Cory giggled as he looked at the shirt Steve had tossed to him. "You trying to tell me something?"
Steve shook his head. "No, just giving my fellow adults fair warning."
Cory rolled his eyes as he read the print on the shirt out loud. "The dumbest thing you can possibly do is piss off a Leo. He will open the gates of Hell and escort your a** right on in, and he will do it with a smile on his face!"
"Daddy?" Stevie asked, "Can you get a couple more of those? If you think Cory's bad, wait until you meet his brothers Adam and JJ. They make him look meek!"
"C'mon, JJ's an angel!" Tracy giggled, "A Hell's Angel, but an angel!"
Steve shook his head with a grin. "Yes, I have some for the next time I see the terrors, son."
"Have you been talking to Mom again, Steve?" Cory giggled.
"No need," Steve laughed, "Seth gives me a daily update. It's always good for a laugh."
Stevie cocked his head. "You make it sound like you've visited headquarters a lot."
"I have," Steve chuckled. "Right after I heard about Cory's minions spanking Bill for Windows ME, I got in touch with Teri to find out what this group of boys was all about. I've watched from the shadows as the Clan grew and gained respect in the world's eyes. There's a reason you guys have access to products before the general public from Apple; I put a directive out to make pre-production versions of our products available to any Clan member interested in testing them. By the time you guys get home, the public announcement that Apple Corporation has committed to sponsoring the Alligator Alley Division of Clan Short will be delivered to every news outlet world-wide. I have two sons who are officers of the Division, and I'm not standing in the shadows any more in my support of BOTH of them."
"Dang it!" Tracy giggled, "If I'd knew this job came with this kinda benefits, I woulda joined sooner!"
Steve chuckled as he shook his head. "Just wait, Tracy. You ain't seen anything yet; I owe you a few surprises for what you've done for Stevie and Adrian. I don't think you really know what you've done for both of them."
Blushing, Tracy muttered "I haven't done nothing any of the other guys wouldn't do."
"Yeah, you did nothing unusual," Steve chuckled. "You just welcomed both of my sons into your family with open arms. Tony and Diane say that you've given Stevie a direction in his life that he was sorely missing, and that it shows in how he's carrying himself. When Adrian went off to join the Clan, he was insecure and suspicious of almost anyone who tried to get close to him; that's one of the hazards of growing up as the child of someone famous. Since he had already developed a bond with Stevie over the years, thanks to me making sure they were able to get together whenever it could be arranged, his acceptance of Stevie as his brother was easy. There is no other explanation for his bond with you other than you performed the seemingly impossible; I've watched Adrian interacting with you, and it's obvious he strives for your approval just as much as he does Stevie's. Usually, in a group this size with so many new faces, Adrian would hide inside his little public shell. Instead, he's being his normal cute self, even though he's constantly watching you and Stevie to make sure you approve of how he's acting."
Tracy glanced over at Adrian, checking to see if he was now back to normal. "Rat Pack, take your stations!" he ordered with a grin.
Seconds later, Adrian and Cody had each taken a position under one of Tracy's arms, with Ezzy popping over to claim a piggy-back ride. Giggling, Tracy commented "Looks like you're busted, lil' bros!"
Adrian looked up at Tracy, snuggling tighter into his side as he responded "I don't care; you like me even though I'm just a spoiled rich kid."
Tracy managed to somehow lean over to kiss the top of Adrian's head. "You ain't spoiled, lil bro. Not yet, anyway; give Stevie and me a couple of months and we'll fix that."
"I'll second that!" Stevie giggled as he reached over and messed up Adrian's hair. "I've got just over nine years of spoiling to make up for."
"Heaven help us!" Steve quipped.
"I'm sorry, but your request has been denied due to lack of sufficient resources!" Mikey's voice echoed from nowhere. "The Concierge services have been given a day off."
"Speaking of big brothers who like spoiling their little brothers!" Cory giggled. "Mikey, get your feathery butt in here, we got a wedding to perform!"
Mikey appeared, with Galli by his side. Galli was giggling wickedly, holding two pairs of furry purple handcuffs.
"What are the cuffs for?" Cory giggled.
"You SAID to bring their rings, goofy brother of mine!" Galli responded with a grin.
"Has anyone else noticed that Galli has this thing about furry restraints?" Karl asked while trying to keep a straight face.
"I tried normal restraints," The Doctor said seriously. "I bruise easily!"
"We need to have a LOOONNNGGG talk, Brat!" Cory stated as he rolled his eyes.
"What?!" The Doctor whined, blinking cutely. "It's not MY fault the cake was left unattended..."
"I don't wanna know..." Cory groaned. "Put you and Jay's toys away bro. Did you remember the WEDDING rings?"
"... wait..." Galli giggled as he rooted about in his pockets. "Noooo..." he said, removing and tossing a baby gibon at Tyler, "...ummm... nooo, still not right..." he mumbled, dumping five hundred and thirty three old gold sovereigns on the floor around his feet. He reached so far into his back pocket that Cory, through his tears of mirth, though his head would disappear as well. "Ahha!" the Time Lord laughed, pulling out two beautiful white gold wedding rings. "Here ya go!"
Everyone giggled as Carter and Connie dived at the sovereigns like ferrets going after chrome marbles. "Ohhh, they're so SHINY!" Connie giggled as she tried to see how many she could pick up.
"Want a bag?" Galli giggled as he watched them root about his feet.
"YEAH!!!" both munchkins exclaimed in unison.
The doctor dug into his other back pocket and pulled out a small little velvet bag with a drawstring on the top. "I don't think Joel'll mind you having a Dimension Bag like his... will simply mean more room for him to sneak some cookies into!" he grinned, handing it to the somewhat disappointed kids. "Now, don't look like that... these bags are like my pockets. You saw the gibbon I pulled out? There's a snuffleupagus in my shirt pocket, so if I can get one of them there, you can carry a tonne with that bag!"
Not really sure if the big kid was joking, Connie stuck her hand in the bag, then her arm, then her upper body, then she just climbed inside. "Carter, pass the pretties in!" her voice echoed from beyond the drawstring.
"Please, God, send me a brother thats normal!" Sean quipped, looking up at the ceiling.
"Why would he inflict someone normal with us, though, love?" Cory grinned.
"Cross-training!" Sean laughed after a few seconds of thought.
"ANYWAY!" Tracy interrupted. "Tyler, you wanna change into your preacher clothes?"
"Sure!" Ty giggled before vanishing for a second. When he re-appeared, he was dressed in vestments that would make the Pope green with envy. "Okay, I'm ready!"
"Why do I feel under-dressed?" Cory chuckled. "Okay, which AI drew the straw to outfit our groom and groom?"
“WEEEEEE!” Alden joyfully giggled. Dustin and Stevie phased out and back again several times, facing different directions, and losing clothes before regaining appropriate clothing for newlyweds; beginning with Mr. Fuzzy G-strings over their naughty bits. Everything else was relatively normal wedding garb; each in white tuxedos and shirts, with steel grey waistcoats and ties. Completing the ensembles were fuzzy blue top hats with Mr. Fuzzy faces. Being slightly dizzy from the transports, Dustin and Stevie braced each other, blinking rapidly. All the boys present howled laughing.
"Good job, kiddo!" Cory sputtered. "I like the hats!"
"Don’t mention it," Alden giggled. "I mean, really don’t for another 2 days."
"Can we get hats like that too?" Mitch and Jasper pleaded in unison.
"Well, you are part of the wedding party and family," Alden chortled. Using the same phase out and back routine, Alden gave the boys the same wardrobe, minus the Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, explaining, "You won't be having a honeymoon. Until you do, you'll have to wait like everyone else for cozy cuzzy fuzzies."
"Thats okay, we'll save the fuzzy private stuff for our weird cousin with the deep pockets!" Mitch giggled.
With a little curtsy Galli blew him a shy kiss.
As Cory began trying to organize the mob, Kyle and Ezzy took on the responsibility of making the furnishings appropriate for a wedding. Once everything was in place, from the red carpet and pews to the wedding arch, the families took their places. With Connie and Carter as the ring bearers, Tony and Steve proudly escorted their sons to the alter, where Tyler, Tracy, Karl, Sean, and Cory awaited them. Emmy provided the appropriate music over the house sound system, just to make things official.
As the grooms reached the alter, Tyler began the ceremony. "Brothers and Sisters, today we gather to celebrate the merging of two families into one. As the men before me vow to be with each other for Eternity, they are also pledging their family's support to their partner. As their family, it is your job to help them through good times and bad, and to give them the wisdom learned through your experiences. Today marks a milestone in your lives, as a new branch is added to your family tree. Please join me as we ask Our Father for his Blessing."
Tyler led the group in a prayer, then focused on the stars of the moment. "Who presents Steven Paul Jobs, Jr. for marriage?"
"I do, as his father," Steve replied, tears of joy silently running down his cheeks.
Tyler nodded then asked, "Who presents Dustin William Mercer for marriage?"
"I do, as his father," Tony replied, also allowing tears to fall.
"Thank you, you may take your seats," Tyler replied. "While we were getting ready, it was discussed between the families and the grooms that Dustin take the Jobs surname. Dustin, is this still your wish?"
"Yes," Dustin replied, still not believing this was happening for real.
Smiling, Ty turned to Stevie. "Steven Jobs, Jr., today you take the final step into adulthood as you begin your own family. Do you take Dustin's hand in marriage, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for the rest of Eternity?"
"I do!" Stevie exclaimed.
Tyler shifted his attention to Dustin. "Dustin Mercer, today you take the final step into adulthood as you begin your own family. Do you take Steven's hand in marriage, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for the rest of Eternity?"
"I do!" Dustin replied through his tears.
Tyler motioned for Connie and Carter to step forward. "These rings are a testament to the Universe that you share the bond of marriage under its many names. Know in your hearts that the rings are only a symbol, as the true bond is within your hearts and spirits."
Stevie went first, taking the ring from Connie and kneeling before placing it on Dustin's finger. "Dustin, you have stood by me through the worst times of my life, and have celebrated with me through the best times. With this ring, I promise to be yours forever, no matter what may happen."
Tyler had to help Stevie stand, then stepped back as Dustin took the ring from Carter.
Kneeling in front of Stevie, Dustin stated "Stevie, you have been my reason for living for as long as I've known you. With this ring, I promise to be yours forever."
Once Dustin was standing, Cory stepped forward. "As Patriarch of Family Clan Short of Vulcan, I find this union logical. Live long and prosper, and may logic always be your guide."
Cory stepped back, and Tyler resumed the ceremony. "As you have been found compatible under Vulcan customs, so shall you be acknowledged under Human customs. By the power vested in me by the State of Florida and the United Federation of Planets, I hereby Bless you in the Name of Our Father and pronounce you Husband and Husband. You may now seal your commitment with a kiss."
Never ones to disobey orders from a superior officer, Stevie and Dustin quickly complied. The applause when they separated three minutes later, however, quickly brought blushes to both of their faces.
Barely restraining his giggles, Tyler motioned for both of them to turn and face the group. Cory had their sons Mitch and Jasper join them. "Brothers and Sisters, I present to you Stevie and Dustin Jobs, along with their sons Mitch and Jasper Jobs!"
Once all the congratulations were finished, Tracy spoke up. "Ezzy, could you take the newlyweds to the Honeymoon Suite on Archnania? Give them a few days of privacy, then their sons can join them to finish out the week. Guys, trust me, Cam up there has lots of stuff to help you with the stuff that they don't teach in school."
"What..." Stevie started to say, only to vanish with Dustin mid-sentence. A second later, Mitch and Jasper vanished as well.
"This won't take long!" Karl giggled. "I hope Cam gives them the FULL training speech!"
"With video!" Tracy laughed.
"What am I missing?" Cory asked with a tilt of his head.
"Oh nothing..." Karl chuckled, "Just marriage honeymoon training courses developed by Daileass."
"Oh SHIT!" Cory cackled as he leaped towards the nearest chair before collapsing in laughter. "Daileass is the biggest perv in the entire Clan!"
"Now we know where Alden gets it from!" Sean added as he joined Cory in the chair.
"Daddy's had lots more practice!" Alden lightheartedly objected. "Give me time, and a body, and a boyfriend, in that order, and then add the lube, condoms, dildos and dongs, and my mighty perversions will be plain for all the Clan to worship!"
"Don't forget the Scoobies polishing shiney knobs!" Sean giggled.
"I'm leaving the 'shiny knobs' remark alone, until I get the afore mentioned body, boyfriend and lube."
"Didn't you get the memo?" Sean snickered, "The Federation has passed a law that AIs that get bodies are not allowed to possess lube at any time!"
"My boyfriend will need to stock up then," Alden giggled. "Volunteers, anyone?"
"I think Slider has a doggy friend that likes you!" Kyle giggled.
"Some middle race we got blessed with," Alden groaned, and then he cackled, "That's RUFF!"
"Okay, who let Danny program the sense of humor in the AIs?" Karl groaned.
"It's all Marc's fault," seven AIs chorused.
"Did I just hear seven AIs volunteer for eunuch bodies?" Marc’s voice cackled over the speakers.
After a minute of apologies and begging, the AIs cut their losses and fell silent. While this was happening, Adrian took his newly extended family on a tour of the house, arriving back just in time for Stevie, Dustin, and their sons to reappear. Once Ezzy had the room back to normal, he assisted everyone with returning to casual clothing. Once that was done, he made his rounds to collect cuddles before heading back to whenever he was before he was interrupted.
Steve looked around at the group as he cracked a smile. "Okay guys, here's how it's going to work. George has put all of our extra bedding materials in the family room. Every single one of you boys are going to catch some shuteye in the nest, while us adults enjoy a nice quiet nap in our beds. After breakfast tomorrow, we're going to head down to the beach for a little rest and relaxation. Any questions?"
"Yeah, when did you take lessons from Mom?" Cory giggled.
"When I saw how much you guys were trying to hide being worn out." Steve stated. "Get moving, time's a wasting!"
Surprisingly, there were no arguments, not even from the four boys who just returned from Archnania. By the time Steve was done making sure the house was closed up, he found the entire group sound asleep in their nest. He couldn't help but to smile as he noticed Cory, Sean, Tracy, and Karl were in the center, each cuddled against their partner. The rest of the kids formed a protective circle around them, the ones that were paired off cuddling with partners, while the youngsters with no partners were piled up on Mont and Bast.
"Sleep well, guys... you're way overdue." Steve whispered as he closed the door to the room.
"Thank you, I appreciate the accommodations," Steve replied to the party on the other end of the telephone. "We'll see you shortly."
"Who you talking to, Daddy?" Adrian asked sleepily as he walked up and gave Steve a good-morning hug.
"Just making sure your mob gets fed, kiddo!" Steve chuckled as he returned the hug. "How'd you sleep?"
"Okay." Adrian replied, shifting around as he unconsciously felt Cody slip into his free side.
"What about you, Cody? You have a good sleep?" Steve prodded.
"Yes Sir," Cody replied, also still half asleep.
"I'll let that 'sir' slide since you ain't awake yet, munchkin," Steve chuckled. "Why don't the two of you go grab a quick shower while I wake up the rest of the family?"
"Okay," both boys replied as Adrian took Cody's hand and led him towards his private bathroom.
Steve smiled as he watched the pair walk away, happy to see his youngest son finally happy with his life. He turned and headed into the family room. As soon as he entered, both Mont and Bast lifted their heads to see who was there.
"Hey guys, wake up your brothers. We have a breakfast appointment," Steve said softly, sure that they'd hear him.
Both cat boys nodded and began grinning mischievously. Seeing their expressions, Steve quickly vacated the room, hoping the walls could contain whatever the two boys were plotting.
After a few minutes of screams and language that should have never passed the lips of the rooms occupants, the kids finally started trickling through the doorway, heading towards the bathrooms. As they finished their group showers, they trickled back in groups of two and three to rejoin Steve. The rest of the adults joined the group as well, snickering at the smiles some of the couples were sporting post-shower.
The last four to arrive were Kyle, Tyler, Carter, and Connie. Noticing the raised eyebrows, Kyle giggled. "We just showered, honest! Connie asked a couple'a questions, so now she's okay if she catches the guys walkin' 'round nekkers."
"Yeah!" Connie added, "Unca Kyle says if someone makes me do stuff with their thingie I gotta tell him an' he'll shrink it to baby size!"
Somehow, Cory managed to state over the squeaks from his brothers "He'd do it, too!"
"Who, ME?" Kyle exclaimed as a halo appeared above his head.
"Yeah, YOU!" Cory replied as he reached over and picked Kyle up. "Mister 'I'll put my brothers in a time bubble so they sleep sixteen hours while everyone else outside the room sleeps eight'."
"How'd you know?" Kyle giggled.
"I got up to take a leak, and it took me forty-five seconds to piss according to the clock in the bathroom!" Cory giggled. "At that rate, I shoulda filled the toilet!"
"Talk about power pissing!" Tony chuckled, barely escaping a swat from his wife Diane.
"Don't encourage them!" Diane ordered, barely hiding her smile.
"Yes, dear!" Tony replied, causing most of the boys to giggle at his plight.
Shaking his head, Steve chuckled "I chartered a bus to take us to breakfast; after meeting the AIs I figured it would be safer that way."
The room fell silent, expecting at least one retort. After a few seconds, Tracy commented "I don't believe they passed that one up!"
"Passed what up, Uncle Tracy?" Emmy replied. "I'm driving the bus!"
"MIKEY!!!!!!!" every Short family member screamed in unison. "HELP!!!!"
"I'm sorry, the angel you are trying to reach is no longer in service. If you believe you have reached this message in error, please try again. Message PG-053."
"Chickenshit!" Cory muttered with a grin.
"Actually, I'M driving, Emmy's just handling the stoplights!" Davie giggled as he popped in wearing a glowing golden crash helmet. "The bus is waiting!"
"When did you learn to drive?" Sean asked in shock.
"Booger-breath taught me on our Myrtle Beach trip!" Davie replied with a grin.
"Our Father, who Art in Heaven..." every person who knew Jerry Owens started praying aloud.
"Hey, it coulda be Pablito!" Davie giggled. "He lost the coin toss!"
"Aren't you a little young to drive?" Steve asked.
"I'm one of the Guardian Angels of the Clan," Davie stated simply as he allowed his wings to become visible. "I'm not gonna trust my Uncles to just any bus driver."
"I'll be damned!" Steve muttered.
"Actually, you're going the Other direction! It's gonna be a while though!" Davie snickered.
"Jesus, Davie, you take all the damn good jobs!" Pablito's voice echoed through the room, "I got stuck havin' to play nice for Grandma Morrison again! This sucks!"
"Stop whining like a baby!" Davie laughed. "Mikey promised you could go hang with those bikers in Georgia after you're done. You can handle being nice for a few seconds!"
"Brat!" Pablito replied before going silent.
"Anyways..." Davie stated, "Let's go - the food's waiting!"
Diane came over and grabbed Steve's arm. "Sit with us, we'll explain." she told him as they followed the mob out the door.
Davie carefully pulled the bus into the parking lot, then found a spot in the bus parking area. "You can all climb out from under the seats, we're here" he giggled as he set the parking brake and opened the door. "I'll be waiting out here for you!"
"Thanks, Davie!" Cory chuckled as he walked past, stopping just long enough to give Davie a quick hug.
The bus unloaded quickly, and the group followed Steve into the restaurant. once they invaded the lobby, Steve walked up to the hostess. "I called ahead, you should be expecting a party under the name Jobs."
"Yes, Mr. Jobs; please follow me." the hostess stated, her eyes wide as she recognized faces in the group that was with him.
She led them off to a cordoned-off section to the left of the foyer. The tables had all been rearranged to make one long table. After a few seconds of brotherly arguments, everyone found a seat just before the waiter appeared.
Speaking loud enough that he was sure Cory heard it on the other end of the table, Steve told the waiter "This will be on one check; nobody else but me is allowed to pay it."
"Yes, Sir!" the waiter replied. "My name is Tom, anything y'all need I'll be standing by to assist with. I understand that some members of your party have special dietary needs, our kitchen is standing by to provide whichever choice they make."
Everyone that heard started snickering as Tony cracked "Breaking news: Steve Jobs files for bankruptcy; fortune decimated by breakfast."
"Watch it Tony; I'm sure I could convince Bill to give you a position in Quality Control!" Steve shot back.
"Ohhhhhhhh! Cat fight!" multiple boys giggled.
"Hey now!" Bast injected in defense, "We don't stoop THAT low!"
"You're not the average kitties, you're Short brother kitties!" Tyler giggled. "You gotta set examples for your little brothers like me!"
"You're getting a tongue-bath later, little kitten!" Bast growled, his grin giving him away.
"Kewl!" Tyler gushed, obviously looking forward to it.
Shaking his head at the antics, Steve stated "You can bathe each other later; right now y'all need to give Tom your NON-ALCOHOLIC drink orders."
"Spoilsport!" Cory giggled as he closed the wine list.
Once the drinks were ordered, the group sat down to he serious task of deciding what was for breakfast. A few minutes later, Tom reappeared with a legal pad in his hand. "Is everyone ready to order?"
After surveying the nodding heads, Steve replied "It looks like it; I hope your kitchen staff is up to the challenge!"
"They're looking forward to it!" Tom chuckled. "What would you like, Sir?"
Steve grinned. "I'll have the Sautéed Veggie Skillet please. Scrambled on the eggs, wheat toast."
Tom moved around the table, going to Tony next.
Looking up at Tom, Tony said "I'll have the 'Mama Mia!' please; over easy on the eggs and I'll go for the pancakes."
After rolling her eyes at Tony, Diane ordered next. "Could I please have the Strawberry-Banana French Toast with bacon?"
Seeing that she was next, Connie giggled "I wanna get the three piggies inna blanket!"
Noticing Trent was hesitating, Steve encouraged him. "You can get whatever and however much you want, Trent. You're a teen, you need your food."
Trent nodded, and nervously ordered. "Umm, would an order of Blueberry Pancakes with bacon, a Western Skillet with over easy eggs and white toast, with a side of corned beef hash be okay?"
"Sounds like a healthy snack to me!" Steve chuckled. "give him what he just asked for please, Tom."
Carter giggled at his big brother before ordering. "Can I get the Chocolate chip pancakes please an' some Sausage links?"
Stevie rolled his eyes. "Good luck finishing that, lil' bro!" After exchanging a session of sticking tongues out at each other, he placed his order. "I'll take the Country Fried steak with Sausage Gravy, scrambled for the eggs, a side of Corned Beef Hash, and a short stack of pancakes with bacon."
Dustin glared at his husband. "Poppa Steve, I'll take a scholarship to a prominent medical school for cardiology!" After pausing for effect, he then placed his order. "May I have the Egg White Scrambler and a Fruit Parfait please?"
"That's it! Hand over your teenager card, I'm revoking it!" Cory announced as half the table pretended they were gagging.
"Just wait, one of these days I'll be treating y'all for eating like you do!" Dustin shot back with a grin.
Rolling his eyes at his Pop's antics, Mitch pressed ahead. "I'd like the Waffle Platter, over easy with ham, and a side of Corned Beef Hash."
"Same here!" Jasper added.
Next up was Micco, who ordered for both him and his new son. "Taktak and I will each have the Burrito Breakfast, please."
Mont was next, ordering for himself and Bast. "Each of us are gonna have the same thing, so just double what I order to cover Bast. Two racks of ribs, and a NY Strip Steak, still mooing."
"Nice snack, bros!" Cory giggled. "I'll have the 'Mama Mia' with over easy eggs, the pancakes, and a side of Corned beef hash please."
Sean was next, quickly adding his order. "A Country Fried Steak and gravy please, over easy on the eggs, along with a fresh fruit platter."
Kyle giggled as he ordered "I'll have the Chocolate chip pancakes please!"
"Me too!" Tyler added.
Smiling at the cuteness Kyle and Tyler were portraying, Tracy ordered next. "The Broccoli and Cheddar Omelet sounds good, with the pancakes and grits. Could you add a side of Corned Beef hash to that as well?"
Taking his cue, Karl went next. "A Santa Fe Omelet please. White toast and the baby red potatoes. I'd like a short stack as well please.
Adrian grinned as he ordered. "I'd like a ham and cheese omelet with toast and grits please, along with the 3 pigs in a blanket." After noticing his Dad's raised eyebrows, Adrian quipped "Hey, it takes a lot of energy to be this awesome!"
"And that cute!" Cody added. "I'd like the Irish Skillet please, scrambled on the eggs and toast. Toss in a side of tomatoes too, please."
Steve noticed Tom's face at the orders he's just taken, and decided to add to the fun. "Tell them in back to get twenty-two slices of blueberry pie a la mode ready for after these savages finish their first course."
As Steve had hoped, Tom's eyes bugged out at the thought of dessert after the meals that were ordered. "I will tell them, Sir!" Tom exclaimed as he rushed to deliver their order to the cook line.
Seconds later, the table erupted into giggles as they heard someone on the cook line yell "¡Ay, Caramba!"
"I wonder what they would have said if we had been hungry?" Micco giggled.
"I'm glad you weren't, I left that credit card at home!" Steve joked.
"That's okay Uncle Steve, you'd just be washing dishes for the rest of your life!" Cory sniggered.
"Oh no, your Mom already told me I could use you for collateral!" Steve shot back.
"HEY!" Cory replied in shock. "I'm gonna get her!"
"And then she'll get you worse, bro." Cody snickered. "Give it up before you start a war; Mom's got Dad to help her plot, and she snuck an override in on the AIs."
"I'm with Cody!" Sean giggled, "I ain't crossin' mom!"
"Me either!" Bast and Mont chorused.
Tracy and Karl exchanged glances, then Tracy announced "We got your back bro, we ain't called the triple terrors for nuthin!"
Steve was about to interrupt before things really got out of hand, but he was saved by an obviously well off elderly lady walking over and tapping on his shoulder.
"Steve! Imagine seeing you here!" the lady exclaimed. "You found little Stevie I see, and it's been ages since I've seen you out with that little cutie Adrian hanging on you!"
Every boy at the table winced in compassion for Adrian, who was trying very hard to turn into a chameleon and blend into his chair. Cody reached over to comfort his blushing boyfriend, unwittingly drawing attention to himself in the process.
"Oh my God, Adrian!" she exclaimed, "Just WHERE did you dig up such a beautiful boyfriend!"
"Wales, Mrs. Stanton." Adrian squeaked as he fought with Cody as to who was hiding behind who.
"Oh how adorable!" Mrs. Stanton exclaimed as a tween boy joined her, rolling his eyes at her display.
"Okay Doris, you better let up before they set off the fire alarm!" Steve chuckled.
"I'm just stating the obvious, Steve!" Doris replied as she noticed Cory and Sean. "Oh my, I see that you're gathering quite a circle! Patriarch Short, you and your husband are even more beautiful in person than you appeared on television! And your little brothers are so precious, the twins as well as Adrian's hot catch."
"GRANDMA!" the boy behind her moaned.
"Oh, where are my manners!" Doris tutted, "Do you remember my grandson Eddy, Steve?"
"Of course!" Steve replied. "How ya doin', sport? I see you've kept up the long hair campaign! Are you too old now for a hug?"
"No Sir," Eddy replied as he walked over and accepted a one-armed hug from Steve.
Just then, Kyle interrupted from the other side of the table. "Mrs. Stanton, I'm Kyle Richardson, Head of Clan Short Intel. My staff just finished briefing me on the reasons why you gained custody of your grandson; I speak for all of us when I say we're sorry about the loss of your son and daughter-in-law. You have a valid concern based on your medical history for being able to support Eddy as much as he'll need for the next six years or more. If both you and Eddy agree, Clan Short would be more than willing to allow Eddy to join our staff; you would retain legal guardianship of him until such time as you either are incapable of continuing it or you voluntarily revoke it. In either case, at that time Clan Short would assume all guardianship rights until Eddy is able to survive legally on his own and chooses to not be a part of the Clan on his own free will."
Having been filled in via Kylenet, Tracy took over. "Naturally, we will do everything in our power to prevent having to take over guardianship, including providing you with the best health care in the Federation as well as offering you an all-expenses paid residence in our brand new complex in Fort Lauderdale so that you can see your grandson and all the friends he'll make on a daily basis."
Before she had a chance to respond, Karl stepped in. "This isn't charity; we have a large group of children, tweens, and teens who need the support of a grandmother that they can go to at any time. In fact, we have quite a few families in residence who could use your guidance as well."
Eddy looked between the boys at the table and his grandma, shock evident on his face. After a few seconds, he quipped "Y'all just made Grandma speechless for the first time EVER! I'm in!"
Doris smiled at her only grandson. "Not speechless, Pookie, just considering the offer."
"Grandma, not in front of my new friends!" Eddy whined, his twelve-year-old pixie face's blush almost matching his dark strawberry blond waist-length hair.
"Don't vorry, ve has vays to deal vith ze adults using ze embarrassing nicknames!" Adrian announced in a very bad evil mastermind accent.
By this time, Cory and Sean had made their way around the table, already pretty sure of the outcome. Doris noticed them joining her and Eddy, and made her decision. "Since it seems that Eddy's been accepted already, which is already an improvement over my current neighborhood, I would be willing to accept the offer. When can we start making preparations?"
"We finished about two minutes ago!" Cory sniggered. "Your things should be moved into your new condo within the next five minutes."
"Condos?" Tracy queried.
"Yeah, Peter's been busy trying to stay ahead of your Division building!" Sean laughed. "So far, he's staying ahead of you... barely!"
Obviously getting frustrated, Tracy commented "Whatever. I'm just the Director, why would I need to know anything?"
Kyle quickly bounced up and ran over to cuddle on Tracy's lap. As soon as he was cuddled properly, he said "Big bro, you gotta let Northeast do their stuff an' not worry 'bout it. They make sure evr'ones got 'nuff housin', so the Directors can worry 'bout the big stuff. If you worry 'bout ever'thin', then you'll mess up your head like Cory almost did. Bein' in charge don't mean knowin' ever'thin', it just means you got people you trust to do stuff that let ya know if they need helpin'."
"The cute little angel you're cuddling is right, Director." Doris interjected, "Any successful manager does not worry about details. He has people to do that for him, that way he can concentrate on direction and planning. All you need to do is make sure your Division is completing it's mission; let your people make sure the resources are there for you."
"She's right, Tracy." Steve added. "I know I have a reputation for micromanaging; the thing is, I choose my battles carefully and let other things just follow their natural development cycle. Don't try to do everything, you can't do it, nobody can."
"Thanks, I guess I'm still learning." Tracy replied before turning his full attention to the Kyle-cuddles.
Seeing as his husband was busy, Ty came over to Eddy. "Hey, I'm Tyler. You guys eat yet?"
"No, we just got here." Eddy replied.
"C'mon, you can sit with me an' Kyle an' we'll fill you in on everything you need to know!" Tyler gushed. "Grandma can sit with the rest of the older folks." As he pulled Eddy over towards a third chair that somehow appeared, Tyler waved for Tom to come over to take the orders.
Steve guided Doris to sit in the chair that appeared next to her. "Trust me, don't ask! You'll keep your sanity longer that way." he advised her. "We'll take time later to cover the surprises these guys have up their sleeves."
Once Tom took the extra orders, the crew settled into their individual conversations. Since Eddy was now sitting between Tracy and Tyler, Tracy decided to find out a little about his newest resident.
"I don't know if you caught it, but I'm Tracy; supposedly I'm in charge of the zoo you just moved into. What you like doin' when you're not trying to avoid Grandma making you blush?"
"In charge?" Eddy asked with a tilt of his head. "Get real, who's the adult that runs the place?"
"Kyle, you're fired!" Tracy giggled as he gave Kyle a squeeze. As he pulled out his ID cards, Tracy stated "Clan Short doesn't need adults to approve things. My dufus big brother over there, Cory, is Patriarch; I answer to him in the Clan overall, but Alligator Alley is totally my responsibility. Adult's red tape and BS are what makes it so kids get hurt, so we cut out the problem and deal with it directly."
"Yeah, right," Eddy commented.
"Hey Steve, who's in charge here?" Tracy asked with a grin.
"Kyle is, he just lets you guys think you're doing something!" Steve shot back. "Eddy, they're serious; Tracy there is on a first-name basis with President Powell, and Cory is the Commander-In-Chief of both a space fleet and a surface ship fleet."
"Don't let Uncle Colin hear you calling him names like that!" Karl giggled. "Last guy who did it got assigned to a remote Embassy in Africa, and he wasn't even a government employee!"
"You're related to Colin Powell?" Eddy asked, taking Karl's warning at face value.
"No," Karl explained, "until they get DC cleaned up, he's staying at one of our other Divisions for security. He asked all of us in the Clan to call him Uncle, since he doesn't really want to be President. He's kinda like Cory, he doesn't want to be in charge, but he does it anyway because he's the best qualified person available to do it."
"Hey Kyle," Cory giggled, "tell Timmy that Karl gets extra cookie and cuddle rations when we get home!"
"Aye Aye El Capitan!" Kyle snickered. A second later he added "Message delivered! Timmy says bring 'im back a tee shirt."
"Thanks, bro," Cory smiled. "Did you tell him about Micco and Takota?"
"Yeah, he's hyped!" Kyle giggled. "Him and Yist are already plotting their welcome!"
"Who are Timmy and Yist?" Eddy asked.
"Kyle, can we have a bubble?" Tracy asked seriously.
"Gotcha covered bro," Kyle replied. "I put it up when we started talking about Uncle Colin."
"I shoulda known!" Tracy snickered. "Okay, sneaky lil brother, you want to do some talking for a few? I don't know what clearances you've assigned to who yet for our new people."
Kyle nodded. "Before you ask, Eddy, Ty and me are the bosses of Clan Short Intel and Security. The only guy who can override us in the Clan is Cory, and we got him outnumbered! Timmy's the first kid that Cory adopted, he's six and runs what we call the Tribe. They pretty much take care of helping new kids that were abused, especially the younger ones. Timmy is a Spirit Guide, and Yist is the Tribe Shaman. Yist is nine, but was born in 822. I'll let Yist tell ya the story about how he got here, he has a lot of fun talking about it."
"Grams!" Eddy loudly called, "Those pills the doctor told you to take, that you refused to take, if you've still got the prescription, I'd like to have a double dose!"
"Careful," Cory giggled, "keep talkin' like that, and I'll let you get your orientation from the Rimmers!"
"C'mon Cory," Tracy giggled, "Are you sure you want to subject him to Prez?"
"You shouldn't talk, bro. Within five days of meeting him you're second place for master of Pissed Off Chickens," Cory giggled.
"Only because he cheats," Tracy laughed.
"It's the nature of the Director job. One's a cheater, and another's a hacker," Cory giggled, "not much difference."
Sean sniggered, "Tracy, if you and Prez team up, imagine what you could do with the game."
"Crash it!" Kyle giggled.
"Kinda like Cory driving!" Tyler added, making sure he was out of Cory's reach.
"I'll get you later, Squirt!" Cory sneered.
"You'll forget by then, old man!" Tyler giggled.
"No I won't; Bryce keeps my schedule now!" Cory giggled. "It's good being his favorite uncle!"
"Do I even wanna know?" Eddy asked curiously.
"NO!" the rest of the table responded in unison.
"I thought so," Eddy groaned. "What's with this bubble thing you ask for, Tracy?"
Tracy giggled. "Look at the rest of the people eating!"
Eddy shrugged his shoulders, then looked around at the other tables. "Dude! Nobody's moving!"
"Actually they are, but so slow that it looks like they're not," Tracy explained. "Kyle has a way to play with time, so he put us in a bubble so that we can do stuff in private and nobody outside the bubble can tell what we're doing. Besides being a cute little brother, he's useful occasionally! Besides, he gives great cuddles."
Kyle smiled as he snuggled tighter into Tracy's chest. "Luv you too, bro!" he mumbled, glad that Tracy made it sound like he was just a normal kid using something else to affect time.
"It looks like you're really close to the little guy," Eddy commented.
"All of us are, more than he'll ever really know." Cory stated. "I wouldn't have survived this long without Kyle, and before he says it I kinda saved him too."
"C'mon, I didn't do nutin'!" Kyle mumbled with a blush.
"No, you just made me promise to get better to keep you from committing suicide, lil bro," Cory responded gently. "If it wasn't for you, I'd probably still be in that home."
Kyle couldn't find the words to respond, so he climbed off of Tracy's lap and joined Cory, audibly sighing in contentment as Cory wrapped him arms around him.
Smiling at the pair next to him, Sean softly asked "Eddy, can we finish filling in the details later? Those two don't get enough cuddle time, and I think right now they need it more than distractions."
Eddy nodded. "Yeah, I can see that. Does that mean I get to hang with you guys?"
"Yep!" Karl replied. "All your stuff is already moved in at our base in Ft Lauderdale. The rugrats are prepared for your welcome shower as soon as you get home."
"You'll find out!" Karl giggled. "Just relax and enjoy it." Karl poked Ty in the ribs just hard enough to make him giggle, then said "Time to burst the bubble, munchkin."
"You better be glad I like you!" Ty sniggered as he waved his arms. "Ala-ka-Zap!"
Noticing Eddy's wide eyes, Tyler leaned over. "I'll explain while we're shopping later; right now Kyle-Bear needs his Cory time."
"Look!" Eddy whispered, pointing towards the kitchen.
Tyler looked over, and giggled as he saw Tom pushing a cart piled with folding tray stands towards them. "I think our snack's ready!"
Tom quickly strategically located the stands around the table. He then stood back as the waitress that had welcomed them took his cart and headed back towards the kitchen. As she entered one set of doors, the first cart came out of the other, filled with plates of food. Other carts followed, each just as full as the first. As they arrived at the table, Tom orchestrated the food delivery, referring to his notes as to who got what.
Steve was surprised about two things once the operation was complete; the speed at which they had served the group, and the fact the tables didn't collapse or fall over from the weight they were now bearing.
All conversation around the table stopped as the Clan tried to prove they could eat the food faster than it was prepared. At one point, Tom actually went to get spare silverware just in case one of the boys melted a fork or accidentally ate it.
Fifteen minutes later, the adults could feel the eyes staring at them as the younger group waited for them to finish so they could have dessert. The fact that over half of the group had just ate twice the amount of what the adults had didn't make a difference; they wanted the blueberry pie they'd heard Steve order, and they wanted it NOW!
Eddy asked Tracy, "Would I break some Clan law if I said I wanted something other than blueberry?"
Tracy shrugged, "Course not. What would you like instead?"
"Cherry," Eddy cheekily grinned. A few sputters broke loose, then all the boys began laughing, some very loudly. Eddy loudly giggled over the group, "à la mode?" The entire group roared, leaving the adults struggling to remain silent, knowing anything said would be twisted some way or another.
"Sorry... I doubt you'd find a single one in the clan... wait, there's one over ther... no, sorry. Nope." Steve chuckled. "There was for a second, but I think someone got to him."
"Probably Joel," Tyler stage whispered, trying his best to keep his face straight. "He's not gotten hitched for a whole three hours, so..."
"True, true," Steve smirked.
A hand appeared out of a small ring of fire and wedgied Tyler, then dummy slapped Steve Jobs (lightly). Then it was gone. As Tyler yelled a note appeared on his lap. "It wasn't me this time, Little brother! It was one of you Mikey Mouses!... I think it was a great grandson from the future... or maybe Dylan... meh!"
Steve looked over at Adrian. "Could you please ask your rainbow haired significant other to handle this?"
"On it, Dad!" Adrian giggled.
"Ohh, this is gonna be fun!" Cody added.
"Really, Uncle Steve? Now I've got to play hide and go Effing seek with a Miky from now til Rapture RATHER than snog my wife? I'll get you!" came the irritated Elf's yell. "Where's that hair trimmers! I want a rainbow colored rug!"
"Okay, now that we've settled that," Steve smirked, "Tom, could we get dessert please? Most everyone wants blueberry, except for the new guy who has a cherry fetish!"
Eddy grinned, then half whispered, "If that's what you lot think then I'd better chat to that Joel and get some tips! You know, that's not a bad idea... going by what you lot've implied! Where's my diary? I gotta to schedule in a chat..." He then glared at Tyler. "And you'd BETTER explain how he does that hand through fire biz, cool?"
"Cool," Tyler grinned as a pink diary plopped out of nothing and onto Eddy's lap. It was already tagged with a date to chat to 'The Awesome One, Joel the Great, Elven Prince of Cookies'.
"I think we'd better get Mom to have a chat with Elf... he's getting a big head," Sean sighed.
"It's your fault!" Cory retorted. "You kept shouting 'Oh GOD!' when he was... never mind," he finished with a blush once his blond brain had remember he and Sean were CERTAINLY not alone!
"Hurry Tom, they're starting to eat their feet!" Tony laughed as he ducked a swat from Diane.
Tom came back quickly with a cart filled with blueberry pies. Behind him was another cart, carrying one single slice of cherry pie.
It was obvious that the boys were starting to rub off on Tom as he made a big production out of ensuring Eddy got his cherry pie. even the adults were chuckling at the antics, especially since Eddy seemed to be taking his Clan initiation well.
The pies vanished as fast as the breakfast had. Once he was sure everyone was finished, Tom brought the bill. Due to the size of it, he expected a bad reaction from Steve, but he was in for a pleasant shock.
Steve took one look and smiled. He pulled out his card and handed it to Tom. "$547.40? Is that all? It's going to take you a bit to clean up after these animals, so just put an even fifteen hundred on the card and split the tip between you and your helpers. That should cover the plates with bite marks as well."
"That was worth every penny!" Steve thought to himself as Tom's eyes bugged out of his head. The indigent stares he was getting from the teens and tweens made it even more worthwhile.
Somehow, the group made it out of the restaurant without any more additions or incidents. As they approached the bus, Steve warned Doris "Our driver is unique, to say the least. Don't worry, you can trust him."
"What do you mean, Steve?" Doris asked as they arrived at the bus. Before Steve could reply, the door opened and Davie came into view in the driver's seat. "Oh, aren't you the cutest little angel!" Doris exclaimed as she quickly entered the bus and walked up to Davie. "You're just such a little doll!"
For his part, Davie almost managed to contain his blush. Doris pinching his cheek took him over the edge, as he went into full glow with wings and halo becoming visible to all.
"My, my!" Doris exclaimed, "God knows who to give His wings to, little cherub!"
Rolling his eyes, Davie thought, 'I need a promotion and a large raise in salary, or Pablito, I'm not sure which.'
All he got in response was a seagull on his lap and laughter from choirs of angels
Having seen the entire thing, since he was right behind Steve, Cory giggled "Wait until I tell Mikey!"
"He knows already," Davie grumbled, "his laughter was loudest."
Not willing to find out if blushing angels could ignite seats, Steve managed to guide Doris to a seat before any more damage was done. Davie just sat in his seat pouting, arms crossed on his chest, as the line of giggling Clan members filed past him to their seats. Eddy was one of the last ones through, and he put a hand on Davie's shoulder. "If it makes you feel any better, she does that to anyone she likes." Eddy said in consolation.
Slowly nodding and getting up from the driver's seat with the seagull, Davie offered, "Thanks," and then tossed the seagull out the door and into the air. It exploded into a dozen cooing white doves. Returning to the driver's seat, Davie muttered, "Doves are smarter than seagulls."
Eddie grinned, "Was that an angelic temper tantrum?"
Davie nodded and giggled, "Ask Timmy about seagulls sometime."
"I will!" Eddy giggled, "Don't worry, she gets better after the first meeting!"
As Eddy made his way to a seat, Davie announced "Okay, time to walk off all that food y'all ate! Next stop, Tin City! Cory, don't forget Timmy's tee-shirt!"
"Is there ANYONE that my little rat doesn't have wrapped around his tiny finger?" Cory giggled.
"Yeah, ME!" Eddy responded as he raised his hand.
"That'll last about thirty seconds after we get home!" Tracy giggled.
"Thirty-six!" Davie commented. "Most of that is air time for the pounce!"
"Whose turn is it to be the bookie?" Kyle yelled.
"Mine!" Karl responded. "The odds are 3:1 for Timmy to pull it off in less than twenty seconds. Place your bets! Standard rules, I'm accepting cookies, credits, and shineys!"
Karl was busy for the next minute, taking down everyone's bet. Even Steve placed a bid, guessing 12.5 seconds. Emmy was brought in as judge, with everyone agreeing his decision was final.
A few minutes later, Davie pulled the bus into the parking by Tin City. As the crew began to disembark, Doris stopped a the front. "You're coming too, Davie."
"Naw, it's okay. I can sit here and trade insults with Pablito." Davie replied with a smile.
"You can tell your little friend to join us too then, you're not staying in this stuffy bus."
Davie started to respond, when Pablito appeared between him and Doris. "Way to go, dweeb!" Pablito grumbled. "I was just finishing delivering some pervs to their new home, and I got a note from Saint Peter tellin' me you got us stuck taking a break. I thought I told ya to stop arguing with Clan grandmas, numbnuts!"
"Bite me, twerp!" Davie shot back. "Do you even own any clothes that don't have weapons attached so you don't scare the living?"
Pablito stuck his tongue out at Davie, before becoming fully solid, wearing camo surf shorts and a tee shirt that stated "I give the Devil nightmares".
"Nice!" Davie giggled as he also changed. His choice was a white speedo with gold trim, along with a white sleeveless shirt stating "I'm the GOOD brother!"
"Talk about false advertising!" Pablito laughed. "C'mon, I ain't been shopping in ages!"
"Davie AND Pablito shopping with us?" Cory muttered. "Nothing good can come from this, even if they are angels!"
"I heard that!" Davie giggled. "I'm tellin' Mikey!"
"He'll agree!" Cory, Sean, Mont, Bast, Kyle, and Tyler chorused.
"Shall we make it even better and get I-Cheya over too?" Pablito threatened, looking so put out that he was not being trusted to behave. Granted, he'd never given reason for any to believe he would, and had even actively done the opposite, but still! He didn't die and get wings and a halo for nothing! Sure, he had to be FORCED to show the damn things, but come on!
“Behave, or I’m calling Grandma Morrison!” Tracy threatened.
Pablito went into full 'cutie-mode' in the twinkling of an eye. His halo was so bright it put the sun to shame, and butter was not only not melting in his mouth, but was actually freezing and falling out in lego shaped bricks!
Cherubim and Seraphim suddenly appeared and started singing in a circle above the boy's head, while the music of heaven erased all other sounds for a moment.
"You know, they were believing me just on my butter trick, Boss... getting the Host to do that is just... oh, okay... you're right.... well, you're always right... dumb statement? Yeah... sorry, Boss... love you too!" Pablito smiled up into the heavens as the choir of angels around him vanished. "Sorry, when the Boss does things, he does things," he grinned at the rest. "I'll behave... as well as any of you bums!"
Feeling it was safest NOT to comment, Steve led the group towards the collection of dockside tin shacks that compromised the open mall. Just as they were about to enter, Steve held up his hand. “Okay guys, I know better than to try to keep you all together. Groups of three, and don’t buy the entire store on your first visit. Have fun, Kyle’ll yell for y’all when it’s time to go.”
The three females all quickly decided to travel together, Diane and Connie quickly realizing Doris would save them hours of browsing. Cory, Sean, Mont, Bast, Tracy, and Karl formed a mini-pack, deciding their safety required large numbers. Kyle and Tyler took charge of Carter, promising they’d keep him safe. Stevie and Dustin took Mitch and Jasper with them, the former pair fully planning on spoiling the latter. Adrian and Cody decided it would be fun hanging with Eddy, while Micco and Takota thought hanging with the pair of Angels could prove fun. Steve and Tony quickly vanished, hoping they were on the other side of the complex if the Clan decided to pull one of their normal stunts.
It was no surprise where Tyler talked his group into going first; he’d already spotted the Tin City Magic shop, and was excited to find some new tricks he could do without using his Mikyvis skills. Initially, the staff were concerned about three young boys browsing their stock, but Kyle picked up on it and showed them his Clan ID. Once they saw it, they warmed up to the three boys, answering questions and explaining the various difficulty levels.
The rest of the groups split off between the knick-knack shops and the clothing stores, comparing notes between shops when they randomly ran into each other. Overall everyone had fun, even the Angels grabbing some trinkets for souvenirs, after Micco promised them he would reserve them a bedroom at his new apartment. Once Steve and Tony finished their post-shopping inspection of the products of the Naples Winery, they signaled Kyle to gather the hoard before the dark clouds that had formed overhead let loose.
As the groups gathered, Steve let out an audible sigh of relief; he didn’t see any new faces. He did see plenty of smiles, and the mischievous look in Kyle, Tyler. and Carter’s eyes told him somebody was in for an interesting day.
The group was halfway across the parking lot when Pablito waved to a pair of twins. “Hey guys, you find those necklaces?”
“Yeah! Thanks!” the pair answered in unison.
“Can I see which ones you got?” Pablito asked innocently, causing the group to stop to see what he was up to.
“Sure!” the pair exclaimed as they broke away from their father and ran over to Pablito.
“Morris! Malcolm!” the father yelled, “Get your asses back he…”
He was unable to finish his last words, namely because he had a much more important matter to deal with. Pablito touched the shoulders of the twins as they arrived next to him, and milliseconds later a bolt of lightning streaked from the sky, hitting their father in the dead center of his head.
Pablito smiled, then addressed the two boys. “You see the two guys that look like twins? Those are your new daddies. Enjoy life, little brothers.”
“What in the Hell!” Cory exclaimed, while Tracy and Karl were recovering from being blindsided.
Sean just stared... and said "Wibble?"
Tony hollered, "Sweet Jesus!"
Sadly shaking his head, Steve muttered, "Another 30 seconds and we might've made it."
“And you say WE’RE bad!” Kyle and Tyler exclaimed in unison.
"Someone help the Historian. Of all the things that could have done it, Pablito managed it! Sean's Broke!" Steve laughed.
“I’m on it!” Davie giggled.
"No! Nope! Nada! Zip! I'm out, guys. That is just one thing, one step to far! Pab! You could at LEAST have slightly prepped us, yes? No. No you couldn't. So Wibble to the lot of you! I'm heading home to play power rangers with Joel. Wibble!" Sean said seriously, but everyone there saw the laughter behind his eyes. Shock, yes, but laughter.
'Mmm. Toasted pervert. Want nice Chianti to wash down. Thank you, Pablo,' I-Cheya sent as he appeared by golden angel sparkles and started snacking on the smoking body, a large bib tied around his neck and holding the largest Sehlat adapted knife and fork the clan had ever seen. 'Tender and sweet!'
Suddenly held between Morris and Malcolm was a white wolf pup with black feet, busy licking their faces (and making sure that the sight and sound of their now late father being feasted upon would in no way affect them).
Shaking his head, Pablito explained. “Mr. Crispy Critter over there poisoned his wife for the life insurance, and was planning on ‘losing’ his sons. They were slipped sleeping powder a few minutes ago in their drinks. I’ve handled the physical and mental stuff, the rest is up to Trace and Karl. Just be glad I protected all y’all’s ears! Knocking out that bastard made the whole trip worth it, thanks Grandma!”
“How you know I like medium rare?” I-Cheya huffed.
“On THAT note…” Tracy moaned, starting to recover, “Pablito, you’re stuck - YOU get to explain the new grandsons to Dad; there’s no way in Hell he’ll believe me!”
“Since you put it so nicely…” Pablito giggled. “I’m actually having fun with you guys, I think I’ll hang until y’all get home!”
“Dear Lord, what did we ever do for you to curse us like this?” Mont muttered with a cheshire cat grin.
“I love you too, puddy tat!” Pablito giggled. “You’re fun!”
Taking advantage of the fact Pablito was stuck in solid form temporarily, Mont and Bast pounced him and proceeded to give him a thorough tongue bath in the middle of the parking lot.
Steve looked up at the sky in exasperation, only to see the storm clouds breaking up. "I'll never get used to having angels hanging around!" he muttered before saying aloud "Okay guys, before you collect any more kids, hop on the bus! Mont, Bast, you can finish your revenge on the beach!"
It didn't take more than a couple of minutes for them to reach the beach parking near Naples Pier. Before anyone could exit the bus, Steve stood up and blocked the isle. "Listen up, you clowns!" Steve said loud enough to be heard in the back rows. "There are TWELVE empty seats on this bus. The empty seats are NOT a challenge! No matter what you may think, those seats do NOT need to be filled! Any of you who decide to do anything that reduces the available seats on this bus will spend the next year having to do all of their computer work on an unpatched version of Windows M.E.! Do I make myself clear?"
As expected, the reaction was quick and to the point; as the Clan boys started hissing and booing, they began throwing things. Before Steve totally comprehended what was happening, he found himself buried to his chin in stuffed eggs, stuffed tomatoes, and various sizes of plushie stuffed rocks. "Be glad they like you!" Tony giggled as he helped dig Steve out, tossing the stuffed toys off to the side in empty seats.
"I wonder where ... nevermind!" Steve started to ask, before noticing halos on four boys, none of which could be considered totally human anymore. "Okay, don't forget sunblock, guys - especially on the little ones. Have fun!"
"Yes, Sir!" Pablito smirked, saluting Steve as he made all the unused seats on the bus vanish.
"Smart-ass!" Steve chuckled as he turned and led the adults off the bus.
The adults turned to watch the expected mob exit, only to see something they never imagined. One at a time, each of the Clan boys was stopping at the bus exit, being fitted with white Speedos bearing the Clan logo by Kyle and Ty before getting coated with sunblock courtesy of their Guardian Angels. Even Connie was fitted with her own little one-piece girl appropriate speedo.
Once all the kids were properly outfitted for the beach, they gathered in a line with Cory taking point. Holding his fist in the air, Cory checked both sides of his line, then dropped his fist as he screamed "CHARRRGGGGEEEEEEE!"
"Look, the Gulf is trying to retreat from their advance!" Tony chuckled as they watched the kids advance on the surf. "I think they have it outnumbered, though."
"Another body of water falls to the Clan," Steve chuckled as the kids hit the waterline. "I think they're down to only lakes left now." he added. "They'll be fine, what do you say to going up on the pier and getting some refreshment while they work off the thousands of calories they've consumed today?"
"Shouldn't someone be nearby in case one of the little ones gets in trouble?" Doris asked.
Steve chuckled. "Doris, at least two of those 'little ones' could wipe out this entire beach without blinking. I can honestly say that both of my sons are more deadly now than they were when fully dressed, and I know that applies to most of the older kids as well. Between that, and the fact we hijacked two of their three Guardian Angels, they are safer now than in most of their natural lives."
Davie glanced around his charges and smiled. Eddy was busy teaching Carter to body surf, Connie had made friends with a few locals and was building a sand castle, her 'Uncle Pablito' helping the little ones with their project. Most of the rest of the group of kids were either involved in the beach volleyball games or playing with frisbees; even the two cat-boys had loosened up and were being carefree kids for once. Satisfied that his plans were working, the devious little angel turned his attention to the far end of the pier, a spot where at this very moment events were unfolding that even he had no control over.
Cory came up behind Davie, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Hey bro, you seen Cody?"
"Take a seat, and watch through my eyes." Davie ordered, his voice making the command unable to be ignored.
Cody, Adrian, Kyle, and Tyler thanked the shopkeeper as they turned with their new fishing poles to try out the fishing. Adrian was the only one who had ever fished from the Pier, and he was looking forward to teaching his buddies how much fun it could be.
They spotted an open spot three-quarters of the way down the pier, and quickly made their way over to it to claim it for themselves. The other patrons they passed smiled at the giggling boys, happy to see their excitement at sharing the experience of pier fishing. Adrian had just finished explaining to his friends how to make sure they didn't cross their lines as they reached 'their' spot, so they each picked a point along the rail as 'theirs'.
As Cory watched through Davie's eyes, he noticed a grey fog quickly hiding the entire outer half of the pier; a fog so thick that Cory couldn't make out a thing.
"What's happening?" Cory whispered, starting to panic.
"Destiny." Davie replied softly. "Destiny, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, not even our favorite Elf. This one comes from the Top, all we can do is hope."
"Oh, shit!" Cory muttered as he wrapped his arms around Davie, hoping that nothing would happen to his brothers who seemed to be caught up in whatever was happening.
"Remember, Ty," Cody giggled as they sorted out the bait, "You use the shrimp from the container, not the one in your Speedos!"
"Bite me, bro!" Tyler laughed as he pounced Cody and tried to tickle him. "You're just jealous!"
As Tyler knocked Cody to the deck, a glint of the sun in the clear blue sky reflecting off of something steel at the end of the pier registered in Cody's peripheral vision. At that particular millisecond, all four boys discovered an unintended consequence that came from the link Ezzy had set up with his boyfriends. Cody's mind registered one word, 'Knife', and pushed it across the link without conscious thought. The push didn't just go to Adrian, however; every Mikyvis on Alpha Prime heard Cody's voice in their heads, yelling "KNIFE!"
Suddenly, as Cory and Davie watched the impenetrable fog, streaks of static electricity began randomly criss-crossing the surface. "I know that pattern," Davie whispered, his panic barely beneath the surface of his voice. "Kyle just put on his Superman cape, and it looks like he gave Ty his spare."
"God help us." Cory muttered.
Finding themselves somehow suddenly future-blind, Kyle and Ty did what any other human eight-year-old would do... they panicked. Not fully aware of how they managed it, the two Mikyvis shifted into a pure Energy form and teleported themselves, along with Cody and Adrian, to the end of the pier where Cody had seen the glint.
The energy form only lasted long enough for them to appear at the end of the pier, then Tyler and Kyle found themselves once again solid. For the man blocking the view of the child between him and the rail this was a good thing, as the two Mikyvis boys and Adrian forcibly moved him out of the way. "He cut the kid!" Cody exclaimed as he caught the boy to keep him from falling over the edge of the pier.
Tyler looked over, and saw the boy's intestines clearly. "I got him, take out the trash!" he screamed as the boy was quickly enclosed in a time bubble, Tyler popping inside of it and trying to reverse the injury before it killed the young boy.
"Shit, this is getting serious!" Davie groaned as the fog turned into a pure white cloud.
"Getting?" Cory commented in a sarcastic tone.
"Yeah, getting;" Davie replied, "Michael and Gabriel just took up guard on the pier. Someone's in deep shit, they're dressed to give an armed escort to Judgement."
"Fuck!" Cory groaned.
The man that had been tackled was now wondering how in the Hell he was being restrained. There was no obvious restraints, yet for some reason none of his limbs would move. On top of that, he was being stared down by three boys whose eyes belied a much more mature anger than their small bodies should be capable of.
Tyler stepped out of the bubble. "York's sleeping until time for final judgement. I've got his testimony, I'll be right back." A second later, he had returned with an eleven year old boy. "Guys this is Yestan; he's York's big brother."
The man's eyes went wide at the sight of Tyler's companion. "Yeah, you'd better worry; I got him before your poison did, bastard!" Tyler growled.
"What happened to York?" Yestan asked.
"He's just sleeping now; I fixed him like I fixed you." Tyler replied bluntly. "Right now, we got trash to take out."
Realizing that his little brother was close to breaking one of the most important rules him and Kyle had set, Cody spoke up. "Mr. Short and Mr. Richardson, front and center."
The unexpected command tone in Cody's voice got through to both eight-year-olds, and they quickly complied. "Guys, I need the facts, no more and no less. Get the info; Kyle get your copy of Yestan and York. Adrian, should the Rat Pack be activated?"
"Yep; I hereby take command of this operation." Adrian sneered as a phasenmorph became visible on his arm. Looking down at the man on the deck, Adrian stated "This is a phasenmorph, the most technologically developed life-form on this planet. It is capable of frying you into ashes from 1000 yards away. Now the question you need to ask yourself is 'is it worth trying to escape?' You have a knife, I have a Phasenmorph. Do you feel lucky, punk?"
The man started to laugh at the possibility... until the knife laying on the deck less than a foot from his head became a puddle of molten metal. At that point, his most immediate concern became stopping the uncontrolled flow of urine from his bladder.
"Go ahead, punk, make my day!" Adrian ad-libbed as he made sure the man was well aware of where the 'morph was aimed.
The center of the white fog became less dense. Despite the distance, both could clearly hear what was being said, causing Davie to began softly sniggering. Rolling his eyes, Cory smirked, "When we get home, none of those four are allowed near the video collection ever again... especially the Dirty Harry flicks."
Davie giggled, "You missed KC in Hawaii. Add the Police Squad movies to the list."
While Adrian was busy terrorizing their prisoner, Cody was getting the reports from Kyle and Tyler. Once they were completed, Cody set his jaw. "Prep the new guys for what they're about to see." He turned towards the man and knelt next to his head. "I see that you're 'marked' as safe; I bet that cost you a lot of credits. Today's really not your day; as the Living representative on the Council of Elders I have the option of reviewing said marks. Upon review, I have determined that you have violated the restrictions placed on those who are marked." Cody reached over and touched the mark that only those who were in the know could see. "I hereby revoke your Mark." Cody declared as the skin under his finger blistered, causing the man to scream in pain. "You have been marked as an Undesirable." Cody stated as he stood up.
"What the FUCK!" Cory exclaimed in shock.
Davie giggled. "Calm down, big brother, your little brother's got a few extra protections. Brant's looking out for him; he put Cody on the Vampire Council of Elders. One of the perks of that is that Cody is now protected from and by every Government on Earth as well as all Moroi. One of the other perks is that he's given limited access to a couple of extras that the human mind can handle to do his job. He just used one of them, he is the only living non-Moroi human who can do what he just did; he had the gift of granting and revoking protection marks. Granting is subject to review by the Council, but revoking can be done by any Council member if any of a certain list of violations occur. Willfully causing the death of another Human is cause for immediate revocation, and if severe can cause the violator to be marked as undesirable to live among humans. I'm not sure what the violations are this time, but Cody just marked the guy for death."
"I'm gonna kill Brant just after I finish hugging him for protecting Cody." Cory growled.
"Wake up York," Cody ordered. Once he saw that York was safely cuddled against Yestan's side, Cody began. "Quay Smithton, you have been tried under the Federation Safe Haven Act and found guilty of attempted murder of your biological offspring York and Yestan. In addition, you have deprived them of the care of their mother by murdering your spouse Onora. It has been found that you attempted to poison your eldest son with Arsenic after forcibly raping him, then it was witnessed by Clan Short that you attempted a murder-suicide by slicing open your youngest son's intestinal cavity. Fortunately, Clan Short intervened before you could push him over the edge. Your sons will survive and will be assisted in their recovery by Clan Short; you are sentenced to death, sentence to be carried out immediately by those who can make you suffer as you attempted to make your youngest suffer."
Cody took two steps back, then tapped the commbadge he'd stuck to his swimsuit. "Rat 2 to Vampire, priority message."
"You rang, Rat 2" 'Vampire' sniggered in reply.
"Lunch is served, end of Naples Pier." Cody spat. "It lost it's Mark."
"Understood, on my way cute stuff." 'Vampire' replied quickly.
Thirty seconds later, Matthew appeared next to Cody. "What do we have here, Cody?"
"I'll let you look in my head, it'll be faster," Cody replied as he lowered his mental shields for Matthew.
Matthew nodded, then looked into Cody's head. Before he even finished, black shadows began swirling around him. "You did well this first time, the Council will back you fully." Matthew growled as he let his inner demons become visible to all. "I think it's time to deliver his sentence; but I'm adding to it. He shall feel the agony of both sons as he is sent off this Earth."
Matthew turned to the boys watching with wide eyes; even the preparation from Kyle and Tyler wasn't totally sufficient to explain the sight in front of them. "You can relax, little ones, you are protected by a Council member. None can touch you, not even myself, as he has claimed you as his family even if he hasn't spoke it yet. All I ask of you is to let me see what it did to you so that it knows the pain it caused as it goes into the afterlife. I shall protect you from reliving it yourself."
Both boys nodded, neither quite sure if they could speak.
Matthew gently retrieved the information he needed, then turned to their soon-to-be-former father. "Hello, Dinner, so nice to meat you! I'm not really sorry to tell you that you'll not be meeting Dessert."
"I really need to talk to Matthew about his tableside manners!" Cory groaned. "That pun was bad!"
Davie winced as he heard Matthew's 'dinner' give his first scream. "I'm still being blocked; even though we can watch, Destiny is still blank on the pier. By the way, HOW can you watch Matthew feed?"
"Easy," Cory replied, "I know Matthew. Despite what he thinks about himself, he wouldn't even think of feeding on an innocent. In fact, going by the way he's stretching this out, I'm not sure I want to know what info my little brother has in his head. I'm gonna find out anyway, I'm not letting him suffer like I did after my first trial."
Once Matthew finished, he left, taking the body to deposit at the Sehlat food bank. Looking around. Cody realized that nobody else on the pier was moving besides themselves. "Kyle, Ty? Did either of you do a bubble on us?"
"Nope," both boys stated. "In fact, it's not ours at all!" Kyle added, "we can't control it!"
"That's because it's not a normal one," Pablito stated as he appeared in their midst. "I got stuck explaining it to ya, since Davie's taking Cory to get his brain cell tuned after watching y'all."
"Watch it Runt, I know your supervisor!" Cody shot back.
"Yeah, I'm scared!" Pablito giggled. "Anyway, you guys were set up to see if you were really able to follow your hearts like that blond nutcase you call a Patriarch. Y'all made me proud; you not only did what the Boss was hoping you'd do, but you totally fucked with the Book of Life while you were at it! You did awesome, it's still trying to recover from y'all's screwing it up! Here's the deal; Cody, you opened your big mouth, now you and Adrian have a pair of sons. This should be fun, since one of them is older than his Pop! Kyle and Ty, you two goofballs just used something that none of your nutzoid kids will ever be able to do; since the two of you crossed over the way you did, your heads still have memory of how to go into energy form. That means that if you really concentrate, you can do it yourself. After the Book recovers from the dry ass screwing you gave it, Time will go back to normal. Everyone on the pier is gonna think that all six of you were together all along, and they'll know nothing about the shitstorm you just pulled off!"
"Who are you?" Yestan asked sharply.
"I'm Pablito, one of your Guardian Angels."
"Dang, if you're an angel, I'd hate ta see a demon!" York giggled.
"Dammit, who corrupted him ALREADY!" Pablito whined.
'The eyes of a child only see truth!' a voice stated out of thin air.
"Kiss my ass, Mikey!" Pablito chuckled.
'Grow one!' Mikey's voice answered back.
"And who is THAT voice?" Yestan asked Cody.
"That's Saint Mikey," Cody replied, "or you can just call him Uncle Mikey, he likes that. He's my dead big brother, and the head Guardian Angel of our three known Guardian Angels. He'll probably say 'Hi' after we get out of public."
"You'll get used to it!" Adrian giggled. "I can't wait to see Dad's face when he finds out I made him a Grandpa again! Stevie's gonna laugh his butt off!"
"You gonna tell them who their Grandpas are, or can we have the fun?" Kyle giggled.
"Go for it, bro!" Adrian replied with a grin.
With a huge grin, Kyle stated "Well, one of your Grandpas is THE Steve Jobs, and the other is Mr. Spock!"
"Plus Kyle and I are both uncles and Grandpas, that is if your other Dad shows up soon... in fact, why wait!" Tyler added.
"DANG IT! POP! STOP DOIN' THAT!" Ezra yelled as he suddenly appeared between Adrian and Cody. "Can't you at least WARN me?" he added with a whine.
"NO!" Kyle and Ty giggled in unison.
"Stop whining and meet your sons already!" Kyle giggled.
"Not until I check my boyfriends, the last thing I heard was Cody yelling Knife, then everything went blank. He's had every one of us kids looking for him all over creation, we all heard him, even Peter and Galen!"
"Interesting!" Kyle said with a straight face, raising his eyebrow in a really good imitation of Poppa Spock.
"They're fine, Rainbow Brat!" Pablito interjected, "they weren't the ones in danger. Now get your multicolored ass over there to meet your sons before I do it for you!"
Ezra rolled his eyes, but took Pablito at his word. "Hey Guys, I'm your other Dad, Ezra. I'm like my dad and Pop; Pop says he explained us to you." Ezzy gave Yestan a hug first, then York. Noticing something didn't feel right, Ezzy began to index York's recent past. "Umm, Pop? Is there a reason you didn't restart York's aging?"
"I did!" Tyler replied, "I even double checked, just like I told you guys to do."
"Me too," Kyle added. "He's aging normally!"
Before it turned into an argument, Pablito stepped in. "About fuckin' time! I've been standing here with my thumb up my ass waiting for SOMEONE to notice so I can do something about it! NOW! A lesson for you mortal and semi-immortal types; don't trust Time if the Boss is around; He's got a freaky sense of humor. You can't check Time in a bubble in a bubble, it don't work and does fucked up things. Ezzy can see it since he wasn't here; I wasn't allowed to do anything until one of you noticed it so you could learn the lesson." Pablito walked over to York, placing his hand on York's head. "Timus Unfuckus!" Pablito giggled as a white glow flashed around York. "Okay, it's been real, I'm outta here! See ya on the beach!" he added before vanishing.
"Are you SURE he's an Angel?" York giggled.
"Yes, I'm just not sure how!" Ezra giggled. "Welcome to the family guys; I've gotta run though because I'm not really supposed to be here! Catch a few fish for me, okay?"
"Okay!" York and Yestan replied in unison. "See ya at home!"
Almost instantly after Ezzy vanished, all six boys found themselves at the rail, four of them in the exact same positions they had been in when Cody saw the glint. York and Yestan were now clothed in the Speedo uniform, and somehow they had new fishing rods.
"Uncle Ty, stop picking on Dad!" York exclaimed as he jumped in to protect his new Dad from the tickling Mikyvis.
Rolling his eyes, Yestan looked over at Adrian. "Pop, can we start fishing while the clowns play?"
"I'm in!" Kyle giggled. "Which end does the hook go on again?"
"I'll help ya, Uncle Kyle," Yestan giggled. "We gotta get you more kid-time!"
"All ya gotta do is ask!" Kyle replied.
The other three finished their wrestling match, and rejoined the group. York paired off with Tyler, while Cody and Adrian worked together. Soon all six had lines over the side, giggling and joking with each other as they bonded.
Steve smiled as he watched the worn-out kids trudge their way onto the bus. Even Pablito seemed to be dragging some, but the smile on his face showed how much he had appreciated the break. The final group to arrive in the parking lot were the fishermen from the pier, with Cody and Yestan bravely trying to lug an obviously heavy cooler.
"Hey Tony, I think our boys need a hand, it looks like we're having fish for dinner!" Steve quipped as he started towards them.
Tony quickly joined him, asking as they got closer "Where'd the extra two kids come from?"
"I'm sure we'll find out soon enough," Steve chuckled. "I'm hoping they're just friends."
"Fat chance!" Tony laughed.
They met the boys just a few feet inside the parking area, where they had sat the cooler down to rest. "You guys have fun?" Steve asked.
"YEAH!" Kyle gushed, "I caught a fish that was almost as big as me and it took forever to get it up on the pier but Cody helped me and we got it up and we even got pictures from onea the other fishermen!"
'I wish I could have filmed that for Teri!' Steve thought to himself. "That's awesome Kyle; I'm glad you had a blast!"
'I caught it on AngelVision for ya, Uncle Steve!' Davie's voice giggled in Steve's head. 'Mikey's getting it transferred to a DVD for Momma Teri right now!'
Steve chuckled mentally, sure that Teri was going to love it. "We'll help with the cooler, guys; it looks like you all deserve a rest."
"Umm, Dad?" Adrian asked shyly.
"I know that tone," Steve stated thoughtfully; "the last time you used it, you got caught using Bill's computer trying to change some of his employee's homepages to 'Networking for Dummies'. Did you try that AGAIN?"
"No!" Adrian giggled, "This time Tracy did it, and it's a full desktop redirect!" After a few seconds, Adrian realized what he'd just said, and mumbled "I mean... no way, Dad, I'd NEVER try that again!"
"Okay, squirt, just what has my youngest terror done this time, and are your two new blond friends somehow involved?" Steve asked knowingly.
Deciding to spill his guts before chickening out, Adrian rambled "This is York and his big brother Yestan and me, Cody, and Ezzy adopted them so they are our sons now because their father tried to kill them and Pablito and his Boss helped us help them."
"Okay!" Steve replied as he ignored Tony's chuckles. "What I got out of that is I have two new grandchildren, and I'm allowed to blame Pablito for ignoring my request not to add more kids!"
"Relax, Munchkin!" Steve chuckled as he pulled Adrian into a hug. "I've been waiting for this day since the minute you went off for training. I knew that you'd find someone sooner or later that you'd want to give a good life to. Why don't you and the rest of your Rat Pack work with the AIs to get your son's bedrooms set up in all three of their homes while Tony and I welcome them into the family?"
"What about Kyle and Ty?" Adrian asked with a tilt of his head.
"It's obvious they're part of the Rat Pack!" Tony smiled. "All four of you spent the entire day together, and even Tracy commented that it was good seeing all four of his favorite rats having fun for a change."
Adrian broke loose from Steve's hug as he twisted around and locked eyes with Cody. After a few seconds, they both smiled then turned to Kyle and Tyler.
Seriously, Cody said "Trace calls us his Rat Pack because we are special brothers to him. We think you're really special brothers too, and we want you guys to officially be part of the Rat Pack."
"Please?" Adrian added. "I know Tracy won't get mad; he loves you guys as much as we do!"
Both Kyle and Tyler were speechless, tears of joy flowing down their smiling faces. Without prompting, Adrian and Cody had just uncovered the one desire both boys had that less than ten people Clan-wide knew was buried in their multi-dimensional heads. Both boys longed to be accepted into a group their own age, a group that accepted them for reasons other than being Clan, Mikyvis, or famous. With the exception of the break for the rescue, the beach visit had been the longest stretch of time in a long while that Kyle and Tyler were able to just be normal eight-year-olds, learning something new naturally while having fun with friends near their own age.
Unable to reply vocally, Kyle and Tyler replied by coming over and wrapping their arms around their nearest fellow 'Rat'. Adrian and Cody guided their brothers over to the cooler, where they managed somehow to engage in a four-way cuddle.
Satisfied that things were under control, Steve signaled to Tony to keep an eye on the Rats while he welcomed his new grandsons. After a quick glance at their faces, Steve guided them to a nearby bench at the edge of the parking lot. Looking into their pale green eyes, he saw something that made his stomach tighten; the inner pain of the seriously abused that he'd seen so many times while visiting Headquarters. As he sat down, he guided Yestan to cuddle under his arm as he pulled the nine-year-old York onto his lap. "You both need Grandpa cuddles badly, but it looks like York needs them the worst." Steve explained, getting an acknowledging nod from Yestan.
Pulling York against his chest, Steve murmured "It's okay little guy, Grandpa Steve's here to protect you. Tell me all about it; if you don't let it out it'll eat you up inside. Your Uncle Kyle's had to learn that the hard way."
York's eyes went wide at the mention of Kyle, the boy he'd put on a pedestal right next to Tyler for saving his life since Kyle was the reason Tyler could save him. "You promise you won't be mad at me?"
"I can never be mad about something you couldn't control." Steve said sincerely. "I won't be mad at you, I promise. I might get mad about what was done to you, though."
"Okay." York replied softly. "Last week, Momma didn't come home. Daddy Cody says that our old father killed her, an' I believe him. Our old father brought us on vacation after she vanished. The last couple'a nights he was wrestlin' with Yestie after I went to bed; he'd do it until Yestie cried really bad, and they made so much noise it woke me up. He got really mad at me last night when I asked him why Yestie was cryin', but this mornin' he brought me here to go fishin'. He said Yestie wasn't feelin' too good, so he dropped me off and went back to the hotel. I was just standin' there waitin' for fish; nobody told me ya needed to put shrimps on the hook. our father came up behind me, he hugged me, said hi, then put his hand over my mouth an' used a knife or sumthin to cut my belly open. I felt really funny, then Uncle Ty woke me up and my belly was all better again."
"He tried poisoning me." Yestan added. "You can figure out the rest I think."
"What happened to your... father?" Steve asked, switching back and forth from controlling his anger to keeping the contents in his stomach, barely managing either.
"A nice Vampire called Matthew showed up even though it was daytime and had him for lunch." York answered factually.
Yestan grinned, "He did complain about getting some collar bone stuck between his teeth, though. Said a few choice words."
"Then our father's face appeared in that cool, scary cloak thing that the nice vampire made appear on him, and he wuz screaming on it." York added.
"It was awesome. Almost made what happened seem worth it for him to be there forever!" Yestan sighed happily.
"You guys had quite an honor; not many people get to see Matthew at work and live to tell about it." Steve said with a smile. "You've made your way onto a very special list, the list of those he trusts."
A bare second later and a pale white lad in a pair of black speedos with red, ominous looking highlights in the pattern of spilt blood appear behind them all. He was rubbing something into his skin, being very careful not to dislodge a silver wrist band he had on. "Ahh... I need a bit of sun... not that it'll do much. Ahha! My two new favourite yummies! Wait... it's been three hours for me... damnit, Tyler! They haven't had a chance to miss my sexiness yet!"
York burst out laughing and hugged himself around Matthew's waist. "Why you not burning up, Uncle Nice Vampire?"
"Cos even the sun won't mess with me, Lickable. I'm super awesome, didn't you know? Now... come here," Vampire cooed as he settled himself onto the bench next to Yestan. York was pulled up onto his lap and he looped an arm around the elder brother. "If you have anything else you want to say to your even more super awesome grandpa (you have to tease him 'bout being old and feeble, you know!)" he added with a hiss, "if you want to tell him anything more, anything deeper than what you just did, you can. I know, and I know he'll accept and understand. Cool?"
"Yeah!" both boys giggled, Matthew having took their minds off the last few days.
"I hope that asshole didn't give you indigestion, Matthew!" Steve quipped as he joined them and put an arm over Matthew's shoulder.
The British lad burped softly, then said politely, "'scus me, good sirs. No, Unk. He didn't. He's not enjoying his room in hell, from what I've heard, and he settled into my system fairly nicely. Took a bit to beat down his impulses, sick mother... sorry. Anyhoo... I got a chance to have a break so I pestered our impish Ty to get me here..."
He held out his hand and shadows bled out and left behind two small golden rings. "And I've got prezzies for these two..." he grinned, winking at Steve.
"Go for it, today's their special day!" Steve replied with a knowing smile.
The two boys were staring at the rings, and frankly bursting to know what they were for, and how they got there. Matthew made them hover in the air for a moment and took the slightly larger one. He reached and held Yestan's right hand and placed the ring to the tip of his middle finger.
"Yestan, do you swear to never use this ring or what it gives for personal gain? To always be ready to defend your kid bro and the rest of your family? To rejoice in the life you have been given back and to keep this in trust all your days?" Matthew asked the boy softly, seriously.
"Yes, Sir." Yestan replied seriously.
Vampire slid the ring on fully, and there was a slight hiss from Yestan as the ring bonded to him. Then Matthew took the other and, with his other hand wrapped around York's middle as the boy sat on his lap in wonder, placed it by his own middle finger on the right hand. "York, do you also swear to never use this for gaming around and pranks, to be there to help your brother in all things, to live, love and laugh in life, and keep the ring safe forever?"
"Yeppers Uncle Vampie!" York giggled.
Then he yelped slightly as the ring bonded itself to him as well.
"You are both special, in that you came close to death yet death didn't come close to you. These rings were made by the Old Lord of Shadows, Comicality, in ages past. None there were who could wear them, for he knew not for whom they were made. I felt it in you when I first saw you. You are day-walkers. You have the Dark Gift without it's Darkness. And now you are bonded to the New Lord of Shadows and his Beloved. To Brant... and to me."
Matthew then stood and placed York to his feet, keeping one hand in his. He held out his other towards Yestan and the lad got up quickly and took it. "Now... concentrate... let the rings guide you to what is within you, to what has been there always... to what had been passed down, from father to daughter, mother to son, for six thousand years... from Mariala, the one who gave birth as she was turned... You shall see... you shall know... you shall feel..."
Steve was having kittens, for shadows were bleeding from all three, now. The others standing near were silent as the grave, and the two boy's new dads were having puppies, not kittens! Even Ezra, who had popped in at Adrian's request, was shocked, his tongue rolling down his front to land at his feet!
Yestan and York opened their eyes, and they were glowing... not red in a thirst for blood... but green.
"I give you the first two Vampire 'Day' names... I call you, Yestan: Hapus. Happy. And you, my little York... I call you: Gwenu - Smiling. May you both be happy and joyful in the use of your gifts, may they bring you peace and strength in times of need. And when the time comes, pass them on to your children... For they will multiply. The race that should have been has now appeared. The Golau-Plentyn have come. The Light Blood!"