so that some of us can be there with you and the boys in your time of need. Give everyone my regards, and I will see you soon.
Dan wiped his eyes, and quietly called Teri over. "Look at this, it's more than I ever expected."
Teri read the message as Dan was printing it, then gave him a hug. "Congratulations, Dan. She seems really nice; I hope this all works out."
Dan went to open the second message, when a third appeared. As soon as he saw the address, he decided to open it first.
**OFFICIAL DISPATCH FROM USS Enterprise**
From: Captain James T. Kirk
To: Mr. Daniel S. Richardson
On behalf of the officers and crew of the USS Enterprise, I wish to extend our condolences for the recent passing of your wife, Sharon. In addition, I wish to personally express my sympathy to you and your sons. I am personally making arrangements for Commander Dodds to be present to support you and the boys. If there is anything you need, please feel free to contact me through Starfleet headquarters.
Captain James T. Kirk
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
** END DISPATCH FROM USS Enterprise**
"Teri, you might want to load the printer, I think all the boys should get a copy of this." Dan stated with a grin. "It's not every day someone gets a letter from Captain Kirk."
The next email he opened was from Brian.
Hey cuz! I'm so glad to find out I have another cousin, Welcome to the family! Even though the circumstances are not good, I still look forward to meeting you and the boys. Tell them I said Hi, and assuming Kev does not screw up and send us to Alaska, I should see them soon. Yep, your little brother is arranging the travel plans, and I would advise against letting him do it too often. Hehehe. On a serious note, I would like to extend my condolences for Sharon's passing to you and the boys. I will see y'all soon; take care.
"Oh my God!" Dan laughed. "The boys are gonna LOVE him!"
He went back to his inbox, and then exclaimed, "Holy shit, I don't believe this! Joshua emailed me; I sent one to Chip, but not him!" Dan decided he might as well open it before he opened Kevin's mail, since it seemed to be a conspiracy to make Kevin's the last one.
Welcome to the family! Ever since your Mom contacted us, Justin has been asking every five minutes when he will get to meet your boys. I would have written earlier, but I had to wait for the tornado to wind down and fall asleep. I would like to extend our condolences from my family to yours on Sharon's passing; if there is anything we can do to help you out I insist you ask. I have been in contact with Starfleet, so Chip has been kept up-to-date on everything as fast as I hear it. Starfleet is helping arrange transportation, so Kevin should not get us too lost getting over there to see you. Don't worry; your brother is actually really cool, just a little dizzy. I better go now, the munchkin is awake again, and it is impossible to type when he is active. We will see you soon; take care of your boys.
Joshua, Chip, and Justin
Dan had to smile reading Joshua's email, Justin sounded just like a few boys right here. He could just imagine what one more energetic boy would be like. He looked at his inbox, and saw that there were no new arrivals, so he finally opened Kevin's email.
Hey bro, how ya doin? Kristin and I send our condolences about Sharon, we are really sorry we never got to meet her. I'm looking forward to meeting you and my nephews; we have a lot of catching up to do! By the way, if any of our cousins make any remarks about me, ignore them. Unless they are good ones; which never happens. I will email you tomorrow morning with arrival times for everyone, so we will see you soon!
Kevin & Kristin
Dan shook his head in disbelief, without even seeing any of his family; he already felt a part of it. He printed out copies of the rest of the emails, and passed them around to Joe, John, and Teri.
John looked at Teri as she handed him the copies. "Teri, could you make sure I'm up by 5:00? I called in to the station while you guys were getting the email. I need to be at the airport to meet the Governor"
" No problem, John. I'm probably going to be up anyway, it will be the only time I have a chance for quiet, since the boys will all be asleep."
" Thanks, Teri"
The adults decided they better check on the boys. It was not too hard to find them; the giggles coming from the Rec room pretty much gave away their location. Adam and Jacob were deep into a video game, with everyone else cheering them on and wrestling around.
" Sean, Cory; get over here!" Teri said in a mock stern voice.
The boys jumped up. "Yes, mom?"
" Go get some blankets, pillows, and quilts; it's getting late. I'm gonna let y'all camp out down here tonight. The TV gets shut off in fifteen minutes!"
" Okay, Mom." Sean replied "but do we HAVE to shut it off in fifteen minutes? Jacob is kicking Adam's butt, Adam needs a chance to catch up."
" Sean Michael, what did I say?"
" Yes mom." Sean pouted, as him and Cory headed to get everything.
Fifteen minutes later, the kids were finally paired off and cuddled up on the floor. As Teri dimmed the lights as low as they would go, she wondered how they could be comfortable. The boys had managed to lay in such a way that each of them was touching at least two others, either with hands, feet, chest or back.
The adults sat down for some tea, and then Joe headed out to go home. "I'll call y'all tomorrow, I better get some sleep."
The next morning, Dan got up when Teri woke John. They had a cup of coffee before John left, then sat and reviewed the events of the previous day. Dan went in to check his email, at first the mailbox was empty, but as he was just getting ready to close it a message appeared.
Your little bro is spazing at meeting you, so I had to do it for him. I've got 2 words for ya; WE'RE HEEERRRREEEE!!!!
Just then, there was a loud BOOM, and the sound of little feet running to the Rec room window.
Cory suddenly yelled, "KEWL!!! It's a Federation shuttle!"
John was standing at the terminal entry for the new Shuttle pad at Des Moines International in full dress uniform. He remembered how it had taken six months for the Governer to talk Starfleet into designating Des Moines as an emergency satellite port for O'Hare, but in the end Des Moines Midwest location won out.
He heard the sonic boom as the Federation shuttle entered Des Moines airspace, and couldn't help but to smile as he thought about the good fortune Dan and the boys had suddenly had thrust upon them. He straightened his uniform, nervously wondering which members of Dan's new family would be on the shuttle.
Once the shuttle had landed and was safely shut down, he went out to greet the guests. The first person to exit the shuttle was Anne.
"Good morning, and welcome to Des Moines, dear lady. I'm Sheriff John Martin; I will be escorting you to see Dan. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but you must be Anne." John said.
"Why thank you! It's a pleasure to meet you sheriff."
Next off the shuttle were Kevin and Kristin. Shortly after they were introduced, Brian came bouncing down the ramp.
"Sheriff, this is Brian. You have my permission to handcuff him if he irritates you." Anne stated.
John came to attention as the last of the party descended the ramp. On the left was a very familiar face; JC Chasez-Dodds. On the right, was a Starfleet Officer, which he assumed was Commander Charles "Chip" Dodds. In between the two was an angelic fourteen year old boy. "Welcome to Des Moines, Commander."
"The pleasure is all mine, Sheriff, I just wish it was under better circumstances." Chip replied. "Let me introduce you to my husband, Joshua, and my son, Justin."
"Pleasure to meet you." John said as he shook everyone's hand.
After the introductions, John led the group to a waiting limo. Chip shot a questioning look at John. "Don't worry about your luggage, Commander Dodds. My deputies are retrieving it as we speak."
"Thank you, Sheriff Martin. Please call me Chip. I'm on detached duty right now."
"Understood," John replied, "only if you call me John."
"Agreed." Chip said.
The entire group climbed into the limo, since John was accompanying them to Teri's house. As they departed, Chip noticed that a van was following them. "Must have all of our luggage in it," Chip thought.
A couple of minutes later, Chip smiled as he looked around the limo at the rest of his party. Kevin was holding Kristin close, both already dozing peacefully. John, Anne and Brian were talking softy, with Justin cuddled up and napping in Anne's arms. Josh was in his favorite position, snuggled in Chip's arms. Chip was amazed at the sudden appearance of open countryside as the limo pulled off of Fleur Drive onto the South Bypass. The pair of vehicles picked up speed, leaving the Des Moines city limits in no time.
When Chip pulled out his communicator, Anne and John both gave him a questioning look.
"I have to check in with the ship," Chip said.
John and Anne both nodded their heads and then resumed their conversation.
Chip opened up his communicator. "Dodds to Enterprise."
The communicator speaker came to life. "Enterprise, Spock here."
"Mr. Spock, this is Commander Dodds. Is the Captain available?"
"Not at present, Mr. Dodds. He is in San Francisco at Starfleet Headquarters. May I signal him for you?"
"That's ok, Mr. Spock. I was just checking in to let you know that my party and I are safely in Des Moines and enroute to our hotel."
"Very well, Mr. Dodds. Please extend my sympathies and condolences to the Richardson family on their loss."
"I will, sir. If anyone needs to contact me, I will have my communicator with me at all times."
"That is acceptable. We shall see you in a few days. Enterprise out."
Chip closed his communicator and put it back into his jacket pocket. He then returned his arms around Josh, and watched as the countryside flew past the limo's windows.
Twenty-five minutes later, the limo and van pulled into the circular drive in front of a large house.
"We will take care of the luggage in a few minutes." John told them. "Right now, Dan and the rest have no idea who I was meeting this morning, so let's surprise them!"
While John was secretly picking up the passengers at the airport, Dan and Teri were dealing with eight wide awake and excited boys.
Amid comments of "Kewl", "Awesome", and "Darn, I couldn't see it!", Teri finally managed to get the boys' attention,
"Guys, we will be having company in a little bit. Don't you think you better get your showers and get dressed BEFORE they call to meet us?"
The boys grumbled as they headed for the stairs, but a final comment from Sean and Cory got both Dan and Teri's attention.
"Man, I really wish I could pilot one of those one of these days." Sean stated.
"Me too." Cory replied. "Wouldn't it be cool if we both were on the same ship?"
"Yeah! I wish I knew how to get into Starfleet." Sean replied as they disappeared up the stairs.
As the boys all entered the bedroom and began undressing, Sean realized there would be a problem shortly. He called Teri on the intercom.
"Could you come up here with the key to Mike's room? I think we need to grab some of Cory's old clothes out of the storage in there. Otherwise, we are going to have a bunch of nude kids running around!"
"That would not be good. I'll be right up, meet me at the door to his room."
A few minutes later, Sean returned with an armload of clothes. "This should take care of you and JJ." He said to Adam. "Mom is going down to Ty's old house now to get clothes for him, Kyle, and the twins. Don't worry, she's gonna put them in my room."
Everyone relaxed, and then Sean said, "I think we better get some things out in the open. It seems like this discussion ends up being in the nude lately, so let's keep the habit going!"
"Not AGAIN!" Kyle groaned, with an exaggerated pained expression on his face.
Sean reached over and put Kyle in a light headlock, causing both of them to giggle. While Sean was close, he whispered in Kyle's ear. "Way to go last night, bro. You did not pee in your sleep. I'm proud of you."
"Thanks Sean." Kyle whispered back.
Sean went ahead and filled the new additions to the group in on everyone. There was some disbelief from the twins and Adam about Kyle's being able to hear Mike until Tyler spoke up and told in detail what happened to let them find Adam.
The twins got that look on their faces like they were talking to each other silently, when suddenly their eyes got wide, and both of them looked at Kyle in amazement.
"How'd you do that!" they exclaimed in unison.
"I tuned in on the noise I hear every time you guys talk to each other." Kyle replied.
"What did he do?" Ty asked.
"He showed us what we look like when we talk to each other privately, then said `BUSTED!'" Jamie replied.
Everyone else fell silent as they watched the three boys. The only sound for the next two minutes was an occasional giggle from the three as they shared something funny between them. The three of them reached out and joined hands. The rest of the boys were shocked when each one of them was suddenly encased in a blue glow, first individually, then all three at once. When they separated, Jamie finally spoke.
"WOW! That was AWESOME! While we were talking to each other, Mikey joined us and had us join hands, Jacob and I were able to hear him and talk to him too! Mikey says that now no matter where we are, the three of us will be able to talk to each other. He told us some other things too, but we had to promise to keep them secret, they are good things tho."
Jacob then took over. "He also said we need to tell you ALL the reasons we ran away. The first reason you guys already figured out, we only got food if we found it for ourselves. There is more though."
Kyle got a shocked look on his face, grabbed Ty, and moved over to sit with the twins.
Jacob continued in a subdued voice. "We have three sets of clothes for school, and just this one set of shorts to play in. We are not allowed to visit friends or have them over; in fact dad says we can't have friends. We were not supposed to leave the yard. When we are inside at home, Dad will not let us wear any clothes. The bad part is ..." Jacob suddenly fell silent, shame showing on both his and Jamie's faces.
Kyle reached out and took hold of each of the twin's hands. "Do you want me to tell the rest for you?"
Both boys nodded their heads as Ty took their other hands into his.
Kyle continued where Jacob had left off. "Their mom had died when they were born, so it was just them and their father. A couple of years ago, their father caught them playing around with each others privates. Ever since then, after supper they have had to sit on his lap and let him touch them there until bedtime. For the last year, the only thing they had for supper was two slices of bread and a glass of milk, breakfast was two slices of bread and a glass of orange juice. While he was playing with them, whenever he was about to squirt they had to take turns swallowing it. If neither one dribbled any, they got a treat; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Last Thursday, he started doing something else; he started sticking a finger up their butts while he was rubbing. They are both gay, and they knew where that was leading, so they decided to leave before he got home Friday."
Kyle broke out of the trance he had dropped into, and immediately pulled the twins tight against him. The room was silent, the anger at what they had been forced to do was so strong it seemed like a physical fog in the room.
Unknown to the boys, Teri had been listening from Sean's room. She had come in to leave the clothes when she heard the twins start talking, and decided she had better listen. When Kyle finished, she was in a blind rage at what they had went through. For the first time ever, she walked into the room without knocking, going immediately to the twins. She knelt before them and lifted their faces to look directly in their eyes. "Boys, you can be angry, but do not be ashamed. He should have never made you do that, and I promise he will pay. I was dropping off the clothes and overheard all of it. I know now why you did not go to the police, but from now on, you will never have to worry about being forced to do anything. Dan is a psychologist, you can talk to him; or you can talk to me or to any of these boys here. Whatever it takes to make sure he never gets near you again will be done, that I promise you. I'm going to call the Judge from the other room so you don't have to hear me repeat what happened, you go ahead and get calmed down before y'all come down."
Teri went to the phone in Sean's room and called Joe. As soon as she had relayed what she heard, he promised to be over as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the boys were calming down and consoling the twins, pledging their support in whatever it would take to ensure their safety.
Teri finished the call, and headed to the stairs. As she was coming down the stairs, the doorbell rang. "Dan, could you get that please?" she called out.
Dan opened the door, and his jaw dropped so fast it cracked the threshold. He was speechless! In the driveway was a long white limo, and standing at the door were John and seven other people, some of which two days ago, he would have laughed if you had told him he would meet them.
"Wake up, Dan! Are you gonna let us in?" John asked.
"Uhh – yeah, come on in." Dan said in a shocked voice.
John came into the foyer, immediately followed by Kevin and Kristin.
"Dan! I'm your little brother Kevin." Kevin pulled Dan into a hug, a goofy grin on his face. As he pulled back, he put a hand on Kristin's shoulder. "This fine lady is my wife, Kristin."
Dan hugged Kristin. "I'm happy to meet you too"
While all the hugging was going on, everyone else entered the foyer
Dan felt a hand softly touch his shoulder. He slowly turned around. Facing him with a nervous smile was a stately older woman which he instinctively knew had to be Anne. "Mom??"
"Yes, son," Anne said as she pulled him into a hug, both of them crying.
After a couple minutes, they composed themselves, and Anne introduced the rest of the group.
"Dan, this is your cousin Chip, and his husband Joshua. The little angel in Josh's arms is Justin."
"Chip, Josh, it's a pleasure to actually meet you. It looks like I'll have to wait to say hi to Justin though!" Dan said with a chuckle.
"It's a pleasure having you as part of the family." Chip replied. "As far as Justin goes, once he wakes up you will be begging for him to go back asleep!"
"Yeah," Josh jumped in' "this little angel turns into a tornado once he is fully awake. It's probably a good idea to hide breakables now! By the way, welcome to the family, cuz!"
Anne introduced the last person, "Dan, this is your cousin Brian."
Kevin muttered just loud enough to be heard. "Yeah, the reject from the funny farm!"
Everyone cracked up at this, even Teri, who had walked in just as the introductions started. "Everyone," Dan started, "this is my good friend Teri. Teri, this is everyone!" When he saw the dirty look she was giving him, he then introduced everyone by name.
Josh looked over at Teri – "Teri, is there someplace I can put the rug rat? He's getting kinda heavy"
"Sure Josh, follow me, the boys still have their `nest' assembled in the rec room." She replied.
"Nest?" Josh asked with a confused look on his face.
"Yeah, they camped out in the rec room last night, the end result of it looks like a bird's nest."
"Ohhhkayyy ... I'm afraid to ask!"
Chip followed along with Josh as Teri led them into the rec room. Josh carefully navigated around the pile of blankets and pillows on the floor, and laid Justin carefully on the couch. Chip removed his Starfleet bomber jacket and laid it over Justin, and then both men gave their sleeping son a kiss on the forehead before heading towards the doorway.
As they exited the room, Jamie and Jacob came down the stairs. The boys both still had pained expressions on their faces, even though all signs of tears had been washed off. Without paying attention to who was with Teri, they came over and cuddled up on either side of her.
"Josh, Chip – this is Jamie and Jacob." Teri stated softly.
Josh knelt down in front of them. "Hey guys, why the sad faces?"
"We were just talking about our daddy with Teri." Jamie replied in a subdued voice.
"Holy Smoke!!!! You're JC from N*Sync!!!!" Jacob shouted, effectively getting the attention of everyone else in the house.
Josh laughed "Yeah, last time I checked I was." Josh then pointed at Chip "and this is my husband, Chip."
Chip knelt down in front of the twins and spoke up, "Why does talking about your Daddy make you guys sad?"
As Jacob started to reply, Teri put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "If you want, I'll tell them for you, ok guys? You two can relax in the rec room while we are talking. Just don't wake up Justin."
"Justin? Who's Justin?" Jamie asked.
Chip answered. "Justin is mine and Josh's fourteen year old son."
In chorus the twins answered, "Okay, kewl." They then headed into the rec room.
When they entered the room, Justin was sitting up on the couch. "Hey guys, I'm Justin. Who yelled and woke me up?"
"Hey Justin, I'm Jacob, and this is my brother Jamie. Sorry about waking you up – your ... umm ... JC surprised me."
Justin replied, "You mean Pop surprised you. How?"
Jamie replied, "You try lookin' up and seein' a N*Sync member in front of you!"
"I do every morning. So what? I also see a Starfleet officer as well. What's really bad is having to eat breakfast with Aaron every morning."
"Yeah, who was that Starfleet man?"
"That's my Dad – he's a Commander on the Enterprise."
Jacob spoke up, "Okay, now who the heck is Aaron?"
"It's just Aaron Carter. No big deal. By the way, how the heck does anyone tell y'all apart?"
Jacob giggled, "Do you really wanna know?"
Jamie blushed. "Actually, the only way is if one of us drops our shorts. Jacob's winkie still has skin on the end, mine don't."
Justin shook his head. "I think I'll just ask if that's OK with y'all. I heard some of what y'all said out there, since you got me up. You wanna talk about it?"
The twins sat on the other end of the couch, and began telling Justin about how they were found. Justin saw the tears starting as they continued, and asked them to come sit by him. As the twins settled in on each side, he pulled them close and thought to himself "I gotta talk to Dad and Pop. There's gotta be something they can do to help these guys."
Sobbing, the twins finished the short version of their lives, and fell asleep in Justin's arms. With dark thoughts running through his head concerning what he was going to do if he ever met their father, Justin shortly fell back asleep, holding his new friends protectively.
"Why don't we all go grab a cup or two of coffee?" Teri asked. "We need to wait for Joe to get here before I go over what happened to the twins, he's the leading Family Court Judge for Polk County."
"Sounds like a plan," Chip replied.
"I'll get the others," Josh said.
Once everyone was gathered in the dining room and had their coffee or tea in hand, Chip asked Teri to fill them in some on how she had amassed such a large family in the last week. As she was just finishing the stories of how each boy joined the family, the rest of the boys came downstairs.
"Mom," Sean said, "where's Jacob and Jamie?"
"They are in the Rec Room with Justin; he's Chip and Josh's son. I told them to relax for a bit." Teri replied.
Sean turned to go check on them, and saw the rest of the guys standing there with their jaws dropped down to their knees. He turned back around to see why they were in shock, and fell speechless when he realized who was sitting around the table.
Ty found his voice first. "WOW!! That's Kevin and Brian from Backstreet, and JC from N*Sync!! They're really here at OUR house! KEWL!"
The adults chuckled at the responses of the kids, then Dan waved them over to the table. He looked around the table at the adults." I hate to tell y'all this, but you're gaining a few more kids than you expected. This entire group has sworn to each other that they are brothers forever – I would not be surprised if the twins are included in the group now." He stood up, and placed his hand on the shoulder of each boy as he introduced him. "This is my son, JJ, and here is his brother Kyle. The other four here are Teri's boys; first this is Sean, the unofficial chief of this tribe, this one is his brother Cory, and this is Tyler and Adam, the last two official additions to the family. Jacob and Jamie are the twins, their family affiliation is still in limbo, but somehow I get the feeling they will be a part of this family somewhere before this is all done."
Anne spoke up, "Dan, have a seat, son. I'll handle the introductions from here. First, I want to make an announcement. Teri, I heard a lot of good things about you even before we arrived, but what I've seen in the short time I've been here has made up my mind. I have been blessed with four wonderful sons, and from this moment forward I'm proud to say that I now have gained a daughter. Your actions regarding Dan and all these boys are above and beyond what most people would even consider. From now on, you are family; you are my daughter as far as ANYONE is concerned. Welcome to the family, and no, you do not have any choice in the matter." Anne then smiled at Teri, and gave her a welcome hug.
"Now, boys; can I have your attention please?" Anne continued. "It's time you met the members of your family that are here. There's even more you will meet later. First, I'm Dan, and now Teri's, mom, Anne; all of you can call me Grandma though, OK? Over there is your Uncle Kevin and Aunt Kristin, and next to them is your cousin, Brian. Sitting by Dan is your cousin Josh, and next to him is his husband Chip. Their son, Justin, is supposed to be resting in the rec room right now. You guys will meet him in a little bit."
"Unca Chip?" Kyle said, "Justin says that Aaron Carter stays with you and you are part of Starfleet. Is he fibbing?"
"Whoa! Yes, Aaron does live with us, and so does his boyfriend David. And yes, I'm in Starfleet, too. How the heck did you know that?" Chip replied with surprise.
Sean chuckled "Uncle Chip, meet our resident psychic! Kyle and the twins seem to have figured out how to talk to each other in their minds!"
"Please don't teach Justin that! He's bad enough when you can hear him plotting!" Josh chuckled.
Just then, the doorbell and phone both rang. Sean went to get the door, while Cory went to answer the phone.
As Cory picked up the receiver, he looked over and saw Sean escorting in Joe.
"Short residence, this is Cory"
"CORY! This is Mark! How are you doing?"
"Pretty good. Things have been nuts the last few days, but my memory has improved a lot. What are you up to?"
"Not much. I'm in a temp home right now. Do you know where Dr. Richardson is at? I need to talk to him."
"Yeah, Dan's sitting in the other room right now. What's up?"
"I kinda need his help if he will give it to me. I need a reference so I can find a place to go. The state says I'm too old for them to place now."
"That bites. Just a sec, let me ask him. I'm gonna put ya on hold here."
Cory went over to Dan. "Dan, Mark's on the phone. The state is givin' him a hassle; he wants to know if he can come see you." The concern in Cory's voice was extremely evident.
"Who is Mark?" Anne asked.
"He was my roomie when I was in the home recovering from my memory loss. He helped me deal with it a lot, especially when I started remembering about being gay and Sean being my boyfriend." Cory replied.
"Tell him to come over then. If Dan can't help him, we will figure something out. It's only right he gets paid back for helping you." Anne stated.
Cory looked at Dan. "You heard your Grandma," Dan replied, "tell him to get his butt over here."
Cory returned to the phone. "Mark, you still there?"
"Yeah Cory, I thought you forgot I was here though!"
Cory giggled, "Naw, but you need to get over here as fast as you can. From what I was just told, you don't need to worry about anything. Do you have a way over, or do you need a ride?"
"Well, I'm in Ankeny right now, if you could send someone out it would be easier. If I call a cab, it will be hard to convince them to let me go, the foster `rents are afraid I'll run off."
"Okay, just a sec."
Cory put his hand over the phone, then yelled "MOM! Can someone go pick up Mark? His fosters won't let him leave in a cab, and he's in Ankeny."
"Don't worry about it!" Kevin yelled back. "I'll send the limo to pick him up! Just get the address."
"Thanks Uncle Kev!" Cory then removed his hand. "Mark, what's the address there, the limo will come get you."
"Limo? Yeah, right! And since when do you have an Uncle Kev?"
Cory giggled, "Just give me your address dufus. I DO have an Uncle Kev, wait till you meet him!"
Mark gave Cory the info, then after trading insults they hung up.
Cory was giggling as he handed the address to Kevin. "Man, is Mark ever gonna be surprised. He don't believe a limo is picking him up, then he gets to find out who my Uncle Kev is!"
"That settles it; you are DEFINITELY a member of the family after pulling that off!" Kevin snickered. "It sounds like all you need is the Advanced Pranks course from Brian and you'll be all set!"
"HEY!" Brian said. "Why does everyone always blame ME for the pranks?"
"Maybe it's because you usually DO pull most of the pranks?" Josh muttered.
Everyone got a good laugh as Brian tried to stutter his way out of it, then Kevin took the address out to the limo driver so he could go get Mark.
Teri gathered the boys together. "There's cereal in the kitchen, why don't you all go get ONE BOWL each to hold you over till we go out to breakfast? If the twins and Justin are awake, they might want some too. Why don't one of you check?"
Tyler ran to the rec room as the rest of the boys headed for the kitchen. A minute later, he was back, giggling. "Mom, Uncle Chip, Uncle Josh; you GOTTA see this!"
They followed Ty back into the rec room. Everyone smiled at the sight before them: Justin was lying on a pile of blankets on the floor; with a twin on each side cuddled so close they made a living blanket for him. The twins were using Justin's chest for a pillow, lying so their noses touched each other.
Teri reached towards the twins. "I hate to do this, but they need to eat." She reached down and rubbed the boys' shoulders. "Jamie, Jacob; get up and get into the kitchen for some cereal."
The two boys woke instantly, but as they tried to get up, Justin pulled them back down unconsciously.
Anne chuckled, "Looks like the angel has decided to take them under his wing."
Josh looked at Chip and smiled. "I think Justin is making plans without us again, hon."
"We'll just have to beat him to the punch then, won't we?" Chip replied with a gleam in his eye.
Everyone's attention was drawn back to the boys when the twins began speaking. "Justy!" they said in chorus, "Get up bro! We need to hurry up before everyone else eats all the Cocoa Puffs! C'mon, we're hungry!"
Justin slowly turned his head and kissed each of the twin's foreheads. "Don't worry guys; I'll make sure you get some food." He then opened his eyes and saw the group of adults watching them. "AWWWWW MAANNN!!!!" he moaned, "Do you all HAVE to watch me sleep!"
"BUSSSTTTeeed rug rat!" Josh said with a grin.
"Aww Man; I'm gonna get you Pop!" a blushing Justin replied.
Ty giggled. "C'mon guys, lets raid the kitchen!"
"Jamie, Jacob;" Teri said, "you two are in charge of introducing Justin to everyone else – BEFORE you get your cereal. And only ONE BOWL EACH, we are going out to eat in a little bit!"
As the boys headed for the kitchen, Teri guided everyone else to the office. Once they were in there, she closed the door and introduced everyone to Joe. The last person she introduced was Chip. When she gave his name, Joe's eyebrows jumped up.
"Chip Dodds? You wouldn't, by any chance, be the Commander Chip Dodds who invoked the Federation's Safe Haven Act in regards to Aaron Carter last year, are you?"
"As a matter of fact, Judge, yes I am."
"I'm honored to meet you. How is young Aaron doing?"
"He began settling in a few months ago. It took a while to get over what his so-called parents did, even though he knew it was coming. Thankfully, so far they haven't tried to disregard the restrictions placed on them, but I have this uneasy feeling that sooner or later they will try something."
"That's great news. The family court system nationwide watched that first use very close. It is the first law that helped us at this level directly. Now, back to business. I would like this to be made an official testimony so that none of us has to go through it again. By any chance are you able to log a conversation using your communicator, Chip?
"Actually that's not a problem. Just give me a second." Chip opened his communicator, "Dodds to Enterprise."
"Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Chip."
"Nyota, could you please tie my communicator in to record to the ship's log, then connect me to the Captain?"
"Recording is started, Chip. One second and the Captain will be on."
"Thank you Nyota."
"Kirk here. Is there a problem, Chip? Uhura tells me you requested a ship's log recording."
"Not a problem yet, Captain. The log recording was upon request of Judge Joseph Lewis, Family Court Judge for Polk County, Iowa. This is regarding some twin boys, they look to be about 8 years old ..."
"They are 10." Joe interrupted.
"Correction, Captain," Chip continued, "The boys are 10. My gut instinct tells me you might want to listen in on this, even more so now that I see that they are suffering from stunted growth."
"That little tidbit was enough to get my attention, Chip. I will monitor the proceedings. If you need my assistance, just say the word."
"Thank you Captain. Dodds standing by. Beginning proceedings."
"Kirk standing by."
"Okay Judge, it's all yours." Chip said.
"Thanks, Chip, and thank you, Captain Kirk. This is Judge Joseph Tyler Lewis, Family Court, Polk County, Iowa, USA. These proceedings are in regards to the minor children Jamie Sampson Stewart and Jacob William Stewart; both age 10, born April 15, 1994. For the first statement, the presiding officer will make his report.
Chip swore in John, and then John began his testimony.
"This is Sheriff John Clay Martin, badge number 624, Polk County, Iowa Sheriff's Department. Yesterday evening I was preparing to eat dinner at the Urbandale Perkins, when one of my party noticed the subjects digging in the dumpster behind the restaurant. They were reported as missing for the last 3 days, but their physical condition suggested long-term malnourishment. As required by State codes, I put them in emergency foster care until their home conditions could be verified."
"Thank you Sheriff. Next up is Teri Short." Joe said.
Chip swore in Teri, and she related what she had heard about the boy's home life and the abuse they had been subjected to.
Once she finished, Captain Kirk spoke up from the communicator. "Judge, has a medical exam been performed on these children yet?"
"No Captain, one has not."
"Keep this channel open, but I request a fifteen minute recess while I arrange for a Starfleet Doctor to perform an exam on these youths."
"Recess granted Captain. This hearing now stands in recess for fifteen minutes."
Ten minutes later, a shimmering column appeared in the room. "Good morning, Doc," Chip said to the doctor after he had materialized. Chip then introduced Dr. Leonard McCoy to everyone in the room.
"It was good till I read that transcript. Where are those boys? If I find anything wrong, I'm gonna do things to their father that would make a Klingon cringe."
Josh turned to Brian, "Bri, go get the twins for the Doctor."
A few minutes later, the twins appeared at the door. The surprise was, they were not with Brian, but with Justin; one twin hiding under each of his arms.
As soon as Justin saw Dr. McCoy, he visibly relaxed. "Jamie, Jacob; this is Dr. McCoy from the Enterprise. You don't need to worry; he's the best doctor in the whole universe!"
Jamie cuddled in closer to Justin. "Could you still stay with us? PLEASE?"
Dr. McCoy stopped Justin before he could answer. "Any other time I'd say no. But after what I heard this morning I will allow it, this time ONLY. Now why don't you guys show me where a bedroom is, and we will get this over with."
The twins headed out the door with Justin and the Doctor right behind them. As they left the room, Dr. McCoy told Justin "By the way young man, no matter how much you try to flatter me, the `no chocolate after 5PM rule' still applies."
Chip chuckled, "I better check on Brian. He's probably gotten into something." He walked out into the kitchen, and the first clue that something was up was the innocent looks on the faces of the six boys. He noticed all six of them were missing their shirts. He then heard the muffled groans from behind the counter. Barely suppressing a laugh, Chip asked, "Alright Sean, what did you guys do with Brian, and why?"
Sean looked up; radiating innocence so much you could see a halo. "Brian is `resting' in the kitchen. He tried to get into Justin, Jacob, and Jamie's box of Cocoa Puffs after they left."
Chip looked Sean in the eyes. "And WHY do they have their own box? I know your mom told you only one bowl each."
"They did not get a chance to finish their bowls. We talked for a while before we started eating, so they were only half way done when Brian came out. We are finishin' up what they had so it's not wasted, and I told them to get more when they came back out."
"Okay, you can slide this time. Now I guess I better check on Brian." Chip walked around the counter, and collapsed on the floor laughing when he saw Brian.
Anne and Teri came out to see what the commotion was and saw Brian hog-tied on the kitchen floor with a gag in his mouth. Anne looked at Teri and smiled "It looks like Brian's finally met his match. Wait until I tell Jackie, Harold and Junior. Ice cream's on me after the restaurant for the boys!"
Chip finally recovered enough to crawl over and begin untying Brian. He saved the gag for last, and as he removed it Teri told Brian "It looks like you've been accepted. They didn't throw you in the pool!"
There was a knock on the door, and Cory went to answer it. "MARK! Get in here, I missed ya bro!" he exclaimed.
Once they were in the foyer, Cory stopped Mark for a minute. "I'll introduce you to everyone in a little bit. Right now there's some serious junk goin' down, just promise you won't freak when you see who is here."
"After seeing that massive limo pull up, I don't think anything will shock me!" Mark replied.
Cory giggled, "Just wait, it gets even better!" He then guided Mark back to join the rest of the group. When they reached the breakfast nook, Mark came to a stop in shock.
Cory giggled. "Told ya it gets better! You know Sean and Mom, that's my bro's Adam and Ty by Sean. Over there is Dan's son JJ, and you already know Kyle; Dan adopted him. Joe is in the office, he's the family judge for around here, but there by the door is John, he's the Polk County Sheriff. The goofball giving everyone dirty looks is my second cousin Brian, next to him are my second cousins Josh and Chip. We're actually calling the three of them uncle tho, it is too weird having cousins that old! You will meet Josh and Chip's son Justin in a little bit, he is upstairs with the twins and Dr. McCoy. The last three are my real uncle and aunt, Uncle Kevin and Aunt Kristin; and Grandma Anne. Everyone, this is Mark Owens. He was my roommate back at the home."
Anne walked up to Mark. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Cory said that you helped him recover, for that all of us are eternally grateful. I'm sorry for the delay, but there was a major problem with the twins that we are resolving right now. Feel free to join us while we sort this all out."
"Thank you Anne. This is still blowing my mind, but I would be happy to join you."
Everyone finally headed back into the office. Joe was on the phone, and they heard his side of the conversation.
"Yes Commissioner ... I will be resuming the hearing as soon as the Doctor finishes his examination ... The Commander just returned to the room, let me ask him ... Yes, he knows about the law. He was the first one to invoke it ... hold on, I'll be right back."
Joe turned towards the table. "Captain, are you still there?"
"Yes, Judge, and I heard your side of the conversation. What is the Commissioner's number? I can have him patched through here so any determinations he makes are part of the ship's log."
John gave Kirk the number then continued. "If Dr. McCoy finds any physical evidence to support the verbal testimony, the Commissioner is prepared to invoke clause 134-C of the Safe Haven Act. We believe that an out-of-state placement will be required for the children's mental health and safety. Can you recommend any officers who are capable of taking on two boys on such short notice?"
"One second, Captain," Chip interrupted.
Chip turned to Josh. "Hon, you saw Justy with the boys. It would break his little angel heart if we didn't at least try."
Josh hugged Chip. "I know, babe, and we have talked about Justy needing a little brother for a long time. I think these two are perfect. What do you think?"
"I agree. Let's do it." Chip then broke the embrace and turned back towards the Judge. "Joe, if the twins and Justin are in agreement, I will invoke the custody proceedings. Josh and I agree that we can handle taking on these two. Section 134-C, Sub-part 3 requires a judicial authority in the Starfleet officer's home state or province to verify suitable accommodations. If you contact Judge Jamie Robison in Orlando, we can satisfy that requirement."
Just then Uhura announced on the communicator that the Commissioner was connected.
Joe chuckled "This should be easy; Jamie was my roommate back in college. I'll put him on speaker here, that way everything is ready when Dr. McCoy comes back down with the boys."
Just as Joe got Jamie on the speakerphone, Justin came through the doorway with the twins. Dr. McCoy followed them in, wearing an uncharacteristic smile and waving a plastic bag.
"I assume that you have some good news, Doc?" Chip stated.
"It's things like this that make this worthwhile." Dr McCoy replied. "The boys are malnourished, but that can be corrected. The prize in the bag here is due to their father losing a part of his fingernail while he was inserting what appears to be two fingers into each of them. I did a DNA analysis already, and it came up positive for close relation. Considering the only relative they have living is their so-called father; that narrows it down real quick. I expect to see these boys on the Enterprise within three days to do a full workup on their diets and supplements. You understand me, Chip?"
"Doc, they are not even ..." Chip began to reply, but he was cut off by Dr McCoy.
"Don't even try to give me that line, Chip. To quote Spock, `it's only logical that you take them in'. Or as I prefer to say it, either you do it or I'll do it for you." He then tossed the bag to John. "Here's your evidence, any and all confirming tests you may need have already been cleared through Starfleet Medical. Just give them a call and ask for Dr. Elaine Howard. I have already ordered Priority One processing for you. I want that S.O.B. nailed to the wall."
"Will do, Doctor. With this evidence it's pretty much open and shut. Thank you very much for your assistance," John replied.
"Prepare to beam up, Bones." Kirk ordered thru the communicator.
The next thing everyone knew, Dr. McCoy was dematerializing before their eyes.
Joe continued with the proceedings. "The doctor's results are on record, Commissioner; I believe you had a request?"
"Yes, Judge, as soon as you can verify suitability of residency, the State of Iowa wishes to invoke Section 134-C of the Safe Haven Act."
"Commissioner, this is Judge Jamie Robison, Family Court in Orlando, Florida. I am required to keep an open file on Commander Dodds and Mr. Chasez-Dodds due to their status as guardians of Aaron Carter under the Safe Haven Act. I hereby declare full suitability, and furthermore fully recommend their approval."
Captain Kirk spoke up. "Commissioner, Starfleet accepts you invocation of the Safe Haven Act, as per Section 134-C. The recommendation of Judge Robison is noted and accepted. Commander Dodds, front and center."
"Standing by, Captain."
"The State of Iowa has certified you and your husband, Joshua Chasez-Dodds, under section 134-C of the Safe Haven Act, as the nominated custodial guardians for Jamie and Jacob Stewart. Do you accept this nomination?"
"Affirmative, Captain. Josh and I accept full custody."
"Commissioner, Starfleet accepts your request for invocation of Section 134-C of the Safe Haven Act, and hereby relieves you, and the State of Iowa, of responsibility for the minor children Jamie and Jacob Stewart. Please forward all documents regarding the children to my attention on the Enterprise."
Everyone broke out in cheers of congratulations at the announcement. Once they had finally calmed down, Kirk continued. "Chip? Josh? Congratulations on your new sons! Bones said to remind you that you have three days to have them up here for full exams, and I expect you to bring everyone else there with you."
Chip, smiling, replied, "Aye, sir. Consider it done, Captain."
"Good. See you in a few days. Kirk out."
Chip readjusted his communicator. "Dodds to Enterprise, Uhura?"
"Uhura here, Chip."
"Good. Discontinue recording at this time, and forward a copy of that transcript to the CPS Commissioner and Judge Lewis here in Des Moines; Judge Robison in Orlando; and a copy to Starfleet JAG Corps and Starfleet Medical."
"Will do, Chip. Anything else?"
"Yeah, make sure the Captain gets a hard copy of that transcript."
"Sure thing. Take care, kiddo, and congrats from all of us up here. And even Mr. Spock sends his regards."
Chip blushed and replied, "Thanks, Nyota. Dodds out." Chip closed his communicator and then turned to look at his husband, his son, and the twins "Jamie? Jacob? Could you please come over here for a minute?"
Jamie and Jacob walked over to Chip as the older man knelt down in front of them. Jamie spoke up, "Yeah, Uncle Chip?"
Chip had a smile on his face. "Boys, how would you like to come live with me, Uncle Josh, and Justin in Orlando?"
The twins turned to look at Justin, who just simply nodded his head. They then turned back to face Chip. "That'll be AWESOME!!" the twins replied in unison. Jamie asked, "Uncle Chip? Does this mean that we can call you `Daddy' and call Josh `Pop'?"
Josh walked over and knelt beside his husband and faced the boys. "Yeah, kiddos. I'll be your `Pop', and Chip will be your `Daddy'. And when the time is right, we will change your last names to Dodds. Would you two like that?" Josh and Chip were surprised by the twins' answer.
Jacob hugged Josh tight, while Jamie did the same thing to Chip. Chip noticed that Justin was watching them. He motioned to his oldest son. "Come here, munchkin. You're a part of this, too."
Justin ran over and gave his new brothers a hug at the same time he became wrapped up in his parents' arms.
The rest of the group just watched and smiled at the new family in front of them.
Hey all, this is Mike again!
Sorry about hiding out lately, but you try to keep up with this tribe! I'll admit, Kyle kinda freaked me out with his "Kylegrams" between him and the twins, but I have a sneaky suspicion that sooner or later it will come in handy.
As far as the adults go, it looks like Dan's long-lost family showing up when they did is doing some good, even though they are shaking up the whole group with all the changes they have brought along with them. Sharon has commented that this was the best thing that could happen right now, she really does not want to see the family grieving, and all this excitement has taken their minds off of the funeral. Sharon and I discussed it and her concerns that either Dan or JJ would follow the same route Cory did when I died have faded after all the support they have both received. I really hope so at least, it still hurts to see Cory miss out on something he used to enjoy because he doesn't remember ever doing it.
I don't know about y'all, but Sean does kinda worry me; he has taken on the role of big brother / tribal chief with all of these boys, and I'm not really sure he is ready for it. That's a lotta responsibility he is shouldering, I really hope he asks for help when he needs it. At least I can get thru to him using the connection thru Kyle if things get out of hand!
You know, at times I'm beginning to think its better watching everything from up here! I really wonder how much I missed while trying to keep up with a normal life, I see so much more now!
Well, I better let y'all get back, my sources say things are about to go crazy again. (Or is that yet?)
Sean and Cory were finally getting some quiet time together. After dinner, all the boys gravitated into the rec room. After about a half hour of celebrating and congratulating the twins on their new family, Cory got Sean's attention and they snuck out of the room and up to Cory's bedroom.
"What's the matter, Cory?" Sean asked once they were in the room.
"Nuthin. I just needed some one-on-one time with my favorite person. Is that okay?" Cory replied in an accusing tone.
"What's that about? I'm not ignoring you, Cory."
"You might as well be. Sean, since Ty came up to the door, you have been spending all your time with everyone else. I would like some time with you too. I'm trying to deal with a lot; feelings that I'm not sure if they are new or just returning, plus having flashes of my past show up when I least expect it. One week ago, I knew I could count on you whenever I needed you. But in the last couple days it's like you are so busy with everyone else that you don't have time for me. All I want is a little time alone with you, is that too much to ask?"
"Man, I'm sorry Cory; I didn't mean to ignore you! Why didn't you slap me upside my head and get my attention? I know things have been nuts, I guess I just got overwhelmed by everything happening. How the heck could I do that to you?"
"It really hurts me, Sean, when I can't talk to you and share what's happening with you. For the last day or so I have been wishing that everyone would just leave so we could go back to just the two of us. Instead, we have two new brothers, two guys who are like brothers, and a whole huge family which happens to consist of some members of Backstreet and N*Sync. It's getting to be too much for me to deal with without you there for me to talk to. I push myself because it makes YOU happy, but now I'm feeling ignored."
"Cory, I realize that I've really screwed up, but you have got my attention now. What do I need to do to make things right again? Talk to me, help me to understand what's wrong so I can get back to what we used to have."
"Sean, I want it to be like Uncle Chip and Uncle Josh have it. They always seem to know what each other is feeling and doing so they can help each other."
The boys were shocked by a soft knock at their door. "Hey guys, mind if I join you?" Chip asked.
"I guess so." Cory replied with a downcast look.
Chip closed the door and walked over to Cory. Chip knelt in front of Cory, and then he placed a finger under Cory's chin and lifted Cory's face to where he could look him in the eyes. "I heard your statement about wanting to be like me and Josh as I was walking past the door. If you would like, maybe I can help you guys out some. How does that sound?"
"I guess so. It has to be okay with Sean though, he is part of this too."
Chip looked over at Sean. "Whadda you think? You want a little friendly help here?"
"It might help. I'm trying to figure out how I got to ignoring Cory. He means so much to me yet I've let him down when he needed me." Sean said with tears rolling down his face.
"I've been there, Sean. Why don't we let Cory tell both of us what is getting to him. Then we can see what can be done to fix it. Sound good?"
"Yeah, sounds fine." Sean answered.
Chip sat on the floor in front of the boys. "Okay Cory, it's your stage. Fill me in."
"Well, ever since everyone started showing up here, Sean has been so busy helping everyone that he has not had any time for me. I've tried helping him. But it seems the more I help, the more he tries to do. I feel selfish wanting to be alone with him when there are so many people wanting his help, but right now I feel like he cares about them more than he cares about me."
A voice from the doorway interrupted them. "Dang Chip, have you been giving Sean sensitivity lessons? It sounds like you and I need to talk, Cory," Josh said as he entered the room and closed the door behind him.
"Thanks a lot, hun. You're sleeping on the floor tonight!" Chip said with a smile.
"What did you mean by that, Uncle Josh?" Cory asked.
"Well, this actually proves something I've suspected since I first met you guys," Josh said. "Sean and Chip are a lot alike. Whenever they get involved in something they go for it full tilt, and unless someone steps in and gives them a swift kick in the butt, they just keep going and going. Cory, I think you might be quite a bit like me; strong in your own way, but able to see when things are getting out of hand."
Chip grinned and pulled Josh down next to him. "That's it, buster. You're sleeping with Justy and the twins tonight!"
"The truth hurts, don't it, love?" Josh said as he gave Chip a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. He then turned to Sean. "Seriously, Sean, it's not as bad as I just made it sound. You have a very admirable quality, but you need to let Cory help you keep from taking it overboard. Actually, Chip's obsessive need to help others was one of the things that first attracted him to me. It has taken a lot of work to get where we are now, but every second of it was worth it."
"That makes sense," Sean said. "But how do you do that? I feel bad that I've let Cory down, and I really don't want to do it again. I lost him for a year, and it was the hardest year of my life. I really don't know what I'd do if he left me for good."
"First thing you guys need to do," Chip started, "is to make time every day for each other. It does not have to be anything fancy, or even sexual. Just a half hour cuddling together watching a favorite show helps a lot. The important thing is to concentrate on each other, forget everything else that's happening around you."
Josh interrupted. "Cory, the second thing is mainly on you. If you need time, grab Sean by the ear and pull him away from what he is doing. If he is being especially thick-headed, give him a swift kick in the butt. Trust me; there have been plenty of times it has taken a kick in the butt to get Chip's brain working again."
"Do you really grab his ear or kick him, Uncle Josh?" Cory asked.
"Yeah he does!" Chip groaned. "There are times I thought he was going to turn me into a Vulcan he was pulling so hard. And can you imagine trying to explain to the Captain why you need a pillow in your seat at the helm? I still don't live that one down!"
Josh chuckled. "True, the Captain does tend to bring that one time up at the most inopportune times. He rags me about it as much as you, Babe. Do you know how many times he has lectured me in jest about damaging Starfleet property?"
Sean and Cory giggled at the thought, then Sean spoke up. "Uncle Chip, Uncle Josh, I think I get the picture now. Is there anything else we should know about?"
Chip got serious. "Actually, this is the most important thing. If you guys have a disagreement, or are mad at each other, do not go to sleep until you have it settled. The problem won't go away overnight; it will just get worse. To be honest, there was one time before Josh and I got married that if we had went to sleep, by that morning we would have been broke up and would never have married. It can get that serious real quick; in fact I think you guys were getting close to that point yourselves. If it means staying up all night, then do it. That one time neither one of us slept for two nights – it took that long to sort everything out. If you both work together you have the makings of a long term relationship here. Don't lose it over an argument."
"Wow!" Cory said, "You make it sound like a lot of work! I kinda see what you mean though. I was gonna talk to Sean yesterday but never did, and I felt worse this morning but did not know why. Thanks a lot for the help; I really want to make it work like you two have."
"I want to make it work too." Sean replied. "I feel bad still about losing touch, but at least now if I start to mess up again Cory knows how to catch me before it gets too bad. Just do me one favor though, if I ever make it into Starfleet, don't send me out with a sore butt – PLEASE!"
Everyone got a good laugh at Sean's last comment, and then Chip got a curious look on his face. "Sean, are you serious about that?"
"Yeah, not that it'll ever happen, but I'd like to be a helmsman one of these days. I know Cory is into the engineering stuff, but I would not feel right unless both of us got into it – and there is almost no chance of that, and even less of us staying together after the Academy."
"They took Chip, what makes you think they won't take you two?" Josh quipped with a grin.
Chip gave Josh a dirty look, and then returned to the conversation. "Don't mind him. He's just jealous `cause I have a real job. Don't tell anyone else, but y'all are going to be visiting my work the day after tomorrow. Let me make a call here and maybe I can set up some special tours for you two while we are there."
As Chip reached for his communicator, it hit the boys what he just said. "Whoa, we're going to the Enterprise!!!" both boys said in unison.
Chip smiled. "You DID hear Dr. McCoy say he wanted to see EVERYONE up there, didn't you? A little advice, if either him or Captain Kirk say they would like to see you, be there. You don't want to tangle with either one!"
Chip looked at the awestruck boys with a grin as he opened the communicator. "Dodds to Enterprise."
"Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Chip."
"Nyota, is the Captain available?"
"Just a minute Chip, he's right here."
There was a few seconds pause, and then Kirk came on. "Kirk here. Is there a problem Chip?"
"Hello Captain. No problem, but I do have a question for you. It seems that a couple of my new nephews have a slight interest in Starfleet. In fact, one of them is showing an interest in my position. The other one is a little more technical. He is showing an interest in Engineering."
Kirk cut him off. "Chip, are both boys in the group that is coming up with you?"
"Yes sir, they are."
"What are their names?"
"Sean is the one interested in the helm and Cory is the one interested in Engineering."
"Tell Sean and Cory to expect a special treat then. After lunch, you and Sean will go with me. There is someone else here that wants to speak with you as far as arrangements for Cory go."
After a short pause, a voice with a strong Scottish accent came on. "Chip, me lad. Am I to understand that young Cory has a hankerin' to learn the soul of the lady?"
"Hello Mr. Scott. Yes he does. Would you have anyone available to show him around?"
"Chip, you oughta' be ashamed of yourself! I kinna' let a junior officer escort young Cory. He needs a proper tour to appreciate this old girl. I must insist that he is giv'n a proper showing by me personally. Tell the lad I will join him for lunch, and then he will get to see how a real ship runs."
Chip chuckled. "Thanks Scotty, I owe you one! We will see you soon."
Kirk came back on. "Chip, did that answer your question?"
"Yes it did, Captain. Thank you very much."
"Alright then, I'll see you day after tomorrow, about 0900 ship's time."
"Yes sir. From the looks I'm getting, there are at least two boys are looking forward to it. We'll see you then, sir."
"I'm looking forward to it. Kirk out"
"Dodds out." And with that, Chip closed his communicator and looked over at Sean and Cory.
Cory asked in a shocked voice "Did I hear right? Am I really going to be shown around by Commander Scott?"
Before Chip could answer, Sean piped up "And I get to be with you and Captain Kirk? WOW!"
"Yes to both of you," Chip chuckled as he answered them both. Chip then rose from the floor, helping Josh up. "Now I think that Josh and I need a little private time. I would suggest you guys take about an hour yourselves – and keep the plans for when we go up there to yourselves for now."
Cory smiled, then stood up and lightly kicked Sean in the butt. Sean jumped, "What was that for?"
"Just making sure you took the hint and didn't run off on me." Cory giggled. He then turned to Josh. "I guess it does work! Thanks a lot, Uncle Josh and Uncle Chip. You both helped out a LOT today!"
"You are welcome guys." Josh replied. "I'll make sure Teri has our home and cell numbers. If either one of you need to talk, no matter what time it is, call either one of us. I'll find Justin and have him make sure that you are not disturbed. So we will see you guys in an hour – no less, okay?"
Cory managed to get out an "Okay" as Sean pulled him down on his lap and began trying to lick Cory's tonsils. Chip grinned at Josh as they left the boys alone.
Just as they closed the door behind them, Justin came bounding up the stairs. "Where's Sean and Cory? Are they okay??"
"They are fine, munchkin. They just need some alone time, about an hour I would say." Josh replied as he intercepted Justin heading for Cory's door.
Justin came to a screeching halt. "Alone time? You mean like the two of you, Pop?"
"Yep. You think you can keep everyone else away for us? Your Dad and I need some alone time too."
"Will do, Pop. I'll have my lil bros help me."
"Okay, squirt; thanks. Now get that bony butt of yours back downstairs before anyone else comes up," Josh said as he was leading Chip into their room.
"Whatever!" Justin giggled as he watched his parents disappear into their room and close the door. He then turned and headed back down the stairs.
As Justin reached the first floor, he was intercepted by Teri and Anne. "Where's Sean, Cory, and your parents?" Teri asked.
"They are paired off for some `alone time'. Pop said none of them are to be bugged for an hour."
"What's `alone time', Justy?" Teri asked.
Justin blushed a deep red. "Well, uhh, they kinda need some, well I guess you would call it, umm, one-on-one time alone. If Sean and Cory are as bad as Dad and Pop, it'll get really noisy up there. All I know is Dad and Pop just came out of Cory's room as I went up there."
"Go on; join the rest of the tribe, Justin." Teri said in a shocked voice. She then turned to Anne. "Is he saying what I think he is saying? If so, what should I do about it?"
Anne chuckled. "Settle down, Teri. Welcome to the world of being a parent of gay teens. There's a good chance exactly what you suspect is happening, but since Chip and Josh just talked to them, you have nothing to worry about. Trust me, if you try to stop them, they will just find someplace else to do it! I noticed a little tension between Cory and Sean over the last day, I'll bet Chip and Josh sat them down and, pardon the pun, straightened them out. Those two went through a lot keeping together. You can trust any advice they give your boys."
"I'll have to trust you on that one, Anne. Let me show you something Sean gave to Cory last week, I think it says a lot about them." Teri then showed Anne the plaque that Sean had made.
"That's so sweet." Anne said as she read the poem. "I honestly think there's a chance those boys will go on to be like Chip and Josh. If so, you have a good reason to be proud of yourself; it takes a great parent to raise children capable of bonding like that."
A loud "NOOOOOOOO...!!!" coming from the rec room got their attention. "Well Teri, I guess we better go see what the kids are destroying!" Anne chuckled.
They walked in on Kevin holding his head in his hands while an image of a burning vehicle showed on the TV screen in front of him. Tyler was sitting at the other set of game controls, giggling.
"See Uncle Kev, I told ya' not to try and pass me! Who's next to get their butt whipped!" Ty gloated.
"TYLER!" Teri said, trying to keep a smile hidden.
"OOOPS! Sorry Mom, I guess I'm goin' overboard, huh?"
"What's going on in here?"
"Well, the old farts ... I mean adults challenged us kids to a race, and I just beat the pants off of Uncle Kev."
Brian could not resist the taunt. "Old fart, huh? Kev, give me the controls. I'll show these young pups how the game is played!"
Nobody heard the front door opening, as Kyle was responding to Brian's challenge. "Yeah, you're an old fart, a smelly one too! Bring it on, gramps! It's my turn to show y'all up."
"Kyle Calvin Richardson! What did you just say?" Dan said as he walked in the room.
"Eeep! Sorry Dad, Uncle Brian started it!"
"Leave it this time Dan. They are just having fun." Anne chuckled.
Before Dan could respond, Kevin walked over to Kyle and put his hand on Kyle's shoulder. "Hey, Kyle?"
"Yeah, Uncle Kev?"
As the room dissolved into laughter, Kyle blushed then managed to get out "Awww Mannn! I'll get you later, Uncle Kev!"
Kevin rustled Kyle's hair. "Get used to it, lil buddy. In this family that happens a LOT – just ask Justy!"
Just then, Kevin was interrupted by the theme to The Twilight Zone coming from under his shirt. "Excuse me, cell phone." He chuckled at the confused looks.
He pulled out his phone and looked at the Caller ID and smiled. An evil grin showed on his face as he pressed 'send'. "Domino's. Name your poison. What flavor cardboard you want today?"
"Very funny, Kevvy! Where's the friggin' ride? Or did B-Rok screw up again and send them to Atlanta?" the voice on the other end shouted.
"Calm down, Nicky! It's there. Let me check with John to see where you need to go."
As Kevin turned to John to ask, Brian grabbed the phone. "I heard that Nick. Just you wait, I'll get you, you brat!"
"In your dreams, Bri. Now put that worthless straight cousin of yours back on."
"I heard that, Frack!" Kevin said as he took the phone back. "Now, Nick, get that one blond brain cell of yours in gear, okay? Look around. Do you see a deputy standing there with a sign that says `Insane Asylum'?"
"Yeah, what about it? ... Kevin, I'm gonna KILL YOU!"
Kevin laughed. "Don't blame me! John did that one!"
"I don't even wanna know. One more question; did the space cadet get our rooms at the Marriott set up?"
"I'd ask, but him and Josh are having some `quiet time' right now. Do you really want me to interrupt them?"
"Quiet time? Yeah right, like they are ever quiet, those two horn dogs! What are we supposed to do `til they're done?"
"Just come on over here, there's still a few seats left. Are Airboy and Dyllweed with you?"
"Yep, along with the rest of the clan. Our stuff is loaded, we'll see ya in a bit."
"K – seeya in about 20 minutes. Bye!" Kevin hung up the phone.
"Who was that, Uncle Kev?" JJ asked.
"Just a couple more of your new family members, bud. They will be here shortly, they're at the airport." Kevin then turned to Dan. "Hey bro, how did it go at the funeral home? Everything ready?"
"Yeah, I owe y'all big time for all the help. Everything was perfect, all I had to do was sign the forms and double check Sharon's appearance. I really don't know how I would have handled this without everyone in the room's help." As John guided Dan over to the couch and sat with him, Dan looked deep in thought. "DAMN," Dan said as he suddenly stood up, "I totally forgot, the boys need suits still!"
"Sit down, bro." Kevin said. "It's already handled. They should be here in about fifteen minutes. The rest of the boys are bringing them with them. I was not joking when I said we would handle everything for you."
Dan sat back down, and John put his arm over Dan's shoulder. "Relax, everything will be fine."
Teri looked around, noticing the silence of the kids. Adam was holding JJ, caressing his back, while in the beanbag chair Tyler was cuddling Kyle. Justin and the twins were sitting off to the side, giving the couples room.
Suddenly, Jamie looked over at Kyle with a worried expression on his face. "Kyle, don't try to do it bro; let us do it for you, ok?"
Kyle uttered a barely audible "Okay", then cuddled deeper into Ty's arms.
Justin had a confused look on his face, then suddenly looked shocked. "Bros, if you are gonna do that, I want you cuddled up to me, ok?"
Jamie and Jacob nodded, and followed Justin over to the recliner. Kristin gave Justin a questioning look, but when she saw the serious look on his face, she moved out of the recliner so they could sit.
"What's going on?" Kevin asked Teri.
"You won't believe it till you see it, just watch." Teri answered in a quiet voice.
Jacob spoke, but not in his normal voice, he sounded more like an adult woman. "Daniel, JJ, Kyle; listen up."
"Sharon?" "MOM!?" was heard from each of them as their names were said.
"Yes guys, it's me, Sharon. When I'm done, you need to thank these three boys for helping make it so I could talk to you. First things first; the three of you need to stop worrying about me, and Dan; stop blaming yourself. Even if you had been right there, there would have been nothing you could have done. It was my time, and now I can watch over all of you all the time. I am fine, and am waiting for when your time comes to be with all of you again. I have it on good authority it will be quite a while, but since I can watch you all the time it's just fine."
"Anne, welcome to the family. I know you will be a great grandma to the boys, not to mention giving Dan the family he has wondered about all his life. Thank you for having the drive to locate your son and rejoin him. Jerald sends his congratulations and pride in both of you."
"Kevin, your support of your big brother has not gone unnoticed. You have my deepest thanks for all you have done so far, and what you plan to do."
"John, you have been a great friend to this family, but I have one request for you. Dan needs you, take care of him, be there for him, and follow your heart. You have my blessing."
"Adam, Tyler. Boys, I am eternally grateful for how you two have put aside your own problems to help my sons; when the time comes, I hope they can return the favor. If it's in the future for you all to remain together, you have my blessing as well. For you two to still be so caring after what you went through is a miracle, but you are and I am proud to consider you my sons too."
"Dan, let John help you. Don't let anyone tell you it's too soon or a bounce back reaction. John will fill that part of you that we both knew I would never be able to reach. You have no reason to feel guilty, let him in. This is the other side of you that we both knew about, just as I knew I could never totally fill your heart. He understands I will always have a place that he will never fill. Enjoy your new family; I will be with you all up here enjoying it with you."
"Kristin, Brian; your help is appreciated too. I have seen some of the things you have done in the background; you are both wonderful. Once I'm done, pass on my thanks again to Justin and the twins, they are all sweet little angels no matter how much they deny it."
"Teri, give Sean and Cory a big hug and thanks for being there for the boys when they needed someone. You have my eternal thanks for being there for all of them; I have a feeling that soon you will receive part of your reward for having such a big heart. I was impressed by the dedication made to Mike and myself by the boys; The Perfect Fan touched both of our hearts!"
"Last, but not least, is Chip and Josh; both Mike and myself have great respect for how they have reached out to help everyone. From making sure everyone got together, to spending one-on-one time when Cory and Sean needed help, in addition to taking in the twins. Those two deserve halos and wings for their huge hearts. Brad told me to tell Chip that he is so proud of him for what he has done for the twins, and for the job he's done in raising Justin. And he's glad that Chip found a kind and loving heart in Josh."
"I need to hurry, these three are getting tired, and they will probably nap for a bit after this. I know tomorrow is going to be stressful no matter what I say, but keep it in the front of your minds that I'm fine, and when the preacher says I'm in a better place, you can be sure that he is right. I love you Dan, JJ, and Kyle; and will always be with you. God Bless all of you, you are all truly a blessing. I'm going to let these angels rest. Thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart."
Jacob, Jamie, and Justin all shook their heads to clear them, then looked up at Teri. "Teri, what did she have to say that was so important?" Justin said with a yawn as the twins cuddled up to him.
"She had some messages for each of us, besides letting Dan and the boys know she is okay. She also said that we need to pass on her thanks to you three angels, trust me, what you guys just did was really helpful. I'm proud of you too, it took a lot of guts to do that, especially you Justin, not knowing what was happening."
"Thanks. I couldn't let Kyle down." Justin then looked at the two sleeping boys in his arms. "I'm tired too, can I take a nap?"
"Go ahead angel." Anne answered. "You've earned it."
Justin muttered as he snuggled down with the twins. "Aww man, why does everyone call me an angel?"
Teri looked around the room at the shocked faces on the adults. "In case you are wondering, believe it – Kyle does it too. Don't ask me how, but he does, and it seems those three have figured out how to too."
Kevin stood behind John and Dan. "Well, bro, I guess she answered one question I had. You guys have my blessings too. And she was right, you two are meant for each other. John, welcome to the family!"
Dan smiled. "Thanks Kev. Mom, what do you think?"
Anne smiled. "Dan, Sharon put it right. There is a place in your heart for her and someone else, and I totally approve if John is willing to be that person. Don't feel pressured, son, but if it is meant to be you have my blessings and congratulations."
"Thanks. I've waited too long to have you here to lose you because I disappointed you, Mom. John, we might as well make this official, would you be interested in a slightly used bi shrink in your life, complete with kids?"
"It matters, can you handle a crusty old cop who has reached the top, and who had resigned himself to only looking at you years ago? Besides, you forgot to mention one thing about the kids, they are both GOOD kids!"
"I'll take that as a yes, but there are two other people who have a say in this though; JJ, Kyle, come here sons."
Both boys came over, dragging Adam and Tyler with them.
"Guys, Adam and Ty are not going anywhere, this is their home! How would you feel about it if John and I became a couple?"
"Dad," JJ started, "I brought Adam with me to make my point. Since the first time I saw him, I have felt a lot different. It's like a part of me that I never knew was missing just showed up in front of me. If John makes you feel like that, I'm all for it. I heard mom, what she said made sense to me about having room for her and John. I would feel weird if you dated a girl, `cause then it would be like you are replacing mom; but John is different, like mom said, he fills a part of you that she did not."
Kyle interrupted. "Daddy, does John make you feel like Ty makes me feel? When he is here, my tummy feels all happy, but if I don't know where he is at I feel sad."
Dan smiled. "Kyle, JJ; both of you are right. Does that mean its ok with you Kyle?"
"I guess that settles it. You know, seeing as you two have snuck in as boyfriends from the looks of it, welcome to the family Adam and Ty. By the way, I guess that means you are allowed to call me Dad or something like that now."
The two couples snuggled up, and answered in chorus "Thanks, Dad".
Dan looked over at Anne, who just smiled and nodded her head in approval at how he had handled it. As he was preparing to say more, the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it!" Tyler said as he headed for the front door.
"I'll help!" quipped Kyle as he took off after Ty.
Kevin motioned everyone to come watch the boys answer the door. Just as they reached the doorway, the two boys got to the front foyer. Each boy looked out a sidelight to see who was there, then they looked at each other in amazement before scrambling to see who could reach the doorknob first to open the door. With all of their fumbling from excitement, it took four tries before they actually managed to turn the knob to open the door.
As the door opened, Ty yelled over his shoulder "MOM! The REST of the Backstreet Boys are here!"
Teri chuckled as she joined the boys in the foyer. "Well guys, I think if you get out of the doorway they would like to come in!"
Ty and Kyle giggled, then moved out of the way. The first ones in the door were Nick and Ashley; followed by Aaron with his nephew, Johnny, in his arms. Howie, AJ, Dylan and David came in behind them and joined the group in the foyer.
Just as Teri was about to close the door, she noticed Joe coming up the sidewalk carrying some envelopes. "Just a minute guys, we've got one more guest joining us."
Suddenly everyone's attention was diverted by a slap. "OUCH! What was that for, squirt?" Aaron yelled as he rubbed the back of his head with his free hand.
"You were bad, Uncle Aaron." A semi-sleepy Johnny replied. "You told me Justy was here. I don't see him. You lied."
Before anyone could reply, Ty walked up to Aaron and Johnny. "Hi, I'm Ty, this is my boyfriend Kyle. What's your name?" he said to Johnny.
"Johnny. Is Justy here?"
"Yes he is. Right now he is taking a nap with his new brothers. If you want to come with us we will take you to him."
"Wow, really! Put me down Uncle Aaron, PLEASE! I gotta go find Justy." Aaron put Johnny down, then Kyle and Ty took him by the hand as they left the foyer. The three boys headed towards the rec room, Johnny holding onto both of his new friends' hands.
Joe entered the foyer and closed the door. Teri snapped back to the situation at hand, "Okay, why don't we all follow them. We can do introductions once we are all in the same room. There are only four missing now, and if they don't hurry up I'm sending a search party!"
Just as they were all about to enter the rec room, Chip and Cory came down the stairs with wide grins on their faces. "You can cancel the search party, Teri." Chip laughed.
"Hey, I see you guys found your way down here. I was wondering if you would," Teri said.
Chip responded to Teri's comment with a grin. "We knew where the downstairs area is. We just had better things to do with our time. And I can see that the rest of those losers finally made it."
"We'll talk about that in a few minutes, horn-dog." Nick replied.
Chip responded, "You're just jealous, Frack, cuz Ash won't give ya any. And I'm surprised that you were able to find your way to Iowa. That one blonde brain cell must have overheated in the process."
"Yo, Chip; where's your mount?" AJ asked with a grin.
"Behind you, fool!" Josh replied as he and Sean gingerly descended the staircase.
AJ took one look and collapsed in laughter. "Ride `em cowboy!" he managed to sputter.
Cory and Chip looked at each other, smiled, then picked up AJ from the floor and started carrying him towards the back of the house.
"Hey! Where you think you're taking me?" AJ shouted.
"To clean out your mind!" Cory replied with a smirk.
About a minute later, everyone heard "One ... Two ... Three!" then a loud SPLASH from the pool area. Cory and Chip came walking back in a minute later. "Anyone else have any comments?" Chip asked with a grin, his arms crossed across his chest.
When there was no response, Chip chuckled. "I thought so. Airboy, find AJ some dry clothes. For some unknown reason, he's all wet."
"Like that's news!" Aaron laughed as he went to search for AJ's suitcase.
Everyone fell silent as they walked into the rec room and saw the sight in the recliner. Justin was sleeping with a twin under each arm. Somehow, Johnny had managed to worm his way in so he was sitting on Justin's lap, and was sound asleep with both of the twin's arms draped over him.
Aaron walked in, saw Justin, and walked over to Chip and Josh. "Are those Justin's new little brothers?" he asked quietly.
"Yes, they are. How did you hear about that?" Chip replied.
"Tyler said something when we came in and Johnny was asking about Justin."
"Ahh, okay. I'll fill everyone in more later then." Chip said. "Right now, I think introductions are in order as soon as AJ gets in here. Why don't you get over there with David. Boyfriends are the norm around here."
"Okay. Thanks, we were kinda worried about that, that's why we were staying apart. It kinda blew my mind when Tyler introduced Kyle as his boyfriend, but we figured we would still play it safe."
"No problem. Now go catch up on cuddles." Chip replied.
A few minutes later, AJ walked in. Kevin stood up. "Okay everyone, introduction time." Kevin started. "Boys, fill in Jamie, Jacob and Johnny after they get up; they need the rest. I'll start at the doorway here. First, the tall blond goofball there is Nick Carter, next to him is his husband, Ashley Angel-Carter. Their son Johnny is in the center of the pile in the recliner. The miniature version of Nick over there is Aaron Carter, and that's Aaron's boyfriend David Gallagher on his lap. Next to them, the short one is Howie Dorough and the taller one is AJ McLean. The brunette over there trying to suck the air out of Brian's lungs is Dylan Waters-Littrell." Kevin then proceeded to introduce everyone else to the new group.
As he finished, a series of grumbles from the recliner told everyone the sleeping beauties were about to wake up. Once Justin opened his eyes and saw everyone in the room watching, he mumbled "take a picture, it'll last longer"; then started waking up the other three boys. Once all of them were coherent, Justin made sure all three knew who everyone was, then announced: "Unless y'all wanna get wet, you better let me up to pee!"
Suddenly the other three had to go too, so they headed off to the restroom en masse.
Anne chuckled. "Okay, now that is over with, why don't the adults retire to the living room. Teri, Josh; I think it's about time to start dinner, would you mind giving me a hand? Oh, and Joe, I saw the envelopes you brought; I insist you stay for dinner, we can go over them after everyone has eaten."
Joe started to object when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to look at the smiling face of Chip. Chip spoke up, "Joe, there is one thing I learned when I was a kid: never argue with Aunt Anne. You'll never win. And besides, you get to sample Josh's world-famous Fettuccini Alfredo. It's to die for."
Joe replied, "Then it looks like I'm staying for dinner."
"I hope there's enough food to feed this group!" Teri said with a smile.
"Don't worry Teri," Josh replied, "if we need anything we can send Chip out for it. He knows what to get." Josh ducked to miss the pillow Chip threw at him as he ran out of the room.
Teri, Josh, Howie and Anne retreated to the kitchen. Teri and Josh were going through the cabinets to make sure they had everything they needed for dinner. "Josh, I have two packages of Fettuccini noodles. Is that enough for you?"
Josh shook his head. "No, it isn't. If I'm making enough for this crew, I'm gonna need at least another three packages." He then turned his attention to his husband. "Oh babyyyyy?"
Chip walked over to Josh and put his arms around Josh's waist. "Yeah, sweetheart?"
"Could you do me a big favor?"
Chip started chuckling. "Let me guess? You need more noodles for your Fettuccini?"
"Umhum. Could you go and get me some more?"
"Sure, babe." Chip leaned in and gave Josh a quick, deep kiss on the lips.
Howie spoke up, "Okay, I'm leaving. My teeth are hurting right now. You two are just too sweet for my taste."
"Aw shaddup, D. You're just jealous," Chip replied.
"Yeah right," Howie mumbled as he left the kitchen, heading for the living room.
Chip turned to face John. "You wanna go with me. You know your way around this town."
"Sure," John said. "Let's go."
Chip and John walked out of the kitchen, heading out to get groceries for the house, and its growing population.
Once all the adults had moved on to the living room to get to know each other, Tyler started digging through the games. "Hey! I found it!" he exclaimed. "Johnny, do you like to play Frogger?"
"Yeah! Do you really got it?"
"Yep. Let me set it up for you, ok?"
"Kewl! Thanks Ty!"
Once Johnny was set up playing the game, the rest of the boys formed a semicircle on the floor around him, watching and cheering him on as they caught Aaron and David up on their lives.
"Man, you guys are lucky." Aaron commented. "I wish my mother had been as nice as Teri. Instead, when I came out I was kicked out of the family, same as when Nicky did. If it wasn't for Chip and Josh, I'd be on the streets. Don't get me wrong, David," he said as David tried to object, "I love your mom and dad to death. There's just times that I wish I had my own mom to talk to too."
"Aaron, come here." Teri softly said from the doorway.
"Yeah Teri?" Aaron said as he wiped the tears from his eyes and walked up to her.
"I heard what you were saying, come here a minute." Teri said as she pulled Aaron into a hug. "It's okay, Aaron. Let the tears out. You are part of my family now, son. If you need a mom to talk to, I'll be proud to be there for you"
Aaron broke down and cried in Teri's arms, releasing the remaining pain he had been holding in for so long. Once he regained his composure, he asked Teri "Do you really mean that?"
"Yes I do. Anytime you need me, I'll be here for you, Aaron." She gave him a huge hug. "Why don't you get on back with David and your brothers Everything will be just fine."
"Thanks ... Mom!" Aaron said with a smile as he returned the hug.
Aaron turned around, and the next thing he knew he was engulfed in a group hug from all the boys; even Johnny had paused his game so he could hug his uncle.
As Teri turned to head back toward the kitchen, she saw Kevin standing by the office door with a grin on his face.
"What's the grin for, Kev?"
"Sis, you keep amazing me more and more every minute. Ever since Aaron was disowned, he has been different. All of us have tried to get him to open up, but nobody had any luck. Shoot, even Mom, Karen, and Aunt Jackie couldn't get through to him! You must have a magic touch. It took you less than two hours to do something nobody else has even came close to in the last ten months."
"What can I say; I won't allow a kid to hurt around me." Teri replied with a grin. "Now, as soon as Chip and John get back with the groceries, we'll finish cooking dinner and eat." Suddenly a sound from the rec room caught her attention. "Is that what I think it is?"
The third try was starting as they listened. "Okay," they heard Aaron say, "I think you got it. Ready, from the top!" Suddenly the house was filled with a loud rendition of Not too Young, Not too Old being energetically sung.
Kevin cocked his head. "Oh My God! Aaron has not done that in AGES! He NEVER sings anymore unless it's a concert or recording! Sis, Nick is gonna smother you in kisses when he hears that. You just gave him his lil bro back."
As if he was being paged, Nick came running out of the living room followed by Ashley. "Is that what I think I hear? Is my lil bro SINGING for fun again??" Nick asked excitedly.
"Yep, it seems Sis worked her magic on him. All he wanted was someone he could consider a mom. From the sounds of it, our lil Airboy is back."
Nick grabbed Teri into a bear hug. "Thank you Teri! You just made my year! I thought I'd never hear him like this again!"
Just then Aaron came flying out of the rec room, saw Nick, and bounced over to him. "Nicky, where's the CD's; you know, the ones with just the background music on them?"
"In the blue CD case, bro ..." Nick started to reply, but was unable to finish as Aaron sprinted for the door.
"Yep, he's back!" Kevin chuckled as Aaron flew back into the rec room, CD case in hand. Kevin went over and shut the front door that Aaron had left open.
Everyone smiled when the heard the rec room break into a youthful rendition of Larger Than Life. Just then Chip and John arrived back with the groceries.
"What's this; is someone playing one of you guy's practice tracks?" Chip asked as he walked in.
"Nope," Nick said proudly, "That's my lil bro and his pickup backup singers!"
"No way! Aaron hasn't sung outside a studio or stage since he moved in with us! What's going on?" Chip said in shock.
"He just needed a mom." Teri replied. "Now he's got one; me."
Josh walked up behind them, putting his arms around Chip's waist. "Babe, I think Teri needs to sit down with us after dinner. It's time."
"Agreed hun. Lets get the boys to get the food in."
All the adults were gathered at the doorway watching the boys. Chip and Josh squeezed through the crowd, and stood shocked at the sight. Justin was doing an excellent rendition of It's Gotta Be You, with Aaron, Adam, JJ, Cory and Sean as backup. The boys finished the song, and the adults broke out in applause.
"TRAITOR!" Josh yelled with a laugh. "Get over here!"
Justin smiled, and skipped over to Josh. "Sorry Pop. But if you had brought your background music, maybe we could sing them too."
Josh smiled and pulled his son into a hug. "It's okay, Just. You sounded awesome; as long as you are having fun you can sing your uncle's stuff whenever you want. Now why don't you see if you can get some help. Dad has a bunch of groceries that need to be brought in. While you are doing that, I'll see if I can find some real background music for you guys."
"Guys! I need a hand. Dad's got a buncha food to haul in!" Justin yelled.
At the mention of food, all the boys jumped up and rushed to the limo, including Johnny. Chip slipped up to his room with a bag while the boys were occupied.
"What's Chip hiding?" Teri asked Josh.
"Knowing him, I would guess he picked up some chocolate for his evening milk, and he is hiding it from the kids."
"Why's that? I have chocolate here, or at least had."
"He doesn't like normal chocolate. He has to have the semi-sweet chocolate for his milk. He's kinda possessive of it. He won't even let me touch it!" Josh responded with a chuckle.
Josh got a curious expression on his face when he noticed Aaron talking quietly to John and Kevin. Aaron smiled and hugged them both, then headed over to Josh.
As he hugged Josh, Aaron whispered in his ear "Josh, could you get ahold of Lance in a few minutes? I wanna surprise my new brothers with something. Uncle Kev will fill you in. We need to keep it secret though, ok?"
"Will do, squirt. Go enjoy yourself."
Josh caught Chip as he was coming back down the stairs. "Hon, could you grab my background music CDs and give them to Aaron, please. I need to make a call."
"Sure babe. What's up?"
"Aaron is scheming again. I'll fill you in as soon as I know!" Josh answered with a chuckle. He then joined John and Kevin in the office.
A few minutes later, he was back out and headed for the kitchen with a grin on his face.
"OK, what's with the grin? `Fess up!" Chip said.
"Nothings for sure yet, I'll tell you tonight if it all works out. One thing's for sure; Aaron is as bad as you. He's trying to rig a MAJOR surprise for his new bros"
"NOW I'm worried!" Chip responded with a chuckle. "I'll wait though, this should be good! How's dinner coming?"
"You're as bad as the kids, you know that? I'll get to work on it, go occupy yourself. I think the concert is about to start again."
As if on cue, the house was blasted by the sounds of the boy's rendition of Bye, Bye, Bye. "Now THAT'S music!" Josh chuckled as he headed to the kitchen.
A half hour later, as John and Kev came out of the office, Josh headed to the rec room. As he passed them, he quipped "Hey guys, dinners done. Grab some seats in the dining room while I get the kids." He entered the rec room to the final notes of Aaron's Party. "Ok, guys; wash up and get in the breakfast area to eat. Adults to the dining room!"
Everyone got settled, and thoroughly enjoyed the dinner. Teri had created a chef's salad to start things off, followed by Josh's famous Fettuccini Alfredo and some melt-in-your-mouth stuffed pork chops from Anne. The Fettuccini was so popular even Johnny went back for seconds. Just as everyone finished, a bell went off in the kitchen. Anne looked at Teri and said, "We timed that perfectly! Dessert will be out shortly. Aaron, give us a hand, will you, dear?"
They returned shortly with three pans of double-fudge brownies and two 5 gallon pails of vanilla ice cream. Anne looked at Chip, "Not one word Chip. If that old crab you call a doctor says anything, I'll put him in his place. These boys all deserve a treat."
"Yes, ma'am." Chip replied with a grin.
After everyone was finally stuffed, Chip spoke up. "That was an awesome dinner. My compliments to the chefs. I think we all need to go to the rec room. There are a few things that need to be taken care of real quick, and they involve everyone here."
He got a few curious looks, but everyone went in and found places. Chip had Sean hook Chip's laptop up so that it would display on the big screen TV. Once they were all settled, Chip started. "Joe, you probably wanna hang around for all of this. Did you have something for someone here?"
"Judge Jamie told me what you planned, Chip. These two envelopes should probably be held until after you spring your surprise, but the rest I can deliver now. Since you are a Starfleet officer, you being here will make the first two official. Teri, come up here."
Teri came up, slightly confused. "What you got, Joe?"
"Just a couple forms for you to sign." Joe said with a smile.
Teri opened both envelopes and grinned when she saw the contents. She quickly signed both forms, and passed them to Chip to witness. He signed them with a smile, then asked Teri, "May I do the honors?"
"Go for it, Chip"
"Adam, Tyler – front and center!" Chip said in an official voice.
Both boys worriedly shuffled up to Chip, shoulders slumped.
"Stand proud, you two, and face the rest of the room."
They turned around, almost at attention, and felt Chip place a hand on each of their shoulders.
Chip grinned. "Ladies and Gentlemen. May I present to you Tyler Austin SHORT and Adam Kelly SHORT. Congratulations, boys, welcome to the family!"
Both boys looked confused for a minute, then realized what Chip just said.
"Does that mean Teri is our real mom now?" Adam asked excitedly.
"Sure does! From now on, she is your parent, and Sean and Cory are your brothers!" Chip replied.
"AWESOME!!" The two exclaimed as they jumped over to hug Teri.
The boys gave Joe and Chip their `thanks', then started circulating the room to receive congratulations from everyone. Chip pulled Joe over to him and asked, "How did you pull that off so quick? The best time I've ever heard of was weeks, not days!"
"Well, somehow," Joe said with a grin, "the Commissioner found out that Teri is part of your extended family. After what you did for the twins, he felt it was only proper to streamline things for Teri as a gesture of thanks to you. Speaking of the twins," Joe handed Chip two envelopes with Starfleet seals on them, "Here are the hard copies of your custody forms. Judge Jamie and I have our copies already. He says to tell you once the boys have settled in to see him about starting the adoption process."
"You are a sneak, you know that, don't ya? I like that!" Chip giggled. "Give the Commissioner my regards and thanks. Just between you and me, he just earned a citation from Starfleet for his public service! Have a seat; the boys are about done, so I'll get started."
"Okay you animals, settle down!" Chip said with a laugh. "Teri, get back up here, you too Dan and John. I'm just gettin' started." Once everyone had settled in, Chip began.
"First off, all the boys seem to have came to the conclusion that they all need to live together, correct?"
"It appears so." Teri replied.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but for that to happen, you will need a larger house, right?"
"Yeah, it looks that way"
"Well, seeing as you are family, we can't let you go thru the hassles of trying to find a suitable house here, so we all decided to help you out a little."
"Just what do you mean, `we'" Teri asked.
"Basically everyone in this room, along with the rest of the members of N*Sync. Just sit back, watch, listen, and learn."
"And don't bother arguing, Teri. It's out of any of you three's hands!" Anne interjected.
Teri sat back with a bemused expression on her face as Chip continued.
"This," Chip brought up a picture on the screen, "is the beginnings of your new home. The picture is about an hour old." The picture showed a large foundation with what appeared to be freshly laid flooring over it. Off to the side were workers beginning to assemble walls.
"Where's this at?" Teri asked.
"Oh, roughly two miles from our front gate!" He clicked on another picture. "Here's a picture of Southcrest, mine and Josh's ranch. That reminds me – Mark, come up here."
"Yes, sir?" Mark asked as he walked up.
"First, I'm not on duty, so please call me Chip. Second, look at this picture; you see the driveway here and the grounds around the house?"
"Yeah. What about them?"
"Be honest. Do you see anything you think should be done differently?"
Mark studied the picture for a few moments. "Well, Chip; these two trees here look out of place. There should be some hedges and a garden to blend them in. Over here, by the house, a small pond would do wonders. I'd probably put a couple of palm trees by it, since that is in Florida. Why did you ask?"
Chip pointed to a house just past the main house on the driveway. "You see this, all you have to do is say `yes' and it's yours. I heard that you were good at landscaping; I think you are a natural! We'll start you at $75,000 a year, plus benefits and a Jeep of your choice every three years."
"What would I be doing?"
"Head groundskeeper for the entire Ranch. It's a thousand acres in size, but all you are responsible for is around the house and driveway, and we expect you to contract or delegate the mundane jobs."
Mark picked his jaw up off the floor, then responded. "I would be stupid to say no. How long `till I can start?"
Chip nodded at Josh, who began dialing his cell phone. "You just did. We are giving you a one-month pay bonus to start. Here's your check card to access your account. You can come home with us if you want when we leave. Do you need anything from your ex-foster parent's house?"
"I've got a few clothes, but what I really need to get is my computer and the things Cory and Kyle have gave me."
"John, can you get a deputy to escort him to get his things? I'll fill you in on what you missed when you get back, Mark, okay?"
"One deputy, coming up!" John said with a grin.
"Thanks, Chip and Josh. I hope I don't disappoint you."
"You won't Mark. If we didn't trust you to do your best, we would not have asked." Chip said with a smile. "If you are not sure, just ask; I expect you to take a bit to get used to it."
Josh started shouting in the phone. "You better read your contract again, you dweeb! We ABSOLUTELY state in it that you WILL work with the groundskeeper of OUR choice!
Josh paused, then said "THAT'S IT! You have 15 minutes to get your people off our property! If they are not gone, they will be arrested by Starfleet Security for trespassing. I'm starting the clock NOW!" Another pause, then "Call your lawyers – you are in default on a contract with Starfleet. You try to sue us and we will OWN you! You have 13 minutes and 42 seconds left, I would suggest hurrying up." Josh paused once more, then turned beet red. "LISTEN ASSHOLE! NOBODY talks about me OR my family like that! What was that? YOU BASTARD! YOU JUST CROSSED THE LINE! NOBODY THREATENS MY SON!"
Josh hit the `end' button on his cell phone, then furiously dialed a 30 number sequence from memory. "Security, Code 2374-Dodds." A short pause then "Lieutenant, Josh Chasez-Dodds, ID 4872904A7. Code 7 regarding the owner of Orlando Landscaping, threat was to Justin. Transcript via my cell's previous call. All employees have been told to be off Southcrest Ranch in 8 minutes 23 seconds on my mark ... MARK. I request a full security detail to protect the Ranch. Subject of threat is in Iowa with myself and Commander Dodds. Charges are to be pressed as per regulations." Josh listened for a minute, smiled, and replied. "Thanks Lieutenant. Well done. If you need to contact me or my husband about anything, use this number. ... You have a great evening too." Josh hung up, and looked at Chip, who was standing there with a reassuring hand on Josh's shoulder.
"What happened?" Chip asked.
"When I tried to let them know we had a permanent groundskeeper, they tried to weasel out by saying only they could approve him. I ended up talking to the owner, who got quite nasty once he saw the wording in the standard Starfleet contract. When he threatened to sue us, I fired them. He then made a major mistake, he made derogatory remarks about us being gay, then compounded on it by threatening Justin. As of right now, he is in Starfleet custody and his employees are being escorted off Southcrest. The house and grounds will be under 24/7 guard until you cancel it."
"Sounds like you handled everything, babe. That's why I love you so much. You don't mess around."
"Thanks hon. I love you too!" Josh said, then faced Mark. "Hey, Mark! Looks like your first job will be finding proper help! You can either hire a company or assemble your own crew – your choice, just let us know. I'll show you how to do background checks when we get home."
The worried look on Mark's face was replaced with a grin. "That's easy – I'll assemble a crew from kids in the orphanages, if that's ok. That way they won't argue with me on what to do. You guys are giving me a break. I have to pass on the help."
Josh laughed. "Mark, you just earned a $5,000 pay raise for that. You are going to work out just fine!"
Chip walked back to the front of the room. "As I was saying before Josh had to use a Roto-Rooter on our previous landscaper's butt, you will do just fine, Mark!"
Chip clicked on a picture of the plot map of Southcrest Ranch. "Now, Teri, you see this little spot here with the dotted lines around it?"
"The dotted lines show your property. As of right now," Chip handed Teri one of the envelopes, "Josh and I own 990 acres of Southcrest – the other 10 acres is yours. It's a gift from us to welcome you to the family. This one," he handed her another envelope, "is from the Backstreet Boys – it's the deed to your house, free and clear. N*Sync is covering all the interior stuff, furniture and the works. In a couple weeks, you can go with Aunt Anne, Karen, Aunt Jackie, Lynn and Phyllis to pick out furniture and decorations."
"Okay ... let me see if I've got this right. Basically we are moving to Orlando, into a house supplied by you guys from Backstreet on property given to us by Chip and Josh. N*Sync is supplying everything for in the house. Did I miss anything?"
"Yeah, Teri!" Mark chipped in, "Your landscaping and maintenance is free too, that's from me, I'll pay the guys myself."
Chip laughed. "Well, looks like you got it, Teri! Any more questions?"
"Just one. Do I at least get to pick out what goes in the house?"
"You get to choose everything for inside. You just won't pay for it."
"Well, I already know better than to argue, so all I can say is thanks to all of you. One question though, what are those two envelopes you still have left?"
"Those are from Joe. One is yours and the other is Dan and John's." Chip handed the packets to their intended recipients.
Teri opened hers first. "This may sound strange, Joe, but why am I suddenly licensed in Florida as a foster parent, an emergency one no less?"
Joe chuckled. "You mean you have to ask? With your history the last week or so, Judge Jamie and I figured we would prepare ahead of time to cover our bases."
Teri laughed. "You have a point. Thanks a bunch."
As Dan was opening the other envelope, Chip walked up to John. "Oh, John, before I forget, you have an interview with the Commanding Officer of Orlando Interplanetary Spaceport the day after tomorrow. Transportation has already been arranged. It seems that the current Chief of Security is retiring, and they need an experienced person to take over."
Dan spoke up. "Joe, how did this license end up with both mine and John's names on it? It's dated yesterday, but we've only officially been a couple for a few hours!"
"DUHHH!" JJ said sarcastically.
"James Jacob Richardson! Would you like to explain yourself BEFORE I ground you for the next 10 years or after?"
"Well Dad, it was kinda obvious – at least to everyone but you and Pop! All us kids knew you two were together two days ago!"
"And WHICH one of you supposedly figured this out?" John asked the boys.
Suddenly every kid in the room was doing their best imitation of an angel.
"Give it up, boys. There ain't a single one of you who could pass for an angel!" John said with a chuckle.
"THANK YOU!" Justin yelled. "NOW will you all believe me when I say I'm not an angel?!"
At that comment, the adults all lost control and fell into fits of laughter, with the kids following close behind.
Once the laughter died down, Dan spoke again. "Okay JJ, I'll let you off the hook, but you better learn to phrase things better. Duh is NOT an acceptable way to address an adult; not even Brian."
"Chip," John said, "I'm not even gonna ask about the foster parent license, but what about my job I have now?"
"Well, John," Chip replied, "actually the interview is just a formality. It seems your boss recommended you to Starfleet for the position, and after one look at your records you were selected."
"Just HOW did he find out about the position?" John asked.
Chip tried out his angel imitation.
John took one look and laughed. "Give it up, Chip. You have less chance of passing for an angel than the boys do. BUSTED! Oh, and Thanks too!"
The doorbell rang, and Teri answered it. "Mark!" she yelled, "Your escort is here!"
" Thanks! I'll be back in a few minutes, this should not take too long." Mark said as he headed towards the door.
Everyone settled into the living room, adults and kids sharing in the discussion of what it would be like when all of them were moved over to Florida. Forty-five minutes later, Mark returned to the house.
" How'd it go, Mark? I don't see any of your stuff." John asked.
" They started to argue until your Deputy set them straight. After that, I got all my stuff out. It's all loaded in the limo to pack up and take with me - the driver insisted he would handle it."
" Kev, give the driver a bonus before he leaves for the hotel tonite - and ask him if he would like Florida!" Josh said. "Initiative like that is what I look for, and I think he would be perfect to oversee the fleet of vehicles that Southcrest is about to have."
" Will do, Josh!" Kevin replied. "Guys, speaking of hotels, it's about time to hit the sack. We have a busy day ahead of all of us tomorrow. The limo driver has all the info for your hotel, what ya say we all turn in."
"Dad, Daddy, can I stay here with Ty and Kyle?" Johnny begged.
Nick looked at Teri. "What you think, Teri. Can you handle one more?"
"Sure, all the kids sleep down here anyway. He should be fine!"
"Tonight it's ALMOST all the kids, ISN'T IT SEAN?" Cory said in a forceful voice.
"Yes dear!" Sean replied meekly.
Teri looked at her two boys, then at Chip and Josh, who were barely holding back laughter. "Don't laugh, you two. That's exactly how you look! I see my two have been paying attention!"
Nick laughed. "On that note, we're outta here; another pair like Chip and Josh is more than I can handle! Give your Daddy and I some hugs, Johnny, and you be good for Teri, ok?"
"Ok, Dad. I'll be good!"
Chip replied, "Like you have any room to talk, Frack. You and Ashley are just as bad as we are." The rest of the Backstreet Boys then left the house, heading to their hotel.
When Kevin came back in, he had a smile on his face. "Josh - the drivers name is Randy, he said he will make sure he is the driver tomorrow. He is interested in your offer; he said whenever you have the chance, look him up."
" Thanks, Kev. I'll handle it from here. Now, I think bedtime is in order, so we will see you all in the morning!" Josh replied, then he and Chip headed upstairs to their room.
Everyone separated to get some rest. As Sean and Cory headed up the stairs to their room, Sean leaned in to Cory and gave him a loving kiss. "Thank you Cory, you have made my life whole again. I love you!"
"I love you too, Sean. Without you I'd be lost. Let's get undressed for bed; I've still got enough energy to show you just how much you really mean to me."
"That's the best idea I have heard all day. I'll undress you if you'll undress me!"
'What the heck is that?' Chip thought groggily to himself. He looked over to the clock; 7:35am. The tapping started again, accompanied by a worried sounding "Uncle Chip? Uncle Josh? Are you up yet?"
"Just a second, kiddo. I'll be right there." Chip replied. He then reached over and shook Josh. "Wake up Babe, we got company."
Josh grumbled something unintelligible, and then put on some sweatpants. "Okay, I'm decent."
Chip pulled on a pair of jeans and went over and unlocked the door to find Cory and Sean standing outside with worried looks on their faces. "Come on in guys. What's wrong?"
Once they were in the room with the door closed, Sean replied. "Cory is worried that he might be hurting me."
Chip and Josh exchanged glances, and then without a word between them Chip pulled Cory over to him while Josh put his hand on Sean's shoulder and headed towards the door. "Sean, why don't we go talk bottom-to-bottom while the two tops discuss technique, ok?"
Sean gave a half-smile. "I guess so. There are a few things I'd like to know."
Once both of them were gone, Chip sat on the edge of the bed and pulled Cory down next to him. "Okay, little one, why the sad face?"
Cory muttered "I'm worried that I could be hurting Sean. He woke up sore this morning, he said there's nothing wrong, but I'm worried."
Chip pulled Cory close. "Has he been bleeding when you were done?"
"No, I checked that close, but I'm still worried."
"Well, yesterday was you guy's first time, wasn't it?"
"Yeah" Cory replied.
"First off, did you use protection and lube?"
"Yep, Sean said he read it made it less painful that way."
"You are doing fine then. The pain he is feeling is a pain of satisfaction; it's something only you can give him, a reminder of your love. This may be personal, but how many times have you guys done it so far?"
Cory blushed as he held up four fingers.
"No WONDER he's sore!" Chip chuckled. "Just out of curiosity, how often you think Josh and I do it?"
"At least once a day?" Cory replied.
Chip giggled. "That's what everyone thinks. Actually, between you and me, we average three to four times a week. If you do it too much, it can hurt both of you, and it loses the special meaning. Most of the time, we either cuddle or do other things, in fact Josh has learned to convincingly fake `the walk' just to mess with everyone else."
That set Cory to giggling. "You think he can teach Sean that?"
"He probably is right now if I know my husband!" Chip chuckled. "Seriously, Sean probably would let you make love to him ten times a day to keep you happy, and he would enjoy all ten times, it is up to you to control the tempo, so to speak."
"Do you have to do that with Uncle Josh?"
"Believe it or not, yes. In just about everything else he helps keep me on track, but in this case I have to make sure I keep control to protect him. In a way, it balances us out some."
Cory got a downcast look. "That makes sense, but what do we have if I have to control this too. It seems like everything is me watching out for him."
"Cory, I know you don't realize it, but Sean watches out for you in a lot of ways. You are naturally a dreamer, which is good. What Sean does is keep you from drifting too far from reality. That is part of the reason why you had the problems after Mike's death. Your brain is wired so that your emotions drive it. Sean has seen you lose control once; I guarantee he won't let it happen again."
"I guess so. What do you think they are talking about?"
"Believe it or not, probably you, Cory. Plus I'll bet Josh checks out Sean just to make sure he is OK, and then gives him some tips on how to cut down the swelling, which is normal for the first time."
"Thanks Uncle Chip. I feel better now. It's great knowing I can talk to you about this stuff. I'm so scared that I might do something wrong."
"Any time, Cory. You are family now, and I always look out for my family."
Cory reached over and pulled Chip into a hug to thank him. Just as they released the hug, Josh and Sean came walking in the door, both walking as if they had just finished a wild session of sex. Chip and Cory took one look and fell to the floor in laughter.
Once they recovered their senses, Sean spoke up. "Okay, you got me. That was NOT the reaction I expected. What was so funny?"
"Uncle Chip told me that Uncle Josh might teach you to walk like that; it was funny `cause he was right! Besides, Uncle Josh would never do anything with you, and I know you would never do anything with him."
Sean walked over to Cory and hugged him tightly. "Thanks, Cor. Hearing you say that you trust me that much makes me love you even more!"
"I love you too, you overgrown teddy bear." Cory replied.
Josh cleared his throat. "Okay you two lovebirds, Whadda you say we grab some breakfast before we start getting ready for today."
That brought both boys back to earth. After Chip and Josh both pulled on their t-shirts and made themselves presentable, the four of them headed down to the kitchen. To their surprise, Anne was already there.
"Sit down guys. You going to have the usual, Chip?" Anne said with a smile.
"Yes, Ma'am. Why are you up so early?" Chip replied.
"You know me when kids are around, Chip. I heard these two moving around in the hall then going in your room, so I figured it was time to get up and start the coffee."
Anne set coffee in front of Josh and Chip and orange juice in front of Sean and Cory. She then set a bowl of fruit cocktail in front of Sean and Josh. When Sean gave her a confused look, she smiled. "Sean, a little advice. You really need to eat lots of fruit. It comes with the part you play in your relationship with Cory. Isn't that right, Josh?"
Josh looked at the blushing boys next to him. "Don't ask me, guys. She just knows somehow. Eat up, Sean!"
Just as Sean and Josh finished, Anne came back to the table with four plates. "Scrambled eggs with cheese and hash browns, that should be light enough for you guys today." Anne said as she refilled everyone's drinks.
As they were finishing eating, Cory looked over at Sean. "You know, we probably better go ahead and get ready. I'll bet the younger guys are gonna need our help getting dressed."
Sean downed the rest of his juice. "Yeah, you're right. Let's go. Thanks for breakfast, Gran'ma Anne."
Anne smiled. "Boys, that just made my day hearing you call me that. Go on, you have a rough day ahead of you. Ask your Uncles for help if you need it, okay?"
"Yes, Ma'am." Both boys replied as they headed for the stairs.
As they started to head back up, they were passed by Kevin and Brian, fully dressed in their suits, heading down and toward the door. A yell from the kitchen caused both boys to giggle as they went to their room.
"KEVIN SCOTT RICHARDSON? BRIAN THOMAS LITTRELL? Just WHERE do you two think you are going?" Anne asked in a loud voice.
Chip and Josh were still sitting at the dining room table when Anne raised her voice to her youngest son and nephew. They winced when she used their full names. `Ouch,' Josh thought to himself. `They're really in trouble now.' Both of them were trying to keep from laughing at the exchange between Anne, Kevin and Brian.
"We have to meet up with the rest of the group, Mom." Kevin replied.
"Not without something to eat you don't! Get your butts in here and sit! NOW!" Anne glared at both of them.
"Yes, ma'am." They replied as they shuffled to the table.
Kristin and Dylan were the next to come downstairs. They were laughing at Kevin and Brian. "I KNEW you two wouldn't get away with sneaking out!" Dylan said.
"Need some help, Anne?" Kristin asked.
That was more than Chip and Josh could take, as they broke down in laughter. "Lets go get ready, Babe." Chip managed to say to Josh as he struggled to his feet.
Sean and Cory had managed to wake the rest of the boys up, and sent them out to eat. As they filed out, Cory pulled Adam and Ty to the side. "Hey lil' bros, how are you holding up?"
"Fine." They replied.
"Today's gonna be rough for JJ and Kyle guys, they are gonna need a lot of support. Promise me if it gets to be hard on you that you will ask for help, okay?"
"We will." Adam replied. "Are you going to be okay, Cory? We talked last night, and JJ said he was worried about you, since you had problems after Mike died."
Sean walked up and put his arm around Cory. "Tell JJ not to worry about Cory, I'll make sure he is OK. Also, remind them that John will be watching out for their Dad, so they don't have to worry about him either."
The four boys embraced in a group hug. As the hug broke, Ty looked at Sean and Cory. "We'll make you proud, bros. I love all of you!"
That prompted another round of hugs and "I love you too's from everyone, then Ty and Adam headed out to the kitchen for breakfast, while Sean and Cory went upstairs and started setting out all of the boy's suits. Justin, Jamie, Jacob and Johnny headed out to the kitchen with the other boys.
Teri, Dan and John came down the stairs to find most of the boys quietly eating breakfast. As soon as they saw Dan; JJ, Adam, Kyle, and Ty ran over and gave him a huge group hug.
Dan gave a small smile as he kissed the top of all four boy's heads. "Thanks guys, I needed that. Go on and finish eating, ok?"
"OK Dad" the four answered.
"Where are Sean, Cory, Chip, Josh, Kevin and Brian?" Teri asked Anne.
Dylan replied, "They already ate. Kevin and Brian just left to meet up with the rest of Backstreet, while the rest are getting ready."
"Ahhh, okay. Why didn't you come to get me to help cook?"
Kristin chuckled. "No need, Teri. We handled this group just fine. The three of us are used to it. You deserved a break this morning, enjoy it, have a seat."
They all sat down, and shortly had drinks and steaming plates of food in front of them. Shortly the boys finished their meals, and headed upstairs in groups.
Josh was dressed in his suit, and was just helping Chip put the finishing touches on his uniform. "There ya go, handsome! You look even more outstanding than usual."
Before Chip could respond, they heard a chorus of knocks on the door. "Right on schedule!" Chip chuckled as he went over to open the door. Justin, Jamie, Jacob, and Johnny came into the room.
"WOW, you look AWESOME!" Jamie and Jacob said in unison when they saw Chip.
"Dad? Pop? Could you help us with these monkey suits?" Justin asked.
Josh grinned. "Come on guys, they are not THAT bad. Get on in here, you bet we'll help you."
Fifteen minutes later, in spite of the squirming, the four boys were fully suited and ready to go, so the six of them headed downstairs.
In the other bedroom, the rest of the boys were getting ready. "You know, Cory, I'm glad someone thought to pre-tie the ties!" Sean commented as he placed the finishing touches on JJ's suit. "Come on over here, Adam, it's your turn."
"For real!" Cory replied. "It's awesome how they all fit us so well, I wonder who got them?" He then gave Ty a swat on the butt and moved over to Kyle.
"Uncle Chip had something to do with it, I'd bet!" Sean giggled. "He seems to have made sure everything else went well!"
"True." Cory then pulled his charges close to him. "Ty, Kyle, you guys look great. Are you going to be ok?"
"Yeah, I think so." Kyle replied.
"If you need anything, no matter what, you guys let me know, ok?"
Kyle hugged Cory. "We will, bro. Thanks!"
Sean put a hand on JJ's and Adam's shoulders. "Same goes for you two, promise?"
JJ gave a small smile. "Yeah, we promise too. We owe you forever, Sean, you too Cory. One of these days I PROMISE we will return the help you have given us."
The six boys embraced, and then left the room to head downstairs.
As John was helping Dan make sure everything was right, Dan spoke softly. "I'm worried. Are the boys going to be ok?"
"Just take care of yourself, Dan." John replied. "I know for a fact their boyfriends are going to be watching over them like hawks, and Sean and Cory will probably be watching over the boyfriends. Besides, I'm gonna be right by your side the entire way, and if I see they need anything either I'll do it or I'll tell you. Now relax, lets go join the others."
"Thanks John. I don't know what I did to deserve you, but I'm sure glad you are here now." Dan then hugged John as they headed for the door.
When they opened the door, they found Chip, Josh, and all the boys coming out of their rooms. Everyone gathered into one group, and headed down the staircase.
Teri, Anne, Kristin and Dylan were standing in the kitchen when they heard everyone coming down the stairs.
"WOW!!" Teri exclaimed, "How did Kevin ever manage to get all those suits to fit so well. All of them look perfect!"
Chip overheard her. "Actually Teri, he had a little help." Teri gave Chip a confused look. Chip continued, "Let's just say that the Enterprise's scanners are very sensitive with the right person at the controls."
Teri shook her head, smiling. "Chip, I'm beginning to believe that with you around almost nothing is impossible. Let's load up; the limos are waiting outside."
As they walked out, they split into two groups to enter the waiting limos. In the first limo were Anne, Kristin, Dan, John, JJ, Adam, Kyle and Tyler. The second limo had Teri, Chip, Josh, Dylan, Cory, Sean, Justin, Jamie, Jacob and Johnny. Once loaded, both limos slowly pulled out and headed towards the funeral home.
As per Sharon's wishes, there was no viewing beforehand. She wanted everything to be concluded in one day. When they were about halfway there, John's cell phone rang.
"John, this is Kevin. We have a problem."
"What's wrong, Kev?"
"Seems that someone found out that we're in town and here."
"OK, I'll get some help over right away. See you in a few."
John hung up, and then dialed the dispatch direct line. "Sergeant, this is Sheriff Martin. You have the address where the funeral is at today, right?"
"We need all available units out there for crowd control. It seems someone leaked where the Backstreet Boys are going to be today."
"They are on their way."
"Thanks. Make sure I'm marked as emergency only."
"You are. Please send our condolences too."
"Will do. I'll call once I'm done. "Bye"
John then looked up Chip's number on the speed dial. "Chip, it's John. Seems that someone blabbed and now Backstreet has a bunch of fans outside."
"Bad enough for Kevin to call me. I've got some units on the way to assist. Do you think you might be able to get some backup?"
"Give me 30 seconds and we'll find out." Chip handed the phone to Josh as he pulled out his communicator and opened it. "Dodds to Enterprise."
"Enterprise, Uhura here. What's wrong, Chip?"
"I need to speak to the Captain. It seems that the funeral home is being surrounded by Backstreet fans."
"He just heard you, Chip. He said not to worry. An honor guard of fifteen, led by Lieutenant Thompson, is preparing to beam down as we speak."
"Thanks, Nyota. Pass on my gratitude to him, will you please?"
"It's done Chip. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Thanks again, Nyota. Dodds out."
Chip retrieved the phone from Josh. "It's handled, John. An honor guard from the Enterprise is on their way down right now."
"Thanks Chip. That should get their attention. Talk to you in a few."
"OK. Let's hope this is the only problem we have to deal with today."
A few minutes later, the limos pulled up to the funeral home. As the first one pulled even with the doorway, the Enterprise's honor guard formed a passage between the car and the doorway. Once everyone was inside, they pulled back and let the second limo pull up.
Chip was the last to exit from the limo, and the Guard formed into ranks behind him as he walked to the doorway. Before he entered, he turned to Thompson, the lieutenant in charge. "Coordinate with the local authorities. I want all the back entrances sealed. Station two men at the front door. That should deter any crashers. And one other thing, give everyone my thanks for doing this on short notice."
"Will do, Commander. You worry about your family. We'll take care of everything out here."
Chip smiled, knowing that Thompson would be good at his word. He then entered the door, and saw Kevin talking to JJ and Kyle. Both boys gave Kevin a quick hug, and then headed off into the hallway.
"What was that all about, Kev?" Chip asked.
"The guys and I figured out a way for the boys to say goodbye, and I was just asking them about it. You'll see, I think it will work quite well."
Chip shook his head as he then walked into the viewing room. He looked around, and noticed that all the couples were sticking close to each other, all being watched closely by Anne and Teri. Just as he was entering, JJ and Adam were saying goodbye to Sharon. The only others left in line were Kyle with Tyler, Dan with John, and Anne.
Josh walked up to Chip. "I was waiting for you, hun. Let's get in line, and then I'm going to man the piano for the Boys."
"Sounds good. How's everyone holding up?"
"Pretty good. The support from their loved ones seems to be working."
Chip watched as John led Dan away to his seat, crying but not out of control. Once Anne finished saying goodbye, he and Josh went up together, their arms around the other's waist. "Sharon," Chip said softly, "We're sorry we never met while you were alive, but I promise you this: we'll make sure Dan and your sons are taken care of for the rest of their lives."
As they walked toward Dan to make sure he was okay, Kyle came up and tapped Chip on the leg. Chip knelt down to face Kyle. The young boy hugged Chip. "Mommy said `Thank You'." Kyle whispered in Chip's ear. Chip pulled Kyle into a hug and gave him a quick peck on the forehead.
Once he was sure Dan was okay, Josh went over to the piano and had a seat. He looked towards the doorway, and as soon as Kevin gave him the signal, he started playing.
The room fell silent as the Backstreet Boys assembled behind the podium and began singing "Amazing Grace". The room was silent as they finished, everyone wiping tears from their eyes. Kevin stepped to the front of the group. "My nephews were having a hard time with coming up with a proper way to say goodbye to Sharon, so they asked our help. Instead of a speech, they are going to sing their dedication to their mom. They have asked that the extended family of brothers they have been blessed with join them in this tribute. Boys, could you all come up here please?"
All the boys came up, Aaron giving Johnny to Anne before him and David joined them. JJ and Kyle stood in front, with Adam and Tyler at their sides. Behind them were the rest of the boys, with the Backstreet Boys creating a third row.
Josh started playing, and when it came time for the vocals JJ and Kyle sang them together, with everyone else acting as backup singers. The overall effect was as if it was being sung by a choir.
It takes a lot to know what is love
It's not the big things, but the little things
That can mean enough
A lot of prayers to get me through
And there is never a day that passes by
I don't think of you
You were always there for me
Pushing me and guiding me
Always to succeed
You showed me
When I was young just how to grow
You showed me
Everything that I should know
You showed me
Just how to walk without your hands
`Cause Mom you always were
The perfect fan
God has been so good
Blessing me with a family
Who did all they could
And I've had many years of grace
And it flatters me when I see a smile on your face
I wanna thank you for what you've done
In hopes that I can give back to you
And be the perfect son
You showed me
When I was young just how to grow
You showed me
Everything that I should know
You showed me
Just how to walk without your hands
`Cause Mom you always were
The perfect fan
You showed me how to love
You showed me how to care
And you showed me that you would always be there
I wanna thank you for all that time
And I'm proud to say you're mine
You showed me
When I was young just how to grow
You showed me
Everything that I should know
You showed me
Just how to walk without your hands
`Cause Mom you always were
The perfect fan
`Cause Mom you always were, Mom you always were
Mom you always were, you know you always were
`Cause Mom you always were ... the perfect fan
I love you Mom
("The Perfect Fan" © 1999 Backstreet Boys and Zomba Recording Corporation. Available on the "Millennium" CD)
A tearful pair of boys directed the last verse directly at Sharon. Their boyfriends pulled them close, not caring what anyone thought. Everyone up front was paying attention to the two boys, so none noticed that the dedication had brought the entire room to tears, including the preacher.
Anne coming up front got their attention though, when she gave an unplanned dedication from the heart. "I know a lot of you don't know me, I'm Daniel's long lost mother, Anne Richardson. Unfortunately, I found Dan too late to be able to meet Sharon, but in the last few days I have learned much about her. All of which was just proven right by the tribute her sons just arranged with the help of their Uncle Kevin, Daniel's younger brother. I know I can speak for a lot of you when I say Sharon was an honest, caring soul who did whatever she could for others, something her sons have learned quite well. For the rest of my life, when I hear that song, it will be Sharon that I think of. Thank you, Sharon. Your legacy lives on in these two fine boys here." Anne re-took her seat, wiping tears from her eyes.
The preacher stepped up, still wiping tears from his eyes, and gave his sermon, then everyone went out to the cars to head to the cemetery.
There were four limos behind the hearse. Anne, Daniel, John, Kevin, Kristin, JJ, Kyle, Adam, and Tyler entered the first; Sharon's family were in the second; Teri and all her boys, Chip and Josh with their boys in the third; Joe, Aaron, David and the rest of the Backstreet Boys with their families were in the fourth. Behind the limos were twenty-four other cars, making for a fairly long procession.
Once the graveside services were finished, everyone headed towards the cars except Dan, JJ and Kyle. The three of them stood next to the gravesite for a few minutes, both boys under Dan's arms, before they turned and joined the others. Once Sharon's family finished with their condolences, everyone got into the limo's for the ride home.
Once they reached the house, everyone filed into the rec room.
"I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to get comfortable." Chip said, unhooking the shoulder strap of his uniform.
"What should we do with the suits?" JJ asked.
"Lay them up, they're yours." Chip replied with a smile.
"Wow, thanks Uncle Chip!" JJ replied.
"Chip, I've been meaning to ask: how did you get all these suits, which look tailor made, for all of us without getting any sizes?" Said Dan.
"Actually, it was quite simple. Mr. Spock scanned everyone here from the Enterprise, then sent the results to the Starfleet uniform depot. The clothes were all delivered to Southcrest just before Aaron and David left, so they brought the suits with them."
"Ahhh, mystery explained. Thanks, Cuz, I owe you one."
"You take care of your sons; that's payment enough for me. Now let's all get out of these clothes and into something comfortable, and then meet back down here. I've got something to take care of."
Thirty minutes later, everyone had managed to change, and joined Chip in the rec room. Chip had brought down two garment bags with him.
"What are those two packages, Uncle Chip?" Cory asked.
"I thought you would never ask. Here, this one is yours, this one's Sean's. They are clothes, I'll tell you that much. Go upstairs, open them AFTER you are in your room. Put them on and come back down."
About a minute later, "HOLY SMOKE!" was heard being yelled from upstairs. Shortly thereafter, Sean and Cory came flying down the stairs wearing Starfleet uniforms tailored to them.
"Wow, Uncle Chip, these are AWESOME!" both boys exclaimed in unison.
"I'm not done yet – come here, guys!"
Sean and Cory hopped over to Chip, faces plastered with huge grins.
"Cory, Sean. ATTENTION!" Chip said in his best imitation of a drill instructor.
Both boys snapped to attention, still grinning from ear to ear.
"Josh, the boxes I gave you, please?" Chip asked.
Josh handed Chip what looked like two jewelry boxes with a big smile.
"Cory, Sean. By order of Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship USS Enterprise, I hereby award you both the rank of Acting Ensign. This gives you the privileges and responsibilities of a full Ensign, without the pay. In these two envelopes are your orders." Chip then pinned the Ensign pins onto each of their uniforms and then handed each of them an envelope.
Both boys carefully opened the envelopes, and smiled as they read them.
"Hey you two, what do they say?" Nick said.
Cory went first:
From: Captain James T. Kirk
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
To: Ensign Cory P. Short
Des Moines, Iowa, USA, Earth
Re: Duty Orders
Ensign Cory Short;
You are hereby ordered to report to Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, California no later than thirty days following your graduation from High School. Upon successful completion of the Engineering course at the Academy, you are hereby instructed to report to the Chief Engineer aboard the USS Enterprise in person by the fastest means possible.
Welcome aboard, Cory. Mr. Scott and myself look forward to working with you.
(Signed) Captain James T. Kirk
"I'm gonna frame this, this is awesome!" Cory said in awe after he finished reading it.
"What's yours say, Sean?" Dylan asked.
Sean read his aloud:
From: Captain James T. Kirk
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
To: Ensign Sean M. Short
Des Moines, Iowa, USA, Earth
Re: Duty Orders
Ensign Sean Short;
You are hereby ordered to report to Starfleet Academy in San Francisco, California no later than thirty days following your graduation from High School. Upon successful completion of the Helmsman course at the Academy, you are hereby instructed to report to the Chief Helmsman aboard the USS Enterprise in person by the fastest means possible.
Welcome aboard, Sean. Mr. Dodds, the rest of the bridge crew, and myself all look forward to working with you.
(Signed) Captain James T. Kirk
"Wow, are these for real, Uncle Chip?" Sean asked in shock.
"Yes they are guys. And to prove how real they are, you both are required to wear those tomorrow."
"What's tomorrow?" Anne asked as she came in from the kitchen. "Congratulations, boys. Those look great on you!"
"Doctor Grouch wants to do a follow-up checkup on the twins, plus I think he has decided that he needs to be the family doctor for the rest of the boys" Josh replied.
"I'll make sure to tell him you called him that, right before your next physical!" Chip chuckled. "Actually, everyone's invited up by the Captain for a tour; the physicals are just Dr. McCoy's way of saying he approves."
"OK, but if the old crab gets out of line, I'm giving him a piece of my mind. Everyone get cleaned up, dinners almost done. Cory, Sean, could you please change so the uniforms look nice for tomorrow?"
"Yes, gran'ma!" they replied as they headed for the stairs.
Teri joined Anne in the kitchen. "Mom, let me help with setting things out. I've seen smaller armies than the group here right now."
Working together, they managed to get everything set up by the time everybody returned. The main topic of discussion over dinner was Cory and Sean's appointment to Starfleet Academy; which buoyed everyone's mood since it took their minds off of the day's earlier events. Once dinner was finished, the band left to their motel, and everyone began winding down to hit the sack early.
"Sean," Cory said lovingly, "if you want, we can sleep with the rest of our brothers tonight. All I ask is you cuddle me, Okay?"
"I love you, Cor. As long as it's OK with you, let's do it."
"I love you too, teddy bear, let's pick a spot and cuddle."
A few minutes later, Teri made the rounds shutting off lights. As she looked in the rec room, she saw Sean and Cory cuddled in the middle of the room, with the rest of the couples cuddled up close to them behind Cory. Justin, the twins, and Johnny made their own little pile snuggled up close to Sean's back. She smiled, turned the light down low, and headed to bed.
As Josh and Chip were preparing for bed, Josh came up and began rubbing Chip's shoulders. "You did great today, hon. And the joy you just brought to those two boys tonight was worth its weight in gold. I'm very proud of you!"
"Ummm ... you are putting me to sleep, babe. Thanks, and by the way, I love you!" Chip replied sleepily.
"I love you too, hun. Let's get some sleep"
The house fell silent as everyone rested in preparation for the big day tomorrow.
The whole house was awakened by a voice screaming, "Put me down! HEY! What you think you're doing! HELP!"
Chip and Josh were the first to hear the noise. They hurriedly jumped put of bed, pulled on some track pants and tee-shirts, and then ran down the stairs to see how much damage was done. They followed the sounds from the boys, and ended up at the pool. As soon as they exited the door, both men began laughing.
"Don't you think it's a little bit early to be swimming, Curly?" Chip managed to sputter at the drenched form trying to climb out of the pool.
"Talk to your son and his identical midget cohorts," he replied, just before being shoved back into the pool again.
"Guys," Josh yelled to the boys, "Come on back here and let Curly out of the water. If he makes any more comments, your Dad and I will handle him."
"OK Pop!" the three boys chorused.
Teri came out the door just then, followed by Anne and Kevin. "Would you mind filling me in on what all the noise is about?" Teri asked Chip.
Chip pointed to the crowd gathered along the wall of the house watching the antics at the pool. "Look close, you see a few new faces? One second here, I'll have Josh bring them over. It looks like we were invaded this morning, and SOMEONE decided to open his mouth and put his foot in it. May I introduce you to our wakeup call?"
Chip walked with Teri to the side of the pool, where the subject of all the attention was just climbing out again. "Teri, this is Justin Timberlake from N*Sync. Just call him Curly, it cuts down on the confusion. Justin, this is Teri. Oh, by the way, Brillo-head, those two boys you called midgets are Justy's foster brothers – have a nice swim!" Chip then pushed Curly back into the pool, which drew a round of applause from the assembled group. Jason tried to help Curly, but wound up getting thrown in as well by Chip.
Josh walked up with the rest of the new arrivals. "Teri, I'd like to introduce you to the rest of my band mates. First, this guy over here with the hair that we are not sure what color it is, or will be tomorrow, is Joey Fatone."
"Hi Teri." Joey said. "Don't mind him, this IS my natural hair color, and if he doesn't watch it, I'll tell Mom to cut him off on pasta!"
Josh snickered. "Whatever Joey, I don't think even you remember what the original color was. Anyways, the albino over there is Lance Bass. Next to him is his boyfriend, Matt Newman. The midget over there is Chris Kirkpatrick. The guy who Chip just threw in the pool with Curly is his husband, Jason. Chip already introduced you to the resident juvenile delinquent, Curly, so that should just about cover everyone."
Teri smiled. "Glad to meet y'all. Now I can put faces to the names that have been floating around here the last few days. If someone wants to pull the rat and his husband outta the pool, I'll introduce your nephews to you!"
Lance went over to the pool. "Alright, you two goofballs. Out of the pool and get over there. You better behave, or I'll cut off your video games again."
Both men climbed out of the pool, giving Lance dirty looks as they joined the rest of their group. The rest of Backstreet and their entourage arrived as Teri introduced the boys. Teri was surprised when none of the boys were star struck by the new batch of superstars standing in front of them.
Tyler walked up to Teri as she was discussing the lack of reaction with Kevin and Chip. "Mommy, I'm STARVING! When is breakfast?"
Teri looked around the pool. "There's no way the kitchen can handle this group. You got any suggestions, Chip?"
Chip thought for a minute, and then responded. "Denny's sounds good if there's one around here. Thing is; with a group this size, we need to call ahead."
Teri giggled. "Actually, there's one just over on Merle Hay Road. I went to school with the morning manager. Usually it's dead this time of the morning. It would serve him right if we just show up. I owe him a few from school still."
Chip chuckled. "Dang, when you hold a grudge, you REALLY hold it! Let's see if we can get this clan dressed and dried and then we'll have a little fun invading Denny's."
Kevin put two fingers in his mouth and proceeded to emit an ear-piercing whistle. "LISTEN UP! Everyone get yourself presentable to go out for breakfast. You have FIFTEEN MINUTES; anyone NOT ready is not eating! Lance, get the two delinquents some dry clothes, make sure they are DECENT ones!"
Everyone scrambled to get dressed. As ordered, they were all ready fifteen minutes later. They piled into the four limos outside, and ten minutes later pulled into Denny's.
As Chip started to climb out to make sure the restaurant could accommodate the group, Teri tapped his arm. "Let me join you, Chip. This should be fun!"
They looked around as they walked up to the counter. With the exception of an older couple that was just leaving, the only other people in the restaurant were two boys sitting in a booth in the corner.
"I need to see the manager." Chip said to the waitress behind the counter.
"One minute, sir." She responded.
Two minutes later, a husky man came in from the kitchen. He noticed Teri at the counter. "Hi Teri. How ya' doin'?"
"Not bad Cecil. Still need a real job?"
"Gotta feed the wife and kid somehow!" Cecil replied.
He then shifted his attention to Chip. "Good morning, sir. Is there a problem?"
"Not really." Chip replied. "Actually, I was wondering if you could handle a party of thirty-some-odd people all at once?"
The expression on Cecil's face was priceless. "For a party that size, I'll lock the doors! I will need to ask for pre-approval on the payment method though – it's company policy, nothing personal."
"Understood." Chip replied, and then passed his Starfleet Platinum Visa over the counter to Cecil.
Cecil's eyes grew wide when he saw the name on the card, and they almost popped out of his head when he ran the funds availability on the card.
"Is there a problem?" Chip asked.
"Not at all – you're all set!" Cecil responded. "You wouldn't happen to be Commander Charles Dodds from the Starship Enterprise, would you?"
"Yes, I am," Chip replied. "Why?"
"My wife has been talking about you a LOT! She works for Family Services. You are considered able to walk on water by them right now!"
Chip blushed and then chuckled at the look on Cecil's face as the rest of the party started entering the restaurant.
"Give me just a minute and I'll have those two boys out. They've been here three hours already anyway." Cecil stated as he regained control of his jaw muscles.
"You will do no such thing!" Teri said forcibly. "They are too young to be out by themselves. Did you see them dropped off?"
"Actually, they just walked in, no signs of any adults anywhere. That's why I've let them sit there. I was hoping a parent would show up."
Teri got a knowing look on her face. "Put them on our bill, and they are staying. Before we leave their story will be known."
Aaron walked up to Teri. "Hey Mom, is there a problem?"
"Not at all, Aaron. Tell everyone to grab a seat, but you hang up here for a few, OK?"
"Sure thing, I'll be right back."
Cecil was in shock. "Was that Aaron Carter, and did he just call you Mom?"
Teri grinned. "Yep, that's Aaron. He's my unofficial son now, so he has that privilege."
"Andrew is never gonna believe this – Aaron is his idol!"
Aaron walked up just as Cecil said it. "Is Andrew your son?"
"Yes, he just turned 12 last week. His walls are covered with posters of you!"
"If you can get him over here, I'll give him a late birthday present – breakfast with me, N*Sync, and the Backstreet Boys. You think he'll like that?"
"You will make his year! I'll call right away. Thank you VERY much!"
Teri smiled, and then pulled Aaron off to the side. "Aaron, you see those two boys in the corner?"
"Yeah, they look kinda out of place. It's like they are trying to not be noticed."
"That's what I thought, too. Grab your brothers and make them feel welcome. Sean and Cory are experts in finding out what's going on. You guys do whatever you need to do to keep those two here. If they say anything that raises a red flag, get my attention."
"Sure thing, Mom. I've wanted to see Sean and Cory in action anyway. If I put my hat on, start making calls."
"I like how you think, Aaron. Go to it, son."
Teri walked back over to Chip. "If Aaron puts on his hat, start calling. The tribe is out hunting!"
Chip chuckled. "You are almost as demented as I am! I'll watch; I give them five minutes!"
Cecil finished the phone call he was making. "They will be here in ten minutes. My wife threatened to draw and quarter me if this was a joke."
Teri looked over to the other side of the room, to see the boys breaking out of a huddle. "Watch this, you are about to see something amazing!" she said to Cecil and Chip.
They all turned to watch the events about to happen in the corner.
Johnny had been chosen to be the lead boy of the welcoming committee. He timidly walked up to the table the two boys were sitting at. "Hi, I'm Johnny. Can my cousins and me sit here with you?"
Both boys looked closely at Johnny, and decided he looked sincere. The oldest spoke up. "I guess so. We will probably have to go soon though."
Johnny signaled to the rest of the boys that it was ok to come over then slid into the booth next to the youngest boy. "What's your name?"
"I'm Robbie, and that's my cousin Rusty."
Aaron walked over to the booth. "Hey, squirt. We're putting some tables together over here. Why don't you bring your new friends over there and introduce them?"
"Ok, Unca Aaron" Johnny replied.
Rusty looked at Johnny in shock. "He's your uncle?? That's AARON CARTER!"
Johnny giggled. "Yep, he's my Unca. He's goofy too!" He then grabbed both boys' hands and escorted them to the head of the table that was set up.
Once everyone was seated, Johnny turned to Aaron. "Unca Aaron, this is Rusty and Robbie. Will you introduce everybody else?"
"Sure thing, buddy. Rusty, Robbie; these are our cousins." Aaron then started around the table and introduced everyone.
"Adam?" Robbie asked innocently, "Why do you look like you were beat up?"
"My old father found out I was gay, and he beat me up. These guys found me, and now I have two new brothers; Sean and Cory. I also have my little brother that I had never met, Tyler."
"Wow, that's awesome that it worked out so good for you!" Rusty replied. "I wish we could ..." He suddenly got a sad look on his face.
Cory got up and crouched between Rusty and Robbie, an arm over each boy's shoulder. "Go ahead, what do you wish for? You might be surprised at how wishes come true."
Rusty continued in a small voice "I wish I knew someone who could take care of us. Robbie's mom ran off a month ago, and he moved in with me and my mom. Mom went on a date last week and didn't come home. This is the last of the money that was around the house, I figured we could have one more meal together before we went to the police and got separated into foster homes."
Aaron put his hat on so hard that an audible `slap' was heard throughout the restaurant. "You have, and I KNOW Mom will make sure you guys never lose each other."
Sean giggled. "You know something, Aaron – I think Cory and I are rubbing off on you!"
Teri and Chip were passing the time with Cecil, waiting for his son to arrive, when they were startled by the slap of the hat. Chip looked at his watch. "Seven minutes, thirty seconds. Not bad. Teri, I'll start making calls, you get the details."
"I'm on it, Chip. From the sound of the hat, better call it in as an emergency."
"Agreed," Chip then pulled out his communicator and opened it. "Dodds to Enterprise."
"Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Chip"
"Nyota, where's the Captain?"
"In his cabin having breakfast with Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock. Is there a problem, Chip?"
"Let's just say Teri's boys have struck again. Could you patch me please?"
"One second, Chip."
A few seconds later, Kirk's voice came over the communicator. "Kirk here. What's wrong, Mr. Dodds?"
"Looks like two more kids. Teri is getting details now."
"Say no more. Bones and I will be right down. Kirk out."
Chip closed his communicator, surprised at the reaction from his Captain. He no more than had the communicator back on his belt before two shimmering columns appeared in the lobby. He turned to Cecil, "Looks like two more for breakfast!"
Rusty cowered when he saw Teri heading toward them. Sean looked around and saw her heading over. "Don't worry, that's Mom. She's cool."
"Yeah," Aaron added, "Mom is the greatest."
Rusty relaxed some, and once Teri came up, she had Cory take a seat while she knelt between Rusty and Robbie.
"Hey guys, I'm Teri; Sean, Cory, Ty, Adam, and Aaron's Mom. You wanna tell me your names?"
"Yes, Ma'am. I'm Rusty Miller, and this is my cousin Robbie Miller."
"Do you guys have a problem you would like to talk about?"
"Yeah. How did you know?"
"I guessed when I saw you as we came in. I told Aaron to let me know if he thought you might need help."
"OK." Rusty then repeated what he had told the boys, pausing only when he saw the transporter beams."
"What's that?" Robbie asked in a scared voice when the beams appeared.
Justy reached over and placed a hand on Robbie's shoulder. "Don't worry; it's just a transporter beam." As the forms took shape, Justy smiled. "It's just Uncle Jim and Doc McCoy. You're fine."
Rusty finished his story, then both boys received a hug from Teri. "Don't worry guys, you're safe now." She then got up and joined Chip and the new arrivals.
Cory spoke up. "See guys, I told ya Mom was cool. She'll take care of everything. I promise!"
Rusty's mood was noticeably brighter. "You got a great mom! I'm really glad you guys came here today!"
"Hey guys," Sean interrupted, "Whadda you say that since you're joining the family, we all go over and you can meet the rest of the family."
"Sweeet! Let's go!" Robbie and Rusty said in chorus.
"What's the word, Teri?" Kirk asked as soon as she walked up.
"Well, looks like one of you gets to use the Safe Haven Act again. We've got one abandoned boy and one possibly abandoned."
"Actually Teri," Kirk said with a grin, "I think it would only be fitting for the Director of the Federation's new Youth Services Bureau to do the honors."
Teri looked confused. "That sounds fine, but I don't see him here."
"The new director is not a `he'; it's a `she'. As a matter of fact, I'm looking right at her!"
Teri and Chip both looked at the Captain in shock. Chip finally was able to speak. "Could you please expand on that, sir?"
Kirk chuckled. "It seems that word got out about you and the twins, Mr. Dodds. Over the last day, Headquarters has been swamped with incoming requests for more information about the act. The Admiral happened to have the file open on Teri when one of his aides suggested a department to coordinate actions under the Act. With your history in just the last month, Teri, he decided you would be perfect for the job; so he created the department and at 9pm last evening officially appointed you Director. I was supposed to tell you when you came up to the ship today, but it looks like you will need it before then. By the way, the Admiral suggested you appoint a head for a psychiatric department, and said that Daniel Richardson would have his approval if you think he will fit."
Teri got a serious look on her face. "Captain, I'm flattered by the offer, but there are a couple things that take precedence. The first is this rapidly growing tribe I call a family. They need my support before anyone else. The second is my extended family who have gone to great lengths to arrange for us to all be together in Orlando. Unless allowances can be made for those two priorities, I will have to respectfully decline the appointment."
Kirk smiled. "Teri, you sound just like some officers of mine. They're not afraid to draw a line and express their thoughts. In fact, you are standing next to the two biggest offenders – Bones and Mr. Dodds. The Admiral figured you might say that; here's the details: First, you will be working from home, using a comlink for any required communications. You will have a secure link to the main file servers, so your home will be your office. You might be surprised to find out that half of the Federation's Department heads have never stepped foot inside Headquarters. Second, and most important, is that with a few limited exceptions, most of which will be emergency situations you can handle over a communicator, you will set your own schedule each day. If Sean has soccer practice at 3pm, you will be able to take him and watch the practice, no questions asked, no answering to anyone."
Teri looked thoughtful for a minute, then responded. "That sounds fine; I'll accept under the condition that I have all that in writing before I leave the ship tonight."
"I'll make sure of that myself." McCoy interjected. "Just what I've seen so far from you has impressed me; you better believe I'm going to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb before you even see it. Now let's go meet those boys."
Aaron had just finished introducing the rest of the family to Rusty and Robbie when JJ yelled out "Hey, Carrot Top, over here!"
Aaron turned to see who JJ was yelling at, and saw Cecil with a lady he assumed was his wife and a skinny freckled 12 year old redhead boy. `That must be Andrew' he thought to himself as he stood up.
"JJ, you bum! What you doin' here?" Andrew said with a grin.
"Not much, just a family reunion! Come on over, I've got some people I wanna introduce to you."
JJ, Adam, and Aaron met Andrew at the edge of the group. JJ giggled when Andrew's face dropped in shock as he realized Aaron Carter was not only here, but was actually coming over to greet him.
"Hey dufus, close your mouth. You're letting the flies out!" JJ said as they walked up. "What's the big deal? He's only Aaron Carter?"
"You'll pay for that later, JJ." Aaron said with a grin. "Since you two know each other, why don't you handle introductions, smart aleck?"
JJ grinned, "Everyone, This is Andrew Evans, and his mom, Angela. Carrot Top here is my best friend." He then ran through the introductions, purposely saving Aaron for last.
When an impatient Aaron was finally introduced, Aaron shook Andrew's hand. "It's great to meet you. Your Dad tells me you kinda like my music."
"Yeah, you are AWESOME! I've got everything you have ever done!"
"I had a good teacher: my big bro. How would you like to join us for breakfast, and I'll see if I can con your Dad out of a menu. If so, we'll pass it around and everyone can sign the meal they ordered."
"SWEEET! Would you really do that?"
"Yep. Two reasons; first you are a fan, and second you are one of my bro's best friends. Besides, you seem pretty cool yourself."
Andrew then turned to JJ. "Hey, JJ, sorry I did not make it to see your mom, man. I really wanted to be there for you, but the thought of going to the funeral made me start getting sick. I got so bad Mom told me that if I went I'd hurt myself, she said you didn't need to see that happen."
As soon as he heard JJ's mom mentioned, Adam immediately pulled in close to JJ and placed his arm around his waist in support.
"Thanks, Andy." JJ replied. "I understand, I would hate to see you hurt."
Andrew looked at the pair in front of him, deep in thought. He seemed to make a decision inside his head, and then spoke. "JJ, is Adam your boyfriend? Are you gay?"
The restaurant fell silent, the only noise coming from the kitchen.
JJ looked at Adam, who nodded his approval for JJ to answer. "Uhh, yeah, actually I am gay, and Adam is my boyfriend. Please say you don't hate me, and we are still friends."
Andrew smiled, then held out his hand to Adam. "Congratulations, Adam. I was wondering how much longer this dufus was going to hide in the closet. Don't worry, he's all yours. This just means I KNOW he won't be stealing girlfriends from me!"
This caused chuckles and giggles from everyone, and conversation resumed around the room.
As Aaron returned to his seat he noticed Robbie had moved, and was now sitting between Brian and Dylan. Since that opened up a seat by him, he guided Andrew to sit between him and David.
"Wow, it feels like I'm out in space with all these stars around me! This is AWESOME!" Andrew gushed.
David giggled. "Get used to it, since you and JJ are friends, you'll be seeing a lot more of these clowns. Besides, you made some instant friends the way you reacted to JJ being gay. I know I speak for all of us when I say you were really impressive."
JJ leaned over and asked Andrew "Hey, Carrot; when did you figure out that I was gay?"
Andrew looked thoughtful for a minute, then spoke. "I've suspected it for about a year now; it was kinda obvious the way you watched me change whenever we were together and you thought I was not looking. Mom and Dad noticed too, I guess."
A blushing JJ asked, "OK, when did you think you knew tho?"
"You remember the trip to Worlds of Fun in June? When we got to the hotel room; remember the rollaway bed that was there? And how I got really mad and stormed out? Dad followed me, and we had a long talk. They were worried that you might make an advance on me and I'd take it wrong and blow up. Dad and I had a long talk, that's when it hit me that you were gay. Thing is, you were not any different because of it, and Dad explained to me it was not a choice you made, but the way you were born; kinda like my freckles. I had seen the way you looked hurt when you saw the bed; man, you and I have slept in the same bed forever! I asked him if he really thought you would try anything with them in the room when you have never done it in the privacy of a bedroom, and informed him to get rid of the bed; I was going to sleep with you, and if anything did happen I would just let you know that it's not my way, but I'm ok with it being yours. I also said that if we were right, you needed me to be a friend now more than the rest of the time I've known you, and I refused to abandon you like that. You were kinda down the rest of the evening, do you remember what I did when it was bedtime?"
JJ was sitting there, tears of joy streaming down his face. The rest of the group was listening intently, mesmerized by the tale unfolding before them. JJ slowly replied, "Yeah, you insisted that we shower together, which we had not done for ages, and then when we went to bed, you rolled over, laid your head on my shoulder, and told me that no matter what you would always be my best friend."
Andrew smiled. "That's right, and I meant ever word of it. I know things might get rough for you, but I promise I will always be here for you as a friend. If I get labeled as gay because I'm hanging around you, then I'll live with it; you're my friend no matter what anyone says or does."
JJ got up, lifted Andrew out of his chair, and proceeded to give him a heartfelt hug. After the hug broke, JJ spoke. "Andy; thanks for sticking with me. After what you just said, and what we have been like, would you mind if I stopped calling you a friend and started calling you my brother?"
Before Andrew could answer, there was a chorus of boys' voices as he was informed that the rest of the tribe wanted him to join too. Aaron stood in front of him, and made it official. "Andrew, as you just heard you have been invited to not only be JJ's brother; but to join what we jokingly call `the tribe'. I promise you, everyone is serious. You have earned the right to be called a brother of every boy in this room. I would be proud to call you my brother, just as I call JJ and the rest of the guys' brothers. Just to let you know, it takes something special to be included in this group, and you are the first guy over 11 years old who is confirmed straight that has even been considered."
Andrew looked around the room at the expectant faces watching him, checked the sincere look on Aaron's face, and then turned back to JJ. He spoke in a loud voice so all could hear "Come here and give me a hug, BROTHER!"
The restaurant erupted in a loud cheer, and then Andrew made the rounds of the room receiving welcomes from everyone. He was surprised when Kevin pulled him down to talk to him as he was coming by.
"Andy," Kevin said in a low voice, "I'm really proud of you. You are doing something that most kids could not do; standing by a gay friend who is `out'. As one straight guy to another, I'll tell you there will be times you will wonder if you made the right choice. Trust me, you did; and you will never regret it. I'm going to give you my card. If you have any problems you don't know how to handle, need help, or just wanna talk, give me a call anytime. You are never going to be alone. Both bands will back you up. If it gets serious, more than likely Starfleet will be backing you too, so stick with it, ok – nephew?"
Andrew gave Kevin a hug, and then put the card in his wallet. "Thanks, Uncle Kev!" he said with a smile.
Kevin playfully swatted his butt. "My pleasure. Now go grab your seat. It looks like the food is coming out!"
Andrew giggled and then ran back to sit between Aaron and David. As he passed JJ, he stopped long enough to tell him "Thanks, bro. I'll remember this day for the rest of my life!"
Teri, Chip, Kirk, and Dr. McCoy joined Andrew's parents standing on the edge of the group watching the introductions and the events following. Teri spotted Robbie first.
"Dr. McCoy, You see the boy cuddled up on Brian's lap? That's Robbie. Give me a minute. I'm still trying to spot Rusty."
Just then, Andrew asked about JJ being gay, and all of them paid close attention to the happenings between JJ and Andrew; locating Rusty became a low priority.
Once Andrew returned to his seat after being welcomed into the group as one of their brothers, Dr McCoy turned to Cecil and said, "You two should teach a class on parenting. That boy has more sense than half the people I've ever met."
Cecil smiled. "Thanks, Doc. We try hard, but give him some credit. There's been times he's set me straight, too."
The staff started bringing out the food, even the cooks helping carry out plates. Teri told Chip, Angela, Cecil, Kirk and McCoy "Let's grab a table and eat. Let the boys enjoy their meal before you start torturing them, Doc."
McCoy shot her a dirty look, but sat down at the nearest table. Kirk chuckled, "Watch it, Bones. I think you've met your match!"
Chip muttered under his breath to Kirk. "You have no idea, sir."
A few minutes later, as everyone was eating, Teri finally spotted Rusty. She got the attention of the rest of the adults at her table. "I found Rusty, but I don't believe what I'm seeing! Look over there, across from Curly."
They all looked over, and Kirk was first to comment. "Looks like someone has a crush on Curly. This should be interesting."
Just then, Rusty decided to stretch, standing up and purposely pushing his hips out so that his upper legs were pushing against the table with his back arched. The entire time, he was staring at Curly to see if he was watching.
Chip chuckled. "Now, if THAT was not the most obvious come-on I have ever seen I'll shave my head! That poor boy. First off, he has the hots for a married man, then on top of it, he's picked Justin Timberlake! I think Dan's got his work cut out for him with Rusty. Anyone who could have a crush on Curly needs psychiatric help!"
Teri reached over and slapped Chip on the back of the head. "Behave yourself!" she giggled.
Just then, all hell broke loose. Rusty saw Jason feeding a sausage link to Justin, and on the spur of the moment Rusty picked up one of his sausage links by the end, and as he was waving it in the air asked Curly "Would you like to eat my sausage?"
Curly turned beet red as the surrounding people broke out in laughter. Rusty realized his secret was out, and began crying. He then stood up, chair falling backwards onto the floor, and started to run for the door. Three more chairs flew away from the tables as Chip jumped up and intercepted Rusty while Curly and Jason rushed over to console the boy. The only other sound in the room was Brian trying to calm down Robbie, who was latched onto his neck yelling for Rusty not to leave him.
"Let me go!" Rusty screamed as Chip restrained him.
"You're not going anywhere, now calm down!" Chip replied as he tried to keep hold of the squirming, fighting boy.
Curly and Jason came up, Jason limping a little from running into a table. "Thank God you caught him." Jason said. "I think this is something Justin and I need to discuss with him, Chip. We'll take him in the restroom to get cleaned up, and talk this out. Go ahead and pass him to Justin, and please make sure we are not disturbed, Okay?"
Chip looked at the two men, seeing the concern in their faces. "I guess. But if you two start to get in over your heads you better come out for help."
Curly nodded his head, then reached out his arms and picked up Rusty. Rusty latched onto him, arms and legs wrapped tightly around him, and broke down into tears, repeating over and over "I'm sorry."
Curly put one arm around Rusty's waist, and caressed the back of his head with the other hand as he said "Relax, little one. You are fine, calm down. I'm not mad."
The three of them went into the men's room. As the door closed, Chip turned to Teri. "I hope I just did the right thing. Do you think they can handle this?"
"I think so," Teri replied, "that's the most mature those two have been since I met them. Right now, I think Justin is the only one who can convince Rusty not to leave. I just hope he does it gently."
The three entered the restroom, and headed for the large handicapped stall. Justin sat on the edge of the toilet with Rusty on his lap. He held Rusty close, cuddling him and soothing him as Jason rubbed Rusty's back.
"You hate me, don't you?" Rusty sobbed.
Justin replied softly "No, little buddy. I don't hate you, and neither does Jason. If we hated you, would we have come after you when you ran? Actually, I'm flattered that you like me enough to do that. The only other guy who has ever flirted that openly with me I ended up marrying, that's Jason."
"Really? I thought you would hate me for embarrassing you."
Jason chuckled. "Don't worry about that. Just about every person in that room has got in their shots on both of us. No one takes it personally. That's how we show we care about each other."
Rusty suddenly got an urgent panicked look on his face. "I gotta pee – NOW!"
Justin stood him up, and Jason caught Rusty as his legs collapsed while Justin was moving out of the way.
"Get his pants!" Jason barked. "He's too weak to stand! Hurry!'
Justin hurriedly pulled Rusty's pants and boxers to his knees, and without thinking reached over to aim for him. He no more than got Rusty's penis pointed before his bladder let loose. Rusty put his hand over the back of Justin's, and squeezed a weak `thank you'.
Rusty finished up, then Justin redressed him, flushed, and then sat back down on the seat with Rusty on his lap. "Do you get weak like that often, buddy?"
"Yeah. Mom used to just give me a candy bar, then I'd be ok."
"SHIT! Jason, go get the quack – NOW!" Justin barked. Jason raced out of the bathroom. Justin turned his attention back to Rusty. "Rusty, I'm gonna have the Doc check you out, lil buddy. You wanna laugh, tho? You are the first guy besides myself that I've ever held while taking a pee! We both know you are too young to be my boyfriend. Besides I'm married to Jason and would never cheat on him. I hate people who cheat on their spouses more than anything. What would you say to the next best thing: living with Jason and me, even becoming our son if we can get the courts to ok it?"
"What if Jason does not want to? And what about Robbie? I can't leave him alone again!"
"Don't worry about Jason. He'll approve. I promise. As far as Robbie goes, I think he's took a liking to one of my neighbors. Did you notice him cuddling up to Brian? Brian and Dylan live right next door to us. Would that work for you?"
"Sounds great! Why do I feel so weak right now?"
"We are about to find out. You are about to get looked at by the best doctor in the Federation. He'll fix you right up."
McCoy ran in just as Justin said the last sentence. "Alright, Timberlake, what's the emergency?"
"I think we have a diabetic on our hands, Doc."
McCoy growled. "You stick with singing, if you call it that, and I'll stick to diagnosing patients. Can you stand, Rusty?"
"No sir, Doc."
"Sit there then. Curly, keep him steady while I scan him."
McCoy scanned Rusty with his medical tricorder, checked the readout, and then pulled out his communicator. "McCoy to Enterprise, give me Sickbay! STAT!"
"Yes, Doctor," Uhura replied from the speaker.
After a few seconds, Christine Chapel's voice came over the speaker. "Sickbay, Chapel here."
"Christine, get me some Type-H insulin down here with an injection kit and syringes ASAP! Tell Scotty I said put a rush on it!"
"Right away, Doctor. Mr. Scott just happens to be here with me. He said to tell you he'll bring it personally. Give him two minutes."
"Tell him make it one! We got an undiagnosed kid down here!"
"I just keyed the override in allowing transport from Sickbay. He'll be right down. Chapel out."
As McCoy closed his communicator and put it on his belt, Mr. Scott materialized in the center of the room. "Here be ye' meds, Doctor. Where's the wee lad that be worryin' you?"
McCoy pointed to Rusty as he prepared the syringe, verifying the dosage from his tricorder.
Scotty ruffled Rusty's hair. "Relax, laddie. The Doctor might be a wee bit short, but if anyone be able to fix you, he'd be the one."
"Pull up his right sleeve, Justin." McCoy said as he walked over. "And watch close. I'm making you responsible for doing this until he learns how to do it himself." Justin just nodded.
McCoy injected the insulin into Rusty's arm, explaining to Justin what to do as he did it. Once he finished, he stepped back and grudgingly said to Justin. "Congratulations, for once you were right. For right now, when you get out there, give him tea to drink, no sweetener or sugar. Let him eat normally. I'll check his readings when you two are on the ship this afternoon."
Justin hugged the small body on his lap. "You mind telling Lance I'll be busy, Doc? I was supposed to be helping them this afternoon, but this little angel is more important right now."
McCoy looked at Justin, and gave him a rare smile. "I never thought I would say this, but you just impressed me. I'll take care of Lance. You and Jason need to be talking to Teri, tell her doctor's orders. Rusty is to stay with you."
McCoy then turned to Scotty. "Speaking of orders, you are staying down here and eating with us. You need to take a break."
Scotty laughed. "I kina thought you'd be sayin' that."
The room fell silent as the group came back out into the dining area. Jason walked over to Rusty's seat and got his plate, catching a waiter on his way and ordering an unsweetened tea. McCoy and Scotty pulled up seats at Teri's table, ignoring the inquisitive looks from Chip and Kirk. Justin was the last out, carrying Rusty on his right side and the injection kit in his left hand.
As he walked by Teri, Justin said loud enough for everyone to hear "Teri, Rusty is going to be staying with me and Jason – Doctor's Orders!"
Robbie broke free from Brian, and ran up to Curly and Rusty. "What's wrong with Rusty? Is he sick? Where am I going to stay?"
Curly pulled out a chair, and sat down with Rusty. "BRIAN? DYLAN? GET OVER HERE!" He then pulled Robbie over next to him. "Slow down, munchkin. One question at a time, okay? Wait for Brian and Dylan, and then we will answer your questions. Why don't you go ask Teri to join us, ok bud?"
Robbie ran over to Teri and dragged her back to them. Curly looked at Teri. "Doc said that you were the one to talk to. What gives?"
"I just became the director of the Federation Youth Services Bureau. So now I'm in charge of making sure these guys are taken care of. Would you mind filling me in on why Doc had to rush in there with you?"
Brian, Dylan, and Jason joined them as Curly answered. "Teri, this little guy had undiagnosed juvenile diabetes. His mom had been treating him by giving him candy bars, but he had a major attack in the restroom. Doc has showed me how to use the insulin kit, but we are going to get more training on the ship later. This little meeting here is to figure out who is going to be lookin' after these two."
Teri smiled. "Justin, have you decided to grow up when nobody was looking? Okay, let's hear what that devious little mind of yours has contrived."
Justin stuck out his tongue at Teri, which caused giggles from both boys, then continued. "B-Rok, Dyllweed; before I continue, I have one serious question. Before you answer, think about your response carefully. If you try to change your mind later I will personally kick both your butts. I noticed how comfortable Robbie is with you. Are you willing to take him in?"
Brian looked at Dylan, who nodded his head. "Teri, could you please arrange for us to receive custody of Robbie?" Brian asked in a serious voice. "On the condition that Robbie wants it, though."
Robbie looked at Brian. "What about Rusty? I don't wanna lose him. He's all the family I got."
Brian pulled Robbie onto his lap. "I think Curly and Jason are planning on Rusty staying with them. We are next-door neighbors. Would that be close enough for you, lil one?"
Robbie thought for a second, and then answered. "Yeah, that's ok. How long do we get to stay with you?"
Brian smiled. "Forever, lil buddy. Forever."
Curly smiled as Robbie cuddled up to Brian and Dylan joined in to make it a three-way cuddle. "Teri, lets make this official, seeing as it looks like you have your answer about them. I request Rusty be placed with us for an indefinite period."
Teri looked at the two couples cuddling with the boys. "One second, let me make this official." She waved for Kirk and Chip to join them.
Once they were over, Teri asked Kirk, "Captain, may I make use of the Enterprise's log, please? There is some official business which needs handled."
McCoy had joined them, and he interrupted Kirk. "Jim, use the tricorder. I can upload through the med link as soon as she is done. Besides, Youth Services is a division of Starfleet Medical. Teri, see Christine when you get to the ship. She will issue you a tricorder and give you training on basic functions. Just don't try to play doctor."
Teri followed McCoy's instructions, and shortly activated the logging function on the tricorder.
Once she was sure it was started, she paused it long enough to get the boy's full names and ages. She verified the applicable sections, then began the proceedings.
"This is Director Teri Short of the Youth Services Bureau. I hereby invoke the Safe Haven Act, Section 309 in regards to the minor children Rusty Scott Miller, age 12, and Robbie Andrew Miller, age 5. As per Section 309, paragraph `B', they are being taken under protection due to abandonment. In addition, I'm ordering an investigation into a possible violation of Section 14-C, Medical neglect, in regards to Rusty Scott Miller. Reference medical files for said child will be held aboard the USS Enterprise."
"Placement will be as follows: Rusty Scott Miller shall be placed with Justin Randall Timberlake and Jason Sebastian Mitchell-Timberlake, residents of Orlando, Florida, USA, Earth. Robbie Andrew Miller shall be placed with Brian Thomas Littrell and Dylan Jefferson Waters-Littrell, residents of Orlando, Florida, USA, Earth. Both placements shall be considered permanent. Full medical exams shall be performed by Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise as soon as possible. This concludes the proceedings."
As she finished, the room erupted into a cheer, as everyone had gathered to see what was happening. Cecil came over to the group. "It seems like a few of you have cold food now; we can't have that! Relax, I'll have new orders out shortly, and they are on me. Congratulations on the new families, guys!"
Everyone settled down, Andrew moving around to have conversations with everyone in the room, all the boys coming over to welcome Robbie and Rusty into the family. Curly insisted on feeding Rusty by hand, even after he regained most of his strength. McCoy stopped in a few times to check Rusty's blood sugar levels, and reminded Rusty to stay away from sweets until they had his medicine balanced.
Rusty was down to just a sausage on his plate, when he got an evil grin on his face, and whispered something in Curly's ear. Curly giggled, "Go for it!" he whispered back.
"Hey Uncle Nicky?" Rusty asked innocently.
"Yo Rusty. Wadda you need?"
Rusty picked up the sausage just like he had before. "Dad and Pop refused to eat my sausage. Would you like to eat it?"
Nick turned beet red as Ashley busted out in laughter.
"Gotcha!" Rusty said with a laugh.
This made the rest of the room lose it. Kevin leaned over to Lance, and between chuckles stated "He's already starting to sound like a Timberlake!"
Lance chuckled. "Look at Curly's face; that's the happiest I've seen him look in ages! It might be too soon to tell, but I think Rusty is just what he needed. If it means putting up with pranks from both of them, I'll live with it. Justin has wanted a kid since shortly after we formed the band, and I'll bet today ranks up there with the happiest days of his life."
Kevin got a thoughtful look on his face. "You know, you are right. I've seen the looks of jealousy that he's given Chip and Josh when Justy cuddles with them. This could be exactly what he needs. I just hope Jason does not ruin it for him. I really wonder sometimes if Jason hates kids."
Lance got a serious look on his face. "If Jason even tries to screw it up, he's gotta deal with the rest of us. The band has kept quiet so far about Jason, but we'll nail him to the wall if he gets between Rusty and Justin."
"What's going on that I don't know about?" Kevin asked.
"Have you noticed that Jason seems to disappear whenever we're near you guys, besides seeming to ignore Justin regularly?"
"Oh, shit. We are having a similar problem with Dylan."
"I think we better start looking into this further – both bands." Lance replied.
Things finally wound down, and the Enterprise officers bid their farewells to everyone. Kirk ended up with Teri and Chip. "Do you think you can fit this mob on the Columbus, Mr. Dodds?"
"Yes, Sir. Not all of them are going. There will be no problems."
"Good! By the way, you are not piloting it up. I will let you co-pilot, but I will be piloting. You need to be able to concentrate on your family, so no arguments. I will see you in a few hours at the shuttle." Kirk then called the ship.
"Kirk to Enterprise. Three to beam up."
"Transporter room standing by, Captain," Spock said from the communicator.
"Energize, Mr. Spock." With a moment, Kirk, McCoy and Scotty disappeared, caught up in the transporter beam.
"I hate it when he does that!" Chip exclaimed with a grin. He then noticed Andrew was saying goodbye to everyone.
"Andrew!" Chip yelled, "Get over here!"
"Yes, sir?" Andrew said as he ran up.
"Why are you saying goodbye? I thought you wanted to spend the next week with your brothers? At least that's what your Dad said."
You could see the smoke rolling out of Andrew's ears as his brain tried to process the question he was asked. Finally everything connected and he broke into a huge grin. "AWESOME! Really? Wow, Thanks!"
"You are EVIL, Chip!" Teri said, laughing.
Aaron walked up and handed Cecil a menu, covered in writing. "Would you mind taking this home with you? I promised it to Andrew; I'll let him know you have it."
Cecil pulled Aaron into a hug. "Thank you Aaron. You just made my son's dream come true. If you ever need anything just give us a call."
Everyone filed out to the limos, Andrew and JJ stopping long enough to give Andrew's parents hugs as they were leaving. Chip was the last one, stopping to settle the bill.
"That came to $350.00, Chip." Cecil said.
"Not bad. Add on a $100.00 tip for each employee to the bill." Chip replied. "Don't forget the cooks and yourself."
Cecil shook his head. "I've already figured out not to argue with you. Thanks from all of us. I'll be seeing you around, won't I?"
"Looks like it, since Andrew is now part of the tribe. If a co-owners position suddenly gets offered to you in Orlando, take it. You will make a group of boys really happy if you do."
Cecil grinned. "I'll take that as a hint. I think you are being waited on. We'll talk later."
Chip joined everyone else in the limo as Cecil removed the "Closed for private party" sign from the door.
The limos emptied into Teri's house. Kevin got everyone's attention with his now-famous whistle.
"Okay, grab your suits. We have an hour to kill in the pool! Last boy in has towel duty!"
All the boys scrambled up the stairs except Rusty and Robbie, who took off once Brian and Curly gave them the go-ahead nod. Teri noticed the concerned look on Curly's face as Rusty disappeared upstairs, and went over to talk to him. She put a hand on his shoulder, and spoke softly. "Don't worry Justin, he'll be just fine. The rest of the guys'll watch him. Let's go wait for them by the pool."
"What's wrong?" Chip asked as him and Josh walked up.
"New father jitters." Teri replied.
"That little boy has stolen my heart." Curly said softly. "Chip, Josh; now I really know how you two feel when you look at Justy, and now the twins. In just a couple hours, Rusty has put all his trust in me. I don't know how, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to become the father he needs. Do me a favor, Teri; please let me know as soon as you have him cleared for adoption. I know you need to find out what happened to his mom first, but God has given me a gift, and I'll die before I lose him. Honestly, I know you all know things are not the best between Jason and me right now, but no matter if it brings us closer together or breaks us up, Rusty WILL have a home with me."
Brian had walked over as Curly was speaking. "Justin, I feel the same way as you do about Robbie. If Jason gives you any trouble, come and get me. I'll do the same if Dylan gives me a hassle, OK?"
Curly stuck out his hand and shook Brian's. "It's a deal, bro. Those two have a home one way or the other."
Josh pulled Chip close. "Guys; I know I speak for both of us when I say `Welcome to parenthood'. You both are doing great, but I think it might be a good idea if all of us parents sat down and talked after we get back tonight. I'll let Nick and Ash know, you try to corral your spouses. If either of them doesn't think it's important, show up anyway. I can see already who cares the most about those boys."
They were interrupted by a herd of boys scrambling down the stairs. Justy, the twins, Robbie and Rusty stopped just long enough to give their respective parents a hug on the way through, then tore off after the others. Once the mob cleared, Chip spoke up.
"That's what we mean; you guys are naturals. I'm proud of both of you. Go on out there and watch your new sons, Josh and I have a scheduled `quiet time' to attend to."
"Thanks, big bro." Brian said as he gave Chip a hug. "You two go ahead, and don't worry about your boys. We'll watch them, too."
Josh and Chip watched the rest of the group head to the pool, and then headed up to their room. "Well, hun, looks like Curly and Brian are both going to try growing up." Josh said.
"Yeah, I hope they are not getting in over their heads. I like the idea of you, me Teri, Dan, Nick and Ash sitting down with them. They need to know they can ask us all for help and advice."
"I agree. We'll need to do that tonight." Josh replied as they entered the bedroom and he closed the door behind them.
Out at the pool, a major game of "tag" had commenced. Brian and Curly both looked around for their spouses, but neither one was to be seen. "Oh, well. Their loss!" Brian quipped as he pulled a lounge chair over between Teri and Curly.
Curly dozed off shortly after sitting down, but was rudely awakened by a wet body climbing on his lap and immediately cuddling him. As he opened his eyes, the sound of a giggle from next to him informed him that Brian was in the same situation. He looked down, and saw the reddish-brown hair, still wavy even when wet, and the green eyes looking at him; questioning without words whether it was ok to do this. "Rusty, don't worry; you are fine lil' buddy. How are you feeling?"
Rusty relaxed totally. "I'm feeling a little tired. Can I cuddle with you? You're not mad that I got you all wet, are you?"
Curly smiled, and gave Rusty a hug. "The wet lap comes with being a parent. As long as it's you doing it I don't mind it at all. The cuddle is fine too; but first let me see your finger, it's time to test your blood sugar. Hold it still, you'll feel a little poke, it's supposed to do that, okay?"
"Okay, as long as you say it's `posed to." Rusty said as he held out his hand for Curly to do the test.
Curly reached into the bag he had brought out to the pool with him, and got out the tester with the notes on operations Dr. McCoy had left with it. After wiping Rusty's finger with the alcohol pad, he pricked the tip of it and inserted it into the tester. A minute later, it indicated a successful test, and he compared the readings to the notes to see where it stood.
"Good news buddy, you are still fine. Go ahead and relax, you've had a rough day."
In no time flat, both were sound asleep. In the next chair, Brian and Robbie had also drifted off, smiles on their faces. Fortunately, none heard AJ come and get Kevin, both running to the back of the property.