Sentenced to Life

Co-Written By: ACFan

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Oh, okay. Thanks Bro,” Danny replied as Tommy rushed for the door and Danny went in to accept the call. “Um Cory… Hi Bro!” Danny said with a little hesitation.

“Hey Danny; it sounds like y’all’ve been having fun! How’s it going down there?”

Danny looked at the equipment that had been moved out of the way to make room for newer equipment and shook his head. “Goin okay? I mean it’s getting kinda nuts dow… Hold on a sec.” he said as he rushed to the door “Caleb, it’s down stairs… No, no, tell Noah he has access to power in the lower lab.” Danny added, getting an inaudible response he seemed to be happy with. “Sorry dude, your crew doesn’t mess around.”

“I’m almost afraid to … SEAN! LOOK OUT FOR THE SATELLITES!!! … Sorry, as I was saying, I’m almost afraid to ask. IF this bonehead don’t kill us trying to get there, we should be down in about twenty minutes.”

Danny scowled and looked at his watch. “It’s 4:10 pm now. Guess you guys are runnin’ the time envelope right to it’s edge. Looks like we will be ready to receive Austin in about 15 minutes. I have no idea how you timed it that close, but I’m really impressed.”

“Lets just say I’m learning the Vulcan procedures for scheduling. I’ll let you get back to work, just make sure the beach is clear about the time we are coming in.”

“No prob, I think security has that base covered already. I don’t even think insects are able to get on or off the property right now.” Danny said with a giggle as Noah stuck his head in the door and waved, seeing Cory on the viewer.

“We need your help, Danny,” he whispered loud enough to be heard on the other end.

“Be right there,” Danny said turning back to the viewer. “We’ll be ready for you. Just don’t forget there is another shuttle on the beach.”

“No problem, Danny. I’ll let you get back to work; if Eli or Benji is there have them meet us to move Austin out. Talk to you shortly.”

“You got it. Talk to you soon Cor, tell Sean no more playin’ chicken with satellites.” Danny replied with a giggle.

Cory giggled back. “Will do. Later Dude!” and then screen returned to its standby mode.

“Something wrong?” Danny turned and asked Noah.

“Well, for us to install the support equipment in that half of the lab, we need to disconnect two of the computers. I don’t want to go ahead and do it without checking first.” Noah said with a grin.

“I can help there.” Danny said as he accessed Marc’s files and looked up how the system was configured. “Show me which ones,” he said to Noah as he lead the way to the basement.

Out on the beach, Matt and Doc Austin were still talking with Marc and Jerry when Caleb stepped into the conversation.

“This is unreal.” Marc just said looking at Jerry. “Your Mom is gonna flip when she gets home,” he added with a giggle.

“Marc, can I borrow you for a minute?” Caleb asked, getting a smile from the group.

“Sure Dude, what’s up?” Marc turned and replied.

“Well, it’s about the existing network.” Caleb said with a cringe. “It’s all too old to interface with the equipment we should add. I mapped out what we would need to fully upgrade your house. This way all of your computers can safely network with the Federation and Vulcan Terminals and you can monitor all equipment, as well as access information over both systems. It also will give you communications access in any room that already is outfitted with a system,” he said handing the PADD to Marc. “This is what I have so far. My question is, can you work without the terminals in place where they are now?”

Marc looked at the plans Caleb had mapped out in awe. “You want to replace everything?” he asked in shock.

Caleb looked at the display and pointed out the wiring. “If we replace the existing network, we can use the existing configuration. But the older computers won’t be able to handle what I’m planning for them,” he said with a grin. “The new system can take the place of the old one functionally with no problem. I’d just need your help transferring programs and files into the new systems. That and decide what functions each will perform.”

“I’ll work on that with your team. Considering the age of some of the files from the old company network, a simple archive would work well I think.” Marc said as he looked up and saw Matt, Doc Austin and Jerry silently watching the two pour over the plans like two kids at Christmas time.

“I can help too.” Jerry said with a grin.

“We have a team then.” Caleb said being cut off by a loud roar and Joey’s excited squeal.

“Wookett da waddah!” Joey almost screamed over the roar as a shuttle craft bombed right past the property kicking up a huge rooster tail close enough to mist the beach.

Marc looked at Caleb and then back out over the bay. “Well, if none of the neighbors knew something was up before, I’ll bet they do now,” he got out as the two started to giggle.

“Clear the beach, guys!” Matt yelled out as the shuttle craft turned back in their direction for its final approach. “Eli, Benji; get ready to receive and move,” he added, getting nods from both.

“Id wainin Dahddee!” Joey yelled as Eli put him down next to his father to get ready.

“Yup! In a minute it’s gonna be dusty too. You may wanna close your eyes when they land little guy.” Jerry shouted as the roar of the incoming shuttle grew louder again as it set down on the beach and powered down.

The group waited a minute for the dust to clear before making their way toward the shuttle. Just as everyone regrouped, the door opened and what appeared to be all of the passengers literally ran out of the back and dropped to their knees.

“Mapp? Why is dey kishin da samb?” Joey asked Matt.

“Well, little guy, once you’ve been for a ride in a shuttle Sean is piloting and is in a rush, you really learn to appreciate the sand,” he said as both Matt and Jerry began to laugh with Joey still looking confused.

A minute after the beginning of the ground worshipping ceremony, three boys walked out of the shuttle and stopped with ‘Oh Please’ looks on their faces. Just as Cory was about to ask what the deal was, a young Vulcan boy looked over his shoulder and announced seriously “We shall be just a moment, Patriarch. We must complete our ritual of appreciation for reaching the ground with all appendages still attached to our bodies, despite our pilot’s best attempts to arrive otherwise.”

Cory looked at Gavin with a grin. “Good point, Xain!” he replied as he dove to the ground with Gavin following suit.

Sean blushed and shook his head. “I’ll get you later, Cor!” he announced, earning a hearty round of laughter from all the onlookers.

“Okay guys,” Matt announced. “The sand is happy to see you too, we have work to do,” he added with a laugh as the team began to giggle and stand up.

“Cory!” Marc shouted as he filtered to the front of the group. “We have everything ready. Can I see him?”

Cory looked at Sean and then back at Marc with a smile. “Sure, we gotta make sure he’s gonna be okay to move. Sean you wanna handle the group out here?” he asked, giggling when Sean closed his eyes and nodded.

“Handle them? Yeah right.” Sean replied with a giggle as Cory led Marc inside.

Inside the shuttle, Marc froze at the sight. The Bio bed was up and running with Austin and Timmy appearing to be fast asleep as they approached. “He wouldn’t let us take him away from Austin.” Cory said with a smile as Marc looked the two over.

“Who’s that Daddy?” Timmy stretched and just about whispered to Cory.

“That’s Austin’s Daddy, munchkin. He’s gonna help.” Cory said as Marc smiled at him then began to look over the controls.

“More systems have failed.” Marc said as his eyes began to cloud with tears. “I don’t even know how he’s kept himself from going into full shutdown, but he’s fighting,” he added with a sniffle.

“I been talkin’ to him,” Timmy said as he tightened his cuddle with Austin. “He’s scared an asked me to keep talkin’.”

Cory smiled at his son then put his hand on Marc’s shoulder. “We aren’t too late, are we?”

Marc stood up and cleared his throat as he wiped his eyes with the backs of his hands. “Thanks to Timmy, I don’t think so,” he said leaning over to Timmy and placing a kiss on his forehead. “Thank you, little guy,” he whispered as Timmy snuggled back up and closed his eyes. “If I ever find out who is responsible for this, I swear on my life I’ll…” Marc growled out with his fists clenched tight as the hand on his shoulder squeezed and stopped him in mid sentence.

“When we find out who is responsible, I promise they will be punished, Marc.” Cory said with a serious expression on his face before being cut off by an alert beep from the bio bed.

Marc dropped to his knees and looked over the controls. “We gotta move him now!” he said as he stood back up. “His main respiratory system is failing…”

Cory’s jaw dropped open as he simply turned and ran to the open door. “ELI! BENJI! ANTONIO!” he yelled. “Get in here NOW! We’ve got to get Austin moved yesterday, he’s shutting down!”

Danny took one look at Jerry, then they both sprinted towards the house. Eli and Benji didn’t even bother with running, they literally flew into the shuttle with Antonio right on their heels. The rest of the boys cleared a path just in time, as the cot off of the shuttle’s bio-bed came flying out; Timmy and Austin were onboard, with Antonio, Cory, and Marc running behind it and Benji and Eli alongside. Sean tapped Gavin on the shoulder as he ran by, motioning for him to join them. They sprinted into the house through the door being held by Jerry; as soon as they were inside Jerry came in right behind them.

Down in the basement, there was a bustle of activity as everyone rushed to finish clearing the area as Austin and Timmy were quickly moved to the new bio bed and set in place.

“Cor, you may want to take Timmy for now.” Marc said as he rushed to bring the lab’s systems online.

Cory reached over and lifted Timmy off of the bed. “C’mon kiddo, you gotta move while the Docs help Austin. You can watch, but you need to stay out of the way.”

Jerry rushed toward the bed before realizing Joey was attempting to keep up with him. “Cory, could you take my son too. They can sit up on the Panda unit over there so they can see what’s going on without getting run over or anything.”

Cory looked down at the 8 year old glued to Jerry’s side. “Hey there little guy; this is Timmy. You wanna go sit with him and watch?”

Joey looked up at Cory then back at his father. “Oday Dahddee. Dimmee an meesid wib Kebbim.”

Cory smiled as he guided the boy over to where Jerry had indicated for them to sit. “What’s your name, little guy?”

Joey slowly walked up to the two with a lost expression. “Im Doe-ee.” He said more to his feet than to Cory.

Before Cory could say anything, Antonio interjected “Joey, it’s okay. Timmy and Cory are good people; they are friends.”

“Oday Domeeo.” Joey said with a forced grin. “Id Dahddee fissen da boy on da beb?”

Cory placed a hand on Joey’s shoulder. “Yes Joey, your daddy is helping fix Austin. You get to watch, ain’t that kewl?”

Joey grinned as he walked up to the Panda. “Mah dahddee fiss aneefin. No bwoked wen he fiss no moe.” He said as he looked up at Cory. “Cam yoo hep mee ahp, pweasee?”

Cory smiled as he lifted Joey onto the unit. “That’s great to know, Joey!”

Gavin had joined them, and was lifting Timmy up. Timmy saw the confused look on Gavin’s face and translated. “He said his Daddy can fix anythin’ – it ain’t broke no more once he fixes it!” Timmy announced proudly.

Gavin smiled. “Thanks, little one. I still need to get used to the differences in the way you talk.”

Just then Jerry broke into the conversation. “Gavin, Cory, We’re gonna need you guys to help salvage the parts we need for Austin. Danny is grabbing the unit to remove them from and will show you exactly what we need.”

Danny rolled 2 computers over to the table and motioned for them to join him. “There’s a full torso here that is in operational condition.” He said as he found the unit he was looking for and set it on the table Joey was assembled on. “You guys have all the tools you need here and the schematics on the computers will walk you through their removal procedures,” he added pointing at the screen. “Which one of you guys is the most comfortable doing this?”

Cory looked at Gavin, and saw the shock on his face. “Gavin, if you’re comfortable taking the stuff out, I’ll work the computer and give you the instructions.”

Gavin relaxed. “That’d be fine; I’ve been taking micro-engineering in school, so removal should be easy.”

Danny smiled. “Awesome, start with the regeneration circuit. If they need any other parts, they’ll just yell for them. You can do a search on these systems for the schematics you may need,” He said as he left to help out with Austin.

Cory brought up the schematics for the regeneration circuit, and was going over them with Gavin before beginning. Gavin suddenly froze, then turned and yelled “Danny! Get over here!”

Danny ran over as Gavin pointed to a spot on the screen. Just as Danny arrived, Cory nodded his head. “I agree, Gavin. Good catch.”

“What’s wrong?” Danny asked as he approached the table.

Cory nodded to Gavin. Gavin smiled an acknowledgement then replied. “We were going over the schematics, and we noticed that the regeneration circuit has one major input to it – the bio-feedback module. If I’m reading this right, that module could be bad too.”

Cory added in his thoughts. “From what I see, that module is the only one that could have overdriven the regen circuit. I think they should be replaced as a set to play it safe.”

Danny quickly reviewed the schematics in his head. “You might be right; go ahead and grab both of them. You might want to get the fibre interconnect harness for them too; just to play it safe.”

As Danny returned to help Antonio, Cory took one more look at the screen. “I’m ready when you are dude, let’s hit it!”

“Unkah Dahnnee, Dimmy id cowd.” Joey shouted getting Danny’s attention.

Danny looked quick and saw Sean looking around to find something to cover his son. He reached under the table Cory and Gavin were working at and pulled out a blanket and tossed it to Sean with a smile as he retreated to give Antonio and Marc a hand.

Sean grabbed the blanket out of midair and walked over to the Panda. “Here ya go, munchkin. This better?” Sean asked as he wrapped Timmy in the blanket.

“Yeah,” Timmy replied soberly. “Austin says it hurts bad, Pappa. Make it stop.”

Marc overheard Timmy’s comment and gave Danny a serious look before staring at the abused body on the table in front of him and clenching his jaw. “He’s in pain, Danny.” Marc said as he looked at Antonio and then back at Danny. “Protocols didn’t shut down pain reception.” Marc stared at Austin once more and just muttered, “Get me the communications cable, Bro. I’m goin’ in to do it myself.”

Danny’s eyes opened wide as he took a deep breath and nodded his head. “Alright, Bro,” he said as he grabbed the cable off of a nearby computer cart and began connecting Austin while Marc prepared to make the connection on his own end.

“Just keep on him. I’ll put out as many fires in there as I have to until you guys get him stable. Just hurry.” Marc said noticing the concerned look on Danny’s face. “I’ll be okay, Bro, I promise.”

“I’ll have someone monitor your life signs just so his brain doesn’t force yours to shut down.” Danny said as he snapped the cable connector in place.

“Worry about him, I’ll be fine. Please just worry about him!” Marc said as he sat in the chair, completed the connection and closed his eyes.

“Stubborn.” Danny said to Antonio as they both shrugged their shoulders and went right back to work.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Marc suddenly found himself in his familiar interface area and his eyes opened wide at the sight in front of him. Surrounded with a red colored glow, a boy was curled up in the fetal position crying. Deep gasping sobs were echoing throughout the area as Marc slowly approached him.

“Austin?” he said softly as he risked a brief touch on the boy’s shoulder.

“I… It hurts. M… m… make it stop… Please make it stop!” Austin cried out as Marc attempted to override Austin’s reception of pain by defeating his nervous system’s communication.

“Damn it!” Marc grumbled; frustrated as he realized that the system was locked and wouldn’t allow his override. “Come on guys, hurry,” he said as he sat on the floor and continued to rub Austin’s back. “Austin, can you hear me?”

“Yeah.” Austin whimpered.

“Can you sit up?” Marc asked with a concerned but soft tone.

“Yeah,” Austin once again whimpered out as he slowly sat up and looked into Marc’s eyes. “I know you?”

“If your memories are intact since first activation, you might.” Marc said as both cringed and Austin sat up rigid in pain.

Marc shuffled over and pulled Austin into a hug as he attempted to divert as much pain as he could to himself, but was unable to completely. “Austin, there is a whole team of people trying to fix this, just hang on for me.”

“I.. is Timmy there still?” he asked as another jolt of pain made him gasp and begin to shiver.

Marc couldn’t hold the tears back but remained strong. “He’s there and is waiting to meet you along with the rest of his family.” Marc said with a sniffle.

“I.. am I gonna die?” Austin asked breaking down in tears causing Marc to begin to lose his resolve and the tears began to come.

“Not if I can help it.” Marc replied as he whispered into Austin’s ear. “Now that I’ve found you I’m not losing you.”

Both cringed again as Marc continued to divert control of Austin’s functions; now finally gaining some control to stop his pain as Austin seemed to relax in his arms.

“Give me control, Austin,” he whispered. “Let my brain take over.”

“I can’t.” Austin cried. “I have no control. It will hurt you,” he whispered with a sniffle. “Why would you want my pain?”

“You’ve been in pain too long already.” Marc said as he began to get a warm feeling and the red glow began to surround him as well as Austin. “That’s good, son, as physical systems come back, let me control them.”

“You’re him.” Austin gasped and looked up. “I dream about you sometimes,” he added. “Who are you?”

“I hoped you would remember me.” Marc said with a smile as the glow surrounding Austin began to become white and what appeared to be indian war paint slowly became visible on his face, while at the same time the glow around Marc became a deeper shade of red. Marc tilted his head in question, but continued, “I’m your father, I was the on…” he got out before a surge of pain like he had never felt before hit suddenly and screaming out, he fell over and curled up into a ball.

“No!!!” Austin screamed as he watched Marc try to take control, but appeared to not be able to. ‘Help!’ he thought as he watched helplessly. “What’s happened?” he asked, watching as Marc’s body heaved.

“Neur… Neuro… Tran…” Marc got out.

“My Neuro-transmitter? The interface? Is it failing?” Austin asked as he closed his eyes and suddenly looked frustrated. “I can’t see it, you have control. ‘

Marc screamed again, but was able to remain calm enough to get out. “Timmy, tell Timmy!”

“Yeah!” Austin said as he closed his eyes and thought, ‘Timmy, please hear me! I need a new Neuro-Transmitter Interface. They gotta hurry cause Mine is failing and is hurting… um… my father.’

Suddenly he could hear Timmy’s voice and he sighed with relief. “I just told Daddy.”

Austin began rubbing Marc’s back as he helplessly watched. “Why did you do this? I’m hurting you,” he said as he began to cry.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Suddenly, Timmy spoke up from the other side of the room. “Daddy!!! Austin says he needs a new-o-train-meter in-her-face. He says hurry.”

Danny slapped his forehead. “SHIT! Cory, get me a neurotransmitter interface module NOW!”

Cory and Gavin were already halfway back to the table. “Just give me a hand!” Gavin said as they reached the table. “It’s right next to where the regen was at; I remember it from the prints!”

Gavin grumbled as he looked inside. “Shaft this! It’d take too long to pull just that module! Cory, grab a box; I’m pulling the backplane for the left systems interface board – modules and all.”

By the time Cory had the box in his hands, Gavin had pulled out a board with six modules on it. He laid in the box, and they hurried back to Danny’s side.

“What the hell?” Danny spit out, seeing the contents of the box. “Um, you two went a little overboard on that order, buddy,” he added with a giggle. “Could you at least dismantle that so I can install it?”

Gavin giggled. “I thought you might say that!” he replied as he pulled the tools out of his back pocket. “We might as well replace all of them though since we have them out!”

“Probably not a bad idea dude, but we gotta do it quickly. If Marc did what I think he did, he’s in an awful lot of pain right now.” Danny said as he watched Gavin go right to work. “Give me a second though, I need to make the incision a little larger.”

By the time Danny was ready, Gavin had the first module off and was starting on another. Danny grabbed it and quickly interchanged it with the old one – as fast as he was done with one, Gavin had the next one ready. Just as he made the final connection, Sean spoke up.

“Danny, you might want to hurry! Marc’s temp just spiked to 104.7, and his blood pressure is dropping”

Danny nodded to Sean and looked at Marc’s body. “Should be functioning now, ball’s in your court Bro.”

Antonio watched the bio bed’s display and suddenly shouted, “Systems are activating, we did it!”

The boys erupted into cheers, high-fiving whoever was nearest. Jerry reached over the table and grabbed Danny’s shoulders. “We DID it!! He’s gonna be okay!! Thanks for letting me help, Danny!”

Joey got into the excitement and shouted. “ISA BEEN DA AWSIN AHN UNKAH DOO EET!!!”

The entire room hushed and turned to face the two boys who were now wrapped up together in the blanket with ear-to-ear grins.

“Yeah, what he sed!” Timmy shouted as everyone broke out in laughter which instantly returned to cheers and more high fives as both Timmy and Austin’s warpaint faded away.

Danny watched and smiled at the outburst, not fully understanding the whole “War Paint,” idea before returning to complete closing Austin’s incisions.

“Sean, how’s Marc doin?” Danny asked as he finished showing Antonio how to pick up where he was leaving off and knelt down next to Sean.

Sean scanned the tricorder’s display. “He’s starting to stabilize; but he had me worried; the display here was going nuts.”

Danny shook his head and looked over Sean’s shoulder at the display. “He’s run down now. I’m not exactly sure what he did in there, but he cut it close.”

“Is he gonna be okay, dude?” Sean asked with worry. “Some of the readings I saw coulda killed someone.”

“He’s beginning to stabilize so his systems are recovering. We need for him to attempt to regain consciousness before we can disconnect the uplink and tie him into one of the systems to see if there is any real damage though.” Danny replied, now focusing on Marc’s lifeless face. “Come on, Bro… Wake up. Please…”

Cory walked over and placed a hand on each of the boy’s shoulder. As the three of them watched Marc, Cory softly spoke. “That was a really brave thing Marc did; kinda stupid in a way, but brave. He risked his life for Austin; I just wish he had taken the time to plan a way out before he jumped in. Danny, Sean and I were told something by one of our Uncles a while back that I think you need to listen to. He said that Sean and I need to watch out for each other; we are each other’s safety net, and have to keep the other one from doing stupid stuff. Marc don’t have that; nobody is there to say, ‘stop and think before you do that’. I think you need to be that person for Marc; I can see that of all people you are the one he’ll listen to. Marc is a great guy, Danny – please keep him safe if he pulls through this.”

Danny put his hand on Cory’s and looked up at him with a thoughtful smile. “I don’t think I could have stood in the way of this decision,” he said as he looked back at Marc’s face and wiped the sweat drenched hair from his eyes. “Your brother was right. He told him that he had a soul and couldn’t believe that Marc ever doubted it.” Danny said as he softly repeated Mikey’s words from last night to his brother. “People are born with a soul. Androids earn them as they mature, and yours shines bright Marc.” he said as his eyes began to tear up a little. “There was no time to plan a way out this time. He made the decision with his heart, not his brain. It would have taken a full deactivation to stop him from doing this for…” he said with a sniffle, “…his son.”

Just then Antonio shouted in a panicked voice. “DANNY!!! Help!!! Austin’s life signs are getting weak!”

All three jumped and ran to his side. “What happened?” Danny asked as he began going over the Bio-bed’s display.

“Dunno! Everything looked fine, then just started droppin.” Antonio said as Cory wrapped his arm around Antonio’s shoulder and Sean used the Tricorder to attempt to see what the problem was himself.

Danny sighed out loud and looked at the group. “It’s okay, guys. This is a good sign. His body is in full control now,” he said as he put his fingers under Antonio’s chin and raised his frightened wide eyes to meet his own. “You didn’t do anything wrong. He is going into low power consumption and accelerating his regeneration like he’s supposed to,” he said with a smile as a weak voice from the head of the table gained all of their attentions.

“Wh… what’s wrong? Did it work? Is he okay?” Marc said as he strained to get the words out.

“Thank you, God!” Danny said as he closed his eyes and ran to his brother’s side. “Austin’s gonna be fine,” he said with a smile as he began to disconnect the uplink cable from the back of Marc’s head. “But if you ever scare me like that again…” he got out before Marc tried to stand.

Danny and Cory both grabbed an arm and helped him to his feet. “I’m okay, just tired.” Marc got out with a weak grin before he looked into his brother’s eyes. “It worked, that’s all that matters right now,” he said as he tried to take a step, but was only able to raise his foot; the effort it took was too much for his system, causing his eyes to roll back, flutter shut and his body just went limp.

“Gavin, quick! Clear the table. We gotta get Marc on it.” Cory shouted as he tightened his grip on Marc.

“On it!” Gavin shouted as he literally swept the parts off into a box in a rush.

Danny and Cory each grabbed a leg and carried him over, gently setting him down. “I gotta get him connected to a terminal. Jerry, grab the cable from Austin and plug it into the terminal.”

Joey and Timmy sat and watched as everyone in the room hurried to Marc’s aid before Joey broke his silence. “Dahddee…”

Jerry handed the cable to Danny and rushed to his son. “It’s okay. Uncle Marc is gonna be fine, he just wore himself out,” he said with a forced smile as he turned back toward the group. “He’s gonna be fine.” Jerry added, watching as Danny brought the terminal online.

“Oday Dahddee.” Joey almost whispered hugging Timmy tighter. “Isa fwitenened foa Unkah Mahwk.” he said as Timmy nodded and hugged Joey back.

“Everything is fine guys.” Danny announced as he scanned the display. “Other than being severely overloaded, his systems are all functioning. He’s gonna need to build up some strength before his system will allow him to wake up.”

Sean nodded as he scanned Marc with the tricorder. “He’s right guys; Marc’s readings are just like Austin’s – he’s repairing himself right now I’d guess. How long does that usually take, Danny?”

Danny concentrated for a second. “If I understand right, Marc should be okay in the morning. He’s just got to recover some power and let a few overloaded circuits repair themselves. Austin should…” Danny paused as he glanced over at Austin and found that there were already visible signs of repair. “Austin is supposed to take a few days to recover; I don’t believe what I’m seeing, but I think it’ll be a lot sooner than that!”

“What do we have to do now?” Jerry asked as he double checked Austin’s readings.

“Nothing except check up on them.” Danny said moving over to the Panda and checking on Kevin, with two small sets of eyes following his every move from under a blanket. “According to Kevin’s cellular regeneration rate, Austin is regenerating nearly 4 times faster with the Bio-bed’s cooperative acceleration. It may be a race to see who wakes up first.” He said as he stepped down to see matching smiles beneath the tiny gazes beneath the blanket now. “You two wanna go upstairs and play for a while? You look kinda bored.”

Both boys nodded their heads so fast Danny was afraid they’d pop off. As they threw off the blanket and held their arms out to be lifted down, Cory giggled. “Hey Gizmo; I think you better find some clothes first!”

“But Daddy!” Timmy pouted.

“No buts, kiddo, you’re not at home, so get dressed, then you can go play.” Cory said as he lifted his son down; taking time to give him a quick hug before setting him on the floor.

Timmy took Joey’s hand. “C’mon Joey! Let’s go get me dressed so’s we can play!”

“Oday Dimmee. Wee pay dah samb an go simmin?” Joey asked with a wide smile as Jerry lifted Joey up and set him on his feet.

“Joey, why don’t you guys just throw on some shorts so you can go play in the water then.” Jerry said looking at Cory for his opinion.

Timmy grinned. “YEAH!!! We gotta get Ricky and Unca Kyle and Unca Ty too!”

Sean shook his head with a smile. “You guys can swim only as long as Deej and Tanner can watch you; Dad and me gotta go find Uncle JJ.”

“You all head on upstairs.” Danny said as he began setting systems to standby. “I’ll be right up as soon as I get this all to run on auto.”

Antonio looked over at Cory. “Go ahead, I’m going to make sure the bio-bed is set, I’ll come up with Danny.”

With that the group filed up the stairs, bringing the basement into silence with the exception of a few keys being pressed and the hum of the equipment.

“How’s everything lookin’, Dude?” Danny asked Antonio as he moved to the side of the bed Marc was on and pulled up a seat.

“He’s doing great. His healing is going so fast. If you sit and watch him long enough, you can actually see it happen.” Antonio said, smiling at Danny and then at Byron who had stayed behind when the rest left.

Danny sat in the chair and took Marc’s hand in his own and squeezed it; getting a smile from the boys who were whispering back and forth between themselves before they slowly approached the table and looked at the face of the sleeping boy.

“Is he, um… Is he your boyfriend?” Byron asked as Antonio shot him a look that clearly said, ‘Bad Question’ all over it.

Danny smiled at the two before looking at the hand he was holding. “No, just the best brother anyone could ever ask for.”

“Oh, sorry. We just kinda thought…” Byron got out before Antonio elbowed him in the side.

“Nuthin to be sorry about.” Danny replied with a smile. “You look beat, Antonio,” he added, getting a nod in response. “After everything that has happened today, I don’t think any one of us isn’t.”

“Ask him…” Byron whispered to Antonio who just rolled his eyes as if his cover had been blown.

“Ask me what?” Danny asked with a giggle.

“Well, um…” Antonio started, but began to blush causing Byron to break out in fits of giggles.

“Okay guys, out with it…” Danny said trying to contain his giggles himself and failing.

“Danny,” Byron began. “Is there a place we can go to um… take a nap?” he said as Antonio nodded in agreement.

“Just need to be alone?” Danny asked; finally giggling after getting relieved looks from both boys. “It’s not a problem guys, if you go up to the second floor, just follow the hall way to the last door. That’s my room and you guys are welcome to wind down up there if you need to. Cool?”

Both boys smiled and scooted around the table and gave Danny a hug. “Thanks Danny.” they whispered in unison before Byron tore for the stairs. “C’mon Lil’ Elf” he shouted back getting a blush from Antonio.

“Lil’ Elf?” Danny repeated in question getting a ‘Don’t Go There’ look from Antonio, followed by a grin. “Nuf said. Get outta here,” he said as he watched the two disappear and the door shut. Danny just nodded his head and laughed hearing Matt yell “Hey you two! Slow down!!!” knowing the boys were still at a run.

Danny sat and looked over his brother before deciding there was still a ton of work to get done, and with his brother out of commission, he needed to get it in gear. He got up and placed a kiss on Marc’s forehead, and whispered, “I’ll see you in the morning,” before powering down the unused computers, turning off the overhead lights and heading up the stairs.

As he closed the basement door, Danny saw the meeting going on in the living room and decided to see what was going on. “Everything checks out downstairs guys. By the looks of things, both Marc and Austin will be online by morning.”

“Sounds great, Danny.” Matt replied. “By the way, you’re gonna need these.”

Danny looked at the communicators Matt handed him. “What’s the difference between the colors?”

Matt grinned. “The blue ones are for normal Clan members; the silver one is for the division head. You get the silver one, Jerry and Marc get the blue ones.”

Danny nodded his head and looked the units over before freezing, blinking his eyes a few times and then giving Matt a dead stare. “You mean Marc gets the silver one, right?”

Cory shook his head and replied formally. “You are mistaken, Daniel. It has been determined that you possess the requisite skills to perform the functions of the Artificial Intelligence Division head. It is only logical that you should receive the proper communications equipment to perform that function adequately.”

Danny’s eyes opened wide at Cory’s response. “Um…” He got out as he looked at the communicators again and then back at Cory. Just then, he raised his eyebrows and with an evil grin replied; “Excuse me, Patriarch Short. Might I inquire what information was involved in this determination process?” Danny giggled as he finished throwing Cory’s logic in his face.

“Oh shit!” Matt muttered. “Logic war with an android! This should be good.”

Cory shot Matt an evil glare, then composed himself to answer. “Both myself and Sean have observed your performance under stressful situations. Your ability to conform to the situation at hand while deducing the most expedient solution to the situation is proper. In addition, you possess the unique capability to reason both as an android and a human.”

Sean looked over at Danny. “Your serve, Dude!” he giggled.

Danny nodded his head and looked thoughtful for a second. “Understandable sir, may I add the fact that Dr. Furst not only has more experience than I possess, in this field as well as the fact that Dr. Furst would have made the same decisions based on his own programming; programming which I currently have access to.”

“NEXT!” Matt chuckled.

Cory took a deep breath. “May I remind you, Daniel, that both in years and practical terms your lifetime experiences are approximately twice those of Marc, assuming his experiences are assimilated into his programming. As for your second indication, if you have access to the same programming as Marc, then that does not reflect for or against my decision.”

“Slam dunk!” Sean giggled, enjoying the show.

Danny grinned knowing he was slowly losing the argument. “Excellent point, Patriarch Short, but would the fact that Dr. Furst is already established as director of this facility hold any bearing in your decision?”

“The home team is stretching!” Matt commented, enjoying the show just as much as Sean.

Cory couldn’t help but giggle before he replied. “Actually, it has quite a bit of bearing on my decision. It would be illogical for Marc to set aside the work he is performing to take another duty upon himself. In addition, despite his role as Director, Marc has very minimal supervisory experience. Your history before your bio-image includes managerial experience in the restaurant industry; experience which applies to this position as well due to the fast pace and requirements to adjust your response depending on the situation.”

“Dude! You sunk his battleship!” Sean laughed, holding his side.

Danny’s jaw hit the floor. “You did your homework?”

“He’s staggering around the ring, it won’t be long now!” Matt chimed in, getting into the play-by-play.

Cory nodded. “The intelligence division consists of telepaths; five minutes after we arrived I had full information on both yourself and Marc from Kyle. In addition, you have proved my determination to be proper in your actions during this conversation. Marc would have accepted my decision, but you were astute enough to question it and verify my reasoning was accurate. You are the first being to actively require verification of a ruling by me; that is an attribute which I value.”

“Bottom of the ninth… tie game… the crowd screams as he hits a grand slam!” Sean giggled as he sat against the wall, about to collapse in laughter.

“Can I ask one question?” Danny asked Cory with a grin.

“Why not, this is fun!” Cory replied with a giggle.

“When these clowns vote you in for M.V.P. can I come to the ceremony?” Danny asked with an ear to ear grin.

Cory put an arm over Danny’s shoulder. “Dude, I’ll even let you help write the speech!”

Danny wrapped his arm around Cory’s shoulder and squeezed while nodding his head. “Then I only have one thing to say.” He said looking at Matt and Sean then back at Cory with a smile. “It will be an Honor to stand at your side, and I will do my best to never let this family down.”

Matt couldn’t resist one more jab. “Androids and Gentlemen; that’s the game!”

Danny laughed. “Ten thousand comedians out of work, and we get stuck with these two!”

Cory giggled. “I couldn’t agree more, Bro!”

Danny grinned and looked at his new communicator before looking at the peanut gallery and giggling. “Well then, as the head of Clan Short’s AI Division, I think it’s time to make my first decision,” he said, getting concerned looks from Matt and Sean. “We ain’t gettin’ nothing done just standing around, and I know Caleb is pacing in the lab waiting to tackle the computer issues he brought up. Shall we get back to work, gentlemen?”

Cory reached over and grabbed Sean’s ear. “C’mon goofball; we need to figure out where Gavin wandered off to, then take care of a certain rogue ‘Head of Security’ who has outgrown his boxers.”

Sean giggled as he stood up. “I bet he’s quaking in his shoes! Next time, I bet you won’t just leave JJ in charge with no limits!”

Cory shook his head with an evil grin. “Nope; but if you don’t hurry up, I’ll leave you in charge instead!”

Sean giggled. “Yeah, right babe! Let’s go find our bro.”

Danny smiled as the meeting broke up. “While you guys do that, I’m gonna see if Caleb and Noah have tossed the old computers out in the street yet.”

Cory pulled Danny into a brotherly hug. As Sean joined in the hug, Cory commented “Don’t worry about that! Those two are computer pack rats – I’ll bet when we get home they’ll have the old ones torn apart and spread out all over their bedroom floor! Welcome to the family Bro, if you need anything at all we’re here for ya’.”

“Same here.” Danny said as the hug broke. Taking his new communicator and clipping it to his belt with a thoughtful smile, he added “I’m gonna go see if I can rescue the lab now.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Hey Danny!” Caleb said as he and Noah looked up from the computer display. “We got some of the replacement terminals beamed in a few minutes ago. I’m gonna start planning the locations while Noah and Antonio configure them with the uplink ports you guys need.” he said with a smile.

“Great, you guys are gonna be able to network them with the existing wiring?” Danny asked as he sat down on the couch in the lab and looked over one of the cartons a federation terminal was shipped in.

“Kinda,” Noah said as he climbed in behind the Vulcan terminal. “We can use the interface you guys created to transfer files to this system, but direct communication won’t be possible with this equipment; so they can’t be integrated.”

Caleb nodded his head in agreement. “That should work fine as long as we put the mainframe in here to handle direct communications. We could call Allen, but that won’t get this up and running today.”

“Allen?” Danny looked up and asked in question.

“Xain and Jake’s dad. He’s done the best job integrating these systems so far.” Caleb answered with a smile.

“So no matter what, we have two systems, using two separate platforms doing two separate jobs on site.” Danny said scratching his head.

“Well, yeah,” Caleb said with a shrug. “We are the first to ever try to use both platforms together,” he finished as Noah slid back out from behind the two terminals.

“We’re set for the medical interfaces now, Cal. We need Doc. Austin to help with the setup downstairs.” Noah said motioning for the door. “Wanna go see if he’s free, bro?”

“Okay,” Caleb said as he stood up and smiled at Danny. “We’ll be downstairs for a while if you need us.”

“Okay, guys, I’ll get started breaking down the old systems to get them out of the way,” he said as the boys left the room. Danny spotted Jerry walking past the door with Eli and Benji. “Jerry!” he shouted, getting his attention.

“Yo?” Jerry shot back with a giggle as he stuck his head in the room. “What’s up?”

Danny went into his pocket and pulled out one of the blue communicators and held it out to him. “You’re gonna need this,” he said with a smile as Jerry’s eyes opened wide.

“Dude, that’s a Federation communicator!” Jerry said as Danny placed it in his hand. “What do I need this for?”

“We are their A.I. division now, sport. Does them no good if they don’t have communication with us.” Danny replied with a smile.

“Oh, never thought of that.” Jerry said as he looked the unit over and clipped it inside his pocket. “Can I use it to call for pizza?” he asked as he turned and ran for the door giggling.

“Oh yeah…” Danny replied sarcastically. “Only if the Lafayette is delivering it, you bonehead,” he shouted as he began to disconnect one of the old terminals.

“If it’s not here in 20 seconds or less, it’s free ya know!” Jerry shouted back as the three disappeared toward the living room, leaving Danny in the lab by himself laughing with a chorus of giggles coming from the kitchen echoing in the background.

“What a clown,” Danny said to himself as he noticed Jake entering the room. “Hey.”

“Hey man, I hate to ask, but can I borrow your terminal to make a quick call?” Jake asked with worry.

“Sure, it’s over there… ” Danny pointed it out. “That was really the only open space we had in the room to install it.” Danny said as Jake made his way through the mess in the room.

“I won’t keep it tied up too long, I just need to check on something at home.” Jake said with concern obvious in his voice.

“Is something wrong? You sound worried.” Danny asked softly.

“We have been away from our daughter for an extended period of time. Jake’s sense of apprehension has been increasing at an exponential rate during the past sixteen hours.” Xain said as he joined Danny and Jake in the lab.

“Your daughter?” Danny asked with surprise.

“Correct.” Xain said with his Vulcan demeanor fully in place.

“It’s kind of a long story. I’ll tell you after I’ve called home if you’re interested.” Jake said as he took a seat before the terminal and quickly initiated the call.

“Where could they be? Shouldn’t Dad be home by now?” Jake asked as his anxiety began to spiral out of control.

“Be calm, T’hy’la. They must have sufficient time to accept the incoming transmission.” Xain said as he rested a hand on Jake’s neck.

“I’ll just leave you guys alone.” Danny said as he began to walk toward the door to allow the two some privacy.

“Please don’t go, I mean, unless you have something else you need to be doing.” Jake asked as he turned away from the terminal screen briefly.

“No, I just don’t want to intrude…” Danny said cautiously.

“Thompson residence.” A woman’s voice said directing their attention to the screen.

“Hola Mamacita. Como estas?” Jake asked with relief in his voice.

“Bien Jake. Give me a moment, Allen is in the next room with Edovina.” she said quickly.

“It appears that Mamacita is overcoming her hesitance to use the computerized office equipment.” Xain observed.

“I don’t think she’ll be cooking up her own database anytime soon. But at least she’ll answer the terminal now.” Jake said with a smile as he anxiously watched the screen.

Allen walked into view holding Edovina to his chest, wrapped in a blanket.

“Hi Dad, I’d like you to meet a new friend of ours, this is Danny. Danny, this is my Dad, Allen Thompson.” Jake said proudly.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Thompson.” Danny said with a huge smile.

“Dad’s holding our daughter, Edovina… Dad, can we see her?” Jake asked hopefully.

Allen smiled, then reached under the blanket for a second, before pulling it off completely.

There was a long moment of silence as the three boys stared at the screen.

Finally Jake had to ask, “Dad, why did you let Mamacita dress Vina as a cowgirl?”

“I find the costume to be… curious.” Xain said in a considering voice.

Danny just started to snicker to himself, not as much at the tiny cowgirl’s appearance as Jake’s reaction.

“Well, to tell you the truth, I’m the one who dressed her like this… We had some free time last night so I took her to the store… I just couldn’t resist.” Allen finished helplessly.

“Maybe we can ask Cory if we can leave early? You know, for a family emergency?” Jake asked Xain desperately.

“Perhaps…” Xain said in thought, then continued, “I do not know if Patriarch Short recognizes ‘fashion emergencies’ to be of sufficient importance to warrant our early departure.

“Come on, she sooooo cuuuuuuute.” Allen said as he jiggled the little girl slightly in his arms.

Edovina got a strange look on her face, then promptly threw up.

“Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have bounced her right after eating.” Allen said as he looked around for something to clean her up with.

“Dad, I’m pretty sure it was the dress that made her puke.” Jake said seriously.

“Hang on. I’ll be right back.” Allen said quickly and stepped out of view of the monitor.

“Your Dad seems really cool.” Danny said with a smile.

“Yeah, I always thought so… at least until I saw the cowgirl outfit.” Jake said slowly.

“Okay, all better now.” Allen said as he came back into view.

“So how has she been?” Jake asked as he marveled at the beauty of his daughter.

“Just fine. I took her to see Doc Austin yesterday…” Allen began to say, but was interrupted.

“Why? What’s wrong with her? Why didn’t you call me?” Jake asked in panic.

“…for a checkup.” Allen continued.

“Oh… um, I guess I got a little worried because I haven’t seen her in a while.” Jake said shyly.

“By the same logic, one could classify Mount Everest as a bump.” Xain said to Danny in explanation.

Danny smiled at Xain’s statement and continued to watch the screen.

“One strange thing did happen.” Allen said in thought.

Jake restrained his panic and in a voice that was calmer than he felt, he asked, “What was that?”

“It seems that Possum has sort of adopted Edovina.” Allen said in a considering voice.

“How do you mean?” Jake asked curiously.

Allen adjusted the view just a bit wider to reveal the large oafish form of a dog sitting beside the chair.

“Well, night before last, when Juana was going to take Edovina up for her bath, I kept Possum here and he just about went crazy trying to get to her. I thought he just wanted to go for a walk, but when I took him out, the only place he wanted to go was Juana’s apartment.” Allen said in thought.

“I kept him here that night and he made us all miserable, whining and crying all night long.”

“When Juana came back with Edovina in the morning, he was fine again.”

“Last night, I talked to Juana about it and she agreed that Possum could stay in her apartment.”

“Possum slept right beside Edovina’s crib all night long and didn’t make a sound.” Allen said seriously.

“Given this new information I must reconsider my earlier judgment regarding the canine’s intelligence.” Xain said in thought.

Jake reached to his shoulder where Xain’s hand was resting and gave the hand a quick squeeze.

“That’s about all that’s going on right now. Kenny and Kevin are in their room. Juana and the boys are in the kitchen.” Allen said with a shrug.

“Dad, thanks for taking care of Vina.” Jake said sincerely.

“Sure. What are grandparents for?” Allen said with a smile.

“How’s Billy?” Jake asked and waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“Packing.” Allen said with a downcast look.

“Packing?” Jake asked cautiously, concerned that something might have gone wrong.

“Yeah. He has a shoot in Switzerland for the next two weeks. Deacon and Lawrence are going to be staying with us until he gets back.” Allen said in a dejected tone.

“Well, I don’t know exactly when we’ll be done here. But you’ve got Vina and Possum to keep you company until we get back.” Jake finished with a smile.

“Between taking care of both of them, I won’t have time to miss Billy.” Allen said with a chuckle.

“We’d better get off here and see if there’s anything we can do to help.” Jake said reluctantly.

“Say goodbye to your daddies.” Allen said to Edovina in baby talk.

“Oh Dad.” Jake said with a shake of his head.

“I look forward to our reunion with anticipation.” Xain said firmly to the viewscreen.

“I’ve missed you too, Xain. Take care of each other.” Allen said tenderly.

“You too.” Jake said with a smile.

“She’s gonna take good care of me… yes she is… yes she is…” Allen said as he devoted all his attention to Edovina.

Jake rolled his eyes and said, “Goodbye Dad.”

“Bye boys,” Allen said with a chuckle, then reached up to terminate the connection.

“Wow, you’ve got a really cool family.” Danny said with a big smile.

“Just wait till you meet my grandma.” Jake said with a chuckle as they turned for the door.

Danny giggled and returned to the computer he was working on while he replied; “Thank god I’m not still human, there is no way I would have been able to get through this many meetings in one day and not fry a brain cell,” he finished with a giggle as a chirp made him stop and stare at the two in question.

“You may wanna answer that.” Jake said to Danny with a giggle on the way out the door.

Danny watched them leave the room as another chirp made him jump before realizing it was his communicator making the sound. “That’s gonna take some getting used to,” he said as he pulled it off of his belt and flipped it open. “Danny here,” he stated with his eyes closed while rubbing his forehead with his free hand.

“Danny, it’s Caleb. When you get a free moment could you come down to the lower lab? Doc. Austin has an idea that may give you control over your Panda unit remotely through the network.” Caleb stated with excitement. “Sounds like it could be helpful.”

Danny nodded his head and smiled. “Sounds great, on my way.” he said as he closed his communicator and looked at it taking a deep breath. “Too much,” he mumbled to himself as he clipped it back on his belt and left the room.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Hey Matt?” Jerry asked as he met up with him at the shuttle where he was in the process of reading something on one of the onboard displays.

“What’s up kiddo?” He replied with a smile.

“I didn’t wanna bother you, but I was talkin’ to Eli and Benji an they said I should talk to you.” Jerry said, looking at the floor of the shuttle. “I was gonna go over to my house to call my Mom and Dad and let them know what’s goin on, but they said the house’s interior has to be checked first an I should tell you cause security is kinda tied up.”

“That’s no bother,” Matt replied with a smile. “I was just goin’ over Caleb’s shopping list for the house,” he added with a chuckle as he grabbed a phaser and attached it’s holster to his belt. “Just in case you have any man eating, alien dust bunnies under your bed,” he said with a chuckle.

“Riigghhtt.” Jerry replied, rolling his eyes before giggling and following Matt toward the house. Jerry waited outside the back door as Matt went in to check the interior.

“Is something wrong, Dr. Owens?” Xain asked as he jogged up to the back porch with Jerry.

“I just wanted to make a call, but Eli told me someone had to check the house before I went in.” Jerry replied shrugging his shoulders.

“Ah,” Xain replied with a smile. “He’s following standard protocol, it is imperative to verify security before allowing staff access to any structure.” Xian explained, getting a nod from Jerry.

“Thanks, I didn’t understand why it would have to be checked.” Jerry replied as Xain just smiled and nodded, then turned to join back up with Jake.

Jerry turned just in time to see Matt returning with his communicator open. “…and the Owens residence is secure.”

“Acknowledged, Matt. Richardson out,” the voice on the other end responded.

“Barnes out,” Matt replied before closing his communicator and smiling. “Okay, nothing frightening in here except that bedroom down the hall there,” he said with a chuckle as Jerry shot him an ‘Oh Please’ stare. “Clear to make your phone call, Sir.” Matt added with a chuckle. “I’ll give you some privacy.”

Jerry had just picked up the phone when he froze and yelled back to Matt; “No wait, could you stick around for a few minutes? I don’t think they are gonna believe half of this, so I may need your help explaining it to them,” he said with a giggle. Matt agreed and pulled up a chair. “I won’t be long.” Jerry added as he dialed the number his mom left on the refrigerator.

“Yes, can I have room 307 please?”

“No, room 307. My parents are staying there. Mr and Mrs. Owens.”

“Checked out? When?”

“That can’t be right, they were staying for the week. Could you make sure please? I really need to contact them.”

“Thank you.”

Matt tilted his head and gave Jerry a questioning look.

“This lady says my parents checked out like, over 12 hours ago.” Jerry whispered with his hand over the receiver.

“Maybe there was a problem with the room or something and they went somewhere else.” Matt added to help keep Jerry calm before the phone got Jerry’s attention again.


“Did they give any reason, or say that they were going to another hotel or something?”

“Oh, okay. Thanks for your help then,” he finished saying as he slowly hung up the phone. “They left with no explanation.”

Matt thought for a second before standing up and motioning toward the door. “It is possible through all the confusion that they could have left a message and in the insanity, it got missed.”

Jerry’s face seemed to brighten a bit as he nodded his head. “Yeah, I never thought of that,” and they both went back outside and walked back to the house.

In the living room, Antonio and Byron were sitting on the couch with a partially disassembled view screen between them as they looked busy with the wiring. “Something wrong?” Antonio looked up and saw the upset looks on Jerry and Matt’s faces.

“My parents aren’t where they said they would be. Do you know where Danny is?” Jerry asked.

Both boys looked at each other before Byron spoke up. “I think he’s downstairs but, I’m not really sure. We just got down here ourselves.”

“Okay, thanks.” Jerry said as he walked past the couch and opened the door in the hall. “Danny, you down there?”

“Yup!” Danny yelled back up the stairs. “You need me Sport?”

“Do you know if my parents have called at all, last night or today?” Jerry shouted back down the stairwell.

“No, nothing. Is something wrong?”

“I don’t know. I tried to call them and the hotel says they checked out more than 12 hours ago.” He said as silence fell, followed by the sounds of 4 sets of foot steps roaring up the stairs.

Danny, Caleb, Noah and Doc Austin rushed out of the basement and they all moved into the kitchen.

“You don’t think something happened to them do you?” Jerry asked Danny as Matt pulled Doc. Austin aside to talk to him.

“There’s gotta be a reason dude.” Caleb added. “Maybe there was a problem at the hotel and they went to another one or something.”

Jerry was just about to respond when the chirp of Danny’s communicator cut him off.

Danny flipped it opened and answered, “Page here.”

“Danny, this is JJ. I have a Jonathan Owens and Mary Owens enroute to the Security Office for identification. Are you able to come up and identify them?”

“Oh, thank god, we just found out that they were not where they said they would be and we have a few worried kids in here. I’m on my way JJ, Thank you. Page out.” Danny said watching the tension drain from the room.

“No problem Danny. We’ll be waiting then. Richardson out.”

As Danny was just about to turn to lead Jerry outside, he realized that Jerry was already out the door with Caleb and Noah on his heels. He turned and shrugged his shoulders to Matt and Doc Austin with a grin and then followed their leads.

“MOM! DAD!” Jerry shouted as he rushed his mother and tackled her with a hug.

JJ walked over to Jerry’s father and stated, “Mr. Owens, I believe Dr. Owens has confirmed your identity sufficiently. I am JJ Richardson, Head of Security for Clan Short of Vulcan. May I ask that yourself and your wife accompany me into the office so I may issue proper identification to both of you?”

Jerry’s father almost choked as he attempted to answer. “I’m sorry son, did you just say Doctor Owens?” he said with a chuckle. “Daniel, is this one of your friends?”

“Sorry Mr. Owens, he is the head of security, so it’s best if you just do as he asks and we can explain the rest.” Danny said with a smile at Jerry’s father’s confused, but amused expression.

“Well then, lead the way young man.” Jerry’s dad replied smiling at his wife.

“Hold on a minute.” Jerry’s mom interjected. “Jerald, exactly what is this about? Daniel, who are these kids and just exactly what is going on here?”

Cory motioned for Danny to wait. He very formally walked over to Mrs. Owens. “Please pardon my intrusion, Mrs. Owens.” Cory handed her his IDs “I must introduce myself. I am Patriarch Cory Short of Clan Short of the family of Sarek of the House of Surak of the planet Vulcan. The time it would require to provide a full explanation of the events of the last twenty-four Terran hours would exceed the duration of comfort to remain standing. My Security Director is correct in his statement that it would be preferable to continue with the issuance of identification. Upon completion of that procedure, it would be logical to retire to Mr. Page’s domicile for debriefing.”

Mr. Owens walked around the car and looked over Cory’s identification. “Cory Short?” he said as he repeated the name to himself. “The same Cory Short with Starfleet? You are the Patriarch of Clan Short? I’ll be damned,” he said with a smile.

“I’m glad you have an idea who he is, I still just want to know why they’re here and why we can’t even get on to our own property.” Mrs. Owens spat out in disgust.

“Oh Honey, why don’t we jus…” Mr. Owens got out before being cut off by Jerry.

“Dad, JJ’s waitin on ya,” Jerry cut in pointing to the guard shack that had been constructed.

Cory spoke up. “Mrs. Owens, due to both Director Page and Doctor Owens being members of Clan Short, the properties on which their domiciles reside are required to be patrolled by Clan Security.”

“THE PROPERTIES ARE WHAT?” Mrs. Owens blasted at Cory, causing everyone in the area to freeze. “I don’t know who you think you are, but my husband is the owner of that property. Do you think we were born yesterday? And what’s this DR. OWENS being a member of anything?” she continued to rant.

“Honey,” Mr. Owens attempted to get his wife’s attention.

“In a minute!” she said hurriedly. “My son is no doctor and not even old enough to join anything…”


“I said in a minute!” she barked. “He can’t join anything without MY permission so you have no clai…”

“HONEY!” Mr. Owens shouted, finally freezing his wife, but getting a death glare from her for being cut off.

“Let’s just get our identifications like they asked and I’m sure they will explain…” He managed to get out before she went off again.


“You don’t happen to be programmed with the Vulcan Neck Pinch, would you?” Caleb whispered in Danny’s ear causing him to snicker.

“And what do you think is so funny!” she shouted at Danny, who just opened his eyes wide and shook his hands as if to say nothing. “Jon, call the police. I’m done with this.”

“The police?” Jon almost laughed out as he noticed Cory opening his communicator. “These people are Starfleet and Vulcan Diplomats. What do you think the police are going to do?” he got out as his wife folded her arms in disgust.

Cory keyed the communicator. “Lieutenant Barnes this is Patriarch Short. Set Security Condition Yellow; your presence is required at the Security Office immediately.”

“Acknowledged Patriarch. Setting Condition Yellow. Barnes out.”

A second later, everyone heard over the audibles on the communicators. “Security Condition Yellow. Security Condition Yellow. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. All non-essential personnel report to A.I. Division Main Building immediately.”

Jon’s eyes opened wide as he looked at his son and then his wife. “Hun, there is going to be real trouble if you continue this,” he got out as he noticed Noah and Caleb leading Jerry back into the house and Danny move closer to JJ; who, along with Adam, Cory, and Sean, had his phaser drawn and at the ready.

“They come in and take claim to our property and our son and you want to play along?” she spat out.

“This is a diplomatic Clan for christ sake! If they are here, there is a damned good reason for it. Why don’t you calm down before you force them to do something you’re gonna regret!” Jon said and then took one step back.

Cory switched channels on his communicator. “Patriarch Short to Commander Martin. Priority One Message.”

“This is Commander Martin. Proceed Patriarch Short.”

“I am presently at Security Condition Yellow. I require yourself as Federation Southeast Regional Security Director and Director Short of Federation Youth Services at my location as expediently as possible. I authorize emergency transport.”

“Acknowledged Patriarch Short. We shall depart shortly. Martin out.”

Jon looked at Cory with a knowing nod. “They will use force if you keep this up,” he said in a hushed tone as he watched two baby eagles fly past, circle the guard shack and perch on the roof.

“Force me to hand over everything we own?” she said in a disgusted tone. “You’re going to hand over our son and house just because they are here. There are laws against that kind of behavior.”

“Up to you now, I’m sure they aren’t here to take anything.” Jon said as his eyes met Cory’s. “I’m really sorry about this Patriarch.”

Cory nodded. “You are not responsible for her responses Mr. Owens.”

Matt jogged up to the group, phaser out, and immediately went to JJ and Danny. “Mr. Page; all personnel present and accounted for. What are your orders Mr. Richardson?”

JJ answered without removing his gaze from Mrs. Owens. “Stand by, Mr. Barnes. If Mrs. Owens loses control, immobilize her.”

“Immobilize me? You can’t be serious. Go ahead and try!” Mary shouted with fire in her voice.

“Mom,” A small voice came from behind her.

“Not right now, Jerry!” she shouted gruffly waving her hand behind her back to shush her son.

“Mom!” the voice repeated.

“In a minute!” she responded without looking as she scanned the entire group through squinted eyes, stopping at Cory. “So I have no choice, just let you waltz in here and take claim to my home and family?”

“Mrs. Owens.” Cory replied quickly. “I promise you we aren’t taking claim to anything. You don’t have all of the details. If you would just give me a moment,” he got out as she looked about ready to blow at any moment.

“MOM!” The voice broke in once again, this time all eyes that were on Mrs. Owens, were now wide with surprise.

“Jerry! I said wait a…” she managed to get out as she spun around, and froze in shock at the sight before her. “David?” she asked the semi-transparent form in front of her.

“Yes Mom, it’s me.” Davie replied. “Please Mom, listen to them. They are here to help, nothing more. You can trust them,” he said as Mikey appeared next to Cory.

Mary opened her mouth to say something, but simply rolled her eyes back and fainted into her husbands arms, who stood with his mouth hung open.

“David?” Jon asked as his son smiled wide.

“Hi Dad,” he replied as he gave Mikey a thumbs up. “It’s all gonna be fine,” he added with a smile.

As two shimmering columns began to appear behind him, Cory replied. “You have my assurances that I have no intentions of breaking up your home or family. You no longer owe a mortgage on your home; as a matter of fact, the plans which the state has of turning this section of beach into a public recreation area are now null and void. As of 15:30 local time today, you have been listed as the legal conservators of the property; until your death Vulcan recognizes you only. No entity on Earth can touch this property now; eminent domain no longer applies. Jerald is still your son; he has been given the opportunity to not only use the natural skills he has, but to be trained by experts to expand them beyond any training which a school environment could provide.”

Jon shook his head and snapped back to listen to what Cory was saying when Davie grinned and pointed to redirect his father’s attention. “Um… Yeah… I mean they were planning on taking the property?”

Cory nodded. “The council meeting for the final vote is tomorrow in closed session. They don’t know that my Intelligence Division got word of it.”

“I’ll be damned.” Jon replied as he eased his wife to rest on the ground and turned to look at his son once again. “But how did you get involved in this?”

“You would have to ask Cory’s older brother for that answer.” Davie replied as he saw Jerry running from the house, closely followed by Ricky and Timmy; both displaying full war paint. “Hey Boog!” he shouted as he was tackled with a hug.

“Cory’s older brother?” Jon asked, still somewhat in shock.

“That’d be me, Jon!” Mikey giggled as he watched Timmy and Ricky slam into Teri. “Hey Cor; don’t you think you might be forgetting something? Look behind you.”

Cory turned his head. “Oh! Hi Mom, hi John – I didn’t hear you beam in.” He then noticed the two little urchins shimmying their way into Teri’s arm. “Oops! Cancel Condition Yellow, Mr. Barnes.”

“I’ll explain more next time I can come down, we kinda have to go.” Davie said with a shrug as he looked down at his brother. “Don’t you have work to do or something?” he added with a giggle as he ruffled Jerry’s hair.

“Great,” Jerry said as he threw his hands in the air. “Second visit and you’re already on my back,” he sarcastically barked through a smile.

“Second visit?” Jon asked, raising his eye brows.

“Well…” Davie whined as he looked back at his father. “Second that anyone could see me,” he finished with a wink.

Mikey grinned. “Yeah, you and I have an appointment at the Pearly Gates, Davie. Since my nephews just shed their ‘war paint’, I think it’s safe to go. Cory, Sean we’ll see you at the Battery in a little bit. Jon, talk to Mom and my lil’ brothers; they won’t lie to you.”

“An appointment?” Davie said as he closed his fist and held it out to Mikey to do the same and knock knuckles. “You never said anything about an appointment, Bro,” he added as he rushed to his father and gave him a quick hug. “Talk to you soon, Dad. I love you,” he added as he turned toward Mikey.

Mikey grinned, “There are some things a Saint has to keep quiet about. Since this went better than I expected, it looks like we’ll be on time. You ready?”

“Yup,” Davie said with a mischievous grin. “Told you it’d work.” Davie snuck in having to dodge a playful poke from Mikey as they faded out, getting giggles from their onlookers.

“He’s happy.” Jon said with an inward smile as he rested his wife’s head in his lap, not knowing what to do next.

“Wait! Mikey; what’s the Battery!” Sean yelled towards the sky.

Cory shook his head. “Too late, Bro. Mr. Owens, I’d like you to meet our Mom, Federation Youth Services Director Teri Short. Next to her is JJ and Adam’s Pop, Commander John Martin; Commander of Federation Security for the Southeast North American region. I think that between the two of them they can explain things to you and your wife; I know my age is a disadvantage when you hear some of the things you need to know, so it would be better for an adult to tell you. Mom, John, this is Jonathan Owens and his wife Mary. Matt, could you please get someone to help and get Mrs. Owens inside and comfortable; preferably someplace quiet so she can talk with Mom?”

“Eli’s on his way out, Daddy.” Timmy piped up.

“Okay Timmy, thanks.” Cory replied.

Matt walked over to Jon. “Mr. Owens, might I suggest we retire to your house? It will be quieter, and when you do come back over here everything will make more sense.”

Jon looked down at his wife and back up to Matt. “Sure, I’m guessing this isn’t going to be a short discussion,” he replied with a confused smile.

Just then Eli ran up. “You called, Cor?”

Cory glanced down real quick before responding with a giggle. “Yeah, Eli; I’m glad you remembered your ‘pet’ BEFORE you came out! Could you help Mr. Owens and Matt get Mrs. Owens over to their house?”

Eli chuckled. “Sure thing; by the way, I’ll get you for that pet comment later – when you DON’T expect it!” Eli turned towards Matt. “Okay Matt, ready when you are!”

Jon looked at the boy who was about to help and raised his eyebrows. “Um… I can probably carry her, there’s no need…” he got out just as his wife began to levitate right before his eyes. “Definitely not going to be a short discussion,” he added, shaking his head in disbelief.

Teri and John both chuckled. “Might as well order dinner now and put on a really big pot of coffee!” John snickered. “This is nothing, I got some stuff you really are not going to believe!”

Jon stood up and rolled his eyes. “I’ll start the coffee then,” he said with a chuckle. He walked over to Cory and Sean. “Guys, the Battery is the perfect place to go if you need some time to unwind. If you look close, you can see it; it’s the park over there in downtown Charleston just across the harbor from here. It’s got a lot of history to it; pirates were hung there, it’s played a big part in a couple of wars, and just on the other side is one of the most famous historic districts in the US, Rainbow Row. In fact, there are still cannons there from the Civil War. Mary and I have been over there a few times, you can feel the history and it is quite relaxing.”

Cory and Sean both smiled. “Thanks Mr. Owens.” Sean replied. “Blondie here’s been working too hard; that sounds like just the place we need to go.” Sean then turned his head. “Matt, can you get us a car?”

“Sure thing, Sean. You need a driver?”

“No, I’ll look up directions on the terminal. Might as well make sure we have the car for a couple of days until Danny picks out one to buy for them here.”

“Okay Sean. I’ll do it as soon as we get to the house.”

Jon smiled at Sean and then his comment sank in. “You can drive?”

Sean nodded. “Both of us have full drivers licenses; but I’m not too sure you can call Cory operating a vehicle ‘driving’; I think ‘thrill ride’ covers it better.”

Danny overheard Sean’s comment and started to giggle before a little light went off in his head. “Sean?” He called out and trotted to his side as Jon laughed and turned to follow Eli and his wife into the house. “Would that mean that there would be a way for me to get my drivers license back? I have never been allowed to drive in this body.”

Cory smiled and replied for Sean. “I can’t have a division head with no wheels! Consider it done, Bro; I’ll handle the details tomorrow. JJ, call for reliefs for you and Adam, let’s get inside and see if there is a house left. I need to call Australia anyways, I’ll get that out of the way real quick.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“More Coffee?” Jon asked Teri as he refilled Matt’s, Mary’s and his own cup.

“Thank you, Jon, I’d love some.” Teri answered with a smile before redirecting her attention toward Mary. “You see, just after becoming a part of Ambassador Sarek’s extended family when rescuing Sammy and Sebastian, Sarek gave the boys the power to do their magic by giving them Clan status.”

Jon sat back down and took a sip from his cup before appearing to be deep in thought. “But they are parents as well,” he said looking back toward Teri. “How did that happen?”

“You mean Timmy?” Teri asked with a wide smile.

“If Timmy is the little one who was calling Cory ‘Daddy,’ then yes.” Jon replied.

“That was a frightening night quite a while ago.” Teri answered sipping from her mug. “One that will always stand out though,” she said as she sat her cup down on the table. “We had just had a lovely evening out and were on our way home…”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

(Direct Flashback from Memories: Part 1 – Chapter 20 – Written By: ACFan)

Teri had asked the limo driver to take the long way back, as she wanted to enjoy some private time with ‘her’ boys. They were on Hwy 5 just past the Hwy 28 exchange when they heard a loud BANG and an Explorer came flying across the road and rolled down the bank.

Cory reacted first. “STOP THE CAR! Sean, call McCoy and get a med team down NOW, everyone else follow me. We need to see if we can help. Aaron, grab the fire extinguisher just in case. David, direct traffic. MOVE!”

As Cory led the group to the vehicle, Sean pulled out his newly-issued communicator. “Ensign Sean to Enterprise.”

“Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead, Sean.”

“Commander, I need a full med team at these coordinates ASAP. There is a civilian vehicle which just did a very good imitation of a tumbleweed across the road here.”

“Understood, Sean. Dr. McCoy was on the bridge, he is on his way. Enterprise out.”

Sean closed his communicator as McCoy and Chapel beamed down next to him. “Thanks, Doc – this way!” he yelled as he headed down the hill.

They arrived to find that Cory had used his phaser to remove what was left of the top of the SUV, and was working inside in the back seat. Adam and JJ were removing the debris from the front seat to give the med team access.

“Sean!” Cory said as he saw him, “Get ready to catch!” A minute later, Sean was surprised to be handed a kid who looked to be five or six, still in his booster seat. Once they had him free, they took him up the hill to a safe area.

Lt. Simpson checked the young boy over. “Well, except for the arm it looks like he’s gonna have a few bruises, but I’d bet that booster seat saved his life.” The lieutenant then proceeded to set the boy’s arm and then put on a soft cast. “This is just to protect it while it finishes healing naturally; the field unit is not as strong as the shipboard ones. He’s all yours, Ensigns. I’m gonna prescribe some cuddles to prevent shock.”

For the first time in the last 30 minutes, Sean and Cory made an attempt at smiles. They looked down at the vehicle, and saw McCoy and Chapel still working on the driver, which told them there was still a chance.

Sean carefully picked up the boy and took him to the limo to sit down, with Cory following right behind.

Cory gently ruffled the kid’s hair. “Hey buddy, I’m Cory and the teddy bear you are cuddled up to is Sean. What’s your name?”

“Timmy,” he whimpered, “is Daddy goin’ to be okay?”

“We got the best doctor in the universe checking on him right now. How old are you, Timmy?” Cory answered, trying to change the subject.

“I’m almost six. Why are you dressed like space guys?”

Sean giggled. “That’s ’cause we are. Our Captain just threw a party for us.”

Just then Aaron came up. “Bro’s, Doc needs to see ya’. Why don’t you introduce me to the stunt rider here?”

Timmy turned and looked at the source of the new voice. “I’m Timmy. Hey, you look like Aaron Carter!”

“That’s because I am Aaron Carter. Hop on over here, these guys gotta talk to their boss.”

Timmy moved over to Aaron, and then both Sean and Cory headed to where the Captain, Dr. McCoy, and Teri were standing.

“You needed to see us, Doctor?” Sean asked as they walked up.

“Yes, Sean, I do. The Captain, your mom, and I were just discussing the situation Cory got you into. Jim, why don’t you break the news?”

“Ensigns, you did an outstanding job trying to save the occupants of the vehicle. We had to beam out a second bomb that was under the dash. The first one blew off the driver’s side front suspension, and the driver’s foot. Fortunately, the trigger on the second one failed. For the record, the official story will be that a front tire blew on the vehicle, the information I just gave you is for Starfleet internal purposes only.”

“Excuse me, sir, but why is Starfleet that involved?” Cory asked.

“Good question, Cory. The driver was Terrance O’Neal, the only son of Ambassador Marcus O’Neal, who happens to be the only Earth representative allowed on Rigel VII. Unfortunately, Terrance was unable to be saved; he lost too much blood before Bones got to him. He regained full consciousness long enough to ask about his son Timmy and to make one final request. That request is what got me involved. Seeing as Timmy’s only relative is the Ambassador, I contacted him and he insisted his son’s last wish is to be complied with.”

Sean looked at the faces surrounding him, and addressed the Captain. “Sir, how does that affect us?”

Captain Kirk gave the boys a half smile before continuing. “Terrance’s last wish was that the officer who was working so fast to save them is to be the one to raise his son. He specifically stated that he was talking about the one who cut off the roof. I explained to the Ambassador about your age, Cory, and he reminded me of a little-used regulation. When you both accepted active commissions, you immediately gained full status as adults Federation-wide. In other words, you both now have the full rights and responsibilities of adults.”

Kirk looked at Teri, who nodded her head slightly, before he continued. “I realize the two of you are a couple, so you both need to make the decision; but only Cory can answer the question when I ask it, since he specifically was requested. Go talk about it, you have five minutes to decide.”

The two boys joined hands, and walked down the road a few yards for privacy. Sean began first. “Babe, what are we gonna do? I don’t want to put the little tike out, but I don’t think I’m ready to be a dad.”

Cory had a pained look on his face. “I know; I can’t let him go, but yet I’m only 14, I’m too young to be a daddy!”

The two boys hugged each other for a minute while sorting their thoughts, when they were interrupted by a small voice. “Bro’s? What’s wrong?”

The two looked up to see Ty and Kyle looking at them with concern. Cory answered “Little Timmy’s daddy is dead. Before he died, he said he wanted me to be Timmy’s new daddy. Timmy’s grandpa said that he wants us to do it too. Thing is, both of us are too young to be parents.”

Kyle looked at the two older boys, and then said something neither expected. “Don’t be dummies. Cory, you have been like a Daddy to me since the first day I met you in the home. When I was bad, you made me admit to it and take my punishment. JJ has been a big brother, but you always were more.”

Ty continued. “Yeah, and Sean, all the times I came over, you made me sit down and do homework before I could play. I know we all call you our big brothers, but really you are like our Dads; if we do somethin’ wrong you are gonna make us answer for it. Besides, don’t ya’ think Mom will help you?”

Cory and Sean held out their arms to the two young boys. “Come here, group hug.” As they broke the hug he continued. “Thanks, guys. I never thought you saw me like that, I just was doing what I thought was right.”

“Same here,” said Sean. “Are you sure you won’t mind, Ty? This is gonna affect you guys too; same with JJ and Adam.”

“Justy and the twins say, ‘Hurry up’, or else they are gonna sic their Dad and Pop on ya’. Does THAT answer your question?” Kyle stated with a grin.

When Ty nodded in agreement, Cory looked at Sean. “We know how everyone else feels, now what do you think, babe?”

“I’m willing to give it a shot, like Ty said Mom will probably help. What about you, no matter what you are affected more than me since you are the one taking custody.”

Cory looked Sean in the eyes. “Sean, WE are doing this, your name is going to be right there with mine. That is one thing I will NOT bargain about.”

Sean hugged Cory, then they turned to rejoin the Captain and Teri. “Thanks Ty and Kyle; y’all just helped more than you know.”

As they were walking, Cory thought about how he was going to approach this. He finally decided just as they arrived at where the Captain was standing.

Kirk looked at the two boys, surprised that he was unable to read their faces. “What did you decide, Cory?”

Cory came to attention. “Sir, I request the Enterprise’s Medical Officer record this conversation for inclusion in the Ship’s log, with all due respect.”

Kirk raised his eyebrows, he had been going to suggest just that himself, but Cory beat him to it. “As you wish, Ensign. Bones, could you do the honors?”

“I don’t believe it, an Engineer with common sense!” Dr. McCoy muttered just loud enough for everyone to hear as he was setting up his tricorder. “You’re on, Ensign. This should be good.”

Cory grinned slightly; the Doctor’s humor having its intended effect and relaxing him. “Thank you, Doctor. Captain, after discussing Timmy O’Neal’s situation with my partner, we have reached a decision. I am willing to accept permanent custody with two requirements. First is that both myself and Ensign Sean Short be listed as parents, and second is that Timmy be required to change his last name to Short for his own protection. Due to the cause of his fathers’ death, I don’t think it would be safe for him to keep his original last name.” Cory then gave the Captain a look which clearly stated it was his turn.

McCoy saw the look, and before the Captain could respond he tapped him on the shoulder. “Jim, don’t bother arguing. He reminds me of a certain hot-shot captain I met quite a few years ago; namely, you. Honestly, you still get your way one way or the other.”

Kirk grinned and shook his head at the Doctor’s comment, then responded. “Ensign, I agree with your conditions, but need to clear them with the Ambassador. Give me just a minute here.” He then pulled out his communicator.

“Kirk to Enterprise.”

“Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead, Captain.”

“Uhura, I need a priority channel opened to Ambassador O’Neal on Rigel VII. Relay it to my communicator please.”

“One second, sir. Opening the channel.”

It took a minute, but then the communicator sprang back to life. “Captain, I have the Ambassador for you; I’m putting him through now.”

“Captain Kirk, this is Ambassador O’Neal. Is there a problem?”

Kirk responded. “Hello, Ambassador. I would not say a problem, but there are two conditions which Ensign Cory Short has before he can accept custody of Timmy. The first is that his partner, Ensign Sean Short, also be listed on the permanent guardianship as adoptive parent along with Ensign Cory.”

“So am I to understand that Cory and Sean are a couple, both of which are in Starfleet? What is Sean’s age?”

“Ensign Sean is thirteen, and yes they are a couple.”

“In that case, I will accept that condition. If Starfleet recognizes them as a family then so shall I. What is the other condition?”

Kirk tensed slightly before replying, he knew this would be the tough one. “My Ensign believes that Timmy is still at risk from whoever caused his father’s death. To reduce that risk, he requires Timmy to change his surname to match theirs.”

The communicator was quiet for a minute, and then the Ambassador answered. “Unfortunately, I believe your Ensign could very well be right. Timmy is the last surviving member of my family; if that’s what it takes to keep my grandson alive, then so be it. Tell Cory and Sean they have already impressed me, and I look forward to someday soon meeting them in person.”

Cory reached out his hand for Kirk’s communicator. “Ambassador, this is Ensign Cory Short; we both were listening. Thank you and we both look forward to meeting you too. I’ll give you back to the Captain now.”

Kirk retrieved the communicator. “Thank you, Ambassador. I assure you Timmy is in good hands.”

“I already get that impression. Thank you Captain. O’Neal out.”

“Kirk out.”

Kirk turned to Teri. “Teri, I believe this is your department, could you do the finals?”

Teri looked at her sons. “Cory, Sean, before I finalize this, I want you to know I’ll help you as much as I can; all you have to do is ask. As much as it worries me, you two are now adults legally and have to live with your decisions. Ensigns Cory and Sean Short, do you accept full custody of the minor child Timothy Christian O’Neal?”

Cory spoke for both of them. “We accept custody and request his surname be changed to ‘Short’.”

“Approved. From this point forward, he shall be known as Timothy Christian Short. This concludes these proceedings.”

Both boys gave their mom a hug, then turned to the Captain and extended their hands. Sean spoke for them both when he told the captain “Thank you for your support, sir. I just hope we can handle this.”

“You both can, your Mom is the best support network I know of. Now go get your son, Bones will go with you to help break the news.”

As the three walked up to the limo, it was obvious the rest of the boys had joined Aaron and Timmy. Doctor McCoy opened the door, and everyone fell quiet as him, Sean, and Cory climbed in.

Cory and Sean sat in their favorite corner spot, and then Cory spoke. “Timmy, could you please come over here with Sean and me?”

Timmy walked over, and stood in front of them. When Cory signaled for him to sit on their laps, he climbed up and snuggled Cory.

Cory spoke in a soft voice. “Timmy, this is Doctor McCoy. He is the Chief Medical Officer on the Federation Starship Enterprise. He was the one trying to help your daddy; the one I said was the best doctor in the whole universe.”

Timmy looked up at Cory, tears forming in his grey eyes. “Did Daddy die?”

Cory pulled the skinny four-foot tall boy closer and nuzzled his face into Timmy’s short red hair. “I’m really sorry, he was hurt too bad to help. He woke up long enough to tell the Doc something. He loved you so much the last thing he did was to make sure you were going to be okay.”

Timmy buried his freckled face in Cory’s shoulder, tears freely flowing. After ten minutes, he calmed enough to ask “What did Daddy say?”

Sean reached over and kissed the boy’s forehead. “Why don’t we let Doc tell you?”

Timmy looked over at McCoy. “What did he say, Doc?”

McCoy pulled out his tricorder. “Instead of me repeating it, I’ll let you hear.” He then played it back.

“Doc, is Timmy okay?”

“If Timmy was the boy in back, he’s fine. Now let’s get you out there with him.”

“Doc, if I don’t make it, tell Timmy I love him. If that happens, find the officer who cut the roof off the truck. I heard him working to get both of us out and want him to raise Timmy.”

“I don’t plan to have to pass that message, but I will.”

There were some wet coughs, then one last statement. “Thanks Doc, it’s my time now.”

Timmy looked at McCoy. “Was Daddy hurting when he said that?”

“Yes, he was Timmy.”

“Is Daddy hurting now?”

McCoy looked into Timmy’s eyes. “No, I don’t think he will ever hurt again.”

“What about Granpa? Does he know?”

Sean answered. “Yes, he does, Tim. We talked to him just before we came to the car. Do you understand what your dad asked to be done?”

Timmy though for a second, and then realized who was being talked about. “Cory, does that mean you are my new Daddy?”

“Yes, it does, little buddy. Actually you got two new daddies – Sean and me both.”

“How can I call you both Daddy?”

Sean answered “Well, how does Daddy and Pappa sound? Would that work?”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“… another 6 seconds and none of them would be here today.” Teri said noting the look on Mary’s face. “It’s difficult to handle at first, realizing you are suddenly a grandparent. Once you get over the initial shock, your love for your children overshadows the fact that your babies now have babies.”

“Joey must have had the same impact on you.” Matt said, causing Jon to choke on his coffee. “Um, didn’t you already know about Joey?”

“Joey? Joey who?” Jon asked as he cleaned up the mess he had just made.

Matt laughed as he noticed the confused look on even Mary’s face. “You didn’t know about Jerry’s son?”

Jon looked at Mary before answering; “He didn’t have one when we left.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I just assumed you knew about the little android boy.” Matt added with a surprised expression.

“Android?” Mary questioned while rolling her eyes. “I suppose that was bound to happen sooner or later.”

Teri smiled and leaned back in her chair. “Judging on the events that took place before I arrived, your crew here is fitting in with mine quite well,” she added with a smile; “I’d get accustomed to surprises if I were you.”

“You mean like having to get clearance to get into your own home?” Jon said with a chuckle.

“It all begins there.” Teri said raising her cup; earning a round of laughter as the door opened and Doc Austin wandered in.

“Well, the A.I. Division is forming nicely. We have our IT team totally destroying the house right now,” he said with a chuckle as he took a seat and Jon poured him a coffee. “Thanks, I needed a break. How’s things goin’ over here?”

“Much better now.” Matt replied. “It seems our new division is just as full of surprises as the group that just adopted them.”

“Birds of a feather,” the doctor laughed. “They are working so well together over there. It feels like home.”

“So, that’s why you needed a break.” Teri shot in reply.

“Yup, the only thing missing is Aaron being tossed in the pool.” Doc Austin answered getting a few laughs.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“Unkah Dahnnee. Me tummy id geddin empee.” Joey said breaking into Danny and Caleb’s conversation.

“Mee Toooo!” Timmy added with Ricky nodding his head in agreement.

Danny smiled at Caleb and then looked at the fridge. “Oh boy, I almost forgot dinner.” he said as he looked at the kids. “Man, I don’t think there’s enough food in the house for this many people.”

“Let’s order in pizza!” Caleb said excitedly.

“YEAH!!!” the little ones screamed in reply; causing Danny’s face to suddenly turn a pale white.

“Do you have any idea how many pizzas we’d need to order?” Danny said, now holding his head.

“Grab a phone book and pick the lucky pizza shop.” JJ interjected; tossing his Federation Visa on the table. “Just charge it to that.”

“Phone book?” Jerry piped up. “Just call 886-4242.”

“Who’s that?” Danny asked the now grinning boy.

“Domino’s. It’s on the other side of the breach. We call them all the time.” Jerry said with a smile. “They’re awesome!”

“Anyone opposed to Domino’s?” Danny asked the group getting a round of smiles as his answer. “Domino’s it is then, break off in teams. Ask the groups you are working with what they would like and we’ll make up the order from that.” Danny said just as JJ closed his communicator.

“It’s just us, The adults are just gonna eat in.” JJ said with a smile. “I hope this place can handle a big order.” He added with a giggle.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Domino’s Pizza: 1515 Palm Blvd. Isle Of Palms, SC

“Domino’s Pizza, Pickup or delivery?” Eddie, the shop’s shift supervisor answered the phone in a semi-musical tone.

“Delivery, unless the order is too large.”

Eddie smiled before answering “Never seen the order large enough to stop us from delivering. Just to verify the call information for delivery, are you located at 3199 Marshall Boulevard, Sullivan’s Island?”

“That’s us.” The voice on the other end replied. “This order is really large though.”

Eddie laughed and replied. “Don’t worry about it. What would you like this evening sir?”

“We need 50 large pizzas. 10 cheese, 20 pepperoni, 4 half…” The voice on the other end got out before being cut off.

“Excuse me, did you say 50 large pizzas? Is this a joke?”

“It’s no joke. I did warn you it was a really large order.” Was the reply on the other end as Eddie, who was also the Manager’s son attempted to wave his arms to get his father’s attention through the office window from the front counter.

“Could you hold for one second sir, I need to grab the Manager for this one.” Eddie asked as he frantically waved his father to come up front.

“No problem.” The voice answered as Eddie pressed the hold button.

“DAD! Get up here!” Eddie shouted placing the phone on the counter.

“What’s wrong?” Eddie’s father questioned.

“I have some kid on the phone trying to order 50 large pizzas.” he said with his eyes open wide.

“Is the call for real?” his father asked as he picked up the receiver.

“I don’t know, like I said it sounds like a kid. I didn’t talk to an adult.” Eddie explained, as his father brought the call off of hold.

“Good evening sir, This is Alex Fraser, Manager and Franchise owner. I hear you have a rather large order for us this evening.” Alex said in a warm tone.

“Yes sir we do.” The voice replied.

“Is your father home son?” Alex asked while winking at his son.

“My father? Umm…” The voice giggled. “Sir this is an order for our staff. I’m actually a lot older than I sound.” the voice answered.

“I’m sorry son, your address is not listed as being a business. Unless I speak to an adult I’m sorry to say we can’t take such a large order.” he said as he looked at the partially filled out slip and gasped as he covered the mouth piece. “He really tried to order 50 large pizzas?”

“Yeah, that’s why I yelled.” Eddie answered.

“Sir, I assure you this order is for real. This address has just been obtained by Clan Short of Vulcan as it’s A.I. Division. I sound young because I myself am an android and head of this newly formed division.”

“I’m sure son, but I really need to speak with an adult regarding this order. I do apologize for the inconvenience but that is a policy.” the manager said politely.

“I understand your position sir. We will call back in a few moments.” the voice replied before disconnecting the call.

“There you go, one prank diffused.” Alex said ruffling his son’s hair.

“Thanks Dad.” The 16 year old smiled as he resumed his position in the quiet shop assembling pizza boxes, before the phone ringing once again got his attention. Without looking at the caller ID he picked up the phone and recited his practiced “Domino’s Pizza, Pickup or delivery?” greeting.

“Um yes, This is Lieutenant Commander Mathew Barnes, federation security assigned to Clan Short of Vulcan. May I speak with your manager please.” The voice on the other end politely requested.

“Yes sir, one moment please.” Eddie replied as he placed the call on hold and looked at the caller ID, verifying the same number as the call placed earlier. “DAD!” Eddie yelled as his father poked his head out of the office door. “It’s them again, this time an adult claiming to be with the federation.”

“I’ll take it in here son.” Alex replied as he picked up the phone. “This is Alex Fraser, Manager and Franchise owner. How can I help you this evening?”

“Good evening sir, I am Lieutenant Commander Mathew Barnes, Federation security assigned to Clan Short of Vulcan. I am calling you from our newly formed A.I. Division headquarters. I understand the head of this division attempted to place an order with your establishment. An order you refused to take. Might I ask why that is?”

Alex cleared his throat while loosening his tie. “Well sir, um… We have to be careful when deciding if an order being called in to us is a prank or not. Your division head sounded like a young boy, and was unable to produce a parent to verify the validity of his request. I’m sure you can understand our position.”

“Considering the fact that his voice is youthful, I will give some margin for your hesitance. Sir, I am about to give you the credit account this order is to be charged to. Please verify the credit line origin now as proof that this order is not a prank as you described, as will be any future orders originating from this location.” the voice on the other end stated before giving the credit card number for the owner to punch into his system.

“Thank you sir.” Alex replied as he waited for the credit information to pop up on his screen, gasping when the card displayed one of the highest ranking credit lines he had ever seen from a federation account. “I do apologize for our actions sir, we had no way of knowing.”

“Understandable, please insure that I needn’t be bothered over issues of this nature in the future.” the Lieutenant requested firmly.

“Yes sir, if you would like to place your division head back on the phone, I will redirect this call to our shift supervisor so he may resume taking your order.” Alex responded as he placed the call on hold, grabbed an apron and hurried into the kitchen. “Eddie, grab that call and take the order. Be exceptionally nice, they weren’t kidding about who it was for.” Alex ordered as he began to assemble the kitchen staff to rush the order as much as possible.

Eddie watched a moment as his father seriously rushed the staff into action before clearing his throat and picking up the phone. “Um… Yes sir. Can I take that order please?” he said with his voice cracking.

The voice on the other end giggled before responding. “Yes please. By the way, don’t sweat it dude. No offense taken on this end. Okay?”

“Yes sir.” Eddie replied.

“Danny,” the voice simply said, confusing Eddie.

“I’m sorry, my name is Eddie, not Danny sir.” Eddie said, scratching his head.

“No, I mean my name is Danny, you can drop the sir.” he replied with a giggle.

“Oh.” Eddie said with a giggle. “Cool thanks man, now you said you wanted 50 large pizzas?”

“Yup, that’s 20 minutes or it’s free, right?” Danny giggled as he could literally hear Eddie gulp on the other end.

“Um… I would need to ask my dad about that one.” Eddie responded as he realized Danny was just kidding and laughed as well.

“Bummer, I would have been impressed if you guys could meet it.” Danny added and then began placing his order once again.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

About two hours later, three cars pulled up in front of the Furst residence attracting the attention of the kids in the house. “The pizza’s here guys!!!” Ricky shouted at the top of his lungs; causing a literal stampede for the door.

Just as he was about to approach the security guard, Eddie looked at the house and saw a wild looking group of kids relieve the other two drivers of their cargo within seconds flat.

“Um…” Eddie stated as he reported to the security shack. “Well, I was going to let you know we had a delivery for this residence, but I guess the word got out,” he said as they stood back and watched as the other two drivers were literally attacked by what would be recognized anywhere else as an angry mob.

“I guess you got lucky by coming over here first then.” JJ said as he exited the shack. “You happen to have a meat lovers pizza in there?”

“I get extra cheese!” Timmy shouted as he and Danny walked over.

“You’re in luck, those are in my car.” Eddie said as Danny recognized the voice from the phone conversation.

“Eddie?” Danny asked and held out his hand for Eddie to shake.

“Danny?” Eddie’s eyes opened wide as he accepted his hand and shook it. “But, you said you were older than you sounded.” Eddie stated as they began to walk toward the car and opened the back.

“Well, I am.” Danny replied with a giggle. “Have you ever met an android before? Our looks are usually deceiving,” he added with a smile.

“Oh yeah, I’ve seen androids, but none of them were as young or cute…” Eddie got out as he froze in embarrassment at the comment he let slip. “Sorry bout that, man, I meant good looking,” he said as his expression clearly said ‘I wanna die!’

Danny giggled and patted Eddie on the back. “Thanks man, as for the looks you would need to compliment the designer.” The two pulled JJ and Timmy’s pizzas from the back and gave ample clearance for the stampede to change directions. “Guys! The rest are in there!” Danny yelled and pointed towards Eddie’s car.

“Chickens!” one of the older gentlemen shouted to them as he was busy being tackled by the group.

“No just smart enough to stay out of the way.” Danny yelled as he handed Timmy his pizza and Eddie gave JJ his.

“Sir.” Eddie said as he handed the box to JJ. “We were able to salvage these for you.” he added with a giggle.

“I was getting worried.” JJ said as he pulled out his Federation Visa “Could you handle the gratuities for yourself and the others, if they survive the mauling, on this card please. Charge $50 for each of you,” he added as Eddie’s jaw dropped.

“That much isn’t necessary sir.” Edie gasped out.

“No, but it may help with the bill’s to reattach missing fingers and any damage to vehicles from that crowd’s attempt to eat their way towards the food.” JJ said with a giggle as he noticed Danny watching Timmy sitting on the ground.

“What’s he doing?” JJ asked as Danny held his finger to his lips.

“Shhhh… Listen to him.” Danny whispered as all three froze and listened.

“It’s okay. You can have some of mine.” Timmy said as he opened his pizza box. “Do you like cheese?”

“Who’s he talking to?” Eddie whispered to Danny.

“No idea.” Danny replied just in time to watch a baby raccoon carefully approach Timmy and sit down. “Oh how cute!” Danny whispered as Timmy pulled a small piece off and began to blow on it.

“You gotta wait a second, it’s too hot.” Timmy said with a smile as the raccoon patiently waited for him.

“He’s good with animals, isn’t he?” Eddie asked with a smile.

“You have no idea.” JJ said as he went back into the shack and opened his pizza.

“Well, we better head back, right now there are only two people in the shop.” Eddie said with a smile.

“Yeah, next time we’ll give you more warning. Tonight we were just too busy to think ahead.” Danny said getting a smile from Eddie.

“It’s no problem, dude. I think my dad is just excited at the boost in sales.” Eddie replied with a grin. “Call us anytime, I’m just glad I have a station wagon or else I wouldn’t have been allowed to leave,” he added with a wink; waving as he approached the other drivers. “Hold out your hands,” he said as they did as he asked with confused looks on their faces. “okay, no missing fingers. I guess we can all go back to work now.”

Danny laughed and waved as he turned back toward Timmy. “Who’s your little friend there?”

“He’s a waccoon!” Timmy quickly replied with a mouthful of pizza. “His momma had a accident an’ he’s all by himself.” Timmy said as he pulled off another small slice and blew on it for his little friend. “Is it okay if he comes inside? Duke and William need to talk to him.”

Danny looked over to JJ, who could hear all that was going on. “If Timmy says an animal needs help, it’s probably cause it asked him for help. It should be cool for him to go inside.” JJ said; knowing why Danny was hesitant with his answer.

“Thanks Bro.” Danny answered as he turned back around and watched them both eat. “Well if Duke and William wanna help, it’s okay with me for him to go inside. Just let me know if you need anything to help, okay?”

“Okay Danny, thanks! Um… Can I call you Unca Danny like Joey does?” Timmy asked with a look that melted Danny’s heart.

“You know, little buddy, I’d be proud if you did.” He said with a smile as Timmy put his slice down and gave Danny a hug while the raccoon watched.

“Okay we’re gonna go inside then. Thanks Unca Danny.” Timmy said with a huge smile as he turned back, closed the box and had the baby raccoon hop on to it to be carried inside.

“Another softie,” JJ giggled out as Danny looked back and smiled. “He has that affect on ya tho. I think he’s goin’ pro at adoptin’ soft hearted family.” JJ added with a smile as Danny simply smiled and nodded, then turned back to go into the house.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

“That won’t work Bro, there is no way to bridge alien networks with only one operating system.” Caleb stated to Danny as he sat back in his chair and eyed all of the empty pizza boxes stacked in the corner from dinner a couple of hours before.

“It just makes more sense to find a way to do it though. You could cut the equipment load in half that way.” Danny replied as a very naked Timmy, Ricky and Joey ran into the kitchen. “Guys, where are your clothes?” he asked in a shocked tone as Caleb giggled.

“Dude, that’s standard issue bedwear.” Caleb said as Ricky hopped in his lap and hugged him. “You guys goin’ to bed now?”

“Uh huh.” The three chorused as they made their rounds with hugs and kisses.

“Unkah Dahnnee, I gedda sweep with Dimmee and Wickee,” he said as he hopped into Danny’s lap.

“Oh no,” Danny said looking at Caleb. “We have no way to charge Joey, Marc is on that terminal and the new system won’t be up until tomorrow.”

“Oooohh,” Caleb said with a concerned expression. “How long can he hold out before his power level gets critical?”

“I have no idea what shape his cell is in. I know it is old and used so, it’s anyone’s guess.” Danny replied as Joey hopped off his lap and all three ran full speed back into the living room. “Should be 24 hours before his system shuts down. It won’t hurt him or anything. Just means once Marc wakes up, Joey will need an extra nap to get through the day.”

“Hey Danny!” Jerry shouted as he and Noah came into the room. “We’re plannin’ on putting a movie in and crashing in the living room. You guys comin’ or are you still working?”

“Still working,” Caleb replied. “We really need to have this mapped out so we can get the new network online tomorrow.”

“Yeah, just save us some floor.” Danny added as Noah walked around the table and wrapped his arms around Caleb from behind.

“You guys need a hand?” Noah asked as he gave his boyfriend a squeeze.

“Nah, go warm up a spot for me. We’ll be all set soon, I hope.” Caleb replied as he gripped the hug tighter.

“Okay, don’t stay up too late.” Noah said as he began to pull off his shirt on the way out of the room with Jerry following his lead. Caleb’s stare followed his boyfriend all the way out of the room, completed with a sigh as they disappeared from sight.

“How long have you two been a couple?” Danny asked with a smile gaining Caleb’s attention.

“Two months on the 23rd,” Caleb answered with a smile. “Why do you ask?”

“No real reason, just that you two seem so perfect together.” Danny said with a smile. “We can put this off ’til morning if you wanna go in and cuddle up.”

“No, we need to get this worked out before morning.” Caleb answered as he grabbed a PADD and began tapping away.

“Okay, I’m gonna make myself a coffee, want one?” Danny asked as he stood and went over to the cabinet to grab a mug.

“Sounds great, we still have to figure out placement and map the internal wiring. That’s gonna take a while,” he said as he stood up and Danny handed him a mug.

“Sugar is next to the coffee maker, milk in the fridge. Have at it.” Danny said with a smile as he sat back down with his mug and watched as Caleb started shoveling sugar into his cup. “Dude, leave some room for the coffee.” Danny giggled.

Caleb looked at his cup then back at Danny as he shoveled 4 more heaping spoonfuls into his cup with a grin. “I like it sweet,” he said as both began to giggle.

“You have enough sugar for four cups of coffee in there. I would hope you like it sweet. My teeth are aching just thinking about you drinking that.” Danny got out as he watched Caleb pour a little bit of coffee in his cup, and topped it off with an almost equal amount of milk. After stirring it and taking a sip, he gave Danny a mischievous grin and added two more spoonfuls of sugar. “So gross!” Danny giggled as Caleb took another sip and nodded his head in approval.

“Good coffee,” Caleb said as he sat back down.

“You mean you actually can taste coffee in that concoction?” Danny replied with a grin.

“Oh yeah,” Caleb said as he looked at the PADD he was working on. “How’s this?” He added to change the subject as he slid the unit over for Danny to look over.

“That works, but according to this we need to upgrade the wiring downstairs. All of the downstairs stuff is older and won’t be able to handle that kind of traffic.”

“Oh,” Caleb said as he slid the PADD back toward himself and spun it back around to look at it. “I didn’t think about how it was installed. This is gonna take a while.”

About an hour later, the boys were still hard at work creating theories and punching holes in them when the front door being opened cause them both to jump.

Sean and Cory opened the door and walked into a silent house. “Umm, Sean; Did you pull in the right driveway?” Cory snickered.

Danny looked at Caleb and smiled. “Dude, didn’t I tell you to lock the door,” he said as both began to snicker.

Caleb giggled his reply. “I thought you did it, dude; now all the bums are sneaking in!”

“Bite me, Caleb!” Cory chuckled as they walked over to the table. “Is there any food around, we’re starved!”

“Hmmm…” Danny said as if giving the question serious thought. “You might be able to scrape some cheese out of one of those,” he said as he pointed to the tower of empty boxes in the corner.

Sean looked to where Danny was pointing and gasped. “DUDE! What did y’all do, roll a Domino’s semi that was driving by?”

“Nah, but I know one Domino’s franchise that can have our business any time now.” Danny said with a giggle.

“Yeah!” Caleb added. “Their drivers are pretty tough. Not too many injuries after the gang attacked without mercy,” he giggled out as Danny almost choked on his coffee.

“Just kidding guys, there are two pizzas in the oven with your names written on the boxes. Deej told me what you guys usually get.” Danny said, getting a pouting look from Caleb for giving up the goods so easily.

“You are so weak, bro. You could have gotten an easy hour out of making them search that pile for scraps.” Caleb managed to get out before Sean reached over and dummy slapped him in the back of the head.

“Keep it up, Caleb!” Cory giggled as him and Sean headed for the stove. “If you ain’t careful, the most advanced computer you’ll be able to get near is a C-64!”

“A what?” Caleb scrunched up his nose and looked at Danny, who had obviously gotten the joke judging at how hard he was laughing.

“Commodore 64, dude. It’s like one of the earliest systems that were made available to the public. You know, back in the day when not every house could even afford to have a computer.” Danny giggled out as Caleb appeared to be deep in thought.

“Okay, but you guys will have to learn how to access the Vulcan network with it cause I will replace all of our terminals with them.” Caleb said with a dead serious stare.

“Oh my God!” Cory exclaimed as he opened the oven and looked inside. He managed to get both pizza boxes out of the oven and onto the stove top before both he and Sean collapsed on the floor in laughter. As soon as he recovered enough to read again, Cory read the notes on the boxes out loud. “You touch, you die.” “Daddys pissa – I ponce if u eat” “Radioactive – authorized persons only” “~^_| – {~^” “Diplomatic Property Of Clan Short” “Warning – fingers amputated for eating Pop’s Pizza!”

Cory showed his box to Danny. “Hey bro; any idea what these scribbles are?”

Danny looked and burst out laughing as he tried to read the scribbles beneath “Radioactive – authorized persons only”. “That’s why Joey was looking for something to write with,” he said as he looked closer at the scribbles. “No clue, does the clan have someone who can translate Juvenile Android markings?”

Cory chuckled as he sat down. “Did we miss anything while we were gone? How’s the guys downstairs doing?”

Danny sat back and took a sip from his almost empty coffee before replying “Well, Austin is coming along at an incredible rate, I think he will actually gain consciousness sometime tomorrow morning. Marc suffered minor damage due to overload, but his system is doing a great job repairing the damage. He should be up and around by morning too. Your Mom, Doc Austin, Matt and Jerry’s parents have been at Jerry’s house all night. I’m thinking Mary is handling this much better since Teri stepped in, but we won’t know ’til we see them. I guess the adults are staying there tonight. All equipment is in place and ready for installation, once Caleb and I figure out the routing and how to make it all function and take the place of the systems they are replacing. We have major plans and are working well on it together. He’s been one heck of a partner on this project.” Danny said with a smile. Caleb pretended to not be paying attention, but his blushing gave him away. “Otherwise, our two groups are gettin’ along better than I could have ever believed possible. Your kids are the best I have ever encountered. Full of surprises too.”

Sean was between pieces and replied, since Cory’s mouth was full of about half a slice of pizza. “Sounds good. I’m afraid to ask what the surprises are though.”

“Nothing serious, bro. I had a great time today though. How was your break tonight? You guys actually look rested.” Danny commented with a smile as he watched Cory pretty much devour another slice.

Cory swallowed his mouthful and then replied. “It went really good. Sean and I got in some quality cuddle time, made a new friend, talked to some ghosts, met a cool police officer and judge, and just generally chilled. Oh, we found out Davie got promoted.”

Danny and Caleb both stopped what they were doing and stared blankly at Cory. After looking at each other and shrugging their shoulders in confusion Caleb responded. “Um… Danny? You wouldn’t have a drug test kit layin’ ’round, would ya?”

Danny giggled and looked at Cory who was in the process of cramming another poor slice of pizza towards its quick demise before putting down the PADD he was working on. “Quality Cuddle Time, Good! The rest of that… Um… What???” he got out before all four broke out in giggles and Sean spit pizza down the front of himself, gaining another round of laughs.

Once Sean had cleaned up, he clarified Cory’s quick reply. “We had a visit from Mikey and Davie while we were there. We had met a kid named JR while we were watching the reflection of the sunset on the ocean. Mikey and Davie brought along a friend of his that died recently; while Davie was working with JR and Jeremy, Mikey introduced us to some local ghosts. It looks like we’re gonna get some help from them, they are gonna guide kids to us. Once that was all done, a cop which kinda looks out for JR came up since we were out past curfew. We talked to him for a while; in fact he’s coming by tomorrow to meet the rest of the gang. I think he’s gonna be a big help for you guys. We took JR home; his Dad is a SC Superior Court judge and is really cool. Goofball here started a conversation that outed JR to his parents; we actually got to see parents responding the way they should all respond. They are coming over too – Judge Legette has offered any assistance which may be needed to the Clan; in return if he asks for help give it to him.”

“That’s awesome. You know we will be available to him if he ever needs us to be.” Danny said with a smile. “I’m not so sure about the ghost thing but, since Mikey and Davie are involved, somehow it doesn’t surprise me.” Danny added giving Caleb a smile.

“What’s this about Davie getting a promotion?” Caleb asked; getting a curious nod from Danny.

Since Sean had returned to stuffing his face, Cory replied while holding the last piece of his pizza in his hand. “Davie is now Mikey’s assistant. He can appear without Mikey’s help, and is able to do all but the real major stuff. He’s got the same glow as Mikey has, about the only difference is his wings are white instead of gold like Mikey’s.”

“Oh wow,” Caleb answered with a smile. “I bet he’s excited.”

“Yeah,” Danny added. “Mikey really could use an assistant. From what I’ve seen he is a very busy saint.”

“Yeah he is.” Caleb continued as he held his PADD to Danny. “Here, how does that look. I figured out how to bridge information across the network to both systems without one terminating the other.” He said as Danny took the PADD and looked it over, nodding his head the entire time.

“Told you that wiring wouldn’t work.” Danny said with a grin, earning an ‘UP YOURS’ glare from Caleb.

“Yeah, but you also said that they would share communication and look where that led us.” Caleb replied as both started to giggle.

“Okay, you win. That did kinda add an extra hour worth of work.” Danny replied.

“Makes us even then, cause my bright idea to make all systems handle all formats added even more time.” Caleb said with a smile.

Cory held up his hand. “Okay, you two; it’s getting too late to work. Pack it all up for the night and start fresh tomorrow.” Cory giggled as he added “That’s an order.”

Danny looked up from his PADD and powered it down quickly. “Yes, sir.” He replied with a smile as Caleb did the same and rubbed his eyes.

“Sleep, need sleep,” Caleb said as he stood up from his chair.

“Bathroom, need bathroom.” Danny chimed in as he rushed to the restroom.

“Hey, I had to go.” Caleb whined as Danny closed the door.

“You snooze you loose bro.” Danny replied with an evil laugh as Caleb looked back at Sean and Cory before shooting them an evil grin and trying the doorknob.

“Hey now!” Danny yelped as Caleb joined him laughing hysterically.

“You forgot to lock the door, I still win,” he said as both started to laugh.

Cory and Sean giggled as they waited in line. “Just like home!” Sean quipped as Danny and Caleb exited and he followed Cory through the door.

“Danny, can I ask a really personal question?” Caleb asked getting a concerned look from Danny.

“Sure, bro. What’s up?”

“Does um… Does everything work. You know, like a person?” Caleb asked with embarrassment showing in his voice.

Danny smiled and ruffled Caleb’s hair. “Don’t be embarrassed bro, it’s an understandable question. Yeah everything works. Anything I have that’s human, is really human,” he said with a smile.

“I always wondered that.” Caleb said with a weak smile.

“Makes sense. How would you know unless you asked? Besides, if you get into hacking the living computers like you originally planned, it’s a good thing to know.” Danny added, finally getting a smile from Caleb.

Once they were done, Sean and Cory met back up with Danny and Caleb. “Let’s see if they left us any space!” Cory commented as he led the way. The boys came to a stop as they reached the end of the hall and looked into the living room.

“No walking space in here!” Sean commented. “Turn around, looks like we gotta get ready for bed in the kitchen.”

Back in the kitchen, Danny followed the boys lead, figuring they were stripping to their underwear, until Sean, Cory and Caleb dropped their shorts and noticed Danny was frozen with a shocked expression. “You all sleep that way? Together?”

“Yeah dude, saves on laundry!” Cory replied with a giggle. “It ain’t nothing, we’re all boys.”

Danny smiled and realized he was right. “You’re right bro, just kinda surprised me a little,” Danny said with a laugh. “When in Rome…” he said as he dropped his underwear and tossed them on the chair.

Cory gave a low whistle. “Nice bod, bro! You’re cute ALL over!”

Sean reached over and slapped the back of Cory’s head playfully. “Hands off, babe. You’re taken!”

Caleb snickered as he openly stared at Danny. “That is so unreal. I would never believe you’re an android.”

The now blushing Danny focused on Caleb more than Sean and Cory, attempting to get the blushing under control as he replied; “Yeah, it’s real easy for me to forget sometimes too. Marc did one heck of a job bringing me back,” he said as he shot Cory a grin. “Taken? Too bad, bro. You’re not so bad in the bod department yourself,” he said as he got the blush he was aiming for and raised his hand to High Five Caleb. “One for one, dude,” Danny got out with a giggle.

Sean giggled at the display. “Okay, I think that y’all are getting silly from lack of sleep. Let’s hit the sack guys!” Sean led the way back down the hall and into the edge of the living room. As he stood looking over the group of boys, Sean noticed a little brown and black furball laying on a pillow between Timmy and Ricky. “Hey Danny; what’s that with Timmy?”

Danny giggled as he scanned the whole room before realizing the baby raccoon was curled up on the pillow Timmy and Ricky and Joey had found a way to share. “Um, Ricky and Joey?” he got out as he continued to pretend to look for an open spot before getting a playful jab in the ribs from Sean.

“That little ball of fur, goofball!” Sean replied in mock anger, trying not to giggle.

“Oh, that. Yeah I did mention earlier about a couple of surprises. That would be one of them.” Danny said as Caleb found Noah and waved the boys over.

“Huge open spot guys.” Caleb said as he looked at the raccoon. “The furball is cool. He really likes cheese pizza,” he added before snuggling up to his boyfriend, not giving Sean a chance to respond.

Cory had worked his way over to the young boys, and smiled when the furball looked up at him sleepily. “Awww, it’s a baby raccoon! Worry about it tomorrow hun; I’m sure Timmy will explain it. C’mon, the kids saved us our usual spot. You too Danny, they left room for three.”

Danny snuggled into his spot before sitting up and taking one last look around the room at the huge crowd which was nestled together. Joey was snuggled in right behind Ricky; they looked comfortable enough together as if they were born and raised with each other. Everyone else was snuggled up to someone else, whether it be a brother or a partner in just the same fashion. Even though he had only met these people earlier the same day, Danny was amazed that he didn’t feel out of place. He let out a sigh and smiled as a voice broke into his thoughts.

“What’s wrong bro?” Cory asked with concern as he rolled to see Danny and reached out for his hand.

Danny smiled and gave Cory’s hand a squeeze. “Absolutely nothing. Everything just feels so right today. Kinda like our small family just got a whole lot bigger,” he said as he rested his head on his pillow. “Just have a lot to be thankful for.”

Cory smiled as he laid back down and pulled on Danny’s hand until Danny was snuggled against his back. “Your family is huge now bro, and we all love you. Goodnight brother; I’m proud to have you as family.”

Danny couldn’t help but let a tear escape as he accepted Cory’s lead and snuggled up close reaching across to rub Sean’s shoulder. “I love you guys too, I couldn’t have wished for a better family.”

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