Before they had time to blink, Mamee, Layton, Dixon, Jessie, Huey, and Zora found themselves in a large auditorium full of people of all ages.
"Mercy sakes," Mamee whispered. "I never knew there was this many folks in this Clan of yours, boys. We may need a bigger hall for that party we're going to throw when we have our family all together again. Something about twice this size should do."
"Mamee!" Dixon gasped. "Bigger than this is bigger than some of the towns I've lived in. I don't know enough people to fill up a room that big."
"Well, you know enough to fill this one up," Huey pointed out.
"I don't know all of these people," Dixon replied.
"You will soon," some unidentified boy said with a grin as he ran by.
"Mercy sakes," Mamee repeated.
"Ditto," Jessie mumbled as he looked around the room that was quickly filling up with people.
Jessie's first thought had been of the slightly disorienting feeling of being in South Carolina one minute and a second later Orlando, Florida. His second thought when he looked around the enormous meeting room he found himself in was to wonder if Marc and the other "little doctor boys" as Mamee kept calling them were there as well. There seemed to be so many people there that he expected to see anyone. His jaw really dropped when he realized that he was looking at some of the most famous people in a twelve year old boy's world. He saw Aaron Carter, and several members of the Backstreet Boys as well as N'Sync. It was incredible, and apparently the rest of his new family was similarly overwhelmed. They all seemed to be just standing there with their mouths slightly open, except for Mamee, but even she was looking all around with surprise. His third thought was of Dixon, who had just stepped closer to him and slipped a hand into his. Naturally, contact with any skin of his cute little boyfriend had the effect of reminding him of earlier that morning. That memory triggered him to scan the people in the room looking for Marc and Jerry. He owed them a huge hug for what they did for him and Dixon. He also wanted to talk to someone about what he had read in Dixon's diary last night, and since they were the only doctors that he knew, he figured he would start with them.
I know it's been a long time since I wrote in you. Life has been so crazy though. I was almost burned to death in a barn, but my hero, Jessie, rescued me. Oh, he saved everybody else too.
I don't understand why someone would hate me so much that they would want to kill me and my whole family just because I love Jessie. It's so not fair. It doesn't even make sense. I never asked to be this way. I went out with a girl and even kissed her trying to be straight. It just didn't work. Oh, I think I'm going to be sick just remembering it. YUCK! I kissed PigFace Priscilla.
I'm all right now. I went over to the bed and made out with Jessie for a minute. Okay it was more like fifteen minutes according to the clock. It didn't feel like it was that long though. I could spend the rest of my life kissing him. Well, maybe not just kissing.
The best news is that I'm all right… you know… down there. It works again. Boy does it work. I can't completely control it like Marc said I would be able to yet, but I'm sure it will just take some practice. And Jessie has volunteered to help me practice a lot. I'd better stop talking about him or it will start working again right now.
I had another one of those strange dreams. I don't think I have ever mentioned them in here. I fall asleep and I dream that I am me, but I live somewhere else. It's someplace really bad. I hurt the whole time that I am there. No one else ever seems to be around, but I'm wandering around in a town. At least it used to be a town. It must be out in Arizona or somewhere, because there is a desert at the edge of town. The thing is the desert has boats all over it. Everything in town and all the boats at the desert are all wrecked and stuff.
Every time I have one of these dreams, the me I dream of being is hurting more and feeling weaker. I think I'm dreaming that I'm dying or something. They are starting to really creep me out. I wonder if I should talk to one of the guys from the Clan about it. They wouldn't think I was crazy maybe.
Well, changing topics doesn't help get my mind off my Frankenweenie if Jessie is going to lay on top of the bed naked. See ya later, diary.
"Gotta go get more people!" the little boy who had called himself Levi said, and vanished. Huey gaped at the space where he had been.
"May I show you a seat, Miz Amee?" asked a white-haired man carrying a cane as he walked briskly up to them, accompanied by an angelic-looking sandy-blond boy of 14 and two identical younger strawberry-blond twins.
"It would be my pleasure, sir," Mamee replied. "But I'm afraid you have the advantage of me."
The twins giggled. "Ah, how soon they forget!" the man said with a mock-theatrical hand-to-forehead gesture. "The first time I met you, you peed in my lap. And the last time must have been, oh, thirty years or so ago, at that interminable boring annual stockholders' meeting when Bruce and I sat with your husband and you. Will he be joining you tonight?"
"Stop teasing her, Uncle Richard!" the older boy said with a smile.
"Oh, goodness," Mamee said. "I'm afraid Daniel won't be here. He's been gone seven years next Tuesday."
"You have my deepest sympathies," the distinguished gentleman said sincerely. "Come with me, my dear. I want you to meet my sister and brother-in-law," he said, gesturing towards the stairs to the balcony where Sarek and the Lady Amanda stood watching.
"That's the Vulcan ambassador!" Zora exclaimed.
"Yes, and my brother-in-law as well," the man replied. "Richard Grayson, at your service, miss."
"Come, children!" Amee said, as she took Richard's arm and walked towards the stairs, every inch the Southern belle of her youth.
"No, you guys come with us," one of the twins said. "You're part of the Clan now, and sit down here with us. Besides, Marc will be here, and he'll want to know all about…" he leaned closer to Dixon "…how Frankenweenie is working," he finished in a whisper.
Dixon blushed scarlet. The boy frantically wondered how anyone could have known about this morning. He suddenly stopped dead still and turned to his great grandmother. "She peed on him? GROSS!"
As he was being led by the two young strangers, he realized that they didn't seem all that much like strangers after all. "You guys seem familiar, like I should know you, but I can't quite figure out where I know you from," Dixon said out loud. He hoped to get his own attention off the mental image of his great grandmother peeing on someone, as well as get these new guys' attention off of his private… well, his privates.
"That's okay, Dixon. I'm Jamie and this is Jacob," one of the boys said. "You were pretty out of it when we met you."
"Yeah, thank goodness," Jacob added. "We were on the team that rescued you from the hospital in Arkansas."
Jessie suddenly grabbed Jamie in a nearly bone crushing hug as Dixon gave Jacob the same treatment.
"Thank you guys so much for saving Dixie for me," Jessie whispered. "I never thought I would see him again, much less see him as a him." He turned then and started squeezing Jacob while Dixon completed the switch by hugging Jamie.
"I can't possibly tell you how glad I am you guys found me when you did," Dixon said quietly.
"It's okay, Dixon, you too, Jessie," the twins told them. "You were already in Charleston when that doctor got what he deserved, but we can share it with you, if you want to know."
"Nothing that happened to him can repay him for what he was going to do to me," Dixon sniffled. "I would have been a girl if you guys hadn't gotten there when you did." His eyes opened wide as the twins shared the memory of the doctor's punishment with him and Jessie. "Okay, well maybe that does." Dixon smiled and Jessie snickered, and then both boys began to laugh.
"Thanks for letting us know that, guys," Jessie told the twins seriously. "It's nice to know that some of the bad guys don't get away with it."
"Jessie, both Ezekiel and Malachi Smeltz were arrested for what they did to you," Jacob told him. "They are awaiting trial before Cory. Trust us; they won't get away with anything."
"They're in jail?" Jessie asked in an almost whisper.
"They're in the brig of the Lafayette, actually," Jamie answered. "They were in the brig at the hospital in Charleston, but when construction began, they were sent to the Lafayette for holding until Cory gets the chance to hold their trial."
"Why is Cory trying them?" Dixon asked.
"Clan Short arrested them, not the Federation, or anybody else," Jamie explained. "That means that they have to face Clan Short of Vulcan justice."
"The doctor that hurt you in Arkansas was punished under the same Vulcan justice," Jacob added.
"I didn't think that a regular judge would have ruled to cut a guy's thing off," Jessie giggled.
"There's probably a lot that wish they could, though," Dixon said thoughtfully.
"There are a few judges involved with Clan Short, you could ask some of them if you really wanted to know," Jacob suggested.
Just then everyone's attention was drawn to the stage at the front of the room. Cory and Sean were talking to someone in the balcony. Dixon and Jessie followed everyone else's gaze to the particular box and saw Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan with his wife, Amanda, her brother Richard, and their own Mamee and Zora.
"She ain't never gonna let us forget she was up there hobnobbing with them fancy folks," Huey muttered sullenly.
"Mamee's not like that," Dixon corrected.
"Who's talking about her?" Huey asked. "I meant Creepella."
"Your sister is very nice," Dixon said. "You shouldn't call her mean names. I wouldn't call my sister things like that if I had ever had one."
"Spoken like an only child," Jessie teased his boyfriend. "I love my brother more than anything, but when he acts like a dork, I call him one."
"I don't understand how you guys can be so mean to someone in your own family," Dixon said shaking his head.
"Stick around the clan long enough, you'll see brothers doing much worse than that, all in good fun of course," Jacob told him.
With their own conversation going, the boys had missed hearing Sean call Marc and Danny to the stage. Huey was the first to respond. "They look good together."
"I thought he was just one of the doctors," Dixon mused aloud. "I didn't know he was the head doctor."
"Oh, he's not the head doctor," Jamie giggled. "That would be Uncle Dan."
The boys all watched and giggled and laughed along with everyone else as Sammy was told of and accepted his new position. When Sean called out the names of the representatives of the Founder Council Huey perked up again. "Did he say Timberlake? Like Justin Timberlake?"
"Justin is his dad," Jamie answered.
"Oh man, that kid has one has one hot daddy," Huey whispered. He then added, "His boyfriend ain't bad, either." Moments later when Dylan took the stage, he was awestruck again. "That is so Phantom of the Opera sexy."
"Is he always this horny? He's like an older version of Dmitry," Jacob asked Dixon and Jessie. Unfortunately the question was answered not by words but giggles as both boys were incapable of speech just then.
"Unlike the whole rest of this room it looks like, I happen to be single," Huey complained. "It is perfectly all right for me to look."
"Not everyone is part of a couple," Jamie answered.
"Yeah, we're part of a trio," Jacob continued.
"I just did not need that information," Huey whined. "All these hot boys around me and I'm the only single one in the bunch."
"We didn't say that," the twins told him. "There's lots of singles in here. You're on your own finding them, though."
"See, you just wrong for that," Huey announced.
"But you're having so much fun looking around," Jamie responded innocently.
"Yeah, we wouldn't want to spoil the good time you're having," Jacob added, equally angelically.
"Hummph…. I'd have a lot more fun if I wasn't single," Huey mumbled. "Mama and Daddy get their own hotel room last night, Dixon and Jesse get a hot tub room, and who do I get to share space with? My nasty old sister. Now here I am in boy heaven and still ain't no better off. I might as well be straight."
"I see several girls in uniform over there," Jessie said pointing toward the seats where The Unit was sitting.
"They can stay over there, too," Huey told him. "I said I might as well be straight; I didn't say I was." He turned to look back at the stage and gasped. "That kid has wings."
"There's a few around here that have tails too," Jamie mentioned. "They're members of the G-Cat squad from The Unit."
"You shouldn't have told him that," Jessie said. "He has worn out three video cassettes and even two DVDs of the musical Cats. He watches the young black and white cat that does the magic tricks over and over and over, in his room, alone, with his door shut and locked."
"You can shut up now," Huey growled. They were all surprised to see Dixon twitching as he tried not to laugh too loudly.
"I don't mean this racist, Huey," he gasped. "I just never knew it was possible for African-Americans to blush that much before."
"You can shut up too," Huey retorted as he stuck out his tongue.
The boys all were quiet during the rest of the meeting. Shortly after it was over, Beau showed up to join the twins. Dixon, Jessie, and Huey made their way to the front of the room trying to catch Marc and let him know that Frankenweenie was alive and well. When they did find their little doctor boy, Marc returned Dixon and Jessie's enthusiastic hugs with a grin.
"That's great news, guys," he told them when he could breathe again. "I'm really happy for you." He got thoughtful and serious for a moment though. "You do understand now that it isn't spare parts, don't you? With a little technical magic, it's really all you down there. About the only thing that's artificial is the neurotransmitters we used to bridge the nerve connections from your injury."
"Oh, we know that," Dixon confirmed. "I just thought it was kind of cute that Jessie called it that."
"I meant to tease him about it a little," Jesse explained. "I mean tease him about thinking it was spare parts, not about it, you know. The name just seemed to fit though."
"It's ok, Jessie," Marc smiled. "I understand. Lots of guys name their stuff." He turned back to Dixon and said, "This is actually good news for another reason, too. With all that's happened this weekend, I was going to have to put off your checkup for a couple of more days anyway. We'll be having a funeral service for…. Well, it will be on Wednesday. I would need to reschedule your housecall for after that. Now that you've let me know that everything seems to be in good working order, I feel more comfortable doing that."
"It's not in good working order; it's in great working order," Jessie giggled happily, and then realizing what he had said out loud, he blushed as red as Dixon had as soon as he had said it.
"Okay, you horndogs, have fun with it, but if you do have any problems at all, call me," Marc told them.
"There was one other thing we wanted to talk to you about," Huey said before Marc could turn and walk away.
"Sure, what's up?"
"Marc, it's a pleasure to see you again," Mamee said as she walked up to the group of boys.
"This is your doctor?" Zora asked. "He doesn't look any older than you."
"Looks can be deceiving," Marc said with a grin.
"Have the boys told you about finding Doug?" Mamee asked Marc.
"You found Doug?" Marc asked the boys.
"Well I found what was left of him," Jessie said with a bit of a shudder. "He is in bad shape."
"How bad?" Marc asked. "Did you bring him with you?"
"No, he's still in South Carolina," Dixon answered.
"His body is in pieces, Marc," Huey began to explain. "He wasn't disassembled peacefully, either."
"I see," Marc said.
"His head seems to be mostly undamaged," Huey continued. "I think there's a possibility that his brain could still be retrieved."
"We wondered if you would be able to look him over and tell us anything," Mamee told Marc. "I would dearly love to have Doug back."
"I wouldn't know until I had a chance to look him over," Marc answered. "How did you manage to find him?"
The family took the next couple of minutes telling Marc of their adventures at the farm. Jessie blushed more and more as they all continued to tell about how brave and heroic he had been. When they were done, Marc told them he would take a look at the android's remains when he came out to give Dixon and Jessie their checkup.
"I'm not sure how we are to manage it, boys, but I think it is time for us to be getting back to South Carolina," Mamee announced after setting up a day and time for little doctor Marc to come out to the estate.
"I'm sure Ark would be glad to take you," Marc told her. "If it's busy though, we can always call for a teleport."
"I really don't know what is worse," Mamee pondered aloud. "I have never felt that comfortable with teleporters, yet the method we got here seemed rather abrupt as well. It wasn't uncomfortable, just sudden. Still I suppose that would be preferable to molecular scattering across the planet."
"You don't have to leave, you know," Marc pointed out. "There is no shortage of jobs to keep you busy around here. There are a lot of hurt people here now; many of them physically, but many more emotionally. Just having an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on would make a big difference."
"What do you think, boys?" Mamee asked. "How about you, Zora?"
"I have to get back to classes," Zora told them. "I would stay if I could, though."
"We are a part of the Clan, Mamee," Dixon pointed out. "We should be here helping our extended family."
"You're very polite to not mention that you should have been helping when the attacks happened instead of tucking tail and running to hide," Mamee told him. "I made a mistake, boys; this is our chance to make up for it. We stay." The boys all responded positively and somewhat loudly, before Mamee added, "I'll try to find a phone and arrange a place to stay and a taxi to get us there."
"Neither will be necessary, I assure you." Mamee and her family turned to see Teri Short walking up to them. "There are plenty of available places to stay right here."
"That's awfully kind of you, Mrs. Short," Mamee told her. "It is rather abrupt notice, though."
"Not really, I was told that you would be staying about fifteen minutes ago," Teri smiled.
"We just decided to stay a second ago," Dixon pondered aloud. "Word sure gets around quick here."
"Good news always travels fastest among friends," Jessie said thoughtfully. "Jason told me that once." He suddenly turned and ran from the room. Dixon followed instantly.
Jessie ran out of the building and headed across the grounds of the compound. Dixon saw him slow for a second and then turn and go into a large two story building not far away. As he got closer, he knew why Jessie had gone in.
"Want to talk about it?" Dixon asked when he walked into the indoor pool area. Jessie was sitting on the edge of the pool staring at the water.
"About what?" Jessie returned.
"You're missing your brother," Dixon observed. "I can see it on your face, and I think Mamee and the family could as well."
"I'm sorry," Jessie said emotionally as he began to cry. "I know I should be grateful for being taken in and getting to live with you and all…."
"You don't have to apologize for loving Jason," Dixon told his lover. "He's your brother. You're supposed to love him. I wish I had a brother sometimes."
"You know Jason likes you just as much as he does me," Jessie said quickly.
"Well, he likes me, but I don't know that he likes me that much," Dixon denied. "He had just met me when we got rescued and brought out here."
"We'd been together since almost the beginning of school, and we've known each other since you first moved to town," Jessie pointed out. "He's known you almost as long as I have."
"Yeah, but not as well," Dixon said with a blush.
"He'd better freaking not," Jessie growled playfully. He then grew serious again. "It's just that with everyone talking about me being such a hero, it reminded me that he's my hero. He saved my life just like I saved yours. That creep would have raped and killed me if it hadn't been for Jason." His tears were flowing again now. "You said I charged into the barn like a knight in shining armor; that's what he did for me. He ran into my room before the guy could do anything to me and blew him away. I wouldn't have been here to save you guys if he hadn't saved me. I never really told him thank you."
"Mamee said she would get him out of this, come hell or high water," Dixon reminded his boyfriend. "I know we haven't known her that long, but Huey says if Mamee cusses, it's serious."
"Yeah, she told that sheriff that she was helpless, but she sure put him in his place quick enough," Jessie grinned at the memory. "Grown men just kind of melt when she uses that look or that tone of voice on them."
"Yeah, you can tell she was a teacher," Dixon agreed. "Come on, cutie, let's go find our bed for the night."
"Why Dixie Wiggins, are you trying to take advantage of me in my sorrowful state?" Jessie teased.
"Never mind, Dixie, let's just go find the others," Jesse laughed. "I love you, Dixon Daniel Wiggins."
"And I love you, Jessie David Blankenship," Dixon told him as they walked back to the building they had been in. When they got there, they found that Annie Mae, Melvin, Pet, and Deputy Miers had all joined the family in Orlando, and Zora had been transported back to school.
"Can't let you boys have all the fun down here in Florida," Melvin told them as they looked at the new arrivals questioningly.
"Besides, I'm sure with this many young'uns to feed, another pair of hands in the kitchen will come in handy," Pet added.
"Jessie, are you all right now, sweetie?" Mamee asked quietly.
"Yes, ma'am," the boy answered. "I will be ok."
"I'm sure that little Donny is doing everything he can to get your brother back to you," the old woman told him. "Now I don't know about you boys, but this old lady is tired. I think we should all go turn in."
"At least I get a room to myself here," Huey sighed happily. "For future reference, I will never share a room with my sister again," he announced firmly. "Besides just being plain creepy, she snores as loud as Dad."
"You don't have to stay by yourself, you know," an unidentified little boy announced beside Huey. "There's a bunch of us that are going to nest somewhere around here. You can join us."
"Nest?" Annie Mae questioned. "Sounds like a bunch of anim……" Her voice disappeared as she saw two cat people walk by. "Good gracious alive!"
"Will they be in the nest?" Huey asked. When he heard an affirmative response, he grinned from ear to ear. "I feel a nesting instinct coming on. Lead the way."
"Don't you do nothing to embarrass yourself or me," Pet called out to her son as he practically skipped down the hallway following the cat boy.
"The kids are all used to the biological responses of young boys sleeping naked in the same place," Teri explained. "No one will think anything of another morning flagpole." She turned to Jessie and added, "I'm sure the two of you are included in that invitation. We don't mean to belittle your relationship with your brother in any way, but these guys all think of you as a brother now too. You've got a pretty big family now, Jessie. Go enjoy it."
As Dixon and Jessie fell asleep that night amidst the enormous pile of boys of all ages, they both felt for the first time that they were a part of something much bigger than they had ever imagined. They weren't alone anymore. It was a good feeling, a very good feeling indeed.
As this chapter hints, there is much more ahead for Dixon, Jessie, and their growing family. I hope you are all still enjoying this story as much as I am. Special thanks to D of D&B for not only editing, but also for helping with the writing. Thanks also to Jeff, AC, Ilúvantir, Jay, and several others for their help with this chapter, and in some cases the loan of characters. You're the best guys, Merci beau coup!!!