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Hey all, this is Mike again!
Sorry about hiding out lately, but you try to keep up with this tribe! I’ll admit, Kyle kinda freaked me out with his “Kylegrams” between him and the twins, but I have a sneaky suspicion that sooner or later it will come in handy.
As far as the adults go, it looks like Dan’s long-lost family showing up when they did is doing some good, even though they are shaking up the whole group with all the changes they have brought along with them. Sharon has commented that this was the best thing that could happen right now, she really does not want to see the family grieving, and all this excitement has taken their minds off of the funeral. Sharon and I discussed it and her concerns that either Dan or JJ would follow the same route Cory did when I died have faded after all the support they have both received. I really hope so at least, it still hurts to see Cory miss out on something he used to enjoy because he doesn’t remember ever doing it.
I don’t know about y’all, but Sean does kinda worry me; he has taken on the role of big brother / tribal chief with all of these boys, and I’m not really sure he is ready for it. That’s a lotta responsibility he is shouldering, I really hope he asks for help when he needs it. At least I can get thru to him using the connection thru Kyle if things get out of hand!
You know, at times I’m beginning to think its better watching everything from up here! I really wonder how much I missed while trying to keep up with a normal life, I see so much more now!
Well, I better let y’all get back, my sources say things are about to go crazy again. (Or is that yet?)
Sean and Cory were finally getting some quiet time together. After dinner, all the boys gravitated into the rec room. After about a half hour of celebrating and congratulating the twins on their new family, Cory got Sean’s attention and they snuck out of the room and up to Cory’s bedroom.
“What’s the matter, Cory?” Sean asked once they were in the room.
“Nuthin. I just needed some one-on-one time with my favorite person. Is that okay?” Cory replied in an accusing tone.
“What’s that about? I’m not ignoring you, Cory.”
“You might as well be. Sean, since Ty came up to the door, you have been spending all your time with everyone else. I would like some time with you too. I’m trying to deal with a lot; feelings that I’m not sure if they are new or just returning, plus having flashes of my past show up when I least expect it. One week ago, I knew I could count on you whenever I needed you. But in the last couple days it’s like you are so busy with everyone else that you don’t have time for me. All I want is a little time alone with you, is that too much to ask?”
“Man, I’m sorry Cory; I didn’t mean to ignore you! Why didn’t you slap me upside my head and get my attention? I know things have been nuts, I guess I just got overwhelmed by everything happening. How the heck could I do that to you?”
“It really hurts me, Sean, when I can’t talk to you and share what’s happening with you. For the last day or so I have been wishing that everyone would just leave so we could go back to just the two of us. Instead, we have two new brothers, two guys who are like brothers, and a whole huge family which happens to consist of some members of Backstreet and N’Sync. It’s getting to be too much for me to deal with without you there for me to talk to. I push myself because it makes YOU happy, but now I’m feeling ignored.”
“Cory, I realize that I’ve really screwed up, but you have got my attention now. What do I need to do to make things right again? Talk to me, help me to understand what’s wrong so I can get back to what we used to have.”
“Sean, I want it to be like Uncle Chip and Uncle Josh have it. They always seem to know what each other is feeling and doing so they can help each other.”
The boys were shocked by a soft knock at their door. “Hey guys, mind if I join you?” Chip asked.
“I guess so.” Cory replied with a downcast look.
Chip closed the door and walked over to Cory. Chip knelt in front of Cory, and then he placed a finger under Cory’s chin and lifted Cory’s face to where he could look him in the eyes. “I heard your statement about wanting to be like me and Josh as I was walking past the door. If you would like, maybe I can help you guys out some. How does that sound?”
“I guess so. It has to be okay with Sean though, he is part of this too.”
Chip looked over at Sean. “Whadda you think? You want a little friendly help here?”
“It might help. I’m trying to figure out how I got to ignoring Cory. He means so much to me yet I’ve let him down when he needed me.” Sean said with tears rolling down his face.
“I’ve been there, Sean. Why don’t we let Cory tell both of us what is getting to him. Then we can see what can be done to fix it. Sound good?”
“Yeah, sounds fine.” Sean answered.
Chip sat on the floor in front of the boys. “Okay Cory, it’s your stage. Fill me in.”
“Well, ever since everyone started showing up here, Sean has been so busy helping everyone that he has not had any time for me. I’ve tried helping him. But it seems the more I help, the more he tries to do. I feel selfish wanting to be alone with him when there are so many people wanting his help, but right now I feel like he cares about them more than he cares about me.”
A voice from the doorway interrupted them. “Dang Chip, have you been giving Sean sensitivity lessons? It sounds like you and I need to talk, Cory,” Josh said as he entered the room and closed the door behind him.
“Thanks a lot, hun. You’re sleeping on the floor tonight!” Chip said with a smile.
“What did you mean by that, Uncle Josh?” Cory asked.
“Well, this actually proves something I’ve suspected since I first met you guys,” Josh said. “Sean and Chip are a lot alike. Whenever they get involved in something they go for it full tilt, and unless someone steps in and gives them a swift kick in the butt, they just keep going and going. Cory, I think you might be quite a bit like me; strong in your own way, but able to see when things are getting out of hand.”
Chip grinned and pulled Josh down next to him. “That’s it, buster. You’re sleeping with Justy and the twins tonight!”
“The truth hurts, don’t it, love?” Josh said as he gave Chip a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. He then turned to Sean. “Seriously, Sean, it’s not as bad as I just made it sound. You have a very admirable quality, but you need to let Cory help you keep from taking it overboard. Actually, Chip’s obsessive need to help others was one of the things that first attracted him to me. It has taken a lot of work to get where we are now, but every second of it was worth it.”
“That makes sense,” Sean said. “But how do you do that? I feel bad that I’ve let Cory down, and I really don’t want to do it again. I lost him for a year, and it was the hardest year of my life. I really don’t know what I’d do if he left me for good.”
“First thing you guys need to do,” Chip started, “is to make time every day for each other. It does not have to be anything fancy, or even sexual. Just a half hour cuddling together watching a favorite show helps a lot. The important thing is to concentrate on each other, forget everything else that’s happening around you.”
Josh interrupted. “Cory, the second thing is mainly on you. If you need time, grab Sean by the ear and pull him away from what he is doing. If he is being especially thick-headed, give him a swift kick in the butt. Trust me; there have been plenty of times it has taken a kick in the butt to get Chip’s brain working again.”
“Do you really grab his ear or kick him, Uncle Josh?” Cory asked.
“Yeah he does!” Chip groaned. “There are times I thought he was going to turn me into a Vulcan he was pulling so hard. And can you imagine trying to explain to the Captain why you need a pillow in your seat at the helm? I still don’t live that one down!”
Josh chuckled. “True, the Captain does tend to bring that one time up at the most inopportune times. He rags me about it as much as you, Babe. Do you know how many times he has lectured me in jest about damaging Starfleet property?”
Sean and Cory giggled at the thought, then Sean spoke up. “Uncle Chip, Uncle Josh, I think I get the picture now. Is there anything else we should know about?”
Chip got serious. “Actually, this is the most important thing. If you guys have a disagreement, or are mad at each other, do not go to sleep until you have it settled. The problem won’t go away overnight; it will just get worse. To be honest, there was one time before Josh and I got married that if we had went to sleep, by that morning we would have been broke up and would never have married. It can get that serious real quick; in fact I think you guys were getting close to that point yourselves. If it means staying up all night, then do it. That one time neither one of us slept for two nights – it took that long to sort everything out. If you both work together you have the makings of a long term relationship here. Don’t lose it over an argument.”
“Wow!” Cory said, “You make it sound like a lot of work! I kinda see what you mean though. I was gonna talk to Sean yesterday but never did, and I felt worse this morning but did not know why. Thanks a lot for the help; I really want to make it work like you two have.”
“I want to make it work too.” Sean replied. “I feel bad still about losing touch, but at least now if I start to mess up again Cory knows how to catch me before it gets too bad. Just do me one favor though, if I ever make it into Starfleet, don’t send me out with a sore butt – PLEASE!”
Everyone got a good laugh at Sean’s last comment, and then Chip got a curious look on his face. “Sean, are you serious about that?”
“Yeah, not that it’ll ever happen, but I’d like to be a helmsman one of these days. I know Cory is into the engineering stuff, but I would not feel right unless both of us got into it – and there is almost no chance of that, and even less of us staying together after the Academy.”
“They took Chip, what makes you think they won’t take you two?” Josh quipped with a grin.
Chip gave Josh a dirty look, and then returned to the conversation. “Don’t mind him. He’s just jealous ’cause I have a real job. Don’t tell anyone else, but y’all are going to be visiting my work the day after tomorrow. Let me make a call here and maybe I can set up some special tours for you two while we are there.”
As Chip reached for his communicator, it hit the boys what he just said. “Whoa, we’re going to the Enterprise!!!” both boys said in unison.
Chip smiled. “You DID hear Dr. McCoy say he wanted to see EVERYONE up there, didn’t you? A little advice, if either him or Captain Kirk say they would like to see you, be there. You don’t want to tangle with either one!”
Chip looked at the awestruck boys with a grin as he opened the communicator. “Dodds to Enterprise.”
“Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Chip.”
“Nyota, is the Captain available?”
“Just a minute Chip, he’s right here.”
There was a few seconds pause, and then Kirk came on. “Kirk here. Is there a problem Chip?”
“Hello Captain. No problem, but I do have a question for you. It seems that a couple of my new nephews have a slight interest in Starfleet. In fact, one of them is showing an interest in my position. The other one is a little more technical. He is showing an interest in Engineering.”
Kirk cut him off. “Chip, are both boys in the group that is coming up with you?”
“Yes sir, they are.”
“What are their names?”
“Sean is the one interested in the helm and Cory is the one interested in Engineering.”
“Tell Sean and Cory to expect a special treat then. After lunch, you and Sean will go with me. There is someone else here that wants to speak with you as far as arrangements for Cory go.”
After a short pause, a voice with a strong Scottish accent came on. “Chip, me lad. Am I to understand that young Cory has a hankerin’ to learn the soul of the lady?”
“Hello Mr. Scott. Yes he does. Would you have anyone available to show him around?”
“Chip, you oughta’ be ashamed of yourself! I kinna’ let a junior officer escort young Cory. He needs a proper tour to appreciate this old girl. I must insist that he is giv’n a proper showing by me personally. Tell the lad I will join him for lunch, and then he will get to see how a real ship runs.”
Chip chuckled. “Thanks Scotty, I owe you one! We will see you soon.”
Kirk came back on. “Chip, did that answer your question?”
“Yes it did, Captain. Thank you very much.”
“Alright then, I’ll see you day after tomorrow, about 0900 ship’s time.”
“Yes sir. From the looks I’m getting, there are at least two boys are looking forward to it. We’ll see you then, sir.”
“I’m looking forward to it. Kirk out”
“Dodds out.” And with that, Chip closed his communicator and looked over at Sean and Cory.
Cory asked in a shocked voice “Did I hear right? Am I really going to be shown around by Commander Scott?”
Before Chip could answer, Sean piped up “And I get to be with you and Captain Kirk? WOW!”
“Yes to both of you,” Chip chuckled as he answered them both. Chip then rose from the floor, helping Josh up. “Now I think that Josh and I need a little private time. I would suggest you guys take about an hour yourselves – and keep the plans for when we go up there to yourselves for now.”
Cory smiled, then stood up and lightly kicked Sean in the butt. Sean jumped, “What was that for?”
“Just making sure you took the hint and didn’t run off on me.” Cory giggled. He then turned to Josh. “I guess it does work! Thanks a lot, Uncle Josh and Uncle Chip. You both helped out a LOT today!”
“You are welcome guys.” Josh replied. “I’ll make sure Teri has our home and cell numbers. If either one of you need to talk, no matter what time it is, call either one of us. I’ll find Justin and have him make sure that you are not disturbed. So we will see you guys in an hour – no less, okay?”
Cory managed to get out an “Okay” as Sean pulled him down on his lap and began trying to lick Cory’s tonsils. Chip grinned at Josh as they left the boys alone.
Just as they closed the door behind them, Justin came bounding up the stairs. “Where’s Sean and Cory? Are they okay??”
“They are fine, munchkin. They just need some alone time, about an hour I would say.” Josh replied as he intercepted Justin heading for Cory’s door.
Justin came to a screeching halt. “Alone time? You mean like the two of you, Pop?”
“Yep. You think you can keep everyone else away for us? Your Dad and I need some alone time too.”
“Will do, Pop. I’ll have my lil bros help me.”
“Okay, squirt; thanks. Now get that boney butt of yours back downstairs before anyone else comes up,” Josh said as he was leading Chip into their room.
“Whatever!” Justin giggled as he watched his parents disappear into their room and close the door. He then turned and headed back down the stairs.
As Justin reached the first floor, he was intercepted by Teri and Anne. “Where’s Sean, Cory, and your parents?” Teri asked.
“They are paired off for some ‘alone time’. Pop said none of them are to be bugged for an hour.”
“What’s ‘alone time’, Justy?” Teri asked.
Justin blushed a deep red. “Well, uhh, they kinda need some, well I guess you would call it, umm, one-on-one time alone. If Sean and Cory are as bad as Dad and Pop, it’ll get really noisy up there. All I know is Dad and Pop just came out of Cory’s room as I went up there.”
“Go on; join the rest of the tribe, Justin.” Teri said in a shocked voice. She then turned to Anne. “Is he saying what I think he is saying? If so, what should I do about it?”
Anne chuckled. “Settle down, Teri. Welcome to the world of being a parent of gay teens. There’s a good chance exactly what you suspect is happening, but since Chip and Josh just talked to them, you have nothing to worry about. Trust me, if you try to stop them, they will just find someplace else to do it! I noticed a little tension between Cory and Sean over the last day, I’ll bet Chip and Josh sat them down and, pardon the pun, straightened them out. Those two went through a lot keeping together. You can trust any advice they give your boys.”
“I’ll have to trust you on that one, Anne. Let me show you something Sean gave to Cory last week, I think it says a lot about them.” Teri then showed Anne the plaque that Sean had made.
“That’s so sweet.” Anne said as she read the poem. “I honestly think there’s a chance those boys will go on to be like Chip and Josh. If so, you have a good reason to be proud of yourself; it takes a great parent to raise children capable of bonding like that.”
A loud “NOOOOOOOO….!!!” coming from the rec room got their attention. “Well Teri, I guess we better go see what the kids are destroying!” Anne chuckled.
They walked in on Kevin holding his head in his hands while an image of a burning vehicle showed on the TV screen in front of him. Tyler was sitting at the other set of game controls, giggling.
“See Uncle Kev, I told ya’ not to try and pass me! Who’s next to get their butt whipped!” Ty gloated.
“TYLER!” Teri said, trying to keep a smile hidden.
“OOOPS! Sorry Mom, I guess I’m goin’ overboard, huh?”
“What’s going on in here?”
“Well, the old farts … I mean adults challenged us kids to a race, and I just beat the pants off of Uncle Kev.”
Brian could not resist the taunt. “Old fart, huh? Kev, give me the controls. I’ll show these young pups how the game is played!”
Nobody heard the front door opening, as Kyle was responding to Brian’s challenge. “Yeah, you’re an old fart, a smelly one too! Bring it on, gramps! It’s my turn to show y’all up.”
“Kyle Calvin Richardson! What did you just say?” Dan said as he walked in the room.
“Eeep! Sorry Dad, Uncle Brian started it!”
“Leave it this time Dan. They are just having fun.” Anne chuckled.
Before Dan could respond, Kevin walked over to Kyle and put his hand on Kyle’s shoulder. “Hey, Kyle?”
“Yeah, Uncle Kev?”
As the room dissolved into laughter, Kyle blushed then managed to get out “Awww Mannn! I’ll get you later, Uncle Kev!”
Kevin rustled Kyle’s hair. “Get used to it, lil buddy. In this family that happens a LOT – just ask Justy!”
Just then, Kevin was interrupted by the theme to The Twilight Zone coming from under his shirt. “Excuse me, cell phone.” He chuckled at the confused looks.
He pulled out his phone and looked at the Caller ID and smiled. An evil grin showed on his face as he pressed ‘send’. “Domino’s. Name your poison. What flavor cardboard you want today?”
“Very funny, Kevvy! Where’s the friggin’ ride? Or did B-Rok screw up again and send them to Atlanta?” the voice on the other end shouted.
“Calm down, Nicky! It’s there. Let me check with John to see where you need to go.”
As Kevin turned to John to ask, Brian grabbed the phone. “I heard that Nick. Just you wait, I’ll get you, you brat!”
“In your dreams, Bri. Now put that worthless straight cousin of yours back on.”
“I heard that, Frack!” Kevin said as he took the phone back. “Now, Nick, get that one blond brain cell of yours in gear, okay? Look around. Do you see a deputy standing there with a sign that says ‘Insane Asylum’?”
“Yeah, what about it? … Kevin, I’m gonna KILL YOU!”
Kevin laughed. “Don’t blame me! John did that one!”
“I don’t even wanna know. One more question; did the space cadet get our rooms at the Marriott set up?”
“I’d ask, but him and Josh are having some ‘quiet time’ right now. Do you really want me to interrupt them?”
“Quiet time? Yeah right, like they are ever quiet, those two horn dogs! What are we supposed to do ’til they’re done?”
“Just come on over here, there’s still a few seats left. Are Airboy and Dyllweed with you?”
“Yep, along with the rest of the clan. Our stuff is loaded, we’ll see ya in a bit.”
“K – seeya in about 20 minutes. Bye!” Kevin hung up the phone.
“Who was that, Uncle Kev?” JJ asked.
“Just a couple more of your new family members, bud. They will be here shortly, they’re at the airport.” Kevin then turned to Dan. “Hey bro, how did it go at the funeral home? Everything ready?”
“Yeah, I owe y’all big time for all the help. Everything was perfect, all I had to do was sign the forms and double check Sharon’s appearance. I really don’t know how I would have handled this without everyone in the room’s help.” As John guided Dan over to the couch and sat with him, Dan looked deep in thought. “DAMN,” Dan said as he suddenly stood up, “I totally forgot, the boys need suits still!”
“Sit down, bro.” Kevin said. “It’s already handled. They should be here in about fifteen minutes. The rest of the boys are bringing them with them. I was not joking when I said we would handle everything for you.”
Dan sat back down, and John put his arm over Dan’s shoulder. “Relax, everything will be fine.”
Teri looked around, noticing the silence of the kids. Adam was holding JJ, caressing his back, while in the beanbag chair Tyler was cuddling Kyle. Justin and the twins were sitting off to the side, giving the couples room.
Suddenly, Jamie looked over at Kyle with a worried expression on his face. “Kyle, don’t try to do it bro; let us do it for you, ok?”
Kyle uttered a barely audible “Okay”, then cuddled deeper into Ty’s arms.
Justin had a confused look on his face, then suddenly looked shocked. “Bros, if you are gonna do that, I want you cuddled up to me, ok?”
Jamie and Jacob nodded, and followed Justin over to the recliner. Kristin gave Justin a questioning look, but when she saw the serious look on his face, she moved out of the recliner so they could sit.
“What’s going on?” Kevin asked Teri.
“You won’t believe it till you see it, just watch.” Teri answered in a quiet voice.
Jacob spoke, but not in his normal voice, he sounded more like an adult woman. “Daniel, JJ, Kyle; listen up.”
“Sharon?” “MOM!?” was heard from each of them as their names were said.
“Yes guys, it’s me, Sharon. When I’m done, you need to thank these three boys for helping make it so I could talk to you. First things first; the three of you need to stop worrying about me, and Dan; stop blaming yourself. Even if you had been right there, there would have been nothing you could have done. It was my time, and now I can watch over all of you all the time. I am fine, and am waiting for when your time comes to be with all of you again. I have it on good authority it will be quite a while, but since I can watch you all the time it’s just fine.”
“Anne, welcome to the family. I know you will be a great grandma to the boys, not to mention giving Dan the family he has wondered about all his life. Thank you for having the drive to locate your son and rejoin him. Jerald sends his congratulations and pride in both of you.”
“Kevin, your support of your big brother has not gone unnoticed. You have my deepest thanks for all you have done so far, and what you plan to do.”
“John, you have been a great friend to this family, but I have one request for you. Dan needs you, take care of him, be there for him, and follow your heart. You have my blessing.”
“Adam, Tyler. Boys, I am eternally grateful for how you two have put aside your own problems to help my sons; when the time comes, I hope they can return the favor. If it’s in the future for you all to remain together, you have my blessing as well. For you two to still be so caring after what you went through is a miracle, but you are and I am proud to consider you my sons too.”
“Dan, let John help you. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s too soon or a bounce back reaction. John will fill that part of you that we both knew I would never be able to reach. You have no reason to feel guilty, let him in. This is the other side of you that we both knew about, just as I knew I could never totally fill your heart. He understands I will always have a place that he will never fill. Enjoy your new family; I will be with you all up here enjoying it with you.”
“Kristin, Brian; your help is appreciated too. I have seen some of the things you have done in the background; you are both wonderful. Once I’m done, pass on my thanks again to Justin and the twins, they are all sweet little angels no matter how much they deny it.”
“Teri, give Sean and Cory a big hug and thanks for being there for the boys when they needed someone. You have my eternal thanks for being there for all of them; I have a feeling that soon you will receive part of your reward for having such a big heart. I was impressed by the dedication made to Mike and myself by the boys; The Perfect Fan touched both of our hearts!”
“Last, but not least, is Chip and Josh; both Mike and myself have great respect for how they have reached out to help everyone. From making sure everyone got together, to spending one-on-one time when Cory and Sean needed help, in addition to taking in the twins. Those two deserve halos and wings for their huge hearts. Brad told me to tell Chip that he is so proud of him for what he has done for the twins, and for the job he’s done in raising Justin. And he’s glad that Chip found a kind and loving heart in Josh.”
“I need to hurry, these three are getting tired, and they will probably nap for a bit after this. I know tomorrow is going to be stressful no matter what I say, but keep it in the front of your minds that I’m fine, and when the preacher says I’m in a better place, you can be sure that he is right. I love you Dan, JJ, and Kyle; and will always be with you. God Bless all of you, you are all truly a blessing. I’m going to let these angels rest. Thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.”
Jacob, Jamie, and Justin all shook their heads to clear them, then looked up at Teri. “Teri, what did she have to say that was so important?” Justin said with a yawn as the twins cuddled up to him.
“She had some messages for each of us, besides letting Dan and the boys know she is okay. She also said that we need to pass on her thanks to you three angels, trust me, what you guys just did was really helpful. I’m proud of you too, it took a lot of guts to do that, especially you Justin, not knowing what was happening.”
“Thanks. I couldn’t let Kyle down.” Justin then looked at the two sleeping boys in his arms. “I’m tired too, can I take a nap?”
“Go ahead angel.” Anne answered. “You’ve earned it.”
Justin muttered as he snuggled down with the twins. “Aww man, why does everyone call me an angel?”
Teri looked around the room at the shocked faces on the adults. “In case you are wondering, believe it – Kyle does it too. Don’t ask me how, but he does, and it seems those three have figured out how to too.”
Kevin stood behind John and Dan. “Well, bro, I guess she answered one question I had. You guys have my blessings too. And she was right, you two are meant for each other. John, welcome to the family!”
Dan smiled. “Thanks Kev. Mom, what do you think?”
Anne smiled. “Dan, Sharon put it right. There is a place in your heart for her and someone else, and I totally approve if John is willing to be that person. Don’t feel pressured, son, but if it is meant to be you have my blessings and congratulations.”
“Thanks. I’ve waited too long to have you here to lose you because I disappointed you, Mom. John, we might as well make this official, would you be interested in a slightly used bi shrink in your life, complete with kids?”
“It matters, can you handle a crusty old cop who has reached the top, and who had resigned himself to only looking at you years ago? Besides, you forgot to mention one thing about the kids, they are both GOOD kids!”
“I’ll take that as a yes, but there are two other people who have a say in this though; JJ, Kyle, come here sons.”
Both boys came over, dragging Adam and Tyler with them.
“Guys, Adam and Ty are not going anywhere, this is their home! How would you feel about it if John and I became a couple?”
“Dad,” JJ started, “I brought Adam with me to make my point. Since the first time I saw him, I have felt a lot different. It’s like a part of me that I never knew was missing just showed up in front of me. If John makes you feel like that, I’m all for it. I heard mom, what she said made sense to me about having room for her and John. I would feel weird if you dated a girl, ’cause then it would be like you are replacing mom; but John is different, like mom said, he fills a part of you that she did not.”
Kyle interrupted. “Daddy, does John make you feel like Ty makes me feel? When he is here, my tummy feels all happy, but if I don’t know where he is at I feel sad.”
Dan smiled. “Kyle, JJ; both of you are right. Does that mean its ok with you Kyle?”
“I guess that settles it. You know, seeing as you two have snuck in as boyfriends from the looks of it, welcome to the family Adam and Ty. By the way, I guess that means you are allowed to call me Dad or something like that now.”
The two couples snuggled up, and answered in chorus “Thanks, Dad”.
Dan looked over at Anne, who just smiled and nodded her head in approval at how he had handled it. As he was preparing to say more, the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it!” Tyler said as he headed for the front door.
“I’ll help!” quipped Kyle as he took off after Ty.
Kevin motioned everyone to come watch the boys answer the door. Just as they reached the doorway, the two boys got to the front foyer. Each boy looked out a sidelight to see who was there, then they looked at each other in amazement before scrambling to see who could reach the doorknob first to open the door. With all of their fumbling from excitement, it took four tries before they actually managed to turn the knob to open the door.
As the door opened, Ty yelled over his shoulder “MOM! The REST of the Backstreet Boys are here!”
Teri chuckled as she joined the boys in the foyer. “Well guys, I think if you get out of the doorway they would like to come in!”
Ty and Kyle giggled, then moved out of the way. The first ones in the door were Nick and Ashley; followed by Aaron with his nephew, Johnny, in his arms. Howie, AJ, Dylan and David came in behind them and joined the group in the foyer.
Just as Teri was about to close the door, she noticed Joe coming up the sidewalk carrying some envelopes. “Just a minute guys, we’ve got one more guest joining us.”
Suddenly everyone’s attention was diverted by a slap. “OUCH! What was that for, squirt?” Aaron yelled as he rubbed the back of his head with his free hand.
“You were bad, Uncle Aaron.” A semi-sleepy Johnny replied. “You told me Justy was here. I don’t see him. You lied.”
Before anyone could reply, Ty walked up to Aaron and Johnny. “Hi, I’m Ty, this is my boyfriend Kyle. What’s your name?” he said to Johnny.
“Johnny. Is Justy here?”
“Yes he is. Right now he is taking a nap with his new brothers. If you want to come with us we will take you to him.”
“Wow, really! Put me down Uncle Aaron, PLEASE! I gotta go find Justy.” Aaron put Johnny down, then Kyle and Ty took him by the hand as they left the foyer. The three boys headed towards the rec room, Johnny holding onto both of his new friends’ hands.
Joe entered the foyer and closed the door. Teri snapped back to the situation at hand, “Okay, why don’t we all follow them. We can do introductions once we are all in the same room. There are only four missing now, and if they don’t hurry up I’m sending a search party!”
Just as they were all about to enter the rec room, Chip and Cory came down the stairs with wide grins on their faces. “You can cancel the search party, Teri.” Chip laughed.
“Hey, I see you guys found your way down here. I was wondering if you would,” Teri said.
Chip responded to Teri’s comment with a grin. “We knew where the downstairs area is. We just had better things to do with our time. And I can see that the rest of those losers finally made it.”
“We’ll talk about that in a few minutes, horn-dog.” Nick replied.
Chip responded, “You’re just jealous, Frack, cuz Ash won’t give ya any. And I’m surprised that you were able to find your way to Iowa. That one blond brain cell must have overheated in the process.”
“Yo, Chip; where’s your mount?” AJ asked with a grin.
“Behind you, fool!” Josh replied as he and Sean gingerly descended the staircase.
AJ took one look and collapsed in laughter. “Ride ’em cowboy!” he managed to sputter.
Cory and Chip looked at each other, smiled, then picked up AJ from the floor and started carrying him towards the back of the house.
“Hey! Where you think you’re taking me?” AJ shouted.
“To clean out your mind!” Cory replied with a smirk.
About a minute later, everyone heard “One … Two … Three!” then a loud SPLASH from the pool area. Cory and Chip came walking back in a minute later. “Anyone else have any comments?” Chip asked with a grin, his arms crossed across his chest.
When there was no response, Chip chuckled. “I thought so. Airboy, find AJ some dry clothes. For some unknown reason, he’s all wet.”
“Like that’s news!” Aaron laughed as he went to search for AJ’s suitcase.
Everyone fell silent as they walked into the rec room and saw the sight in the recliner. Justin was sleeping with a twin under each arm. Somehow, Johnny had managed to worm his way in so he was sitting on Justin’s lap, and was sound asleep with both of the twin’s arms draped over him.
Aaron walked in, saw Justin, and walked over to Chip and Josh. “Are those Justin’s new little brothers?” he asked quietly.
“Yes, they are. How did you hear about that?” Chip replied.
“Tyler said something when we came in and Johnny was asking about Justin.”
“Ahh, okay. I’ll fill everyone in more later then.” Chip said. “Right now, I think introductions are in order as soon as AJ gets in here. Why don’t you get over there with David. Boyfriends are the norm around here.”
“Okay. Thanks, we were kinda worried about that, that’s why we were staying apart. It kinda blew my mind when Tyler introduced Kyle as his boyfriend, but we figured we would still play it safe.”
“No problem. Now go catch up on cuddles.” Chip replied.
A few minutes later, AJ walked in. Kevin stood up. “Okay everyone, introduction time.” Kevin started. “Boys, fill in Jamie, Jacob and Johnny after they get up; they need the rest. I’ll start at the doorway here. First, the tall blond goofball there is Nick Carter, next to him is his husband, Ashley Angel-Carter. Their son Johnny is in the center of the pile in the recliner. The miniature version of Nick over there is Aaron Carter, and that’s Aaron’s boyfriend David Gallagher on his lap. Next to them, the short one is Howie Dorough and the taller one is AJ McLean. The brunette over there trying to suck the air out of Brian’s lungs is Dylan Waters-Littrell.” Kevin then proceeded to introduce everyone else to the new group.
As he finished, a series of grumbles from the recliner told everyone the sleeping beauties were about to wake up. Once Justin opened his eyes and saw everyone in the room watching, he mumbled “take a picture, it’ll last longer”; then started waking up the other three boys. Once all of them were coherent, Justin made sure all three knew who everyone was, then announced: “Unless y’all wanna get wet, you better let me up to pee!”
Suddenly the other three had to go too, so they headed off to the restroom en masse.
Anne chuckled. “Okay, now that is over with, why don’t the adults retire to the living room. Teri, Josh; I think it’s about time to start dinner, would you mind giving me a hand? Oh, and Joe, I saw the envelopes you brought; I insist you stay for dinner, we can go over them after everyone has eaten.”
Joe started to object when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to look at the smiling face of Chip. Chip spoke up, “Joe, there is one thing I learned when I was a kid: never argue with Aunt Anne. You’ll never win. And besides, you get to sample Josh’s world-famous Fettuccine Alfredo. It’s to die for.”
Joe replied, “Then it looks like I’m staying for dinner.”
“I hope there’s enough food to feed this group!” Teri said with a smile.
“Don’t worry Teri,” Josh replied, “if we need anything we can send Chip out for it. He knows what to get.” Josh ducked to miss the pillow Chip threw at him as he ran out of the room.
Teri, Josh, Howie and Anne retreated to the kitchen. Teri and Josh were going through the cabinets to make sure they had everything they needed for dinner. “Josh, I have two packages of Fettuccine noodles. Is that enough for you?”
Josh shook his head. “No, it isn’t. If I’m making enough for this crew, I’m gonna need at least another three packages.” He then turned his attention to his husband. “Oh babyyyyy?”
Chip walked over to Josh and put his arms around Josh’s waist. “Yeah, sweetheart?”
“Could you do me a big favor?”
Chip started chuckling. “Let me guess? You need more noodles for your Fettuccine?”
“Umhum. Could you go and get me some more?”
“Sure, babe.” Chip leaned in and gave Josh a quick, deep kiss on the lips.
Howie spoke up, “Okay, I’m leaving. My teeth are hurting right now. You two are just too sweet for my taste.”
“Aw shaddup, D. You’re just jealous,” Chip replied.
“Yeah right,” Howie mumbled as he left the kitchen, heading for the living room.
Chip turned to face John. “You wanna go with me. You know your way around this town.”
“Sure,” John said. “Let’s go.”
Chip and John walked out of the kitchen, heading out to get groceries for the house, and its growing population.
Once all the adults had moved on to the living room to get to know each other, Tyler started digging through the games. “Hey! I found it!” he exclaimed. “Johnny, do you like to play Frogger?”
“Yeah! Do you really got it?”
“Yep. Let me set it up for you, ok?”
“Kewl! Thanks Ty!”
Once Johnny was set up playing the game, the rest of the boys formed a semicircle on the floor around him, watching and cheering him on as they caught Aaron and David up on their lives.
“Man, you guys are lucky.” Aaron commented. “I wish my mother had been as nice as Teri. Instead, when I came out I was kicked out of the family, same as when Nicky did. If it wasn’t for Chip and Josh, I’d be on the streets. Don’t get me wrong, David,” he said as David tried to object, “I love your mom and dad to death. There’s just times that I wish I had my own mom to talk to too.”
“Aaron, come here.” Teri softly said from the doorway.
“Yeah Teri?” Aaron said as he wiped the tears from his eyes and walked up to her.
“I heard what you were saying, come here a minute.” Teri said as she pulled Aaron into a hug. “It’s okay, Aaron. Let the tears out. You are part of my family now, son. If you need a mom to talk to, I’ll be proud to be there for you”
Aaron broke down and cried in Teri’s arms, releasing the remaining pain he had been holding in for so long. Once he regained his composure, he asked Teri “Do you really mean that?”
“Yes I do. Anytime you need me, I’ll be here for you, Aaron.” She gave him a huge hug. “Why don’t you get on back with David and your brothers Everything will be just fine.”
“Thanks … Mom!” Aaron said with a smile as he returned the hug.
Aaron turned around, and the next thing he knew he was engulfed in a group hug from all the boys; even Johnny had paused his game so he could hug his uncle.
As Teri turned to head back toward the kitchen, she saw Kevin standing by the office door with a grin on his face.
“What’s the grin for, Kev?”
“Sis, you keep amazing me more and more every minute. Ever since Aaron was disowned, he has been different. All of us have tried to get him to open up, but nobody had any luck. Shoot, even Mom, Karen, and Aunt Jackie couldn’t get through to him! You must have a magic touch. It took you less than two hours to do something nobody else has even came close to in the last ten months.”
“What can I say; I won’t allow a kid to hurt around me.” Teri replied with a grin. “Now, as soon as Chip and John get back with the groceries, we’ll finish cooking dinner and eat.” Suddenly a sound from the rec room caught her attention. “Is that what I think it is?”
The third try was starting as they listened. “Okay,” they heard Aaron say, “I think you got it. Ready, from the top!” Suddenly the house was filled with a loud rendition of Not too Young, Not too Old being energetically sung.
Kevin cocked his head. “Oh My God! Aaron has not done that in AGES! He NEVER sings anymore unless it’s a concert or recording! Sis, Nick is gonna smother you in kisses when he hears that. You just gave him his lil bro back.”
As if he was being paged, Nick came running out of the living room followed by Ashley. “Is that what I think I hear? Is my lil bro SINGING for fun again??” Nick asked excitedly.
“Yep, it seems Sis worked her magic on him. All he wanted was someone he could consider a mom. From the sounds of it, our lil Airboy is back.”
Nick grabbed Teri into a bear hug. “Thank you Teri! You just made my year! I thought I’d never hear him like this again!”
Just then Aaron came flying out of the rec room, saw Nick, and bounced over to him. “Nicky, where’s the CD’s; you know, the ones with just the background music on them?”
“In the blue CD case, bro …” Nick started to reply, but was unable to finish as Aaron sprinted for the door.
“Yep, he’s back!” Kevin chuckled as Aaron flew back into the rec room, CD case in hand. Kevin went over and shut the front door that Aaron had left open.
Everyone smiled when the heard the rec room break into a youthful rendition of Larger Than Life. Just then Chip and John arrived back with the groceries.
“What’s this; is someone playing one of you guy’s practice tracks?” Chip asked as he walked in.
“Nope,” Nick said proudly, “That’s my lil bro and his pickup backup singers!”
“No way! Aaron hasn’t sung outside a studio or stage since he moved in with us! What’s going on?” Chip said in shock.
“He just needed a mom.” Teri replied. “Now he’s got one; me.”
Josh walked up behind them, putting his arms around Chip’s waist. “Babe, I think Teri needs to sit down with us after dinner. It’s time.”
“Agreed hun. Lets get the boys to get the food in.”
All the adults were gathered at the doorway watching the boys. Chip and Josh squeezed through the crowd, and stood shocked at the sight. Justin was doing an excellent rendition of It’s Gotta Be You, with Aaron, Adam, JJ, Cory and Sean as backup. The boys finished the song, and the adults broke out in applause.
“TRAITOR!” Josh yelled with a laugh. “Get over here!”
Justin smiled, and skipped over to Josh. “Sorry Pop. But if you had brought your background music, maybe we could sing them too.”
Josh smiled and pulled his son into a hug. “It’s okay, Just. You sounded awesome; as long as you are having fun you can sing your uncle’s stuff whenever you want. Now why don’t you see if you can get some help. Dad has a bunch of groceries that need to be brought in. While you are doing that, I’ll see if I can find some real background music for you guys.”
“Guys! I need a hand. Dad’s got a buncha food to haul in!” Justin yelled.
At the mention of food, all the boys jumped up and rushed to the limo, including Johnny. Chip slipped up to his room with a bag while the boys were occupied.
“What’s Chip hiding?” Teri asked Josh.
“Knowing him, I would guess he picked up some chocolate for his evening milk, and he is hiding it from the kids.”
“Why’s that? I have chocolate here, or at least had.”
“He doesn’t like normal chocolate. He has to have the semi-sweet chocolate for his milk. He’s kinda possessive of it. He won’t even let me touch it!” Josh responded with a chuckle.
Josh got a curious expression on his face when he noticed Aaron talking quietly to John and Kevin. Aaron smiled and hugged them both, then headed over to Josh.
As he hugged Josh, Aaron whispered in his ear “Josh, could you get ahold of Lance in a few minutes? I wanna surprise my new brothers with something. Uncle Kev will fill you in. We need to keep it secret though, ok?”
“Will do, squirt. Go enjoy yourself.”
Josh caught Chip as he was coming back down the stairs. “Hon, could you grab my background music CDs and give them to Aaron, please. I need to make a call.”
“Sure babe. What’s up?”
“Aaron is scheming again. I’ll fill you in as soon as I know!” Josh answered with a chuckle. He then joined John and Kevin in the office.
A few minutes later, he was back out and headed for the kitchen with a grin on his face.
“OK, what’s with the grin? ‘Fess up!” Chip said.
“Nothings for sure yet, I’ll tell you tonight if it all works out. One thing’s for sure; Aaron is as bad as you. He’s trying to rig a MAJOR surprise for his new bros”
“NOW I’m worried!” Chip responded with a chuckle. “I’ll wait though, this should be good! How’s dinner coming?”
“You’re as bad as the kids, you know that? I’ll get to work on it, go occupy yourself. I think the concert is about to start again.”
As if on cue, the house was blasted by the sounds of the boy’s rendition of Bye, Bye, Bye. “Now THAT’S music!” Josh chuckled as he headed to the kitchen.
A half hour later, as John and Kev came out of the office, Josh headed to the rec room. As he passed them, he quipped “Hey guys, dinners done. Grab some seats in the dining room while I get the kids.” He entered the rec room to the final notes of Aaron’s Party. “Ok, guys; wash up and get in the breakfast area to eat. Adults to the dining room!”
Everyone got settled, and thoroughly enjoyed the dinner. Teri had created a chef’s salad to start things off, followed by Josh’s famous Fettuccine Alfredo and some melt-in-your-mouth stuffed pork chops from Anne. The Fettuccine was so popular even Johnny went back for seconds. Just as everyone finished, a bell went off in the kitchen. Anne looked at Teri and said, “We timed that perfectly! Dessert will be out shortly. Aaron, give us a hand, will you, dear?”
They returned shortly with three pans of double-fudge brownies and two 5 gallon pails of vanilla ice cream. Anne looked at Chip, “Not one word Chip. If that old crab you call a doctor says anything, I’ll put him in his place. These boys all deserve a treat.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Chip replied with a grin.
After everyone was finally stuffed, Chip spoke up. “That was an awesome dinner. My compliments to the chefs. I think we all need to go to the rec room. There are a few things that need to be taken care of real quick, and they involve everyone here.”
He got a few curious looks, but everyone went in and found places. Chip had Sean hook Chip’s laptop up so that it would display on the big screen TV. Once they were all settled, Chip started. “Joe, you probably wanna hang around for all of this. Did you have something for someone here?”
“Judge Jamie told me what you planned, Chip. These two envelopes should probably be held until after you spring your surprise, but the rest I can deliver now. Since you are a Starfleet officer, you being here will make the first two official. Teri, come up here.”
Teri came up, slightly confused. “What you got, Joe?”
“Just a couple forms for you to sign.” Joe said with a smile.
Teri opened both envelopes and grinned when she saw the contents. She quickly signed both forms, and passed them to Chip to witness. He signed them with a smile, then asked Teri, “May I do the honors?”
“Go for it, Chip”
“Adam, Tyler – front and center!” Chip said in an official voice.
Both boys worriedly shuffled up to Chip, shoulders slumped.
“Stand proud, you two, and face the rest of the room.”
They turned around, almost at attention, and felt Chip place a hand on each of their shoulders.
Chip grinned. “Ladies and Gentlemen. May I present to you Tyler Austin SHORT and Adam Kelly SHORT. Congratulations, boys, welcome to the family!”
Both boys looked confused for a minute, then realized what Chip just said.
“Does that mean Teri is our real mom now?” Adam asked excitedly.
“Sure does! From now on, she is your parent, and Sean and Cory are your brothers!” Chip replied.
“AWESOME!!” The two exclaimed as they jumped over to hug Teri.
The boys gave Joe and Chip their ‘thanks’, then started circulating the room to receive congratulations from everyone. Chip pulled Joe over to him and asked, “How did you pull that off so quick? The best time I’ve ever heard of was weeks, not days!”
“Well, somehow,” Joe said with a grin, “the Commissioner found out that Teri is part of your extended family. After what you did for the twins, he felt it was only proper to streamline things for Teri as a gesture of thanks to you. Speaking of the twins,” Joe handed Chip two envelopes with Starfleet seals on them, “Here are the hard copies of your custody forms. Judge Jamie and I have our copies already. He says to tell you once the boys have settled in to see him about starting the adoption process.”
“You are a sneak, you know that, don’t ya? I like that!” Chip giggled. “Give the Commissioner my regards and thanks. Just between you and me, he just earned a citation from Starfleet for his public service! Have a seat; the boys are about done, so I’ll get started.”
“Okay you animals, settle down!” Chip said with a laugh. “Teri, get back up here, you too Dan and John. I’m just gettin’ started.” Once everyone had settled in, Chip began.
“First off, all the boys seem to have came to the conclusion that they all need to live together, correct?”
“It appears so.” Teri replied.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but for that to happen, you will need a larger house, right?”
“Yeah, it looks that way”
“Well, seeing as you are family, we can’t let you go thru the hassles of trying to find a suitable house here, so we all decided to help you out a little.”
“Just what do you mean, ‘we'” Teri asked.
“Basically everyone in this room, along with the rest of the members of N’Sync. Just sit back, watch, listen, and learn.”
“And don’t bother arguing, Teri. It’s out of any of you three’s hands!” Anne interjected.
Teri sat back with a bemused expression on her face as Chip continued.
“This,” Chip brought up a picture on the screen, “is the beginnings of your new home. The picture is about an hour old.” The picture showed a large foundation with what appeared to be freshly laid flooring over it. Off to the side were workers beginning to assemble walls.
“Where’s this at?” Teri asked.
“Oh, roughly two miles from our front gate!” He clicked on another picture. “Here’s a picture of Southcrest, mine and Josh’s ranch. That reminds me – Mark, come up here.”
“Yes, sir?” Mark asked as he walked up.
“First, I’m not on duty, so please call me Chip. Second, look at this picture; you see the driveway here and the grounds around the house?”
“Yeah. What about them?”
“Be honest. Do you see anything you think should be done differently?”
Mark studied the picture for a few moments. “Well, Chip; these two trees here look out of place. There should be some hedges and a garden to blend them in. Over here, by the house, a small pond would do wonders. I’d probably put a couple of palm trees by it, since that is in Florida. Why did you ask?”
Chip pointed to a house just past the main house on the driveway. “You see this, all you have to do is say ‘yes’ and it’s yours. I heard that you were good at landscaping; I think you are a natural! We’ll start you at $75,000 a year, plus benefits and a Jeep of your choice every three years.”
“What would I be doing?”
“Head groundskeeper for the entire Ranch. It’s a thousand acres in size, but all you are responsible for is around the house and driveway, and we expect you to contract or delegate the mundane jobs.”
Mark picked his jaw up off the floor, then responded. “I would be stupid to say no. How long ’till I can start?”
Chip nodded at Josh, who began dialing his cell phone. “You just did. We are giving you a one-month pay bonus to start. Here’s your check card to access your account. You can come home with us if you want when we leave. Do you need anything from your ex-foster parent’s house?”
“I’ve got a few clothes, but what I really need to get is my computer and the things Cory and Kyle have gave me.”
“John, can you get a deputy to escort him to get his things? I’ll fill you in on what you missed when you get back, Mark, okay?”
“One deputy, coming up!” John said with a grin.
“Thanks, Chip and Josh. I hope I don’t disappoint you.”
“You won’t Mark. If we didn’t trust you to do your best, we would not have asked.” Chip said with a smile. “If you are not sure, just ask; I expect you to take a bit to get used to it.”
Josh started shouting in the phone. “You better read your contract again, you dweeb! We ABSOLUTELY state in it that you WILL work with the groundskeeper of OUR choice!
Josh paused, then said “THAT’S IT! You have 15 minutes to get your people off our property! If they are not gone, they will be arrested by Starfleet Security for trespassing. I’m starting the clock NOW!” Another pause, then “Call your lawyers – you are in default on a contract with Starfleet. You try to sue us and we will OWN you! You have 13 minutes and 42 seconds left, I would suggest hurrying up.” Josh paused once more, then turned beet red. “LISTEN ASSHOLE! NOBODY talks about me OR my family like that! What was that? YOU BASTARD! YOU JUST CROSSED THE LINE! NOBODY THREATENS MY SON!”
Josh hit the ‘end’ button on his cell phone, then furiously dialed a 30 number sequence from memory. “Security, Code 2374-Dodds.” A short pause then “Lieutenant, Josh Chasez-Dodds, ID 4872904A7. Code 7 regarding the owner of Orlando Landscaping, threat was to Justin. Transcript via my cell’s previous call. All employees have been told to be off Southcrest Ranch in 8 minutes 23 seconds on my mark … MARK. I request a full security detail to protect the Ranch. Subject of threat is in Iowa with myself and Commander Dodds. Charges are to be pressed as per regulations.” Josh listened for a minute, smiled, and replied. “Thanks Lieutenant. Well done. If you need to contact me or my husband about anything, use this number. … You have a great evening too.” Josh hung up, and looked at Chip, who was standing there with a reassuring hand on Josh’s shoulder.
“What happened?” Chip asked.
“When I tried to let them know we had a permanent groundskeeper, they tried to weasel out by saying only they could approve him. I ended up talking to the owner, who got quite nasty once he saw the wording in the standard Starfleet contract. When he threatened to sue us, I fired them. He then made a major mistake, he made derogatory remarks about us being gay, then compounded on it by threatening Justin. As of right now, he is in Starfleet custody and his employees are being escorted off Southcrest. The house and grounds will be under 24/7 guard until you cancel it.”
“Sounds like you handled everything, babe. That’s why I love you so much. You don’t mess around.”
“Thanks hon. I love you too!” Josh said, then faced Mark. “Hey, Mark! Looks like your first job will be finding proper help! You can either hire a company or assemble your own crew – your choice, just let us know. I’ll show you how to do background checks when we get home.”
The worried look on Mark’s face was replaced with a grin. “That’s easy – I’ll assemble a crew from kids in the orphanages, if that’s ok. That way they won’t argue with me on what to do. You guys are giving me a break. I have to pass on the help.”
Josh laughed. “Mark, you just earned a $5,000 pay raise for that. You are going to work out just fine!”
Chip walked back to the front of the room. “As I was saying before Josh had to use a Roto-Rooter on our previous landscaper’s butt, you will do just fine, Mark!”
Chip clicked on a picture of the plot map of Southcrest Ranch. “Now, Teri, you see this little spot here with the dotted lines around it?”
“The dotted lines show your property. As of right now,” Chip handed Teri one of the envelopes, “Josh and I own 990 acres of Southcrest – the other 10 acres is yours. It’s a gift from us to welcome you to the family. This one,” he handed her another envelope, “is from the Backstreet Boys – it’s the deed to your house, free and clear. N’Sync is covering all the interior stuff, furniture and the works. In a couple weeks, you can go with Aunt Anne, Karen, Aunt Jackie, Lynn and Phyllis to pick out furniture and decorations.”
“Okay … let me see if I’ve got this right. Basically we are moving to Orlando, into a house supplied by you guys from Backstreet on property given to us by Chip and Josh. N’Sync is supplying everything for in the house. Did I miss anything?”
“Yeah, Teri!” Mark chipped in, “Your landscaping and maintenance is free too, that’s from me, I’ll pay the guys myself.”
Chip laughed. “Well, looks like you got it, Teri! Any more questions?”
“Just one. Do I at least get to pick out what goes in the house?”
“You get to choose everything for inside. You just won’t pay for it.”
“Well, I already know better than to argue, so all I can say is thanks to all of you. One question though, what are those two envelopes you still have left?”
“Those are from Joe. One is yours and the other is Dan and John’s.” Chip handed the packets to their intended recipients.
Teri opened hers first. “This may sound strange, Joe, but why am I suddenly licensed in Florida as a foster parent, an emergency one no less?”
Joe chuckled. “You mean you have to ask? With your history the last week or so, Judge Jamie and I figured we would prepare ahead of time to cover our bases.”
Teri laughed. “You have a point. Thanks a bunch.”
As Dan was opening the other envelope, Chip walked up to John. “Oh, John, before I forget, you have an interview with the Commanding Officer of Orlando Interplanetary Spaceport the day after tomorrow. Transportation has already been arranged. It seems that the current Chief of Security is retiring, and they need an experienced person to take over.”
Dan spoke up. “Joe, how did this license end up with both mine and John’s names on it? It’s dated yesterday, but we’ve only officially been a couple for a few hours!”
“DUHHH!” JJ said sarcastically.
“James Jacob Richardson! Would you like to explain yourself BEFORE I ground you for the next 10 years or after?”
“Well Dad, it was kinda obvious – at least to everyone but you and Pop! All us kids knew you two were together two days ago!”
“And WHICH one of you supposedly figured this out?” John asked the boys.
Suddenly every kid in the room was doing their best imitation of an angel.
“Give it up, boys. There ain’t a single one of you who could pass for an angel!” John said with a chuckle.
“THANK YOU!” Justin yelled. “NOW will you all believe me when I say I’m not an angel?!”
At that comment, the adults all lost control and fell into fits of laughter, with the kids following close behind.
Once the laughter died down, Dan spoke again. “Okay JJ, I’ll let you off the hook, but you better learn to phrase things better. Duh is NOT an acceptable way to address an adult; not even Brian.”
“Chip,” John said, “I’m not even gonna ask about the foster parent license, but what about my job I have now?”
“Well, John,” Chip replied, “actually the interview is just a formality. It seems your boss recommended you to Starfleet for the position, and after one look at your records you were selected.”
“Just HOW did he find out about the position?” John asked.
Chip tried out his angel imitation.
John took one look and laughed. “Give it up, Chip. You have less chance of passing for an angel than the boys do. BUSTED! Oh, and Thanks too!”
The doorbell rang, and Teri answered it. “Mark!” she yelled, “Your escort is here!”
“Thanks! I’ll be back in a few minutes, this should not take too long.” Mark said as he headed towards the door.
Everyone settled into the living room, adults and kids sharing in the discussion of what it would be like when all of them were moved over to Florida. Forty-five minutes later, Mark returned to the house.
“How’d it go, Mark? I don’t see any of your stuff.” John asked.
“They started to argue until your Deputy set them straight. After that, I got all my stuff out. It’s all loaded in the limo to pack up and take with me – the driver insisted he would handle it.”
“Kev, give the driver a bonus before he leaves for the hotel tonight – and ask him if he would like Florida!” Josh said. “Initiative like that is what I look for, and I think he would be perfect to oversee the fleet of vehicles that Southcrest is about to have.”
“Will do, Josh!” Kevin replied. “Guys, speaking of hotels, it’s about time to hit the sack. We have a busy day ahead of all of us tomorrow. The limo driver has all the info for your hotel, what ya say we all turn in.”
“Dad, Daddy, can I stay here with Ty and Kyle?” Johnny begged.
Nick looked at Teri. “What you think, Teri. Can you handle one more?”
“Sure, all the kids sleep down here anyway. He should be fine!”
“Tonight it’s ALMOST all the kids, ISN’T IT SEAN?” Cory said in a forceful voice.
“Yes dear!” Sean replied meekly.
Teri looked at her two boys, then at Chip and Josh, who were barely holding back laughter. “Don’t laugh, you two. That’s exactly how you look! I see my two have been paying attention!”
Nick laughed. “On that note, we’re outta here; another pair like Chip and Josh is more than I can handle! Give your Daddy and I some hugs, Johnny, and you be good for Teri, ok?”
“Ok, Dad. I’ll be good!”
Chip replied, “Like you have any room to talk, Frack. You and Ashley are just as bad as we are.” The rest of the Backstreet Boys then left the house, heading to their hotel.
When Kevin came back in, he had a smile on his face. “Josh – the drivers name is Randy, he said he will make sure he is the driver tomorrow. He is interested in your offer; he said whenever you have the chance, look him up.”
“Thanks, Kev. I’ll handle it from here. Now, I think bedtime is in order, so we will see you all in the morning!” Josh replied, then he and Chip headed upstairs to their room.
Everyone separated to get some rest. As Sean and Cory headed up the stairs to their room, Sean leaned in to Cory and gave him a loving kiss. “Thank you Cory, you have made my life whole again. I love you!”
“I love you too, Sean. Without you I’d be lost. Let’s get undressed for bed; I’ve still got enough energy to show you just how much you really mean to me.”
“That’s the best idea I have heard all day. I’ll undress you if you’ll undress me!”