Dixon and Jessie walked into a room with dark paneling like so many others in Wiggins House. There was a fireplace on one wall with a large comfortable looking leather covered sofa in front of it. On each side of the fireplace were built in bookshelves that Dixon stared at oddly.
"What is it, Dixie?" Jessie asked. "Is there porn after all?"
"No," Dixon scolded with a giggle. "It's just… there's something about the books… something that I can almost remember but not quite."
"Well, here's the proof that you were in here," Jessie announced. "Hmmm, you had a cute butt back then too."
"What are you talking about?" Dixon asked as he walked over to the side table where Jessie was standing. "OH MY GOD! That picture has to be burned," he squealed as he saw a baby picture of himself, naked on the rug in front of the fireplace in that very room.
"No you don't," Jessie protested snatching the picture up quickly before Dixon could. "It's mine now. I have been wanting a nudey picture of my Dixie Pixie, and now I have one."
"You're not just a silver tongued devil, you're a pervert too," Dixon complained but he was also blushing and grinning happily. Jessie never being able to resist that look on his boyfriend's face gently grabbed Dixon by the shoulders and kissed him one more time. When they finally separated, they went back to looking around the room.
The walls had many pictures of family members that the boys recognized from having seen them in pictures in other parts of the house. There were also a lot that showed great grandpa with a very handsome, slightly younger man, who Dixon recognized as Charles from the picture Mamee had shown him. Not only did these photos show off that the two men had enjoyed a long relationship, but that they had several celebrity friends over the years as well. Dixon and Jessie were amazed to find pictures of Daniel and Charles with famous artists, movie stars, and influential people.
There were two doors out of the room, not counting the one they had walked in. The first one led to what they assumed was Daniel's room. It had a huge four post bed with curtains around it, as if it were a prop out of a movie of Dickens' Christmas Carol. The pictures in this room were all of Charles alone. While there were none that would actually count as porn, there were some nudes. One in particular caught both boys' eyes. It showed a young Charles asleep on his stomach with the bed covers tossed aside. It wasn't the exposed butt that was the focus of the photo, though. Central to the image was the soft smile and overall totally peaceful expression on his face.
"That's what you look like when you sleep," Jessie murmured softly. "It's easy to tell they really loved each other."
There was a large private bathroom in that room as well as a walk in closet. Inside the closet was a door that opened into the other bedroom. Where Daniel's room had looked like it was a scene from a Charles Dickens' novel, Charles' room was just the opposite. Daniel's bedroom had a very formal feel to it, except for the photography on the walls. Charles' room was mid-century modern style with bright vivid colors on the walls. Both boys were blushing as they realized that while not pornographic, a lot more of the pictures in this room were artistic nudes with clearly erotic themes.
"I really like this furniture better than the stuff in the other bedroom," Jessie observed. Dixon made no response, though. When Jessie turned to look at him, he saw Dixon staring at a photo beside the bed. In the photo, Dixon's great grandfather was grinning like a little boy and holding the controller for a model railroad set that seemed to wrap all around him. "Sweet, grandpa liked train sets," Jessie grinned.
"I remember, Poppop!" Dixon suddenly blurted and ran back into the sitting room. Jessie followed him and found his boyfriend staring once again at the bookshelf to the left of the fireplace. "Help me look, Jessie. One of these isn't a real book." The two boys scanned the shelves closely, reaching out and wiggling the books occasionally.
"Dixie, I think I got it," Jessie announced. "All the other books here seem to be novels or poetry. This one is the only nonfiction book I have seen; it's about trains."
"That's it," Dixon whispered excitedly. He pulled at the book and soft whoosh sound escaped as the bookshelf swung aside to reveal a staircase going up into the attic of the old house. The walls on each side of the stairs were a painted mural of hills which became mountains as the viewer neared the top of the stairs. Dixon and Jessie walked up through the opening into an enormous room in the attic filled with the biggest model train set they had ever seen.
"Wow!" Jessie gasped.
"Poppop brought me up here," Dixon whispered. "I remember this."
"Dixon, I know this room is really special to you and your memories of your great grandfather," Jessie began.
"Way ahead of you, Jess," Dixon interrupted him. "I won't mind at all sharing this room with the rest of the family. I can't wait to see the twins' faces when they see this."
"As long as they don't go into Charles' room until we get those pictures out of it," Jessie told him.
"Good point," Dixon agreed. "Poppop's room either. We just got the boys today; I am so not ready for the sex talk yet. I'm still learning myself."
"Maybe we can study together later?" Jessie asked with a sultry tease in his voice. He giggled and kissed his lover when Dixie's face went stop sign red despite the ear to ear excited grin he wore.
While Jessie and Dixon had been checking out the rooms they would be moving into, the rest of the family had finished the tour of the house. After seeing where everyone would be settling, and most of the public areas of the house, the twins had asked to see outside. Pet and Melvin had gone back to the butler's pantry to discuss what needed to be done to make Zemal's room more accessible. Huey led the tour of the grounds showing all the new arrivals where the tennis/basketball court was, and where the outdoor pool was, and then he got to the corner of the yard where the grass was dead near the old smokehouse.
"This dead patch of grass is where I am planning to put in a meditation labyrinth, and Mamee had the idea of rebuilding the smokehouse as a small family chapel to honor and remember those who aren't physically in our lives anymore," he told the guys who were standing around him. "Dixon and Jessie have said they want to help build it, and so did Jason and Philip. Jessie and Jason plan to do it in memory of their parents, and Dixon in memory of his parents. I'm going to be honoring my Grandpapa. Philip said he wanted to remember his best friend from elementary school that died of cancer when they were in junior high."
"Could we help too?" Etienne asked hopefully.
"We could ‘member our mama," Emile added.
"I want to help too," Daniel said. "I would do it in honor of Bethany's mother."
"Me too," David agreed. "For me it would be Xander and Xandra's memorial," he added quietly.
"Maybe an old queen could help out a little bit now and then?" Everyone turned to see Auntie René standing nearby, still holding the baseball in his hand. "Guidry, he give me this ball a second time to told me how he felt. I want to did this so he can know how I felt about him." The twins walked over and hugged their dear auntie tightly around the knees, as they sniffled a little. René reached down and picked them both up, hugging them back.
"Tanté René!" they squealed happily. "You pick us up?"
"I can did a lot more now that I ain't so bad sick, my little popsicle babies," René smiled at them. He then frowned a little. "You bébés is getting cold out here. We gonna had to get used to dis here weather now we way up north."
"Tanté René, is we Yankees now?" Emile asked in horror.
"No, no, mon petit ange," René told them. "We still in the land of Dixie."
"We know dat, Tanté René," Etienne huffed impatiently. "We at Daddy's house, and dat his name." The little boy looked sad for a moment and then sighed dramatically. "I could be a Yankee if Daddy and Poppa is Yankees." His wrinkled little nose belied the fact that he considered the idea as appealing as taking bitter medicine when one is sick. It would be endured to please the ones he loved.
"I am no such thing," Dixon told his sons as he and Jessie walked up to them. "But, my sweet boys, some of the families we have in Clan Short are from way up north. They are truly wonderful people, though, and we would never want to hurt their feelings by calling them a name, would we?"
"No, Daddy, we not want to hurt nobody's feelings," the boys agreed.
"Now we have a surprise to share with all of you," Jessie announced. "We want to show you the rooms where our little family will be living, and there is a very special room there we will share with the whole family."
It didn't take very long to get the family settled into their rooms once they finally got chased out of the train room by Aunt Pet, since several of the new members had nothing to bring in with them. The next morning, Dixon shared some of his clothes with his new identical triplet brothers so that they all could go shopping. They went to the same mall that they had gone to when Dixon and Jessie were first shopping with Mamee. This time, though, Mamee and Auntie René went off together, and the boys all did their shopping in a group. It took a little extra time to shop with Daniel and David since they were amazed by the whole concept of the mall to start with. Apparently in their worlds, shopping like this had never existed, or if it had, they had never seen or experienced it. The next delay was when the Popsicle twins found the toy store. While they were in there, Mamee had reappeared to check on them. She also mentioned something about Auntie René having dubious taste in shopping companions. Dixon looked out into the mall and saw Auntie René walking by and laughing at something the old man beside him had said.
"I told him that Osgood Fielding was a dirty old man, but would René listen to me? Oh no. Went and encouraged the degenerate. I wash my hands of it; let them shop all they want. I will help the rest of my family," Mamee was mumbling. She gladly took over with the twins, so that Huey, Jessie, and Dixon could take Daniel and David with them. "Don't forget to stop by the formal shop, boys. Daniel and David will need tuxedos, and the rest of you should pick yours up."
The tuxedo shop teen looked up and grinned from ear to ear as the group of boys walked in the door. "I have heard of seeing double but now I'm seeing triple. Whatever I took, I hope I can get some more of it." He walked around the counter and grabbed Huey's hand. "Come on sexy, your tux is ready for you to try on. I think we'll save the triple scoop of vanilla for dessert."
"What is he talking about?" Daniel asked Dixon and Jessie.
"You may not want to know," Jessie told him honestly.
"Oh I may like this store," David grinned. When the other boys looked at him blankly he shrugged. "What? I'm single, and not completely straight."
"You were right, Jess, I don't think I want to know," Daniel groaned as he rolled his eyes.
After they spent what Dixon, David, and Daniel all thought was an enormous fortune on new clothes for them, their children, and Auntie René, they also went and got costumes for Halloween that night, because no one wanted the twins to miss out on the fun of trick or treating.
There was a good bit of laughter at Dixon's expense when the clerk at the costume store suggested he get a Frankenstein costume. The poor sales girl couldn't understand what everyone thought was so funny or why Dixon was so red. No one was surprised that Zemal had opted for a smurf costume.
Jessie held up a pair of teddy bear costumes for the twins and they nodded, but Dixon noticed that they didn't seem all that excited about it. He followed them around the store for a moment and saw them stop at a rack. The twins were staring at a particular set of costumes when Dixon approached them.
"Is that the costumes you want?" he asked as he knelt down and hugged them.
"No," Emile replied sadly as he held his brother's hand. "We couldn't had dem. One of dem is a girl costume."
"But is that what you want?" Dixon pressed. When the boys finally did respond it was by nodding their little heads so slightly that he almost missed it. "So who is going to be WilyKit and who is going to be WilyKat?"
"We can had dem?" Etienne asked wide-eyed.
"Enny, he want to be Kit, and I get to be Kat," Emile said excitedly.
"Daddy, you really let me wear dis costume?" Etienne questioned nervously.
"Etienne, you are my son now, and you will be from now on," Dixon answered as he pulled the little boy onto his lap. "That means that I love you very, very much just the way you are. If you want that costume, then that is the costume you get. Just like I would never tell Auntie René that he can't dress as Mae West for Halloween, whoever that is."
"I love you, Daddy," Etienne squealed and wrapped his arms around Dixon's neck nearly choking him.
"Remind me when we get home and I will show you guys some pictures of some friends of ours," Dixon told his popsicle boys. "They are called G-cats. I think you may like them. Your uncle Huey sure did," he added with a giggle.
The following morning, the guys started working, both in their official capacity as the Intel Field Services Division of Clan Short and unofficially as landscapers and builders. The adults were very proud of the whole family of guys of all ages for their work on the memorial garden and chapel. That morning, before the guys started working, they had sat around the breakfast table and Jessie had talked about his mom. The boys had decided that they would dedicate each work day on the project to one of the people they were honoring with the project. Going on that idea, they chose to spend a few minutes at breakfast each day sharing their memories and talking about the person that was being honored that day.
Pet wiped a tear as she remembered sweet little Jessie telling them all that he had blamed himself for his parents deaths until it had been revealed that the whole thing had been set up by the crooked police department. Yes, the murderer had used Jessie's naughty online activity as a way into the house, but his parents would have been killed some other way if that hadn't happened. Pet was still feeling very emotional over all the horrors her family of boys had been through when the clan computer phone screen thing that the boys had insisted on putting in the kitchen made a noise. She thought for a second trying to remember what Huey and Zemal had told her about how it worked, and then answered it.
"Family Clan Short Intel Field Services, Aunt Pet speaking."
"Hi, Aunt Pet," the smiling youngster answered. "I was just calling to let you guys know that we are planning to revive Doug in a little while. I wanted to know if anyone from the family wants to be here for that."
"I'm sure Jessie, Dixon, and Huey will want to be there," Pet replied. "Let me call them in." Moments later all the boys were crowded around the screen.
"Of course we want to be there," Jessie announced. "Give us a couple of minutes to get cleaned up, and we will be right there." The boys started for the door into the rest of the house but were stopped in their tracks, literally, by Pet.
"HOLD IT!" she yelled out. "I know you bunch of walking dirt clods don't think you are traipsing through my clean house looking like a bunch of wild pigs that been rooting around in the mud. Not one step out of this kitchen in those filthy clothes, not a one of you."
"But Aunt Pet," David whined.
"I better see butts, not hear ‘em."
"What??" Daniel squeaked.
"You heard me," Pet snapped. "Strip! You all better drop them dirty clothes before I get my wooden spoon after your hard heads." JB, Layton, Jason, and Philip started giggling watching the younger boys stripping in the kitchen. "You better quit laughing and start peeling," Pet ordered as she waved her weapon at the older boys too.
"Aunt Pet!" Jason gasped. "We can't…"
"Yes you can and you better," Pet cut him off. "I been married twice now and gave birth to two children, one of which was a boy. You ain't got nothing down there I ain't done seen before, and I guarantee it ain't nothing between none of your legs that gonna make me giggly or googoo eyed," she added with a wave of the dreaded wooden spoon.
"YES'M! YES'M!" JB blurted quickly and practically ripped his shirt to get it off quicker.
"I bet she won't make Auntie René do this," Layton whispered. "OWW!!" he yelled and rubbed the back of his head where she had hit him with the spoon.
"I ain't deaf, you know," Pet told them.
"Beside dat, she ain't had to told me," Auntie René said as he walked out of the laundry room wearing a floor length fuzzy purple bath robe, and carrying two naked popsicle boys. "I had sense enough to brought dis down wid me from my room dis morning, afore we got to work in de yard."
"Why didn't we think of that?" Philip asked no one in particular.
"I often wondered that myself." Philip turned to see his mother standing in the doorway from the hall. He and all the other boys quickly covered themselves with their hands and blushed furiously. "I suggest you all get moving, though. Priscilla and Annie Mae should be here in a minute or two." The boys all squealed and ran from the room.
"It's good to see you again, Miz Libby," Pet smiled. "Let me get these young'uns dirty clothes gathered up and I'll make you some coffee."
"It's just plain Libby, and I should be making you the coffee, Pet," Libby smiled. "I don't know how you keep up with this place without a family in it, but adding in all of those boys…. You should get a medal of honor."
"The smiles on their faces, knowing they are all safe and loved now, that's all the prize I need," Pet told her.
Libby bent to help collect the piles of dirty clothes. "Mercy me, I never did understand how men and boys can find so much dirt in the world."
"I know that feeling," Pet agreed. "Zora is as tomboy as a girl can get, and she still never got as dirty as Huey," she added. "It sure messes up that theory that gay boys are supposed to be neat and clean."
"Isn't that the truth," Libby added with a giggle. "I swear I didn't know what Philip looked like clean until he started on the swim team."
The two women continued to chat as they carried the collected dirty clothing into the adjacent laundry room. When they came back out, they found Annie Mae and Margie already working on pastries and coffee. Priscilla was setting up a tray of things to take back to the downstairs office.
"It's times like this I feel most sorry for Amee," Annie Mae told them all. "She never did care none about all that business talk, but it can't be helped."
"Oh yes it can," Mamee announced as she walked into the kitchen grinning. "Dixon told me what's happening at the hospital, so I'm going with them. Daniel's going to be taking my place with Donny and Sonny. He says he wants to learn the family businesses."
"Mamee, who is Daniel?" Priscilla asked.
"What's going on at what hospital?" Annie Mae questioned.
"I'll fill you all in," Pet assured everyone.
"Good luck with that," Mamee with a frown towards Annie Mae, as she turned and left the room. Her oldest and closest friend had made her views on Doug perfectly clear through the years, but Mamee still held out the hope that if she and Doug were reunited face to face, perhaps the old woman would be able to work through the grief and pain she had been carrying since her late childhood.
"Is Priscilla in here?" David asked from the doorway. "Dixon sent me to talk to her about working with us for the clan."
"Dixon, what are you talking about?" Priscilla asked.
"I'm David, not Dixon," the boy answered. "I guess I'm going to hear that a lot now that I'm an identical triplet. Dixie is on his way to the hospital with Mamee and Jessie and Huey." He turned to go and then turned back into the room full of women with his best and brightest grin. "Is there any chance I could talk you wonderful loving caring sensitive motherly type women into babysitting Bethany? Lije and the Popsicle twins are up in the train room. That leaves me refereeing between Zemal and Nate, and I can't watch that many babies at once."
"Bethany? Popsicle twins? Zemal?" Priscilla questioned. "And what's a train room?"
"You ask as many questions as… someone else I used to know, and don't like," David said in a clearly unfriendly tone.
"Well maybe if you answered some of my questions, I wouldn't have as many to ask," Priscilla asked. "Now stop lying and tell me what you are talking about, Dixon."
"I am NOT lying," David growled, "and I told you I am not Dixon." He visibly shook with anger before making obvious efforts to calm down. "Ok, fine. Bethany is Daniel's daughter, and the Popsicle twins are Jessie and Dixon's sons, and Zemal is….."
"Jessie and Dixon have kids?" Priscilla squeaked in surprise. "Who's David? And if you aren't Dixon, who are you? And who is Zemal?"
"I should have known," David groaned and walked away. Priscilla chased after him asking more questions.
"Pet, I think I need that coffee now," Libby said as she rubbed her temples. "That looked just like Dixon, but it wasn't him, and Dixon and Jessie have become parents."
"What is going on at what hospital, Petula Jane Parker?" Annie Mae demanded.
Pet sighed as she dropped her face into her hands, and whispered, “Thank you so much, Miz Amee.”
"You said that he had been missing for a couple of days before you left for Charleston?" Marc asked Mamee.
"Yes, he disappeared three days before Daddy sent Annie Mae and I to live with my aunt," the old woman replied. "Is that important to what you are doing for Doug?"
"Well, it could be important to Doug," Marc answered as he continued to adjust the computer programs and controls in front of him. Mamee took the opportunity to join Dixon, Jessie, and Huey and look into the machine where Doug was lying.
"It looks like he's asleep," Dixon was saying quietly.
"Well in a way he is," Huey told him. "He is waiting for his body to reach a point where it is safe for him to wake up. He was in pretty bad shape when Jessie found him. His body went through a lot of nasty stuff in the last sixty years."
"He looks exactly like he did when we were children," she murmured.
"That's why this could be important," Marc told her. "I have to warn you that it may be difficult for Doug to adapt to seeing you and Annie Mae, his childhood friends as ol…." His voice tapered off at the look the woman was giving him. "I should point out here that Danny is considerably older than you."
"Yes and you are old enough to know better than to discuss a lady's age," Mamee said pointedly.
"BUSTED!!!" Jessie and Dixon said with a laugh.
"Yes, ma'am," Marc said with a blush.
"Now, I understand that seeing Annie Mae and I as grumpy old women will be a shock for Dougie, but he will have the boys to keep him company now," Mamee continued. "Do you think it would be better for him if we didn't tell him who we are?"
"No ma'am, I don't," Marc said quickly. "No offense, but I don't believe that Doug would not at least suspect something was wrong with your relationship. You remember him as your friend from long ago. Are you absolutely certain you would be able to act as if you don't know him; never accidentally remember something aloud that only his friend Amee would know?"
"No offense taken, for that. You calling me an old lady… well, that you're going to pay for," Mamee smirked.
"OOO, you're in trouble," Jessie teased as the other two boys grinned.
"But I didn't call you…." Marc started to stammer.
"You were about to, and don't bother denying it," Mamee cut him off. "Android or not, I have known my fair share of teenage boys, and am well acquainted with your opinions of mature women."
"Mamee, I don't think like that about you," Dixon defended.
"You haven't been around me long enough for me to have to say no to you yet," Mamee smiled. "Young people aren't always respectful of the older generation when that happens. They don't understand that we are trying to teach them a lesson without them having to learn it the hard way as we did."
"I have the utmost respect and admiration for a woman who has been through all that you have, determined to see your family prosper, watching them all go before you, but never giving up hope," Marc told her seriously.
"I hardly know whether I should cry or blush," Mamee said a little flustered.
"Besides, even teenage boys, android or not, know that grandmas give the best hugs in the world," Marc added with a grin.
"All right you little sweet talker, come over here and get one then," Mamee told him as she held out her arms. Marc was happy to comply. "You deserve all the hugs I can give you anyway. I would have been hoping for that family in vain if you hadn't been here to help me when I needed you. I can't ever thank you enough. Maybe this will make a down payment, though." She reached into her purse and took out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Marc.
"Mrs. Wiggins, this is a check," Marc whispered in shock.
"I know what it is, silly. I wrote it," the old woman giggled. "And I've told you to call me Mamee."
"Mamee, this is a check for seventy-five million dollars!!!" Marc whispered. The other boys in the room gasped as well.
"Well, I heard that Dyson Industries donated 50 million, and due to personal circumstances that I'm sure you can understand I didn't want an Arkansan to outdo me." She reached down and closed Marc's mouth for him. "Take it from an old lady who still remembers, flies don't taste that good."
"EEEWWW!!" Huey exclaimed, as he grabbed his stomach. "Tell me you didn't," he pleaded.
"Of course not," Mamee denied instantly. "I fed them to Josey when he was a boy."
"That's mean," Dixon scolded.
"I'm a big sister, being mean was in the job description," Mamee laughed. "But I was the only one allowed to be mean to him. I would scratch the eyes out of anyone that looked at him the wrong way," she added with a melancholic sigh.
"Remind me to stay on your good side," Marc teased, lifting her spirit again.
"You saved Dixon for me, and now you're bringing Doug back to me," Mamee told him with another hug. "You would have to really work hard to get on my bad side now."
"Well, at the moment I'd better get back to working hard so that Doug can wake up," Marc told them all.
"You were saying something earlier about why that may be hard on Doug," Huey reminded him.
"Yes, based on the damage that was done to him and the account you all have related from Mr. Whatley's letter, I think it would be best to roll his memory back to a point before he disappeared. That way Doug won't wakeup in the middle of experiencing anything that might have been done to him after the last time you saw him," Marc explained.
"Won't he wonder what happened to him and why he has no memories of the last sixty something years?" Jessie asked.
"I'm sure he will, but it should be easier to handle being told that something bad happened to him, than to wake up in the middle of experiencing it all over again," Marc answered.
"I'm sure it would," Mamee agreed as she shivered in horror.
"He should be waking up within a half an hour," Marc announced.
"I don't suppose you could give me a facelift in thirty minutes," Mamee laughed nervously.
"You look great Mamee," Dixon told her.
"Fiddlesticks, I look like a wrinkled old lady," Mamee countered.
"There's nothing wrong with that, you know," Marc pointed out. "You aren't the only grandma in the clan."
"Well it sure feels wrong when the person who is about to see me like this remembers me as a teenage girl," Mamee said sadly. "I have to admit, I'm a little jealous that Dougie and you get to be young forever and I have to get older and eventually die."
"Keep the emphasis on eventually, Mamee," Dixon said as he hugged his great grandmother. "I just met you. I don't want to lose you before I get to really know you."
"Don't worry, Little D," Mamee assured him. "I feel the same about you."
"Mamee, do you have to keep calling me Little D?" the boy squirmed out of her embrace and asked with the stern look of an embarrassed kid.
"Yeah, he's not little anymore," Jessie and then blushed from head to toe as he realized what he had said.
"I know who you are," a voice that was new to all but one person in the room said softly in an awed voice. "You're Marc Furst," Doug murmured with a blush.
"Well, that's a good sign," Marc smiled. "Diagnostics all going ok?" he asked the freshly awakened android.
"All systems report optimal performance, but there appears to be a glitch in my internal chronometer," Doug said with some concern. "Current time and date is more than sixty years advanced from my last memory file."
"There is a good reason for that." Everyone turned at the sound of another new voice in the room, that two people recognized this time. Mamee gasped and sank into a chair that Dixon quickly pushed behind her.
"Josey!" Doug exclaimed. "You can't be here. I buried you." He began to cry as he continued. "I wasn't good enough. I couldn't save you. I failed."
"Dougie, no one, human, android, or otherwise could have saved my life," Josey said softly. "It was my time to go. I only wish that I had been able to protect you from my father. I never thought he was so cruel and evil."
"Josey, I swear if I had known…." Mamee sobbed.
"You can't be blamed either, Sis," Josey told her. "You were still recovering when Father did that to Doug. You wouldn't have been able to stop it if you had known. Father believed he had to avenge the deaths of the people he loved."
"Do I want to know what happened to me?" Doug asked quietly.
"I hope you never learn what my father did to you," Josey told him seriously. "I came to see you wake up so that I could tell you that I want you to move on. I tried to tell you before…."
"I didn't listen then, and I won't listen now," Doug told him firmly. "I was programmed to be your friend and to be open to anything else you might want to do. Falling in love with each other was not part of my programming. Ask Marc, he can tell you. It was a bonus and I won't just throw that away. I love you, Josiah Alvin Whatley."
"I know you do, Dougie," Josey responded as he brushed a kiss across the android's forehead. "But that doesn't mean that I want you to pine away the rest of your life as an android mourning me. When you know that the time is right, I want you to do what your heart tells you." He then turned to his big sister and smiled. "Before I go back, I want to actually tell you how proud I am and always was to be your little brother. Yes, even when you fed me flies. That was your proof from me that I would always do anything I could for you, and I still will. Thank you for loving me even when you knew what you did about me. As hard as things were for me with Father, they would have been so much worse if I hadn't had you, loving me and taking care of me, and getting me the one thing I wanted most in the world." Here he smiled lovingly at Doug. "I will never be able to tell you how much it meant to me that you talked Momma into getting Doug for me. I am also proud of the life you have lived. You have spent a lifetime taking care of everyone around you, especially the children. I'm really happy that you have that huge family you always wanted." He hugged Mamee tightly, and then turned to Dixon. "You take care of my big sister for me, nephew," he said with a smile. "I will help out as much as I can." Finally turning back to Doug, Josey smiled once more and whispered, "You have my heart Douglas Fairbanks Whatley, then, now, and forever, but don't ever think you don't have room for more."
Josey faded out of sight and the room was quiet for a moment. Doug was the first one to speak. He walked over to Mamee and stared at her for a moment, studying her face. "You're still the prettiest girl in the world." Mamee grabbed him and hugged him tightly. "Who are these guys?" he asked when they finally separated.
"Step over here, boys, and meet your uncle Douglas," Mamee called out.
"Uncle Douglas?" Doug questioned, as he wrinkled his nose in clear disapproval.
"Well, in my heart, you are my little brother, and in Josey's heart, you are my brother-in-law," Mamee explained. "Either way you go, that makes Dixon here your nephew, as he is my great grandson."
"Great grandson?" Doug squeaked. "Are we really that old?"
"I would be extremely peeved if you hadn't said that in the plural sense," Mamee scolded.
"EEP! No fair," Doug whined. "You learned Momma's look."
"I sure did," Mamee said proudly. "Now back to making you feel old. This is Annie Mae's grandson, Huey."
"Annie Mae has a family again?" Doug whispered as tears began to roll down his cheeks again. "I'm so glad. I tried so hard to save them all, Amee. I tried to save everyone."
"Hush now, Doug," Mamee comforted. "It's all right now; I know you did the best you could. You did save Annie Mae and me. Like Josey just said, it was his time to go."
The two of them were quiet for a few minutes before Doug spoke again. "Who else is still around from those days? Did you marry Osgood Fielding?" Doug asked Mamee. "He sure was sweet on you."
"You needn't make us sound antediluvian," Mamee scolded him, and swatted him on the backside playfully. "As for Osgood Fielding, he was sweet on anyone that would give him the time of day and he still is," Mamee snorted disapprovingly. "I lost track of most of the folks from back home when I moved here to Charleston after the influenza. The only reason I still know Osgood is because he was involved in some business dealings with my husband."
"So what is your married name?" Doug questioned.
"I am Mrs. Daniel Kirby Wiggins," Mamee said proudly. "You and I will have time to catch up after we get you home."
"Yeah, you have lots more family to meet, Great Uncle Doug," Dixon told him.
"UGH!" Doug grunted. "I'm not too sure I like the sound of that."
"You'd better get used to it," Jessie told him. "Even if we don't call you that, I'm sure mine and Dixie's sons will call you that."
"So I have double great nephews?" Doug squeaked.
"They are double in more ways than one," Dixon laughed. "Emile and Etienne are twins."
Doug looked back at Marc and said, "One rocking chair and cane to go, please."
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