Sentenced to Life
Co-Written By: ACFan
Special Thanks to WolfDancer for the poem “Why” (written exclusively for this chapter)
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Guess who?? < Grin >
Nope, it’s me, Saint Mikey! C’mon, let’s go into the kitchen so we don’t wake anyone up!
That’s better. I sent the rugrat over to Memories to introduce himself; so I figured I’d take the chance to say ‘Hi!’ to y’all! I figured my little brothers might have shocked a few of you that were not expecting them; don’t worry, they do that to everyone! As you probably read, I was Sean and Cory’s big brother; at least that was what I was before I was killed by a drunk driver. That drunk set a lot of things in motion on that day, starting a chain of events which are still unfolding. There’s too much for me to explain here; ACFan has done a pretty decent job of documenting it in “Memories”, so your best bet is to set aside a weekend and catch up there.
Now, for the scoop on my new cohort, Davie. When he came to the Pearly Gates after being killed, he made a request; almost exactly the same one I did. He requested to be the Guardian Angel for his family. Neither one of us said the word ‘immediate’; a choice we are both extremely happy that we made. There’s one little thing about my little brothers; when they let you join the Clan you really are a part of the family. When Jerry joined the Clan, Davie suddenly had a TON of brothers; in fact his list is exactly the same as mine!
A little history; I was given Sainthood when I made the commitment to watch out for the kids no matter how many became family. I have a suspicion Our Father looked into my heart as I was asked the question; I know the only thought in my mind was that it could be every kid in the world and I would still do it. Now I watch over all Gay and abandoned youth, along with my ever-growing family.
That meeting I had to take Davie to had to do with just that; after spending time with him I saw that he is a lot like me. You shoulda seen his face when we walked up to Saint Peter! He was sooooo sure he had screwed up with a Saint present! Once Davie realized he was not in trouble, I pitched my case to Saint Peter. (I must be hanging around Cory too much; I used logic!) Basically, I said that since Davie now is watching over my family too, it would make sense for him to move up to being my assistant and we can then tag-team the troubled youth out there. Saint Peter agreed, and Our Father must have too, because no sooner did the words leave my lips then Davie suddenly was surrounded by a golden glow. His wings grew equal to mine in size; in fact visually the only thing that shows he’s not a full Saint is his wings are still white instead of golden. We discussed his status with Saint Peter; basically he’s able to appear whenever he wants and can perform small miracles, major miracles still require me to be there. Davie’s already tested his power; in fact it took both of us to pull off the incident at the Battery with Sean and Cory.
Oops! It looks like today’s fun is getting ready to start! Grab a seat; this is gonna be good! I think that the corruption is starting to set in already!!
See y’all in a little bit; Davie and I get ringside seats today!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Oh man,” Marc groaned as he sat up. “I feel like I was hit by a bus,” He added as he reached behind his head and disconnected the communications cable. After shuffling off the table and switching on the lights, Marc rubbed the sleep from his eyes and focused on the pile of blankets, pillows and assorted arms and legs sticking out randomly on the floor between the table he was on and the biobed Austin was still occupying. He smiled knowing it was the three little ones; who must have been worried. Looking up, he also noticed both baby eagles perched in a watchful manner on top of the cabinet nearest to the biobed. “Morning guys.” He whispered and waved, and smiled as Duke opened his wings and William nodded his head up and down in response.
Half walking and half stumbling, Marc wandered over to the Panda Unit and smiled at what he saw. “Outer skin already? Way to go kid!” He said as he brought the controls up and noted that Kevin’s pulmonary system was in fact online and his biological components were beginning to function normally. “Must have begun starting up last night.” He said as he put the controls back into standby and looked inside one more time. “We may be saying hi in a couple of days, dude. I gotta get that dream ready.”
Marc then tiptoed over to Austin and was amazed to see so much progress. “Damn, this thing is awesome!” He said as he checked Austin’s vitals. “Looks like one more for lunch, maybe even breakfast.” He whispered as he leaned over his sleeping boy and placed a soft kiss on his forehead before tiptoeing toward the stairs. “Watch over our angels, guys,” He said to Duke and William as they both raised their heads high in response earning a smile from Marc before he quietly ascended the stairs.
Upstairs, Marc closed the door and saw a much larger pile of blankets, complete with bodies strewn all about just like in the basement. He stopped and leaned on the entryway and smiled when he finally spotted Danny, snuggled up to Cory’s back, both being embraced by Sean in what looked like a protective hug.
“You’re awake!” a voice from the kitchen startled him.
“Oh, hi Mrs. Owens! You came home early?” Marc replied with a smile as he turned and went into the kitchen.
“We heard about the commotion on the news and came right home.” She said with a smile. “Marc, have you met Sean and Cory’s mom yet?”
“No,” He replied as he walked up to Teri and held out his hand to shake hers. “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Short,” Marc said with a sleepy smile.
“I’m gonna start wearing a name tag that says ‘Mom or Teri,’ so you guys loose the Mrs. Short routine.” She said with a smile as she pushed Marc’s hand aside and gave Marc a hug. “I heard you had a really rough day yesterday. How are you feeling this morning?”
Marc returned the hug while answering; “Like I fought a round with a bear, and lost.” He said with a weak giggle as an evil grin crept into his expression. “Is that coffee I smell?”
Teri reached into the cabinet and pulled out a coffee mug and offered it to Marc with a grin. “Help yourself, we knew coffee was probably going to be needed this morning.” She said as she began to work with Mary preparing what looked like a breakfast for an army. “I’m led to believe I have a few more boys to look after now, from what I’ve heard.”
“Us?” Marc said with surprise as he placed the milk back in the fridge and sat down at the table.
“Well, from what I saw here yesterday, yes, you and your family.” Teri said with a smile.
“Family,” Marc muttered with a smile as he began to sip from his mug. “A few days ago I had no real family, other than Jim. He’s more of a friend than family though.”
“Well, young man, your family seems to have outgrown your house now. I hope you’re prepared for this crowd.” Teri said with a smile. “I know we just met, but I want you to know that should you ever just need a Mom, I will always be there for you. My boys are pretty selective when it comes to adopting new brothers, and ready or not, you have been adopted.”
“I’ve seen some of their accomplishments, so I know not to take that lightly,” Marc replied with a smile. “Awesome coffee, Mrs… Um… Teri?” He said with a questioning look, which turned into a smile when Teri kissed him on the forehead and ruffled his hair.
“Thank you. Looks like you need a little help getting going today.” Teri replied.
“He does look a little pale, Teri.” Mary added as she placed her hand on Marc’s forehead. “Are you feeling alright?”
“I’m fine, really, Mrs. Owens. Just a little worn out after what happened with Austin yesterday,” Marc said with a weak smile.
“Just Mary, okay? This isn’t a formal breakfast.” Mary said with a grin. “Kids now-a-days. Being all respectful and stuff.” She kidded getting a laugh from Teri.
“Yup, we need to break ’em in,” Teri added as both returned to the stove.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Opening his eyes and squinting from the light, Austin sat up and looked around the room. He looked down the length of his body to see that he looked more normal than he had in years, and even though he was covered in bruises and scars, was happy to see his skin color resemble what it was before being ‘altered’. He looked around the room and spotted a mirror and very slowly slid off the bed and carefully managed to work his way on shaky legs to it.
“I’m all scars.” Austin whimpered with a sniffle as he carefully looked his face over.
“Y… You’re Awake!!!” Shouted a familiar voice from behind him.
“Timmy?” Austin turned and questioned, tilting his head. “Is that really you?” He asked, realizing he was getting his first look at the face of what he considered to be his guardian angel.
Timmy smiled wide and hopped up from the blankets, waking Ricky and Joey in the process as he bolted and cautiously wrapped Austin in a hug. “I knew you’d be okay!” he said tightening his hug slightly.
“I am because of you.” Austin replied as he knelt down and kissed Timmy’s cheek and hugged him back. “Because of you, I’m alive,” he whispered. “I can never thank you enough for that.”
Joey said, shaking Ricky, who had rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.
“And who are these two?” Austin smiled and asked Timmy.
Timmy smiled and pointed as he explained, “Thats my boyfriend, Ricky, an’ he’s Joey.” He said with a smile.
“Our Brother?” Both chimed as Austin looked at William with a shocked expression and Timmy stared at Austin with the same look on his face.
“You heard him?” Timmy asked with a wide smile.
“Yeah…” Austin replied without breaking his stare at the baby eagle. “A spirit helper?” He asked as he looked into Timmy’s gray eyes and smiled.
“Uh-huh,” Timmy replied with a smile and a nod.
Ricky, who was now sitting up and watching on as William explained to Austin and Timmy how they were related and why, smiled when Duke flew down to rest in the pile of blankets and explained to him what was going on. “Neat!” Ricky said as Joey tilted his head in question.
“He sed you an Austin come from the same place somehow, an’ Timmy is ur brother, cause he shared part of him to save Austin.” Ricky said with a wide smile.
Joey looked at Ricky with a confused expression before he climbed out of the nest and walked over to Austin and Timmy.He asked in Duke’s direction, who began to nod his head in response. He stated as Austin reached his arm out inviting Joey into a three way hug.
“If Duke is right, then my base programming is in there too.” He said tapping on Joey’s head. “That makes you my brother. Because of Timmy sharing himself to save me from dying, he is my brother too. So, yeah. We are brothers.” Austin finished with a warm smile as Ricky wandered over and joined in the hug. “You are my family.” Austin said with tears forming in his eyes. “Real family.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Marc honey, could you go in and start waking up the boys?” Teri asked. “Breakfast will be ready soon.” She added with a smile.
Marc smiled and stood up. “okay… Um… Mom?” He said as he tilted his head and Teri turned and smiled at the sight of his expression.
“You’ve never called anyone that, have you?”
“I was programmed to have memories of a Mom, but they aren’t real. There was a woman who was kinda my Mom, but she wasn’t really. I mean she helped me when my Father died, and was there the first time I ever woke up or ever needed repairs, but I never called her Mom; just Sharron.”
“Get used to it then,” Teri said with a smile. “Now go wake up your brothers.” She added with a grin.
Marc smiled at Teri as he pushed his chair in and raised his eyebrows as he noticed the deep purple colored briefs hanging from the back of the chair. He looked thoughtful for a second and then grabbed them and went into the living room.
“Danny,” He whispered as he put his hand on his brothers shoulder. “Danny, it’s time to wake up.”
“Marc? MARC!!!” Danny almost shouted as he realized his brother was awake and shot up, wrapping Marc in a death grip. “You had me so scared yesterday, you dope!”
“I know.” Marc replied smiling over at Cory and Sean, who were now half awake and watching with smiles. “I’m sorry, but there was no other way.”
“I know, but promise me you won’t put your life on the line like that again, ever.” Danny said as he pulled back and looked into Marc’s eyes.
“I can’t promise that,” Marc replied. “He’s my son. If it means having to choose between my life or his, there is only one choice I can make.” He replied watching Danny’s expression melt. “You would do the same for Kevin.” He added lowering his head to meet Danny’s stare.
“Yeah,” Danny replied weakly.
“Then you have to understand,” Marc said with a grin. “Besides we really need to talk.” Marc added with a serious tone.
“Oh?” Danny questioned.
Marc stood up and dangled the purple briefs, swinging them on the end of his finger. “You cheated!” He said in obvious mock anger.
Danny’s smile returned as he stood up and snagged them, looking them over. “I cheated?” He said folding his arms in defiance. “I’m the one who cheated? Mr. I’ll pick the color and get him later? Is that what you are accusing me of?” He added with a giggle.
“Do you guys ever have normal arguments?” Jerry asked as he sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Butt washing and underwear…” He said in a mumble as the rest of the boys started to giggle. “Just weird.”
Marc and Danny simply laughed as Danny began to walk toward the kitchen. “Enough of this, I gotta pee.”
“That’s pretty obvious.” Cory exclaimed getting a playful swat from Sean as they watched Danny’s ‘Morning Wood’ lead him to the bathroom.
“Just wait ’til he realizes both Mom’s are in the kitchen.” Marc whispered as he sat down next to Cory.
“Omigod!!! I’m so sorry…” Danny’s voice almost squeaked as he shot back into the living room and began to fumble with his briefs to get them on. “You suck, Marc! You knew they were out there!” He said as the now awake group started to laugh.
“Dude, you should spend some time at our house.” Cory said as he and Sean got up sporting the same obvious need and walked right out into the kitchen.
“The look on your face…” Caleb tried to get out, but was cut short as the tangled pair of briefs Danny couldn’t get on hit him in the face. “Oh, that was just wrong!” Caleb giggled.
“I’ll get even,” Danny said freezing in his position as he turned to Marc and noticed he was holding the wall, no longer laughing with a paled look to him. “Marc? You okay?” He said as he wrapped his arm around Marc under his arms to steady him.
“Yeah, just got dizzy from laughing.” He said with a forced smile. “Danny, you think you could help me upstairs to wash up and change? I feel even worse cause I slept in this stuff.”
“We got time for a shower? You can sit on the seat in there at least.” Danny asked.
“Mom, do we have enough time for a shower before breakfast is ready?” Marc shouted toward the kitchen.
Teri came around the corner and gave the boys a concerned look. “Are you alright, Marc?” She asked as she knelt down and felt Marc’s forehead. “You feel really warm, does a fever mean the same for you as it would anyone else?”
“It can, but this time I’m sure it means his system is seriously run down. He needs to relax, get cleaned up, dress warmly and then eat. It also means he’s on light duty today. If he can’t handle it from his chair, then he can’t handle it.” Danny announced and added; “Yes Marc, that would be a direct order,” with a grin.
“I wouldn’t argue,” Marc replied. “We’ll be as quick as we can, Mom.” Marc added causing Teri to just shake her head.
“Take your time, I don’t want you to get hurt trying to rush. Besides, breakfast is easier in shifts with a crowd this size.” Teri responded with a smile as she turned toward the kitchen.
“Can we take a shower too?” Antonio asked with a grin.
“Sure, use the one in my room,” Marc replied, pointing to the door just across the hall from the basement.
“Sweet, thanks Marc.” Byron shouted as the two jumped up and ran for the room.
“Bathroom lights on!” Marc yelled and weakly giggled when he heard Antonio gasp and say, “Cool!”
“Danny, Caleb and I will help you two upstairs. Just in case.” Noah offered as Caleb stood and nodded in agreement.
“Thanks guys, I owe you one.” Danny replied as he wrapped Marc’s left arm over his shoulder and Noah did the same with his right arm. Caleb walked close behind with his hands on Marc’s lower back to prevent them from falling backward.
Once reaching the room, Caleb started the shower and Noah and Danny got Marc undressed and safely on the seat in the shower.
“When you guys are done, Caleb and I will sneak in. We kinda need one too.” Noah said as Danny was about to step into the shower.
“Nah bro, first door on the right as you leave this room, there’s another shower in there. Help yourselves. By the way, thanks for the help guys.” Danny replied with a smile.
Caleb grinned at Noah before watching him turn on his heel and bolt from the bathroom. “I’ll warm it up.” He shouted as he left the room.
“You two gonna be okay?” Caleb asked.
“We’ll be fine, this one here just needs some rest.” Danny said with a smile. “You better get in there before Noah comes hunting for ya!” Danny added with a smile earning a giggle from Caleb.
“Okay, but if you need help, just yell.” Caleb answered and turned to join his boyfriend.
Just as Danny slid the shower door closed, he noticed Marc leaning against the shower wall with tears streaming from his eyes. He knelt down and took Marc’s face in his hands and wiped away his tears. “What’s this for? You okay?”
“I’m fine.” Marc mumbled through sniffles. “I guess I’m just having sorta selfish thoughts.”
Danny screwed up his face while grabbing a face cloth and soaping it up. “Selfish? You of all people? I’ll bet they aren’t as selfish as you think they are.”
“They are.” Marc replied as he closed his eyes while Danny began soaping him up. “Dan, I really love all these guys. It’s kinda like they have always been family.” He added.
Danny simply smiled and nodded his head in agreement.
“It’s just…” Marc got out being cut off by an uncontrollable sob. “I… I’m not ready for a commitment like they need yet.” He almost spit out and began to uncontrollably cry.
Danny dropped the facecloth and pulled his brother into a tight hug on the shower floor. “That’s what this is about?”
“I wanna get to know my son. I wanna keep doing the work I have been doing, but I don’t want to lose them as family in the process. I can’t lead an entire division. It was hard enough to continue on leading Vision Industries.” He said with a deep sob as Danny continued to hug him. “It hurts too much sometimes… I can’t do it anymore… I’m so selfish…”
Danny continued to let Marc vent. Never breaking his grip and slowly rocking him as Marc finally began to calm a bit. “They must have known that Marc.” He whispered in Marc’s ear.
“What do you mean?”
“I wanted to talk to you about this anyway. Cory and I had a little disagreement over who should act as division head yesterday.” Danny said as Marc leaned back and saw a warm smile on his brother’s face.
“Y… You did?” Marc asked wiping his eyes.
“Yeah. He must have known how you would feel. They asked me to take that position so you could continue doing the work you love without having to spread yourself too thinly.” Danny paused and placed a light kiss on his brother’s forehead. “He won the argument and I accepted, but was worried that you would be upset with me.”
A weak smile crept across Marc’s face as he tightened the hug and buried his face in Danny’s shoulder. “I love you.” He whispered knowing he had worried himself to tears for no good reason.
“I love you too.” Danny replied rubbing the back of Marc’s head. “You will never have to bear that kind of burden again, I promise.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“You thinking what I’m thinking?” Noah asked as he and Caleb toweled each other off from their shower.
“Maybe,” Caleb replied with an evil grin. “But if both of us are thinking just how cute you are, then one of us has a problem.” He got out with a giggle and was just barely able to avoid being snapped by the towel Noah was holding as he escaped from the bathroom.
“Very funny,” Noah laughed out as he followed Caleb and sat on the bed to get dressed. “We’re supposed to be leaving tonight.” Noah said causing Caleb to sigh.
“Yeah, I know,” Caleb replied as he stopped dressing and just seemed to get lost in thought. “I wish we could stick around for a while.” He added as he slowly began to put on his sneakers. “I mean, we were all just starting to become friends.”
Noah leaned back on his elbows and stared at the ceiling. “Are they even ready to function on their own yet?”
Caleb thought for a second and replied as if a spark had just fired in his brain. “No way. There is so much left to do. Um… I mean Marc has to recover first, but we still need to get the network online and work out compatibility issues with their positronic uplink on the new systems. Besides…” Caleb added as Noah’s smile got wider each time Caleb added an issue. “…they are still learning how to operate the biobed. Not to mention having to work on Austin to get him back in shape. They are way too buried to be able to do it alone right now.” Caleb finished and both broke out in a laugh.
“I had a feeling you were thinking the same thing I was.” Noah said with a smile. “Honestly, I just want some time to get to know them. I mean just after yesterday, I feel like I found a couple of brothers I didn’t even know I had.” He said watching Caleb nod his head in agreement. “Now I feel like we’re just kinda abandoning them by taking right off.”
“Hey guys,” Came Jerry’s voice from the doorway, his hair still wet from his own shower. “I was wondering who was in there when I heard the shower runnin.”
Noah and Caleb both smiled at each other and then back at Jerry. “Hey Jer!” Caleb said with a smile. “We was kinda talkin, you know about having to leave tonight.”
“Yeah,” Jerry replied hopping up on the bed next to Noah. “It stinks. I mean you guys just got here.”
Noah smiled at Caleb and ruffled Jerry’s hair. “Yeah it does.” Noah said and added, “But that’s not what we were talking about though. You guys are gonna need help…” He said as he repeated every issue Caleb brought up, adding a couple of his own.
Jerry smiled as he realized they were all on the same page. “Well, I could talk to Marc and see if he is gonna need Antonio to help with Austin. I mean, I’m kinda busy with workin’ on getting everything together for Eli, so Marc is gonna need help… ‘specially now, since he’s not feelin’ good.”
“See,” Noah said with a smile as he began to tie his sneakers. “We can’t all leave yet. There’s way too much to do.” He finished as all three laughed.
“What are you guys scheming in there?” Danny’s voice echoed from the doorway with Marc propped up against him grinning.
“Nothing!” all three chimed looking like three little kids who just got caught with their hands in the cookie jar.
“Stare at the ceiling and whistle a little, it’s more convincing if you over act a little.” Marc added getting giggles from all three.
“Danny?” Caleb kinda weakly spoke up when the giggles died down. “If Cory and Sean are okay with it, would you be okay if some of us stayed behind to help out to finish with the setup and with Austin and stuff?”
“We really could use help,” Jerry chimed in. “The computers aren’t up yet, I gotta start work on the arm and leg for Eli, Austin is gonna need a ton of work still, and Marc is gonna be busy, once he feels better, finishing up with the corrective surgery for him.” He finished.
“Cory and Sean brought this up?” Danny asked.
“No, but they may suggest it once they know how much work still needs to be done.” Noah answered.
Danny grinned and looked and noticed Marc’s expression matched his own. “Well, you are right. There is a little more than we probably could comfortably handle. If you guys want to talk to Cory and Sean about it to see what they think, you can tell them you discussed it with us already, and we’re okay with having to babysit.” Danny got out, managing to keep a straight face.
“BABYSIT!?!” Caleb and Noah shouted as Danny and Marc turned to go back down stairs; laughing.
“Hold up!” Caleb shouted as he sprung from the bed and rushed to help with Marc, Jerry and Noah right on his heels.
“I’m okay guys, really,” Marc attempted to say as Noah took the front, Jerry held Marc’s shoulders from behind and Caleb lifted Marc’s right arm and put it across his shoulders for support. “You guys are too much.” Marc added as Danny took his left and the 5 slowly made it down the stairs.
“Yeah, who’s babysitting who now?” Caleb giggled out as the group slowly descended the stairs.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Austin!?!” Marc gasped as the group turned the corner into the living room and spotted Austin and Joey curled up on the couch under a blanket watching TV. “Omigod, how are you feeling?” He asked in excitement as he worked his way on shaky legs to the couch and knelt down. The rest of the group gathering around him with smiles on their faces.
Austin propped himself up on one elbow and pulled Joey tighter into his chest as he looked at the group with a smile. “I’m a little tired, but okay, Dad.” He said with a grin as a shocked expression washed over Marc’s face. “It’s okay to call you Dad, isn’t it? I mean I always knew I had one somehow, but never thought I’d ever meet him… um… you.”
A tear worked it’s way down Marc’s cheek as he sat on the edge of the couch and placed a kiss on Joey’s forehead and then Austin’s. “I just hope I’ll be a good Dad.” He said with a thoughtful smile. “But, look at you. What’s with the freckles?” Marc said in amazement as he looked closer. “Your hair color is changing. Omigod, you’re starting to look like Timmy. I never expected that reaction.” Marc said as if deep in thought. “We can fix it, just need to reincorporate your original DNA mapping…” Marc got out before being cut off.
“No!” Austin said quickly. “I wanna look like my brother. He saved my life and gave me a new one. I wanna keep everything he gave me.” He said as a tear escaped his eye. “I mean… if you say it’s okay.” He added with a sniffle.
Marc pulled him into a hug and then held him at arms length and looked into his son’s eyes. “No, I would never take away his gift. Forget I said it. I simply thought you would want to keep your original appearance.” Marc whispered as he wiped away Austin’s tears. “Besides, You looked way too much like me before. Now you are a very handsome combination of your whole family. It makes you happy, so it makes me happy.”
Joey cut in through a yawn. He got out before finishing the lingering yawn and cuddled back into Austin’s chest.
Marc looked at Joey, puzzled before Austin added, “That’s a long story, I guess. Maybe we can all talk about it later.”
“Yeah, I’m not so sure about the four Daddy thing but, after breakfast we really should talk.” Marc said as the smell of food caught his attention. “Let’s go eat guys, then we have a ton of things to get done.”
“Really?” Danny said as he helped Marc to his feet. “What do you think you’re gonna get done while restricted to the couch?”
“Restricted to the couch? You’ve gotta be kidding me. There’s no way…”
“No arguments, you are weak and need recovery time. Austin still has lots of healing to do and Joey’s power cell is low and in jeopardy of running too low if he gets too active. All three of you are out of commission today. End of discussion.” Danny said as he leaned Marc toward himself for support.
“Plug Joey in.” Marc simply stated as Caleb took Marc’s other arm.
“We need to replace that system and get the new hub online today,” Caleb replied as each of the other boys hugged Austin and Joey before following Danny, Marc and Caleb toward the kitchen. “We can’t charge him until later on today. Shouldn’t take too long to get it done though.” He finished as they entered the kitchen.
“I was just about to come get you guys,” Teri said with a smile as Tommy began refilling the empty platters on the table.
“You cook?” Marc asked Tommy with a smile as he settled into his chair.
“Yep, durn tootin’, I do!” Tommy replied with a wide smile as Caleb elbowed Marc in the side.
“Someday, if we can, you gotta come over when Tommy makes biscuits and gravy. You haven’t eaten until you’ve had Tommy’s southern breakfast.” Caleb said with a smile causing Tommy to blush.
“Aw shucks.” Tommy replied as he sat down at the table. “Taint nuthin to make. Ya’ll’s jus makin mountains outa molehills ‘gain.”
“No way, dude.” Noah added. “Maybe you guys can come over someday for breakfast to see for yourselves.”
“That would be nice.” Teri said with a smile as she took a plate and decided to sit down with the boys. “Maybe this time I’ll actually get to eat something.” Teri said as the boys began to giggle knowing the last group was much larger. “Noah, Caleb… Where are your brothers?”
“Must still be in the shower.” Noah said with a smirk as he stood up from his seat. “I’ll go get ’em.”
“Tell them to hurry before everything gets cold.” Teri added as Noah left the room giggling. “And no clowning around!” She added with a laugh.
Just then the front door opened and JJ strolled in. “Cool, I didn’t know there was more!” JJ said as he reached for a plate, but froze at the stare Teri was giving him.
“Git! Ya’ll ate like a pig already!” Tommy said sternly, causing everyone at the table to laugh. “If”n these guys don’t finish, I’s be throwin it in a pail an bringin’ to yur pen!”
“Okay, okay,” JJ replied as he pulled his hand away from the table like a scorched puppy. “Just wash that pail out first.” He said with a giggle before he walked toward the living room, laughing as he heard screams coming from Marc’s bedroom on the way by. Noah almost knocked him over as he ran full speed back to the kitchen, laughing hysterically.
“What did you do?” Teri asked Noah as he almost threw himself back into his chair and adopted an “I’m innocent” look.
“Nuthin,” Noah said with a smirk as two very wet, naked boys came racing out of the bedroom.
“YUR GONNA GET IT!” Antonio shouted. “He flushed the toilet and turned on the sink!!!”
“I tried to tell them breakfast was waiting, but they yelled at me and told me to get out.” Noah said not losing his innocent expression.
“You just walked in without knockin!” Byron shouted.
“Nuh Uh! I knocked and they ignored me!” Noah replied more to Teri than Byron.
“Okay boys, that’s enough. You two, go get dressed. Breakfast is getting cold.” Teri said as Byron and Antonio turned and slowly walked back to the bedroom. “After breakfast Noah, you get to clean up the all the water on the floor and in the hall.”
“No buts, that was a mean trick.” She said trying to hide her grin.
“It worked though,” Noah said under his breath as Teri simply shook her head and ended the discussion.
“Where’s Mary?” Marc asked as Tommy finally took a break and sat down for breakfast with the group.
“She went back over to her house. I think she had a few things that needed her attention.” Teri replied with a smile.
“She get a catering job?” Jerry asked just before stuffing half of a pancake in his mouth.
“I guess you could say that.” Terry answered with a laugh. “This one doesn’t pay that much though.”
Jerry shot Teri a confused look, but shrugged his shoulders and continued filling his face.
“This is an awesome breakfast guys!” Danny said taking a sip from his coffee and looking at all the happy faces around the table. “I really missed having a whole family to sit down with at mealtimes, this is nice.” He added reaching over and rubbing Marc’s shoulder with a smile.
“How are you feeling honey?” Teri asked, turning her attention to a very pale looking Marc.
“Better now, Mom.” Marc replied forcing a smile. “I don’t think my entire system has ever been run so low before.”
“Because of me?” Came Austin’s voice from the hall as he and Joey, still wrapped in their blanket slowly walked into the kitchen.
Marc looked over and saw the deflated look on his son’s face before watching Joey come out from beneath the blanket and wiggle his way into his father’s lap. “Don’t worry about it, one day of rest and I’ll be good as new.” He said looking at what he could see of Austin’s body now with the blanket partly open. “You really should rest up too, we have so much to repair still.” He added as Austin opened the blanket and looked himself over.
Joey said as Jerry pulled his son into a hug.
“You both should be lying down.” Jerry said looking back up at Austin and grinning. “Why don’t you and Austin go in and lie down on Uncle Marc’s bed, where it’s quiet and no one will bother you.” He got out as he scooped Joey into his arms and stood up.
Joey almost whimpered.
“Space Balls? Is that what you two were watching in there?” Danny asked with a giggle.
“I love those movies.” Marc said sheepishly. “Wait ’til you see what else is on that shelf in there.” He added getting a grin from everyone. “I’ve had tons of time to collect some of the best of them.”
“You can watch the rest of it later on, okay?” Jerry said as he started toward the bedroom.
“Jerry, just throw the DVD in the computer. I think it’s still on.” He said as he looked up at his son. “You too. Nap time after you get your butt over here and give me a hug.” He said with a grin as Austin smiled and wrapped his arms around him. “Take it nice and slow for now. We’ll get you back to 100% in no time. I promise.” He said as he wiped a stray tear from his son’s cheek. “For happy I hope.” He said showing Austin his wet finger.
“Are you gonna be okay? I mean, I didn’t do you any permanent damage did I?” Austin asked with real concern in his voice.
“I don’t think he would call it damage.” Teri stated as she stood from her chair and walked over to usher Austin to the bedroom. “You two will have plenty of time to talk it over later sweetie. For now just remember that any damage that happened yesterday is only a fraction of what your father would have done to save you.” She finished wrapping Austin in a hug and smiling at Marc warmly. “Right now, sleep is what you need.” Teri added and walked Austin to the bedroom to help Jerry get the two settled in for a nap.
“He’s scared you’re really hurt, huh?” Noah asked Marc from across the table.
“Yeah. This is all a huge shock for him.” Marc said with a sigh. “I have no idea how all this happened to him, but I think it’s gonna be a while before he accepts it all.”
“He will, I’m sure of it.” Danny cut in with a smile. “Guys, today we have a full plate.” He said as Caleb looked at his empty plate, shrugged his shoulders and proceeded to shovel more eggs and pancakes into it.
“It is now.” Caleb giggled helping to lighten the mood.
“That’s not what I meant, doofus.” Danny said with a laugh. “Jerry, you may want to find Eli and see if we have a configurable arm for him. You’re also gonna need a DNA sample from him so we can begin prepping it. Antonio, you are really good with the biological components from what I’ve seen. You think you can help Jerry out today?”
“Sure!” Antonio squeaked out with a smile. “Maybe Byron can help too. Once we know what Jerry needs done, Byron can help to set up the biobed to help.”
“Good idea. He’s gonna need it to activate the arm’s regeneration once you guys get a replacement and fit it to run independently.” Danny replied with a smile. “Dr. Owens, you have a team.”
“Sweet, you guys are gonna be amazed how it works. I’ve always wanted to try independently functioning units.” Jerry said excitedly.
“Marc, I know you had plans to help setting up the equipment. That is SOOOO not happening today. Caleb and I will start working on replacing the units physically if you and Noah can do a workup of the existing network.” Danny said getting a smile from all three. “Noah, you don’t mind being Marc’s personal assistant, do you?”
Noah shook his head as he swallowed what he had in his mouth. “I was gonna suggest that. I have my laptop and the one we were gonna issue Marc out in the shuttle. We can spend some time building models of what Marc already has in place and of what would be best with the new configuration.” He said smiling at Marc. “We can get it all done and you don’t gotta leave your bed.” He added with a smile.
“Danny, we still need to finish what we started on last night. I had an idea for the interface you mentioned and we still have an argument to finish over it.” Caleb said with a laugh.
“It’s not an argument. Let’s call it a creative approach.” Danny said with a giggle.
“A creative approach to something that just CAN’T work.” Caleb added with a smile.
“Talking shop at the breakfast table boys?” Teri asked with a laugh as she walked back into the room to sit back down.
“Not really, just planning out what to start on after we eat Mrs. Short.” Danny said as everyone got silent and gazes shot between Teri and Danny. “What?” He asked looking at the faces.
“You betta be loosin’ tha Mrs. Short routine.” Tommy said with a smile. “She don’t like it.”
“I’m sorry.” Danny said getting a smile from Teri.
“Don’t be.” Teri replied taking a sip from her coffee. “Mrs. Short works formally, not with family.”
“Mom?” Marc said getting a smile from Teri.
“Exactly how many kids do you have now?” Marc asked with a smile.
Terry sat back in her chair and silently laughed to herself. “I lost track, that number just keeps growing by the day.” She said with a grin. “You guys done eating?” Everyone at the table nodded their heads except for Caleb, who simply began to eat faster. “Good, I’ll start cleaning up in here if you guys want to get started on your projects. This afternoon is going to be pretty busy.”
“I’ll help with tha cleanin’, then I gotta git out an’ help Matt with getting communications in tha place workin’.” Tommy said as he gulped down the last of his OJ.
“I’ll make up a plate for you to take out to Matt. He missed breakfast.” Teri added as the boys began to stand and stretch.
“Doc neva ate neither?” Tommy added getting a nod from Teri.
“That was an awesome breakfast guys.” Danny said with a smile as all the boys smiled and agreed.
“That was nuthin’. You jus wait ’til lunch.” Tommy added with a laugh earning excited ‘Yeah’ responses from the small group.
“Marc, couch or bed?” Danny asked with an evil smile. “Choose well, cause you’re gonna be there for the day.”
“Couch, I guess.” Marc replied in a defeated tone.
“Don’t worry, I’m stickin’ with ya.” Noah said with a smile as they worked their way into the living room.
“You need us, send Noah or use your communicator.” Danny said after he was satisfied his brother was comfortable. “Let’s get to work guys. Caleb, we should probably find Sean and Cory to talk to them about what we discussed upstairs.”
Caleb giggled as he stood up from his once again empty plate. “Okay, we should probably search the in the bedrooms or behind any bushes you may have around the house.”
“For what?” Danny asked tilting his head.
“You said we need to find Sean and Cory. Where else would we look?” Caleb got out as the whole room erupted in giggles.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“I got my laptop, your new one too!” Noah said as he almost threw himself on the couch next to Marc. “Do you know enough about your configuration to do it from memory?” He asked as he booted his laptop and plopped one in Marc’s lap.
“Um… This is really new.” Marc stuttered out as he looked it over, but never touched it. “I’ve never used a laptop before, I’m not even sure I would know where to start unless I downloaded the specs of your operating system and integrated them.”
“You know how to use a computer.” Noah almost laughed out. “I can teach you. I mean not everything you learn has to be uploaded, right?”
“Well, no but I don’t want to mess it up.” Marc said as he tried to figure out how to open it.
Noah smiled, reached over and unlatched the laptop with a giggle. “It’s okay, that one is being issued to you anyway. If you mess it up. You gotta fix it.”
“Gee, thanks.” Marc said with a scowl. “This the power button?”
“Nope, self destruct.” Noah laughed out. “Press it and find out.”
“Oh, this is gonna be fun.” Marc said finally breaking his serious stare and smiling.
“It’s a computer, just smaller and faster. I’m right here. You’re not gonna break it, trust me.” Noah replied with a warm smile. “You able to do this all from memory? The network layout I mean.”
“I know what I set up, and even made notes of it, but Jim made a couple of changes I haven’t gone over yet.” Marc replied as he figured out how to log in to the operating system. “Hey, I’m in! This is fast.”
“See, I told you.” Noah replied slapping Marc on the arm playfully. “So you don’t know what changes Jim made?”
Marc thought for a second before replying. “He said he updated my notes, I just never looked at them. It’s all in my notebook upstairs.”
“Where? I’ll run and grab it for you.” Noah said as he stood up and dropped his laptop back on the couch. “Where’s it at?”
“It’s in Danny’s room. Under the sofa. Just look for a red spiral ring binder, there’s a couple under there. The one I need has wiring diagrams sketched out on the first few pages, you can’t miss it.” Marc said as Noah turned and bolted for the stairs.
Upstairs, Noah dragged a pile of notebooks out from beneath the couch. “Nice filing system,” He giggled as he picked up the only two red notebooks he could find. He flipped open the first one to see if it was the one Marc needed and read out loud what he found…
Why can’t I tell you?
The many things you know not,
The many things I want you to know,
Things I have to hide,
Why do I have to hide from you?
Hide my feelings,
Hide my love,
Why can’t I show you?
I wish to show you everything.
Share with you all I have.
Become one with you.
Why am I a coward?
Why do I not tell you?
Why do I fear you?
I can’t tell you.
I would lose you.
That’s the one thing I can’t do.
“He writes poetry.” Noah whispered with a smile as he read the bottom of the page. ‘My friend, my brother. Never to be more.’ Noah read out loud, almost questioning the words. “Danny? Oh man, I shouldn’t have read that.” He said as he pushed the pile back under the couch and with both notebooks in hand, went back to the living room.
“Find it?” Marc asked looking up from the laptop’s screen with a smile. “Dude, you okay?”
Noah handed the notebooks over, appearing to be on the verge of tearing up. “Um, yeah. But I looked in the wrong one first I think.”
“That’s okay. The other one I just scribble in. Stupid thoughts, random stuff. No biggie.” Marc replied as he flipped open the other notebook and flipped to his wiring notes.
“Are you ever gonna tell him?” Noah asked as he sat back down and opened his laptop. “I mean it’s none of my business and you can tell me to butt out.”
Marc looked up from his notes at Noah and saw a tear begin to work it’s way down his cheek before being quickly wiped away. “Tell who what? Noah, what’s wrong?”
“I didn’t mean to read it. I don’t want you to hate me. It was an accident, honest.” Noah said through a sniffle. “It was a really nice poem, I just didn’t know it was about Danny until I looked at the bottom.”
“Why,” Marc mumbled as he looked back at his monitor.
“I was just looking to see if it was the right one.” Noah said, almost jumping when he felt Marc’s hand on his own.
“No, I meant the title.”
“Oh, yeah. That was the one.” Noah said wiping another tear away.
“I’m not mad bro, don’t worry. It’s my fault for leaving that notebook up there.”
“Does he know?”
Noah squeezed Marc’s hand until Marc looked back at him before continuing; “How you feel. Does he know?”
“No,” Marc answered with an expression on his face that showed the pain Marc had been hiding. “I’m lucky to have him in my life. I don’t wanna chase him away, not over something like this.”
Noah booted up his laptop, glancing over at Marc periodically and looking away whenever Marc looked back. “That’s not fair.” He half mumbled.
“It’s not fair, to either of you. You don’t know, he may feel the same way, ya know.” Noah said with a sigh. “If you never tell him, you’ll never know.”
“He’s not gay. I’ve been in his head. I’ve seen his past. He could never feel the same way.”
“Hmmm, isn’t gay a human term? I mean, that should matter even less for androids I would think.” Noah muttered as he leaned in and looked at the notes Marc had opened the book to. “I mean who defined gay and straight for androids? It’s different, isn’t it?”
Marc raised an eyebrow and side stared Noah for a few seconds. “You’ve given that some thought it sounds like.”
“No way,” Noah replied quickly before turning on the couch to face Marc. “It just makes sense. I mean for humans it shouldn’t matter, but for some stupid reason, it does. Androids are a different kind of life. I mean you guys would look like a gay couple, but really you are both two androids. How can an android be considered gay or straight? I mean you guys could raise a family like humans and have your own kids and stuff, just your kids would be created differently. I think that’s even more perfect than being human and having to adopt.”
“I guess that kinda makes sense. Realistically though, Danny was human before he became android. He’s gotta be settled in knowing he’ll never have a normal relationship. Unless we build him a girlfriend or happen to find one.” Marc answered turning his attention back to his laptop. “I mean he can’t look at me and see what it is he would have wanted from some girl.”
Noah shook his head and sighed. “No, but he’s been an android for an awful long time. How do you even know that he hasn’t decided that things are different now? I know how he looks at you. It’s more than just friends for him I think. I mean he loves you a lot. It’s so obvious too, like you are his world now, he just hasn’t thought any deeper about it I bet.”
“I don’t know.” Marc replied quietly. “I really don’t want to lose him as a brother. That’s really all I want.”
“Liar,” Noah answered sarcastically. “You want him to JUST be a brother just as much as I want Caleb to just be a brother.”
“Yeah well, I’ll take what I can get then.”
“How can you take what you can get, when you have no clue what he will share?” Noah said as they both locked eyes.
“How old did you say you are?” Marc said slightly squinting his eyes, as a grin slowly crept across his face.
“You may address me as ‘Oh wise one’ from now on.” Noah said with a laugh, finally coaxing a giggle out of Marc. “Seriously, think about it. I bet even if you brought it up he wouldn’t hate you or nuthin’. I haven’t known him long, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of person who could instantly hate someone he really cares about.”
“I’ll think about it, okay?” Marc said as he placed the notebook on the couch between them both, “But you gotta promise me you won’t tell anyone. I’ll deal with it when I’m ready. Promise?”
“I promise but, you gotta promise that if you need someone to talk to about it, that you aren’t gonna just keep it in until you explode. You can always talk to me you know.”
Marc smiled and nodded his head. “Deal. Now if we don’t get to work on this, we’ll have more issues with Danny and Caleb to talk about.”
Noah giggled and looked at the notebook. “Yeah, and we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it. You know, since we’ll probably be confined to the couch until it’s done.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Will this work?” Byron asked as he held up the skeletal workings of a forearm.
“Only if we can’t find one with the shoulder attached. That’ll make it harder.” Jerry replied as he looked around the fairly large store room of parts. “Or we could just take apart one of those.” He said pointing at a torso up on the wall. “It needs to be a simulated growth model like that one. Then his arm will grow with him.”
“It’ll grow?” Byron asked as he and Jerry worked to lift the torso off the hook it was on.
“Yeah,” Jerry replied as he raised one of the hands and showed it to him. “See, it’s designed to extend over time.” He said as he released one of the mechanical locks in the unit’s forearm and extended it to show him. “You have to set the starting point, set the regen unit for natural or accelerated growth and the programming handles the rest.”
“That’s weird. How do you know how fast to make it go?”
“That’s nuthin’,” Jerry said with a smile. “For Eli , we can have it set to be triggered by normal human growth hormones. Then it will grow when he does, and even stop when he’s done growing.”
“But won’t the skin and stuff get too tight?” Byron asked as they lowered the torso onto the cart they had been filling with parts.
“Nah, it grows, just like yours and mine. The only way you would need to worry about it is if the regen circuit failed and he was set to grow too fast. That can’t happen with what we’re doing.” Jerry answered as he pointed out a couple of sets of legs on the wall. “We need those too.”
“The biological image should be all set now Byron.” Antonio said as he entered the room. “Whoa, looks like you guys got a good start.”
“Yeah, I think we have all we need with the ones we have to take apart. Byron, see those small silver cylinder looking units on the shelf over there?” Jerry asked as he pointed to a nearby shelf, trying not to drop the armload of parts in his arms.
“These?” Byron asked holding one of the units out.
“Yup, can you grab three of them?” Jerry asked as he carefully placed each part on the rolling cart.
“What are they?”
“The one thing that’ll make this all work. Since Eli isn’t an android, these parts need to be able to have a kinda, basic brain. They’re really cool. Mini regeneration unit, emulated growth translator and a powercell that actually uses the natural energy we create to recharge. One needs to be implanted near each unit to help integrate it with Eli.” Jerry said with a smile.
“You can’t just mount it inside the replacement part itself?” Antonio asked as he began to roll the cart back into the main lab with Byron and Jerry following.
“Has to be in full contact with the host, Right Jerry?” Byron asked with a smile.
“Yeah, You’ve seen one before?” Jerry tilted his head and grinned.
“Nah,” Byron replied. “But if it needs to recharge from Eli, and sense when to grow and stuff, I figure it just makes sense.”
“Wow, yeah that’s right. I bet you’ll learn this stuff even faster than I did.” Jerry said as all three began to place the parts on a nearby work bench.
“Well, as long as it makes sense, I’ll get it.” Byron said with a smile.
“Me too! This’ll be cool cause we get to teach each other some new stuff.” Antonio said as he lifted a medical case up on to the bench. “You said we gotta get DNA from Eli. Well, I know you was plannin’ on doin’ it the old way with a blood sample.”
“Well, yeah if you want to get a clean sample, blood’s the best way. Why, what’s that?” Jerry asked.
“Medical tricorder,” Antonio answered handing the unit to Jerry. “You ain’t pokin’ holes in Eli.” He added with a giggle.
“Cool! I’ve never used one before though.” Jerry said as he looked the unit over. “I mean I’ve read about them, but you gotta be Starfleet or a doctor to actually get one. Even my school couldn’t get a real one.”
“Your school didn’t have us backing them.” Byron said with a laugh. “I mean we can get anything we need if we just ask. That’s how we’re gonna do our work.”
“I wanted to ask you about that.” Jerry replied setting the tricorder down in it’s case. “Who pays for all of this stuff? I mean the biobed, all this new computer stuff, medical stuff. I mean most of this can’t even be bought be regular people.”
“That’s a long story,” Byron replied. “Show us what we need to do to get this stuff ready, an I’ll try to tell you about us.”
Jerry looked at the stock pile of parts before distributing the pile on the table. “Well, we gotta get the DNA sample and measurements from Eli. Byron, if you can take care of that, Antonio and I can start to break these parts down to create the replacements we need. Then we can assemble the mechanical components and maybe even start the activation sequence tonight.”
“Tonight?” Byron asked in shock. “You really think we can get it done that fast?”
“They are already kinda ready to go, just need to be modified first, right Jerry?” Antonio asked with a smile.
“Exactly,” Jerry said as he began to isolate the parts he needed from the upper torso. “Just tell Eli I’ll bring up the parts before activation, just to make sure the measurements look right.”
Byron turned and ran for the stairs shouting over his shoulder; “Okay, I’ll tell him!”
Two hours later, Jerry and Antonio both excitedly shouted, which startled Byron causing him to drop the PADD he was working on. “What? What’s wrong?”
“They’re ready!” Antonio shouted with excitement as Jerry raised the arm and held it out for Byron to see.
“Just gotta bring them up and make sure they are set right, then we’ll be ready to get the activation started.” Jerry said as Antonio grabbed the hand and positioned it in a ‘Thumbs Up’ pose with a grin.
“Cool, well give me like 5 minutes and I’ll be ready then,” Byron replied as Antonio scooped up the leg.
“Let’s go show him!” Jerry said to Antonio with a smile as the two tore up the stairs.
“AIRBOY! Took you long enough to get here!” Antonio shouted as they turned the corner into the kitchen, freezing as he heard a crash from behind him. “Oh no, careful Jerry.”
“Yur… yu… Um. You… you’re Aaron Car…” Jerry stammered out not realizing he had slammed the unit he was carrying into a chair, breaking it.
Aaron laughed as he ruffled Antonio’s hair. “Car? No, I’m not Aaron Car. Never even heard of him.”
“You know who you are!” Jerry shot back finally looking at the damage he had just done to the hand. “Awwwww… crap!”
“Told you.” Antonio said to Jerry, then looking up at Aaron. “Maybe you should wear some kinda mask or sumthin’ when you show up for the first time. Somethin’s gotta break your curse.”
“Curse? It’s not my fault he recognized me.” Aaron said as he walked over to Jerry and knelt down. “Can it be fixed?”
“Huh? Oh that, um… yeah.” Jerry said still obviously in shock. “Why are you here? I mean it’s cool… but… wow.”
“He’s family!” Antonio cut in. “Dangerous to be ’round, but family,” He added dodging a playful swat from Aaron.
“What’s this for?” Aaron asked looking over the damage.
“It was for Eli.” Jerry said with disappointment evident in his tone. “We are working up the replacements Marc and his Dad talked about and wanted to show him.”
“Where it’s broken, if it were the other hand you could probably use it for Benji instead.” Aaron said with a smile. “Since it’s kinda my fault, I’ll help fix it if I can. ”
“Naw, it’s cool.” Jerry said as his expression suddenly changed. “Benji!”
Antonio looked at the part then at Jerry with a smile. “You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?”
“Yeah! We gotta ask him first, but we can make one for him too if he wants! I’m sure Marc wouldn’t mind!” Jerry added.
“Let me know if I can help then, okay?” Aaron asked as he stood back up.
“I think you just did.” Antonio replied with a smile as they all turned for the door. “Nobody’s gonna believe it was your idea to make one for Benji.”
“What, I can have a good idea once in a while. It’s not impossible.” Aaron said giving Antonio’s shoulder a shove. “You guys have any idea where Mom is?”
“Probably over at my house. I think they’re getting ready for lunch.” Jerry said reaching for Aaron’s arm to get his attention.
“Wassap?” Aaron stopped and asked.
“Nuthin’, Well, I mean it’s a cool idea, you know, for Benji I mean.” Jerry said looking more at the floor than up at Aaron.
“I’ll have to help you break more stuff then.” Aaron replied causing Antonio to roll his eyes.
“Yeah, like that’s gonna be something new for you.” Antonio said as he broke into a run for the door.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Hey Guys!” Caleb shouted as he and Danny walked up to Alec, Sammy and Sebastian who were standing between the two sets of drums.
“What’s goin’ on here?” Danny asked with a smile.
“We’re gonna play for lunch.” Alec said as he sat back down at his kit. “Provided Deej and Tanner can get the drum levels to match.” He said with a sigh.
“Get someone on the other set.” Danny said shrugging his shoulders.
“You wanna help? We could use a few hands since Aaron wandered off.” Alec asked getting an even larger smile from Danny.
“He won’t mind?” Danny asked.
“Nah, he’s really cool about it, besides it would be a huge help.” Alec said as Danny sat down and picked up his sticks. “Well, if we ever want to be ready to play sometime today.”
“Put on the headset, um… Danny right?” Alec asked.
“Oh yeah,” Caleb said smacking his forehead. “Guys, this is Danny, the AI division head. Danny, that’s DJ and Tanner on the sound board, Sammy and Sebastian on lead guitars, CD with the bass and you’ve kinda met Alec now.” Caleb got out with a smile.
Danny smiled and waved before all the boys put on a headset and the two drummers began to work through their sound check. Once everyone was happy with the levels, JJ and Tanner led the other boys through the sound check before waving Caleb over to the mic.
“You’ve played before?” Alec turned to Danny and asked as they both adjusted the boom mic’s on their headsets for backups.
“A little,” Danny replied with a grin. “It’s been years since I’ve even tried though.”
“Well, it’s time for a refresher then. Wanna do a run through, guys?” Alec asked into the mic getting a thumbs up from Tanner. “Something Easy… Hey, you know We Will Rock You?”
“I don’t, but Marc may have it in his files if he’s heard it. Gimme a second to access it.” Danny replied as he seemed to think for a second, then with a grin began the 2,1,2 beat to get it rolling and Alec jumped right in.
Caleb waved to Timmy and Ricky to grab two headsets and mics then grabbed his mic and began the final part of the check.
“Buddy you’re a boy… Bring my level up. Buddy you’re a boy… Whoa, need bass. Buddy you’re a boy, sounds good. Buddy your a boy…”
Just then Danny and Alec hit their snares in succession and Caleb started;
Buddy you’re a boy make a big noise,
Playin in the street gonna be a big man some day.
You got mud on your face,
You big disgrace,
Kickin your can all over the place.
Timmy and Ricky smiled and started in on backups singing:
We will we will rock you,
We will we will rock you.
Buddy you’re a young man, hard man,
Shoutin in the street gonna take on the world some day.
You got blood on your face,
You big disgrace.
Wavin your banner all over the place.
As Ricky and Timmy began the second line, Caleb noticed everyone begin to gather around and begin clapping to the beat.
We will we will rock you,
We will we will rock you.
Caleb had pulled his headset off for a second and realized that DJ and Tanner had turned on the PA, but continued on;
Tanner and DJ are clowns,
Didn’t say a word, just threw on the damn PA.
Got a smirk on their face,
A big disgrace.
We’re all gonna put you both into you’re place.
Timmy and Ricky both giggled as they tried to sing out;
He will, he will, beat you!
You Better run!
He will he will beat you!
(Queen – We Will Rock You – © 1995-2000 Hollywood Records)
As soon as Timmy and Ricky got their parts out, they all stopped playing and laughed as Caleb had dropped his headset and chased DJ and Tanner away from the board, managed to toss DJ into the water, being shoved in by Tanner not even a full second later.
“Thank you! We’ll be here all night. Try the veal.” Danny said into his mic in the corniest nightclub voice he could before they all watched as Caleb, DJ and Tanner took turns tossing each other into the water. “Dude, that was fun. Thanks! I haven’t done anything like that in so long.”
Alec smiled as he set his sticks onto his snare. “Never know it, man, sounded like you’ve been playing right along. Maybe you gotta get a new set and play a little more. You know… Cause if that’s rusty, I can imagine how you play with practice.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Eli! Why don’t you wait ’til that thing is on before you start kicking him with it.” Marc yelled through the sliding glass door with a giggle as he watched Eli and Jerry kick and slap each other with the skeletal parts Jerry was supposed to be SHOWING him.
“Are you listening?” Noah asked as he dummy slapped Marc in the side of the head.
“Huh?” Marc replied as he snapped his attention back toward Noah. “Oh yeah, it’s okay with me if we just scrap the original idea and base from the upper lab.”
“What?” Noah shook his head and snapped as he closed his laptop. “I asked if you were hungry, doofus.” He finished with a laugh.
“Oh, sorry. I was a little distracted.” Marc said as he closed his laptop as well. “Yeah, starving. I hope lunch is gonna be soon. Think we can move this party out to the table on the deck?”
“Sure. Lemme give ya a hand.” He said standing up, nearly colliding with two eagles. “What the?!?”
“Dad, we gotta get outside. Like NOW!” A voice came from around the corner as Austin, Joey, Timmy and Ricky came around the corner; causing both Marc and Noah’s eyes to open wide.
“Oh shit!” Noah choked out seeing the group, three quarters of which were displaying war paint. “ELI! HELP!” He shouted toward the door before getting Marc to his feet.
Eli threw the door open and literally had to duck to avoid being run down by Duke and William. “Whoah, what happened?”
“Daddy’s hurtin’ an we gotta get out there.” Timmy answered with squinted eyes as Eli ran into the living room.
“Dude, quick! Help us walk Marc, Austin and Joey out there.” Noah said as Timmy and Ricky attempted to steady Austin and Joey on their own.
“No way, this’ll be easier!” Eli said as he levitated the group and headed for the door.
“What’s goin on?” Jerry asked as he watched the group go by followed by Eli and Noah.
“Dunno, just follow!” Eli replied as they all hurried out to the growing crowd on the beach.
“Daddy!” Timmy shouted as soon as Eli set the group down where the crowd had split to give them access.
As soon as Jerry realized his dad was in the center, he wormed his way in with Timmy. “Dad? Whats wrong?”
Jon looked as if he was about to burst out in tears. Sean seemed to notice and responded instead. “J… dad had to help Cory. Cory just had the memory come back about when his birth dad was killed, and it messed him up pretty bad. Dad helped him deal with it.”
“Is he okay?” Jerry asked as he crouched down and put his hand on Cory’s shoulder.
Cory leaned his head over so that it was lying on Jerry’s hand. “Yeah, lil’ bro; I’m okay now. I’m just recovering; stuff like this hurts a lot.” Cory replied softly.
“I’ll help if I ca..” Jerry managed to get out before looking into his father’s eyes. “Dad are you crying? What can I do?”
“Just be there for your brothers.” Jon got out with a smile.
“\”My brothers?\”” Jerry asked looking at Sean and tilting his head in question.
“As long as you don’t mind sharing a Dad.” Jon added watching Jerry’s jaw drop.
“Are you kidding?” Jerry asked and looked back at Sean. “Is he kidding? I’d share anything with you guys.” Jerry answered tightening his grip on Cory’s shoulder. “Especially if it means we get to be family. Then we can always be there for each other. No, I don’t mind Dad… Really!”
Jerry felt a small arm wrap around his waist.Joey asked.
Jerry grinned. “Yeah. Dad, meet your grandson, Joey.”
Jon shook his head in wonder. “Now THAT is going to take some getting used to! Come here little one, I think there’s still some space here somewhere between your uncles and your Dad.”
Joey exclaimed as he wiggled his way onto Jon’s lap.
Mary pulled Teri off to the side as the sound of occasional giggles from the pile assured them the crises was over. “Why is it I get the feeling I just gained a few dozen new kids in my family? Also, how did they manage to bring Jerry out of his depression in only a day?”
Teri smiled. “Welcome to my world, Mary. You have just seen what us adults call the ‘Clan Magic’; something about this combination of boys somehow manages to help kids just by being with them. One little warning though; don’t take those two boys calling Jon ‘Dad’ lightly. I tried to teach them to be open with their emotions; unfortunately the lesson did not totally sink in until after my son Mike was killed. They have taken it to heart now though, and they were totally sincere just now.”
Mary gave Teri a small smile. “If I had not seen it for myself I wouldn’t have believed it. Jon and I used to sit up late at night worrying about Jerry since Davie died; Jerry refused to try to make friends and totally absorbed himself into cybernetics. That’s part of the reason we agreed to leave him here with Marc and Danny; when they came over and invited him to come out on the beach it was the first time he’d really smiled in a long time.”
They turned and headed towards the house, comparing notes about the antics of their now-common sons. As they disappeared inside, the group of boys started to break up.
Jon found himself being guided down to the beach by his sons. Aaron, Alec, and Danny were bringing up the rear of the group.
“Hey Alec; that sounded pretty awesome; who was on the other drum set though?” Aaron commented.
Alec giggled. “It was the missing Bonham brother; Danny!”
Danny tilted his head and looked at Alec with a grin. “The missing Bone Head Brother?”
Alec giggled as he slapped the back of Danny’s head. “In your case ‘bonehead’ fits too, but I meant John Bonham; you know, the drummer for Led Zeppelin?”
“Led Zeppelin? Is that a band or something?” Danny got out causing Alec and Aaron to freeze in mid step.
“You can play Queen like you’ve done it all your life, but you’ve never heard of ‘Zep’? DUUUUDDDEEEE!” Aaron responded in shock.
“I just followed Alec’s lead.” Danny said with a smile. “Never heard that song before either,” he added with a giggle.
Kyle had dropped back and heard the end of the conversation. “Hold it guys! Danny, you mind if I fill Airhead and Alec in on what you’ve been up to the last few years? It’d be faster than you telling them.”
“It would?” Danny asked with a grin. “Go ahead, this I gotta hear.”
A few seconds later, Aaron and Alec exclaimed in unison “You WHAT!!” Aaron added “Danny, please don’t ever try to kill yourself ever again; you might not know it but Cory and Sean really do consider you their brother. If you tried that now, you’d kill both of them. Were you really laying by the Titanic for THAT long?”
Danny’s jaw dropped open as his gaze shot toward Kyle. “How did you… Um what did you do?”
Danny suddenly heard Kyle’s voice in his head. ‘I did this! I’m a telepath, both ways! You better hurry up and integrate Marc’s memories before I do it for you! By the way; Aaron is the one who is teaching Alec how to play. You gotta ask him the rest of his history yourself.’
‘You can hear what I think?’ Danny purposely thought to himself with a confused smile creeping across his face.
Kyle decided to answer out loud. “Yeah; I like listening to how you think! You’re a lot more interesting than listening to the air going in one of Aaron’s ears and out the other!”
Danny laughed out loud. “That’s cold.”
Aaron lunged for Kyle and grabbed him around the waist. “Speaking of cold, I think it’s time you tested the water you little brain leech!” he announced with a giggle.
As Aaron carried a squirming Kyle to be tossed in the water, Alec put an arm over Danny’s shoulder. “C’mon bro; let’s go grab a seat. Aaron will join us once the munchkin is all wet; I think we should all three talk and fill you in on a few things.”
“Sounds cool. Maybe you can fill me in on a few more bands to listen to for the next time you guys come up.” Danny replied, cringing as he watched Aaron heave Kyle into the Bay. “I hope you guys all brought dry clothes.”
“Clothes? We don’ need no stinkin’ clothes!” Alec giggled as they headed towards the nearest shuttle.
“Okay, I got Led Zeppelin in Marc’s files. Actually I’d really like to try playin’ The Ocean, drumline sounds cool. What other bands you got in mind?” Danny asked with a grin which faded once he noticed Alec wasn’t smiling.
“I wish it was bands we need to talk about, Danny. Have a seat, this is serious.” Alec replied softly.
“Oh, okay,” Danny said cautiously as he entered the shuttle with Aaron jogging to catch up. and took a seat. “Something wrong?”
“More than you know.” Aaron replied as he stuck his head in the doorway. “Alec, you wanna handle this? I’m gonna keep an eye on my little brothers. If you need me, Kyle’s listening and will let me know.”
“Okay, Aaron; go take care of Cor. I’ll handle it bro.”
Danny sat back in his seat and watched as Alec paced a bit before finally sitting. “Why do I get the feeling I’m about to get bad news dropped in my lap?”
Alec turned and stared at Danny. “Why did you try to kill yourself? Don’t try to bullshit me either.”
“Oh that…” Danny replied with a gasp. “That’s a seriously long story.” He continued, directing his stare toward the floor.
“I’ve got all day. Start talking.” Alec replied. “I’m not gonna let my family go through that shit again.”
After an extremely uncomfortable pause, Danny began to go over the history of his life, then of his death and activation. The pains of being shunned by his biological family and the loss of the only family he had left while Alec silently sat and absorbed his every word. “…I mean at that time, I could have never foreseen what a mistake that would have been.” He finished and watched as Alec put his face in his hands and shook his head. “It’s not something that would ever happen again, Alec. I can promise you that.”
Alec looked back up at Danny and stared him directly in the eyes. “You are right about one thing; it will NOT ever happen again. You are just as bad as DJ; you looked at the bad and never realized the good. People need you, even if you don’t see them at the time. You and DJ were both stupid enough not to see that; both of you hurt someone deeply when you did it. At least Eli and Benji had enough brains not to go through with it like you two did. You ARE going to sit down and have a long talk with Dan! He’s JJ’s dad and our resident shrink. I don’t give a shit how bad you think life is getting; I’m NOT gonna let you ruin other peoples lives just because you are selfish.”
“No dude, you’re missing the point…” Danny started before being cut off.
“Missing your point? There is NO reason to kill yourself! I don’t give a shit what kinda of bullshit sob story you can think up; there is no point to miss!” Alec spat out.
“Now wait a GOD DAMNED minute!” Danny barked out standing up from his seat causing Alec to jump a bit. “There is a point to miss here.” Danny nearly shouted, then stepped back and took a deep breath. “I lived my life as a human.” He began in a more calm tone. “You never considered that or you simply didn’t know that. I lived and I died. End of story for anyone on this happy little planet. I had a life, I lived, I loved and it ended already.” Danny watched as a now pale looking Alec stared wide eyed at him. “Look, I didn’t mean to scare you, but it’s true. I was brought back to life as something that was considered a freak. Just about everyone in my life looked at me like I was some sort of abomination. Some kind of freakish version of what I was in life. My own Mother couldn’t bear to look at the little android and call it Daniel. In her eyes I was dead, nothing would change that ever. I was alive when she passed away, but I never got to say goodbye to her. My family wouldn’t let me near the hospital, and had the police remove me from the premises at the funeral home. The only family I had left was the one person who found a way to bring me back. I stayed alive through all of that for him. When he passed away, what did I have left? What was my point to remain? When was it my turn to finally rest?” Danny got out with tears running down his cheeks.
Alec thought about his response carefully and replied in a calmer tone. “Okay, this is how I see it. The monster that created you committed delayed murder. He gave you a new life, but took it away from you in the way he did it. You should have been programmed to silently pass away when the one person you were there for died. What about now? All that bullshit is over with; what’s gonna keep you from deciding you’re not needed again?”
Danny took a deep breath and wiped the tears from his eyes as he slowly moved to the seat Alec was sitting in, patted him on the head and sat down. “I’m not alone. I have a family again. I’m not living in the streets getting beaten for change, I’m not forced to live as an android simply to give people a reason to torture me for fun, just because of what I am.” Danny got out with a sniffle. “In just a few short days, from my point of view, I’ve been given back some of what I lost. Most of which includes a reason to live. I have people in my life again I love, I have someone there to be someone for, you know? A reason. I have a life now, not just an existence. I don’t know if that would make any sense on a human level cause to a human that is simply a way of giving reason to give up.” Danny said wiping more tears from his cheeks before staring into Alec’s eyes. “There is no giving up on life, not as long as there is ever a reason to live it. My new family just gave me a reason to live life, not just to exist. As long as they are my family, I could never bail out, cause THEN that would be selfish.”
“What if Marc, Cory, and Sean got killed? Would you give up, or do you have the guts to step up and continue what they are doing in their memory? You are nothing but a robot if you can’t do that.”
Danny nodded his head and broke eye contact as he muttered; “What makes you think their purpose didn’t just become mine?”
Alec placed a hand on Danny’s shoulder. “It’s not your purpose until you accept it in your heart. Just like you have to accept that this time you really ARE starting a brand-new life. Until you do that fully, you are just as much a danger to yourself as DJ is to himself. I understand what the end of your other life was like. We all get to view the memories and feelings of guys who become family sooner or later. I’ve seen the worst of the streets through the eyes of kids who have been there. You know it first hand; do you have the guts to use that knowledge to help human kids?”
Danny smiled rather grimly and sat back in his seat crossing his arms. “You definitely don’t know me all that well.” He stated toward the ceiling.
“Yeah, in a way I don’t. But in a way I do too.” Alec stated. “You just had a major change in your life; I’ve been there myself quite recently. Just because you used to do something a certain way does not mean you are going to be the same way now that your life has changed. Stop and think for a minute; what do you do now that you would not have done the same way before you tried to kill yourself?”
“Well,” Danny began. “For starters, not wake up in an alley after being beaten into unconsciousness the night before for the small amount of change in my pocket.” Danny stated coldly. “Or maybe after being cornered and raped in broad daylight, not having the cop who responded to the emergency call laugh and agree that the man did NO wrong simply based on the fact that I’m not a human being. That won’t happen any more.” Danny said with frustration in his voice. “Those things won’t happen any more…” He stated as he stood up and faced the door. “…simply because I was given a way to fight back. Not just for me, but for anyone who has ever been in my shoes, or ever could be put on that same path.” Danny turned and looked out the forward view port as he lowered his voice and pointed out toward the group on the beach. “They gave me that second chance; each and every one of them. They probably don’t know it, but they have.”
Alec walked over and put his arm around Danny’s waist. “That is what I mean, bro. I wanted to hear you say it out loud; that way I’m sure that you realize it. It hurts, I know that. You’re being put in a spot with a lot of pressure, dude; you’ve got to BE Cory when Cory’s not here. I wasn’t getting on your case just because of the attempt at suicide; I was getting on your case to help you realize that now you have a responsibility, not only to yourself, but also everyone here and every kid throughout the universe. Cory’s killing himself trying to do it all. You need to be strong enough to step up and force him to let go. BUT you need to be able to handle it too. Do you see where I’m coming from?”
Danny watched as Aaron got carried to the ocean by Sean and Cory, squirming and fighting the entire way. “I kinda knew where you were coming from the whole time Alec.” He replied with a smile as they both watched Aaron get tossed into the water, and giggled as they watched the two high five each other on their way back up the beach. “Honestly, in your position, I would have been just as critical. You have my word, for what it’s worth as long as I am able, I will stand at their side. I believe in them and this family.” He said as he turned his head to meet with Alec’s gaze. “For the first time in such a long time, I believe in someone, and have the power to stand up for them… All of them.”
Alec pulled Danny into a hug. “Thanks for thinking it through bro; don’t forget that you have all of us to help you. I was serious about seeing Dan and talking to him though; he needs to know about your past so if you have a problem he can help you. He’s the one who brought Cory out of his memory loss and saved Kyle’s sanity; you won’t regret it, bro.”
“Okay, I’ll talk to him. I guess it would be nice to just get some of it off my chest. Might even help to kinda put it in the past forever.” Danny said as he wiped at his eyes to make sure they were dry and then motioned towards the door. “Wanna go join the gang?”
Alec smiled. “Yeah, you might wanna slip into the house and wash your face first though; no need to worry Marc with tear stains on your cheeks.”
“Good point, I’ll catch up with you then.” Danny replied as he stopped and looked back at Alec. “Thanks. You know, for everything.”
Alec smiled. “Anytime bro; welcome to the family.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“You okay?” Marc asked as Danny slid the door open and stepped out on the deck.
“Huh? Oh yeah, I’m fine. How are you guys feeling?” He asked as he sat down at the table with Marc Austin and Joey.
“Better.” Marc answered with a smile getting a nod from Austin. “I think after we eat and rest a bit more we’ll both be able to get around a little better.”
“Yeah, I don’t know about you guys but I wanna go sit down with the rest of the group.” Austin said with a grin as Joey looked up from his lap and smiled up at his big brother.
Joey asked as they all stood and slowly made their way down the stairs.
“Oh yeah, little man.” Austin replied ruffling the little android’s hair. “From what I heard earlier, this is gonna be sweet too.”
Danny decided to hang back at the steps watching as all three slowly made their way out to the group when his attention was diverted to Kyle, running up to him at full speed. “Danny! Danny!” Kyle shouted as he literally came to a screeching halt.
“Whoa dude, easy. What’s wrong?” Danny asked watching Kyle pull what looked like a folded up notebook out of the waistband of his shorts.
“You can read drum tab, cant’cha?” Kyle asked holding the book out for Danny.
“Yeah, but I thought Aaron and Alec had drums. What happened?” Danny asked standing on his toes to see if anyone was missing from the stage area.
“Well, Aaron and Alec were talkin’ an’ they thought it would be fun if you sat in on Aaron’s set. Aaron was plannin’ on singin’ and even playin’ some keyboards today. Meanin’ if we wanna get the drums really kickin’ like we always do, we need a second drummer.” Kyle said with a smile.
“Me? Really?” Danny asked with a smile creeping into his expression. “Oh, you know I’m up for that. Let them know I’m in.” Danny continued flipping the notebook open and thumbing through it. “Oh, I can definitely handle this.” He continued with a giggle. “Um, you gonna tell them, bro?”
“I just did!” Kyle answered with a laugh as the two slowly started for the beach. “You got the first set to read up, then Aaron’s set is yours.” Kyle relayed with a smile.
“That is gonna take quite a bit of getting used to.” Danny said getting a concerned look from Kyle. “You know, that telepathy thing you do.”
“Aaahh.” Kyle replied. “I don’t always mean to use it. I mean it’s faster sometimes, but other times it’s like I can’t help it. Like I just hear thoughts, even when I try not to.” Kyle said looking up to Danny. “It’s like plugging your ears. Sometimes it blocks out all the sounds, sometimes it only blocks most of them.”
As the two reached the gathering crowd, Danny took a seat and began memorizing the music he would be playing. While Kyle stood and watched for a bit. “You in my head?” Danny asked closing the book snapping Kyle back to reality.
“Yeah sorry. You just think different. It’s so cool. I mean people have a way of thinking and androids have a way of thinking, you’re like both and neither at the same time. I can’t explain it but it’s awesome to watch.” Kyle answered as his attention was diverted by CD waving to come over. “We’ll talk later, I gotta see what’s up.” Kyle said as he turned and ran.
‘If you were an android, you may burn something out running at the speed you do.’ Danny thought with a smile causing Kyle to freeze in his tracks, turn back and stick his tongue out at Danny, getting a laugh from both.
Just as he was just about finished reading, the sound of someone tapping on an open mic grabbed his attention and he looked up just in time to hear Aaron begin. “Don’t be too hard on me guys; Kev has been trying to teach me these things, so I’m gonna give it a shot!”
“This is for Cory.” Sean stated as he signaled for Aaron to start.
Don’t go changin’
To try and please me;
You never let me down before;
mmm hmm mmm mm mmm
I don’t imagine,
You’re too familiar,
and I don’t see you anymore.
I would not leave you
when times are troubled
We never could have come this far
mm hmm mm
I took the good times,
I’ll take the bad times;
I’ll take you just the way you are
I need to know that you will always be,
the same old someone that I knew.
Ahhh What will it take ’til you belieeeve in me
The way that I believe in you?
III said I Love You,
and this I promise from the heart
mm hmm mmm mm mm
I couldn’t love you
any better ..
I love you just the way you arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre … Right!
IIIIII don’t want clever
I never want to work that hard.
Mmm hmm mmm
I just want someone
that I can talk to
I want you just the way you arrrrrrrreeeeee
(Billy Joel – Just The Way You Are. From the CD “The Stranger” © 1977-1998 Sony Records)
As CD finished out the song with a sax solo, Cory wiped the tears from his eyes. Jon squeezed Cory’s hand. “He really does love you, son. I could see it in the way he was singing.”
They were distracted by Aaron. “Hey Danny! Get your skinny butt over here bro! Kyle gave you the notes; you ain’t getting out of it!”
“Watch it Aaron; I’m gonna make YOU swim!” Danny giggled as he ran to the area of beach designated as a stage. As he was getting seated, CD retrieved his bass and handed ‘Bastian an acoustic guitar. Once everyone was set, CD nodded to Alec and Danny. The three of them hit the first notes right on cue; once the twins kicked in with their guitars Sean grabbed the mic off of it’s stand and started wandering the stage.
Why are you in so much hurry?
Is it really worth the worry?
Look around, then slow down.
What’s it like inside the bubble?
Does your head ever give you trouble?
It’s no sin, trade it in.
The rest of the boys on stage kicked in for the chorus.
Hang on, help is on its way,
I’ll be there as fast as I can,
“Hang on”, a tiny voice did say,
From somewhere deep inside the inner man.
Are you always in confusion?
Surrounded by illusion?
Sort it out, you’ll make out.
Seem to make a good beginning,
Someone else ends up winning,
Don’t seem fair, don’t you care?
Hang on, help is on its way,
I’ll be there as fast as I can,
“Hang on”, a tiny voice did say,
From somewhere deep inside the inner man.
Don’t you forget who’ll take care of you,
It don’t matter what you do,
Form a duet, let him sing melody, you’ll provide the harmony.
Cory ran up onto the makeshift stage and joined Sean;
Why are you in so much hurry?
Is it really worth the worry?
Look around, then slow down.
What’s it like inside the bubble?
Does your head ever give you trouble?
It’s no sin, trade it in.
Hang on, help is on its way,
I’ll be there as fast as I can,
“Hang on”, a tiny voice did say,
From somewhere deep inside the inner man.
Hang on, help is on its way,
I’ll be there as fast as I can,
“Hang on”, a tiny voice did say,
From somewhere deep inside the inner man.
Help is on it’s way
Help is on it’s way
(Help Is On It’s Way © Little River Band)
Cory was all smiles as he looked over his shoulder. “Danny!! Try to keep up, bro! ‘Bas, grab the Gibson; I wanna rattle some windows! Aaron, get up here and back us up bro! “It’s My Life” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”; Alec count it off when everyone’s ready.”
The boys had just finished the second song when a police cruiser came carefully down the beach and stopped on the other side of the shuttle. Jon jogged up with Cory and Sean not too far behind. “Can I help you, Officer?” He asked.
“Yes Sir; we’ve been getting complaints from your neighbors. It seems they are having trouble hearing the music and want the sound turned up.” The Officer replied with an expressionless face.
Jon stared at the officer in shock, until the giggles from behind him made him realize he’d been had. Cory stepped up to the car. “Hey Will; glad you could make it! Will, this is my Dad, Jon Owens. Dad, this is Corporal Will Jackson. C’mon, y’all come on out of the car so I can introduce everyone!”
Once everyone was out of the car, Cory finished the introductions. “Dad, this is Judge Donald Legette, his wife Margret, and their son JR.”
Jon smiled as he shook Donald’s hand. “It’s an honor to meet yourself and your family Judge.”
“Just call me Donald. Considering how the boys are dressed, I see no reason to be formal. You’ve got a pair of exceptional boys here.”
Jon smiled. “I’m just learning that myself; they ‘adopted’ me as their ‘Dad’ just a little bit ago. Let’s go find a seat and we can compare notes while the boys show JR around.”
Cory tilted his head and asked “Will? How did you get in here? Security didn’t call me.”
Will chuckled. “One of your security men, I think he said his name was Matt, actually did complain about not hearing the music playing. He said to tell you ‘that’s what you get for holding a concert without him’.”
Cory grinned. “I’m gonna get him for that! Danny’s gotta set up a security team yet, so my guys are spread kinda thin. We’re gonna go introduce JR to the guys Dad; if you wouldn’t mind I’ll come with you long enough to introduce everyone to Marc and Austin, then Marc can help you fill everyone in on how all of this happened.”
Jon rustled Cory’s hair. “Sure thing, kiddo. You need to spend some time with the rest of the guys anyways. You’ve had a rough day, go have some fun.”
Cory gave Jon a quick hug. “Thanks, Dad. You’re the BEST!”
They went over and introduced everyone to Marc. When Marc asked how they had met, Cory giggled and replied “It’s a long story, bro; wait until Danny gets here and he’ll fill in the blanks for ya’.”
Once everyone was settled in, Cory turned to JR. “Did you remember your CD’s dude?”
“Right here!”JR replied as he lifted the bag he was carrying. “Where is the stereo?”
Sean giggled. “Follow me; I’ll show ya’ where to put them!”
“He’ll be busy for a while.” Jon said as they took a seat.
“So…” Will started. “You guys are having issues getting security set up?” he asked Marc with a smile.
“Yeah Kinda. I mean we have security from Clan Headquarters right now, but that’s only temporary.” Marc stated with a grin. “I hope Danny has some ideas cause I never thought we’d ever need security here.”
Donald looked as if he was deep in thought before turning to Will; “You’re in charge of the local youth cadet program, Will. You have any A listers that might be interested in placement?”
Will smiled and nodded his head. “A few come to mind. As soon as I have a chance to discuss the possibilities with your division head and current head of security. Let me make a few phone calls.”
“Really? Awesome. That would be a huge help.” Marc relayed with a smile. “You don’t think we’d have any problems getting Federation approval do you?”
“Son,” Donald said with a smile. “Our youth program is fully licensed as a Federation Preparatory Facility. Will here is licensed through the UFP as an official trainer. I see no problems at all with beginning a co-op. Some of his students are definitely ready for it.” The judge stated sitting back in his chair. “Maybe with some luck your organization will find a few worthy of permanent placement to work under the main security within your headquarters.”
“That would be sweet.” Marc replied. “I’ll make sure to get Matt and Danny to sit down with you, Will. I know they will both be very interested.” He got out as his communicator chirped. “Duty calls.” Marc said with a grin as he flipped the unit open. “Marc Here.”
“How are you feeling sweetie?” Teri’s voice came from the speaker causing Marc to blush.
“I’m okay, Mom.” He replied smiling at the entire group. “I actually feel a lot better now that I’ve had some rest.”
“Well, take it slow and easy, that’s a direct order from headquarters.” She said with a laugh in her voice brightening Marc’s blush. “Lunch will be ready in about 20 minutes, so if you and your group would like to head over on time, make sure not to get TOO involved with work.”
“I won’t, Mom, I promise. See you at lunch. Marc out,” He said as he closed his communicator and looked at it with a smile before clipping it back inside his pocket.
Margret smiled at Marc and then directed Donald’s attention toward him. “See, all Mom’s have that ability.” She said getting a laugh from the entire group.
A few minutes later, Jon was in deep conversation with JR’s parents and Will regarding the events of the last 24 hours when Jon noticed the boys standing there patiently and smiled. “I see you found Danny! You didn’t abandon JR did you Cory?”
Cory giggled. “No way, Dad; we left him with Aaron and Sean. He’s almost recovered enough that he can form sentences again!”
Jon grinned and shook his head. “I heard that he was a bigger Aaron Carter fan than Jerry. If Jerry is any indication, that was just evil, Cory.”
“Yeah, but it was sure fun to watch!” Cory giggled. “I think he’s planning on hanging every piece of clothing he’s wearing on the wall as soon as he gets home! I know he said that none of it’s getting washed!”
Donald couldn’t hold back his chuckles. “Thank you, Cory! JR was scared that he wouldn’t fit in out here; obviously if you pulled off a prank like this on him he has nothing to worry about. Watch out though; give him a few days to get comfortable and he’ll start plotting ways to get even with you. Who is that you have with you?”
Cory smiled. “If that’s the case, he’ll fit right in! This is Danny Page, he is Director of Operations of Clan Short Artificial Intelligence Division. He is your main Clan contact here in Charleston; if he’s not around then Marc is in charge. Danny, this is Superior Court Judge Donald Legette; next to him is his wife, Margret. On the other side of Margret is Corporal Will Jackson, Charleston Police Department.”
“Judge Legette, Mrs. Legette, Corporal Jackson; it is an honor to meet you.” Danny replied as he shook hands with each of them.
“Likewise,” Donald replied. “No need to be formal though, Danny; from what Marc has told me about you, I have no problem with treating you as an equal. If you wouldn’t mind, we would love to have you join us for a little bit to fill us in on some of the things that Marc here missed.”
Danny smiled. “I probably better; I’m not sure I want you to hear the version some of these other guys will tell you!”
Jon pulled a chair over for Danny to sit in then turned to Cory. “Thanks kiddo. Go on and have some fun; Marc just talked to your Mom and the food should be ready soon. I’ll take care of introducing all of the adults to each other for you when we go up there. Mary is setting up the tables now with Eli’s help; make sure all of your boys sit with us at our table once it’s ready.”
Cory’s face glowed with joy when he heard Jon’s invite. “SWEEEET! No problem Dad; they’ll all be there!” He turned and almost bounced with joy as he ran back to rejoin Sean.
Will smiled as he watched as the pair ran off toward the beach, then redirected his attention to Danny. “Director Page, If I may be so bold I have a business proposition for your team to consider. That is if you have a few moments to discuss official business.”
“Yeah, Will has a really cool idea.” Marc added breaking Will’s serious expression as he excitedly explained what had been discussed before he arrived.
Danny sat and nodded his head as he pulled his communicator out and opened it. “Well, we definitely need to approach the idea with our current head of security. I mean temporary fixes are great, but they are temporary for a reason.” Danny said with a smile as he set the frequency and looked back up at the group. “Excuse me for a moment.” he said with a grin. “Page to Security.”
“Matt here Danny, what can I do for you?”
“Perfect, just the man I needed to speak with. Mr. Barnes, at your earliest convenience I would like to set up a meeting between yourself and Corporal Will Jackson of the Charleston Police Department. He has a very interesting and generous proposition for us regarding permanent security for our division that I believe you will be very interested to hear.” Danny said with a smile.
“Really? Definitely tell Corporal Jackson I am at his disposal whenever he’s ready.”
“Thanks Matt, maybe sometime after lunch we can touch on the subject with Cory, Sean and Marc present as well. See you at lunch, Danny out. All set, Will.” Danny said with a smile closing his communicator.
Will stared at Danny and then smiled. “Well, you definitely don’t waste any time.”
Marc looked at Danny and then stood up from his seat. “If you don’t waste it, you have more time to enjoy it.” He said as he turned to join the group, now getting ready to head for the tables.
“He’s a wise one.” Donald said getting nods from the group.
“Wait till you get to know more of these guys. If that impressed you, prepare yourself to be totally blown away.” Danny added with a smile as they watched the group wander toward the Owen’s residence. “Shall we?” Danny asked standing up and motioning for the group to follow.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The boys were just finishing off the last of the food and friendly conversation between them set the background when Cory stood up and got everyone’s attention. “If anyone starts snoring, I’ll have Eli dump ya in the ocean! I gotta say a few things while y’all are sittin’ down; stuff I guess I really shoulda said long ago. Kyle, you wired up to the other two Musketeers?”
Kyle nodded his head. “Yeah, they wanna know how you’ll handle it if they fall asleep?”
Cory smiled. “They won’t; they’re gonna be too busy making sure the rest of the Clan gets the broadcast. All of you know I’ve had a rough day today; in a way I brought it on myself. Whenever Sean and I are not off having quiet time, I’ve been keeping myself occupied trying to make sure all of y’all were okay. I can’t remember the last time I just did something by myself. I used to go jogging in the mornings to relax back at the Home; can anyone tell me the last time they saw me do that?”
Cory paused, and the silence became deafening.
“Guys, I shoulda been okay when I got hit by the memory earlier, Sean and I have worked on a lot of little surprises that we didn’t worry y’all about. I guess what I’m tryin’ to say is I screwed up bad guys, and I gave y’all a bad example while I was doin’ it. I got told today that all of y’all look at Sean and me like dads. That scares me guys; I’m learning to be a dad without having any memory of what a dad is like. I think that’s why I crashed. When Jon called us all family then smiled like my old dad at me, it broke the wall protecting me from that old memory. I wasn’t ready for it, and I woulda totally crashed if he had not responded like a real dad would. Nothing against you, Mom, but sometimes guys need a Dad to hold them. When Mikey was alive, he kinda filled that spot for us. Dan’s my shrink, he can’t do it, he knows too much. All the rest of the adults are more like friends or uncles; I feel okay talkin’ to them but they don’t fit as ‘Dads’ for me. Jerry’s dad Jon is different; he kinda let me know I needed to relax and be a kid again without actually telling me. I can’t do anything about y’all lookin’ up to me, but until today I really did not know who to look up to to learn about being a dad. I know now, and I’m callin’ him Dad from now on.” Cory paused and looked around at the group whose attention he was holding firmly. “I saw something today while I was relaxing. All y’all are doing the same thing I’ve been doing, even Timmy and Ricky. All of y’all are acting like young adults even when you are playing; nobody argues if they don’t agree with how something is done, they just go along with the rest of the group. That looks good to adults’ guys; but it’s not us. I know some of y’all got hurt by doing that before we all got together, so why are we all doing it now?”
JJ stood up and interrupted. “Cory, hold it right there! You want argument up front you’re gonna get it. You might be seeing a lot, but you ain’t seeing all of it bro. Do you honestly believe we don’t see it when you are pushing too hard? Bro, there have been nights when none of us have got any sleep because we’re trying to find a way to help you and Sean have free time. You were right; you needed a dad; but not just to give you hugs. You need someone who’ll get on your butt to take time off. There’s a lot of crap going on all the time since we became a Clan; more crap than one person can deal with. A lot of that you get stuck with; you pass it off to whoever can handle it but you still have to deal with it first. That’s why you don’t see us argue; you don’t need it. All of the telepaths, even the munchkins, work with us so that we argue in private and settle it without an audible word. You know what it’s sounding like to all of us right now? It’s sounding like you have decided we’d be better off if you quit. I’ve got news for both you and Sean; if EITHER one of you ever CONSIDERS quitting because you ‘are not good enough’, I’m the first in a VERY long line that is gonna kick your sorry ass across every continent on this planet. Yeah, you fuck up occasionally; so do I and so do the rest of the guys. You know something? Not a single one of us worries about it; we admit our mistake and move on. YOU taught us that, dipshit. If one of us is down, one of the others takes time to find out what is wrong; YOU taught us that too. Your boys love you because you ARE a good dad; not because you saved them. I’ve got a family now because after watching you I learned how to be a parent and still be a kid. Speaking of family; if you had not asked Jon to be your dad we were gonna do it. You were not the one who put up that wall around your memory of your original dad; Mikey did it to protect you from yourself. He knew that unless you had an adult you trusted and respected there it would break you down. Not only did you break down the wall when that person finally arrived, you managed to block both Ty and Kyle from your head completely; in fact you are STILL blocking your little brother. You wanna jog in the mornings? Say something; one of us will cover for ya. Don’t be surprised if one or two of us join you though; you are not the only one who could use a relaxing run. A few months ago I stood in a shower and swore to stand by two guys I had just met and my new little brother. You know something? That was only the second time I followed my heart; the first was when I asked Dad to adopt Kyle. I got a news flash for you Cory; to this day I consider those two decisions the best ones I have ever made. I’ll always have your back bro, until the day I die. You got a Dad finally, now relax and let all of us help you like you help us.” JJ looked around the tables. “All of you need to think about what your priorities are now and what they should be; that includes all of you AI guys and you too JR. Once Cory gets back from the trip he’s got to go on later, I’M calling a Clan-wide meeting at Headquarters. Everyone WILL be there, understood? Yes, you too JR, you’re one of us now.”
JJ took his seat, and gave Cory a look that all but dared him to countermand the final order.
Cory gulped. “Ummm … okay, I guess we’re having a meeting. Adam, I think you need to take JJ off for some private time; he’s getting cranky.” Cory had to duck to avoid the various objects being thrown at him by the suddenly blushing pair. Once they were out of ammo, Cory stood back up and continued. “You made your point, JJ; now I know how Kyle felt in the courtroom. Don’t worry, I’m not quitting. I guess I just didn’t see that you guys were trying to watch out for me too. I was going to suggest a meeting too, since we are getting so spread out we kinda need to work out a better way to do stuff when someone needs help. JJ, you proved that when you set up the AI division. You did the right thing as soon as you saw it; you just forgot to tell me about it! I didn’t have anything to do with it; that was all you bro. I know it sounds weird, but I don’t think I could live without you guys anymore; as far as I’m concerned the day we see that we are not wanted or not needed all of us with our families are gonna find a nice quiet planet and escape this rat race. I love all of you and would go through all of this all over again to save just one of you.”
Jon stood up and pulled Cory into a hug. “You did great, kiddo; you’ve got a great support group with you. Listen to them and let them help, things will get a lot easier. You don’t have to fight all of the battles yourself anymore; take on the big ones and let the other guys handle the little ones, okay?”
Cory squeezed Jon tightly. “Okay, Dad. Will you come to Orlando with the rest of the guys for the meeting please? I don’t know how to set it up right, and I don’t want it to become like the ground-side military.”
“I’d be honored, kiddo; a good leader knows when to ask for help, and you just did. All I ask is if you don’t understand or like a suggestion I make let me know so that we can sort it out and find the best solution. You guys have a lot in common with my job at the DNR; you need structure but everyone needs to be able to react without asking first.”
Cory smiled as he broke the hug. “Thanks Dad, that sounds perfect!”
As a hush settled over the group, Danny stood up and cleared his throat. “JJ, count on the entire AI division being present.” He said with a smile. “Guys, if I can have the floor for a few, I kinda think it’s my turn to not leave Cory out on a limb. You all have been together much longer than I have even been conscious in this time period. The past 24 hours has been absolutely amazing. I mean I know exactly where my new found brothers stand on my list of priorities, so I can just imagine the lists of those of you who have a stronger history together.”
“STRONGER HISTORY? That don’t make…” JJ started to get out before Danny shook his head causing him to stop.
“Hear him out, bonehead, he’s tryin to get through this thought and it ain’t easy.” Kyle interjected.
“Thanks sport.” Danny said smiling at Kyle. “That’s kinda what I’m getting at right there. I mean you guys look out for each other, protect each other, work with each other and no matter what the cost, dedicate your time to others who need that same kinda support. I mean, circumstances led you to our front door, and in roughly one day’s time, you became a part of our family. It wasn’t sought out, it wasn’t asked for, it just happened and became the strongest family bond I have ever seen in all my years. You all have so much to be proud of, and so much more to protect.” Danny paused as he looked into the eyes of each person, stopping once he reached Alec and smiled. “I was forced to address my list of priorities earlier today by someone who will forever hold my admiration. That person forced me to look at a few mistakes I made in my life. Mistakes that would severely harm a common bond we all hold dear. Thanks to a little implanted info from a certain brain leech..” Danny said grinning at Kyle; “…that common bond is one we need to support and protect at all costs.” Danny finished his sentence staring directly at Sean and Cory. “You guys are one in a million, maybe those odds are even greater than that considering the family as a whole, a family that is a direct result of you both sharing the love you have with all those around you. We all know it, we all feel it. Whether you have been a member of the family for a few months or a few minutes. You love without discrimination, and you give your all to protect all that you love. Something that I now feel strongly, right along with each and every one of you. I can speak for myself and Marc by the look on his face that our division will do anything it possibly can to make sure this family is never threatened, by outside forces or just from simply being overwhelmed. We all owe you two so much in so many different ways. I love you guys, right along with each and every member of this family. It’s an honor to be a part of it, and I will forever fight to protect it. That’s my personal promise to you both.” Danny got out before sitting back in his seat, leaving the table dead silent until Kyle spoke up.
“Dan, whadaya mean I planted stuff in yur head? I never did.” He asked scratching his head.
“Hey, while you’re in there your mind is a source of information my processor can extract from. Seems fair I think.” Danny said with a giggle as Kyle tilted his head and grinned.
“That’s cheating!” Kyle shouted in mock anger earning a round of laughter from everyone at the table.
“Beaten at your own game, finally!” Aaron added thrusting his fist in the air.
Cory pulled Sean into a hug and turned to the group that had gathered around them. “Hey guys; we got a little time before we gotta run; lets make some noise!”
As the boys began to get up and move towards the bandstand, Kyle came up alongside Danny. “Danny?”
“Yeah Leech?” Danny giggled.
Kyle giggled back. “You know, that name’s gonna stick now, don’t ya? How much did you find out when you were in my head?”
Danny stopped, turned, and pulled Kyle into a hug. “Enough to know that you understand what I went through in the last months before I tried to kill myself, little buddy. You need to let it out soon; when you are ready, I’m here for you, little brother. It helps to talk to someone who has been there. You got a lot of hugs coming; hugs you are long overdue for.”
Kyle turned his face up toward Danny, and with teary eyes asked “You don’t hate me? Even after all of that?”
Danny squeezed Kyle tighter. “No, I don’t hate you. I respect you even more; you’re a lot stronger than I was to make it through all of that. I love ya, kiddo; your secret is safe with me until you are ready to talk. How much do your friends at headquarters know about your life?”
“All of it.” Kyle muttered.
“Don’t worry then, lil bro. What are their names, you know the ones you are always wired into?” Danny asked softly.
“Jamie and Jacob. Why?”
Danny gave a small smile. “Because it’s time to settle that part of your life. Relax and enjoy yourself, bro. I’m going to get things rolling to take care of some old business. You keep Cory occupied; I’m gonna handle this one.”
Kyle nodded his head. “Okay, I guess. What’s gonna happen?”
“Nothing. I just have a favor to ask of them.” Danny stated ruffling Kyle’s hair. “Go on; I’ll be right there,” he added in a softer tone.
Kyle nodded and turned to walk off. He waited until he was a few feet away before commenting “Nice try bro; I understand though.”
‘Just keep it to yourself.’ Danny thought to himself getting a nod from Kyle, who clearly got the message.
As Kyle wandered back to be with the rest of the clan, Danny headed up onto the deck for some privacy. Once there, he retrieved his communicator from his belt. ‘Here we go.’ Danny thought to himself as he opened it and keyed in the command to dial headquarters. “Headquarters, this is Director Page.”
“This is headquarters, Justy speaking. What’s up Danny?”
“Justy, this may be outside of normal protocol, but I kinda need to ask a huge favor.” Danny said as quietly as he possibly could while peeking inside the open door to insure the conversation wasn’t being overheard.
“Dude, you are head of AI Division; you SET protocol. What do ya’ need done? We’re having a special this week; two perverts vaporized for one price!” Justy responded with a giggle.
Danny rolled his eyes and sat down as he redirected his gaze toward the unnaturally innocent looking Kyle. ‘Touche, twerp,’ he thought with a giggle. “I’m guessing you already have an idea why I’m calling.”
Justy giggled. “Yeah, Kylegrams are great! I don’t know all of the details; for some reason my little brothers refuse to tell me what happened in Kyle’s past. All I know right now is they had me put Intelligence at Condition Yellow and told me to await your orders; they said they’ll give what info is needed and nothing more. You wanna fill me in?”
Danny sighed before answering. “Sorry man, I don’t have the right to provide the details, but your little brothers have the lead on what I need to ask. Condition Yellow stands. I need to ask that we actively seek out the biological father of the minor Kyle Richardson. This an official request. According to information I have come across, he is a threat that is on the loose and needs to be dealt with.”
“Acknowledged, Director Page. Is this a Priority Action?” Justy replied, all traces of humor gone from his voice. “Don’t worry about the details; the twins just informed me that if JJ knew he would personally skin Kyle’s father alive, literally. If it’s that bad I don’t wanna know unless I have to.”
“Thank you, Justy.” Danny said with a sigh. “This is to be handled Priority 1, but for the same reason we are maintaining silence regarding the details, I also would like to be the main contact until we locate that piece of trash. At which point BOTH divisions will be fully involved. Trust me, there is a growing line of people who would love to get hold of him.” He replied trying as hard as he could to purposely keep Kyle out of his head as he added, “I’m no exception.”
“Ummm; my little brothers just offered to hand you the knives. I don’t want to know. This is an AI project until you call in reinforcements; you’ve got Priority One. I owe Kyle a few favors, so I’m going to oversee this one myself. Talk to ya as soon as we got something bro.”
“Acknowledged and agreed Justy. Consider the call for reinforcements made the second the announcement that he’s been located has been placed. No one is going to want to waste one second apprehending him. I just don’t want to stress anyone locally over reactivating the issue, if you get my meaning.” Danny replied as he spotted Alec waving his arms attempting to gain his attention.
“Gotcha bro; Blondie and his mount are to be kept in the dark! Go clear your head, I’ve got it now. HQ out.”
After almost dropping his communicator from laughing too hard, Danny ended the call and ran back out toward the stage area to see what Alec needed. On the way by, he tapped Kyle on the back and thought ‘Thank your brothers for me, okay?’
‘Sure thing Danny, Thanks!’ Kyle thought back. ‘Oh yeah; Giddyup!’ he added with an audible giggle.
“I am soooo not touching that one…LEECH!” Danny replied with a laugh.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Joey’s in bed. He’s not happy about it but he’s finally charging back up.” Jerry said as he rejoined the group.
“He gave you a hard time?” Caleb asked with a grin. “I mean he was totally exhausted, but so excited during the concert.”
“He was kinda wound up still.” Jerry replied with a grin. “I can’t blame him, it was awesome.”
Cory looked around at his expanded family and smiled. “I hate to say it, but we’ve gotta load up guys. Timmy, where is your raccoon?”
Timmy giggled. “He ain’t mine Daddy! He’s comin’, he hadta make sure all da extra food was cleaned up!”
Cory giggled. “Okay Kiddo. Listen up guys; some of us get to take a break in Australia. Anyone not going along help pick up before ya beam out. We got two shuttles; split up between them. Here’s the list of who’s going; Kyle, tell the twins to have anyone back at headquarters that I list ready for Matt to pick up on his way.”
Once Cory was sure everyone was listening, he started listing names. “Mom, John; not you Dad, another John, Dan, Matt, me, Sean, Gavin, Adam, JJ, Timmy, Ricky, their zoo, Kyle, Ty, Airboy, David, ‘Roo, Brad, Alec, Harley, CD, Calen, Gabe, Trav, Tommy, Kelly, and Danny. Deej, Tanner; Justy called me and asked for you guys to help him with some project. He won’t tell me what; but he needs you guys from the sound of it.”
“Cory? I’m going?” Danny asked with his voice beginning to squeak.
Alec put a hand on Danny’s shoulder and responded before Cory could. “Yeah, you’re going, bro. Remember what we talked about? Marc will be okay here; Justy’s gonna keep in touch, if he needs help it’s only a call away. You’re needed there bro; Kyle helped me pick out what you needed to pack and we got it loaded already. Marc had Caleb set up a terminal for you on Cory’s shuttle to use if you need it.”
“Okay, bro.” Danny replied. “You guys will keep an eye on Marc tonight?” He asked toward Noah and Caleb.
“Dude, I’m already back to 68%. In a few hours I’m outta the woods. Stop worrying, will you?” Marc said as he gave his brother a hug. “I couldn’t be in better hands, really.”
“I’m in.” Danny said smiling at Marc. Danny pulled Marc into a long hug. “Take care; I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Danny then turned to face Alec. “A little warning would have been nice though,” he said playfully, punching Alec in the arm.
Alec rubbed his arm. “Get used to it, Danny!” He then lowered his voice and added “Take care of Cory for us, bro.”
The boys made the rounds, saying goodbye to everyone that was staying behind. Danny caught up with JR just as he was finishing his rounds. “Hey JR; take care of Marc for me, okay? Next trip, I’ll talk to your Dad and get it so you can come along.”
JR grinned. “Sweet! Don’t worry, Danny; I’ll make sure Dad and Will know it if he needs anything. Have fun; bring me back a tee-shirt!”
“No problem!” Danny replied as he turned and followed the last of the boys into the shuttle and the hatch was closed.
As the group began to break up, Alec began to assemble his crew to break down the equipment as the rest began folding up the chairs and cleaning up the mess from lunch. Marc and Austin were busying themselves cleaning off the tables when a shout made them jump out of their skin. “WHAT do you two think you are doing?!?”
Marc, after recovering from nearly having a heart attack turned and saw Alec, Caleb and Noah rushing up to the table, and not looking very happy.
“What?” Marc asked knowing he was about to get his butt chewed. “We’re taking it slow.”
“On your butts, both of you.” Caleb said with a grin as the three ushered them back toward the rear deck.
“Busted, Huh?” Jerry giggled as he and Eli Jogged into the house.
“Rub it in, clown!” Marc shouted as they all sat down at the table on the deck.
“Dad, you think I can take a look around tomorrow?” Austin asked as he looked around the beach. “This looks like a really cool area.”
“It really is, I’ve always loved it out here. I’ll take you for a walk on the beach as long as these guys let us.” Marc grinned at the three as they scowled and turned to head back out to the beach being stopped in their tracks by screams coming from within the house.
“MARC!!!” Jerry screamed as he literally slammed into the sliding glass door. “Marc! Joey’s on fire I think.” he shouted as he gasped for air. “The computer he’s on is smokin and there’s smoke coming out of his access port!”
“What?!?” Marc replied and stood up quick.
“Caleb!!! Noah!!! Help!!!” Marc shouted.
To Be Continued…
* * * * * * * * * * * *