Local Falcon Health Technology Entertainment Queen releases "Face It Alone", a rediscovered song with Freddie Mercury Packers fall to Giants
Local Falcon Health Technology Entertainment Queen releases "Face It Alone", a rediscovered song with Freddie Mercury Packers fall to Giants

Memories Part 3: And A Child Shall Lead Them

Chapter 44: Shelter

DJ and Tanner found themselves in a unique, at least for them, situation as they relaxed on the ground. They had been kicked off-stage by the rest of their brothers, having been told that they were to take a long-overdue break. Even though it was dark outside now, the party was still going strong, with portable lighting added after their Uncle Montgomery called in a couple of favors from Starfleet Engineering. The already sizable crowd had expanded even more after the sun set, as the Moroi contingent of the Clan joined in the fun.

Currently, both boys were grinning as they watched Toby and Tommy on stage, Time Touched having organized a sing-along for their undead cousins. They were currently mid-song on 'Livin' After Midnight', and from the participation that DJ and Tanner were hearing, it was very possible that his brothers had just given the Clan Moroi a new theme song.

"ATTACK!" two young voices announced a second before DJ and Tanner found themselves laid out on the ground with two giggling boys laying on top of them. After shifting around, DJ and Tanner found that they had just received their first official pounces from Creston and Crey.

"Hey lil' bros, what was that for?" DJ grinned once he was sure nothing was broken.

"You wasn't singing!" Creston announced from his perch on DJ's chest.

"Timmy put us in charge of making sure you don't try to work," Crey added from Tanner's chest.

Tanner giggled as he realized just how fast their little brother was integrating the new family into Clan life. "I guess putting us in body casts could cause that! Great pounce, guys!"

"You love it!" Creston and Crey chorused with grins on their faces.

Just then, DJ noticed the twin blond boys standing off to the side, shocked looks on their faces. "Hey Crezzy, if those two are your friends, I think you just broke them!"

Creston glanced over as he waved for the twins to join them. "C'mon Warren and Wesley! They don't bite!"

"You didn't tell us your brothers were music stars!" one of the twins squeaked.

"Let me up, bro," Tanner told Crey. "Help Crezzy with that big goof I'm planning to marry, okay?"

"Gotcha," Crey grinned as he launched himself towards DJ, knocking Creston over in the process. As the pounce turned into a three-way wrestling match, Tanner got up and walked over to the two shell-shocked boys.

As he reached the boys, Tanner reached out and put one hand on a shoulder of each boy. He didn't miss the fact that both boys flinched at the contact. Tanner immediately decided that he'd deal with Timmy later, right now his gut feeling was that these two needed help that Creston wasn't able to provide, yet. "Relax guys; DJ, me, Creston, and Crey won't let anyone hurt you. I'm going to call for a comfortable seat, then we can talk about why you're scared."

The slight nods of the heads of the twins was all the answer that Tanner needed. Tapping his commbadge, Tanner stated "Hey George? I need a cuddle couch; it's got to hold four munchkins, me and Deej."

"It'll appear behind you," George replied. "Kerry just transferred the files on the twins, so I've got any info you might need."

"Thanks, bro," Tanner replied as the faces of the twins told him the couch had appeared. "Hey Deej, stop picking on the rugrats, we've got two little guys who could use cuddles and someone to listen to them."

By the time Tanner had coaxed the twins to join him, DJ was seated on the overstuffed couch while Creston and Crey were obviously waiting for Tanner to be seated before they chose their own seats. The reason was quickly apparent, as the two proved they were worthy of the title 'Short brothers'. Thanks to the scheming of Creston and Crey, DJ and Tanner found that they each had a twin on their lap, with a little brother under each of their outboard arms.

Noticing how stiffly the twins were sitting, DJ softly said "You can relax guys, we're just going to cuddle and talk."

"Deej and Tanner are okay," Creston added, "They even helped our new big brother Ferris learn that he didn't need to kill himself. DJ saved him from his old parents, they were raping him."

Neither of the older boys needed to look, as they felt the disbelieving stares of the twins. "Crez is right," DJ explained, "but what he didn't say is that Tanner and I were rescued by our current family a while back, and I almost did what Ferris was thinking about. Me and Tanner can kinda talk to each other in our heads, and he's really worried about how scared you are. We've been that scared too, but we learned how much talking about it helps. That's how Dad, Pop, Russ, Sara, and Mom helped us."

"If you guys turn so your backs are facing each other, you can try out some of the cuddles our little brothers are enjoying while we talk," Tanner suggested.

"But we ain't nothin', we don't deserve cuddles," the twin on DJ's lap whispered, "... 'specially not from big stars."

The only thing that kept DJ from exploding was the knowledge that the twins wouldn't be here unless someone had already stepped in. After leaning his head to kiss the forehead of the twin in his lap, he stated "You deserve cuddles if I say you do, and I've never been wrong."

"I think lots of cuddles," Tanner added as he repeated DJ's actions with the twin on his lap.

The first sign that they were getting through almost broke DJ and Tanner's hearts, as they saw the silent tears begin to run down both twin's faces. Keeping his voice soft to avoid scaring them, DJ instructed "Why don't you guys let all those tears out on our shoulders, while Tanner and me make sure that nobody who has hurt you can ever hurt you again? Don't worry if we sound mad, we're going to talk to your Uncle Nathan and have him make sure you're safe."

"Promise?" the twins whispered in unison.

"On my life," Tanner and DJ replied as one.

"If it's okay with you guys," Tanner added, "we're going to have one of your new cousins look in your memories so that we can fix everything."

"Okay," the twin on DJ's lap replied, followed by the one on Tanner's lap. Giving in to the slight trust they were starting to feel for the teens that were holding them, the twins relaxed for the first time in years. Almost as one, they settled into the shoulder of their respective teen, softly sobbing as they allowed their inner pain to surface.

Crey's true age showed itself at that moment. Not bothering to ask, he tapped his new commbadge and ordered "Dylan, this is Crey, condition yellow, we need you here NOW! S.W.A.T. stand by for possible welfare checks."

Before DJ or Tanner could question it, Creston added "You take care of them, we'll do the footwork. Once we have answers, then you can decide what needs done."

Dylan appeared as Creston finished speaking. His smile vanished as he saw the sobbing twins on DJ and Tanner's laps. "Do I have the okay to look?" he asked.

"Go ahead, Dilly, they said okay to finding everyone that hurt them," DJ replied.

"Get the full report from George, too," Tanner added.

Dylan nodded seriously, getting to work without another word. After about a minute, he stated "Be right back!" then vanished.

When Dylan returned, Bryce had joined him. The first clue that DJ and Tanner had that things were about to go downhill was Bryce's attire; the sight of a fuming Mikyvis in full S.W.A.T. gear sent a chill down both boy's spines. Dylan's next words confirmed that something was wrong. "Please confirm my findings, Lieutenant Richardson," Dylan instructed with a frown.

A roll of thunder in the cloudless sky signified that Bryce had completed his scan. Bryce came to attention, facing DJ. "Mr. Wagner, would you be receptive to a mental conference regarding our findings?"

While not sure that he wanted to know, based on the reactions of his two Mikyvis cousins, DJ replied "Go ahead."

"Pull me in too," Tanner added.

While the speed of thought sped things up quite a bit, it still took a full two minutes before the review was completed. As soon as it was completed, DJ ordered through his subvocal "All AIs. Open channel to all communications devices, Priority One."

"CSNIC activated; all channel page activated," a voice that seemed to be a mixture of all of the base stations replied almost instantly.

Any doubt that the twins might have had about the promise made by DJ completely vanished as their minds registered the tone behind his next words. "All Divisions, this is DJ Wagner. S.W.A.T. set Condition Red, report to CIC Orlando for briefing. Recovery teams set Condition Yellow, stand by for assist of Special Weapons as needed. Medical stand by for treatment of victims as needed. Security, prepare for incoming. Windy City, you're hot, stand by to release the Wraiths. THIS IS NOT A DRILL!"

The band on stage had been between songs, and within seconds they reorganized and launched into "No More Tears" with Fife on vocals and a warpaint-clad Timmy on lead guitar.

DJ spoke from his heart as he pulled his lap monster into a tight hug. "Listen to your uncles, little guy. They're tellin' you and your brother that you ain't going to live like that no more." Another kiss to the boy's head earned DJ his first return hug from him.

Bryce popped out to CIC, but Dylan was still present when Spock was teleported to join them. After one look at the cuddle pile on the couch, Spock turned to Dylan. "Are you able to clarify the logic behind the recent activation of forces, grandson?"

"Yes, Grandpa," Dylan replied. "You might want to meld with me so I do not miss anything."

"That is acceptable," Spock replied. While Creston and Crey watched in awe, Spock retrieved everything that Dylan had found. DJ and Tanner continued to comfort the twins, confident in their cousin's capability to fill their grandfather in.

Once the meld was completed, Spock observed the group on the couch. "Creston and Crey, your actions as observed by the twins have brought honor upon your House. I shall want to review them from your perspective. Grandsons, I find your logic sound as to your reactions as well as your wish to make the commitment that you have vowed to follow. Once the results of the action you have ordered are concluded, your grandmother and myself shall arrange to complete all required actions to expedite your wishes."

"Thank you, Grandpa," DJ replied.

As Spock walked away, Creston asked "What's happening?"

"Let these guys tell you the details when they're ready, bro," DJ replied softly. "Adults sometimes forget that kids see more than they think we do, especially in group homes and foster care. In big cities, they get away with a lot sometimes, and right now there's a large group in Chicago that are about to find out their payoffs don't mean crap."

DJ's reply was interrupted by Timmy emitting a war screech before transmitting over the same channel that DJ had just used. "REDHEAD BRIGADE, ACTIVATE!" Timmy growled. "RAPID RESPONSE BASE, SET CONDITION RED!"

"What was that?" Crey asked with worry.

"That was our little brother setting loose the one group that scares the local Klingons," DJ replied. "There's nothing more dangerous than a company of pissed-off redheads, and he just set them loose on the buttwipes in Chicago that hurt these two."

"What's so special about them?" Crey asked.

"We scare DJ!" Tanner giggled softly. He tapped his commbadge, then stated "Timmy? Prez? I've got to sit this one out; I'm cuddling one of the two little guys who led to the dispatch.

"Take care of my new neffues, Tan," Timmy replied.

"We've got you covered, Tanner," Prez added.

"Thanks, guys," Tanner replied before turning his attention back to Crey. "Think of it this way; redheads are prone to kicking butt then asking questions later. What do you think a large group of them is going to do in a situation like this?"

"Make a lot of people pee their pants!" Crey giggled.

"Yep!" Tanner giggled.

Just then, Ezra popped in, announced "Special Delivery!", quickly sat a pair of redhead five-year-olds on Creston and Crey's laps, then popped back out without another word.

"Meanie!" both boys exclaimed after Ezzy vanished.

"Do I want to know?" Tanner laughed. "Hi guys, I'm Tanner, the other big kid is DJ, this is Crey, that's Creston on DJ's far side, and the twins are Warren and Wesley."

"I'm Hank," the boy on Creston's lap replied, "and he's my bestest friend Pierce. That meanie wouldn't let us play wit' the bottle rockets!"

DB popped in with a plate of cookies and a table. "Aunt Marcie sent these since you're busy, Uncle Tanner! Hank and Pierce need a new daddy and poppa, their old ones fell off a building. They shouldn't of told Robin to stop it! Guys, if you ask your Pop nicely, he'll teach ya howta make a staged bottle rocket, Tanner's good at that! Gotta go, I'm missing the fun; Eoghan's teachin' me to fly helicopters!"

DB vanished as quickly as he appeared, leaving the table with cookies behind.

Pierce looked at the two boys on DJ and Tanner's laps. "Are those our new big brothers?"

"We haven't asked them ... or you, yet!" Tanner giggled. "But since our meddling mystical cousins decided to play with time again, I think there's a pretty good chance that they are about to be your big brothers."

"Why they cryin'?" Hank asked.

"They got hurt really bad by the people that your new uncles are taking care of," DJ explained.

"They need cuddles to fix them?" Hank continued.

"Yes, they need a lot of cuddles," DJ agreed.

Without another word being said, the two littlest boys in the group shifted around to where they could wrap their arms around the nearest twin. "We got ya, bros. You're gonna be safe now," Hank stated just loud enough to be heard.

"I think they picked the right daddies," Creston stated with a smile, "They're just like you."

"Thanks, bro," DJ replied. "Ya know, you're pretty special too; these guys noticed you two plotting to get them to meet us, but you earned their trust enough that they let you lead them to us."

"Ferris says that we need to help kids like we were helped, he says you taught him that," Creston replied in defence.

DJ smiled. "So you listened to your new big brother, and then went out and did just what you though he'd do? What made you decide that these two needed to meet us?"

"They were scared and not having fun," Creston replied.

"There's too many people that could hurt us," Warren whispered from DJ's lap.

"I'm glad you listened to Creston, Warren," DJ stated. "You've got us to protect you, including a set of killer little brothers from the looks of it. I know there are a lot of people here, but they're all our family. Most of them have been hurt too, so they won't hurt anyone on purpose or allow anyone around them to hurt someone on purpose. People that hurt kids on purpose are made to stand trial and have to go to jail or worse if they are hurting kids or families."

"What if they buy the judge?" Wes asked from Tanner's lap.

"They'll get caught before the trial is over," DJ stated. "Then the judge suffers the same sentence that the bad person does when another judge does the trial again."

"Any Clan officer can be a judge," Tanner added. "In fact, if there isn't a Clan officer around when one is needed, the Clan telepaths can help any Clan member with the information they need to be a judge. That makes it really hard for a person to get around the rules, and keeps all of us honest since we know that other Clan members are always double-checking each and every trial."

As Tanner finished his explanation, DB popped in again, accompanied by Robin and a redhead six-year-old who was giggling madly as Robin helped him play superhero. "Chicago needs six new judges, do you think Aunt Teri knows some?" DB giggled. "Sorry about popping in and out earlier, but I couldn't miss the fun!"

"Yeah, Mom picked me out a new brother!" Robin gushed. "This is Avery!" Robin slowly let Avery down onto his feet; just as soon as it was safe to walk, Avery tucked himself into Robin's side, obviously already attaching himself to his new big brother.

DB quickly introduced everyone to each other, then added "I think that Nathan's SWAT team and the RHB are going to work together great. We did the trials for them, and they helped us catch some of the bad people in the act."

"Good deal!" DJ replied. "Hey Robin, did you really drop some guys off the side of a building just because they said to stop it?"

"Hey!" Robin grinned, "I stopped them before they hit the sidewalk ... it was only a foot before, but I didn't kill them! You should see how big the puddles are that they left underneath them though, adults sure make lots of pee!"

"I should have guessed," DJ stated with a shake of his head. "What was the final score?"

"Five terminations," DB replied, "thirty-one level three sentences, twenty level two, and fifty-four level one. Three of the five terminations were directly involved in what happened to your twin sons. Seventeen others never made it to trial, they attacked with deadly force and were neutralized. Marcie broke a nail, and one of Nathan's guys got a cracked rib from taking a shot in his vest; Ezzy took care of both of them. After they saw how our shields worked, Nathan's team are going to start using them too."

Pretty sure of what really needed to be heard, Robin added "Every single person who is or was a threat to any of your boys is no longer allowed on Earth, Deej. They're either serving life without parole or they've become lunch. We don't have a count on how many people were found by Divinity's teams; all we know is that he said that they took care of anything we didn't have leads on."

DJ nodded as he said "Thanks guys; now Warren and Wes don't have to worry about anyone who threatened them or hurt them."

"How'd they do it so fast?" Wes asked in disbelief.

"DB, his little brother Luke, and your cousin Ezra are all a special kind of human," Tanner explained. "They are growing up with a special gift that lets them shift through time and take people with them. Why don't you ask your cousin how long it took in linear time? That will tell you how long it would take without them helping out."

"How long did it really take?" Wes asked, his voice revealing his insecurity.

"Just about three months," DB answered. "It probably would take longer though, because sometimes we showed up a couple of seconds after the call warning the bad guys ended. The telepathic scans caught all of those, though, so it helped us find the bad guys faster. We'd take care of one, then bounce to where the next one was. When we thought we were close, we went back to the guy who was doing the calling, then took care of him before taking care of the ones that he called that we missed, as well as the ones he was thinking of calling."

"You kept your promise," Warren stated softly as he snuggled into DJ tighter.

"We're still working on that," DJ admitted before kissing the top of Warren's head again. "I can't keep you safe if I don't know where you are, so me and Tanner want to adopt the two of you, but only if that's what YOU both want. The pair of fireballs have already claimed you two as their big brothers, so now you need to start thinking about what you think will keep you and them safe. You can say yes or no now, or you can say that you want to wait and talk about it. If you do say no now, you can always change your mind later, but once you say yes it is forever unless we screw up; if we can't be good parents, then one of your Clan brothers or sisters will step in to either help us fix it or give you a family that can be a good parent or parents to you."

"Uncle Cory and Uncle Kyle had to do that earlier today," DB added. "Uncle Sammy caught a Clan parent going bad, and they took his kids away. He was really bad, so Uncle Cory had to hold a trial and sentenced him to death. There was another family in the house though, and they decided that since it wasn't the kid's fault that things went bad, they wanted the kids to stay and join their family."

"You ain't gonna be a bad Daddy," Warren stated, "If you was, you wouldn't of made me feel safe. I ain't never felt safe before, but now I do."

"Yeah," Wes added, "Poppa's cuddles make my chest tingly!"

"I think that means 'yes', guys!" Cory stated from behind the couch. "Why don't you introduce us to your soon-to-be sons?" he added as he led the group that was with him around to where they could be seen.

The area in front of the couch suddenly became quite crowded, as Cory and Sean's entire family, including boyfriends, as well as Russ and Sara's entire family, made their presence known. In addition, all of Creston and Crey's family was present, along with Teri and Spock.

DJ shook his head and giggled. "Hey DB? You mind doing a mental intro? I'll lose my voice if I try to introduce everyone!"

"I got it!" DB replied as giggles ran through the crowd.

Once everyone was caught up, and the four new additions finally got over the shock at how many uncles and aunts they were gaining, DJ and Tanner helped the four boys twist around so they didn't have to turn their heads to see everyone. Creston and Crey took the chance to sneak off and join their family, updating Ferris on their escapades while they waited.

Once everyone was ready, Cory nudged his son Tommy to step forward. With a nervous smile, Tommy came up and stood in front of the couch. "Dad says that, since you guys helped us so much and gave us a family when we really needed one, I earned the right to return the favor. You didn't have to help us, but y'all did, and you even shared your family with us and made us brothers. Grandpa Spock says I need to say out loud what you were afraid to bring up 'bout the twins because y'all were afraid it would scare the little guys if they knew that y'all knew about them. All four of your new sons are Acadiens, and Grandpa's already checked with their council. He says they're clear to adopt, since their bloodline is from a couple of families who split off a generation back."

"Sweet, that means more time to cuddle!" DJ and Tanner interrupted in unison.

"Guys," DJ added, "That means you're like Crezzy, Crey, and our Uncle, Doc Antonio. You're also like the boyfriend of the Gulf Coast Division Director, and the boyfriend of one of Dad-Cory's cousins. That cousin's boyfriend brought his Dad into the Clan with him, so you'll get to meet and learn from someone who knows all about the history of your people."

"You still want us?" Warren asked in a shaky voice.

"Yep," DJ replied, "and if your new Pop and I have to arrange for living longer to make sure we're there for you, both of us will do it without a second thought."

Four boys pulling the nearest arm of their soon-to-be parent securely over their bellies was all the answer everyone needed; DJ's acceptance of their biggest secret sealed the deal in their minds.

"Y'all's picked some really special daddies," Tommy stated. "I ain't gonna make all y'all wait, so here it is ... as the son of Patriarch Cory Short of Family Clan Short of Vulcan, I hereby declare that from now until forever Warren Anton Wagner, Wesley James Wagner, Hank Patrick Wagner, and Pierce Simon Wagner are the sons of David James and Tanner Zachary Wagner. This placement is permanent, and any claim of custody from any other being in the Federation can go screw themselves!"

"THOMAS!" Teri exclaimed, trying to look stern.

"I didn't say what I was thinking, Grandma!" Tommy replied innocently as multiple Mikyvis provided halos above his head.

"Don't look at me, Mom!" Cory giggled as he felt her gaze shifting. "I agree with him!"

"Today's Cory's day to be in charge of the kids," Sean added quickly, "I'm just here for the cookies!"

"It is apparent that our sons are disseminating the lessons that you have taught them by example on how to express themselves," Spock stated dryly. "Based on my observations of our offspring, it is 97.875 percent possible that they will force the stated attempt at self-procreation upon any person who attempts to subvert the adoption that was just concluded."

"I give up!" Teri exclaimed as the assembled family broke into giggles at Spock's assessment. "Paul! I know you and Pauly are somewhere in this mob; go get your Dad and tell him to meet us on stage. You and Pauly can get Wacko ready while you're waiting on him."

"Okay, Aunt Teri!" Paul answered from mid-mob, still giggling at the show he'd just witnessed.

Russ grinned at the mayhem, fully aware of just how far the boys could have gone. Tapping his commbadge, he ordered "George, play 'White Wedding' please, then you and your brothers need to help the family get ready."


Thirty minutes later:

As Timmy popped out to get himself ready, DJ took the chance to look over his new family. All six of them were outfitted in white tuxedos, with white carnations that Timmy had insisted on personally pinning on each of their lapels. Noticing the expressions on the faces of the twins, DJ pulled them into a quick cuddle, being careful to not damage his little brother's work. "You can relax, guys," DJ stated softly after kissing the top of their heads, "You look awesome, and I know you're gonna make me and Pop proud. The best part is you're going to get to show off your little brothers, so everyone is going to know that if they catch someone messing with them, they can get you to take care of it."

Finally giving up on trying to force some semblance of order on Hank and Pierce's hair, Tanner added "You guys are really our sons now, and both of us can't wait to show you off to the entire Clan. We'll be right there with you, so you're gonna be safe."

"What if we lose you?" Wes asked.

"You're going to be holding Pop's hand, and Warren is going to be holding mine," DJ explained. "Hank's going to be holding on to your other hand, Wes, and Pierce will be holding on to Warren's other hand. Nobody lets go until we're on the stage, then all four of you are going to stand right there with me and Pop."

"That means there's no way you can get lost," Tanner added. 

"Okay," Wes replied, allowing himself to trust in his new parent's plan to keep them safe.

Now that he was sure that the boys were calm for now, DJ took Warren's hand. Wesley found his hand being taken by Tanner seconds later, with the youngest two latching on to their assigned brother almost instantly. "Ready, guys?" DJ asked.

Four 'yeahs' responded, so DJ reached out and opened the door to head outside.

"HONOR GUARD ... FALLLLL IN!" a young voice ordered as the door started to open.

  As DJ led his family out the door, he found Brian Williams and the entire youth contingent of the Iowa's crew standing at attention, every single one outfitted in Navy dress blues. Brian took one step forward, then came to attention as he saluted DJ. "Sir, we have been assigned the honor of providing escort to your family for the ceremony," Brian stated.

As all four younger boys expressed appreciative 'Whoa, kewl!' mutters, DJ returned the salute. "Thank you; I'm sure our sons are going to feel much safer."

"They won't leave our sight," Brian replied before doing an about-face and ordering "FORRM UP!"

The team quickly formed a box around the family, then proceeded to escort them towards the stage.  Without looking, both DJ and Tanner could tell that Conner was on the piano playing pre-processional music. When they were halfway to the stage, Conner shifted his pace, opting to play Beethoven's Fifth. As they got closer, DJ and Tanner exchanged amazed looks as they realized that an aisle had been formed through the crowd leading to the stage, with the British Royal Guard to their left and the Russian Royal Guard to their right. When they were about twenty feet from the start of the aisle, the group was stopped by Grandma Morrison.

"You all look so handsome!" Grandma stated before turning her attention to the younger boys. "You four are getting the most important job of all," Grandma stated softly. "We're counting on all four of you to lead your Dad and Pop to the stage so they don't get lost. Hank, Pierce? Timmy's going to give each of you a pillow with a ring on it. When everything's ready, you need to follow behind him. Warren and Wesley are going to be behind you, and DJ and Tanner will be behind them. All of your sailor friends will be walking on either side, so they'll make sure you're safe."

"We promised to hold their hands, Grandma," DJ interjected, his voice firm.

Grandma nodded. "What if each of you put a hand on your respective twin's shoulder, then he puts his hand on the little brother's shoulder in front of him?"

"That's not my decision, that is our son's decision," DJ replied.

Grandma smiled at his reply. "You're already proving that they picked the right parents. What do you boys think? Would you still feel safe doing that?"

Warren and Wes exchanged glances, then Wes replied "We'll try it first, then if we like it our little brothers can try it."

After a few seconds of shuffling around, the twins were in-place with a parent's hand on one of their shoulders. They considered it for a minute, then Warren stated "See what you think, lil' bros."

The two youngest moved into the front position, their older brothers mirroring their parent's choice of which hand to place on the shoulder of their little brother. After a little discussion, it was decided that this worked just as well as holding hands did, so they agreed to follow Grandma's request.

After looking over the intended procession, Grandma nodded. "I think that is very fitting, you're showing that you are doing this as a family. DJ, Timmy tells me that if the two of you work together you can talk to small groups in their heads. Your little brother already knows when to do what, so let him tell you how to proceed; I'll be enjoying the show from the front row. Congratulations, you're going to be an example to everyone as to what kind of family love builds."

Not waiting for a reply, Grandma turned and headed for her reserved seat.

Hank waited until he thought she was out of hearing range, then commented "She's weird!"

DJ sniggered at the comment. "Yeah, I agree son, but she'd weird in a way that makes good stuff happen."

Hank turned his head and smiled at DJ, his spirit buoyed by the response.

Timmy chose that point in time to join them, outfitted in full ceremonial dress. "Kewl monkey suits, Deej!" he giggled as he made his way through the surrounding guards.

"Watch it, Gizmo," DJ fired back with a grin. "Just remember, since you're my blood-brother that makes you these guy's uncle by blood. That means they get to pay you back for picking on us!"

Timmy stuck out his tongue, then turned to his new nephews. "After they do their kissy-stuff, we're goin' to Archnania. I'm gonna inner'duce y'all 'round while they try makin' babies. Me an' Deej got the same mommy from when we was born, so I gotta make sure y'all know all the stuff 'bout our family."

Before any of the four boys could ask the questions running through their heads, they were interrupted by two squawks from above their heads. Timmy looked up, made a few chirps intermixed with squawks, then told Hank and Pierce "Hold your arms way out; William an' Duke got the pillows for ya."

Both boys stuck their arms out, furiously trying to figure out if they'd really just saw their uncle talking to the birds above them. As soon as they were ready, William carefully glided in, dropping a pillow with a pair of rings tied to it with a ribbon into Hank's hands. As William circled around, Duke brought the other pillow for Pierce. Both birds came around and landed on Timmy's shoulders, William immediately clucking something into Timmy's ear.

"Okay, I'll ask," Timmy giggled. "Hank, Pierce? William and Duke wanna know if they can ride on the shoulders your brothers ain't holding."

By this point, the four boys were speechless. The two youngest just nodded their heads, both awestruck by the actions of Timmy.

Tanner smiled as he watched Timmy helping his new nephews understand how to allow the eagles to ride on their free shoulders. He didn't need a telepath to figure out what his little brother was doing; the pair of eagles would distract all four boys enough to keep them from having panic attacks as they made their way to the stage.

Satisfied that his nephews were comfortable, Timmy announced "Follow me! We gotta walk slow, though; if we go too fast the old guys are gonna trip on their feet!"

The sound of all four of their sons giggling brought smiles to DJ and Tanner's faces; it appeared that Timmy was well on the way to cracking the shells that all four had hid in to protect their sanity.

With Timmy in the lead and the sailors forming a column on each side, the group resumed their trip towards the stage. By the time they had took their third step, Conner's piano fell silent as CD launched the organ into the Wedding March. DJ and Tanner were in awe as they made it close enough to make out what was happening on the stage; to the right, the full orchestra was seated with their chosen instruments at the ready, while off to the left every brother and sister who was not part of the Time Touched orchestra were standing in white robe, obviously as a choir. Dead center of the stage, Russ, Sara, Cory, and Sean were waiting along with Pastor Mills. A ramp was provided as well, with JJ and Adam waiting at the foot, dressed in tuxes that matched DJ and Tanner.

When the procession reached the ramp. the sailor boys split off to take station on either side. JJ and Adam fell into position, with JJ next to Tanner and Adam next to DJ. As they reached the top, Timmy led his four nephews to their assigned spots, while JJ and Adam escorted DJ and Tanner to the arch that was set up center stage.

Once everyone was in position, Pastor Mills stepped forward. "Brothers and Sisters of Family Clan Short, thank you for allowing us to sidetrack the party for this very special event. Before I start, I think a little history might be helpful to our newer members. I'm Pastor Milton Mills; I was drafted as Clan Pastor by Tyler Short, and I'm still paying him back for it."

Giggles, laughter, and a few quick explanations rolled through the assembled crowd. What wasn't as apparent was the change in attention being paid to him; his statement that he was Clan made even the newest youth decide to pay attention to what he was saying.

Once things settled, Pastor Mills continued. "Back at the church I was in charge of in Des Moines, I was visited one day by a young man who had just lost one brother, and had another brother who suffered an emotional breakdown. That young man was Sean Short; and we spent many days talking over the year it took for his brother Cory to begin recovery. Before they moved to Orlando, I had the honor of meeting Cory, Timmy, CD, Calen, JJ, Adam,Tyler, Kyle, and Saint Mikey. On that day, I was given the gift of my son Paul by Mikey himself. While our lives separated for a short time, just after the Montana attack Paul and I were contacted by Tyler to perform the most important wedding in Clan history; the wedding of Cory and Sean Short. As I was preparing for the ceremony, I met the four sons of Cory and Sean that had been given the chance at adult parents to go along with their positions in the Short family. Those four boys were Beau, Toby, and the stars of the show tonight, DJ and Tanner."

"I learned a lot about the two young men that we are honoring tonight. Even when I met them, they were still unsure about their place in things, but they had already started making the place in the family that they now hold. I have watched as they shed the shackles of their past, becoming leaders in their own right of the quickly-expanding group that comprises the family of Cory and Sean. With their actions as an example, their brothers and sisters have learned to spread the love that is a staple of the Short family to every single person here tonight, no matter what. It is fitting that there are four boys on this stage right now who are about to learn just how much love DJ and Tanner have to share. The four boys became the sons of DJ and Tanner about an hour ago; if they are ready at the end of the ceremony, I'm sure that DJ and Tanner will gladly show off their new family to all of you."

"For all of our brothers and sisters out there tonight, please join me in taking this day as an example of just what we can all accomplish by following the path our Patriarch and Historian have showed us. We are about to witness just what the Love they have taught us can do, it is our duty to help each other achieve what DJ and Tanner have done. Now, if our Moroi brothers and sisters wouldn't mind, could you please wake up any of the day-walkers I put to sleep?"

As expected, the crowd once again became noisy as people were woke up, even if they were not sleeping. By the time it settled down, everyone was in position.

"Brothers and Sisters," Pastor Mills began, "Tonight we gather under the stars to celebrate the formation of a new core family within Family Clan Short. Please join me as I ask Our Father for his Blessings, in whichever Name you know Him by."

Once the crowd fell silent, he began. "Heavenly Father. Tonight we have gathered to join as One the family of David James Wagner and Tanner Zachary Wagner, along with the sons that You guided to them this evening. We ask of You in Your many Names to Bless this Union and to Guide this family as they go forward to spread your Love across the Universes. We humbly ask this of You in Jesus' Name, Amen."

After waiting for the members of the crowd to finish their own blessings, he began. "Brothers and Sisters, if any among you have reason that this union should not proceed, speak now or forever hold your piece."

For the first time in recorded history, that section of Orlando experienced absolute silence. After fifteen seconds, Pastor Mills stated "As there are no objections, you can breathe again."

Scattered giggles indicated that he hadn't been far off as he continued. "Who among you presents DJ for this marriage?"

Cory took one step forward, then stated "As the Dad of DJ, I have the honor of giving my blessings to this marriage."

"Thank you, Patriarch," Pastor Mills replied. "Who among you presents Tanner for this marriage?"

Russ stepped forward. "As Dad of Tanner, I have the honor of giving my blessings to this marriage."

"Thank you, Russ,"

"DJ and Tanner, you have expressed the intentions of entering into a life-long commitment to be there for each other in sickness and in health, through good times and bad, until death do you part. DJ, do you commit to taking Tanner's hand in marriage, to be by his side for Time Eternal if that be the wishes of the Creator?"

"I do," DJ replied.

"Tanner, do you accept DJ's commitment, and do you yourself commit to be by his side in marriage for Time Eternal if that be the wishes of the Creator?"

"I do," Tanner replied.

Pastor Mills nodded to Timmy, who escorted Hank and Pierce to stand in front of their parents. Once in position, Timmy stated "The Great Spirit is Pleased. These rings are a symbol of your Bond, they will bond as one as your Spirits bond as one. Each of you pick one from each pillow, then do what Pastor Mills tells ya to do."

Knowing better than to question their little brother, DJ and Tanner nodded. DJ went first, selecting two rings. Dropping to one knee, he stated "Tanner, you stood by my side when I was at my lowest, and drug me kicking and screaming back into life. With these rings, I promise you that we'll never be apart for the rest of our natural lives."

"I accept," Tanner replied as he allowed DJ to place the rings on his finger.

Once DJ was on his feet, Tanner took the other two rings and repeated DJ's actions. "DJ, you're so hard-headed sometimes that you make a rock look like a pillow, but that just makes me love you more. With these rings, I promise to remain by your side forever, no matter how much you argue with me about it."

"I accept," DJ replied, the grin he was trying to suppress barely visible.

Pastor Mills shook his head in wonder at their vows, but continued anyway. "As DJ and Tanner have committed to spending the rest of their lives together, apparently without killing each other in the process, it is my honor to declare, under the authority of the Creator, the authority granted me by the United Federation of Planets, and my commission by the Patriarch of Family Clan Short, that David James Wagner and Tanner Zachary Wagner are now Husband and Husband forevermore. As Timmy's about to say, you're married, so kissy kissy!"

"No fair!" Timmy giggled before making fish-faces at his big brothers. Once he was sure they were really kissing, he waved for his other two new nephews to come join them. Within seconds of breaking their kiss, DJ and Tanner found themselves getting a group hug from all four of their sons, with Timmy watching over the scene with a big smile.

Once the hug broke, DJ and Tanner organized their sons in front of them. Seeing they were finally ready, Pastor Mills announced "Brothers and Sisters, I present to you DJ and Tanner Wagner, and their sons Warren, Wesley, Hank, and Pierce!"

The tears in their eyes from the standing ovation caused the newlyweds to totally miss Timmy running to join the surprise being organized behind the new family. As the appause finally died down, the darkness of the stage behind them was broken by a soft blue light.

"Congratulations, Deej and Tanner! Before Timmy drags you off," Jon Bon Jovi announced, "We've got a song for you. Anyone out there who knows the words, sing along!"

DJ and Tanner turned around, their sons making sure that they were still in front of their parents. They found Bon Jovi set up to play, with the previously-noticed orchestra and chorus obviously prepared to join in.

Conner and Timmy were assisting, with Conner on the grand piano and Timmy on steel guitar. Conner began playing the first notes of "Thank You For Loving Me", with Timmy coming in a few seconds later. Jon and Richie stepped up with the vocals; as they reached the chorus, the rest of the boys joined in.

 

It's hard for me to say the things

I want to say sometimes

There's no one here but you and me

And that broken old street light

Lock the doors

We'll leave the world outside

All I've got to give to you

Are these five words when I

Thank you for loving me

For being my eyes

When I couldn't see

For parting my lips

When I couldn't breathe

Thank you for loving me

Thank you for loving me

 

I never knew I had a dream

Until that dream was you

When I look into your eyes

The sky's a different blue

Cross my heart

I wear no disguise

If I tried, you'd make believe

That you believed my lies

 

Thank you for loving me

For being my eyes

When I couldn't see

For parting my lips

When I couldn't breathe

Thank you for loving me

 

You pick me up when I fall down

You ring the bell before they count me out

If I was drowning you would part the sea

And risk your own life to rescue me

 

Lock the doors

We'll leave the world outside

All I've got to give to you

Are these five words when I

 

Thank you for loving me

For being my eyes

When I couldn't see

You parted my lips

When I couldn't breathe

Thank you for loving me

 

When I couldn't fly

Oh, you gave me wings

You parted my lips

When I couldn't breathe

Thank you for loving me

Thank you for loving me

Thank you for loving me

Oh, for loving me 

"Thank You For Loving Me" Copyright © 2000 by Bon Jovi, from the album "Crush"

Throughout the multiverse, in a language spoken by none but understood by all, a voice spoke words that were only heard in the deepest subconscious corners of the mind...

 

And a child shall lead them 

Who are you, they asked? 

I am a child, the child replied

 

And a child shall lead them 

What are you they asked? 

I am a child, the child replied

 

And a child shall lead them 

If you are a child how shall you lead them 

With love the child replied

 

And a child shall lead them 

Again they asked how shall you lead them 

With hope the child replied

 

And a child shall lead them 

And a child did lead them 

With love and a planet was saved

 

And a child shall lead them

And a child did lead them 

With hope and a galaxy was saved

 

And a child shall lead them 

And a child did lead them 

With love and hope, a universe was saved

 

And a child shall lead them 

Who are you again they asked?

And the child replied

I am Clan Short!

And a child shall lead them.

 

And A Child Shall Lead Them©2021
Inspiration ~ ACFan
Words ~ The Story Lover
©2021 The Story Lover and CSU Productions, All Rights Reserved
©2002 - 2021 ACFan and CSU Productions, All Rights Reserved

The End of Book Three


Afterword:

On October 22, 2002, I embarked on a journey which I had no idea would become what it is today. Four months shy of the 19th anniversary, I am now closing out this chapter of the lives of Cory and Sean Short. There is still more to tell, so there will be one final book to wrap everything up, as well as the various side stories that I have going.

Many thanks to The Story Lover for his contribution of the poem to end book three. It would take a book in itself to list the names of everyone who has helped throughout the growth of the Memories series of books, so all I can really do is say thank you to everyone who has directly or indirectly helped make this dream a reality.

To all of you readers out there, thank you for sticking by me even when real life has caused me to not have any time to write. Your comments, support, and ideas made this worth every second!

Once I get a few of the other stories through some plotlines that need completed, I will start on book four. Keep an eye on the other stories in the CSU, as there are things that were not covered in Memories that were left for the other stories to flesh out.

Thank you, and I wish each and every one of you the very best.

ACFan