Note to Readers:
This mini-book covers events that occur alongside the events in Mikyvis Chronicles: Honeymoon. For the timeline, both stories fit between Memories part 3 and Memories part 4. This starting chapter falls in line during Honeymoon 3, and will be filling in the preparations for the latest additions to the Wagner family.
"Mary Perkins? Imagine seeing you here!" Sara exclaimed as she spotted a familiar face supervising three boys who were filling their plates.
The sturdily-built African-American lady twisted her head, smiling as she realized who was calling her name. In a deep Alabama accent, she exclaimed "Glory be! Sara Wagner, what're you doin' down in these here parts!"
"It's a long, convoluted story," Sara laughed. "Why don't you and the boys join Russ and I? I'm sure Beau, Toby, and their boyfriends will keep them occupied while we talk."
"This I needta' hear!" Mary exclaimed. "Git to movin', boys; that thar food ain't gonna run off."
"Yes, Ma'am," all three boys replied, each reaching out and grabbing one last bit of food for their plates before turning to follow their Mom.
As the group walked over to the table Russ had hijacked, Mary commented to Sara in a low voice, "I dunno what I'm gonna do 'bout these here boys; that's only their second trip to the food line."
"Relax, sis," Sara replied, acknowledging the bond they'd formed at a much younger age. "You don't have to do anything, my boys will take care of their cousins."
"How're they kin?" Mary asked.
"Our vow of sisterhood when we were kids has become legally binding," Sara chuckled. "Watch my boys when I introduce you. Beau's probably already setting things up if I know him and his boyfriends."
Mary barely had time to raise her eyebrows before the first wave attacked.
"Hey guys!" Toby exclaimed with a big smile as he jogged over. "C'mon! While Aunt Mary and my parents are gettin' caught up, the rest of us wanna get to know our cousins that the old farts forgot to tell us about!"
"Ma?" the eldest boy asked, his eleven-year-old voice conveying his shock.
"Git already, an' don't be giv'n yur kin no issues," Mary instructed.
As they stopped to watch the group of boys welcome their three new cousins, Russ joined them. "Hi, Mary; long time no see. I think Freddie was still in diapers last time I saw those three in person.
"Why are y'all so happy to see us?" the eldest boy, eleven-year-old Shane, asked. "Y'all don't even know us."
Ian answered first, pointing out which names went with each person. "By Clan law, you're our cousins. I'm Ian, Toby's boyfriend, so I guess that makes you guys my cousin-in-laws. Me, Toby, and Beau know how you're feeling right now, because we felt the same way when we first met the Clan. It takes some getting used to, but everyone here's got your back; since you're family, we get to help you get used to it. The twins are Jamie and Jacob; they're Beau's boyfriends, and they were around before there was even a Clan."
"Two boyfriends? Are you nuts?" Nine-year-old Caesin spouted, earning him a light slap on the back of his head from his big brother.
"Yes!" Beau, Jamie, and Jacob exclaimed in unison, before sneaking in a three-way kiss.
"EWWW!" Seven-year-old Freddie groaned. "Stop, I'm tryin' to eat!"
"Caesin, Freddie, be nice!" Shane warned.
"Sorry Shane," both boys muttered. "But they was being gross!" Freddie added.
"No more gross than you eating your boogers, Freddie," Caesin giggled.
Toby intercepted Shane's response to his brothers. "Let them relax, cuz; if they go too far, we'll just have our AI, George, dunk them in the pool a couple of times. If anyone, even Aunt Mary, tries to say anything about you three acting like kids, Poppa Russ will stop it. You'll understand later, just trust me and loosen up."
Shane couldn't put a finger on why, but something in Toby's tone gave him the impression that it wasn't a suggestion. What was even more curious was the fact that he was sure that somehow Toby could easily back up his words. One thing that he was sure of, however, was that he could almost feel the acceptance of his new cousins, acceptance that appeared to be unconditional.
"Don't worry about the boys," Sara assured Mary as she caught her looking over at the group once again. "The Headquarters AI, George, will let us know if we're needed."
"Y'all's puttin' a lotta trust in ur young'uns," Mary commented.
"They earned it," Russ explained. "Two of those boys, Jamie and Jacob, are one of the keys that turned a group of boys helping others into Clan Short. They've been there from the beginning, and they'll be the last ones to allow their cousin-in-laws to feel unwanted. Family is a big thing to those guys, and I'll promise you that your sons are about to get a dose of brotherly love like they've never seen before."
The discussion was interrupted by the arrival of Dan Richardson, who announced "Hey Russ, George says you need my help."
Russ shook his head. "Too late, Dan; the boys took me out thirty universes ago."
"Behave!" Sara sniggered as she slapped Russ' arm. "Mary, this is Doctor Dan Richardson, head of the Federation Youth Services Mental Health department, and charter member of the Clan Parents Club."
"It is a pleasure to meet you," Dan said with a smile as he held out his hand.
"You as well," Mary replied. "May I ask as to why you would be needed here?"
Dan wasn't fooled by the formality, his interactions with Helen having taught him that his interruption was suspect until he proved otherwise. Fully aware that his only choice was honesty, he replied, "Two reasons; the first is to help you understand where being a sister to Sara puts you in the Family Tree, and the second is to prepare you for what Jamie, Jacob, and Beau have reported to my second son."
"You may join us," Mary acknowledged.
Dan took a seat, then began explaining. "My son Kyle says that we have time for you to understand your part in the family before the boys act on what they found; they want your sons to relax first. When Clan Short formed, we found out that in Vulcan Society, swearing brotherhood or sisterhood is three steps above the Earth 'blood brother' pact. The boys dragged us parents from that time into it with them, which created a few interesting relationships. In your case, you are a Sister to one of the core parents within Family Clan Short. Russ and Sara are co-parents to all of the Patriarch's children, as he is to theirs. What that means for your boys is that they are now part of the core family of Clan Short, with all of the access that goes with it."
"Explain those young ones acting on what they found," Mary all but ordered.
"First you need to accept something," Dan replied. "You need to accept that telepaths exist, and that right now your sons are sitting with the second-most skilled telepath in the Clan; Jamie, Jacob, and Beau. The three of them have merged their minds into one; I've seen the scans that prove it. While following standard protocol for crowd situations, they picked up on a worry that Shane has about someone he was close to before you decided to move down here to see if you could help. As we speak, they are working with Shane to get as many details as they can, then initial reports are pointing to your sons getting to see their cousins in action very shortly.
"How close to Shane are we talking, Dan?" Russ interrupted.
"Close enough that Mary could very well have a fourth son shortly," Dan stated.
"Who's makin' sure none of the yung'ns get hurt?" Mary challenged.
Russ answered immediately. "Multiple boys in that group are carrying a living weapon that is so effective offensively and defensively that it is banned from even telling the Federation that it exists. Every single boy over there, except your sons, is qualified with and carrying a phaser. Right now, I'm guessing they have Clan Intel doing a location scan; if so, they'll be able to tell you where the nearest field mouse is."
"No field mice, Dad!" Beau yelled from the other table. "There's a copperhead having some babies under the shed steps, though!"
Before any of the adults could respond, Timmy came running over, heading directly to Mary's lap. "CUDDLE TEST!" he giggled as he commandeered Mary, whether she was ready or not. After a couple of minutes of demanding her full attention, Timmy stated "You cuddle good, you gotta take care of my little big brother, 'kay? I gotta go, I needta' talk to the snake mommy!"
As he hopped down and gave Russ a quick hug, he added "Don' worry, Poppa Russ, I'll watch my new cuz'ns!"
"Do I need to ask y'all what that little cutie was talking about?" Mary asked in semi-shock.
Noticing both men were watching Timmy as they shook their heads, Sara replied, "That was Cory's very first son. You've lived close enough to New Orleans for this to make sense; Timmy's a Spirit Guide. Ian's one of his helpers, so we've learned a lot from them about it. I have no doubt that he'll come back with that snake and her babies. I also know that not a single kid in this compound is in danger from it. All the animals, birds, and reptiles wandering around the party are his and Ricky's friends, and their sole job is to protect the kids."
"One down," Mary prodded with a smile.
"The little big brother thing refers to our son, DJ," Sara explained. "Timmy's his half brother. Timmy's dad was in a Starfleet time experiment, and he brought Timmy back with him. Even though Timmy was born before DJ, Timmy's younger now. The two of them love confusing people with that fact. I'm guessing that Timmy's planning on you helping out with the new family that DJ and Tanner have assembled; he likes doing that kind of thing, usually with info the rest of us don't have. As far as your boys, since he said he'd watch them, I doubt a demon from hell could touch them now."
"How? He's so innocent," Mary asked.
"He lost his innocence the day a group of assholes murdered his father," Sara said softly. "He was six seconds from death when Cory unknowingly disarmed a second bomb in the car while trying to get Timmy out. His second kill in Montana was another asshole who was trying to kill Cory, the first one was protecting friends from a mass shooting. We stopped counting during the Battle of Earth; none of us want to even think about it. The only explanation we can come up with for him not being a basket case is that he's being protected by the Great Spirit as he does His work." Sara paused, then added "The boys have a motto that they use to help them deal with the things the Clan runs into, they call it Timmy's Law. 'Sometimes bad things gotta happen so good things can happen'. Timmy spoke those words when Cory almost had a meltdown the night after rescuing him. To this day, his words have comforted kids and adults who otherwise were losing all hope."
Mary looked over at Timmy, who was now perched on Shane's lap. Ricky had joined him, and both were in warpaint as they explained to their new cousins what they were about to do. "What is that all over him, and who's the angel?"
"Warpaint," Sara explained. "The other one is Ricky, he's Timmy's Bonded and the other Spirit Guide in the family. Both of them, along with some close brothers, can turn it on and off, it's actually part of their skin." After a pause, she added "If you see that, something serious is about to go down. If your sons don't believe in the supernatural now, they probably will by the time they return."
Getting a tickle from Jamie, Russ interjected "Mary, the boys take precautions that would make a government safety inspector scratch his head. Jamie says you were thinking 'why ain't the boys asking permission' so loud that he heard it clear over there. As parents, we've had to draw a line between when our kids are being our kids, and when they are operating as representatives of Clan Short. Once they cross that line into Clan Short territory, they actually have to work under stricter rules than any good parent would ever set. They answer to the logic of Vulcan, the decisions of the Federation, and the declarations of their Patriarch. In general, they're pretty consistant with telling us if there's time that they are going out, but if it's urgent, they just go. From the perspective of our sons, us passing the message to you counts as notification; since we're not involved in the situation they are looking into, most of what they know is classified unless they think we need it to plan ahead or assist."
"From experience," Dan added, "right now Timmy and Ricky are giving all three of your sons the quick do and don't list. Chances are that Timmy's going to be in charge, and he's really careful with new guys on a mission."
Nobody even blinked at the sight of the group of boys that came walking out of the wooded lot at the end of the road. Even the two little ones wearing warpaint didn't get much more than an 'aww, how cute' from any of the neighborhood's residents. If they had paid attention, however, they would have noticed that there were three boys who were being kept in the center of the group, and those on the perimeter of the group seemed to be more alert than would normally be the case at their age.
The group turned a corner onto a cul-de-sac, making their way to a house at the end. As they neared the house, two young eagles came flying in, circling the house as if they were watching it for something.
"R'memb'r, don' let go," Timmy said as Shane moved up and took his hand.
"Okay," Shane replied. "I'm scared though."
"I won't let ya get hurt," Timmy stated. "Toby, Ian, Ricky; take the back."
Wordlessly, all three teleported into the back yard as Jamie, Jacob, and Beau formed up behind Timmy, with Caesin and Freddie each taking a spot between two of the triple threat. Unseen by anyone, Bryce was out-of-phase and silently guarding the rear.
As planned, Shane reached up and rang the doorbell, silently praying that Timmy wasn't overestimating his strength. A few seconds later, a large man opened the door, a disturbing smile crossing his face as he noticed who was waiting. "Ahh, Shane; I see that you finally decided to join us. You even brought your brothers and some friends, how thoughtful. Come on in, boys."
While the man was busy at the front door, the crew in back silently entered the rear of the house. They quickly slipped into the open basement door, following the mental instructions from Jamie as to where to go.
They slipped into the indicated room, signalling the two occupants to remain silent. Ricky began chanting in a whisper softer than the breeze, and all three seemed to melt into the shadows they were hiding in.
A minute later, the man escorted the group from the front door into the basement. "The boys are in here," he stated as he pointed for the group to go ahead of him.
As soon as the boys were past the doorway of the short hall leading to the room, the man closed it and spun the tumblers of the lock. He smiled as the boys seemed to be transfixed on the sight of his two sons, who were each strapped naked to an upright pentagram. "Shane, if you'd be so kind as to go stand by the third pentagram, I will instruct your brothers and friends on where to sit. I think the demons will be pleased at your gift!"
Unfortunately for the man, the group wasn't transfixed; Jamie, Jacob, and Beau were gathering evidence, while Timmy was determining just how far this had gone already.
The first sign that things were not going to the man's plan was when Timmy and Ricky both let out a long, loud screech in unison, which led to William and Duke appearing on their shoulders. Ricky, Ian, and Toby exited the shadows, with both Toby and Ian holding hands while encased in a golden glow.
By this point, the man had two issues. The first was that he suddenly felt like he had a high fever, and the second was he found that he couldn't move. As he watched in horror, the pair of eagles seemed to melt into the two warpainted little boys.
"Cleanse the sacrifices," Ricky ordered in Ancient Seminole.
Ian and Toby quickly moved to the nearest boy, Ian reaching out his free hand to touch him over the heart. After a bright flash of light, the boy was no longer bound and was looking around, confused.
"Don't let go," Ian instructed as he reached out and grabbed the boy's hand. The trio then went to the other boy, with Toby repeating Ian's actions. Once all four were glowing, they moved out of the way of the Guides.
By this time, Ricky had taken Shane's free hand. Timmy and Ricky began chanting in a language long lost to the Universe. Almost nobody understood them; the exception being Shane, who not only understood, but was turning his head to look at various objects in the room, each of which seemed to decompose into dust at his gaze. He finally turned his gaze to the man, who now had wisps of smoke rising from his skin. In the same language as Timmy and Ricky were using, Shane ordered "Begone spawn, in the Name of The Great Spirit!"
For a split second, the true form of the creature was visible, then it burst into flames and vanished. "NOW!" Timmy and Ricky yelled.
Bryce had been waiting, and immediately popped the group into the back yard. Timmy and Ricky resumed chanting, as the rest of the group watched the house they were just in collapse upon itself. As the house decomposed before their eyes, the former basement seemed to fill itself, finally becoming a small depression in the ground.
With this completed, William and Duke exited their companions, taking their normal places on the shoulders of their Guide. The first one of the group to find their voice was Bryce, who obviously had not been expecting what they'd just done. "To quote Uncle JJ," Bryce exclaimed, "WHAT IN THE HOLY FUCK JUST HAPPENED!"
"SECONDED!" Jamie, Jacob, and Beau yelled.
"THIRDED!" Caesin and Freddie added.
"I'm tellin!" Timmy giggled as him and Ricky decided to give the two boys with Ian and Toby a hug. "These guy's daddy let himself get possesseded, an' he was gonna try to get them caught too. He'd made Shane inta' a key, but couldn't get him here. When we got in, Shane's key got turned on, but it turned on for who was touchin' him first. Nobody can use Shane for bad now, cuz' his key belongs to me and Ricky, and we destroyed the stuff that can change it when we sent the demon back where he goes."
"Caesin and Freddie are anchored now too," Ricky added. "They're tied to Jamie, Jacob, and Beau, that's why we had them stand where they did. Now they can't be made keys.
"What about those two?" Beau asked as he pointed to the rescued boys. "They're alive, but they ain't all there."
"That's because they need unlocked," Ian replied. "But first, Shane needs to make a decision." Ian shifted the two boys to where he could place a hand on each of their heads. Both were of mixed East Asian and African heritage, with one appearing to be eleven, while the other seemed to be closer to ten. "They are cousins. The bigger one was known as David, the littler one was known as Harold. I say 'was' because their lives up until they were taken by the demon are no more; human records have them both assumed deceased. The demon was using David to trap Shane." Ian looked around the group, making sure they were paying attention. "Only Shane can make the choice as to if they move on to the Happy Hunting Grounds, or start over with new identities. If they start over, each of them will forever carry a piece of Shane's soul within their own. Shane, David's feelings for you were real, but I am not allowed to say any more."
"Listen to your soul, Keeper of the Key," Toby added.
Shane closed his eyes, trying to clear his runaway thoughts. As he slowly gained control, he suddenly realized that a virtual weight that had seemed to be holding him back for as long as he could remember was no longer present. After storing the thought for future discussion, he was able to finally clear his head and just listen. A few seconds later, he had his answer, and moved towards the two boys.
Shane went to Harold first, kissing the top of his forehead before stating "Wake up little brother, we gotta get back home to Mom."
Harold's brown eyes suddenly brightened as he instinctively reached out and pulled Shane into a hug. "Thank you," he whispered before releasing the hug and walking over to join his new little brothers.
Shane moved over to David, running a finger over his cheek. Shane looked at his finger, then at Ian. "Why do I feel like he's in pain?"
Ian seemed to concentrate for a minute, then replied. "Mikey says I can tell you that trying to warn you away caused him to be tortured more."
Shane nodded, then placed his hands on either side of David's face. "I can't let you hurt because of that thing, David. I wanna spend forever with you, but I don't want it to be with you hurting because you tried to save me. Help me, please, I don't know what to do."
David's arms slowly rose, and his hands finally found their way to Shane's cheeks. They stood like that for a full fifteen minutes, neither moving a muscle. Finally they leaned into a very involved kiss, neither one saying a word. When the kiss broke, David started to turn transluscent, seemingly fading away before once again becoming solid. "Thank you, from both of us," David stated as he wrapped his arms around Shane.
"I'll save you the trouble," Ian told Shane with a grin. "Being one of Mikey's helpers has advantages! Okay, David had a twin brother who didn't survive after they were abducted by the demon. That was the part of his pain I couldn't say anything about. I got to watch as all three of their spirits talked it over, and since Danny's spirit never left and never broke their link, Saint Michael came over and helped them become whole again. That means both of them are together in one body now, and with the parts Shane contributed they're not in spiritual pain anymore. It's kinda like a reverse version of what Jamie, Jacob, and Beau have, so if it looks like David is talking to himself, he might be having a discussion with Danny. After they get used to it, you can probably talk to David and Danny at the same time, and both of them will remember what is going on."
"They're MY boyfriends, so no ideas!" Shane added with a grin.
"Awesome," Beau giggled, "someone to compare notes with about having twin boyfriends!"
Taking a last look before they left, Shane asked, "Hey, before we go back, isn't this house missing gonna cause trouble with the neighbors noticing?"
Toby shook his head. "Nope, in their heads it never existed. In fact, nobody will ever want to build here. It takes a lot more than even Timmy can do to take the unease of this lot away. It's not cursed anymore, but it's kinda like the taste left in your mouth after medicine."
"Okay, let's go home," Bryce announced. "I think I need to talk to Levi about teaching me to bowl with asteroids after this!"
Bryce dropped the team off near the table, then vanished to find his big brother. After a quick plotting session telepathically hosted by Jamie and Jacob, the kids moved in for the attack on the parents.
Timmy and Ricky took the lead, climbing onto Mary's lap for a double-cuddle. The copperhead snake in Timmy's arms shifted around until the first third of her body was stretched over 'her' boy's shoulders, then she lifted her head up and gave a shocked Mary a 'kiss' on the cheek. At seeing the overly-innocent look on the boy's faces, Russ quipped "Sara? Could you tell me again why I never took up professional drinking?"
"The act isn't working, hon," Sara sniggered, "we all know you enjoy the boys' escapades as much as they do!"
"Busted, Dad!" Beau and Toby giggled.
Russ shook his head. "Okay, I count two new faces. Do I want to know what happened?"
"No," Jamie started,
"But" Jacob continued as they began their see-saw reply,
"Why me?" Russ mock-complained as he hid his face in his arms on the table.
Knowing the effect it would have on the adults, Freddie took his turn as planned to give them a rundown of what just happened. "You shoulda seen it! There was this big guy who was really a demon that had David and Harry all tied up on some funny lookin' stars but Timmy and Ricky made him start smoking then he burst inta flames and then Shane made our new brothers alive again but David's got his twin brother Danny in him now!"
Mary and Sara stared at Freddie in shock. Russ, on the other hand, just looked at Timmy and shook his head. "I thought I told you to stop terrorizing demons, Gizmo?"
"He started it!" Timmy replied with a grin.
Both Mary and Sara shifted their gazes to Russ. "Why do I get the impression this isn't the first time?" Sara asked.
Russ just shrugged. "You know the song "Purple Haze"? You can thank Dylan and Timmy for that one; that's also how Ian added two brothers."
Deciding it was best not to expand on that, Mary asked "Could one of y'all fill in the blanks Freddie missed?"
Beau grinned at the response they'd received. "He covered the big stuff, Ma'am. This guy abducted David, Danny, and Harry after he allowed himself to be possessed by a demon. He killed Danny, and was using David to try to get Shane because Shane is some kinda spiritual key. David fell in love with Shane, but tried to warn him away to save him. Timmy and Ricky claimed Shane first, so they were able to break the demon by using Shane against him."
"They fixed me, Maw," Shane added. "He musta been doin' it for a while to get me, but Timmy and Ricky pulled his bad outta me."
"You ain't gotta 'dopt Harry," Ricky giggled, "Shane gave 'im the stuff so he's really your kid."
"Shane, David, and Danny are already married," Toby added, earning him surprised looks from the two boys. "David and Danny's birth certificate says unknown parents, Justy just checked. The story is he was left at an orphanage after birth by an unknown mother."
"That's not far off," David stated. "We were left at an orphanage as babies, and the records showing who our Mom was got lost in a fire."
"If there's two of you in that cute head of yours," Mary asked, "Just how do we know which of y'all we're talkin' to?"
"We're both list'nin," David's voice said with a different accent. "I'm Danny, Ma'am; if any y'all needs onea us, just ask."
"Both of y'all need to drop the ma'am," Mary scolded with a smile. "Y'all's kin now, it'll be Maw or Momma for both of y'all!"
"Sorry, momma," David and Danny replied, the act of trying to answer at the same time causing a warble in their voice.
"That's better," Mary stated. "And just why are you so quiet, Harry?"
"Jamie and Jacob's lettin' me an' my little brothers use their head so we can get to know each other while all y'all's talkin'!" Harry giggled. "We're trying to come up with names for the snake babys when they're born too!"
"Well, get back to it, then," Mary smiled. "Y'all need to relax while us adults figure out what Timmy's plotting."
Mary was carefully trying to keep the two urchins on her lap from falling off as she pondered the current situation. While the rest of the boys had taken the opportunity to raid the food tables again, using the excuse that David and Harry needed to eat, Timmy, Ricky, and their snake 'friend' remained behind. The fact that this poisonous preditor was randomly tickling the two boys with its tail, while seemingly having a conversation with them, had Mary wondering if her sanity had finally slipped.
"Aunt Mary?" Timmy interrupted, "Chu'mana wants to know if she can stay with you. She was p'tectin Harry an' Danny from rats an' stuff cuz they smelled dead, an' she really likes them. If you wanna, Ricky an' me can ev'n teach you to talk Snake!"
"Do you even know the meaning of reality, little one?" Mary asked as she poked at Timmy's ribs, causing him to giggle.
"Reality's for dummys!" Timmy laughed as he unsuccessfully tried to avoid her attacks.
If the suggestion had come from anyone else, Mary would have dismissed it without a second thought. Coming from Timmy, who had reportedly just terminated a demonic possession, she took the chance of their being truth is the precocious six-year-old's statements. "If you can teach me to talk to her, then her and I can discuss it," Mary offered.
"Okay!" Timmy giggled.
"I'll teach her Alabama while you teach Aunt Mary!" Ricky offered.
"Kewl!" Timmy replied as both him and Ricky began to seemingly glow softly.
Russ finished catching Mary up on the changes to their lives since the day him and Sara met DJ and Tanner. "Sometimes I just want to bang my head on the wall," Russ admitted, "but overall I wouldn't want life to go any other way. We get to see something that most parents never experience; the small smiles of appreciation from the kids when we do a 'normal' parent thing. I get random hugs from boys who don't trust most adults as far as they can throw them, boys who are yearning inside for the chance to forget their past. I'm constantly under a microscope, as the kids who have given me their trust try to absorb my every action to give themselves good memories. One thing I noticed a while back is that the parents of the core Clan members naturally interact with the kids at whatever level they are comfortable in at the time. Yesterday is a good example; in the morning, DJ decided he wanted us to play with Legos, yet in the afternoon I was helping Beau, Jamie, and Jacob work on their Vegas. They were figuring out how to adjust the seats so they can see over the dash when driving"
"Them there boys ain't near old 'nuff to drive!" Mary exclaimed.
Russ shook his head with a grin. "All three have already passed their defensive and offensive driver's courses. They already have their licenses, but they are insisting on fixing up their own cars to drive around. Being commissioned in Starfleet makes them legally adults, yet none of the boys push that issue unless they think we're being unreasonable and judging their actions by age instead of ability. Going by the latest reports from Clan medical, we're getting a growing group of boys that might not grow at the same rate as their peers, so all of the Clan parents have adapted to only judge the actions, ignoring their physical appearance."
Mary nodded at the veiled warning. "Y'all might've done found the secret to keeping the young'uns happy."
"Some of these kids have fended for themselves for years," Russ stated. "Our job is to let them experience being kids again, without disregarding the experiences they've already had and the lessons they've learned."
"That means watching their body language," Sara added. "When they shift to a defensive posture, you have to stop and ask them how they would handle the issue if they were you. Listen to their reply, and if they don't seem to want to answer, remind them that you could be wrong, but you need to hear their thoughts so that the two of you can come to an agreement."
"That works about eighty percent of the time," Russ admitted. "The rest of the time, you need to pick your battles carefully. In general, there is a reason which we can't see causing the youth to stand his or her ground, and for some reason the youth does not feel comfortable discussing it. I've had good luck with suggesting we approach it as a team; that way I can guide them through the problem areas, yet they have the lead on solving the issue."
The conversation was interrupted by Tyler popping in next to Russ. "Uncle Russ, Aunt Sara? You needta come with me to Archnania; Deej and Tanner are gonna need you." Tyler stated seriously.
"Is someone hurt?" Mary asked with concern.
"They might be if they ain't there," Tyler replied. "I can't see to find out."
"Mary," Russ stated, "you need to remind me tomorrow to explain Kyle, Tyler, and their sons to you. For now, just mull over the phrase 'with great power comes great responsibility'; that is those boy's entire life." After a pause, he continued. "Sara and I are about to jump time with Ty's assistance. it might be a few days for us, but for you we'll be back in a few seconds, literally."
As Russ finished his explanation, Tyler decided it was time to go.
Russ and Sara seemed to flicker for a few seconds, then stabilized in almost the same positions they had been in before leaving.
"That was a surprise," Russ commented as he shifted to get comfortable. "You're not going to believe this, Mary, but DJ and Tanner are now up to seven sons, six grandsons, and they added a third partner."
"I'm still trying to wrap my head around little Davner having the genetics of all three of his parents," Sara commented.
"You don't mean the same two that got married just a bit ago?" Mary asked.
"That's them," Russ agreed. "I'm pretty sure they broke a few Clan records, which isn't that surprising once you know them."
Mary glanced at her own sons, who had decided their Uncle Russ was boring and it was time to form a cuddle pile in the grass. They were all now fast asleep, their new snake friend's head sticking out of the pile as she guarded 'her' boys. "I was plannin' on checkin' into some work in the Clan kitchens," Mary began, "but with a family that size, I think my nephews might need some help."
"Don't lose that thought," Russ replied. "Knowing the Clan Construction Corps, we're probably going to wake up to DJ and Tanner having their own house. Why don't you and the boys camp out at our place tonight? Knowing our sons, they've probably already got the nest ready for their cousins. Tyler says they're going to sync DJ, Tanner, Chek, and their family back into normal time sometime tomorrow ... actually, later today now."
Mary nodded. "I believe that'll work, I'm sure DJ and Tanner will want some say in the matter."
"Trust me, they won't give us a choice," Russ chuckled before hitting his commbadge. "George, could you please put the kids in the nest at our place, and take the three of us to our kitchen?"
"You're next in line," George replied with a giggle.
Seconds later, the two families vanished from the field, and a new chapter in the life of Clan Short began.