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John stuck his head through the doorway. “Up and at’m boys, before I drag a hose up here and water y’all down!” He managed to get the door closed in time to deflect the pillows that were thrown at him.
Timmy and Ricky were the first out of the bed, giggling in stereo “I gotta PEE!” as they ran into the bathroom.
As all the couples engaged in their ritual morning tonsil hockey, Andrew, Alec, and Kelly untangled themselves and scooted to the edge of the bed. Alec looked around at the boys expressing their love to each other, even the twins were in a brotherly cuddle. “Dang, I’m feeling left out!” he quipped.
“Don’t look at me!” Kelly giggled. “That would be taking brotherly love a little too far!”
Andrew got an evil grin on his face. “What the heck, it’s good practice!” he announced as he twisted around and grabbed Alec, locking lips before Alec had a chance to respond.
Kelly watched in amazement as at first Alec started to push Andrew away, then suddenly pulled the little redhead on top of him as he laid back and began returning the kiss. In no time the two boys were fully involved in their first kiss.
Kelly’s concentration was broken by Timmy and Ricky joining him. “Unca’ Kelly, why’s Unca’ Alec and Unca’ Andy kissin’?” Timmy asked as he pulled on Kelly’s arm.
Kelly turned to the two little boys looking expectantly at him. “Don’t worry guys; your Uncle Alec was just feelin’ left out, so Uncle Andy decided to help him.” Kelly looked over at where the boys had been sleeping, “Hey, it looks like someone had a dry night last night. Way to go, Ricky!”
Ricky beamed at the praise, and placed his arm around Timmy. “I had my bestest friend ever cuddled with me, so I told myself before we went to sleep not to pee on him, and it worked!”
Kelly smiled at the boys. “I guess that means that from now on you gotta sleep together. Can you two handle that?”
Both boys giggled as they scooted onto Kelly’s lap. “Unca’ Kelly, why is ev’ryone else kissin’?” Timmy asked.
Kelly giggled. “They are just showin’ each other that they love their partner.”
Timmy broke into a huge grin. “Oh, okay! I better get started then!”
Kelly could feel his heart melting as, in slow motion, Timmy and Ricky turned toward each other and shyly began their first kiss. He wrapped his arms around the boys and lovingly kissed the tops of their heads. “God bless you guys, I hope you will always be there for each other.” Kelly whispered.
Cory giggled as he tapped Kelly on the shoulder. “Hey, what’s this? I leave you alone with our son for five minutes, and you are already giving him pointers on picking up cuties?”
Kelly grinned. “Hey, I had nothing to do with it, he’s just taking after his Daddy! Look, he even zones out while kissing just like you!”
“Bite me, Kelly!” Cory chuckled. “By the way, is your bro having fun?”
Two groans escaped from Alec and Andrew as Kelly turned his head. As Kelly giggled at the noise, he replied “It sure sounds like it! I’ll bet they both need showers now too!”
Timmy and Ricky broke their kiss, and began wiggling around on Kelly’s lap trying to see what the older boys were talking about. As they wiggled back and forth for position, Kelly suddenly got a surprised look on his face. “OH SH………!” Kelly exclaimed.
Cory turned his head back just in time to see the tears in Kelly’s eyes before Kelly covered his face in shame. Cory was about to ask what was wrong when a comment from Timmy caught his attention.
“Wow! Those are spermies! Hey Ricky, when we get big we’ll make those. Unca’ Kelly said so!” Timmy announced in an awed voice.
Kelly sobbed loudly as he laid backwards onto the bed. Cory was frozen with shock as he watched his son and Ricky inspecting the droplets on their sides. Cory’s trance was finally broken when Kelly sobbed again after the boys reached down and innocently began inspecting the final drops leaking from Kelly’s deflating member.
Now that his brain had re-engaged, Cory quickly thought of a way to start to diffuse the situation. “Timmy, Ricky? I think your Uncle Alec and Uncle Andy need some help getting washed up again. Why don’t you two help them find the shower and make sure they get clean?”
Cory’s distraction worked, as both boys immediately jumped up and began dragging Alec and Andy to the bathroom; both of them excited to have been put in charge of a bigger kid.
Cory looked at the rest of the boys. “All of you get ready, Kelly and I need some time here. Anyone needing the bathroom use the hall one, tell Helen that Kel and I will be a little behind for breakfast, but do NOT tell her what happened. Ty, before you get dressed, make sure everyone in the shower understands that nothing about what happened here is to be discussed downstairs. Make SURE Timmy and Ricky understand, okay?”
“Sure Bro!” Tyler exclaimed as he rushed to the bathroom carrying his clothes.
The rest of the boys dressed and evacuated the room in record time, leaving Cory in the room alone holding a sobbing Kelly.
“I’m sorry!” Kelly sobbed into Cory’s chest. “I’m such a piece of trash, look what I did on two innocent boys! They were moving around, and it just happened; I couldn’t stop it. There’s gotta be something wrong with me. Let go of me, I’m getting outta here before I hurt anyone else!”
Cory tightened his grip on the now-struggling boy before responding. “Shhh, settle down Kel. You have not hurt anyone, and there is nothing wrong with you. Remember swearing to stick together no matter what? This is included, especially since you did nothing wrong. I’m not gonna let you go anywhere, bro.”
Kelly froze in Cory’s arms. “Whadda you mean I did nothing wrong? Look what I did all over your SON!”
“Relax, bro. I know exactly what you did. If you’ll listen I’ll tell you. I woke up in the middle of the night to take a leak, and saw you cuddled up tight against your new brother, Alec. No matter who you are, skin to skin contact like that is gonna make you horny. Add to that the fact you had two very active little boys suddenly start squirming around on your lap, probably making accidental contact with an already sensitive part of your body. When I was your age it didn’t take long before I went off, so I’m gonna guess you are like I was. Put it all together, and it was a normal thing you had no control over. The only effect it had on Timmy was to satisfy his curiosity about sperm. I’ll bet he’s using this to get Ricky caught up on the facts of life in a gay family while they are supervising the showers.”
Kelly pulled himself tight against Cory. “Yeah, but the rest of the guys probably think I’m a monster now.”
“I doubt it, bro. Just in case, we’ll all sit down and talk after breakfast. It’ll only take a minute to explain what happened. I’ve got your back, bro, and no one is gonna mess with me. Let’s get dressed before all of your Mom’s great food is all gone.”
They both dressed, and as they were preparing to leave the room the four boys came out of the bathroom. Alec walked over to Kelly and pulled him into a tight loving hug.
“Hey little bro, don’t worry about what happened.” Alec whispered in Kelly’s ear. “It could have been any one of us, it’s not your fault.”
“Thanks bro.” Kelly replied as he snuggled Alec. They broke their hug after one last squeeze, then the six boys headed downstairs.
As the boys were finishing their breakfast, Cory stood up and waked to the head of the table. “Listen up! After you take care of your dishes, go up to the bedroom for a quick meeting before we start school.”
“Is there a problem, Cory?” Dan asked. “I noticed a lot of the group was quieter than normal.”
“There’s nothing to worry about, Dan.” Cory replied. “We just gotta clear the air about a couple things so all the guys can pay attention today.”
Dan looked over at Teri for help. “Don’t look at me!” she exclaimed. “I’m outranked in my own family by those two teen terrors I call sons. Besides, I’m the last one to argue about anything Cory or Sean thinks these boys need; look at the things they have already achieved.”
The boys finished cleaning up and headed upstairs. Once they were all there except Sean and Cory, Ty went to the bathroom door and knocked on it.
“Thanks lil’ bro.” Sean said as him and Cory came out of the bathroom.
Sean stood in front of the group as Cory took a seat. “Cory’s filled me in about what happened and why. I know what some of you think, especially after what you went through, but it was not what it looked like. Between Kelly not being used to sleeping nude with other people and the accidental contact when Timmy and Ricky started wiggling around on his lap, Kel’s body reacted without warning. It could’a happened to any of us, and knowing how our son can’t sit still unless he’s asleep it’s probably gonna happen again.”
Before Sean could react, Timmy launched himself from the bed, immediately followed by Ricky. “PAPPA! Stop pickin’ on me!” Timmy giggled as he sat on Sean’s chest, Ricky perched directly behind him.
Sean giggled as he pulled both boys into a hug. “I wasn’t pickin’ on you, squirt; you’re my favorite little tornado. Now take your friend and sit with your Daddy.”
Once he was able to regain his feet, Sean continued. “I think that just proved my point! Kel, I was told that you threatened to run away because you thought you were a monster. I’m going to say this now; all of you are our brothers, and if any of you run away Cor and I will find you and drag you back. We have all promised to stand by each other no matter what, and I can tell you Cory and I both take that promise very seriously.”
Kelly stood up and moved over with Sean. “Thanks Sean. I still feel lousy about doing that on the boys, but it helps knowing you guys don’t hate me for something I didn’t know was gonna happen.”
Travis joined the two boys. “Big bro, there’s something you should know.” Trav started shyly. “We kinda had a meeting in the hall when we left the room. None of us ever hated you, in fact we were all worried about you freaking out. You took a chance on me without even really knowing me and fought to be my brother; you are gonna have to do a lot more than squirt accidentally for me to even get mad at you. Besides, I need you to help me figure out why Alec was makin’ out with Andy!”
The last comment broke Kelly’s mood. Once he stopped giggling, Kelly put his arm over Trav’s shoulder. “Little bro, I doubt even Mr. Spock could explain that one!”
Cory was holding his stomach from laughing so hard. “You’re killing me! C’mon, we need to get downstairs guys; we can sort THAT out later.”
The giggling group of boys stampeded down the stairs and into the Rec room. They skidded to a stop when they entered the room; the furniture was moved against the walls and a table and chairs were being set up in the center of the room. As the boys watched, laptops were placed on the table at each seat.
“Which one of you is Cory?” one of the men asked.
Cory stepped forward. “That’s me.” He looked at the man curiously; he appeared to be about twenty-five, almost certainly was of Indian heritage, and had smooth black hair reaching most of the way down his back. ‘Hmmm … he’s kinda cute!’ Cory thought as he studied the well-defined body; obvious even through the loose clothes.
The man smiled at the obvious attention Cory was paying to him. “Dan told me to get your help. I’m Derek Tecumseh; I’ll give the younger kids a break and allow you to call me Mr. T in class. I need you to give me a hand until I learn everyones names, Cory. Would you please help me with seating; I’ve been led to understand that some members of your group will function better if they are seated with their significant others, please ensure those pairings are made and arrange seating so that similar academic levels are together.”
“Yes sir.” Cory responded. He turned and started directing the other boys to their seats, finishing with Alec, Andy and Kelly. To everyone’s surprise, Cory placed Alec and Andy together and put Kelly on the other side of Sean from him.
“Why am I sitting with you guys instead of with Andy?” Kelly asked as Cory was taking his seat. “Andy and I are the same age, and you guys are lots smarter than me. Alec is two whole years older than we are!”
Cory leaned over and smiled. “Kel, you’ve had some hard times, but I’ve noticed that you are smarter than you will admit. Think of it as a challenge; now you gotta keep up with us. I know you can do it, are you willing to accept the challenge?”
Kelly looked at Cory in shock. “I know you, Cory; I don’t really have a choice, do I? You still didn’t explain Alec and Andy being together.”
Cory shook his head in wonder. “That’s one of the things I like about you, Kel; if you really want something you don’t give up. Andy has been in advanced classes in school and still aced them. Besides, I have a sneaky suspicion the two of them need the contact with each other right now while they sort out their emotions.”
Before Kelly could respond, Derek got their attention. “Okay boys, let’s get started. I’m going to come around the table and talk to each of you so I can get to know you. While I’m doing that, the rest of you may talk quietly amongst yourselves. Once I’m finished, we will be taking skills tests for the rest of the morning.”
Later that morning, Derek took Cory aside as the rest of the boys filed out for lunch. “Cory, from what I have seen so far, almost all of your choices for the boys academic levels were correct. I will be able to tell further once I score this mornings tests. I do question your choice of placing Kelly with yourself and Sean; the pair of you appear to be well above your grade levels, while he seems to be struggling at the level I am testing the three of you at.”
Cory smiled as he replied. “Mr. T, Kelly’s never been pushed to achieve what he is capable of. He can do the work, but needs the basics to work with. Trust me, sometime soon you will see that he’s where he belongs.”
“That’s good enough for me. I expect you to work with him to bring him up to your level, understand?”
“Yes sir, I’m planning on it.”
They headed into the dining room where Helen had set out a lunch of fish sandwiches and fries. As Cory made his way to his seat, Timmy bounced up and hugged him. “Daddy! Did you have games to play too? Ricky and I did, he beat me once and I beat him once.”
“Sounds like you guys are getting to have fun!” Cory chuckled as he picked up his son. “We gotta take a bunch of nasty old tests, I guess that means you guys are somethin’ special.”
Timmy giggled as he snuggled with Cory. “You’re silly, Daddy. I’ll tell Mr. T to give ya’ some games, okay?”
“Sure thing, kiddo.” Cory giggled as he kissed Timmy’s head and placed him in his chair.
Derek had trouble concentrating on eating as he watched the boys interact over their meal. Dan had told him to expect the boys to be unusual, but everything he had seen so far was completely normal. In fact, he was amused as the boys switched back and forth between comparing their tests and taking good natured verbal jabs at each other. He was about to lean over and tell Dan there was nothing unusual about them when Kyle stood up and whistled.
“QUIET!” Kyle commanded. “Aaron is relaying through Jamie; he has a report to make to Cory.” Kyle concentrated for a minute, then smiled as he announced “The shelter in Orlando is done, Aaron says he needs Mom to get some staff down there ASAP; as soon as it is staffed Mark and Zac are going fishing.”
Cory looked at his mom. “What kind of time frame can I expect for staffing, Mom?”
Teri thought for a second. “Cory, you’ll have your staff by Friday. You can set the Orlando crew loose Saturday; I’ll head down there to give a hand since knowing them the staff is going to get swamped. Dan and Austin, I’ll need you with me.”
Cory nodded his head. “Kyle, tell Aaron to be in the study in five minutes; I’ll call him to go over the attack plan.”
Kyle nodded and then concentrated again. A few seconds later, he looked up. “Justy is home sick today; he’s letting Aaron know and said he will be there too in case we need anything from the family.”
Cory smiled as he replied “Yeah, I bet he’s sick! More like he knew things were about ready and he wanted to be around to get it rolling. C’mon Sean, we got work to do. Derek, sorry but you are going to lose your classroom for about a half hour. The Rec room is off limits until we come back out.” With that, Cory and Sean walked out of the room.
Derek retrieved his jaw from the tabletop and turned to Teri. “Teri, excuse me if I’m out of place, but don’t you think you should correct those boy’s priorities? Admittedly both of those boys were perfect students this morning, but I have trouble with students kicking me out of a classroom.”
“You’re fine, Derek. Actually, I should have warned you this would happen. The conversation you just witnessed wasn’t boys talking with friends; it was an official report to a Vulcan Clan Patriarch, namely Cory. That terminal on the east wall of the room is his private terminal, and right now he is taking care of Clan business on it. When it comes to that, nobody here can override him, not even me; and I’m not about to call Ambassador Sarek because the boys missed a little school.”
Derek nodded his head. “I believe I understand. By any chance do you have another terminal I may borrow?”
Teri looked at Derek curiously as she replied. “Yes, there’s one in my office, why?”
Derek just smiled. “In good time. Leave it at the fact I was born and raised in Florida.”
Fifteen minutes later, Derek walked out of the office and immediately entered the Rec room.
Cory turned to see who had violated his order to stay out, and was surprised to see Derek. From the look on Derek’s face, Cory figured it was important, so he didn’t immediately go off. “Aaron, Justy; hold on a minute. We have company.”
Derek came to attention before speaking. “Cory, I understand you are Clan Patriarch. I have deduced that a segment of your Clan is preparing to do some operations in the Orlando area. My father is Tribal Chief of our tribe in Florida, and has authorized me to investigate the possibility of offering our assistance. Would you be open to briefing me on the situation?”
Cory thought for a second before responding. “Actually, I would appreciate the help, but first I need to verify I can do it. Please have a seat, this shouldn’t take long.” As Derek sat down, Cory turned back to the screen. “Justy, call Ambassador Sarek and verify the rulings on accepting assistance from a Terran Indian tribe.”
“I’m on it, Cory!” Justy replied.
A few minutes later, Justy reappeared on the screen. “Grandpa said to tell you that he commends you for your efforts to extend Vulcan customs to Terran culture. I’ll give you the version with small words since you’re blond; basically as of now, if a Terran Indian tribe offers assistance it is to be handled the same way as if a Vulcan Clan was to offer assistance. If the assistance will logically increase the chances of completing the mission, then it is to be accepted. The other side of this is that if a tribe needs help and we can provide it we are expected to do so.”
“Thanks Justy, that’s what I thought. By the way, you’re goin’ swimming for that blond crack, isn’t he big bro?”
Aaron giggled as he shot an evil grin at Justy. “You better believe it, little brother. Since you’re up there, I’ll handle it for you.”
Cory grinned. “Thanks bro. Go ahead and get everything in place like we’ve discussed; I’m going to hold a briefing here and will get back with you as soon as I know if and what assistance we will get. Kyle will let y’all know when we know something.”
“Sounds good, Cory.” Aaron replied. After both ends cleared up a couple of loose ends, they signed off.
Cory smiled as he and Sean stood up and moved away from the terminal. “Derek, it looks like you are about to hear some things you are gonna wish you never heard.”
Derek looked at the group of boys surrounding him with a combined look of shock and admiration. Sean had not only told him about the problem in Orlando, but had called all of the boys into the room and had each of them fill Derek in on their history. To finish off, Sean had filled Derek in on the histories of the Orlando crew.
“Boys,” Derek said as he scanned the room, “as some of you know, the most important thing to an Indian is their honor amongst their tribe. A tribe is a group of families with a common heritage who work together to protect themselves from injury or oppression from others. You have chosen to create a tribe of your own, and are even now working to protect those who have suffered the same injustices as yourselves. For that you have great honor, not only amongst yourselves but amongst my tribe; I would venture to say Vulcan as well. I shall recommend to my father that what resources the tribe has be made available to assist you.”
Sean had been thinking as Derek talked, and had came up with an idea. “Hey Ty; go get Mom real quick, I need to see what she thinks about something.”
“Okay, bro!” Ty said as he hopped up and ran out. A few seconds later he returned, dragging Teri behind him. “Here ya’ go, I found her!” Ty giggled as he let go and returned to his seat.
Sean unsuccessfully tried to hide his giggles as he looked at Teri. “Sorry, mom, I forgot that my little bro takes me literally! I need to ask you something; have you started staffing Orlando yet?”
“Not yet; what kind of scheme are you brewing up this time, Sean?” Teri replied, a small grin on her face.
“MOM! Remember me, I’m your innocent son!” Sean giggled.
“The only Saint in this family is Mike; so spill it kiddo!”
“Wellllll … I was thinking, and since even today Indians have troubles getting into jobs that really pay them what they are worth, and we have a bunch of open jobs right in the area that Derek is from, plus the fact his tribe is gonna help us …”
Teri placed a hand over Sean’s mouth to stop him. “Sean, I think I understand why; but please tell me what the question is!”
Sean hesitated for a second before blurting out “Mom, can Derek’s tribe fill the staff in Orlando?”
Teri thought it over for a minute. “There are a few positions that require certain types of schooling, those will matter on if anyone is trained in the field. I think that I can sub those out until someone is trained. Since I know how that overactive little brain of yours works, son, I’m guessing you want ALL of the staff to be from Derek’s tribe.” She then turned to Derek. “I’m sure he never asked you first; what do you think?”
Derek grinned as he replied “I think you better make sure there’s a large pediatric clinic building; I have a few cousins who are going to be more than willing to move their practices to a common location. I’m sure that ninety percent of your openings can be filled tomorrow, just give me the word. You have some impressive young men for sons; it would be an honor to assist them in this way.”
Teri couldn’t help but giggle as the room was blasted by the boy’s cheers. “That settles it then.” she announced as she shook Derek’s hand. “I’ll call Josh and verify how many buildings we need to staff, then I’ll give you the list after class finishes today – assuming these goofballs let you hold one!”
Derek chuckled as Teri left the room. “Let me call my father. Sean, could you please get everyone ready while Cory and I take care of this call?”
“Sure thing, Mr. T.” Sean replied.
Derek shook his head as Cory grabbed Sean for a quick kiss before coming over to the terminal. ‘Young love, that’s so beautiful.’ he thought to himself.
Cory was still giggling as he re-adjusted the viewscreen’s settings before turning it over to Derek. Once the call went through, Derek was shocked to have it answered directly by his father. “Good afternoon, Father.”
“Good afternoon, Derek. Considering you are calling on a Vulcan Diplomatic channel, can I correctly assume you have came to a decision on your idea to help those boys?”
Derek shot a glance at Cory, who was standing out of the viewer’s range with a big grin on his face. “Yes I have. Basically the boys have been tasked with seeking retribution on a group which, to put it politely, defiled two of their members. Their current plans include reducing the street kid population in the area drastically; by giving those same kids a place to live. I have heard the histories of each of these boys first hand; most of them have been through things no child should even know about, yet working together they are all slowly healing each others wounds.”
“I would prefer to know how these youths came to be so respected as a group before I decide.”
Just as Derek was formulating his response, Sean tapped him on the shoulder. “Mr. T, that’s more my job.”
Derek nodded his head. “Father, this young man next to me is Sean Short. He is more qualified than I to answer your questions.”
Sean took Derek’s place in front of the pickup. “Good afternoon, Chief Tecumseh; I’m Sean Short, Clan Historian. How may I help you?”
Sean spent ten minutes answering questions. While Sean was busy, Derek got the younger boys started on their next assignments. He had not even noticed Cory was missing until he saw Cory re-enter the room wearing his suit.
Cory nodded at Derek, then went to join Sean. Derek was amazed at the way Cory was carrying himself; like a perfect statesman with not even a hair out of place.
Chief Tecumseh had just thanked Sean for his help when Cory walked up to Sean and stood at his side. The Chief took one look at the new arrival and quickly came to his feet.
Sean thought fast. He also stood up, and then began official introductions. “Chief Tecumseh, I give you Cory Short, Patriarch of Clan Short of the House of Sarek.” Sean then left the final talks to Cory.
“Chief Tecumseh, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Please, be seated. It is my hope that we may look forward to a long and fruitful partnership. Was Sean able to satisfactorily answer your concerns?”
“Yes he was, Cory. I must say that it distresses me to hear of the abuse your Clan members have survived, but it lightens my heart to hear that you are all working together to overcome the past. I am unsure of what assistance we may be, but I pledge to help however we can.”
“Thank you Chief; I have a proposal which I think would be beneficial to your Tribe as well as my Clan. We have just assembled a Youth Shelter on the outskirts of Orlando, near the Southcrest Ranch. It is on Federation property and is overseen by the Federation Youth Services Bureau. Your son has noted that you have many tribal members who hold the qualifications to fill essential positions in the staff, and I would like to propose that your people fill all of the positions. I have conferred with Ambassador Sarek, and he has stated that your Tribe is to be given equal status to a Vulcan Clan due to the offer to work with us. As you have pledged to help us, I in return pledge to help you however we can.”
Chief Tecumseh looked at Cory for a couple of seconds before responding. “Cory, I see in you a wisdom well beyond your years. I fully accept your offer and look forward to meeting personally to make our treaty official.”
Cory allowed himself to smile as he responded. “As do I; I believe one of our Uncles would term the merging of our two treaty ceremonies ‘most interesting’. How much time do you need to prepare for the ceremony?”
“I will have everything ready within an hour, all that will remain is travel arrangements once a suitable location is determined.”
Cory thought for a minute then replied “I believe the most logical place would be a section of land which was once your forefathers and has just been opened for our use. That would be the compound of the new shelter. Will that be acceptable?”
The Chief considered the proposal for a minute before responding. “Yes, I do believe that will be perfect. When would you like to meet?”
Sean slipped a piece of paper in front of Cory. Cory looked down at it before responding. “It appears Sean has been making the travel plans already. Would seven pm Orlando time tonight be acceptable?”
“Yes it would.” Chief Tecumseh answered in surprise. “You’ll have to tell me how he managed that.”
Sean giggled as he yelled out “Two words Chief: Diplomatic Mission!”
The Chief allowed himself to laugh as he responded “I can see that Sean don’t mess around! I look forward to meeting you, I have a feeling that life is about to get very interesting!”
“I’m going to bring a few of the guys with me; and one of our members there in Orlando is going to join us. That will be Mark, I’m going to make him your contact for any everyday issues that come up. Would you be open to Derek serving as a contact here?”
“I was just about to suggest that, Cory. I do insist you accept our hospitality while you are visiting; I feel that due to the length of the ceremonies it would be wrong for you to have to travel back in the evening.”
“Thank you, I accept your offer. I think Derek is trying to give me a hint; he’s waving a book in the air. I really am looking forward to meeting you in person. Live Long and Prosper, Chief Tecumseh.”
“Live Long and Prosper, Cory. Oh, and tell Derek I said to quit being a spoilsport!”
The Chief signed off before anyone could respond. Cory was giggling as he removed his suit jacket and tie, placing them on a hanger he had brought back with him. “You hear that, Derek? Your Dad says you need to quit being a spoilsport!”
Derek grinned. “Yes, I heard. He can say that, he’s not in a CLASSROOM full of teens and kids who SHOULD be studying! Get in your seats, all of you have two more tests to take yet today.”
Kelly was the last one out of the classroom, and he walked slowly to the dining room to join the rest of the boys. Sean met him as he walked in. “How’d you do, Kel?”
“Man, I don’t know how you and Cory flew through that stuff – my head hurts from thinking!”
Sean put his arm over Kelly’s shoulder and guided him to the table. “Don’t worry, bro. It gets easier, you’re just not used to being taught like you should’a been. The home tried to do Cory like juvi was doing you; Mom and Dan tore them a new butthole making sure Cory didn’t lose out on the good classes.”
Kelly giggled as he put an arm around Sean’s waist and gave him a squeeze. “So THAT’S why I never got to pick my own schedule! All the classes I thought sounded interesting I was told I wasn’t eligible for – I thought it was my grades.”
Sean shook his head. “Nope, if they were like the home it was the fees. They didn’t wanna pay the money for the better classes books and stuff, so they tell the school which classes they’ll allow. It kinda bites, but there’s nuthin you could’a done about it.”
The conversation halted as both boys joined the rest of the tribe in devouring the plates of peanut butter cookies on the table. Once they were gone, Cory gave a screeching whistle.
“Hey guys, we need to figure out who’s goin’ to Orlando tonight!” Cory announced after he had everyones attention. “I know I gotta go, who else do y’all think should be there?”
Each of the boys looked around the room. Adam was the first to respond. “Cor, I think Sean should be with ya’; you guys seem to work better together. If my super-cute boyfriend don’t mind stayin’ here, I think we can keep it under control for ya’.”
JJ leaned over and gave Adam a quick kiss. “Flattery will get you everywhere, my silver headed angel. Keep it up and you’ll have to help me study anatomy for health class!”
“Promise?” Adam replied with a knowing grin.
JJ just smiled as a reply, and then snuggled into Adam’s arms.
Sean was giggling at their antics as he replied “You’re right about that bro, we do kinda feed off’a each other when we are busy. I think Jeffy and Sammy should join us; this is you two’s project even more than the rest of us.”
The twins conferred silently for a minute before Jeffy replied for them. “Yeah, I guess Chief Tecumseh is gonna want to meet us. Since our big bro is stayin’ here, can Kel come along?”
As Sean was about to reply, Teri walked into the room. “That sounds like a good idea, Jeffy. Timmy, Doc Austin said you can invite Ricky if you want to.”
Timmy jumped up and ran to Teri. “Thanks Gran’ma!” he exclaimed as he leaped into her arms and gave her a huge hug. “You’re the bestest Gran’ma in the whole world!”
Cory giggled as he leaned over to Sean and whispered “you know what babe? I think Mom is starting to spoil our son already!”
Sean gave Cory a quick kiss before replying. “Yeah, maybe so; but she used to spoil you too, and look how you turned out!”
Teri put Timmy down and turned to the boys. “Cory, John and I will be joining you. Once you make the treaty official, I’ll sit down with him and start working out the staffing details. Since this is a diplomatic visit, Starfleet has given you John as your security escort. Judge Robison wants to see me while we are down there, so I’ll meet up with you after you finish the ceremonies. Are you sure that you are ready for this?” The look that flashed across Cory’s face was all the answer she needed. Teri pulled out a chair and sat down. “Come here, son.”
Cory shuffled over to Teri, and didn’t resist when she sat him on her lap. He wrapped his arms around her, laid his head on her shoulder, and softly replied through his silent tears. “I don’t know, Mom. I’m trying so hard to make you proud of me. You and Sean went through so much to get me back, I can’t let you down.”
Teri pulled the young teen close to her. “Cory, you have nothing to prove to either of us. Every day you make me proud just because you are here. I knew about you and Sean’s relationship before Mike died; the only thing that kept Sean going was the chance that you would be back someday. I know that legally you are an adult, but there are still a lot of things you need to learn. The only thing that you could do that would let me down is work yourself to the point that you end up sick again. You are my son, nothing will ever change that. Slow down some, the world won’t stop because you didn’t finish everything today. I love you, son; all you have to do is ask and I’ll find you help to solve the problems you want fixed.”
“Thanks; I love you mommy.” Cory sobbed as he stuffed his face in Teri’s shoulder and cried out the stress he had been holding in. After a few minutes of Teri holding him, rubbing his back while soothing him with words, Cory fell silent against her shoulder.
Teri smiled once Tyler announced “He’s okay now, he’s sleepin’.” She watched with pride as Sean quietly moved the meeting to the rec room, leaving Teri and Cory in peace. A half hour later, Cory finally stirred from his sleep. He looked at Teri sheepishly.
“Sorry mom, I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you.”
Teri grinned as she replied. “It’s okay, Cory. You were a few years overdue for it anyway. Are you feeling better now?”
“Yeah, thanks! I’m not sure if it was while I was sleepin’ or before; but I remembered you used to ask me if I needed ‘mommy cuddles’ whenever I was feelin’ bad. I guess I still need them occasionally, don’t I?”
“Whenever you want them, son. That’s the first time in a couple of days you’ve said anything about another memory coming up; has it slowed down or are you just not saying anything?”
Cory grinned. “I really don’t think you wanna hear about some of the latest ones, they’re kinda personal. Sean and I usually grab some quiet time every couple of hours so he can check up on me; it’s just small things now, I think all the big stuff is done with. I don’t have any more big stuff to come up, do I?”
Teri kissed Cory’s forehead. “Unless it was something that I don’t know about, I think you have made it through all of the big memories, Cory. I’m glad to see that you and Sean have worked out a way to discuss them as they come up, keep that up and everything should be just fine. Just remember that you can still come to me if you want to or need to, okay?”
“Sure thing, Mom.” Cory replied as he kissed her cheek. “Thanks again. I guess I better go find out what my brothers are getting into.”
Teri chuckled as she replied. “I’ll make it easy on you; last I saw Timmy was dragging Ricky through the house toward the pool. He’s definitely taking after you already; both of them were wearing their birthday suits!”
It took Cory a second to digest what Teri had said, then he turned beet red with embarrassment. “MOM! I never … Not that much … Sean made me do it!”
“Yeah, that’s why you were always pulling him. Get out there and have some fun, I’ll come get you when its time to get ready.”
Cory gave his mom a quick hug, then hopped up and rocketed towards the pool. By the time he reached the doorway to the pool deck, the only clothing left on his body was his shirt, which he tore off and tossed toward the changing room as he opened the door and ran onto the pool deck. Five feet from the doorway, he found himself with a slippery wet five year old trying to shimmy his way into Cory’s arms.
“Hey lil’ guy, whatcha’ been doin’?” Cory asked Timmy as he picked him up and put him on his hip.
“Waitin’ on you, Daddy!” Timmy giggled.
“I can see that, that’s why you’re all wet, ain’t it squirt.” Cory said with a smile. “Let’s hit the slide, then we’ll find your Pop, okay?”
“Yippee! Let’s go, Daddy!” Timmy squealed in glee. After seven trips down the slide Timmy was finally satisfied, so they headed over to the fence where Sean was sitting watching the fun.
“You okay, Cor?” Sean asked, concern in his voice.
“I’m fine now, bro. I guess I was just overdue for my cuddles from Mom. I guess it’s kinda like our favorite rug-rat here, he’s gotta have his daddy and poppa cuddles or he starts stressin’.”
An hour and a half later, Derek came out to get the boys. He stood in the doorway for a minute, unwilling to disrupt their carefree innocence as they frolicked naked in the pool. Finally, he cleared his throat. “Guys, its time to come in!” To his surprise, they all immediately climbed out of the pool. Everyone started playfully shaking the excess water from their heads all over each other, then they filed past Derek into the changing room.
The adults had trouble keeping straight faces when all the boys filed into the Dining room a few minutes later. Each of them were dry with their hair combed neatly, wearing nothing but smiles. Teri held back laughter as she asked “Don’t you boys think you might have forgot something?”
Adam responded for the group. “Since all of our clothes were gone, we figured going nude was okay.”
Teri shook her head. “Did you think about the fact that most of you never made it to the changing room with your clothes? It took Helen and I five minutes to find all of them! Next time, at least carry them to the room, okay? You all know Helen’s rules at the table, so hurry up.”
As soon as the boys were out of earshot, Dan turned to Teri and told her between chuckles “You know, six months ago JJ would not have even attempted that! As crazy as it sounds, I’m glad to see it, for all of the boys. They are all coming out of their shells and having fun, something a lot of them have never been able to do.”
Helen overheard as she sat the food on the table. “Dan, if I know Kelly we haven’t seen the end of it. If I may make a suggestion, if they do what I think they will just laugh and roll with it. Kelly knows better than to make this a habit.”
Everyone nodded their heads and sat back to see what happened. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later Kelly led the group back to the table; all of them now in tee-shirts and sandals, nothing else. Before anyone could say anything, Kelly announced “Mom says we gotta have shirts and shoes at the table! She didn’t say nuthin’ about shorts!”
Teri laughed as she shook her head in wonder. “Kelly, you’re going to grow up to be a great lawyer with that outlook! After today add at least underwear to the list; we don’t need any of you trying to eat the wrong hot dog at the table.”
All of the boys giggled at her implied meaning as they all acknowledged the new rule. The room broke into laughter when Andy commented a little too loudly “Helen’s gonna have to get some big hot dog buns for Alec.”
Once everyone settled down, Travis spoke up. “Andy, I know it’s none of my business, but I gotta look out for my bro; he’s looked out for me all my life so it’s my turn. Are you in love with Alec, do you want to be his boyfriend?”
You could hear a pin drop in the silence that followed. Austin’s jaw dropped in shock; in all the years he had known Travis, the boy had never been that forward with anyone. It took a full minute before Andy could form a response.
“You know, Trav, I’ve been tryin’ to figure that out all day. Ever since we met at the party, I felt better whenever Alec was around. I used to think it was just ’cause he was willin’ to be my friend, even though he’s two years older than me. Sittin’ with him in class today, I couldn’t stop lookin’ at him and my belly was tingling. Is that what love is like?”
Before anyone could answer, JJ reached over and placed his hand on Andy’s shoulder. “Bro, that’s exactly how I felt the day I saw Adam running from the motel room. I ignored everyone telling me to stop and ran over to meet him. As soon as we started talking to each other I knew I wanted to be his partner forever; I want to protect him so he never has to feel the hurt he felt again.”
Travis smiled. “You got it bad, Andy. Okay Alec, time to ‘fess up bro. And before you start, no trying to protect anyone’s feelin’s; I’ll know if you do it, I’ve watched you too many years. You’ve never lied to me bro, please don’t start now.”
Alec looked at Travis in shock. “Dang bro, you musta pulverized that shell when you broke out of it! Derek, could you add diplomacy to his training? Okay, I guess it’s best to face this now. Andy, please wait until I am done for your answer; I have to cover a few things that don’t affect my feelings today first, okay?”
Andy nodded his head and sat back to listen.
Alec leaned on the table and began. “Up until a few days ago I hadn’t allowed myself to consider any relationships. I would look at girls and think they were cute; but I knew if I started dating that Trav would be at home alone with our old father. I couldn’t take the chance of him getting hurt, so I just told everyone my father wouldn’t let me date. I didn’t even want to chance the soccer team until Doc promised to keep Trav over there until I got home. I almost didn’t come to the party; I felt like I was taking advantage of Doc’s offer. Just as I was about to turn it down, Trav called me on the emergency cell phones we had to see how the game went. I told him how we did, and had just told him that I was going to skip the party when he put Doc on the line. You remember that Doc? You ordered me to go; you told me that if I didn’t go I would regret it later. I’m not sure how you knew, but two things happened at that party. The first was I learned about how everyone here has helped each other, and the second was that I overheard Kelly being given the number here. I put the number in my phone just in case; and now we are both safe.”
Alec paused for a second. In the quiet, everyone heard as Timmy asked Cory “Daddy, was it Unca’ Mikey?”
“Yes son, that was Uncle Mikey helping.”
Alec picked up where he left off. “As you see, he did good work. While I was at the party, I met this carrot-top kid. When he introduced himself as the ‘token straight kid’ we both laughed and pretty much hung together the rest of the day. He actually impressed me; most kids his age try to play big shot when they are with older kids, but he was just being himself. He was smart but didn’t flaunt it, and had a sense of humor that kept me laughing. When I got home that night, I realized I might have just missed a real good friendship. I had finally decided to call here to see if I could get Andy’s number, since Sean wasn’t in school anymore, when things went nuts at the old house. It was weird, it felt like my heart jumped when I found out Andy was staying here. I didn’t think anything of it; he said he was straight and I had never even considered my options so I assumed I was too. This morning I think we shocked each other, and both of us have had to do a lot of thinking today. Andy is right, he’s 12 and I’m 14. I thought a lot about that today; I was always told that its wrong to date someone who is not your age.” Alec saw the dejected look on Andy’s face; he held up his finger to show Andy he needed to wait, then Alec continued. “If I was 24 and Andy was 22 nobody would say anything; so that means it’s a stupid rule that means nothing. After I figured that out, I started to reconsider what I felt. Andy is cute, funny, and smart. My only worry was if he was just having a crush or if it’s something else.”
Tyler interrupted. “Get over it, dude. Trust me, it ain’t no crush! Neither one of ya’ have crushes!”
“You know, there’s nothing worse than an eight-year-old empath who thinks he’s Dr. Ruth!” Alec quipped. “Anyways, when Trav made you explain your feelings Andy I got my answer. You might not have recognized it, but we both are feeling the same. I would have liked to do this in a little more romantic setting, but a certain nosy little brother won’t let me. Andy, will you be my boyfriend?”
“YES!!” Andy exclaimed as he ducked under the table and popped back up in front of Alec, plopping himself on Alec’s lap chest to chest. The boys wrapped their arms around each other and kissed to seal the new relationship.
Sean giggled as he got up and walked over to the pair. He leaned over and whispered so both could hear “Hey guys, settle it down. No making mayonnaise at the table!” Alec and Andy pulled apart and looked at Sean with confused looks. When Sean pointed to the tents under their tee-shirts both boys blushed and nodded. Kelly got up and moved to where Andy had been sitting, then Sean pried the two boys apart and sat Andy in the vacated seat next to Alec. Before heading back to his seat, Sean told both boys “Hey guys, before you do anything, talk to JJ and Adam. Take this slow, you don’t need to go all out at once. If you have any questions JJ or Adam can’t answer, ask Cor and I when we get back, okay?”
All things considered, the meal went fairly smooth after the initial theatrics. As they finished, Austin raised his hand for quiet. “While we are all together, I want to take this chance to say a few things. First off, Carrie and I both want to thank all of you boys. You not only made Gabe and Ricky feel welcome, but you have went out of your way to make them a part of your group. I saw something tonight at this table I never thought I’d see; a group of youths calmly helping some of their own sort out new emotions. If I had any doubt you were all still kids that was lost when you decided to eat dinner bare-butt; yet in about thirty minutes I’m going to be traveling with some of you, preferably fully dressed, to witness as you finalize a history-making treaty. I have watched as my eldest son not only cuddled his new little brother whenever he needed it, but included his new brother in whatever he was doing. I just heard my future son-in-law take charge of a situation for probably the first time in his life. Trav, your timing might need work, but I’m proud of how you handled it. Great job, Son. Alec, Andrew; congratulations and best wishes. Alec, I do have some advice for you; there will be times that Andrew will want to do things that seem childish to you. When that happens, do them with him and enjoy it; those are things you missed out on and you’re getting a second chance to learn from them. Before I put you all to sleep, thanks Teri for raising such wonderful boys.”
Realizing the speech was over, the boys scampered away from the table and rushed upstairs before anyone else could start a speech. As soon as they hit the bedroom doorway, the tee-shirts were off and the group that was staying sprawled out on the bed. Cory, Sean, Kelly, and the twins began to get dressed while shooting looks of longing at the boys on the bed.
As he finished dressing, Cory looked around the room. “Okay, now for the fun part! Kelly, we need to trap your midget fan club and get some clothes on them!”
“We ain’t midgets! We’re kids!” the boys heard Timmy giggle from the far side of the bed. “Yeah, that’s right!” Ricky chimed in.
Cory motioned the twins to go over the top to get to the other side of the bed. Kelly took the foot of the bed, and Sean joined Cory on the last side. Cory counted down with his fingers and the boys attacked at once. A few seconds later it was over, the twins having captured Ricky before he slid under the bed and Kelly catching Timmy as he tried to sneak out from under the foot of the bed.
Cory smiled as the giggling boys were presented to him. “Okay guys, you gotta get dressed now. You better hurry up, or else you won’t get to meet a real Indian Chief!”
“REALLY!?” both boys exclaimed with wide eyes. Timmy wiggled around to look at Kelly. “C’mon Unca’ Kelly! You gotta help us get ready to see a real Indian!”
Kelly looked over at Sean and Cory; they both just smiled and nodded for him to go ahead. A few minutes later, both kids were dressed and begging to get going.
The seven boys headed down the stairs, Timmy on Cory’s back and Ricky on Sean’s. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, they found Teri, John, Austin and Derek waiting on them.
“Is everyone ready?” John asked.
“Just a second, John.” Sean replied. He placed Ricky on the ground and turned the boy to face him. “Ricky, I don’t want you to get scared, so I’m gonna tell you what’s going to happen, okay?”
Ricky nodded his head and waited for Sean to continue.
“Okay little buddy. In a couple of minutes, John is going to call TerraMain we are ready to go. They are going to use what’s known as a transporter to move us really fast to get there. You will feel like your whole body is tickling, then the next thing you will see is two rooms, one at TerraMain and one in Orlando. All I need you to do is to stand really still until you see me hold out my hand for you, okay?”
“Okay, Pop!” Ricky answered with a grin.
Sean did a double-take. He considered his words carefully before responding, afraid to send Ricky back into his shell. “It’s okay for you to call me Pop if you want, but can you tell me why you want to?”
“Sure! Unca’ Kyle says Timmy and I’s boyfriends. You’re Timmy’s Pop, so that makes you my Pop-in-law, right?”
Sean grinned at the little imp in front of him. “If you put it that way, I guess you’re right. You know, that means you gotta listen to me just like Timmy does if you’re gonna call me Pop.”
Ricky grinned and rolled his eyes. “That’s easy! If you say no, we just ask Grandma!”
Sean laughed and playfully swatted Ricky’s butt. “Whatever, squirt! You ready to go?”
Ricky nodded his head vigorously and moved to stand next to Timmy.
John looked to make sure everyone was ready, then opened his communicator. “TerraMain Transporter Control, this is Commander John Martin. Clan Short diplomatic party ready to transport, final destination Orlando. I have eleven to beam up.”
“This is TerraMain Control. Understand Diplomatic party of eleven, final destination Orlando. Standing by for your order, Commander. You are number one in line.”
John took one last look to ensure everyone was ready. “TerraMain, energize.”
As the group dematerialized from the hallway, the history of the future began to be rewritten …..