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The whole house was awakened by a voice screaming, “Put me down! HEY! What you think you’re doing! HELP!”
Chip and Josh were the first to hear the noise. They hurriedly jumped put of bed, pulled on some track pants and tee-shirts, and then ran down the stairs to see how much damage was done. They followed the sounds from the boys, and ended up at the pool. As soon as they exited the door, both men began laughing.
“Don’t you think it’s a little bit early to be swimming, Curly?” Chip managed to sputter at the drenched form trying to climb out of the pool.
“Talk to your son and his identical midget cohorts,” he replied, just before being shoved back into the pool again.
“Guys,” Josh yelled to the boys, “Come on back here and let Curly out of the water. If he makes any more comments, your Dad and I will handle him.”
“OK Pop!” the three boys chorused.
Teri came out the door just then, followed by Anne and Kevin. “Would you mind filling me in on what all the noise is about?” Teri asked Chip.
Chip pointed to the crowd gathered along the wall of the house watching the antics at the pool. “Look close, you see a few new faces? One second here, I’ll have Josh bring them over. It looks like we were invaded this morning, and SOMEONE decided to open his mouth and put his foot in it. May I introduce you to our wakeup call?”
Chip walked with Teri to the side of the pool, where the subject of all the attention was just climbing out again. “Teri, this is Justin Timberlake from N’Sync. Just call him Curly, it cuts down on the confusion. Justin, this is Teri. Oh, by the way, Brillo-head, those two boys you called midgets are Justy’s foster brothers – have a nice swim!” Chip then pushed Curly back into the pool, which drew a round of applause from the assembled group. Jason tried to help Curly, but wound up getting thrown in as well by Chip.
Josh walked up with the rest of the new arrivals. “Teri, I’d like to introduce you to the rest of my band mates. First, this guy over here with the hair that we are not sure what color it is, or will be tomorrow, is Joey Fatone.”
“Hi Teri.” Joey said. “Don’t mind him, this IS my natural hair color, and if he doesn’t watch it, I’ll tell Mom to cut him off on pasta!”
Josh snickered. “Whatever Joey, I don’t think even you remember what the original color was. Anyways, the albino over there is Lance Bass. Next to him is his boyfriend, Matt Newman. The midget over there is Chris Kirkpatrick. The guy who Chip just threw in the pool with Curly is his husband, Jason. Chip already introduced you to the resident juvenile delinquent, Curly, so that should just about cover everyone.”
Teri smiled. “Glad to meet y’all. Now I can put faces to the names that have been floating around here the last few days. If someone wants to pull the rat and his husband outta the pool, I’ll introduce your nephews to you!”
Lance went over to the pool. “Alright, you two goofballs. Out of the pool and get over there. You better behave, or I’ll cut off your video games again.”
Both men climbed out of the pool, giving Lance dirty looks as they joined the rest of their group. The rest of Backstreet and their entourage arrived as Teri introduced the boys. Teri was surprised when none of the boys were star struck by the new batch of superstars standing in front of them.
Tyler walked up to Teri as she was discussing the lack of reaction with Kevin and Chip. “Mommy, I’m STARVING! When is breakfast?”
Teri looked around the pool. “There’s no way the kitchen can handle this group. You got any suggestions, Chip?”
Chip thought for a minute, and then responded. “Denny’s sounds good if there’s one around here. Thing is; with a group this size, we need to call ahead.”
Teri giggled. “Actually, there’s one just over on Merle Hay Road. I went to school with the morning manager. Usually it’s dead this time of the morning. It would serve him right if we just show up. I owe him a few from school still.”
Chip chuckled. “Dang, when you hold a grudge, you REALLY hold it! Let’s see if we can get this clan dressed and dried and then we’ll have a little fun invading Denny’s.”
Kevin put two fingers in his mouth and proceeded to emit an ear-piercing whistle. “LISTEN UP! Everyone get yourself presentable to go out for breakfast. You have FIFTEEN MINUTES; anyone NOT ready is not eating! Lance, get the two delinquents some dry clothes, make sure they are DECENT ones!”
Everyone scrambled to get dressed. As ordered, they were all ready fifteen minutes later. They piled into the four limos outside, and ten minutes later pulled into Denny’s.
As Chip started to climb out to make sure the restaurant could accommodate the group, Teri tapped his arm. “Let me join you, Chip. This should be fun!”
They looked around as they walked up to the counter. With the exception of an older couple that was just leaving, the only other people in the restaurant were two boys sitting in a booth in the corner.
“I need to see the manager.” Chip said to the waitress behind the counter.
“One minute, sir.” She responded.
Two minutes later, a husky man came in from the kitchen. He noticed Teri at the counter. “Hi Teri. How ya’ doin’?”
“Not bad Cecil. Still need a real job?”
“Gotta feed the wife and kid somehow!” Cecil replied.
He then shifted his attention to Chip. “Good morning, sir. Is there a problem?”
“Not really.” Chip replied. “Actually, I was wondering if you could handle a party of thirty-some-odd people all at once?”
The expression on Cecil’s face was priceless. “For a party that size, I’ll lock the doors! I will need to ask for pre-approval on the payment method though – it’s company policy, nothing personal.”
“Understood.” Chip replied, and then passed his Starfleet Platinum Visa over the counter to Cecil.
Cecil’s eyes grew wide when he saw the name on the card, and they almost popped out of his head when he ran the funds availability on the card.
“Is there a problem?” Chip asked.
“Not at all – you’re all set!” Cecil responded. “You wouldn’t happen to be Commander Charles Dodds from the Starship Enterprise, would you?”
“Yes, I am,” Chip replied. “Why?”
“My wife has been talking about you a LOT! She works for Family Services. You are considered able to walk on water by them right now!”
Chip blushed and then chuckled at the look on Cecil’s face as the rest of the party started entering the restaurant.
“Give me just a minute and I’ll have those two boys out. They’ve been here three hours already anyway.” Cecil stated as he regained control of his jaw muscles.
“You will do no such thing!” Teri said forcibly. “They are too young to be out by themselves. Did you see them dropped off?”
“Actually, they just walked in, no signs of any adults anywhere. That’s why I’ve let them sit there. I was hoping a parent would show up.”
Teri got a knowing look on her face. “Put them on our bill, and they are staying. Before we leave their story will be known.”
Aaron walked up to Teri. “Hey Mom, is there a problem?”
“Not at all, Aaron. Tell everyone to grab a seat, but you hang up here for a few, OK?”
“Sure thing, I’ll be right back.”
Cecil was in shock. “Was that Aaron Carter, and did he just call you Mom?”
Teri grinned. “Yep, that’s Aaron. He’s my unofficial son now, so he has that privilege.”
“Andrew is never gonna believe this – Aaron is his idol!”
Aaron walked up just as Cecil said it. “Is Andrew your son?”
“Yes, he just turned 12 last week. His walls are covered with posters of you!”
“If you can get him over here, I’ll give him a late birthday present – breakfast with me, N’Sync, and the Backstreet Boys. You think he’ll like that?”
“You will make his year! I’ll call right away. Thank you VERY much!”
Teri smiled, and then pulled Aaron off to the side. “Aaron, you see those two boys in the corner?”
“Yeah, they look kinda out of place. It’s like they are trying to not be noticed.”
“That’s what I thought, too. Grab your brothers and make them feel welcome. Sean and Cory are experts in finding out what’s going on. You guys do whatever you need to do to keep those two here. If they say anything that raises a red flag, get my attention.”
“Sure thing, Mom. I’ve wanted to see Sean and Cory in action anyway. If I put my hat on, start making calls.”
“I like how you think, Aaron. Go to it, son.”
Teri walked back over to Chip. “If Aaron puts on his hat, start calling. The tribe is out hunting!”
Chip chuckled. “You are almost as demented as I am! I’ll watch; I give them five minutes!”
Cecil finished the phone call he was making. “They will be here in ten minutes. My wife threatened to draw and quarter me if this was a joke.”
Teri looked over to the other side of the room, to see the boys breaking out of a huddle. “Watch this, you are about to see something amazing!” she said to Cecil and Chip.
They all turned to watch the events about to happen in the corner.
Johnny had been chosen to be the lead boy of the welcoming committee. He timidly walked up to the table the two boys were sitting at. “Hi, I’m Johnny. Can my cousins and me sit here with you?”
Both boys looked closely at Johnny, and decided he looked sincere. The oldest spoke up. “I guess so. We will probably have to go soon though.”
Johnny signaled to the rest of the boys that it was ok to come over then slid into the booth next to the youngest boy. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Robbie, and that’s my cousin Rusty.”
Aaron walked over to the booth. “Hey, squirt. We’re putting some tables together over here. Why don’t you bring your new friends over there and introduce them?”
“Ok, Unca Aaron” Johnny replied.
Rusty looked at Johnny in shock. “He’s your uncle?? That’s AARON CARTER!”
Johnny giggled. “Yep, he’s my Unca. He’s goofy too!” He then grabbed both boys’ hands and escorted them to the head of the table that was set up.
Once everyone was seated, Johnny turned to Aaron. “Unca Aaron, this is Rusty and Robbie. Will you introduce everybody else?”
“Sure thing, buddy. Rusty, Robbie; these are our cousins.” Aaron then started around the table and introduced everyone.
“Adam?” Robbie asked innocently, “Why do you look like you were beat up?”
“My old father found out I was gay, and he beat me up. These guys found me, and now I have two new brothers; Sean and Cory. I also have my little brother that I had never met, Tyler.”
“Wow, that’s awesome that it worked out so good for you!” Rusty replied. “I wish we could …” He suddenly got a sad look on his face.
Cory got up and crouched between Rusty and Robbie, an arm over each boy’s shoulder. “Go ahead, what do you wish for? You might be surprised at how wishes come true.”
Rusty continued in a small voice “I wish I knew someone who could take care of us. Robbie’s mom ran off a month ago, and he moved in with me and my mom. Mom went on a date last week and didn’t come home. This is the last of the money that was around the house, I figured we could have one more meal together before we went to the police and got separated into foster homes.”
Aaron put his hat on so hard that an audible ‘slap’ was heard throughout the restaurant. “You have, and I KNOW Mom will make sure you guys never lose each other.”
Sean giggled. “You know something, Aaron – I think Cory and I are rubbing off on you!”
Teri and Chip were passing the time with Cecil, waiting for his son to arrive, when they were startled by the slap of the hat. Chip looked at his watch. “Seven minutes, thirty seconds. Not bad. Teri, I’ll start making calls, you get the details.”
“I’m on it, Chip. From the sound of the hat, better call it in as an emergency.”
“Agreed,” Chip then pulled out his communicator and opened it. “Dodds to Enterprise.”
“Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Chip”
“Nyota, where’s the Captain?”
“In his cabin having breakfast with Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock. Is there a problem, Chip?”
“Let’s just say Teri’s boys have struck again. Could you patch me please?”
“One second, Chip.”
A few seconds later, Kirk’s voice came over the communicator. “Kirk here. What’s wrong, Mr. Dodds?”
“Looks like two more kids. Teri is getting details now.”
“Say no more. Bones and I will be right down. Kirk out.”
Chip closed his communicator, surprised at the reaction from his Captain. He no more than had the communicator back on his belt before two shimmering columns appeared in the lobby. He turned to Cecil, “Looks like two more for breakfast!”
Rusty cowered when he saw Teri heading toward them. Sean looked around and saw her heading over. “Don’t worry, that’s Mom. She’s cool.”
“Yeah,” Aaron added, “Mom is the greatest.”
Rusty relaxed some, and once Teri came up, she had Cory take a seat while she knelt between Rusty and Robbie.
“Hey guys, I’m Teri; Sean, Cory, Ty, Adam, and Aaron’s Mom. You wanna tell me your names?”
“Yes, Ma’am. I’m Rusty Miller, and this is my cousin Robbie Miller.”
“Do you guys have a problem you would like to talk about?”
“Yeah. How did you know?”
“I guessed when I saw you as we came in. I told Aaron to let me know if he thought you might need help.”
“OK.” Rusty then repeated what he had told the boys, pausing only when he saw the transporter beams.”
“What’s that?” Robbie asked in a scared voice when the beams appeared.
Justy reached over and placed a hand on Robbie’s shoulder. “Don’t worry; it’s just a transporter beam.” As the forms took shape, Justy smiled. “It’s just Uncle Jim and Doc McCoy. You’re fine.”
Rusty finished his story, then both boys received a hug from Teri. “Don’t worry guys, you’re safe now.” She then got up and joined Chip and the new arrivals.
Cory spoke up. “See guys, I told ya Mom was cool. She’ll take care of everything. I promise!”
Rusty’s mood was noticeably brighter. “You got a great mom! I’m really glad you guys came here today!”
“Hey guys,” Sean interrupted, “Whadda you say that since you’re joining the family, we all go over and you can meet the rest of the family.”
“Sweeet! Let’s go!” Robbie and Rusty said in chorus.
“What’s the word, Teri?” Kirk asked as soon as she walked up.
“Well, looks like one of you gets to use the Safe Haven Act again. We’ve got one abandoned boy and one possibly abandoned.”
“Actually Teri,” Kirk said with a grin, “I think it would only be fitting for the Director of the Federation’s new Youth Services Bureau to do the honors.”
Teri looked confused. “That sounds fine, but I don’t see him here.”
“The new director is not a ‘he’; it’s a ‘she’. As a matter of fact, I’m looking right at her!”
Teri and Chip both looked at the Captain in shock. Chip finally was able to speak. “Could you please expand on that, sir?”
Kirk chuckled. “It seems that word got out about you and the twins, Mr. Dodds. Over the last day, Headquarters has been swamped with incoming requests for more information about the act. The Admiral happened to have the file open on Teri when one of his aides suggested a department to coordinate actions under the Act. With your history in just the last month, Teri, he decided you would be perfect for the job; so he created the department and at 9pm last evening officially appointed you Director. I was supposed to tell you when you came up to the ship today, but it looks like you will need it before then. By the way, the Admiral suggested you appoint a head for a psychiatric department, and said that Daniel Richardson would have his approval if you think he will fit.”
Teri got a serious look on her face. “Captain, I’m flattered by the offer, but there are a couple things that take precedence. The first is this rapidly growing tribe I call a family. They need my support before anyone else. The second is my extended family who have gone to great lengths to arrange for us to all be together in Orlando. Unless allowances can be made for those two priorities, I will have to respectfully decline the appointment.”
Kirk smiled. “Teri, you sound just like some officers of mine. They’re not afraid to draw a line and express their thoughts. In fact, you are standing next to the two biggest offenders – Bones and Mr. Dodds. The Admiral figured you might say that; here’s the details: First, you will be working from home, using a comlink for any required communications. You will have a secure link to the main file servers, so your home will be your office. You might be surprised to find out that half of the Federation’s Department heads have never stepped foot inside Headquarters. Second, and most important, is that with a few limited exceptions, most of which will be emergency situations you can handle over a communicator, you will set your own schedule each day. If Sean has soccer practice at 3pm, you will be able to take him and watch the practice, no questions asked, no answering to anyone.”
Teri looked thoughtful for a minute, then responded. “That sounds fine; I’ll accept under the condition that I have all that in writing before I leave the ship tonight.”
“I’ll make sure of that myself.” McCoy interjected. “Just what I’ve seen so far from you has impressed me; you better believe I’m going to go over everything with a fine-toothed comb before you even see it. Now let’s go meet those boys.”
Aaron had just finished introducing the rest of the family to Rusty and Robbie when JJ yelled out “Hey, Carrot Top, over here!”
Aaron turned to see who JJ was yelling at, and saw Cecil with a lady he assumed was his wife and a skinny freckled 12 year old redhead boy. ‘That must be Andrew’ he thought to himself as he stood up.
“JJ, you bum! What you doin’ here?” Andrew said with a grin.
“Not much, just a family reunion! Come on over, I’ve got some people I wanna introduce to you.”
JJ, Adam, and Aaron met Andrew at the edge of the group. JJ giggled when Andrew’s face dropped in shock as he realized Aaron Carter was not only here, but was actually coming over to greet him.
“Hey dufus, close your mouth. You’re letting the flies out!” JJ said as they walked up. “What’s the big deal? He’s only Aaron Carter?”
“You’ll pay for that later, JJ.” Aaron said with a grin. “Since you two know each other, why don’t you handle introductions, smart aleck?”
JJ grinned, “Everyone, This is Andrew Evans, and his mom, Angela. Carrot Top here is my best friend.” He then ran through the introductions, purposely saving Aaron for last.
When an impatient Aaron was finally introduced, Aaron shook Andrew’s hand. “It’s great to meet you. Your Dad tells me you kinda like my music.”
“Yeah, you are AWESOME! I’ve got everything you have ever done!”
“I had a good teacher: my big bro. How would you like to join us for breakfast, and I’ll see if I can con your Dad out of a menu. If so, we’ll pass it around and everyone can sign the meal they ordered.”
“SWEEET! Would you really do that?”
“Yep. Two reasons; first you are a fan, and second you are one of my bro’s best friends. Besides, you seem pretty cool yourself.”
Andrew then turned to JJ. “Hey, JJ, sorry I did not make it to see your mom, man. I really wanted to be there for you, but the thought of going to the funeral made me start getting sick. I got so bad Mom told me that if I went I’d hurt myself, she said you didn’t need to see that happen.”
As soon as he heard JJ’s mom mentioned, Adam immediately pulled in close to JJ and placed his arm around his waist in support.
“Thanks, Andy.” JJ replied. “I understand, I would hate to see you hurt.”
Andrew looked at the pair in front of him, deep in thought. He seemed to make a decision inside his head, and then spoke. “JJ, is Adam your boyfriend? Are you gay?”
The restaurant fell silent, the only noise coming from the kitchen.
JJ looked at Adam, who nodded his approval for JJ to answer. “Uhh, yeah, actually I am gay, and Adam is my boyfriend. Please say you don’t hate me, and we are still friends.”
Andrew smiled, then held out his hand to Adam. “Congratulations, Adam. I was wondering how much longer this dufus was going to hide in the closet. Don’t worry, he’s all yours. This just means I KNOW he won’t be stealing girlfriends from me!”
This caused chuckles and giggles from everyone, and conversation resumed around the room.
As Aaron returned to his seat he noticed Robbie had moved, and was now sitting between Brian and Dylan. Since that opened up a seat by him, he guided Andrew to sit between him and David.
“Wow, it feels like I’m out in space with all these stars around me! This is AWESOME!” Andrew gushed.
David giggled. “Get used to it, since you and JJ are friends, you’ll be seeing a lot more of these clowns. Besides, you made some instant friends the way you reacted to JJ being gay. I know I speak for all of us when I say you were really impressive.”
JJ leaned over and asked Andrew “Hey, Carrot; when did you figure out that I was gay?”
Andrew looked thoughtful for a minute, then spoke. “I’ve suspected it for about a year now; it was kinda obvious the way you watched me change whenever we were together and you thought I was not looking. Mom and Dad noticed too, I guess.”
A blushing JJ asked, “OK, when did you think you knew though?”
“You remember the trip to Worlds of Fun in June? When we got to the hotel room; remember the rollaway bed that was there? And how I got really mad and stormed out? Dad followed me, and we had a long talk. They were worried that you might make an advance on me and I’d take it wrong and blow up. Dad and I had a long talk, that’s when it hit me that you were gay. Thing is, you were not any different because of it, and Dad explained to me it was not a choice you made, but the way you were born; kinda like my freckles. I had seen the way you looked hurt when you saw the bed; man, you and I have slept in the same bed forever! I asked him if he really thought you would try anything with them in the room when you have never done it in the privacy of a bedroom, and informed him to get rid of the bed; I was going to sleep with you, and if anything did happen I would just let you know that it’s not my way, but I’m ok with it being yours. I also said that if we were right, you needed me to be a friend now more than the rest of the time I’ve known you, and I refused to abandon you like that. You were kinda down the rest of the evening, do you remember what I did when it was bedtime?”
JJ was sitting there, tears of joy streaming down his face. The rest of the group was listening intently, mesmerized by the tale unfolding before them. JJ slowly replied, “Yeah, you insisted that we shower together, which we had not done for ages, and then when we went to bed, you rolled over, laid your head on my shoulder, and told me that no matter what you would always be my best friend.”
Andrew smiled. “That’s right, and I meant ever word of it. I know things might get rough for you, but I promise I will always be here for you as a friend. If I get labeled as gay because I’m hanging around you, then I’ll live with it; you’re my friend no matter what anyone says or does.”
JJ got up, lifted Andrew out of his chair, and proceeded to give him a heartfelt hug. After the hug broke, JJ spoke. “Andy; thanks for sticking with me. After what you just said, and what we have been like, would you mind if I stopped calling you a friend and started calling you my brother?”
Before Andrew could answer, there was a chorus of boys’ voices as he was informed that the rest of the tribe wanted him to join too. Aaron stood in front of him, and made it official. “Andrew, as you just heard you have been invited to not only be JJ’s brother; but to join what we jokingly call ‘the tribe’. I promise you, everyone is serious. You have earned the right to be called a brother of every boy in this room. I would be proud to call you my brother, just as I call JJ and the rest of the guys’ brothers. Just to let you know, it takes something special to be included in this group, and you are the first guy over 11 years old who is confirmed straight that has even been considered.”
Andrew looked around the room at the expectant faces watching him, checked the sincere look on Aaron’s face, and then turned back to JJ. He spoke in a loud voice so all could hear “Come here and give me a hug, BROTHER!”
The restaurant erupted in a loud cheer, and then Andrew made the rounds of the room receiving welcomes from everyone. He was surprised when Kevin pulled him down to talk to him as he was coming by.
“Andy,” Kevin said in a low voice, “I’m really proud of you. You are doing something that most kids could not do; standing by a gay friend who is ‘out’. As one straight guy to another, I’ll tell you there will be times you will wonder if you made the right choice. Trust me, you did; and you will never regret it. I’m going to give you my card. If you have any problems you don’t know how to handle, need help, or just wanna talk, give me a call anytime. You are never going to be alone. Both bands will back you up. If it gets serious, more than likely Starfleet will be backing you too, so stick with it, ok – nephew?”
Andrew gave Kevin a hug, and then put the card in his wallet. “Thanks, Uncle Kev!” he said with a smile.
Kevin playfully swatted his butt. “My pleasure. Now go grab your seat. It looks like the food is coming out!”
Andrew giggled and then ran back to sit between Aaron and David. As he passed JJ, he stopped long enough to tell him “Thanks, bro. I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life!”
Teri, Chip, Kirk, and Dr. McCoy joined Andrew’s parents standing on the edge of the group watching the introductions and the events following. Teri spotted Robbie first.
“Dr. McCoy, You see the boy cuddled up on Brian’s lap? That’s Robbie. Give me a minute. I’m still trying to spot Rusty.”
Just then, Andrew asked about JJ being gay, and all of them paid close attention to the happenings between JJ and Andrew; locating Rusty became a low priority.
Once Andrew returned to his seat after being welcomed into the group as one of their brothers, Dr McCoy turned to Cecil and said, “You two should teach a class on parenting. That boy has more sense than half the people I’ve ever met.”
Cecil smiled. “Thanks, Doc. We try hard, but give him some credit. There’s been times he’s set me straight, too.”
The staff started bringing out the food, even the cooks helping carry out plates. Teri told Chip, Angela, Cecil, Kirk and McCoy “Let’s grab a table and eat. Let the boys enjoy their meal before you start torturing them, Doc.”
McCoy shot her a dirty look, but sat down at the nearest table. Kirk chuckled, “Watch it, Bones. I think you’ve met your match!”
Chip muttered under his breath to Kirk. “You have no idea, sir.”
A few minutes later, as everyone was eating, Teri finally spotted Rusty. She got the attention of the rest of the adults at her table. “I found Rusty, but I don’t believe what I’m seeing! Look over there, across from Curly.”
They all looked over, and Kirk was first to comment. “Looks like someone has a crush on Curly. This should be interesting.”
Just then, Rusty decided to stretch, standing up and purposely pushing his hips out so that his upper legs were pushing against the table with his back arched. The entire time, he was staring at Curly to see if he was watching.
Chip chuckled. “Now, if THAT was not the most obvious come-on I have ever seen I’ll shave my head! That poor boy. First off, he has the hots for a married man, then on top of it, he’s picked Justin Timberlake! I think Dan’s got his work cut out for him with Rusty. Anyone who could have a crush on Curly needs psychiatric help!”
Teri reached over and slapped Chip on the back of the head. “Behave yourself!” she giggled.
Just then, all hell broke loose. Rusty saw Jason feeding a sausage link to Justin, and on the spur of the moment Rusty picked up one of his sausage links by the end, and as he was waving it in the air asked Curly “Would you like to eat my sausage?”
Curly turned beet red as the surrounding people broke out in laughter. Rusty realized his secret was out, and began crying. He then stood up, chair falling backwards onto the floor, and started to run for the door. Three more chairs flew away from the tables as Chip jumped up and intercepted Rusty while Curly and Jason rushed over to console the boy. The only other sound in the room was Brian trying to calm down Robbie, who was latched onto his neck yelling for Rusty not to leave him.
“Let me go!” Rusty screamed as Chip restrained him.
“You’re not going anywhere, now calm down!” Chip replied as he tried to keep hold of the squirming, fighting boy.
Curly and Jason came up, Jason limping a little from running into a table. “Thank God you caught him.” Jason said. “I think this is something Justin and I need to discuss with him, Chip. We’ll take him in the restroom to get cleaned up, and talk this out. Go ahead and pass him to Justin, and please make sure we are not disturbed, Okay?”
Chip looked at the two men, seeing the concern in their faces. “I guess. But if you two start to get in over your heads you better come out for help.”
Curly nodded his head, then reached out his arms and picked up Rusty. Rusty latched onto him, arms and legs wrapped tightly around him, and broke down into tears, repeating over and over “I’m sorry.”
Curly put one arm around Rusty’s waist, and caressed the back of his head with the other hand as he said “Relax, little one. You are fine, calm down. I’m not mad.”
The three of them went into the men’s room. As the door closed, Chip turned to Teri. “I hope I just did the right thing. Do you think they can handle this?”
“I think so,” Teri replied, “that’s the most mature those two have been since I met them. Right now, I think Justin is the only one who can convince Rusty not to leave. I just hope he does it gently.”
The three entered the restroom, and headed for the large handicapped stall. Justin sat on the edge of the toilet with Rusty on his lap. He held Rusty close, cuddling him and soothing him as Jason rubbed Rusty’s back.
“You hate me, don’t you?” Rusty sobbed.
Justin replied softly “No, little buddy. I don’t hate you, and neither does Jason. If we hated you, would we have come after you when you ran? Actually, I’m flattered that you like me enough to do that. The only other guy who has ever flirted that openly with me I ended up marrying, that’s Jason.”
“Really? I thought you would hate me for embarrassing you.”
Jason chuckled. “Don’t worry about that. Just about every person in that room has got in their shots on both of us. No one takes it personally. That’s how we show we care about each other.”
Rusty suddenly got an urgent panicked look on his face. “I gotta pee – NOW!”
Justin stood him up, and Jason caught Rusty as his legs collapsed while Justin was moving out of the way.
“Get his pants!” Jason barked. “He’s too weak to stand! Hurry!’
Justin hurriedly pulled Rusty’s pants and boxers to his knees, and without thinking reached over to aim for him. He no more than got Rusty’s penis pointed before his bladder let loose. Rusty put his hand over the back of Justin’s, and squeezed a weak ‘thank you’.
Rusty finished up, then Justin redressed him, flushed, and then sat back down on the seat with Rusty on his lap. “Do you get weak like that often, buddy?”
“Yeah. Mom used to just give me a candy bar, then I’d be ok.”
“SHIT! Jason, go get the quack – NOW!” Justin barked. Jason raced out of the bathroom. Justin turned his attention back to Rusty. “Rusty, I’m gonna have the Doc check you out, lil buddy. You wanna laugh, tho? You are the first guy besides myself that I’ve ever held while taking a pee! We both know you are too young to be my boyfriend. Besides I’m married to Jason and would never cheat on him. I hate people who cheat on their spouses more than anything. What would you say to the next best thing: living with Jason and me, even becoming our son if we can get the courts to ok it?”
“What if Jason does not want to? And what about Robbie? I can’t leave him alone again!”
“Don’t worry about Jason. He’ll approve. I promise. As far as Robbie goes, I think he’s took a liking to one of my neighbors. Did you notice him cuddling up to Brian? Brian and Dylan live right next door to us. Would that work for you?”
“Sounds great! Why do I feel so weak right now?”
“We are about to find out. You are about to get looked at by the best doctor in the Federation. He’ll fix you right up.”
McCoy ran in just as Justin said the last sentence. “Alright, Timberlake, what’s the emergency?”
“I think we have a diabetic on our hands, Doc.”
McCoy growled. “You stick with singing, if you call it that, and I’ll stick to diagnosing patients. Can you stand, Rusty?”
“No sir, Doc.”
“Sit there then. Curly, keep him steady while I scan him.”
McCoy scanned Rusty with his medical tricorder, checked the readout, and then pulled out his communicator. “McCoy to Enterprise, give me Sickbay! STAT!”
“Yes, Doctor,” Uhura replied from the speaker.
After a few seconds, Christine Chapel’s voice came over the speaker. “Sickbay, Chapel here.”
“Christine, get me some Type-H insulin down here with an injection kit and syringes ASAP! Tell Scotty I said put a rush on it!”
“Right away, Doctor. Mr. Scott just happens to be here with me. He said to tell you he’ll bring it personally. Give him two minutes.”
“Tell him make it one! We got an undiagnosed kid down here!”
“I just keyed the override in allowing transport from Sickbay. He’ll be right down. Chapel out.”
As McCoy closed his communicator and put it on his belt, Mr. Scott materialized in the center of the room. “Here be ye’ meds, Doctor. Where’s the wee lad that be worryin’ you?”
McCoy pointed to Rusty as he prepared the syringe, verifying the dosage from his tricorder.
Scotty ruffled Rusty’s hair. “Relax, laddie. The Doctor might be a wee bit short, but if anyone be able to fix you, he’d be the one.”
“Pull up his right sleeve, Justin.” McCoy said as he walked over. “And watch close. I’m making you responsible for doing this until he learns how to do it himself.” Justin just nodded.
McCoy injected the insulin into Rusty’s arm, explaining to Justin what to do as he did it. Once he finished, he stepped back and grudgingly said to Justin. “Congratulations, for once you were right. For right now, when you get out there, give him tea to drink, no sweetener or sugar. Let him eat normally. I’ll check his readings when you two are on the ship this afternoon.”
Justin hugged the small body on his lap. “You mind telling Lance I’ll be busy, Doc? I was supposed to be helping them this afternoon, but this little angel is more important right now.”
McCoy looked at Justin, and gave him a rare smile. “I never thought I would say this, but you just impressed me. I’ll take care of Lance. You and Jason need to be talking to Teri, tell her doctor’s orders. Rusty is to stay with you.”
McCoy then turned to Scotty. “Speaking of orders, you are staying down here and eating with us. You need to take a break.”
Scotty laughed. “I kina thought you’d be sayin’ that.”
The room fell silent as the group came back out into the dining area. Jason walked over to Rusty’s seat and got his plate, catching a waiter on his way and ordering an unsweetened tea. McCoy and Scotty pulled up seats at Teri’s table, ignoring the inquisitive looks from Chip and Kirk. Justin was the last out, carrying Rusty on his right side and the injection kit in his left hand.
As he walked by Teri, Justin said loud enough for everyone to hear “Teri, Rusty is going to be staying with me and Jason – Doctor’s Orders!”
Robbie broke free from Brian, and ran up to Curly and Rusty. “What’s wrong with Rusty? Is he sick? Where am I going to stay?”
Curly pulled out a chair, and sat down with Rusty. “BRIAN? DYLAN? GET OVER HERE!” He then pulled Robbie over next to him. “Slow down, munchkin. One question at a time, okay? Wait for Brian and Dylan, and then we will answer your questions. Why don’t you go ask Teri to join us, ok bud?”
Robbie ran over to Teri and dragged her back to them. Curly looked at Teri. “Doc said that you were the one to talk to. What gives?”
“I just became the director of the Federation Youth Services Bureau. So now I’m in charge of making sure these guys are taken care of. Would you mind filling me in on why Doc had to rush in there with you?”
Brian, Dylan, and Jason joined them as Curly answered. “Teri, this little guy had undiagnosed juvenile diabetes. His mom had been treating him by giving him candy bars, but he had a major attack in the restroom. Doc has showed me how to use the insulin kit, but we are going to get more training on the ship later. This little meeting here is to figure out who is going to be lookin’ after these two.”
Teri smiled. “Justin, have you decided to grow up when nobody was looking? Okay, let’s hear what that devious little mind of yours has contrived.”
Justin stuck out his tongue at Teri, which caused giggles from both boys, then continued. “B-Rok, Dyllweed; before I continue, I have one serious question. Before you answer, think about your response carefully. If you try to change your mind later I will personally kick both your butts. I noticed how comfortable Robbie is with you. Are you willing to take him in?”
Brian looked at Dylan, who nodded his head. “Teri, could you please arrange for us to receive custody of Robbie?” Brian asked in a serious voice. “On the condition that Robbie wants it, though.”
Robbie looked at Brian. “What about Rusty? I don’t wanna lose him. He’s all the family I got.”
Brian pulled Robbie onto his lap. “I think Curly and Jason are planning on Rusty staying with them. We are next-door neighbors. Would that be close enough for you, lil one?”
Robbie thought for a second, and then answered. “Yeah, that’s ok. How long do we get to stay with you?”
Brian smiled. “Forever, lil buddy. Forever.”
Curly smiled as Robbie cuddled up to Brian and Dylan joined in to make it a three-way cuddle. “Teri, lets make this official, seeing as it looks like you have your answer about them. I request Rusty be placed with us for an indefinite period.”
Teri looked at the two couples cuddling with the boys. “One second, let me make this official.” She waved for Kirk and Chip to join them.
Once they were over, Teri asked Kirk, “Captain, may I make use of the Enterprise‘s log, please? There is some official business which needs handled.”
McCoy had joined them, and he interrupted Kirk. “Jim, use the tricorder. I can upload through the med link as soon as she is done. Besides, Youth Services is a division of Starfleet Medical. Teri, see Christine when you get to the ship. She will issue you a tricorder and give you training on basic functions. Just don’t try to play doctor.”
Teri followed McCoy’s instructions, and shortly activated the logging function on the tricorder.
Once she was sure it was started, she paused it long enough to get the boy’s full names and ages. She verified the applicable sections, then began the proceedings.
“This is Director Teri Short of the Youth Services Bureau. I hereby invoke the Safe Haven Act in regards to the minor children Rusty Scott Miller, age 12, and Robbie Andrew Miller, age 5. As per Article 17 Section 8, they are being taken under protection due to abandonment. In addition, I’m ordering an investigation into a possible violation of Article 14.3, Medical neglect, in regards to Rusty Scott Miller. Reference medical files for said child will be held aboard the USS Enterprise.”
“Placement will be as follows: Rusty Scott Miller shall be placed with Justin Randall Timberlake and Jason Sebastian Mitchell-Timberlake, residents of Orlando, Florida, USA, Earth. Robbie Andrew Miller shall be placed with Brian Thomas Littrell and Dylan Jefferson Waters-Littrell, residents of Orlando, Florida, USA, Earth. Both placements shall be considered permanent. Full medical exams shall be performed by Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise as soon as possible. This concludes the proceedings.”
As she finished, the room erupted into a cheer, as everyone had gathered to see what was happening. Cecil came over to the group. “It seems like a few of you have cold food now; we can’t have that! Relax, I’ll have new orders out shortly, and they are on me. Congratulations on the new families, guys!”
Everyone settled down, Andrew moving around to have conversations with everyone in the room, all the boys coming over to welcome Robbie and Rusty into the family. Curly insisted on feeding Rusty by hand, even after he regained most of his strength. McCoy stopped in a few times to check Rusty’s blood sugar levels, and reminded Rusty to stay away from sweets until they had his medicine balanced.
Rusty was down to just a sausage on his plate, when he got an evil grin on his face, and whispered something in Curly’s ear. Curly giggled, “Go for it!” he whispered back.
“Hey Uncle Nicky?” Rusty asked innocently.
“Yo Rusty. Wadda you need?”
Rusty picked up the sausage just like he had before. “Dad and Pop refused to eat my sausage. Would you like to eat it?”
Nick turned beet red as Ashley busted out in laughter.
“Gotcha!” Rusty said with a laugh.
This made the rest of the room lose it. Kevin leaned over to Lance, and between chuckles stated “He’s already starting to sound like a Timberlake!”
Lance chuckled. “Look at Curly’s face; that’s the happiest I’ve seen him look in ages! It might be too soon to tell, but I think Rusty is just what he needed. If it means putting up with pranks from both of them, I’ll live with it. Justin has wanted a kid since shortly after we formed the band, and I’ll bet today ranks up there with the happiest days of his life.”
Kevin got a thoughtful look on his face. “You know, you are right. I’ve seen the looks of jealousy that he’s given Chip and Josh when Justy cuddles with them. This could be exactly what he needs. I just hope Jason does not ruin it for him. I really wonder sometimes if Jason hates kids.”
Lance got a serious look on his face. “If Jason even tries to screw it up, he’s gotta deal with the rest of us. The band has kept quiet so far about Jason, but we’ll nail him to the wall if he gets between Rusty and Justin.”
“What’s going on that I don’t know about?” Kevin asked.
“Have you noticed that Jason seems to disappear whenever we’re near you guys, besides seeming to ignore Justin regularly?”
“Oh, shit. We are having a similar problem with Dylan.”
“I think we better start looking into this further – both bands.” Lance replied.
Things finally wound down, and the Enterprise officers bid their farewells to everyone. Kirk ended up with Teri and Chip. “Do you think you can fit this mob on the Columbus, Mr. Dodds?”
“Yes, Sir. Not all of them are going. There will be no problems.”
“Good! By the way, you are not piloting it up. I will let you co-pilot, but I will be piloting. You need to be able to concentrate on your family, so no arguments. I will see you in a few hours at the shuttle.” Kirk then called the ship.
“Kirk to Enterprise. Three to beam up.”
“Transporter room standing by, Captain,” Spock said from the communicator.
“Energize, Mr. Spock.” With a moment, Kirk, McCoy and Scotty disappeared, caught up in the transporter beam.
“I hate it when he does that!” Chip exclaimed with a grin. He then noticed Andrew was saying goodbye to everyone.
“Andrew!” Chip yelled, “Get over here!”
“Yes, sir?” Andrew said as he ran up.
“Why are you saying goodbye? I thought you wanted to spend the next week with your brothers? At least that’s what your Dad said.”
You could see the smoke rolling out of Andrew’s ears as his brain tried to process the question he was asked. Finally everything connected and he broke into a huge grin. “AWESOME! Really? Wow, Thanks!”
“You are EVIL, Chip!” Teri said, laughing.
Aaron walked up and handed Cecil a menu, covered in writing. “Would you mind taking this home with you? I promised it to Andrew; I’ll let him know you have it.”
Cecil pulled Aaron into a hug. “Thank you Aaron. You just made my son’s dream come true. If you ever need anything just give us a call.”
Everyone filed out to the limos, Andrew and JJ stopping long enough to give Andrew’s parents hugs as they were leaving. Chip was the last one, stopping to settle the bill.
“That came to $350.00, Chip.” Cecil said.
“Not bad. Add on a $100.00 tip for each employee to the bill.” Chip replied. “Don’t forget the cooks and yourself.”
Cecil shook his head. “I’ve already figured out not to argue with you. Thanks from all of us. I’ll be seeing you around, won’t I?”
“Looks like it, since Andrew is now part of the tribe. If a co-owners position suddenly gets offered to you in Orlando, take it. You will make a group of boys really happy if you do.”
Cecil grinned. “I’ll take that as a hint. I think you are being waited on. We’ll talk later.”
Chip joined everyone else in the limo as Cecil removed the “Closed for private party” sign from the door.
The limos emptied into Teri’s house. Kevin got everyone’s attention with his now-famous whistle.
“Okay, grab your suits. We have an hour to kill in the pool! Last boy in has towel duty!”
All the boys scrambled up the stairs except Rusty and Robbie, who took off once Brian and Curly gave them the go-ahead nod. Teri noticed the concerned look on Curly’s face as Rusty disappeared upstairs, and went over to talk to him. She put a hand on his shoulder, and spoke softly. “Don’t worry Justin, he’ll be just fine. The rest of the guys’ll watch him. Let’s go wait for them by the pool.”
“What’s wrong?” Chip asked as him and Josh walked up.
“New father jitters.” Teri replied.
“That little boy has stolen my heart.” Curly said softly. “Chip, Josh; now I really know how you two feel when you look at Justy, and now the twins. In just a couple hours, Rusty has put all his trust in me. I don’t know how, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to become the father he needs. Do me a favor, Teri; please let me know as soon as you have him cleared for adoption. I know you need to find out what happened to his mom first, but God has given me a gift, and I’ll die before I lose him. Honestly, I know you all know things are not the best between Jason and me right now, but no matter if it brings us closer together or breaks us up, Rusty WILL have a home with me.”
Brian had walked over as Curly was speaking. “Justin, I feel the same way as you do about Robbie. If Jason gives you any trouble, come and get me. I’ll do the same if Dylan gives me a hassle, OK?”
Curly stuck out his hand and shook Brian’s. “It’s a deal, bro. Those two have a home one way or the other.”
Josh pulled Chip close. “Guys; I know I speak for both of us when I say ‘Welcome to parenthood’. You both are doing great, but I think it might be a good idea if all of us parents sat down and talked after we get back tonight. I’ll let Nick and Ash know, you try to corral your spouses. If either of them doesn’t think it’s important, show up anyway. I can see already who cares the most about those boys.”
They were interrupted by a herd of boys scrambling down the stairs. Justy, the twins, Robbie and Rusty stopped just long enough to give their respective parents a hug on the way through, then tore off after the others. Once the mob cleared, Chip spoke up.
“That’s what we mean; you guys are naturals. I’m proud of both of you. Go on out there and watch your new sons, Josh and I have a scheduled ‘quiet time’ to attend to.”
“Thanks, big bro.” Brian said as he gave Chip a hug. “You two go ahead, and don’t worry about your boys. We’ll watch them, too.”
Josh and Chip watched the rest of the group head to the pool, and then headed up to their room. “Well, hun, looks like Curly and Brian are both going to try growing up.” Josh said.
“Yeah, I hope they are not getting in over their heads. I like the idea of you, me Teri, Dan, Nick and Ash sitting down with them. They need to know they can ask us all for help and advice.”
“I agree. We’ll need to do that tonight.” Josh replied as they entered the bedroom and he closed the door behind them.
Out at the pool, a major game of “tag” had commenced. Brian and Curly both looked around for their spouses, but neither one was to be seen. “Oh, well. Their loss!” Brian quipped as he pulled a lounge chair over between Teri and Curly.
Curly dozed off shortly after sitting down, but was rudely awakened by a wet body climbing on his lap and immediately cuddling him. As he opened his eyes, the sound of a giggle from next to him informed him that Brian was in the same situation. He looked down, and saw the reddish-brown hair, still wavy even when wet, and the green eyes looking at him; questioning without words whether it was ok to do this. “Rusty, don’t worry; you are fine lil’ buddy. How are you feeling?”
Rusty relaxed totally. “I’m feeling a little tired. Can I cuddle with you? You’re not mad that I got you all wet, are you?”
Curly smiled, and gave Rusty a hug. “The wet lap comes with being a parent. As long as it’s you doing it I don’t mind it at all. The cuddle is fine too; but first let me see your finger, it’s time to test your blood sugar. Hold it still, you’ll feel a little poke, it’s supposed to do that, okay?”
“Okay, as long as you say it’s ‘posed to.” Rusty said as he held out his hand for Curly to do the test.
Curly reached into the bag he had brought out to the pool with him, and got out the tester with the notes on operations Dr. McCoy had left with it. After wiping Rusty’s finger with the alcohol pad, he pricked the tip of it and inserted it into the tester. A minute later, it indicated a successful test, and he compared the readings to the notes to see where it stood.
“Good news buddy, you are still fine. Go ahead and relax, you’ve had a rough day.”
In no time flat, both were sound asleep. In the next chair, Brian and Robbie had also drifted off, smiles on their faces. Fortunately, none heard AJ come and get Kevin, both running to the back of the property.