"May I have your attention please? Patriarch Short and party, please report to the Pavilion Stage. Once again, Patriarch Short and party please report to the Pavilion Stage. Thank you."
"What pavilion?" Cory asked the confused group in the orphanage common room. "I didn't see any pavilions outside when we pulled up."
DB spoke up from mid-cuddle with his Uncle Kyle. "Uncle Cory, Daddy and Poppa were gone a whole THREE seconds a couple of minutes ago! That's FOREVER! Ya mean ya didn't notice?"
Cory shook his head with a grin. "No I didn't, munchkin. You have sneaky parents!"
"Uh-huh! I wanna grow up to be JUST like them!" DB giggled.
"God Help Us!" all of the room who knew Peter and Galen muttered in unison, even Davie and Pablito.
After a few seconds, Sean giggled. "What? No comment from Mikey?"
"He's busy asking for Help in person." Davie laughed. "He's even borrowing Timmy's puppy-dog eyes and quivering lip!"
"Mikey's always looking out for us!" Cory giggled just before getting pounced by Peter, Galen, and DB.
"Pop?" Milo asked softly from his safe spot under Sean's arm, "Why's nobody protecting Dad?"
"Because your uncles and cousin are just having fun," Sean replied with a smile. "They're being careful that nobody gets hurt."
Just as Milo was about to reply, KC's voice came across the PA system that was somewhere outside. "Dad! Pop! Stop playin' cowboy and get your butts out here before I send the Chief after you!"
Sean tapped his subvocal as half the room broke out in giggles. "Marc, this is Sean. Open up a bio-bed; KC's gonna be coming in for major repairs as soon as Cory and I catch him."
"What did he..." Marc started to respond, then paused, "On second thought, don't answer that! I probably don't want to know, I might agree with him!"
"Remember, I know where you live." Sean warned with a giggle.
"Yeah? Well I know how to bake Timmy's favorite kind of cookie, so I win!" Marc shot back. "AI Division out!"
By this time, Cory was subdued by his Mikyvis attackers, DB cuddled on his chest while the proud parents watched from their perches on Cory's legs. Giggling, Cory commented "We better go see what's up outside, y'all. If KC and Timmy are out there, the rest of our kids gotta be nearby, and I'm not sure this building could withstand their assault!"
"Our little angels?" Sean laughed.
"Hey! Leave angels outta this, dammit!" Pablito yelled. "We got reps to protect!"
"Not going there, Pab!" Cory grinned as he got up. "DB, you wanna play taxi driver?"
"Okay Uncle Cory!" DB smiled as everyone in the room except the angels and other Mikyvis found themselves on the stage of a pavilion that wasn't there an hour ago. Seconds later, the remainder of the crowd joined them, courtesy of Davie and Pablito.
"About time!" KC commented as Timmy became airborne, his target being his favorite Daddy.
"And just WHY did we need to hurry out here?" Sean asked as Cory caught his favorite fireball mid-pounce.
"Dad's gotta help with a dedication." KC grinned.
Now perched in his favorite spot, Timmy finally noticed the boy shyly trying to hide under Sean's arm. "Daddy, didja find us an'udder brother?" he asked Cory softly.
"Yep, that's your new big bro Milo," Cory replied. "Milo, you can relax, this hyperactive fireball is your little brother Timmy."
Timmy quickly climbed down, then walked over to Milo and Sean. Once there, he slowly wrapped his arms around Milo."Don't worry bro; I'll protect ya." Timmy assured Milo as he settled into a cuddle.
After a few seconds of hesitation, Milo began to return the hug, somehow being calmed by the contact with his new little brother. He even started smiling despite his nervousness.
Cory smiled as Timmy managed to guide Milo from under Sean's arm and began taking him away from the crowd. "Way to go, Timmy!" he thought as he watched Milo visibly relax once he was outside the crowd wandering around on the stage.
Noticing that Timmy had things well under control, KC grinned as he came over and gave Cory a hug. "Milo'll be fine, Dad; Timmy's the best!"
Cory nodded. "Yeah, I think Milo's gonna be glad he managed to get up the courage to ask to be adopted; he's getting the best set of brothers anywhere."
"Only because we've got the best parents." KC stated seriously. "You and Pop are the reason all of us try to be our best."
Jerry walked up just then, a grin on his face. "Alright you two, did you forget to ask the permission of the rest of the parents of your mob before adding another one AGAIN? I'm losing count!"
"You mean you can bring a base AI online in hours, yet you can't keep track of our little family?" Cory giggled. "Besides, you're overdue to add a few more yourself."
"Hey, when I need another kid I'll build one. At least a base AI is logical, neither of you two even come close!" Jerry shot back. "Seriously, I just ran into Timmy and Milo; I think Timmy's taking a personal interest in helping his new brother fit in with the new family."
"Yeah, Timmy's got a sixth sense sometimes, and he's already decided what his new brother needs to have to feel comfortable." Cory acknowledged.
Milo sat on the couch cuddled with Timmy and Pauly, awestruck as each of his new family introduced themselves one at a time. "Do ALL of my brothers play music?" he wondered out loud as CD made way for Calen to take his turn.
"Almost all!" Calen grinned. "I'm Calen, CD's big bro by blood. Timmy and CD came up with an idea a while back to learn to play music so that we could pull off a surprise for Dad and Pop. Our cousin Dilly bounced us around time so that we could learn stuff, then after we had a LOT of practice we started playing. We had so much fun that we've kept doing it."
Milo nodded. "I wish I coulda done that."
Calen smiled. "We like granting wishes, little brother. Today you get to watch, while sitting with Dad and Pop. Next time we go off for practice, we'll take you with us and we'll get you all set up."
Milo blushed. "Why? You guys don't even know if you like me yet."
"Daddy don't 'dopt bad kids, so we know you're a good brother." Timmy stated. "B'sides, you cuddle awesome!"
"It'd be kinda fun to play somethin', but there ain't no way I could get onna stage" Milo admitted as he cast his eyes towards the ground.
Timmy wiggled to cuddle Milo tighter as Calen tilted his head. "You have problems with crowds?" Calen asked.
"Yeah," Milo replied softly.
"Jamie and Jacob do too," Calen assured Milo. "They freeze up in front of crowds of people they don't know. When you see them up on the stage, they're gonna be wearing glasses, even though they don't usually need them. They're special glasses; instead of them seeing the crowd, they see the band playing. We can try those for you to see if they help you too."
Milo stared at Calen in amazement. "Really? You guys'd do that? Why? I'm nobody special."
"You're our brother," Timmy stated, "that makes ya' more specialer than any other kid!"
"What he said!" Calen giggled.
"Pop didn't tell me I had weird brothers!" Milo said with a small smile, finally starting to relax with his new family.
"May I have your attention, please?" Russ asked from the podium set up on the stage. Once the assembled crowd quieted down, he continued. "First off, thank you for coming out on short notice, and thank you to the media outlets for the announcements allowing all of you to be aware of the events here. As some of you have been made aware of by the local news, the fine State of Florida has tasked Family Clan Short with eliminating the drug trade and intelligent species trafficking throughout South Florida. One thing our overworked Patriarch insists on is that we help the communities that help their youth and families. Today we're continuing the tradition by opening this complex, which we hope gets plenty of use by the community for events and recreation.
Pausing, Russ looked over the crowd. "Today, Family Clan Short is proud to announce that we have provided, and will perpetually maintain, Naples' largest recreation and outdoor entertainment complex; the David William Owens Memorial Recreational Center. To explain the naming for those of you unaware of Clan history, David Owens was the adopted older brother of one of the Clan's leading experts in Artificial Intelligence; he was abducted three years ago and murdered after being seriously abused. One of his loves was baseball, especially playing catch with his brother; in that spirit it is only fitting that this complex is designed to give the local youth plenty of top-of-the-line fields to follow the dreams that were stolen from David. Before we cut the ribbon and officially open the center to the public, David's little brother Jerry Owens would like to say a few words about his brother. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Jerald Owens."
As the crowd politely clapped, Jerry slowly made his way to the podium; his face reflecting his awe at the size of the crowd. He pulled out the stepstool from its base and, once on it, adjusted the mic. Taking a deep breath, he fumbled with the index card he had written his speech on and cleared his throat. "Hi everyone," he said, his voice weak and hoarse. "I was asked to come up here today to share something about my brother, David. You know, he hates being called David by the way, and he'll probably haunt me about it later." Jerry commented, eliciting scattered laughter from the crowd. "I guess it shouldn't bug me anymore though, you know; talkin bout him before he died, I mean. His spirit's with me everyday now, and when he finishes what he was sent here to do all I gotta do is call out to him and he'll be right here to protect me." Jerry smiled as a tear began to blaze a trail down his cheek. "But I'm gonna lose my brother time with him again; it shouldn't bug me, but it does sometimes."
Jerry looked at his card and crumpled it up before wiping away the tears that seemed to be annoying him. "I can't read that today. I thought I could. Fact is, I gotta share my big brother with the world after he was taken away from me by some stupid buttwipe, and it sucks. Sure I got him back as my Guardian Angel, but I gotta share him now with a lot of other kids, kids who need a special angel looking out for them too. That makes me selfish I guess, cause I want him home again. He was the best big brother ever and I never felt scared or lonely or like I was ever a bother to him. He sometimes got picked on for letting his baby brother tag along but he'd stand right up and say 'well if Jerry can't go, then I'm not goin' either', which made me feel like I was the most important person in his life. That was the best."
Jerry paused as he scanned the audience looking for his son. "When I joined up with the Clan, I was given the chance to finish a school project as my final thesis towards the title 'Doctor'. Now I'm called 'Daddy' by the very first android that I ever worked on, and I try to do things for him like Davie did for me. I felt like I was the most important person to Davie, that's the way I hope my son feels about how much I love him. I learned from Davie how to love, and how to protect the people I love and most important, I learned that I don't have to do it alone. I gotta share him with the world now, and I know it wouldn't be fair to make him focus all his love and attention on me, but a part of me misses when he did."
Jerry smiled and sighed. "Thank you all for doing this in his name. I may not be able to follow my big bro around everyday anymore, but I have some of the best memories because of him. Because of what you all have done here today, tons of other kids will be able to have memories just like mine... and it will be 'cause Davie was there. Thanks."
By the time Jerry had finished, Cory had decided to join him onstage and was moving to put his arm over Jerry's shoulders. "You did good, lil' brother," Cory assured him softly as he pulled Jerry into his side. "All of your brothers are proud of you, Davie included."
"Thanks Cor." Jerry said as he tried desperately to stop the tears from flowing. "It's how I really feel. I think he already knew it too."
Cory nodded, whispering as he pulled Jerry against his chest, not caring that the microphone could pick his voice up still. "Let the tears out, little brother; holding them in doesn't help, trust me."
Jerry squeezed Cory tightly and with a forced smile, broke the hug. "I will, and it's Davie's shirt that's getting soaked this time."
Cory watched as Jerry bolted backstage before turning and adjusting the microphone. "Hey, I'm Patriarch Cory Short. I can tell you that everyone that I have met who knew Davie would say the same kind of things about him that Jerry just said. In fact, their parents are in back; after hearing Jerry neither one are in any shape to come on stage. Both of them are reliving their memories of Davie, and the old wounds of his loss are opened once again."
Cory paused, his face reflecting the anger that was building as he thought of what he was about to say next. "When my brothers hurt, I hurt. Too many times, I have been asked why the Federation needs Clan Short. Today you just saw the reason we're needed; Jerry lost an awesome big brother just because some adult thought it was okay to abduct him, rape him, then kill him. Jon and Mary not only had to suffer their own grief, they suffered watching their remaining son retreat into a shell, not doing anything he once enjoyed because it reminded him of Davie. The Jerry they once knew is just starting to return, thanks to the senior members of our AI Division taking the chance on him. I see this kind of crap every single day, and some of the brothers I've gathered spend a LOT of time working with local agencies to help them overcome the biggest issue; Law enforcement is strangled by the regulations behind the laws that should have protected Davie. Innocent until proven guilty is justice; but once you've been found guilty multiple times of actions which resulted in death either directly or suicide later, you become a menace to society and no longer deserve the right to interact with the general public. Davie's situation is a perfect example of that. Last month, we finally hunted down where the court put Davie's abductor; when we caught up with him, we found out that he was a multiple offender. Multiple as in went to jail four other times, probation once, and seventeen cases that had not been traced to him yet. Due to the failure of the justice system being able to keep him off the streets permanently once he was seen to be a repeat offender, fourteen people have nightmares to this day, and the rest will never dream again. Trust me, he will never create another nightmare. We made certain of that under Vulcan penal codes. If Justice fails due to illogical limits that can not be bypassed in cases like that, Clan Short WILL step in to prevent another family going through what the Owens family has; and it does not matter WHAT the age of the victims are."
After pausing again to control his emotions, Cory finished. "You know, Davie believed in having fun and everyone getting along. We hope that this gift from us to the people of Naples is used in that spirit; making everyone's dreams come true by working together. Thank-you."
Having watched from the back, both Marc and Danny walked out to the stage and, one on either side, pulled Cory into a half hug. "Try as much as you want, you aren't a Vulcan, Bro. Mary says get your skinny but back there and join the family cuddle." Danny said, Marc nodding in agreement. "That's why we're here today." Danny said as Marc walked Cory off stage. "Family."
Danny adjusted the microphone as he gave the crowd his full attention. "Hi everyone. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Danny Page. I'm the Director of the Clan's AI division; I guess Cory thinks being an Android makes me qualified. I got to meet Davie's little brother one day after my initial activation; technically my second one, since I attempted to commit suicide about eighty years ago. I understand the path Jerry was on, and I'm glad I stopped him from making the same mistake." Danny paused, then realized the crowd was deathly silent. "Through Jerry, I learned how much of an impact Davie had on his little brother's life. It was his life, not his death that shone brightly in Jerry's stories. Davie was adopted after losing his father and never even getting to know his biological mother. This never seemed to be an issue though. He loves his adopted family, as much as if they were of his own flesh and blood. Now, I figured Jerry was probably idolizing him a bit with his stories..." Danny paused with a smile, remembering his many visits with angels in the recent month, "...but then I got to meet him. He went out of his way, even after death, to protect his little brother, as well as the people who Jerry had brought into this world. Davie was an angel long before his life on this earth ended. As a matter of fact, I spend every day surrounded by angels. Some living and some watching from above. All of them being led by Saint Mikey and his helper, Davie. I found a new reason to live because of this group and, just like Davie, plan to watch over those that I love, and spreading that love to those who need it as well... just like he does all the time. This dedication couldn't be more fitting and honor a more loving, kind hearted and selfless being on this plane of existence or any others. Between him and Saint Mikey, I can see a future that touches more lives than we ever thought possible. Thank you all for this, and for allowing me to be a part of it all."
"Don't go anywhere, Grandpa!" Sean giggled as he joined Danny. "Mary says you and I are stuck with the ribbon cutting!"
Danny laughed. "Stuck with it? We can't get this open to the public fast enough." After covering the mic, with an evil smile he added, "Then Grandpa is gonna kick your little butt."
"Don't overstress your pacemaker!" Sean giggled. "Since you're senior, do the honors!"
"Did someone bring the big golden scissors?" Danny asked, hearing a commotion behind the curtain. "Guys?"
"I thought YOU had them!" Dylan giggled from behind the curtain.
"I do, kinda!" Caleb shouted as he almost stumbled out onto the stage with one hand behind his back. "But they ain't exactly what you asked for."
"Oh, no," Danny laughed. "Let me see."
Caleb looked at the floor directly in front of him as he held his hand out. In it was a pair of yellow plastic kid's safety scissors. "They were all we could find!"
The crowd chuckled at the antics as Danny watched Sean double over in laughter. Danny reached over and ruffled Caleb's hair, taking the scissors out of his hand. "I better get started then. It's gonna take a week to get through the ribbon with these." he laughed. Turning to the audience, he added "I can let you all know when I'm like two thirds through it so you can all eat, go home, take a shower or a nap, watch some TV..."
"Goof." Marc interrupted as he came up behind Danny, holding the real ceremonial scissors. "Use these."
"Gotcha!" Caleb laughed. "An' it was Davie's idea, too!"
"We'll discuss this later, brat," Danny sniggered as he took the scissors and left the stage. "Bring a towel!"
As he made his way through the crowd, Danny was joined by the entire gang, who were followed by all of the onlookers. Once they reached the ribbon that was crossing what would become the entrance to the recreational area, everyone but Danny, Cory, Sean, and Jerry stopped far enough back to allow the cutting to be viewed. Once the various media outlets signaled they were ready, the ceremony began. "May the angels continue to look over all of our living angels in this space for generations to come." Danny stated as he snipped the ribbon, prompting applause and cheers from the crowd. "Naples, Family Clan Short of Vulcan hereby gives you the gift of the David William Owens Memorial Recreation Center!"
Despite the loud cheering celebrating the opening, the crowd's attention was shortly diverted by the sound of Timmy as he began playing "Angels Among Us", his young voice captivating the crowd as he performed a solo acoustic rendition of the song, drawing them back to the stage like a magnet. Once he finished his dedication, Timmy slipped behind the curtain.
Noticing that the sound stage was now occupied, the crowd began sorting themselves out to view whatever the Clan had up their sleeves for the opening of the complex. Their excitement grew as last-minute sound checks were heard; obviously music was in the making. From behind the curtain, Timmy's voice rang out once again, this time amplified over the sound system.
"We've got to hooolllddd onnnnn....
to what we've got.
It doesn't make a difference
if we make it or not.
We've got each other
and thats a lot.
we'll give it a shot!
More voices joined in, forming an obvious youth choir;
Ohhh, we're half way there
ohhh ohh, livin on a prayer
Take my hand
we'll make it I swear
ohhh ohh Livin on a prayer...
As the chorus finished, the curtain vanished, revealing Time Touched in full attendance winding up to kick into the full song. The only difference to those who knew the band were the two new members on rhythm guitar, Jamie and Jacob, both wearing dark glasses. Both drum sets were going, Conner was on his piano, Tanner on synth, and lead was being shared by Timmy, KC, and DJ.
The crowd yelled in joy as Jon Bon Jovi came out to start the vocals, the rest of the band members acting as a backup choir if they weren't playing something. As the song reached its final stanza, Fife joined Jon on vocals. Once the final notes echoed across the new baseball fields, Jon announced "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Clan Short's own 'Time Touched'!"
Fife came up to the front of the stage as Jon waved and headed to the back. "Thanks Uncle Jon! Naples, give a big hand to Jon Bon Jovi!"
Once the crowd had expressed their appreciation, Fife continued. "One thing I ABSOLUTELY know is that Davie wants us to all have fun in the place carrying his name, so it's our pleasure to start things off right! Naples, 'Don't Stop Believin'!'"
Milo was all smiles as he watched the band while sitting between his new parents. As the band launched into 'Twilight Zone', Milo leaned over to Cory. "Dang dad, they're good! Thanks for all the awesome brothers! They even say they're gonna make it so I can join them!"
"Awesome!" Cory replied with a grin, amazed at how Milo seemed to be opening up already. "One thing about your new brothers; if they promised you that, you can count on it happening. Did you have fun meeting them?"
"Yeah!" Milo smiled. "Timmy sure likes to cuddle though, he never left my lap until it was time for me to find you!"
Cory smiled and gave Milo a one-armed hug. "Thats because Timmy knows who his special brothers are, son."
Cory sat back, munching on his fourth hotdog as he watched the new recreational complex come to life. After a lively concert, Time Touched had finished their set with a second guest onstage; Tommy Shaw joined them for an extended version of 'Come Sail Away'. As word spread through the city, a few of the local restaurants and organizations decided that now was as good of time as any to throw together a "Welcome to Naples, Clan Short" party, with free food for all attendees.
Cory's thoughts were interrupted by Gary, the Chief of Police and temporary Interim Mayor of Naples heading towards him.
Recognizing Gary, Cory grinned and quickly announced "I'm Cory, if you call me Patriarch, I'm gonna tell the rugrats to bury you in the sand pit!"
"Steve warned me already, Cory," Gary laughed. "You mind if we join you?" he added, motioning at the small group of adults with him. "We decided that it was too nice of a day to hold our emergency City Council meeting inside."
"Sure, but just remember that if you make me work you gotta deal with Stevie; I'm supposed to be taking a break." Cory grinned.
"I'll do my best not to cross him then!" Gary laughed as everyone took a seat at the table. "Speaking for the Council, I'd like to thank you for the new complex. It's something thats been wanted for years, but the ex-dirtbag who played Mayor nixed it until now."
Cory's grin turned mischievous as he replied "This is just phase one; wait until you see the waterpark."
"WATERPARK?" the rest of the table exclaimed in shock.
Cory nodded. "One of the casinos in Vegas that has pitched in to help the Clan owns a waterpark there, and they just let me know that they're going to extend their franchise out here and open one that covers the area between here and the beach. It should be done in a few days."
"The beach is three miles away!" Gary exclaimed. "That should take at least a couple of years to set up!"
"Yeah, they had to make it a little wider than planned because of that short distance," Cory giggled. "besides, our construction corps is very efficient."
One of the board members spoke up, his eyes wide in shock. "Gary, you know that new hotel complex permit that was just filed? This is going to be the biggest waterpark in Florida from the sounds of it. Knowing the current capacity of our temporary lodgings, I move that we approve the permit. Whatever needs done to fast-track the construction, I recommend we have standing approval on. From the sounds of it, we're not going to have time to build up for the increase in traffic."
"Seconded!" another member quickly added.
"Any objections?" Gary asked. Once he saw none, he stated "So moved. Get the word out to the hospitality sector, I think there's going to be some major expansion needed shortly."
"You have NOOOO idea!" Cory laughed. "Our Vegas friends don't know the meaning of low-key!"
Tracy and Karl had decided to claim a picnic table with their suddenly expanded family. Wayne had joined them after he came over with Timmy and the band, and was currently cuddle-testing his new brothers one at a time. Currently, Wayne had decided to cuddle with Malcolm, with Morris watching his twin interact with their new little brother.
Tracy was busy watching the group, Karl cuddled into his side. First were their oldest set of twins, eleven-year-old Morris and Malcolm. Both boys had collar-length wavy blond hair and grey eyes, and seemed to be adjusting to their new family quickly. Cooper and the six-year-old twins Trey and Torrey were busy giggling and plotting ways to assist Wayne in terrorizing their new brothers, all three blonds bearing mischievous grins. The twin's green eyes sparkled as they giggled about the secret plans.
The two vampire boys, Conner and Jerome, were cuddled together, enjoying being able to share time with the family thanks to the wristbands that Tyne had authorized. They were quietly discussing their visit to Ark that Brant had arranged, still awestruck at getting to actually meet the head of the Founder Council. Both were trying to piece together what they had missed while they were standing there in disbelief, amazed that Brant and Tyne had deemed them eligible for the bracelets which allowed them this family time in the daylight. Of course, their discussion was hampered by the repeated quick kisses that came along with them being an official couple now.
"Dad's gonna love having more grandkids!" Karl giggled as he watched the boys bonding. "They're already acting like brothers."
Tracy nodded. "Yeah, I hope Peter designed our apartment to withstand three six-year-olds, though. If Trey and Torrey are anything like Wayne in the morning, we're never gonna sleep in ever again!"
"Don't worry, Dad!" Conner giggled from across the table. "Me and Jer can keep the little rats under control."
"Little rats?" Wayne, Trey, and Torrey exclaimed mid-pounce of their undead big brothers. Cooper joined them, doing his sworn duty to protect his little brothers from overbearing big brothers.
"Let's see..." Tracy mused, "Four munchkins, two vampires; sounds like an even fight to me!"
"Now I know why they all chose to take the 'Butler' name," Karl giggled, "They're nuts!"
"You're not?" Tracy giggled with a raised eyebrow.
Karl grinned, "I must be, I married you. Speaking of which, I talked it over with Dad and he's not gonna be mad at me for doing this. Emmy, since I know that you're listening, I'm officially taking the 'Butler' name since I'm married to this goof."
"Gotcha, Uncle Karl!" Emmy replied. "Next time George will believe me when I tell him you're gonna do something!"
"What did you win this time?" Tracy asked with a grin.
"George has to do all the housekeeping stuff for Alligator Alley for the next month!" Emmy giggled.
"Nice!" Tracy giggled, "Way to go, Emmy!"
Steve shook his head in wonder as the Duesenberg LSB Model 90 shuttle came to a stop in front of him. The bus was entirely brushed aluminum, with an alligator painted on the sides holding the Clan Crest in its mouth. As a final touch, every window had one of the Apple stickers that came with a Mac Pro at the bottom left. "Just WHERE did you find this?" he asked George as the side door opened.
"I found it in your garage, Sir." George replied seriously. "It had a note stating 'Merry Christmas' signed by Lady Teri."
"We gotta find a way to keep Bryce away from Mom," Kyle muttered. "She's getting too good at ordering stuff before it's needed."
"Not gonna happen, hon," Tyler replied, "she bribes him with cookies."
"I'll just have to find better cookies then," Steve chuckled. He reached over and tousled the chestnut brown hair of his newest son, causing the eleven year old to groan "Dad!"
"I got your attention, didn't I Jonah?" Steve sniggered as he watched Jonah roll his blue eyes. "You and I need to sit up by George so that you can tell him where to go. This is your friend that we're visiting, or more accurately invading."
"Yeah, I'm glad my brother-in-law is a doctor, cuz' Keefe's gonna pass out when he meets y'all!" Jonah sniggered.
"We could always have the rest of the guys pop over, literally!" Stevie giggled from near the back of the group.
"Naw, no heart attacks today, bro; there's old folks there," Jonah replied. "I have a couple of teachers at school that y'all can do that to though!"
"Those poor teachers!" Steve muttered as he noticed that both Stevie and Adrian were suddenly all ears. "You guys can plot revenge later; load up!"
Steve followed Jonah onto the shuttle, almost running him over as Jonah came to a sudden stop. 'Holy Crap!" Jonah exclaimed as he saw the interior. "Dudes! Leather seats, wood trim, and we each get our own TV! It's even got CARPET, Y'all!"
"Of course, it's a Douch-in-berk!" Colt and Conrad stated in unison from behind Steve. "Onea our fosters had one!"
"Duesenberg!" George and Steve corrected in unison, having to speak up over the giggles. "Due-sin-berg," Steve repeated for clarity.
"That's what we said, Douch-in-borg!" Colt replied indignantly.
Shaking his head, Steve said "Kyle, Ty? They're YOUR sons!"
"Yeah!" Ty managed through his giggles, "We can't wait until they call Mom's car that! We're proud of them!"
"Dear Lord, is this my penance for not taking Stevie as soon as he was born?" Steve asked with his eyes cast towards the sky.
"No, that starts next week!" Mikey's voice answered over the shuttle's speakers. "This is just the Boss's way of telling you to stop standing around!"
Taking the hint, Steve guided Jonah to the pair of captain's chairs behind George, muttering "There's nothing worse than smart-aleck Guardian Angels."
"He heard that!" Kyle giggled as him, Ty, Colt and Conrad followed Steve on. All four sprinted down the length of the shuttle to get the coveted seats in the very back. Adrian, Cody, York and Yestan followed, willing to settle for as close as they could get to the back. Stevie, Dustin, Mitch, and Jasper were the final group, taking their seats on the opposite side from Steve and Jonah.
"You're not joining the Rat Pack?" Steve queried.
"They have rear guard, we're covering the front." Stevie replied seriously. "Don't let their playing fool you, Dad; we're treating this as an op and all of us are at full alert. Just so you know, I called Aunt Teri; she says this van's fully armored and all the glass is transparent aluminum that's rated as bulletproof."
Jonah tilted his head. "Dad? What's Stevie mean by an op?"
Steve turned to answer as George got the twenty-two seat shuttle turned around. "Your big brother is the head of Clan Security for Alligator Alley. After the way the Clan was attacked in Montana, none of these guys take any chances. Until they are absolutely certain things are safe, they are treating this like all of us are in danger. If any of them order you to do something when we're out like this, do it and ask questions once you get home."
"But none of them even got weapons," Jonah observed.
"Trust me, they do," Steve replied. "In fact, I know that at least two of the guys that came along could take out an entire town if they got pushed too far. Even the new guys have probably been getting training already, if I know their dads; by this time next week either Adrian or Stevie will have made sure you know how to protect yourself and others."
"But I'm just a KID!" Jonah sputtered.
"Yes, and your little brother is in charge of Clan Short Fleet Intel." Steve explained. "Everywhere he goes, even in the shower, he carries a weapon that can take out twenty attackers at once if he needs to."
"You're family now, Jonah," Stevie interjected, "that means that you staying safe is my job as your big brother. Even if you never have to use it, I'll sleep better knowing you can protect yourself just in case."
"Wow, this family stuff is weird!" Jonah giggled. "I didn't know big brothers were THAT protective!" Noticing where the van was going, he added "George, if you turn left at the next stop sign, we can come in the back entrance. It'll be the second right after the 7-11."
"Thank you, Master Jonah." George replied as he made sure he was in the proper lane.
"Master?" Jonah whispered to Steve.
Steve nodded. "While on-duty, George will address all of us as society dictates for someone in our social position. At times, he will also use the formality to remind us that we need to adjust our behavior to the type of people we are associating with. For now, just follow Adrian's lead, he's become really good at faking being high society when needed."
Stevie grinned as he leaned over and added "It ain't that hard, really. Just walk around like you got a corncob stuck up your butt, never laugh, and use big words even if you have no idea what they really mean."
"That should have been a HOT corncob, Master Stevie," George stated seriously. "Fortunately, you shall have my indoctrination for proper procedures, as your former caregiver was obviously incompetent as well as being an unfettered bore. At least Master Jonah has plausible cause for being errant in social graces of this level."
"Damn, you're GOOD!" Stevie giggled, "You didn't even twitch your lips!"
"Seconded!" Steve laughed, "I'm not sure I could have pulled that one off!" Turning back to Jonah, he added "You think you can handle that?"
Jonah nodded. "Yeah, just act stuck-up like the girls at school. Most of them I wouldn't talk to unless they paid me, but I've watched them tryin' to figure out why anyone would wanna date them."
"I'm STILL tryin' to figure that out!" Stevie commented.
"Sirs, it appears we are approaching the entrance," George interrupted. "I shall activate the perimeter sensors upon ceasing movement."
Stevie suddenly became serious. Turning his head, he yelled "Rat Pack, go live!"
"Intel is active!" Adrian replied as the giggles from the back quickly stopped.
"George, stop the bus by the small playground to the left once you pull in," Kyle ordered.
"As you wish, Sir." George acknowledged.
Before Jonah could ask 'why', Steve told him "Just go with it; there are a few things that can't be explained until we get home. For some reason, that is the best place for us to stop."
Jonah nodded, adding it to the long list of things to catch up on tonight. His eyes grew wide when he saw Dustin open a hidden compartment on the sidewall of the shuttle, revealing a weapons locker. When he saw phasers being pulled out, his jaw hit his chest.
"George, did you complete the training that Adrian authorized?" Stevie asked.
"Absolutely, Sir. I welcomed the addition to my responsibilities for the household."
"Good, I'm assigning you to shadow Dad. Mitch and Jasper will back you up." Stevie stated as he passed a phaser forward once the shuttle stopped, then issued one to each of his twin sons.
"I've got Jonah, Kyle's leading Rovers," Adrian stated as he joined the front group. "You two taking base?"
Stevie nodded. "Yep. You got a full TP shadow?"
"Ty's linking me, so I'm good," Adrian replied. "Jonah, until we've done recon, stay within a few feet of me. You're really important now, so things ain't gonna be the same anymore."
"Perimeter secure, you can come out!" Kyle's voice announced in all of their heads.
Jonah looked towards the back of the shuttle, only to find it empty. "I know, ask when I get home!" he stated as he shrugged his shoulders.
Steve chuckled. "You're learning!"
George and Stevie exited first, then Stevie signaled Dustin that it was okay to bring Steve and Jonah out with Adrian playing up the 'little brother shadowing big brother' role beside Jonah.
What they saw was a trailer park that while well-maintained, had seen better days. There was one house visible, across the gravel drive from the playground. the rest of the park contained mobile homes at least ten years old by their appearance. As they got their bearings, the door to the house opened and an older gentleman exited, obviously coming over to investigate their intentions by his expression.
"He's all yours, Dad." Adrian whispered. "Jonah an me gotta go search for cookies."
"Thanks a lot, brat!" Steve chuckled as he noticed the group spreading out through the park, seemingly randomly. As the man got closer, Steve and George went to meet him, Mitch and Jasper maintaining positions which allowed them clear shots if needed.
Jonah took a chance, figuring Adrian would stop him if he was wrong, and started towards the other end of the park. Adrian tagged along, seemingly looking around in wonder as he stayed close to his big brother.
As they approached one of the older trailers, Adrian moved in closer, actually cuddling up to Jonah's left side by the time they made it up the steps onto the small wood deck outside the main door. Instinctively, Jonah put his arm around Adrian's back and pulled him closer into a cuddle before knocking on the door.
"Keefe! Put some clothes on, we've got company!" the boys barely heard from somewhere in the trailer. About thirty seconds later, a lady in her mid-thirties opened the door, dressed in a halter top and shorts. "Jonah! One of these days, you'll remember to call first, won't you? Who's the little angel you brought with you?"
Jonah giggled, obviously this was a normal occurrence. "Hi Momma Jess! My new Dad brought me over; this is my new little brother, Adrian. I wanted to tell Keefe about my new family!"
"And Jonah says there's awesome cookies here, so I hadda come check them out!" Adrian added with his most innocent look.
Jessica smiled at Adrian's impishness. "You're a little sweetie, Adrian! Come on in and I'll see what I can do, guys." As she turned away from the door, she yelled "Keefe, Kara? Come on out here, Jonah's here and has something important to tell us!"
They entered the trailer, only to be met seconds later by a blond eleven-year-old wearing just a pair of loose shorts. "Hey Jo', who's the little guy?" Keefe asked as he bumped fists with Jonah.
"He's my new little brother, Adrian," Jonah replied. "Let's grab a seat, then I'll explain after Momma Kar gets out here."
"Awesome!" Keefe said as he bumped fists with Adrian, "That makes you my little brother too, lil' dude!"
"I think I like finding new brothers!" Adrian giggled while mentally telling Ty to update the group on this interesting change in the situation. He followed along as Keefe and Jonah headed over to an oversized recliner, making himself comfortable on their laps once they were both seated next to each other on it.
Jessica was in the kitchen getting some snacks for the boys when another woman about her age came from the back of the trailer and joined them. She gave Jessica a hug as she passed, then noticed the extra body in the living room as she headed to the loveseat. "Hi, Jonah, who's your little lap warmer?"
"That's our new little brother, Adrian, Momma Kar!" Keefe announced before Jonah could reply.
"Hello, Adrian, it's a pleasure to meet you," Karla said with a smile. "Those two have been threatening to add another brother for years, it looks like you're their first victim. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were trying to start another Clan Short!"
"Don't worry, Momma Kar; we're not starting another one!" Adrian giggled, his grin huge because of what he was NOT saying... yet.
Tyler, Peter, Galen, Eli, DB, and Benji were holding a conference on the deck, all slightly out-of-phase to avoid detection.
"I think if we bubble the back bedrooms, we can pull it off." Peter said in thought. "They own the place, and it wouldn't be right to take away the feeling of 'home' that it has, so we'll need to do this carefully."
"How long do you give Adrian before he spills the beans?" Eli giggled.
"We should be about done with repairs and upgrades, I think." Tyler grinned. "The Rimmers have our microfusion generator ready, so let's hit it."
"Galen and I'll handle that," Benji stated.
"Eli, help me work on environmental," Peter added. "DB, your Uncle Ty is gonna teach you how to fine-tune time regression. We need to fix the outside and the structure without messing up the inside."
"Okay, daddy!" DB grinned as he cuddled his Uncle Ty.
"Hey Petey, how we gonna move it if they go all in?" Tyler asked.
"The AIs are gonna fire up CSNIC to move it if needed;" Peter replied, "it will just make it under their safety limits even after we're done."
As Adrian accepted the plate of cookies from Jessica for the three of them, he stated "Thanks Momma Jess! You can cuddle with Momma Kar if you want, our big bro married his boyfriend yesterday, so it's not a big deal."
Jessica's eyebrows shot up. "I think somebody's been taking lessons from his brothers already!" she snickered as she playfully tapped the side of Adrian's head. "You're definitely following in Jonah's footsteps."
"Hey, I didn't say that my first time visiting!" Jonah complained.
"No, you waited until your Dad was here to say it if I remember right!" Kara interjected. "You were five, and were still nude after you and Keefe finished your bath before your first sleepover. It still makes me chuckle when I picture you nude, fists on your hips, chewing us out for not being open about our relationship in front of everyone."
"GEEEZE!" Jonah moaned as he tried to hide behind Adrian.
"Nice job, bro!" Adrian giggled, "Someone's gotta teach grown-ups whats right!"
Jessica shook her head with a grin as she took her seat by Kara. "Okay, once you've recovered, Jonah, you wanna tell us about your good news?"
Even though he wasn't an empath, Adrian could sense that Keefe had figured out part of it, and was worried that him and Jonah were about to be separated even more. In an effort to prevent this turning into something bad, Adrian stated "Keefe, you welcomed me as a little bro, which means a lot more than you think. I promise you are gonna see us a lot more now, this is gonna be good for y'all too if you let it."
Keefe reached his arm around and pulled Adrian into a cuddle. "Thanks, Adrian; I guess I was worryin' too much, huh?"
"Yeah, your legs shakin' kinda gave it away!" Adrian giggled. "I like you, so I ain't gonna let nothin bad happen."
Keefe softly giggled. "Dang Jo', when you find little bros you don't mess around!"
"Just wait!" Jonah replied, unconsciously relaxing as he felt Keefe relax. "I guess the best way to start is that there was an investigation of some kind at the home today; Adrian knows more about it than I do. We kinda found out that Steve Jobs was givin' them money under cover to make our lives better, and he had to come over to prove that he was doin' it and why. A whole buncha' kids came over with him, and they all hung out with us while he did his stuff, then he came out and talked with a few of us. Him and I got to talkin' about computer stuff, then the next thing I knew Adrian here was comin' over with his boyfriends Cody and Ezra."
"WAIT!" Keefe exclaimed. "TWO BOYFRIENDS!"
"I'm gooooood!" Adrian giggled.
"You're insane, little brother!" Keefe laughed.
Jonah grinned, internally agreeing with his best friend. "Anyway, Adrian did the introductions; he introduced Ezzy as the son of the head of Clan Short Intel, and Cody is the little brother of Cory Short, the Patriarch of Clan Short. We talked for a couple of minutes, then Cody said a bunch of stuff before saying that I was now Jonah Jobs, and that Steve is my dad forever. That's when I found out Adrian is now my little brother, and that he likes taking naps on big brother's laps."
Adrian decided that it would be best to fill in details that he was sure Jonah was not aware of yet. "Before anyone says anything, I needta' fill in things I ain't told Jonah yet. My official title is Commander Adrian Jobs, Family Clan Short Fleet Special Ops; I volunteered to join the Clan after discussing it with Dad, and he's actively involved in the group of Clan parents. When we adopted Jonah, he automatically became Clan too, and Keefe did as well under Vulcan law by his sworn brotherhood with Jonah. When Keefe accepted me as a little brother, that cemented it even more, and the welcome that I have received here logically requires me to confirm the extension of Clan membership to the entire family. When we walked into your home, it temporarily became a Vulcan Embassy; unless you ask otherwise it will retain that designation until you no longer occupy it."
Jessica and Kara exchanged a long look, seemingly holding a conversation with their eyes. Adrian picked up on their surface thoughts, and immediately knew that this was something that needed to be handled right now. "Momma Jess, Momma Kar? Just so you know, if I need to I can pick up on things that you're thinking really hard on. I saw your looks, and kinda listened to see if there was something I needed to help with. Is it okay if I fix the problem for you?"
"You're just full of surprises, aren't you Adrian?" Jessica stated as her head snapped to look at him. "Going by your title, I'm willing to give you the chance if you think you can. Will you let me know the results?"
"You'll hear them!" Adrian giggled as he reached inside his shirt, peeled his commbadge off his chest, then put it on the outside of his shirt. After tapping it, he stated "Rat Lead to Emmy, I need a spare core. You up to crashing some sealed stuff?"
"Core Charlie Seven is at your disposal, Sir." Emmy replied, keeping it businesslike due to the way Adrian opened the call. "Awaiting target parameters."
"I need all records, public and private, regarding Jonah Glenn Jobs, previously known as Jonah Glenn Edelstein. Provide me one copy on a padd, one padd to Dad, and a hard copy for me to deliver to Jessica Tanner. Stand by once acquired to process requests for release of any locks."
Pausing to look at Jessica, Adrian added "Perform the same actions for Keefe Jacob Tanner, with copies to same parties."
"Accessing all records indicated; estimated completion two minutes," Emmy acknowledged.
Going on a hunch, Adrian tripped his subvocal and silently asked "Ark, could you please perform a genetic match on the current occupants, except me, of this trailer and add it to Emmy's report?"
< I will include the results in the historic data that Emrys has requested from me, Adrian. I have acquired samples. > .
"Thanks, Ark; you might just make someones day a lot better with that info." Adrian replied.
"Just what are you plotting now, little brother?" Jonah asked with a grin. "The last time I saw that look on your face, you were arguing with Cody about which one of you got to do the adoption."
"I won then too - he did it!" Adrian giggled. "He's still getting used to being Cory's little bro, so he kinda needs a push to do stuff sometimes. You were the first adoption he's ever did by himself!"
"Okay, so does that mean I should be scared?" Jonah giggled.
"Only if you don't like good things!" Adrian grinned.
"Search complete, your report is incoming," Emmy interrupted.
Adrian held out his hands, and a Padd appeared in them a second later. On the table in front of the women, two binders, each four inches thick, appeared on the coffee table.
"No looking over my shoulders!" Adrian giggled to his brothers as he stood up and went over to the dining table to review the data. A minute later, he had enough information from the summary to make his decision. "Emrys, open log and action all judgements effective immediately."
"Logging engaged, standing by for orders, Sir."
"By order of Commander Adrian Jobs, Family Clan Short Fleet, in regards to the minors Jonah Glenn Jobs and Keefe Jacob Tanner the following judgements are hereby issued. Family Clan Short hereby orders all non-disclosure and gag orders and contracts nullified effective immediately. Family Clan Short hereby assumes exclusive custodianship of all documents, contracts, and legal obligations concerning the subjects and shall be the sole authority regarding their disbursement. Failure to abide by this judgement shall be grounds for immediate review and trial by the Federation Interplanetary Council. Save and execute."
"Acknowledged." Emmy replied. A few seconds later, he added with a giggle "Uncle Adrian, you're a meanie; you just made a lawyer peepee his pants!"
Adrian giggled "Thanks Emmy! Could you give Butler Investigations a copy too? I think there's some shady stuff in there that wasn't explained right before signing."
"Granpa Bry says he'll get right on it, Uncle Adrian!" Emmy replied.
Adrian turned to see that he had four sets of eyes looking at him in shock. "What?" he giggled, "I TOLD ya' that I'm good!"
"What just happened?" Jessica asked warily.
"You know all those things you and Momma Kar signed sayin' y'all wouldn't say nothin'? I think they're bullcrap, and as of a few minutes ago they don't mean crap because I just said that they are no good anymore. To prove it, I'm gonna say what nobody could say before if it's okay with y'all."
"Why not, Jess?" Kara commented, "I'm kind of curious what he knows."
"Me too," Jessica admitted. "I'd love to see how good his resources are! Go ahead, Adrian."
"You asked for it!" Adrian giggled as he took a seat on the corner of the coffee table facing the boys. "Before we start, I'll let you know I had a genetic trace done on everyone here to make sure the paperwork was right. this isn't just notes on paper, this is a fact that people were made to keep quiet about or they would go to jail. I just fixed that, so now you can know stuff that you couldn't be told before. First thing is that you guys really are brothers; Momma Jess wasn't allowed to tell you, but now you can know about it. Momma Jess, I'm guessin' that you really wanted a baby but didn't wanna do the nasty with a guy, so ya' had a doctor artificially inseminate ya with the sperms of Jonah's dad so you had Keefe?"
"Blunt but true, little one!" Jessica admitted through her blush.
"Oh, I'm not done yet!" Adrian giggled. "You see, I lost my Mom at birth just like Jonah did. Only thing is, my mom was actually mine and Stevie's real mom, and our Dad was really Steve Jobs, not the asshole that thought he was Stevie's dad. Jonah, your mom wasn't able to have kids, but your Dad arranged for her to get an egg from someone he trusted. He provided the sperm for Keefe on the condition that Momma Kar provided the egg for you. Everything checks out; you both grew up knowing your Moms, and Keefe knew his Dad until he died three years ago. Under Vulcan family ties, that makes both of you legally my brothers, Dad is legally your Dad, and Momma Jess and Momma Kar are our moms - all of us, even Stevie!"
By this point, Jonah and Keefe had managed to recline the chair, and were currently wrapped around each other, silent tears of joy running down their faces. Jessica and Kara were sitting there in shock, still processing the multiple bombshells that had just been dropped on them. Adrian, on the other hand, was in heaven as he digested the fact that he might have just inherited two new moms; moms who understood being gay. Hearing the mental warning in his head from Tyler, Adrian got up and went to the door.
Adrian opened the door just in time to have Stevie knock on his forehead instead. "Hey, that's my head, goofball!" Adrian giggled.
"I thought it sounded hollow, Rat!" Stevie sniggered. "I left you alone for an hour, and you've stirred up a hornet's nest! C'mon, I'm wanting to meet my new Moms, and introduce them to their grandkids!"
Adrian giggled as he spun around. "MOMS! We got company! The rest of the family's here!"
As the group followed Adrian in, Stevie commented "You know, this room needs to be about twice this size!"
"Yes Sir!" Peter stated as he popped in, gave Stevie a quick hug, then popped out. Seconds later, there was a barely noticeable blip in time, then the single-wide trailer was suddenly a triple-wide, with all of the materials matching the previous decor and additional matching furniture.
"That's better!" Stevie giggled. "Okay, Rat. Intro time!"
Adrian giggled. "Our blond mom is Momma Jess, and our brown haired mom is Momma Kar. Moms, this big goof is our big bro Stevie, and the cutie with him is his husband Dustin. The twins are their sons Mitch and Jasper; Mitch is the one in the purple shirt. The blond cutie nibbling on my fingers is my boyfriend Cody, and the rainbow boy goosing him is our boyfriend Ezra. The two guys giggling at their daddies are our sons, York is the little guy, and Yestan is the big one. Dad's still talkin' with the guy who owns the park, but he'll be here pretty soon."
"Ohhh! Instant grandsons to spoil rotten!" Kara snickered as her and Jessica stood to welcome the group. "Today just keeps getting better and better!"
Jessica shook her head with a grin as she joined Stevie and Dustin. "I heard you two got married yesterday; congratulations! Do you think that you two can fill in the blanks for me as to what your little brothers got us into? I'm sure Adrian covered the high points, but I get this feeling there is more. You know, things like how in the heck did our home just triple in size?"
Stevie and Dustin exchanged glances before both of them giggled. "Sure, Momma Jess!" Steve managed to say. "We might wanna sit down though, this'll take a while!"
While Stevie and Dustin went to the dining area to fill Jessica in, Jonah and Keefe finally separated and joined Momma Kar in welcoming the rest of the family. The fact Keefe now had one nephew his age and two that were older than him wasn't missed, in fact it helped all of the boys bond much quicker than was expected.
"You know, I've really gathered a great group of tenants here," Gary Haverdale was saying as he sat at the patio table with Steve. "At my age though, I really should consider retirement. I don't want to think about what one of those new-fangled co-ops would do to them though; most of them would rather evict instead of working with someone having problems. People like the Tanners; those two ladies try their best, but the restaurant they tried to start had a bad location and it folded last month. I'm sure they'll get back on their feet, so I'm giving them a break so them and their son don't get put in some homeless shelter. I'm pretty sure they have no idea I'm covering their utilities, but in the end I think things will all work out."
Steve nodded. "That's happening faster than you thought, and it's going to be a shock for them." Lifting the Padd that had appeared earlier, he explained "My youngest son had this sent to me. Earlier today, I adopted an orphan. Somehow, when I brought the orphan here to meet his best friend, my youngest found some information that caused Clan Short to become involved after meeting the boy's friend's family. That boy was Keefe Tanner, and right now the rest of my family is on their way to meet his parents."
"The boy you adopted, he wouldn't be Jonah Edelstein?" Gary asked.
"One and the same," Steve acknowledged.
"His Dad was a good man, a firefighter; his Mom passed on at his birth though. Good kid, but he seems a little lost since his Dad died trying to rescue a family from a house. None of his relation would take him, so he ended up in the system. I would have taken him in myself if the courts would have allowed it."
"Trust me, you'll never have to see that happen again," Steve replied. "You've already been pre-screened to foster or adopt by Clan Short; I'm also supposed to tell you that Clan Medical is taking over your health care."
"Excuse me?" Gary asked in shock.
"Those kids you see running around are Clan Short Intel," Steve explained, "and they don't play around when it comes to other kids. You're a grandfather to every kid in this park, and you go out of your way to help families succeed. That is the values of the Clan, and they will go out of their way to assist those with the same values. What just happened is an example of that. My youngest just invalidated a non-disclosure agreement regarding some procedures done nine months before the births of the boys. By Vulcan laws, things are about to get interesting. Jonah is actually Keefe's half brother, and his genetic mother is Kara; it seems that his father's wife was infertile. Jonah's dad provided the seed to impregnate Jessica, which completes the circle. Since I adopted Jonah, I'm now also father-in-standing to Keefe, and their mothers now stand as mothers to all of my children."
"While that is confusing at first, it makes sense," Gary stated after some thought. "The question is, how will that affect their lives?"
"That is yet to be determined," Steve acknowledged. "I'm pretty sure that most of it will be sorted out before I go meet them; my namesake has the habit of getting things done, and I'm sure he'll have it narrowed down to a couple of options before I even meet them."
"It's good that the youngsters are getting involved, things go smoother that way," Gary stated.
They were interrupted by Kyle joining them. "Uncle Steve?" Kyle asked.
"Go ahead, Kyle."
"Come by the playground on your way to the Tanners," Kyle stated. "We got a six-year-old that's gonna move in with them; he useta' live in lot fourteen, but his father just got invited to lunch by Brant for taking his boy to watch him do stuff with kids. He never touched anyone here, so they're all good. Everyone else checks out, and I think you'll find them good for staff at your new compound if they want to! Petey says just yell when you're ready to do the refresh here!"
"Gotcha, kiddo!" Steve said as he pulled Kyle into a quick hug. "Go on and enjoy the playground, I'll catch up with you in a bit."
"Okay!" Kyle replied as he spun around and ran back to the swings.
Gary watched Kyle running back with concern. "Did I just hear the little guy right?"
Steve nodded. "That little guy is one of the four founding members of Clan Short. I'm pretty sure that only the Patriarch knows everything he's been through, even though it's possible that even he doesn't know all of it. I can promise that what he said is absolute fact, however. The occupant of lot fourteen has been evicted permanently by his people, and the man's son has been assigned to someone the boy has already formed an attachment with."
Gary thought it over, then stated seriously "That just settled everything. I'm all in for helping the Clan however I'm needed. Where do I sign?"
"You just did; for everyone's protection we are monitored at all times, especially when in unknown situations." Steve explained. "Knowing Emmy, his monitoring program flagged the conversation and he has already filed the status update with Headquarters."
"Efficient, I like that!" Gary chuckled. "Does that mean I will be subject to the same monitoring?"
"Once you have a commbadge, yes," Steve explained. "As part of the Clan, your house will also be upgraded with live monitoring that ties into the security servers, since it will become a remote Embassy. After what happened in Montana, the boys take protecting their own seriously."
Gary nodded. "Yes, hindsight can be 20/20. May I ask who monitors the system?"
"You'll be monitored primarily by Emrys; he is an AI that was brought online just after the Battle of Earth finished." Steve explained. "No human will see anything unless he allows it, and the system is using tech that even the Federation can't crack. Almost everything uses the pattern of 'record, analyze, then secure wipe', managed by one of Emmy's subsystems unless one of the security triggers is activated. If that happens, Emmy double checks it, alerting the Director or Security if necessary. Mattering on the situation, Emmy has authorization to handle a lot of things himself."
"Uncle Steve, you're geeking again!" Emmy announced as a commbadge appeared on the table. "You're gonna make his eyes glaze, which ain't fair cuz' I can't see it yet!"
"Did I mention that he chose the personality of an eight year old?" Steve chuckled as he passed the commbadge to Gary. "You'll find that you'll only be lonely if you want to be; he's like a kitten sometimes."
"Ohhh, I'm gonna have Erin give you cuddles for that!" Emmy giggled.
Steve took a few minutes to explain the use of the commbadge to Gary, then they began walking through the park, being joined by the boys that were not already at the Tanner's trailer.
As they walked, Kyle came up with an idea. "Grandpa Gary?"
Gary had to smile, hearing this boy who he was sure had seen Hell giving him a measure of trust. "Yes, Kyle?"
"Our Las Vegas guys are gettin' ready to build a waterpark that's gonna be righ' up to the edge of your park. Whadda you think 'bout makin' this an old-fashioned camping thingie, with the families that don't wanna move to Uncle Steve's to help out livin' here and helpin' you manage it? We gotta couple of guys in Vegas that're really good with old campin' stuff that'll help make it real, and we can ask the Miccosukee guys to help set up a Native area too that's real an' not movie stuff!"
Gary grinned at Kyle's enthusiasm. "I think that it could work out great if we can find good staff; we'd need a lot more property to do it right though."
Kyle's eyes lit up at the acceptance. "I know who can fix all that!" He tapped his commbadge and stated "Hey, Weer! I need ta' talk to The Don 'bout down here in Naples to see if he want's ta' help with a new feature! We're gonna add an old type campground by the park!"
Steve rolled his eyes. "Gary, repeat after me, and mean it." At Gary's nod, Steve began: "I pledge allegiance to the Shiny of the Shiny Nation, and to the Gleam for which it stands; one Nation under Shiny - sparkling, with incandescence and radiance for all!"
Over Kyle's comm-badge, The Don thoughtfully muttered, "A Shiny waterpark in the Sunshiny State? Yes, yes, a glorious plan indeed... HOWEVER! No DULL OLD CAMPGROUND! We must make the campground SHINY! We would approve of a Shiny campground, with gleaming Native American dwellings for rent and lease. There shall NOT be dull tents made of dull loving canvas! We have our Shiny pride, after all, yes we does."
"Our Native friends never used canvas, Shiny One" Steve explained after tapping his badge, "Only the finest local skins of animals who provided sustenance for the Tribe are used, carefully painted to honor the inner Shine of the creature who gave their life. They are mixed with the Shiny works of the weavers of the Tribe, who choose only the finest reeds and branches to provide shelter. A Dull home of the Tribe is a poorly maintained home, and is a very bad thing."
"Let Weer know of your schedule," The Don advised. "Whatever of our Shiny resources would be required for this endeavor, you may have from us."
"We have a new Clan Grandpa who has spent his life helping others find their inner Shine," Kyle added proudly. "His name is Gary, and he's going to be in charge of making sure that the inner Shine of kids is polished to its fullest!"
"We must assist those whose inner Shine has yet to mature glimmering and emerge brilliant. Send all but the casino security to the Sunshiny State, Weer, with great Shiny haste," The Don instructed.
"Yes Sir," Weer happily answered.
"Thank you, Your Shinyness!" Kyle replied. He then giggled after the call ended as he added "Ooops! Ty's got the time bubble here, I gotta go get the rest of our staff together! I'll be right back, y'all better go talk to all the residents to find out who's staying!"
As Kyle popped out, Peter popped in next to Steve. "Hey Uncle Steve! I'm goin' with you to figure out what size condo we need here; we're gonna have to move the old trailers out before the Vegas crew arrives!"
Noticing Gary's confusion, Steve stated "I'll explain while we're walking; this is going to take a while. First off, Gary, meet Peter Lambert, he's the head of the Clan Construction Corps..."
Steve was amazed at how things were falling together. All of the residents visited had jumped at the chances they were given to improve on their lives, with it being an even split between ones that were going to stay and ones who thought they would be of more use at the Clan Annex that used to be Steve's house. Gary had headed back to his own home, sorting things out to have transported to the main residence he was going to maintain at the Naples compound. Once Peter had assured him that a dimensional door between the two locations would solve any issues with not being on site, he had decided that he wanted his main home to be away from the public area. All of the mobile homes except the Tanner's home had already been moved, and a blindingly shiny condo was taking their place. Two techbots were scurrying around the property, eliminating all signs of the former trailer park and upgrading remaining structures to Clan standards.
He stepped up onto the new deck outside the Tanner's mobile home, and shook his head at how the triple-wide structure somehow exactly matched the design of his own home. 'Peter, you're going swimming for this!' he thought to himself as he pushed the button for the doorbell.
Jessica was just setting dinner on the table when out of nowhere the theme song for 'The Twilight Zone' began playing. "What the Hell?" she exclaimed, barely keeping from dropping the dish in her hands.
"I think that's the doorbell!" Adrian giggled. "I'll get it, Momma Jess!"
"But we don't have a doorbell!" Keefe noted with a confused look.
"We do now," Adrian laughed as he opened the door. "Dad! You're just in time for dinner!"
"I doubt we were planned for, Rat," Steve chuckled as he led the remainder of the group in.
"Who's the little guy?" Adrian asked, noticing the six-year-old stealing a piggy-back-ride from Steve.
"If your Moms say yes, he's about to be your little brother." Steve explained. He then turned towards the rest of the group. "Since Adrian is so excited about having new Moms, I'll have to introduce myself. I'm Steve Jobs, or Dad to the under-eighteens I haven't officially claimed if they'll have me." Steve then introduced the rest of the boys, indicating their relationships.
Kara came over to join him. "I'm Kara Tanner, and that is my wife Jessica. The blond sharing a chair with Jonah is his brother Keefe. What's this about Scotty here moving in?"
"I'll just say that his former father was doing things no man should do, and I believe he was grooming Scotty to be a future victim." Steve replied carefully. "He already has a strong bond with you two, so you are the preferred choice for caregivers. If you ask nicely, I'm pretty sure Stevie or Dustin would be happy to make him officially family."
Kara and Jessica exchanged glances, then Jessica stated "No food until it's official!"
"Emmy!" Stevie exclaimed quickly, "Scott Young is now Scott Tanner! Log it!"
"That was pure evil!" Steve laughed. "Go on, Scotty, cuddle test your brothers!"
The little six-year-old blond dropped off of Steve's back, and quickly pounced Jonah and Keefe first. While he was making his rounds, Jessica stated "There is plenty of food for everyone; somehow a little boy's voice in my head told me how many to expect."
Steve turned around, and could tell by the look on Ty's face just who was responsible. "How is it I should have known these guys wouldn't allow themselves to miss out on food. Ty, apologize for talking in someone's head without permission, then all of you get cleaned up to eat."
In no time flat, the boys found the bathroom and cleaned up. Once everyone was seated, the food was passed around and the new family started eating. As the meal finished, Steve decided to broach the subject of who would live where. "Okay, going by the design of the house now, I'll assume that the Clan Construction Corps is planning on moving it onto my property."
"Actually, Petey wants to make it a new wing on your house!" Tyler interjected.
Steve nodded. "That makes sense, actually. But there is one thing you boys forgot in your scheming; nothing happens unless all three of us agree with it. It works both ways; we don't make plans on thing you guys own, and you don't make plans on things we own." Steve paused, making sure he gave plenty of time for the lesson to sink in and make the boys squirm. Once the looks on all of their faces showed him they caught his meaning, he turned to the head of the table. "Kara and Jessica, now that the boys are aware of their mistake, we can discuss the future of our families. First off, no matter what you decide, George and I have discussed your security and he believes that it would be best if he extended his responsibilities to include you as well. His role as my butler has been a cover since the day I brought Adrian home, and I trust him with not only my own life, but the life of all of my sons."
Jessica smiled. "Steve, when you have been together as long as me and Kara, you know how each other thinks, and can verify an answer with a glance. Speaking for both of us, I can say we appreciate the offer, and after overhearing the boys talking we're happy to accept it."
George nodded his head, then stated "I shall sit down with you once this discussion has concluded to provide details and assist with the transition."
"Thank you, George; I think your assistance will be beneficial." Jessica replied.
Relieved that the security concerns were resolved, Steve continued. "Before we continue, be aware that the terrors have the technology available to them to relocate this structure to just about anywhere if needed, all without packing a single thing. Also, there are 'portals' available which make crossing the country as simple as stepping through a doorway. According to the Alligator Alley Division AI, you have already been filled in on the Vulcan outlook on what our individual families have become in their eyes. The question is, are you willing to choose that family dynamic for the rest of our lives, or would you prefer to follow standard Earth customs instead? Either way, the status of the boys in our family doesn't change unless they specifically decide to not become part of Clan Short; even then, in my eyes they will still have the same status."
"That one is easy," Jessica replied. "Stevie already told us to talk it over while he was talking to his new brother about what it would mean to become Clan, then all of us sat down to discuss the details. Our only concern was meeting you, and since you match what the boys led us to expect and don't act like you're trying to butter us up, both of us are willing to allow our families to co-exist as one unit under the Vulcan family structure."
"Sorry boys, it looks like your mutiny is cancelled!" Steve quipped, glad that their glares were not actually deadly. "How would you two like the living arrangement to work out? While there are plenty of rooms in the house, as I said before you have any option you can imagine open to you."
Jessica looked around the table, her eyes finally landing on Adrian. "I know at least two of you have special skills; turn off your little radar sets until the three of us come back inside. Any of you that cheat are spending the next week in a random room in Steve's house with George being your only visitor." Looking around the table, she asked "Got it?"
"Yes Momma Jess!" every one of the boys replied, no matter if they could hear thoughts or not.
Satisfied that the decisions could be made in private, Jess led Steve and Kara out the front door. As soon as they were outside with the door closed behind them, Steve stopped the group. "Ladies, there are a couple of things we need to be aware of," Steve began. "First off, do you see that faint glowing circle around the lot?"
"Yes, that's unusual," Jessica acknowledged.
"Okay, Tyler is adjusting things to keep us safe," Steve explained. "Kyle made some arrangements that are making Gary a very happy man, but got a little carried away. I have the approval to explain in more detail, but just keep in mind that none of us can cross that line. If you look over at the next lot, you'll see why; last I saw birds can't float."
"Holy shit!" Kara exclaimed as she spotted the two robins floating about a foot off the ground. "How in the Hell?"
"You'll get used to it," Steve chuckled. "Seriously, while at least half of the boys inside right now are struggling to regain a part of their childhood innocence that was stolen by warped adults, two of them are struggling to regain humanity that was stolen from them due to evolving. From what I was told by Teri Short, neither Kyle nor Tyler will appear to age unless they will it, and both of them have the capability to outlive Humanity in all of its forms. They have the ability to control Time, which is why those birds seem to be floating; Tyler has us in what they call a 'bubble' where we are not affected by the normal passage of time around us. The other part of it comes from their big hearts that survived despite what they went through pre-Clan; they don't trust adults in general, period. When one does crack their shell, that adult gets their full protection. Them calling you both 'Momma' isn't just going along with the guys, I can say with certainty that they saw something in you two that allowed them to open up and use a title that, up until now, they would only apply to one person. Kyle's only used it one other time besides Teri and now you, but that person passed on the day his adoption became final. Before you ask, Kyle and Tyler have given me the approval to give you the short version of their issues, but they promise to sit down with you sometime soon to talk it over themselves. All they ask is that you still treat them like the kids they really want to be, but allow yourself to understand when they have to do things that they really don't want to do but have to due to their role in the future of humanity."
Kara nodded. "So you're saying that there are two little boys in there that are afraid they'll scare us away, and they can't really keep their word about not listening because of who they are. I think I can see why they had you say it; coming from them, most adults would blow it off as a kid playing. While I'd like to say we wouldn't do that, it is human nature to minimize things kids say that the adult has not experienced themselves. Now we're prepared for it, and after Adrian's little mind stunt earlier today I think both of us are going to be opening our minds much more when a child tells us something."
"You have to admit that Adrian was cute about it, though," Jess snickered. "Steve, honestly what are the chances of Keefe making even more friends that can do things we've only read about in fiction?"
"One hundred percent," Steve stated seriously. "In fact, I'll go so far as to say by this time tomorrow he'll have tripled the kids he knows with unique skills, and he'll be fully aware of it. The Clan draws the most advanced members of the genetic pool from everywhere, and as part of the Clan he'll be interacting with them on equal footing."
"Now THAT makes our decision more serious," Kara stated. "While I'm all for him making these friends, I wish there was a way to see which option would benefit Keefe the most while keeping his new friends safe."
Before Steve could think of a reply, Ezra appeared next to him. "POP! STOP THAT!" Ezra yelled towards the trailer. Turning towards Jess and Kara, Ezra whined "Momma Jess, can you make Pop stop moving me places without warning me? He's mean, he won't teach me how to do it to my brothers!"
"MEANIE!" the two women yelled, just barely repressing laughter.
Steve chuckled. "Don't worry, Ezzy; it will mean a lot more to you when you figure it out yourself. Kyle and Ty are doing a great job with you guys balancing teaching you things and letting you discover things on your own."
"You're no help, Uncle Steve!" Ezzy pouted. "Momma Kar, Dad says I should show you a little of how each of your choices would work out. We don't usually do it, but he says this is something special that he saw. He won't tell me more though, and when I tried to look I found out him and Pop blocked me from seeing why I need to do it!"
"Sounds like two little guys have got the 'teach your kid a lesson by making him experience it' part down pat!" Jessica chuckled. "Let's see what your devious parents are trying to teach you, Ezzy."
As Steve watched, his three companions flickered a few times before settling back into solid form. As Jess and Kara regained their bearings, Ezra walked to the trailer and went inside, a confused expression on his face. "What did I miss?" Steve asked.
"Ezra just learned that even the viewing of an event before it is experienced can cause changes," Jessica answered softly. "If he hadn't of done it, the decision we would have made would possibly have indirectly led to Cody getting mortally wounded in an accident. Despite nothing obvious being done differently, now the same decision will not lead to that."
"We're not going that route anymore, though," Kara added. "After seeing the possible results of keeping all of our boys together as much as possible, we're going to take you up on the offer to add the trailer to the house at your place. We will be living in the house though; the trailer wing is for the kids to use as their own personal area."
"We'll discuss the kitchen arrangements with George; I'm sure he doesn't want to try to feed this mob," Jess added with a smirk. "We already picked up on Dustin's family moving in too; we'll get with his mother to sort out how we can give you men the time to be the father figures some of these boys desperately need."
"That'll work as long as you realize that the house is equally all of ours," Steve stated. "At no time will I be your employer or landlord. I learned that much from the boys of the Clan; to be shared parents, all parties must be equal in status. We'll have to sit down with Spock to get the details, but I'm pretty sure that our family status pools all of our resources together legally. The good news is that you've finally found the right spot for a successful restaurant; the bad news is that you'll only be feeding family and friends!"
"It'll be worth it," Jess laughed. "We'll be able to actually cook instead of filling out paperwork for the government all day long! Shall we go tell the boys, BEFORE they wear out the carpet pacing?"
"Don't worry about that!" Steve laughed, "Kyle and Ty's been keeping them busy; one of the skills of their species is creating illusions, and right now a pair of dragons are playing with Scotty."
Teri had decided to come over and help with the growing mob that was invading Steve's house, bringing Spock, Bryant, and Clyde along so they could all spend personal time with their new grandkids. As an added bonus, they managed to dispel the culture shock that Jessica and Kara suffered once fully exposed to the supposedly vacationing Clan leadership without having to resort to Valium. Once they had finally convinced the kids to build their nest, Teri and Spock sat down with the rest of the adults to make sure they were aware of their standings in Vulcan society, the resources available to them, and what to expect now that their children were active in Clan Short. Once all the immediate questions that could be thought of were answered, they decided to call it a night and discuss anything else that came up over coffee in the morning.
While they were all looking in on the kids, checking on the nest one last time, Teri spotted something that made her heart swell. "Watch Kyle and Tyler!" Teri whispered. "I've seen that glow once before; if it means what I think, we're about to witness a miracle."
As they watched, the glow around Kyle and Tyler merged, every color of the rainbow visible swirling within it. The energy grew above them before breaking into two floating cylinders, connected by a single tendril to each other, that quickly sprouted the appendages that would make them appear human. As the two figures started taking the shapes of ten year old boys, Mikyvis started popping in to silently watch at various unoccupied points in the room. As their features finally stabilized, the two sandy-brown-haired ten-year-olds opened their eyes and smiled as they each settled down by a parent and claimed their first cuddle as a living being.
"Amazing!" Spock uttered, both of his eyebrows stuck in a permanent arch. "I must state that the documented description of the process of Mikyvis birth lacks much data. Once one has witnessed it directly, language has no terms which are adequate."
"Dear husband," Teri snickered softly, "I do believe that now you can say that you've seen everything!"
"That would be logical, wife," Spock replied, then turned as he heard giggles from the direction of the recent births. "It appears the new parents are about to introduce our newest grandsons."
As an unspoken acknowledgment of his statement, the Mikyvis audience began popping over to join the adults, all of them with huge smiles. "Dad and Pop's giving our new brothers their first lessons on what they should and shouldn't do, then we get to join them for their first meal!" Levi explained proudly.
"Here they come," Jess announced to the group. "and they're a pair of cuties too."
As the new boys and their parents weaved their way carefully to the doorway, it became obvious that the new boys were a unique addition to the Mikyvis community; identical twins! As if it was encoded in their genes, as soon as they were clear of the nest both boys homed in on Teri and claimed a double Grandma cuddle.
"Welcome to life, little ones!" Teri said as she returned the cuddle, unconsciously following the same pattern that she had first established with Levi's birth. "Come on, lets get you two your first meal. Have you chose your names yet?"
"I'm Skyler," the one to her right stated.
"I'm Xavier," his twin on her left added.
"An' we're both Richardsons!" they giggled in unison.
Teri smiled as she looked over at Kyle and Ty. "You did good, Kyle and Ty. I have felt the love you've given each of your sons, and these two are no different. I'm proud of you."
As Kyle and Ty beamed from Teri's praise, Colt and Conrad wandered out of the room and made a beeline for Teri, Skyler, and Xavier. Once there, each of them latched on to one of their new brothers and cuddled, exclaiming softly in unison "Big little brothers! Awesome! Thanks Dad and Pop, we knew we wasn't dreamin' what we saw in our heads!"
"You saw it in your heads?" Kyle asked, an edge of worry in his voice.
"Yeah, that little room that you gave us to help when our heads start changing showed us." Colt explained.
Kyle relaxed and nodded. "Okay. Before we go back to sleep, all six of us are gonna sit down with your Grandpa so we can check a few things."
Knowing better than to ask, Teri guided her four charges towards the dining room. As the group migrated, Teri stated "Jess and Kara, plan on your own set of cuddles from our newest grandsons very soon. It seems to be a tradition for the Mikyvis children to claim their first adult cuddle from me; even DB swung by after he was born, before going to visit his Grandma Maureen and then returning to Pennsylvania."
"Yep!" Peter stated with a grin as he popped in with his family. "Just to make it more fun, Luke is waiting his turn. Kyle and Ty beat me and Galen by fifteen seconds, so there's a line!"
Teri twisted to look, and found that Peter and Galen were EACH holding a precocious redhead in a chest-to-back cuddle. "I was wondering how long you'd wait to give DB a brother!" Teri chuckled, "At least he can get his training at the same time as these two angels."
Xavier looked over his shoulder. "C'mon Luke, Grandma's got lots of cuddles in here, we'll share them with you!"
"Sweet!" Luke exclaimed as he popped out of Galen's cuddle and into the spot between the twins. Seconds later, he purred "Dad and Pop were right, Grandma Teri cuddles are the bestest ever!"
By some feat of magic that had even Spock scratching his head in confusion, all three newborn Mikyvis managed to claim a seat on Teri's lap at the same time in preparation for their first meal. After a quick consultation with the proud parents, Jess, Kara, and Diane vanished into the kitchen while the rest of the adults grabbed ringside seats to witness the amusing sight of three boys having their first interaction with the physical world.
Colt and Conrad were a fitting side-show as they fawned over their 'big little brothers', endlessly vocalizing things that they thought of that they just HAD to make sure they got to do; by the time Jess leaned out and told them to get ready to eat, the blond twins had seemingly planned out the next ten years of their new brother's lives.
A few seconds later, Jess led the team from the kitchen, each bearing identical plates bearing waffles covered in blueberries and whipped cream, scrambled eggs, sausage links, and bacon. Once the plates were set in front of the newborns, they returned to the kitchen and came back out bearing king-sized blueberry shakes. As the new boys explored the treats in front of them, their faces expressing their shock at the flavors they were learning about, Colt and Conrad did their brotherly duty by explaining carefully just how to eat like a proper kid. Teri watched with a smile, only correcting them when one or the other of the six year olds suggested something which would be frowned upon by even Clan parents.
Once the boys finished, Jessica and Kara collected their cuddles to welcome the three new boys, then Diane took her turn. Once that was completed, the men were allowed their turn, then each of the rest of the Mikyvis got in a cuddle.
As that was happening, Teri asked Peter and Galen "Have you guys taken DB to be checked by Miah yet?"
Peter shook his head. "Not yet, Aunt Teri. Is that something we shoulda done? We did send him a message telling him about DB."
Teri nodded. "Kyle's promised me that he'd have Miah check any of his newborns to make sure that nothing new has slipped in without them knowing it. Plus, the more examples of the Mikyvis he sees, the better Miah can document things for you guys."
"Thanks Aunt Teri," Peter nodded, "I didn't know about that! We'll go see him when Kyle takes the twins."
"It's okay, Peter," Teri replied, "I wasn't sure if you had been told Kyle and Tyler do that, and I want to make sure that you have healthy families."
Things began winding down a few minutes later, with the rest of Kyle and Ty's visiting kids returning to whenever they had came from. Before Peter and Galen left with their boys, Kyle told them to meet up with him in the morning for the check-out trip for the new boys. Once Spock finished his session with Skyler, Xavier, Colt, and Conrad, Kyle and Tyler led them through a round of hugs before heading back to bed. Taking the opening, all the adults did the same, sure that if they didn't move now one of the other boys would somehow delay their sleep once more.