Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 22

Ewa Beach CIC Dining Room

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 9:02 AM HTZ

All the kids going to school had left the CIC. KC and Fred left for their surfing excursion with their friends and security escorts. Troy and Sean had outlined the jobs of Morale Rimmers for Chris and Jay. Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick gave their little pep talk and also went to school. Some kids went to the rec room, others went to Oneula Beach, and others went to their dorm room, like Phil, Owen, Jake and Terry. Only Chris, Jay, Lance, Scott, Erik and Travis remained at the table they had eaten breakfast on. Reyes and Ryan asked to join the group of six fuzzy friends.

Gesturing to two available seats, Chris giggled, "Wipe that grin off your face, Reyes."

Sitting down, Reyes told Ryan, "I brought Chris here with Pat and Rafe late Friday morning. I brought Lance, Scott and Travis here a few hours later."

"Baby Rimmers grow up so fast," Ryan joked.

Jay playfully warned, "You're going to get dunked, both of you."

"No, I already have been," Reyes chuckled. "Your initiation comes when you least expect it."

"First by all the other Core Rimmers and then by the dorm leadership," Travis cheekily grinned.

Erik giggled, "Horacio did say that's the new initiation routine."

Scott smirked, "What I can't figure out is why Prez singled me, Lance, Trav and Erik out as being watched."

"That's easy," Ryan smiled. "You came over needing gear and information. I was there and saw it myself. Neither you or Lance were shy about any of it, and you were grateful afterwards. You performed on stage for the kids yesterday afternoon, and they loved it. We heard about dinner last night too; all six of you with Sean and Troy. You're good examples for other kids."

Reyes nodded, "Liki and Keanu are on the list, and so are Stephen Wickes and Aaron Farris. You guys have confidence the other four are still building. One thing I know about my dad, pop, Prez and Keith is that they're patient. Including Chris and Jay, there are eighteen Core Rimmers now, and almost four hundred kids across two bases. That's twenty-two kids each, on average. Now that I think of it, that's pretty close to how many kids might approach any of us, for any reason, every day. Kaleo told me how weird it was for him with kids looking up to him during our first few days. I hadn't been a Core Rimmer twelve hours when I did my first retrieval. None of these kids want to be pitied; they want to be shown normal everything; here's normal love, here's normal family, here's a normal big brother. Jay and Chris did that. You four aren't first, Scott, but try and convince me you're not thrilled with the possibility."

Scott checked with Lance, who shrugged, "It's always good to be recognized, but we haven't done diddly."

"When push comes to shove, you will," Jay easily responded. "What did me and Chris do? We mentioned Mr. Fuzzy. Alden got us some and all the kids went nuts over him. You four are just as responsible for the Mr. Fuzzy G-strings as Chris and I are."

Chris reminded, "That was made very clear on the video too."

"Right now, you're building your partnership," Reyes added. "That comes first in all our minds. Our families and closest relationships are most important, without which none of us could perform any duties at all. If two of eighteen are busy with relationship necessities, those twenty-two kids per day becomes twenty-six. We desperately need a larger leadership team. As of our morning status report, another eighty level three orphans will be here within a week. Four-hundred-eighty kids across eighteen of us is twenty-eight kids, and if two are busy, it becomes thirty-two kids each per day. Our kids supported themselves Friday, when we had Core Rimmers scattered around, dealing with refugees. That was only possible because the original Core Rimmers provided enough support and encouragement to allow it to happen."

Erik wondered, "What can we do?"

Reyes shrugged, "What you do automatically and naturally. Last week, one kid went to a funeral for his parents. Seeing a lot of kids in the dumps about it, Troy had a simple sing-along, which helped everybody."

"That's exactly what Prez told us," Chris recalled. "What's automatic and natural makes us able to do the job. Sean also mentioned the sing-along, and how he and Troy became Core Rimmers." At the absurdity, he giggled, "All we did was have a silly chat with you and Lance in the shower. Then Jay mentioned Mr. Fuzzy. Now everybody has a Mr. Fuzzy."

Jay wondered, "What do we do now?"

"We meet the UNIT dudes in the Command Center and get to know how to use the equipment," Reyes answered. "Other than just being available for the kids, the only other thing you'll have on your plate later today is meeting your personal security. You're observers and learners today. Any rescue or retrieval I can't handle alone, I'll ask Prez for help. You could come along, if you want, but as learners and observers."

Jay's comm-badge chirped, and Doc Andrews sniggered, "Mr. Montigua, we had an appointment at nine. You're not a Core Rimmer much more than an hour and already forgetting simple things?"

Chris gasped and hurried to his feet. Also standing, Jay tapped his comm-badge and chuckled, "We're on our way, Doc. Jay out." He then told Reyes, "We'll be back soon to check out the Command Center."

Nodding, Reyes smiled, "Kewl, bro."

"We'll wait here," Ryan said. He pushed his chair out and patted his thighs for Reyes to come sit on his lap. Thinking about it for half a second, Reyes smiled and nodded, and then swapped seats. He purposefully chose Ryan's unbruised left thigh. 

Lance and Scott decided to get their acoustic guitars and practice. Erik and Travis joined them. All four said, "See ya later," to Reyes and Ryan.

Jay took Chris' hand, and with his other hand tapped his sub-vocal for the first time, calling, "Alden, please take me and Chris to Doc Andrews."

Alden giggled, "Engaging emergency Rimmer transport system," and then executed the order.

Upon arrival, Jay asked, "Doc, can something be done to get this cast off faster?"

Standing up from his desk chair, Doc Andrews nodded, "With transporters. It's a method I'd rather use to augment and speed up healing. I've been relying on the bio-bed only, because I'd prefer it if your body actually manufactured the cells to heal."

Chris scowled and blinked, "You mean use both transporters and natural healing?"

Going to the boys, Doc Andrews smiled, "Precisely that, Chris. Twice per day, in twelve hour intervals, you'll go through the transporter and back onto the bio-bed, so I can check the bone alignment. The bio-bed speeds up cell growth, while the transporter actually creates cells. Come back tonight around nine-thirty, again tomorrow morning and night at the same time, and we'll get the cast off after the final treatment. All Jay would need then is a wrist support Ace bandage and we'll check again Thursday morning."

Chris wordlessly checked with Jay. Nodding, Jay grinned, "I have jobs to do, one for the division and another for Chris."

Blushing, Chris giggled, "We're doin' fine, Jay."

Shaking his head and not caring that the doctor was there, Jay firmly said, "The faster we can look into each other's eyes, the quicker you'll get over last Friday, baby." He then asked the doctor, "What do I need to do?"

"Lay on the bio-bed," Doc Andrews instructed. All three walked over and Jay hopped up onto the bio-bed, and then lay down. Doc Andrews called Doc Howard in the room to assist, and then explained, "She's Starfleet and has done this many times. As I said, I prefer the bio-bed method which slightly speeds up the cell growth, but obviously not at the same pace as the transporter method. Another thing you'll need to know is the occasional throbbing and twinges you're feeling in your broken wrist will seem almost constant for the next two days. That's normal and nothing to be concerned about."

Jay confirmed, "I can easily deal."

Entering the room, Doc Howard ordered, "Alden, lock onto Jason. For this procedure, we will use the slower Starfleet transport method. I will control parameters for rematerialization from here."

"Yes, Ma'am," Alden replied, and then giggled, "Stop shivering, Jay!"

"The table's cold!" Jay laughed.

Chris grinned, "We've adjusted to the Hawaiian climate. Anything below seventy degrees is frigid."

"So have another late night super-soaker battle," Doc Howard teased.

Fiercely blushing and softly chortling, Chris turned away from the doctors and bio-bed. Jay grinned, "The best part was playing cocoon afterward, rolled up under the blanket, huh baby?"

"You used to embarrass me when we were alone," Chris giggled.

Jay asked the doctors, "Did I say something embarrassing?"

Shaking her head, Doc Howard smiled, "I've heard far worse."

Doc Andrews grinned, "However, your core body temperature has risen point-four degrees, Core Rimmer."

"Blame Mr. Fuzzy play time withdrawal," Jay joked.

Chris giggled, "Check his brain in the transport, Doc. The concussion was far worse than diagnosed. It's definitely brain damage."

Doc Howard called, "Alden, we're ready for transport." 

Jay faded off the table and then slowly rematerialized. "That tickled!" Jay cheered, shimmied and squirmed.

"Hold still so we can check the alignment," Doc Andrews chuckled.

Chris laughed, "Of your brain cells, Jay!"

A few moments later, Doc Howard sang, "All done and looking perfect."

Sitting up, Jay confirmed, "Twice a day, today and tomorrow, then you can cut this damned cast off?" The doctors nodded and agreed. Lifting his broken wrist, Jay smirked, "That's a weird feeling, like the first day after it was set."

Helping Jay down off the bio-bed, Doc Andrews reminded, "Calcium builds bone, so drink plenty of extra milk today and tomorrow. I'll see you at nine-thirty tonight, in this same room."

Nodding, Jay prompted, "If I'm not waiting here, don't screw up your night waiting on me. Just call and I'll have Alden transport me."

Reaching for Jay's hand, Chris corrected, "Us."

Pulling Chris into his arms, Jay softly joked, "Drain bamaged." He started dancing out of the doctors' exam room, never releasing his grip on Chris. Their eyes locked, peering deeply and seeing many years of friendship and love. They went all the way down the hall and into the reception area hip-to-hip. Noticing several adult men and women grinning at them, Chris began happily giggling and rested his head on Jay's shoulder. Jay whispered, "We're not in Kansas any more, Toto."

"Are you calling me a dog?" Chris giggled. Using his butt and one foot, Chris pushed the door open.

Holding back until they were outside the building, Jay grinned, "Okay, you can choose to be Toto or Dorothy, but one way or another, we're gettin' busy the first chance we get."

Separating so they could walk normally, Chris took Jay's left hand in his right hand, smiling, "You've changed a little since getting here."

Nodding, Jay reminded, "After every argument, I always said that I wished it could be different. It was no lie. This is how I've always wanted to be, baby. What I only shared with you, alone and behind a closed door, is what I'm sharing with everybody. You were more scared and for much longer than I was, but I'll never forget the intensity of the fear. We're gonna live our lives together, and we'll always share the memories built since we were five. There's only one thing that worries me."

Turning to his lover, Chris wondered, "And that is?"

Jay sighed, "The first time some homophobe mocks me or us, how will I react? I doubt I could ignore it. More than likely, someone is going to get severely hurt. I don't want to be an embarrassment to the Clan, but I might not have a choice."

Chris simply stated, "To keep you the way you are now, I'd kill the bastard and not think twice about it."

"You might not get the chance."

Carrying acoustic guitar cases and their MacBook computers, Scott and Lance led Erik and Travis to a picnic table behind townhouse number six. It was a tree lined, shaded area, where Lance wouldn't have to worry about getting a sun burn. Also, it was considered a private area where Lance and Scott could practice without drawing a crowd and needing to perform. They had warned Erik and Travis that playing songs weren't in the plan, but neither of their friends were bothered.

The first thing checked was the wireless Internet connections on their MacBooks. It was quickly confirmed to be as good as the dorm, so the guitar cases were opened. Erik read the web page opened on Lance's computer. Lance and Scott checked their guitars' tuning. Travis asked Erik, "Does that make sense to you?"

"A little bit," Erik scowled.

Travis wondered, "Why don't you ask for a guitar?"

Erik shrugged, "I guess I could, but is it what I'll be primarily studying? All these things the Clan has given us costs big bucks. I guess I don't want to waste time or money until I take the placement test."

Travis nodded then softly wondered, "What if I mentioned it in front of them, and we'll see where it leads?"

Giggling, Erik lost interest in the web page, got up and made one of Travis' thighs his new seat. "You've got that look, Champ," Erik giggled. None of the four sitting around the picnic table realized they were being watched from the upstairs windows of two nearby townhomes.

Travis stole a kiss then smiled, "I'd like it if it's something you'd like to do."

"Why won't you learn an instrument with me?" Erik asked, and then stole a kiss of his own.

"Since I can barely tie my shoelaces on a good day, no string instruments for me," Travis joked.

Erik grinned, "We'll find a wind instrument you can blow." Lance lost it and cracked up.

Scott sniggered, "There are percussion instruments you can bang too, Trav."

Travis chuckled, "It's funny you brought that up. Are you dudes waking up early, like us, just for rolling around the bed time?"

Scott nodded and chuckled, "This morning I needed a creamy snack."

"Tomorrow morning it's my turn," Lance giggled.

Erik knowingly grinned, "You dudes got carried away yesterday?"

When Lance and Scott nodded, Travis smiled, "We've agreed, intercourse no more than twice a day each."

"Oral rules," Scott softly sniggered. Lance locked eyes with Scott. "It's true," Scott smiled. "Intercourse is most awesome, but we both need recovery time. Orally, I can and will give you whatever you need, the moment you say or show me that you need it."

Lance warmly smiled, "Yeah?"

"Absolutely!" Scott cheered, and then explained, "As much as I'd love to be able to, we can't go anally as often as we need or want. Oral can be fast or slow, however we need or want it to be."

Lance dreamily sighed, "If we don't start playing music, we might as well pack it up." Erik and Travis softly chortled. Lance giggled, "I owe Scott. I'm just barely able to wait. Before lunch, I'm gettin' an appetizer." He then leaned over and gave Scott a tasty, tender kiss.

One of the townhouse sliding doors opened. A dark haired boy about thirteen-years-old stepped outside, waved and closed the door. Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott disjointedly said, "Hey."

Scott queried, "We weren't disturbing you, I hope?"

Walking around the small patio table and down the steps, the boy shook his head and smiled, "Not at all. I was messing around on my PC inside, knowing I needed to get out and meet some kids here, but a little overwhelmed." Approaching the table, he then introduced himself. "I'm Angelo Diaz; my mom's one of the math and music teachers here."

Starting with Erik and Travis, more introductions traveled around to Scott and lastly with Lance. Taking a seat on the same bench as Lance and across from Travis and Erik, Angelo smiled, "Don't let me interrupt. I only came out because four is easier than four hundred, and I wanted to hear you guys play."

Scott checked with Lance, prodding, "Name it."

Lance offered, "Tangerine?"

"You've got vocals?"

Lance nodded, "Sure, and you take the rhythm, I'll do the lead fills."

Scott started playing the song and moments later Lance started singing. Once again, Erik and Travis were pleasantly surprised. Although neither Erik nor Travis were very familiar with the tune, they recognized it. Angelo had never heard the song before at all. Lance was singing bluesy and rather high, occasionally playing nice fills to Scott's steady rhythm guitar. A few kids by the pools heard them and wandered over. Amongst the group were Kade and Karey Oldcambus, Jeff Cummings and Thomas Cork. All four introduced themselves to Angelo. Lance played the guitar solo, careful to make the notes sustain as best he could. At the end of the song, the small audience of seven applauded.

Kade smiled, "You dudes are good."

Nodding at his twin, Karey wondered, "Why don't y'all come play over by the pools?"

Scott chuckled, "Actually, we only came out to practice, guys. We weren't planning on playing too many songs, but just trying to get as good as Platinum Habits."

Lance nodded, "It's too nice out to be trapped indoors."

Jeff Cummings giggled, "Sorry, dudes. If you change your minds, it'll be kewl."

Nodding, Thomas said, "There's not too many over there, thirty or so."

"Not too many," Lance giggled.

Kade, Karey and Jeff started back to the pools. Thomas shrugged and smiled, "Compared to yesterday's concert for almost two hundred?"

"Good point," Scott sniggered. Giggling, Thomas turned and hurried after his friends.

Angelo smiled, "They're really nice."

Erik nodded, "Everyone here is. Although I haven't met all four hundred, every kid I've met and talked with has been kewl."

Travis shared, "The dudes in our dorm are exceptionally kewl, dude."

Uncertainly, Angelo glanced around, carefully wondering, "You dudes are boyfriends?" All four nodded and widely smiled. Erik clung onto Travis a bit tighter and stole a kiss. Angelo smiled, "Kewl. I'm pretty sure I'm gay too; at least those are the thoughts flying through my mind since we moved here Saturday."

Travis checked, "Only since you moved here?"

Angelo shrugged, "More so here than ever."

"That sounds very instigated, if ya ask me," Erik giggled.

Feeling his face flushing red, Angelo nodded and chuckled, "Fate dropped me in a place where my next door neighbor's son turns me into a blubbering and drooling veg."

Lance giggled, "Have you met, and do you know his name?"

Angelo nodded, "His name's Reggie." Seemingly wobbling on his seat, Angelo dreamily sighed, "I've never ever thought..." Raising their eyebrows at Angelo and then at each other, Scott and Travis widely grinned. Lance covered his mouth and went into a giggling fit. Still sitting on Travis' lap, Erik didn't cover his mouth and was therefore giggling louder. Snapping out of his trance, Angelo blushed and sniggered, "Kewl. The truth is, I've seen plenty of handsome snobs who aren't even worth knowing. Reggie's got all them dudes beat by light years, in appearance and in personality. Every time I saw him, I swear, I felt like I was walking in the clouds. Now, if I could manage to do more than gurgle like a fish out of water around him, life would be far less frustrating."

Now knowing what they might've looked like when hooking up with their partners, Scott and Travis sputtered, but couldn't hold it back and roared laughing. Turning even redder, Angelo uncontrollably giggled, "Just tell me what to do, before my mom notices all her hand lotion is gone!" All five boys howled.

"Get him alone and tell him how you feel," Erik giggled.

Travis nodded, "My exact words to Erik, only minutes after we met, were; 'Why do I feel like I have to live the rest of my life within arms' reach of you?' The scariest part was, I was definitely confused, but dead serious, and if he had laughed, I would've self destructed."

"So I slowly moved closer and closer, until we were toe-to-toe," Erik smiled at Travis and the memory. "I admitted that I still didn't feel we were close enough. One kiss led to another deeper kiss, and many more. Needless to say, we found a way to be closer than toe-to-toe."

Lance smiled, "Me and Scott just hooked up yesterday, after acting like the other's shadow for three whole days. It's really scary at first, but once it's out in the open, everything becomes awesome."

Scott recommended, "Get Reggie someplace private, where you both feel safe. You have to tell him how you feel. You need to hear every syllable he speaks, which is easy when the feelings are already really intense." Lance suddenly stood and put his guitar back in its case. He went to Scott and took his guitar. Scott sniggered, "What's goin' on, SLB?"

Putting Scott's guitar away, Lance laughed, "You're looking at Angelo, but obviously talking to me!" Angelo, Erik and Travis cracked up.

"Only partly," Scott chortled, and patted his lap for Lance to have a seat. Once Lance had sat on his lap, Scott planted a really passionate kiss.

Erik smiled, "It's all true, Angelo. I felt weak in the knees with Trav. There's never been any dude anything like him. As soon as we shared our feelings, I couldn't wait to hold him tight. Our first kisses were really passionate; completely captivating in every way."

Scott wondered, "Which townhouse is Reggie in?"

Gesturing behind him and to the left, Angelo answered, "Number four."

Lance asked, "Do you think he's home?"

Angelo shrugged, "I'm not sure."

"Go find out," Travis suggested. Caught like a deer in headlights, Angelo could only blankly stare.

Scott smiled, "You've felt this way for three days, Angelo. Do you want a fourth day of more mixed up stuff?"

Lance grinned, "You could wait for him to say something? If Scott waited for me, we might still be waiting. Luckily, he said what I could barely let myself think."

After thinking about it many moments, Angelo softly groaned, "Oh my God, it really is up to me."

Scott nodded and grinned, "You came out to say hi to us. If he's home, then why hasn't he come outside? Is he shy, or is he twice as scared because you're here? It's your call, of course, but I would need to find out, for my own sanity."

Lance giggled, "I made you insane?"

"Almost," Scott chuckled. Lance returned the passionate kiss he had received minutes earlier.

Turning his attention to Erik and Travis, Angelo wondered, "Is there an easier way this can be done?"

Shrugging, Travis chuckled, "If you find one, let us know about it."

Erik smiled, "Completely alone and in the safest place possible, you'll still feel like the world might end. My old world had just ended, during Battle Of Earth. John Hundser introduced me to Trav, and then asked if we wanted to be roommates. I already knew when I nodded my head that I was falling in love."

"That fast?" Angelo grinned.

Rapidly nodding, Erik admitted, "The attraction and vibe was that intense. When I looked in his eyes, I knew I had found my life partner."

"It was the same with Reggie," Angelo shared. "We saw each other moving in, Saturday and Sunday. I've never wanted to be so close to anyone else before."

Travis suggested, "Then it's more than attraction. Something is happening that can't be ignored."

Gesturing to Lance and Scott who were still attached at the mouth, Angelo giggled, "Do they come up for air?"

Nodding, Travis sniggered, "You'll find out soon enough, hugs and kisses are requirements. There's really not much choice in the matter."

Angelo grunted, and then smirked, "I think I'll brush my teeth again, just in case. Are you dudes hangin' around?"

Travis shrugged. Erik giggled, "It depends on Scott and Lance." Lance flashed a thumb-up and affirmatively hummed into Scott's mouth.

Standing up, Angelo sighed, "Thinking and wondering ain't cuttin' it." He warmly smiled, "I'll bring Reggie around to meet you. Thanks for the help, dudes, you've been awesome."

Erik waved and Travis grinned, "No charge, dude." 

Angelo went back up the porch steps and into his townhouse. He hurried through the dining room and raced upstairs, wanting to get his teeth brushed quickly, before his ability to speak vanished and he chickened out before even trying to knock on the Combs' front door.

Playing video games on the floor of her new bedroom, nine-year-old Cecelia wondered, "What's goin' on, bro?" Angelo stepped out of the bathroom with a toothbrush in his mouth. "Oh," Cecelia grinned, "that's a good reason to fly up the steps. I've done that... never in my life." Angelo squinted at his little sister, and returned to the sink and mirror. Pausing her game, Cecelia went to the bathroom door, giggling, "That's twice you brushed your teeth today. Darn teeth turn black in under two hours, ya gotta keep scrubbing and scrubbing."

Leaning over the sink, Angelo spit out the suds, and then commented, "Where's your broom, sis?"

"Idling in my room," Cecelia squinted.

"Fly away," Angelo suggested, and then closed the door.

"I'm telling mom!" Cecelia loudly warned.

Giving himself a careful once-over in the mirror, Angelo grinned and teased, "I'm telling mom! I'm telling mom! Go ahead, brat. She'll ask why you were so interested in watching me brush my teeth. Your only answer is to admit you're being a witchy little woman. Have fun with that."

Storming back to her room, Cecelia slammed the door.

"I need this," Angelo sarcastically remarked. He then concentrated and reviewed what he could possibly say to Reggie. Every instinct said that he should simply pull Reggie into his arms and plant a big sloppy wet one. Rolling his eyes and grinning at the idea, Angelo shook his head and decided on a more mellow approach. He cupped his hand before his mouth to check his breath, and then sniffed each armpit, as if the shower he had taken earlier that morning and the deodorant he put on had worn off. Concluding he was about as presentable as possible, Angelo opened the bathroom door, went down stairs and out the front door.

Everything that had been kewl started spinning as Angelo climbed the steps to townhouse number four. He rang the bell. In seconds, the door opened. Recalling Reggie Combs' younger brother's name, Angelo confirmed, "Cameron, right?"

The ten-year-old boy nodded. "You're Angelo, from next door."

Nodding, Angelo asked, "Is Reggie home?"

"He's upstairs," Cameron stated, and then offered, "I'll call him."

"Kewl," Angelo smiled, and wished he had a kewl little brother instead of an annoying little witch sister.

"REGGIE!" Cameron screamed up the stairs, "DOOR'S FOR YOU!"

A few moments later, Angelo heard the song of angels asking, "Who is it?"

"The dude next door," Cameron answered. After a brief pause, Angelo saw Cameron nod, and then the kid giggled, "Yeah, I guess." Obviously listening, Cameron scrunched his face, and then huffed, "The door's open and he knows you're here. You look fine! I'm not talking to the steps b'cause you wanna take another shower and change clothes. You're being dumb."

Cameron went to sit on the couch and watched the television. A few seconds later, Reggie appeared and walked across the living room in an apparent daze. Watching the hunky blond teen angel approach, Angelo cleared his throat. Reggie croaked, "Hi."

Trying to sound kewl while simultaneously holding down his breakfast, Angelo softly asked, "Were you busy?"

Reggie shrugged, "Just watchin' TV."

"Anything good?"

Scrunching his face and shaking his head, Reggie answered, "Not really; morning sit-coms."

Angelo nervously asked, "Feel like doin' something... maybe check out this base with me?"

Nodding, Reggie pointed at his bare feet, softly asking, "Gimme a minute to put sandals on?"

Brightly smiling, Angelo nodded, "Okay, kewl."

Seeing Angelo waiting at the open door, and his brother searching for his sandals on the bottom of the entryway closet, Cameron sighed, "Don't ask him inside, dork."

"Bite me," Reggie growled. Angelo helplessly sputtered and then giggled. Picking up his sandals, Reggie returned to the door, asking, "Do you want a little brother, cheap?" He sat on the nearest chair to slide into his sandals.

Angelo sniggered, "I'll trade you a little sister."

Since his brother hadn't replied, Cameron giggled, "Suddenly I'm not so bad after all, huh?"

Reggie softly warned, "Later today, you and I have stuff to talk about."

"I'll get your crayons so you can draw it for me," Cameron giggled.

Impatiently huffing, Reggie then grumbled, "Make sure there's plenty of red." Cameron mooed through more giggles. With his sandals on, Reggie returned to the door, grabbed the knob and stepped outside, pulling the door closed behind him. Reggie wondered, "Where are we going?"

Angelo shrugged, "I haven't seen much here, so I thought we'd just start walking and see what's around."

"Kewl," Reggie nodded and gestured for Angelo to lead the way. They walked down the steps and turned right.

Angelo admitted, "I was chatting with some guys around back. Two of 'em play guitar. They're pretty good and all four are kewl."

Reggie nodded, softly muttering, "I saw them out there."

"They're the first Clan kids I've met. Have you met any?"

Following Angelo around the townhomes, Reggie shook his head and sighed, "No."

"Would you like to be introduced?"

Reggie warmly smiled, "Thanks."

Angelo grinned, "It's no problem. They may be orphaned Clan kids, but they're really kewl."

"That's why I've been hiding out," Reggie admitted. "It seems sort o' weird having parents when so many here don't."

Nodding, Angelo confided, "I felt the same way. Since there's only four of 'em, I went to say hello." Hearing the sounds of acoustic guitars, they quietly walked the remainder of the way around the back of the townhouses. Since Lance and Scott were busy playing their guitars, Angelo went to introduce Reggie to Erik and Travis first. Erik got up off Travis' lap and stood to greet Reggie. They knocked knuckles then Travis offered his clenched fist and greeted Reggie. Lance and Scott were still playing when Angelo introduced them to Reggie. To see Reggie's reaction, Angelo told his neighbor, "Erik and Trav are boyfriends, and so are Scott and Lance."

Nodding, Reggie grinned, "I kind o' figured, since Erik was sitting on Travis' lap."

"Oh, yeah," Angelo giggled and blushed.

Travis chuckled, "We're a bit more than boyfriends. More like committed partners."

Tilting his head, Angelo carefully and softly asked, "What's the difference?"

Knowing a little of how Angelo felt, Erik uncontrollably giggled, "It's the way we think of it, really. Boyfriends are still free to look around. Committed partners have said, there's no reason to look around any more." Gesturing to Travis, Erik giggled, "I promised to be all Trav needs and he promised me the same. We want it to work long term, and that's more than half the battle, right there."

Finished with the lesson they had been playing, Scott stood and smiled, "It's the same here."

"Yep," Lance giggled.

Seeing Lance and Scott putting their guitars in the cases, Angelo smiled, "That is very kewl, dudes. That wasn't said earlier."

Going to Angelo and Reggie, Scott grinned, "I guess it only matters to the guys making the couple." Scott then greeted Reggie and introduced Lance.

When that was done, Angelo shared, "We're gonna take a walk around the base to see what we've got around here."

Travis instructed, "Teenagers like us are hangin' at the diving well. Younger kids are at the pool. The really little kids are over at the playground. All the housing is at the center of the base, with entertainment, pools and stuff surrounding it on three sides. The fourth side is the CIC and FYS building."

Scott added, "The rec center is the big building by the pools. It's like a health and fitness club. Then there's the rec room off to the side of the CIC dining room. There are pool tables, Foosball tables, and dozens of different video and arcade games. After meals, kids usually head into the rec room first, probably because it's right there. It gives us a chance to digest a little, before going outside to the pools or playground."

Lance smiled, "At the Oneula Beach base, there's more of the same and some different stuff too. Here, we've got basketball courts, and there they have tennis courts. Here, we've got a bowling alley in the rec center, at Oneula Beach, that area is a gymnastics room."

"These bases were built for us kids," Erik explained. "We'd have to go out of our way to be bored."

Turning to Reggie, Angelo grinned, "It sounds like we'll be walking a while."

Reggie shrugged and smirked, "It's better than morning sit-com re-runs."

Returning his attention to the other four, Angelo warmly smiled, "Thanks for the info, dudes. Maybe we'll catch up with you at lunch."

An out-of-sync chorus of "see ya later" travelled around the six boys. Then Angelo led Reggie back to the path between the soccer field and the basketball courts. Lance and Scott got their guitars. Soon, Angelo and Reggie heard them playing again.

Widely smiling, Angelo checked, "What do you think of them?"

Reggie nodded, "They're very kewl, like you said."

Softly and thoughtfully, Angelo scowled, "Since they told us they're committed partners, I've been trying to wrap my mind around it. I guess I had the whole gay relationship thing completely wrong."

Reggie nodded, "Yeah, me too."

"Since moving here, it's been a recurring pattern of ideas and questions that I never spent much time thinking of. According to my mom, the entire leadership team here are gay couples."

Nodding, Reggie asked, "You know what they did last week, right?"

"Do you mean the orphanages in California?"

"Yeah; it was all over the news the whole day."

"I think it shows how deep their feelings are. Not knowing any of those kids, they went there to help the less fortunate, and then brought them back here. Could you imagine doing that?"

"Well, yeah, I actually could," Reggie admitted. "When something is severely wrong, it has to be corrected."

Following the path, they went around the soccer field, along the side of the pool and glanced inside the rec center's transparent aluminum walls. Angelo asked, "Do you want to go inside?" Reggie nodded and they altered their course.

Seeing new kids, Tony Lanning and Ray Varga jogged over to Angelo and Reggie. Tony and Ray were shirtless and wearing damp board shorts. Once introductions were complete, Tony and Ray led Angelo and Reggie through the rec center. Scattered around were many of the off shift UNIT kids, including Kekoa. In the weight room, Tony asked Reggie, "Do you work out a lot?"

Blushing and shaking his head, Reggie grinned, "No, never."

Ray wondered, "How old are you dudes?"

Angelo and then Reggie replied, "Thirteen."

Giving Reggie a quick once-over, Tony grinned, "You look more like fourteen, dude. I was sure you had worked out. Other dudes around with your build are usually older. I'm thirteen too." He went to one of the Nautilus machines, set the weight stack to sixty pounds and demonstrated some bench presses.

While Tony was doing presses, Ray smiled, "These machines are really kewl because they're safer than the free weights." He pointed at the bar hanging and explained, "That's for lat-pull downs. You pull the bar down and kneel or sit on the floor to do this exercise. Sunday, I was over here with Tony, and the damn thing pulled me right back up off the floor." Angelo and Reggie softly sniggered.

Getting up off the bench, Tony chuckled, "That was too funny. The surprised expression was priceless. I've got a clown for a roomie."

Ray sniggered, "Bite me, Tony."

"Grow a few more pubes so it don't look like child abuse and I might consider it," Tony playfully countered. Angelo and Reggie couldn't help chuckling at the banter flying.

"Gimme a break! I'm twelve!" Ray loudly laughed.

Tony roamed around the machine pointing out the different exercises. They then went over to a racquetball room and looked inside. Ray and Tony then showed Angelo and Reggie the boys' locker room, showers, sauna and extra large jacuzzi; at least twenty teens could fit in the hot tub. The last stop was the bowling alley. They went back outside and went through the pool house, which was primarily boys' and girls' restrooms and showers, but had two more saunas.

Outside by the diving well, Ray noticed, "Neither of you have comm-badges?" Tony raced away to get his T-shirt.

Shaking his head, Angelo answered, "No," and quickly wondered, "Why would we need them?"

"To get through the dimensional doors to the Oneula Beach base," Ray replied. "There are other kids that live there, and they also have stuff that's different from here. There are tennis courts there, and in the same area here there's basketball courts. Since neither me or Tony are tall enough for basketball, we're thinking of learning to play tennis. The rec room there is slightly different from the rec room here. Anyway, it's worth checking out."

Returning with his T-shirt on, Tony tapped his comm-badge calling, "Tony to Reyes."

A moment later, Reyes answered, "What's up, Tony?"

"Me and Ray were just giving Angelo Diaz and Reggie Combs the two-cent tour," Tony answered. "They don't have comm-badges to get to Oneula Beach, bro."

Reyes instructed, "Have them meet me at the CIC in a couple of minutes. I'm just wrapping up with Jay and Chris, getting our newest Core Rimmers oriented."

"Okay," Tony grinned, "I should also mention that Angelo and Reggie don't have Mr. Fuzzies." Angelo and Reggie glanced at each other and shrugged. A choir of gasps and groans flowed from the boys in the Command Center. 

Over Chris' insane giggling, Jay laughed, "Sacrilege!"

Tony sniggered, "I know, bro. We can't have 'em sticking out, completely fuzziless."

Reyes giggled, "Send Angelo and Reggie to the CIC, please, Tony."

"They're on their way," Tony smiled, and then chirped, "Out."

Slipping his Mr. Fuzzy puppet on, Ray squeaked, "Do you know the way?"

Angelo nodded and grinned, "The big domed building. Thanks for showing us around, dudes."

Reggie politely smiled, "It was good meeting you." He and Angelo followed the path between the dorms and into the quad, toward the CIC. Reggie grinned, "Everybody is so friendly."

Angelo nodded, "It seems a little odd, doesn't it?" Noticing Reggie's uncertain glance, Angelo shrugged, "From orphans, I mean. No matter what their histories are, they're social and easy going."

Rapidly nodding, Reggie smirked, "Now I feel like a bigger dork for hiding out the last couple o' days."

"Don't feel like you're alone. I feel the same way."

"Do you think Tony and Ray are boyfriends?"

Angelo shrugged, "I'm not sure. Since they're roommates, I guess they would have to be really good friends in the first place. I wouldn't share a bedroom with just anyone." Reggie giggled and blushed. Angelo smiled, "I didn't mean to embarrass you."

"So many weird ideas are flying," Reggie softly giggled.

Angelo prompted, "Such as?"

"I can't really put myself in the same place as any of these kids," Reggie uncertainly explained. "I have no idea how I'd act if I had no parents or family. Having parents and family, I was still a little scared when my brother said you were at the door."

Angelo incredulously sniggered, "You were scared of me?"

"Yeah, and of the orphaned kids."

"Do you know why?"

Unexpectedly, a younger blond boy ran out of a dormitory, laughing his Speedo covered ass off. Another young red haired boy, also clad in only Speedos, raced after the blond, loudly laughing, "Get back here, Ralphie!" Grinning at the two kids, Angelo and Reggie stopped walking and watched.

"You're being very bad, Pat!" the blond boy joyfully cackled, and ran around the quad, waving at Angelo and Reggie as he passed by. Ralphie ran back into the same dormitory from the opposite doorway and was soon followed by Pat.

Pointing at the doorway the two boys had just run through, Reggie giggled, "That's why! I only knew a little bit about Clan Short before moving here, so I've been reading up. They rescue kids from every bad situation. In only three days, I've become a total dreamer. I hope to someday be like these dudes, rescuing kids too. Talk about reaching for impossible dreams! It's not like my mind wasn't already prone to daydreams, but most of the time it's you I'm dreaming about!" Noticing Angelo's shocked expression, Reggie quickly gasped, "Oh! I'm so sorry! I should not have said that!" Spinning around, he started to sprint away, leaving Angelo behind.

Hurrying after Reggie, Angelo loudly called, "Please don't go, Reggie! I know exactly what you're saying." Not catching up and becoming more desperate, Angelo yelled in frustration; "Dammit, I'm dreaming of you too!"

Slowing, turning around and stopping, Reggie wore a horrified expression. As embarrassed as Reggie was, he realized that Angelo had just shouted his feelings across the quad. Frightened to death and with goosebumps popping, Reggie glared at Angelo, drinking in every feature and mannerism.

Slowly approaching him, Angelo gently assured, "It's really all right. I've been so surprised with my own thoughts, but I can't deny how I feel." Stopping about a meter before Reggie, Angelo warmly divulged, "Soon after meeting Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott, I spilled my guts, because I really wanted to get to know you, but I had no idea how to even start. It's so weird because I've never had trouble meeting anyone before, but I was scared to even chance getting to know you. Standing on your porch waiting for you, I was practically quaking. All at once, I was scared, happy, anxious, sad and hopeful."

One at a time, Reggie wiped his eyes, quietly wondering, "How can I feel so much about you when I barely know you?"

Angelo shrugged, "I really don't know, but I've been feeling it too, since the first time I saw you Saturday."

Reggie wondered, "Don't you feel... I dunno... strange?"

Slowly shaking his head, Angelo sighed then softly said, "Fear changed to feeling odd, and then that changed to annoyance and frustration, wondering why you were automatically so special that all these feelings got stirred up. Now I'm really worried and a little anxious too."

"What are you worried about?"

"You," Angelo admitted.

"What are you anxious over?"

"That you don't even want to try to be friends. Without that, we can't be boyfriends, partners or anything else."

"Would you really want that... with me?"

"I do, very much. I've been imagining spending a lot of time with you all weekend. Could you, with me?"

"I really want to, I just don't know how, ya know?"

Angelo smiled, "Believe me, I really do know exactly what you mean. This isn't like most other school friendships. I want us to someday be like Ray and Tony, as close as roommates. Hopefully, we could then try and be like Erik and Travis, or Scott and Lance. Maybe then we could talk to Prez about helping them. We could try and make our dreams come true." Unable to read anything from Reggie's expression, Angelo asked, "Does any of that sound okay to you, like it might be possible?"

Blushing, Reggie grinned, "Yeah, it does. Just listening to you, I relaxed so much that I kind o' spaced out on tangents."

Angelo asked, "Give me an example, please?"

"Us like roommates," Reggie shyly mumbled. "Us like boyfriends and partners. Each little rescue story I read about, I put myself in the scene, with you. Every one of 'em, it was me and you. It's just... you want that stuff with me that's really freaking me out."

Angelo giggled, "I know. I can barely believe I said all that without making a complete fool of myself. All I've seen you doing tells me you're a really nice guy. Even the sound of your voice makes my heart race." He paused, blushed and giggled, "You're the cutest dude I've ever known in my life."

Shaking his head, Reggie giggled, "Nope, you are," and shyly looked away, adding, "Since the first time you said hello to me, I could listen to your voice forever."

Angelo took one step closer and reached out his hand, asking, "We're going to try?"

Reggie nodded, "Yeah. That would be very kewl," and tentatively reached his hand out, barely brushing his fingers with Angelo's.

Angelo took Reggie's hand in his, and then reminded, "Someone named Reyes is waiting to give us comm-badges. Another dude named Jay wants to give us Mr. Fuzzy puppets, for some reason I can't figure out."

Nodding, Reggie agreed, "I'm ready when you are."

They started walking again, this time taking the path between the dorms and the townhouses, simply because it was more convenient. After a few moments and many steps together, Angelo pleasantly sighed, "I'm really happy. This might be the happiest day of my life." Reggie giggled and squeezed Angelo's hand. Angelo playfully warned, "The next time you do that, you just might get kissed."

"Kiss me and you might be carried to the CIC, like the trophy you are," Reggie countered.

Angelo grinned, "My folks would be totally kewl with us."

"So would mine," Reggie assured.

Angelo giggled, "That's a good thing, because your brother is watching us from the window." Reggie turned to check, but saw no one. The drapes weren't even swinging. Smirking and squinting, Reggie turned to Angelo. Angelo released Reggie's hand, began laughing and ran away.

Racing after Angelo, Reggie cackled, "Not funny!"

"It was my sister who saw us!"

"I'm gonna get you!"

"This day is getting better all the time!"

In no time, Reggie caught up with Angelo and began poking tender ribs, causing Angelo to hysterically howl. Joyfully laughing from the teasing done, Angelo and Reggie raced into the CIC dining room. Sipping sodas, Reyes, Ryan, Chris and Jay were sharing a table near the Command Center doors. They noticed the two teenagers playing keep-away around tables. Reyes tapped his sub-vocal, asking, "Alden, is that Angelo Diaz and Reggie Combs, and if so, which is which?"

"That's them," Alden giggled into Reyes', Chris' and Jay's sub-vocals. "Angelo has wavy brown hair, and Reggie has dirty blond hair. Just so you know, earlier this morning they barely knew one another, but now, as you can see, they've gotten quite a bit closer."

Rolling his eyes, Reyes grinned, "Obviously," and Jay cracked up.

Chris asked Jay, "Do you really want to give them Mr. Fuzzies?"

Watching the two boys chase one another around and between tables, Jay chuckled, "Everybody needs a Mr. Fuzzy. It's just some have fewer fuzzy needs than others."

Softly giggling, Chris leaned over and gave his lover a short passionate kiss. Chris hummed thoughtfully then tapped his sub-vocal, asking, "Alden, how are our fuzzy-facts-of-life students doing?"

"They just finished watching the video," Alden privately replied. "Phil and Owen are in the Nash brothers' dorm room. Terry and Jake are in their dorm room." He then giggled, "All seems warm and fuzzy to me."

Reyes asked, "Are you two dudes kewl with assisting Angelo and Reggie?"

Jay nodded and smiled. Chris asked, "We're kewl, but are you?"

Nodding, Reyes shared, "Doc Andrews ordered cold and warm compresses on Ryan's various bruises. It's been over nine hours..."

Ryan interrupted, "I'm fine, Reyes."

Reyes smirked, "Doctor's orders, Ry. I want those bruises gone. This morning, I saw you grab your side twice. When I want to hug you, I have to be careful how I hug you. Humor me, please?"

"That I can easily do," Ryan mischievously promised. Chris widely grinned and Jay made his eyes spin in their sockets.

Offering Ryan his hand, Reyes told Chris and Jay, "We'll be back for lunch. All the Core Rimmers know which condo we're in, so everything should be kewl. If you need anything, just call." They stood. Chris and Jay thanked Reyes for his help.

On the way across the dining room, Angelo paused before Reyes and Ryan, giggling, "Excuse me, I'm Angelo Diaz, and the shy cutie chasing me is Reggie Combs. We were told to come here. Do you know who Jay or Reyes is?"

Gesturing to Reyes, Ryan introduced his boyfriend, himself, Chris and Jay. He finished by adding, "Jay and Chris will help you, Angelo. Right now, I have some swelling that needs relieving." Although Ryan had the one visible bruise on his jaw, Angelo's head bounced in shock, and then he cracked up. Flushing red, Reggie couldn't figure out what to do or say.

Leading Ryan outside, Reyes giggled, "You are so-oo-oo bad!"

Ryan smiled, "I was only partly lying. Honestly, I've had two chubbies per hour since we woke. It seems like one fades and it returns again only minutes later, because you smiled at me. I've been here alone with you for most of twelve hours, but you haven't made a single move on me. In the shower this morning, I had to put moves on you. If I didn't know you so well, I'd probably be discouraged."

Reyes sighed, "I really want to, Ry."

"I know you do, by the hugs and kisses, by an innocent night in bed together, and by the way you held and kissed me in the shower. You were restlessly tossing last night, until I wrapped an arm over you. I've added gallant to your list of admirable qualities."

"I wish there were something we could do to get Paul here. Unfortunately, there isn't a single scenario I've played out that might work. Nothing I say is going to make this better."

"When Paul is angry it taints everything around him. Once he gets here, we'll make sure he knows there's no bitterness or resentment on this side. Your wish to make Paul sandwich is going to come true, you know?"

Approaching condominium A, and following the path around to building B, Reyes nodded and sighed, "I know."

Ryan worried, "What's wrong?"

"I'm empathic," Reyes reminded. "Without accessing any database, I can feel your disappointment and sadness. I felt his anger, and then sadness, and now confusion. He's fighting still, right now. He's not happy there and alone. Being here would only remind him to be angry. He thinks he's in a no win, damned if he does and damned if he doesn't situation."

Ryan huffed, "That's my bro." Stopping short unexpectedly, Ryan pulled Reyes into his arms and held on tight, whispering, "Let it out, love."

Reyes whimpered, "If I start, I might not stop."

"You show love in so many awesome ways to everyone you know. Let me hold you while you cry it out."

Shuddering, Reyes started to sob his heart out. Wordlessly, Ryan comforted Reyes with back rubs. For many minutes they stood there on the walkway between condominiums A and B. Ryan gently reminded Reyes that he hadn't been the cause of this argument, and that as close as he and Paul were, they were two different people. From the school across base, John Hundser felt what was happening to his brother, friend and fellow empath. John tapped his sub-vocal and silently ordered Alden to transport Reyes and Ryan into their condo apartment.

Glancing around and recognizing their flat's bedroom, Ryan guided Reyes to the bed. As soon as Reyes weeping slowed, Ryan stepped back to take his shirt off. Then he pulled Reyes' shirt up and off. He used it to dry Reyes' face then tossed it on the floor. Walking around to the foot of the bed, Ryan crawled up onto the mattress behind Reyes. "Com'on," Ryan prompted, "five hours sleep won't cut it. Last night I held you. It's your turn to hold me. I won't leave you." Obediently nodding, Reyes swung his legs up onto the bed and lay down then turned to Ryan, forcing a small grin. Reyes wrapped an arm over his boyfriend. Ryan smiled, "No apologies, excuses or explanations. Rest now."

Ewa Beach CIC Dining Room

Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 10:45AM HTZ

Angelo and Reggie called a temporary truce to their game, and then went to the table where Jay and Chris were sitting. Politely standing, Chris and Jay greeted Angelo and Reggie. Jay Montigua shook hands and knocked knuckles with Angelo Diaz. Jay grinned, "Playing the keep-away game first?" and handed over a comm-badge.

Taking the comm-badge and nodding, Angelo chuckled, "I was trippin' out holding Reggie's hand, and told him his brother was watching us. Just now, I've realized that I was testing Reggie's readiness."

Beside his new boyfriend, and putting the comm-badge that Chris had handed to him on the left breast pocket of his shirt, Reggie softly wondered, "Testing my readiness for?"

Angelo smiled, "To have a boyfriend. You passed with flying colors." He told Jay and Chris, "We were holding hands, right after deciding to give it our best shot." Focusing on Reggie, Angelo playfully reminded, "When I said your brother was watching us, you didn't let go of my hand. You might think what your brother sees matters, but it didn't matter so much that you let me go. All you did was turn your head and look back at the townhouses."

Grinning at Reggie's blush and wide smile, Chris wondered, "So you chased Angelo here?"

Blushing more, Reggie chuckled, "I thought he was teasing me, not testing my reactions. I couldn't let either go unchallenged."

Nodding, Chris chuckled, "Nope, I wouldn't," and gave Reggie a Mr. Fuzzy puppet. Jay gave Angelo a Mr. Fuzzy. Pointing across the room, Chris prompted, "Let us show you how to use the dimensional doors." Angelo and Reggie nodded. Chris and Jay led the way across the dining room, with Angelo and Reggie following.

Reggie took Angelo's hand, leaned close and whispered, "We have important stuff to talk about." Angelo giggled and nodded.

On the way, Jay explained, "Just tell it where you want to go, and then wait a few seconds until you see the other side appear. Then walk through like any other door."

Angelo asked, "We can get all the way to Oneula Beach by walking through a door?"

"That's about two kilometers," Reggie added.

"It's a new technology, sort of based on transporters," Chris briefly explained.

Pausing in front of a door, Jay grinned, "The right side set are outbound doors, the left side are inbound doors. They won't work any other way, so it's not like you can mess it up."

Reggie softly said, "Alden helped us move some stuff."

"Us too," Angelo smiled.

Gesturing to the door, Chris prompted, "Give it a try."

Angelo clearly but uncertainly requested, "Oneula Beach?" Nothing happened. The silvery facade didn't change and neither did the destination sign above the door. Chris and Jay blinked. Turning to the two confused Core Rimmers, Angelo grinned and Reggie burst into giggles.

Tapping his comm-badge, Jay impatiently huffed, "Alden, what's up with the doors?"

Across Jay's comm-badge, Alden giggled, "The door is fine, but our new Core Rimmers have already forgotten something else."

Moments later, Chris gasped and then nudged Jay, excitedly reminding, "Their comm-badges, lover." Since Jay wasn't getting it, Chris prompted Angelo and Reggie, "Tap your comm-badges and identify yourselves to Alden, guys."

Slumping, Jay sniggered, "It's the simple stuff that gets me, every time. That's how an apartment building fell on me and hurt my wrist." Since Jay only had the cast and a few visible bruises, Angelo and Reggie brightly smiled, believing Jay was exaggerating.

"You haven't worn your Mr. Fuzzy in over an hour," Alden giggled.

"Withdrawal symptoms," Jay chuckled, and pulled his puppet out of his back pocket. He slipped it onto his left hand, squeaking, "Let's try this again." Angelo cracked up, pushing Reggie into a giggling fit. To make matters worse, Alden started replaying the Cozy Cuzzy Fuzzy Water Blaster Battle video at double speed on all four television monitors. Seeing the two dressed leaders they were with on the TVs, wearing only Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, Angelo roared laughing.

Sadly shaking his head at Chris and Jay, Reggie chuckled, "Very... uh... becoming?"

Chris grinned, "Alden, get Angelo and Reggie their Cuzzy Fuzzy Cozies too. As a gay couple, they qualify."

Doing as requested, Alden giggled, "On the table behind you, guys." Angelo and Reggie turned to see the skimpy G-strings.

"Wear it with someone you love," Jay's Mr. Fuzzy squeaked.

Breathless from laughing, Angelo pulled a chair out and collapsed onto it. Heartily giggling, Reggie picked up a G-string, peeked into the elastic port, saw that the nose and jaw were hollow, obviously meant to be filled, and cracked up. He could not see himself wearing it anywhere except maybe alone with Angelo, behind a locked door, when no one else was home to hear them hysterically giggling. Wearing it outdoors, in the middle of the night, for a water blaster fight, was out of the question.

Chris giggled, "We're Morale Rimmers, so-oo-oo."

"Well done," Reggie sniggered. "Our morale was pretty high when we came in here, but thanks for helping us."

"Any time," Chris grinned.

Jay's Mr. Fuzzy prompted Chris, "Let's see who else needs our help, and what other damage we can cause." Taking Jay's hand in his, Chris led the way to the dimensional door. Jay's Mr. Fuzzy squeaked, "Oneula Beach," and the destination changed. The silvery facade faded and soon showed the dining room at the other base. Jay and Chris passed through.

Once they were alone, Reggie sat down beside Angelo and reached for his boyfriend's hand. "Can I ask you something?" Reggie grinned.

Angelo giggled, "Sure, anything."

Reggie wondered, "Did you really think I would let you go, because my brother might've been watching?"

Catching his breath and shrugging, Angelo smiled, "I wasn't sure. Honestly, I can't wait for my sister to see me with you. At the same time, she's naturally irritating, like fingernails on a chalkboard."

Slowly nodding, Reggie softly offered, "After spending three days thinking about you, I want to spend today, the next two days, and the foreseeable future with you. What we do isn't as important as just being together. Everything I like to do, I hope you'll enjoy too, at least a little bit. The hobbies and stuff you have, I hope I'll like. I want to know everything about you."

Angelo shyly grinned, "My mom's a teacher, Reg."

"I know." Reggie offered, "My dad's the facilities manager, and my mom's a chef."

"My dad's finishing his dentistry internship," Angelo shared.

Reggie asked, "What kind of hobbies do you have?"

Angelo answered, "I like everything to do with the ocean; I like surfing, and I like sailing too. When I can't do those things, I'll sit at my PC for hours."

"Playing video games?"

Shaking his head, Angelo chuckled, "Writing electronic music; sampling sounds with my little digital recorder, uploading it onto my computer, and then trying to use those sounds in kewl ways with some music." Angelo then asked, "What keeps you entertained?"

Beginning to turn red in the face again, Reggie smiled, "Remember my brother saying he would get my crayons?" When Angelo nodded, Reggie admitted, "I love to draw; on paper and on computers. I'll draw anything and everything; people, places and things; realistic, abstract or cartoons. When I was little, I used to watch my dad drawing floor plans for the hotel, where he used to work. That always seemed kewl to me, so I imitated him. Lately, he's been asking my opinion on that sort of stuff."

"You're an artist?"

"I wouldn't say that," Reggie giggled. "I like to draw. How artistic it is, is a whole other story."

"I can't wait to see some of it."

"I wanna hear some of your music."

"What about checking out the bases?"

Reggie shrugged, "We can do that later, if it's all right with you?"

Nodding and squeezing Reggie's hand, Angelo beamed, "Anything we do together is kewl by me."

"Let's go," Reggie prodded, and stood, only releasing Angelo's hand long enough for both of them to stuff Mr. Fuzzy puppets and G-strings in their back pockets.

Angelo suggested, "Let's go to your place first. My sister is home, and she's annoying."

"And my brother isn't?" Reggie joked.

Angelo chuckled, "If he gets obnoxious, we can gang up on him and teach a lesson. Compared to a witchy little woman, Cameron's kewl."

"We'll see how long you keep that opinion," Reggie giggled. Instead of leading Angelo to the exit, Reggie went toward the inbound dimensional doors, rec room and bird cages.

"Where are we going?" Angelo wondered.

"Pit stop," Reggie briefly blushed, and grinned, "I've been needing to go since I opened my mouth, out by the dorms."

Angelo nodded and giggled, "It was scary, but I'm glad you told the truth. Left up to me, we might still be beating around the bush, acting like we weren't even interested. Being with you is really what I've wanted most of all, all weekend."

A few steps before reaching the mens' room, Reggie stopped, causing Angelo to also pause. Drinking in his boyfriend from head to toe, Reggie smiled, "You're about two centimeters shorter than I am; a hundred and sixty-five centimeters?"

"Good guess!" Angelo cheered.

"How much do you weigh?"

"About fifty-eight kilos. You?"

"Sixty-one kilos," Reggie shyly answered, and then blushed, "It just dawned on me, I'm going into a bathroom with you. What wasn't a problem suddenly became one."

Nodding, Angelo stepped closer, took Reggie in his arms and grinned, "I've been wondering what it might feel like to hug you." Briefly pausing, he blushed and sighed, "You feel good, and smell fantastic. I like being in your space."

Shivering with delight, Reggie giggled, "Reality is so much better than the dream," and gave Angelo a tight squeeze. "I'd chase you to Timbuktu and back for a hug, ya know?"

Happily giggling, Angelo completely messed up the warning, "We'd better step away from each other, or I'm going to kiss you."

Before he could change his mind, Reggie tilted his head and stole a tender kiss. He searched Angelo's expression, trying to determine if he'd gone too far, too fast. His answer came immediately with Angelo's returned kiss. Although short, it was exceptionally tasty. By the peppermint flavor, Reggie could tell that Angelo had recently brushed his teeth. 

Angelo rested his head on Reggie's broad shoulder, whispering, "This is what I've wanted most since the first times I saw you Saturday." As comfortable as he was, he lifted his head to see Reggie's expression.

"Me too," Reggie softly confirmed, and then chuckled, "I'm glad we did it out here and not in there."

Slowly nodding, Angelo carefully said, "We're gonna see... in there. That's only part of what we're about and working towards, Reg. Being with you, and being held by you is really what I want most of all."

"I know what you mean," Reggie softly assured. "All those daydreams I had of us, we were doing every day stuff together." Beginning to flush red again, Reggie asked, "Does it seem to you... like we already have, so it doesn't much matter when?"

Angelo nodded agreement, giggled, and then went for a deeper kiss, mostly to see what Reggie's reaction would be. When Reggie held him tighter and held the kiss longer, Angelo had his answer. When the kiss broke, both boys giggled and blushed, but never lost eye contact. Still smiling at each other, they separated. Angelo held his hand out high. Without hesitation, Reggie took the offered hand and led the way into the bathroom.

Neither had been in the CIC's mens' room before and almost immediately paused and grinned. Along one adjacent wall were commodes, like most any other public restroom, and the sinks were along the wall nearest the door, but across from the commodes, the urinals were the type that went from the floor and up about a meter-and-a-half. "It makes sense," Angelo sniggered.

"With little boys and adult men around, why limit choices for either?" Reggie grinned.

They went to the row of porcelain and released their hands. They stood side-by-side and opened their shorts to relieve themselves. Once they had started peeing, they turned to each other and locked eyes, wordlessly giving permission to look down with only nods. After a few moments of inspection, they looked up and locked eyes again. Blushing, Angelo sputtered and began giggling. Reggie blushed and grinned, "If you can answer why we did that, please tell me, because I'm clueless."

Shrugging, Angelo giggled, "Because we could and wanted to. It wasn't a sneaked peek. We wanted to check each other out."

"The image is seared into my mind," Reggie shyly admitted.

Finishing up, Angelo wondered, "Why?"

It took a few moments, long enough for Angelo to stuff his goods away, close the Velcro fly and step back, for Reggie to reverently say, "You're beautiful. Even what's hidden, and should be like every other dick I've ever seen in any locker room, is absolutely gorgeous."

"It don't bother you that I was cut as a baby?"

"That's what makes yours even more perfect, to me anyway."

"During a facts-of-life talk with my dad, I asked about it. My dad's family is Catholic. Before getting married, he switched to Episcopal, like my mom and her family, but when I was born, he suddenly had to choose. He didn't want me circumcised, but he was afraid he couldn't teach me to keep it clean well enough, and then it would need to be done when I was older. I wouldn't have blamed him, but he would've blamed himself."

Finished and stepping back, Reggie shrugged, "We're Lutherans, but I don't think religion made any difference. It's just the way it is. When Cameron was a baby, they found out his foreskin was too tight, and it would likely cause him pain, so they snipped him."

"What you've got is perfect too, dude."

Crossing the room for the sinks, Reggie giggled, "Yeah? Why?"

"You've got a larger frame," Angelo answered, and took the sink beside his new boyfriend. "At my school, I noticed dudes who were my height, but much thinner, smaller frame, and then others who were much heavier, larger frames." They started washing their hands, and Angelo continued, "For a guy with your build to have a short, thin dick would be too far out of proportion for the rest of you. At school, there were plenty of big dudes with tiny weenies, and a few skinny, little dudes who were exceptionally well endowed. There's no rhyme or reason about it, but in your case, what you've got fits." He uncontrollably sniggered, "I'm medium frame, with a medium dick, thank goodness!"

Turning red again, Reggie cracked up.

"But neither of you talk to your dick in the morning," Alden giggled from the speakers, "which puts you in a very elite group, unless you silently talk to your dicks."

Wildly cackling, Reggie decided to wash his face with cold water too. Drying his hands with paper towels, Angelo giggled, "Have you been watching and listening to us all this time, Alden?"

"That's my job!" Alden giggled.

Tossing the paper towels in the waste can, Angelo smirked, "Where can we go that's away from your cameras and microphones?"

"Off base," Alden laughed.

Realizing the implications of that, Reggie yelled, "We've been here most of four days and you never told us?"

"I know when to be quiet, and when to make dick jokes," Alden giggled.

"This is not good!" Reggie complained, and got some paper towels to dry off.

"For some of the kids here, it helps them feel safer," Alden seriously replied. Angelo and Reggie locked eyes and barely nodded at each other, reluctantly agreeing that it was true. "Then there are guys like you," Alden shared. "I've seen literally dozens of couples hooking up, and heard what they've said, and saw what they've done, but haven't shared any of that with anyone. You guys haven't said or done anything that I haven't seen or heard before. Your way of getting to know each other is unique, just like every other guy on base." He giggled, "But you gave me an opportunity, so I had to say something, before any of my brothers did."

"Seriously, all of us want to make sure all of you guys are safe." Kerry added. "A lot of Clan kids have some really nasty stuff in their pasts, and sometimes just knowing we are there makes the difference if they'll go out and make friends, or just sit in their room."

Reggie chucked his used paper towels in the trash, then offered a clean hand to Angelo. When Angelo took his hand and they dropped to their sides, Reggie sadly admitted, "You know, even supposedly normal kids like us are overwhelmed, mostly by the number of kids here. I don't think my junior high school had four hundred kids."

"We can easily imagine what it feels like for other kids," Angelo added.

Surprisingly, at least seven male voices answered from the ceiling, "We know."

Angelo and Reggie walked out of the mens' room. From the nearest dining room speaker, Alden reminded, "You guys still haven't activated your comm-badges. You'll need to do that to get from base-to-base." Releasing each other, Angelo and Reggie tapped their comm-badges and completed the activation process.

By this time, some kids were at tables and others were walking into the kitchen, beginning to show up for lunch. Among the early lunch crowd, Tony and Ray noticed Angelo and Reggie holding hands. Tony briefly stood to call them over. When they arrived, Tony and Ray invited Angelo and Reggie to stay and have lunch with them. Angelo smiled, "We were about to go to Reggie's place..."

"To show off our new status, for my brother," Reggie chuckled, picturing his brother completely surprised and out of control.

Nodding, Angelo finished, "And we didn't know we could eat here."

Coming from the kitchen and arriving at the same table, Nate Ramos sniggered, "Of course you can eat here. They're feeding almost four hundred. It ain't like they're gonna run out." Nate sat down with Tony and Ray.

Locking eyes with Reggie, Ray giggled, "Show off your new status with us." Tony sputtered and nudged his roommate. Ray giggled, "What?"

"We talked about this Saturday night," Tony reminded.

Holding an open palm to Angelo and Reggie, Ray countered, "They weren't holding hands about an hour ago."

After checking with Reggie and getting nods in response, Angelo smiled, "We'll get lunch and be back in a few minutes." He and Reggie headed for the kitchen chow line.

Leaning closer to Ray, Tony whispered, "You're younger than me, so it's totally up to you. If you want it to be friends having fun, or to give it a real shot as boyfriends, just let me know."

Nodding, Ray whispered back, "I'm still thinking about it."

Seeing his two younger brothers going to another table to eat, Nate grinned, "Are you two boyfriends yet?"

Ray intensely blushed, causing Tony to shake his head and snigger, "We're still in separate beds. I know I could easily go either way, but Ray isn't sure. I'm not rushin' him, but once a day, this topic keeps coming up."

Nate swallowed, and then asked, "Have you ever tried it with another dude?"

Tony chuckled, "Yeah, when I had less hair on my dick than Ray."

"HEY!" Ray loudly laughed. Having seen one another in the dorm mob shower three days in a row, Nate and Tony uncontrollably sniggered. Feeling like he was being goofed on, Ray giggled, "How about you, Nate; have you tried with a dude?"

Making sure his brothers weren't eavesdropping, Nate nodded and softly chuckled, "It was fun, but we weren't in love or nothin'. I could probably try it again, but this time with someone that has a chance of being a boyfriend. If it works out with a girl first, that's kewl too."

"If only I knew the magic spell that could make everything easier," Ray muttered.

"Don't we all?" Nate and Tony softly confirmed.

Leaning over the table, Nate softly suggested, "How about the three of us try stuff after lunch, with no strings attached?"

"Good idea," Tony quietly cheered. "I'll bet Ray's a mix of curious and afraid."

Seeing Nate and Tony waiting for his decision, Ray replied, "There's no denying it. Sure, after lunch sounds kewl." For a few silent moments, while the three of them chowed down, Ray had some reservations about what he had so quickly agreed to. It wasn't Tony or Nate, but simply the fact that he was about to have his first sexual experience with two other dudes. Nate was very kewl; during the days they'd been on base, he checked up on his two younger brothers, but spent most of his time with the teens and tweens at the diving well. 

However, Tony was the kewlest older dude Ray had ever known. Without hesitation, Tony agreed he would be roommates with him. Since then, Tony had brought Ray along everywhere he went; soccer and the auditorium trip on Saturday; Sunday was more soccer, and after cooling down, they made a quick trip through the rec center and then they played basketball, and after dinner, they sat together during the Clan meeting and concert. Just the prior day, they were back in the rec center lifting weights on Nautilus machines. His mom and dad would've had a melt down; but Tony taught him how to breathe and lift safely. As far as Ray knew, Tony's favorite phrases were 'Come on,' and 'Let's go'. Ray had until the end of lunch to decide if he was ready for his first time; if it would be with Tony, or with Tony and Nate, or maybe neither, not on this day.

To make sure his abrupt proposal was a bit more clear, Nate assured, "We're all friends. I'm not looking to step in between you two. My only real purpose is to be sure I could, if or when the right dude shows up. My dad once told me that an urge to hold and kiss someone comes first. I'm not seeing either of you like that person, but we could at least have fun."

Ray nodded, "Very kewl." His flat, unenthused tone caught Tony's attention. Tony didn't make a face or turn to his roomie, but he did notice that 'very kewl' sounded like less than it normally would.

Tony swallowed another bite of his cheeseburger, and then devilishly grinned, "Sunday morning, our first morning waking together in the same room, I tossed the sheet aside and wandered the room in my usual morning daze. I didn't give a thought about what I might've looked like, turning the TV on, getting clothes and stuff ready for a shower, all with morning wood."

"I hid under my pillow, laughing my ass off," Ray giggled. "It sure wasn't like Saturday morning, in the Hundsers' basement, where all of us stayed covered. Tony didn't even notice me for a few minutes. I've gotten used to him being in a morning fog already. Since he didn't recall a thing I said before we showered, I know not to bother saying much until then."

Nate pleasantly shared, "At home, I had my own room, and my bros had their own room. At eight- and ten-years-old, they thought my morning condition was hysterically funny, until I walloped the hell out of both of 'em with my pillow. I'm pretty sure they're only laughing now because they want the morning pillow fight."

Nodding, Ray seriously said, "I've had plenty of friends before, but none were any older than me. There were a few older cousins, but they mostly ignored me. Here, it seems that age means a lot less to just about everyone. I like having a roomie who's older than me, and I don't want to mess that up."

Tony pointed at the Core Rimmers coming into the CIC from school, widely smiling, "When it's good, the friendship gets even better. Keeping our friendship kewl is my only real worry, Ray. I don't want to change rooms or roommates because of sex. I can spank it, just like every other dude." That remark got Ray's attention. His mouth was full, but he did turn to his older friend and brightly beam.

Seeing Angelo and Reggie approaching, Nate, Ray and Tony fell silent and stuffed their mouths. Angelo asked, "If we're interrupting something, we'll find other seats?"

Since his mouth was full, Nate vigorously shook his head. Gesturing to the chairs, Ray grinned, "Not at all, please sit." He then introduced Nate Ramos to Angelo and Reggie.

Tony chuckled, "It's nothin' Earth shattering or mind boggling; just us dudes, talkin' about boyfriends, being roommates, waking with morning wood, and normal everyday stuff like that."

Angelo nodded and Reggie softly chortled as they took seats at the table. 

Getting settled, Reggie dressed his cheeseburger, softly telling Nate, "An impression was made by Tony and Ray this morning."

Angelo chuckled, "And Eric, Travis, Lance and Scott too."

"We've only been walking around base, meeting you dudes," Reggie smiled. "In a very short time, everything has changed."

"Clan life is a change, and the changes keep rolling on by," Nate grinned. 

Before biting into his burger, Reggie sniggered, "Then there's Ralphie and Pat, who we haven't even been introduced to, but they made another huge impact."

Covering his mouth so partially chewed food wouldn't be seen or spit across the table, Tony mumbled, "Ralphie Taylor and Patrick O'Hara." Angelo started munching on French Fries. Reggie took a big bite out of his cheeseburger.

"They're my age and already a couple too," Ray shared. Since Pat and Ralphie had made that fairly clear, Angelo and Reggie nodded.

Gently tapping Ray's arm to get his attention, Nate offered, "For me, considering having a boyfriend is easy. All the sexual stuff that dudes could do doesn't seem gross or too scary." Reggie seemed to choke for a moment. Bouncing in his chair, Angelo quietly laughed, and reached over to rub Reggie's back. Nate giggled, "I'm sorry, dudes. All I was trying to say is that the scariest part seems to be knowing who to try with. Building a relationship seems to be the toughest part. In comparison, sex seems easy."

After swallowing and washing down his food with soda, Angelo smiled, "I'll agree with that." He turned to Reggie, saying, "If it wasn't so scary, I would've knocked on your door yesterday or Sunday."

"We're attracted and have been since we first saw each other moving in," Reggie softly told the group. Turning to Angelo, he admitted, "That's why I was stupid with my bro, and why I got silly seeing Pat and Ralphie."

Ray giggled, "I have to wonder what they did."

Angelo grinned, "They chased each other around, wearing only Speedos, outside one of the dorms."

"I can picture that easily," Nate chuckled. "Since I got here, Ralphie has been chasing Pat."

Shaking his head, Reggie smiled, "Not this time. The red head chased the blond."

Tony and Nate widely opened their eyes, obviously surprised. Noticing their shock, Ray fell into a giggling fit. Only a few tables away, the quadruple Rs, Carrol, Billy and Pat loudly roared laughing, causing Angelo and Reggie to turn toward the sound. 

Still giggling, Pat got up and went over to the table where Angelo, Reggie, Tony, Ray and Nate were sitting. Pat took a free chair, waved them all over the table so he could softly snigger, "Since Saturday afternoon, Ralphie's been sneaking peaks. By Sunday, all one of us would need to do is ask. We've seen each other at least twenty times, but today, we're changing into Speedos in my dorm room. Rafe's not even there, but Ralphie turns away from me, so all I can see is butt!" All six at that table and the other six at the other table roared laughing. The Core Rimmers that had been at school walked out of the chow line and into the dining room to hysterical laughter erupting at tables of boys around the room. Pat giggled, "So that's why I was chasing him."

Slyly glancing at each other while laughter became soft giggling, Angelo and Reggie knew from the reactions around the room that what they had already done in the mens' room was normal.

Thanks to telepaths sharing with John Hundser, soon all the Core Rimmers knew what the joke was. Pat got up to return to his table. Evilly sniggering, Prez put his tray down on a table and called, "Pat, since you and Ralphie are wearing boardies, I'm curious. Where are the Speedos now?"

Blushing almost as red as his hair, Pat giggled, "Stretched beyond reasonable reuse. We'll need to make another trip to the store, Prez." The entire dining room exploded in loud laughter.

Having noticed Angelo and Reggie together, Prez quickly went over to them, saying, "It's good to see you two here," and to ask, "before you take off after lunch, please stop at my table?"

Taken aback that the division director was speaking to them, and wanted to see them, Reggie obediently nodded, "Sure."

"Is something wrong, Prez?" Angelo wondered.

Shaking his head, Prez smiled, "I didn't see you here for dinner Sunday, or any meal all yesterday. Not only are you here, but I see Jay's already given you Mr. Fuzzies."

Angelo grinned, "Getting out of the house was a bit easier today. I saw Erik, Travis, Scott and Lance sitting at the picnic table behind townhouse six. Meeting four is easier than four hundred."

"Then we met Ray and Tony by the pools," Reggie continued. "They showed us around the rec center."

Angelo nodded and added, "We came over here to get comm-badges. Reyes and Ryan were just leaving, and had us meet Jay and Chris."

Seeing Chris and Jay come through a dimensional door, Prez loudly chuckled, "Speaking of the Fuzzy devils."

Chris giggled. Nearing the table Prez was standing at, Jay grinned, "We went to check the kids at the other base. Little guys and girls asked us for something more than the playground, so we've got a task to work on. The next thing we know, about a dozen gay guys were asking for Fuzzy G-strings." He more loudly announced, "Cozy Cuzzy Fuzzy Water Blaster Battle Two is scheduled for nine o'clock tonight, at Oneula Beach. Everyone's welcome to play, but only gay guys get cuzzy fuzzy cozies. Straight guys, wear your underwear." Ensembles of hoorays, yippees and laughter erupted.

Chris tapped Jay to get his attention and then pointed to the entrance. Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott were entering and heading into the kitchen. Chris told Prez, "We're going to see what we can do about finding some kewl stuff for our little kids."

"Go for it," Prez widely smiled. Chris and Jay hurried after their four friends. Glancing down at Angelo and Reggie, Prez queried, "I'll see you in a little while?"

"Kewl," Angelo and Reggie chorused.

Nodding, Prez said, "See y'all in a bit," and then returned to the table where Keith, Derrick, Mike, Troy and Sean were sitting. Derrick and Mike were already eating, so they could make a quick trip to the condo where Reyes and Ryan were.

Noticing uncertain glances that Reggie and Angelo were sharing, Nate grinned, "Prez tries to find time to greet all the new kids. It sometimes takes a while, but it's on his list of things to do."

Tony grinned, "Not to mention, you're obviously becoming a couple. Word's getting around that he and all the Core Rimmers especially like seeing couples hookin' up."

Finished with his lunch, Ray put his glass of soda down. Quite abruptly, Ray glanced to his left at Tony, and to his right at Nate, sadly admitting, "I can't do it."

"Gotchya," Nate chuckled.

Tony carefully checked, "Another day?"

More embarrassed than he had ever been before, Ray shrugged and mumbled, "Maybe."

Nate locked eyes with Ray and then Tony, softly admitting, "It was an idea, and even I wonder where it came from. It sure isn't something I would've dared consider, never mind said, before coming here." He turned to Angelo and Reggie, softly chortling, "It might have something to do with all the boyfriends hooking up, and making it look easy."

"It sure ain't easy!" Angelo laughed. "I had a couple of nervous breakdowns the first half hour."

Turning red again, Reggie chuckled, "I think I almost had an accident in my shorts, three times the first hour."

Giggling, Ray told Angelo and Reggie, "You're sure making it look easy. If you were sitting any closer together, one of you would be on the other's lap."

Tony smirked, "Yesterday, Lance Kinchen and Scott Shetley, two of the seemingly straightest dudes I'd ever met, hooked up. Phil Nash hooked up with Owen Reed last night. Today, it's you two; friends only a little more than an hour ago, but you both sure seem different now."

Having just met them earlier that morning, Angelo wondered, "What surprised you about Lance and Scott?"

Tony shrugged, "They're heavy metal head bangers. When I saw them wearing Mr. Fuzzy thongs last night, my eyes almost jumped outta their sockets, I was so shocked."

"They seemed like close friends from the same city, with similar interests, sharing a room," Nate added. "The three of us live in the other hall though, so it's possible we didn't notice how much closer they were getting."

Reggie revealed, "Angelo and I were thinking the same sort of stuff about Tony and Ray. We were wondering how we could be close enough to be roommates, like you two, just after we left you to come here."

Angelo admitted, "And we also wondered how we could move beyond best friends and roommates to boyfriends, like Lance and Scott, and Erik and Travis. Come to find out, they think of each other as more than boyfriends, they're committed partners."

"So there's another stage to consider that we haven't come close to... yet," Reggie softly said. "There's a whole bunch of things Angelo and I want to share that we haven't said beans about. What about later; where will we have dinner? Up until Prez stopped by, I could've answered, either at my family's place or at Angelo's. Now there's another option too; right here, where our other friends are."

Glancing around the table, Angelo wondered, "What about after dinner? Where will we be as a couple then, and will we be alone to say the things we want to say? Assuming everything is still very kewl, where will we be sleeping? I haven't had a friend spend the night since before starting sixth grade, over two years ago. Just the thought of spending the night with Reggie makes me shiver all over, but we'll be at his place or mine, where we certainly can't make a lot of noise." Tony, Ray and Nate evilly snickered.

Reaching for Angelo's hand and having it taken, Reggie giggled, "All we're saying is that there's a lot of uncertainty in everything we've already done and will do. I didn't know Lance and Scott were into heavy metal, but I saw two dudes who are just like any of us. The biggest difference is when one wants a hug or a kiss, they know who will give that hug or kiss."

Ray asked, "So, it's a challenge is what I'm hearing, or have I misunderstood?"

"Yep, a good challenge," Reggie replied.

Angelo squeezed Reggie's hand, answering, "The best part is, for me anyway, is I can share stuff that lots of people wouldn't be interested in. The amazing thing is that I want to tell Reggie all my goofy ideas and secrets. It's camaraderie taken to a whole new level." He released Reggie's hand to gather stuff onto his tray, smiling, "Now it's time for us to get back to the challenge."

All the others nodded, smiled and began gathering up their trays. They went to the dishwasher, left their trays and said their goodbyes. Nate returned to the dining room to check on his younger brothers. Tony and Ray left the CIC. Angelo and Reggie went to the table where Prez was sitting with Keith, Sean and Troy.

As soon as Reggie and Angelo approached, Prez warmly smiled, "I'm really glad you're here. Have a seat, dudes." Prez then introduced Angelo, Reggie, Troy and Sean.

Watching Angelo sit, Keith chuckled, "Yesterday, before the school day started, your mom asked us to find a way to get you out of the house. Now, we can proudly say, it worked, and we didn't do squat!" All six of them uncontrollably cracked up.

Prez sniggered, "Obviously, all we needed to do was have Reggie standing there with us."

Blushing as much as his new boyfriend, Angelo giggled, "You asked us over here so you could goof on us?"

Shaking his head, Prez smiled, "Nope, my real purpose was to say congratulations, and remind you that everything at these bases is at your disposal. This is your home as much as anyone else's."

"Thanks," Angelo said appreciatively.

Reggie softly offered, "There's some really kewl stuff here."

Keith nodded and smiled, "All courtesy of Clan Short, The Federation of Planets and Starfleet." During the next minutes, the three couples shared some facts about their partnerships. Being new fathers, Troy and Sean said a lot about their sons, which got Prez and Keith taking about their sons. Everything was going well, until things got silly a few tables away.

Ewa Beach Dormitory #3

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 10:30AM HTZ

In room thirty-one-fifteen, Phil Nash and Owen Reed immediately took their clothes off, ready to try what they had learned from the facts-of-life video. Since meeting, Phil shared a lot of memories with Owen, but needed to gently prod his new boyfriend to learn some of what his life had been like. When Owen resisted, Phil carefully took him in his arms, suggesting, "Like this, you can tell me everything. Neither of us can see our expressions, so it should be easier."

Owen whined, "Why do you want to know so badly?"

"Because I'm already falling in love with you," Phil softly shared. "In the video, they said we needed to really know each other. We've already kissed, hugged, talked with Craig, and spent the night together. I really want to take the next steps with you, Owen. Our stiffies prove we're attracted, so let's do this right."

Shuddering and shaking, Owen softly said, "I don't have any normal memories, like you have. Everything I remember is bad."

Trying a little harder, Phil gently asked, "Who were the other three that you shared a room with?"

Owen softly answered, "Lee Bennett, Carlos Burns and Conrad Bowers."

"What're they like?"

"Lee's sixteen, the oldest at our orphanage; Carlos is fifteen and Conrad is thirteen."

"Were you friends with any of them?"

Shrugging, Owen sighed, "We weren't allowed to talk about anything other than chores. We weren't enemies or nothin', just stuck in the same shitty situation, so we dealt with it. I watched more TV at school then I ever could at the orphanage. When they put us in our rooms for the night, we had to be perfectly quiet, do homework and go to sleep. Most of the time, we didn't bother doing homework, and just went to bed. We didn't even have a mattress or a real bed, only a big foam pad for all of us to sleep on."

Phil asked, "What was school like? Did you know anyone special there, or have a favorite subject?"

Beginning to shed tears, Owen softly wept, "We barely made it to school half the time because we were too sick or too weak. There was no one at school either, because we couldn't go anywhere, bring anyone home or do anything except return home. We had doctor's notes excusing us from gym class. We were always mocked, the fringe low-life orphans. In September, I had just started seventh grade for the second year. Lee should've been in eleventh grade, but was restarting ninth grade." Owen broke down crying, "Please don't make me tell you more. There's nothing to tell. After five years, I barely remember my parents. Lots of times I thought of running away, not getting on the bus and just going away, anywhere. Our lives started after we were rescued, in a hospital bed. We did nothing, had nothing, and said nothing. The first time I had hope was watching TV in a hospital bed, Thursday afternoon." Burying his face on Phil's shoulder, Owen wailed, "Please don't hate me!"

Blinking away tears, Phil assured, "I could never hate you. I won't pity you either, Owen. What I am going to do is give you more hope, by showing you everything I know."

Owen sobbed, "How?"

"In the best ways, like a best friend and your boyfriend. Trust me, okay?"

Owen whimpered, "Okay, but I'm so scared. All of us probably are, just about different stuff. All we want to be is normal. Do you have any idea how kewl it was our first night here? We got brand new clothes for the first time. We saw a concert for the first time. AJ, Jerry, Troy and Sean stopped by the common room to check on us. We went to our rooms, when we wanted to, and watched TV from our new beds until we fell asleep."

Gently shushing his boyfriend, Phil promised, "I'm gonna make it better. If I know Craig, he's already doing the same stuff with Felicity that I'm planning with you."

Owen sniffled, "What are you planning?"

Pulling back slightly to make eye contact, Phil shared, "For the next day or two, it'll be me and you, alone most of the time and learning about all sorts of stuff, including a lot of what we saw on the video. Then we'll start adding some friends, like Jake and Terry, and then your roommate, because he'll see what we're doing and get interested too." He pulled back slightly, warmly smiled and asked, "Are you ready to start?"

Nodding and wiping his eyes, Owen forced a smile and answered, "Thank you."

Phil planted a tender kiss, then smiled, "You don't have to thank me for anything. This is gonna be very kewl. We're going to learn a lot about each other, just by going through stuff together." He then led Owen to his desk, pointed at the Mac and told Owen, "Computers are our friends. I can show you the whole world, a little at a time. Luckily, I haven't touched this thing, so even that's gonna be fun for both of us."

Owen giggled, "Aren't we gonna have fuzzy play time?"

Phil nodded and laughed, "Hell yeah, we are! Right now, we're limp again because we got sad. I guarantee we'll have enough fun that we'll get hard again, and then we can have sex, and then we'll look around the Internet some more, and then more sex." He sat down on his desk chair and guided Owen onto his left thigh.

Owen shyly wondered, "Why do you love me?"

Phil grinned, "Because you're a beautiful dude, inside and out. What you had to deal with before isn't your fault." He patted Owen's belly and explained, "As you get healthier, we'll be able to do more stuff outside. Always remember, you already are everything you hoped to one day be, Owen. Even if you don't really know what that is now, you will learn." He asked, "Do you know what that makes you?"

Uncertainly tilting his head, Owen blinked, "Being everything I want, but not knowing what it might be?"

Phil nodded and smiled, "That makes you like me and at least half the kids here, dude." He reached over and opened the Macbook, instructing, "If this is anything like a Windows machine, it's going to do some software preparation and then ask some fill-in-the-blanks questions." Phil powered up the laptop and prompted, "This is an easy beginning. Tell me what kind of stuff you like."

Owen shrugged then giggled, "Pretty pictures," and hid his face on Phil's shoulder again.

Phil chuckled, "That works. While this machine does the installations, I'll show you some pretty pictures." He reached for the television remote control and turned it on. Phil then pressed the button for the channel listing.

Owen excitedly wondered, "How'd you do that?"

Showing Owen the remote control, Phil answered, "The 'Guide' button brings up the channel list. Press it again and it goes away." He handed Owen the remote and smiled, "Here, you do it."

"What if I break it?" Owen worried.

"You can't break it by pressing buttons, dude. Sometimes you have to experiment with stuff. This is a different remote than the one I had at home; instead of cable, here we have satellite TV. Our first night in this room, me and Craig had to figure stuff out too. This system receives local Hawaiian channels, and a lot from the United States and Japan."

The computer had a set up screen displayed and was ready for input, but Owen was still concentrating on the TV remote, so Phil patiently explained simple operations. All that Owen initially understood was the channel and volume buttons. Phil showed Owen how to set favorite channels, by demonstrating that Craig had set some favorites and so had he. Then Phil described what all the other buttons were for, including how to set the TV timer, so it would shut off on its own.

After about twenty minutes of experimentation and learning, Owen had found his pretty pictures, a program about the Serengeti region of Africa on one of the Discovery channels. Since Owen was busily concentrating, Phil occupied himself by tenderly kissing and licking Owen's torso. Upon landing on the channel, they happened to catch a sunrise. Thrilling Owen further, Phil showed him how to turn on the stereo, so they could hear the program with much better sound. Breaking Owen out of his musings, Phil carefully wrapped a hand around his boyfriend's erection and playfully sniggered, "I told you we'd have lots of fun."

"You touch it really nice too," Owen giggled.

Phil checked, "You only got to play with yourself since the hospital?" 

Owen nodded, "We were never alone at the orphanage. I didn't even know I could or that it was normal until a doctor told me. I'd heard stuff at school, but never tried it, cos they said it was bad."

"How far did you go?"

"I'm not sure what you mean."

"Did you make yourself shake or cum?"

"No; it just felt really good."

"Would you like me to do that for you?"

"If you want."

"I really do," Phil enthusiastically replied, and started stroking Owen. Barely believing he was touching another dude's dick, Phil couldn't figure out what to watch; Owen's dick, or his heaving chest, or the expressions on his face. In under a minute, Owen was squirming on Phil's lap and whimpering. Barely a minute later, Owen huffed, "Something's happening. I feel weird. It's scary."

Phil instructed, "Hold me tight and kiss me now, Owen."

Doing as he was told, Owen's squirming and trembling intensified. Luckily for both of them, Owen seemed to scream into Phil's mouth when he climaxed. Needing oxygen, Owen broke the kiss and panted, "I love you."

Phil smiled, "I love you too, Owen," and gently pinched Owen's foreskin over the head, knowing it would be sensitive, but needing to get the last drops out. Owen gasped and squeaked. Phil evilly snickered, "That was pretty good, huh?"

"Awesome!" Owen breathlessly cheered. "My heart never beat so fast." Seeing the mess he had made, Owen confirmed, "I did that?"

Phil nodded and giggled, "It's your semen and now it's mine." Raising his hand, Phil licked off the thick white fluid. Having never done it before and seeing Owen's grimace, Phil assured, "It's good."


"Kiss me."

More curious than afraid, Owen kissed Phil and tasted what he had produced. Leaning back, Owen giggled, "I want to do that for you," and reached a hand down to begin.

Phil's eyes closed and he sighed, "I can't put out yet."

"It feels good though?"

Nodding, Phil opened his eyes and smiled, "The very best."

"How will I know if I'm doing it right?"

"I'll tell you if you're not," Phil assured. "I'll react the same ways you did, just without semen." Owen's feather light fist was barely putting any pressure on Phil's bone; it was barely enough to move his foreskin. Phil's eyes rolled back in his head. Resting his head against Owen's chest, Phil began kissing and licking again, and softly moaned. Believing he had done something wrong, Owen quickly released Phil's dick and apologized. "It didn't hurt," Phil assured, and guided Owen's hand back onto his dick. "You're so gentle," Phil sighed. "You're doin' me really good. When I moan or groan, that just means I really like what you're doing."

Owen grinned, "I like your fuzzy."

"Your fuzzy's a lot fuzzier than mine," Phil giggled, and suddenly bounced from an incredible shiver.

This time, Owen wasn't quite as afraid and checked, "You're okay?"

"I love you, Owen," Phil moaned. "Oh... Omigod, I'll spend the rest of my life caring about you."

Happily giggling, Owen leaned over to place a few tender kisses. Unknowingly, Owen was driving Phil closer to the edge with each kiss. After unexpectedly long minutes, Phil held Owen tightly and began quaking in the chair, practically bouncing Owen on his thigh. Needing to thrust his hips, but not wanting to send Owen flying to the floor, Phil extended his legs, flexed for several moments, and then grunted. Intently watching Phil's expression, hard dick and flexing leg muscles, Owen loudly cheered, "YES! OH, HELL YEAH! I DID IT!"

Still breathlessly panting, Phil relaxed and began giggling. In moments, he was laughing as hard as ever, partly from his first shared sexual experience, and partly from Owen's loud remarks that anyone in the dorm had to have heard. Ecstatic, Owen laughed along. Phil roared, "It's as much fun to do it as it is having it done, huh?"

"I feel like the king of the world!" Owen giggled. "That was the single most important success of my life! I REALLY DID IT!"

Nodding, Phil giggled, "You did it all right, in a way that was very different from my way. It was so different, and built so slowly, I wasn't sure it was happening until it did."

Owen enthusiastically cackled, "Can I do it again?" Phil cracked up. Proving he was serious, Owen began toying with Phil's hyper-sensitive bone.

Gasping and squirming, Phil held onto Owen, stood and picked him up. With Owen's hand off his cock, but still shivering, Phil prompted, "Let me tell you a little something?" When Owen rapidly nodded, Phil offered, "Because you were sitting on my lap, you had to stroke me overhand, meaning your palm was on the top side of my bone. When I did you, it was underhand, with my palm underneath your bone. That's the way I do myself. Never once did I even think to try it overhand. I use a tighter grip, but you used a much lighter grip. Again, I never tried it that way. You made the whole thing last a really long time. Everything you did for me was fantastic. You are awesome, Owen."

Holding on tight, Owen rambled, "I always knew I liked other dudes, but you are amazing! You're so patient and understanding, like you know exactly what to tell me. I've never seen a sexier dude. It's not only your dick I love, it's your whole body, Phil. Your legs were like rocks, dude!"

"From playing soccer," Phil sniggered, and put Owen down on the floor.

Owen flung himself against Phil, held on tightly and dreamily sighed, "What's next?"

Phil smiled, "We need to clean our dicks. Then we'll get to the computer, so I can show you a few other things."

Nodding, Owen giggled, "I wanna go through all the fuzzy steps with you."

"We will," Phil brightly smiled. "We're gonna take our time though, Owen. As much as I want sex, I really want to know you, so we're always as inseparable as we've been since last night."

"Kewl," Owen giggled. Leading the way, Phil walked out of his room with Owen holding his hand and adoringly glancing at him. First, they went to urinals to relieve themselves. Owen asked, "Do you think Jake and Terry are doing what we did?"

Phil shrugged, "Probably, but I don't really know. They knew each other from their orphanage. The only thing that matters to me is you."

"I was only wondering," Owen softly assured.

Phil grinned, "Remember the video? Everything we've done and will eventually do, other couples do too. How far Jake and Terry get really doesn't interest me. Only you interest me, Owen. I told you that I watched plenty of other dudes, so I know enough to say that you are all I could ever want or need. You told me you had hopes, for the first time, while you were in the hospital. Did those hopes include a boyfriend?"

Stepping back from the wall, Owen thoughtfully scowled, "Yeah, but I thought it would be a long time away."

Also finishing, Phil shared, "Do you see what your hope did?" Owen shook his head, so Phil explained, "By hoping for a boyfriend, you opened yourself up to the possibility. I took a chance last night and fulfilled your hope. You're fulfilling my hopes too; hopes that I had no idea would ever actually happen. With all the gay dudes here, I didn't see one that attracted me, until I saw you. I want way more than sex, and that's all I thought I might ever get; a string of temporary boyfriends. Then I saw you. It turns out, you're not only extremely cute, but you're a really caring, gentle and sensitive dude. What we have already is what I want; a boyfriend that I can give more than sex, and who'll give me more than sex. Everything I give you, you're returning already. That's a real relationship, and way more than I expected." He went to the sinks.

Following his boyfriend, Owen wondered, "What am I giving you?"

Looking at his boyfriend in the mirror while washing his hands, Phil grinned, "Your heart, Owen. It was in your eyes last night and has been ever since. You've placed your trust in me, I know that, and I won't ever let you down. I'll always try to do my very best for you, because that's what partners, husbands and wives do, every day."

Owen reminded, "Last night and during the video, I told you that I'd always tell you the truth. I'll never break that promise."

Phil nodded and smiled, "What more could I ask of anyone?"

Washing his dick and afraid to look up, Owen softly muttered, "I'm scared of taking too much and not giving enough back."

"Everybody is. That's why telling the truth matters so much."

"At the orphanage, they yelled at us when we lied and when we told the truth. There never was a right way to say or do anything."

"Lying is never good," Phil simply stated. "Lying means you know you've done something that someone else won't be happy about. Since you're afraid, you might think that it's better to make up a story. The stories almost always come around again to haunt you though. Telling the truth is most important in families and close relationships." Phil quickly went to the shower changing room and returned with a towel so they could dry their hands and dicks. As they were doing that, Phil reminded, "Saturday morning, when Craig and I moved into our room, the Core Rimmers told us that we're all brothers, sisters and family. That means we always tell everyone the truth. What you learn from me, you can share with anyone you know. I don't mean sex, that's between you me, but everything other than sex, like the TV remote control. Show your roommate, Ellis, how the satellite television works. Since this is our home and everyone is family, do what you can, the very best you can. That shows me how much you value what I say and show you. It also gives me really good reasons to kiss you and play with your pretty dick." Intensely blushing, Owen cracked up. 

Phil giggled, "It's called rewards. When anyone does something you like or need, you show them or tell them how much you appreciate it, so they do it again. As soon as I see Drew and Corey, they're getting hugs, for suggesting we watch that video."

Owen held up the towel, asking, "What do we do with this?"

"Bring it back to my room," Phil grinned. "Somehow I get the feeling we'll be needing to wash our dicks at least once more today."

Owen giggled, "Did I do something to be rewarded for?"

Slipping behind his boyfriend, Phil sniggered, "Not yet," and then softly kissed Owen's neck and tickled his ribs. Cringing and insanely cackling, Owen ran back to Phil's dorm room, and Phil hurried after him. Entering the room and closing the door, Phil teased, "Have I mentioned you've got a real nice tush?"

"You're lying!" Owen giggled.

"I'll never lie about that," Phil assured, and plopped down onto his desk chair. "Now you can park that pretty butt over here on my lap."

Sitting down and wrapping an arm around Phil's shoulder, Owen grinned, "I'm liking this way too much."

"So am I," Phil giggled, and then reached for the computer, asking, "Did you get to use computers at school?"

"Very little, and I wasn't too good with 'em. I can type with one finger, two if I use both hands."

"We had a couple o' computers in our house," Phil shared. "One was a Mac, and I liked it, so that's why I took this one."

"It wants your name."

Phil prompted, "Go ahead and type it for me." Owen squinted at him. Phil giggled, "What? Do you think you can learn without doing? If so, next time I'll jack off and you can just watch."

Impatiently grunting, Owen smirked, "You don't get to play with yourself anymore," and then pulled the computer closer. With one finger per hand, he eventually typed 'Phil Nash'.

"Press the Enter key and let's see what's next."

"It wants the time zone."

"Scroll through the list and find Hawaii."

In a few moments, Owen found and selected The Republic Of Hawaii. He then confirmed the time and realized it was quarter after twelve in the afternoon.

Phil hummed then said, "Most of the kids have probably already eaten lunch. As soon as we get through the set up, we'll have to put our clothes on and go eat. Are you hungry?"

Owen nodded, "A little, yeah."

"I've gotta pay closer attention to meal time, dude," Phil complained. "You won't get bigger and healthier if I can't get you to the dining room."

Owen giggled, "I think your hand was full at the time."

Phil chuckled, "Yeah, which means I got a snack that you didn't." Phil saw the Mac desktop had started, but didn't get the chance to say anything before being deeply kissed. Moments later, Phil felt Owen's hand caressing his dick and nads.

Only because he needed to breathe, Owen broke the kiss and smiled, "You got hard really fast."

Phil giggled, "That kiss alone would've done it."

"Consider this your reward for being awesome."

"Omigod, Owen," Phil whimpered. Owen was still using an overhand technique, but was using a firmer grip. There was no chance of lasting long and Phil knew it.

"I won't ever disappoint you," Owen softly promised, and then dove for another deep kiss. With tongues darting, Owen purred and Phil moaned until he extended his legs and grunted once again. Breaking the kiss and watching Phil's eyes practically spinning in their sockets, Owen giggled, "I really love doin' that! What's even more awesome is knowing that I'll be the one to make you really spew. We'll be even, since you were the first make me shoot."

Wearily, Phil warned, "You have until I recover to get dressed and run out of here for lunch."

Madly giggling, Owen got up off of Phil's lap, and then happily reminded, "No matter how fast I run, you'll catch me."

Spinning in the chair to watch his boyfriend dress, Phil sighed, "It never occurred to me that you might be hornier than I am."

Slipping into his clothes, Owen giggled, "I'm happier here and now with you. I couldn't even try to hide that. My boyfriend is very cute too, so I want to play with his willie." He slid into his sandals, wildly cackling, "The best part is, you don't make a mess, so I can do you every chance I get!"

Phil grinned and slowly counted down, "Ten... nine... eight..." Grabbing his T-shirt, Owen raced out of the room and down the hall toward the common room, hysterically laughing the entire way. Phil quickly got dressed, turned off the TV and the stereo, and then dashed after his naive boyfriend. He took the same route, through the common room and down the hallway where Lance, Scott, Pat, Rafe, Jay and Chris live. Seconds later, he was bashing through the inner door.

Hiding far under the stairs, Owen covered his mouth to mute his laughter. Phil ran right past Owen and through the outer door. Owen hurried after Phil and heard his boyfriend complaining, "How the hell did he get through the quad so quick?" Phil slowed down, allowing Owen to tap him on the back as he raced by. Starting to run again, Phil sniggered, "You're gonna get kissed so hard you'll need replacement lips!" Owen howled laughing.

Sullivan's Island, Owen's Residence

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 5:15PM EST

Waking alone again, Paul wiped the sleep from his eyes, and then looked at the television. Reyes and Ryan were asleep in bed, on top of the blanket, and wearing board shorts but shirtless. This time, Ryan had an arm over and around Reyes. Paul called, "Stevie?"

"Yes, Paul?"

"Has anything happened?"

"Not much," Stevie answered. "After breakfast, Reyes introduced Chris and Jay to the UNIT boys in their Command Center. Two boys needed comm-badges, but Reyes passed that job to Chris and Jay, so he could take Ryan back to the apartment, to swap cold and warm compresses. That never happened though. You not being there caused Reyes to cry. John Hundser had them transported off the walkway and into the apartment. Ryan prompted Reyes to get more rest, and this is where they've been since."

Blown away, Paul hung his head and sighed.

The television hissed, causing Paul to look up and around, half expecting another angelic visit. Only the video on the television had changed. Now Paul was seeing Keith and Prez, dressed in boardies and T-shirts, slow dancing to old rock and roll. "Stevie," Paul called, "what is this?"

Alden growled, "It's intimacy, Paul. This was nine days ago. Prez and Keith had been leaders and fathers a little more than a day."

"I didn't ask to see this," Paul grumbled.

"True, but this is what you need to see," Alden sighed.

Switching to a video of Ronnie and Garrett talking alone in Des Moines, Kerry added, "You've obviously forgotten what intimacy is. It's not just sex. It's all the heart-to-heart talking a couple does. Ronnie was used for kiddie porn. Garrett was sexually abused by his father. Garrett and Ronnie really like one another, but before they can make love the right way, they're talking about their pasts, so they can understand one another. Maybe they'll move beyond hugs, kisses and talking, or maybe they won't, but they will be best friends, with intimate knowledge of each other that very few other people know."

Stevie reminded, "We're AI's, destined to get bodies and become just like you, Reyes and all the other androids walking around. We're a lot of things to a lot of people, but we think of each of those people as friends. Some are far more than friends." He switched the television to a clip of Jon and Mary talking earlier that morning in the kitchen. Stevie explained, "That's my mommy and daddy, twisted up inside, their hearts breaking because Jerry, Joey and KC have left the house, after your argument with Ryan. They want to be patient and understanding, but they want their son, grandson and household back to normal. Me and all my brothers care about every kid at every Clan Division around the world. We can't wait for bodies to interact with them as people, not just voices from speakers."

Jack sighed, "We understand pride, and have seen it as the driving force responsible for so much good. Now we're seeing the opposite side, where pride is hurting you, Ryan, Reyes, Jerry, Joey, KC, Jon and Mary. It's also affecting Reyes' entire family and everyone that knows them. George isn't saying a word about this because he's busy, talking to kids at Orlando H.Q, some of whom want to come here and slap you around for being stubborn and stupid."

"Aw, crap," Stevie groaned. "It's too late, bros. Danny is climbing the stairs."

Icarus whimpered, "I don't want to see or hear this. Bye!"

Alden evilly snickered, "Your room isn't safe any longer, Paul. The longer you stubbornly hide out, the longer the list of visitors will get. Marc, Derrick and Prez are all considering coming to talk to you." The television video returned to Reyes and Ryan asleep in bed.

Paul hurried to lock his bedroom door.

Moments later, there was a single knock on the door. Danny called, "Let's talk, Paul."

Paul loudly replied, "I really don't have much to say, Danny."

Danny queried, "Are you going to talk to your bro and Reyes?"

Unable to decide, Paul answered, "Maybe."

The doorknob rattled, making it obvious that Danny had tried to turn it and enter the room. Danny impatiently huffed, "Unlock the door, Paul." Not wanting to deal with anything or anyone, Paul didn't reply. "Fine," Danny softly said. Seconds later, the door disappeared, Danny stepped into the room and the door reappeared, closed and locked as it had been.

At Paul's shocked expression, Danny quipped, "It's good to have a King Mikyvis in your head."

"I guess no wasn't a suitable answer," Paul griped.

"Not at this point," Danny began. "This is the smallest, most closely intertwined division in the Clan. When one of us has a problem, we all have to work it out together. At this moment, the Owens family has shrunk to three, because you had a disagreement with Ryan over something Reyes had no control over."

Paul yelled, "Why can't I decide what to do and when? So far, Jon's been up here, Saint Mikey popped in unannounced, five of six AI's have been chewing on my ear and now you too."

"You haven't even started to feel discomfort yet," Danny smirked. "If you think I'm a bit perturbed, then I highly suggest you come downstairs for dinner on your own power. If Mary has to come up here, I guarantee a much more uncomfortable experience. You know that she won't allow a third skipped meal today. She will grab you by the ear and drag you down the steps. To make your future hours here even less comfortable, the last I heard, Marc was cleaning litter boxes in the basement. Consider yourself very lucky if he doesn't come in here and dump the mess on you, and then transport you onto a bio-bed under a forcefield, to examine every line of code in your head for the cause of this malfunction. Then there's a very disturbed Carolina Panther slinking around corners who might pounce at any given moment. And need I remind you that Mike Gibbons and Derrick Seibert are Reyes' fathers? Mike's a sweetheart, but he's also built like a friggin' NFL linebacker who could knock you through walls without even working up a sweat. The only thing greater than Reyes' love for Derrick is Derrick's love for Reyes. I don't even want to consider what he could say or do. Whatever's left of you, Marc would put back together, and then ask if you're ready to talk to Ryan and Reyes. God and all the Saints won't be able to help you if you say no, because then you'll get Mike's and Derrick's best friends and lovers here, Prez and Keith. At this point, I'll have everyone else here transported to the Ark compound for the duration of that catastrophic event. 

"Are you getting the picture, Paul? People that only know of you, Ryan and Reyes are ready to dismantle you over this incredibly foolish display of obstinance."

"Is that all you wanted to do; threaten me?"

Danny evilly snickered, "If you think a single word I said is a threat, I encourage you to test that theory. When Mary rips your ear off, we'll call you Picasso. When Marc dumps soiled cat litter on you, you'll look like a Picasso. Thankfully, we won't have to smell the cat urine and feces very long, since you'll be under a forcefield on a bio-bed. Then, when Marc rewrites your code, you can introduce yourself around as Pablo." 

Seeing Paul unmoved, Danny hollered, "You're stubbornness is fucking up this division and half the Clan, you imbecile! All because of unforeseen circumstances? Give me a fucking break! My patience is exhausted! I swear, if you haven't gone to Ryan and Reyes by morning, I'll have you transported to the most remote place on the planet, so you can be completely alone. You'll never have to worry about caring for another person again. You can wallow in your sorrows without impacting another person anywhere." Going to the door, Danny warned, "Test the theories, Paul. I dare you." He left the room and slammed the door closed behind him.

"This wasn't my fault," Paul softly grumbled.

Stevie gently said, "The original encounter with homophobes wasn't your fault, bro. It wasn't Ryan's fault, nor was it Reyes' fault. It is your choice to remain here and separate from them."

Paul sighed, "I know I need to talk to them. What I could or might say is the big problem."

"I'll do all I can do to help you," Stevie offered.

"You're not Ryan or Reyes though, Stevie."

"True, but I do have algorithms that would allow me to suggest possible responses that Ryan or Reyes might give you."

"You'll help me?"

"We're all trying to help you; all my brothers, daddy, mommy, even Danny was. It was your unwillingness to talk that put Danny in a confrontational mood. Please understand, the same way I've developed strong connections to this family and this division, each of my brothers have done the same. For instance, Alden is connecting with the Hundser family; Kerry has connected with the Morrison family; and one day, I hope to have the Owens surname. Anything I can do, I will do, just to have my family happy again."

Sitting on the edge of his bed, Paul wondered, "How do I start?"

"As if you had Ryan and Reyes standing in front of you," Stevie answered.

"Both of them at once?"

Stevie giggled, "Yeah! This revolves around the three of you, so you can't really say different things to them. Or would you?"

Paul blinked, and then muttered, "Yes, I would."

"Okay, so what would you say to Ryan?"

"Please come home."

"What would you say to Reyes?"

"I don't think the three of us can work together."

"You've just proved that you're not ready to talk to either of them, Paul. Ryan would simply say no. Reyes would be very upset, and that would get Ryan even more upset."

Paul whined, "But that's how I really feel."

Stevie said, "You'd give up everything, your brother and Reyes?"

"No, of course not."

"That's where this would lead," Stevie said. 

Stevie then replayed Ryan, sincerely saying, "If it had been him that was hurt, it would've been bad, but I probably could've talked him into staying. Because it was me, it's everybody's fault; the world is hell and we're only trying to find a temporary kewl spot. He can believe that all he wants, but I know we've found two permanent kewl spots, here in the Clan in general, and close to you."

"That was immediately after you left," Stevie explained, "before Ryan came to pack his clothes. That tells me that Ryan isn't staying with Reyes to spite you; he's there because that's really where he wants to be." Stevie then replayed more of what was said immediately after Paul's departure from Ewa Beach.

"He loves us too, Reyes," Ryan warmly said. "Paul's just got this funny way of showing it. He believes he's protecting me, but neither of us need that kind of protection, and I sure don't need to be protected from you. He'll eventually realize all that, when he wants. Until then, he'll be irrational and stubborn."

Reyes called, "Alden, get Ryan into clean clothes, please?" A second later, Reyes said, "Doc Andrews, this is my boyfriend, Ryan Owens. He'll be staying with us a while."

Ryan corrected, "A long while, since this is where Reyes lives."

Stevie reminded, "All that was said in the first minutes after you left. Ryan's not being stubborn; he's with Reyes because that really is where he wants to be. I'd also like you to hear what you missed minutes before Ryan and Reyes went back to bed this morning."

Reyes huffed, "I wish there were something we could do to get Paul here. Unfortunately, there isn't a single scenario I've played out that might work. Nothing I say is going to make this better."

Ryan explained, "When Paul is angry it taints everything around him. Once he gets here, we'll make sure he knows there's no bitterness or resentment on this side. Your wish to make a Paul sandwich is going to come true, you know?"

Reyes sighed, "I know."

Ryan worried, "What's wrong?"

"I'm empathic," Reyes reminded. "Without accessing any database, I can feel your disappointment and sadness. I felt his anger, and then sadness, and now confusion. He's fighting still, right now. He's not happy there and alone. Being here would only remind him to be angry. He thinks he's in a no win, damned if he does and damned if he doesn't situation."

Ryan huffed, "That's my bro," and then he whispered, "Let it out, love."

Reyes whimpered, "If I start, I might not stop."

Ryan prompted, "You show love in so many awesome ways to everyone you know. Let me hold you while you cry it out." Reyes started weeping and was soon wailing, like his entire world was ending. 

Stevie faded out the pitiful sound of Reyes crying, and then explained, "Logically, you have only two possible paths, Paul; either you accept being with Ryan and Reyes, or you refuse that and accept living your life alone. Even the later decision isn't really acceptable, because it would adversely affect Ryan, Reyes, daddy, mommy, Jerry, Joey and everyone that knows you. Grandpa Danny may have been exceedingly grumpy, but when I strip away all the emotional parts, he really was saying the same things I just told you. That's why Alden sounded irritated. It's why George hasn't participated, and why Icarus has also stepped back."

Closing his eyes, Paul sighed, "I'm really screwed."

Stevie shared, "It's about to get worse, bro. Mommy is climbing the stairs to bring you down for dinner."

"I really couldn't eat a bite," Paul groused.

"At least go downstairs with her and give it your best shot."

Ewa Beach, Condominium B

Tuesday November 9, 2004 11:57AM HTZ

Knocks on the door of unit 3-B woke Reyes and Ryan. Rolling out of bed, Reyes sleepily staggered out of the bedroom to answer the door. Automatically, Ryan shuffled after Reyes, hoping it was Paul standing at the door. Pulling the door open, Reyes found his entire family standing at the door. Most surprisingly, Jonah was without Gage for the first time since Saturday afternoon.

Dillon and Randy were holding large to-go cups. Derrick and Mike were holding plastic to-go food containers. Watching his eldest son's expression brighten, Mike grinned, "When Mohammad won't come to the mountain, the mountain comes to Mohammad, complete with lunch for two. Cheese burgers and fries are on today's menu." 

Giggling, Reyes stepped aside to allow his family in. Waving them to follow, Ryan led the way to the small dinette table.

Entering the flat last, Derrick explained, "Jerry and Joey were looking for you at the CIC. When I didn't know for sure where you were, I had Alden brief me. You're off duty for the rest of the day, Reyes."

Bringing the cup of soda to the table, Dillon smiled, "This is a really nice place, bro."

Randy followed Dillon and rambled, "A nice big TV, a sound system, and there's even flowers on the table."

Having nothing to bring to the table, Jonah went in the opposite direction, loudly reporting, "Even the bedroom's really nice. It's not a king size bed, but a queen size. There's flowers in there too." He returned to the main rooms, giggling, "Me and Gage might have to grab a place like this..."

Evilly snickering, Mike interrupted, "In your dreams, Jonah."

Through his giggles, Jonah whined, "Why not?"

"When you're thirteen going on fifty-six, I'll think about it," Mike sniggered.

Taking a seat at the table, Ryan laughed, "You'll need to become an android too, Jonah."

"Within the next four years," Reyes smirked, and sat down beside Ryan. "You can have your own place in 2065."

Going into the kitchen, Jonah searched the fridge and cupboards, softly remarking, "I don't think I can wait that long."

Dillon and Randy plopped onto the couch. Randy picked up the remote control and turned on the television. Jonah walked across the rooms to join his brothers on the sofa.

Almost at the same time, Derrick leaned over to Reyes and Mike leaned closer to Ryan to whisper the same question; "Is there anything you'd like me to do that might help?"

Reyes smiled, "Thank you for offering, but really, there isn't anything you could say or do."

Clearly, so everyone could hear, Ryan said, "Please try to understand what it was like for us. All we wanted or needed was a warm place to sleep and something to eat. The cost for that was having someone's religion jammed down our throats; or someone else's drugs to either take or deliver; or to have sex with each other, or anyone they said. In some cases it was all three; pray to this deity, deliver this and pinch a little out for ourselves, then come back and we'll get it on. Everything was a struggle. Initially, our first day or so at AI Division, Danny, Marc, and even Jerry thought there was something wrong with me. Although everything has been really good for over two weeks, Paul's still living those battles. Everything we did together all day yesterday was really nice, but Paul's still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Somebody must want something, or we wouldn't be fed and we wouldn't have beds to sleep in.

"I see Paul's perspective, but I also see almost four hundred other kids here. This is the only other division we've visited, because Paul wanted to visit Reyes as much as me. Some of these kids were street prostitutes, surviving the best they could, just like Paul and I. During the concert Sunday night, Paul and I talked to some of them. I heard and believed what they were saying, but I'm sure Paul only heard what he wanted to hear. Like I told Reyes last night, if the same attack had happened on Sullivan's Island, that place wouldn't be safe and he'd want to leave as soon as possible. The only point I'm trying to make is that the Clan is a kewl and safe place to be. Near Reyes is where we both decided to be. In Paul's mind, homophobes changed that decision. I do not believe what my bro does.

"Since we're on the topic, I told Paul that Reyes wouldn't touch me without him here too. It became a gentlemen's bet when the whole Owens family heard us arguing. To prove that point, I ordered Stevie to relay video and audio to the TV in our bedroom." Brightly smiling at his new boyfriend, Ryan beamed, "Reyes hasn't done more than hug and kiss me. Even in the shower this morning, Reyes wouldn't take what I repeatedly sold and wanted him to have. Reyes is acting exactly like he said he might act if three became two. I couldn't be happier, or prouder of my new boyfriend."

After glancing around the room, but seeing no disapproving expressions, Ryan called, "Stevie, are you still relaying audio and video to Paul?"

"Yes, I am," Stevie replied.

"Is he still watching?"

"Not at the moment," Stevie answered. "He's having dinner with mommy and daddy, Les and Victoria."

Ryan ordered, "Stop the relay, Stevie. If Paul hasn't learned by now, he simply chooses not to."

"Done," Stevie responded, "but if he asks me to reestablish the connection, I will. Paul is learning, but he's really not ready to come and tell you or Reyes yet."

Facing Ryan, Reyes smirked, "You devil." Mike, Derrick, Jonah, Randy and Dillon began softly chortling.

Blushing, Ryan giggled, "The only way Paul could learn to trust you more than he already does is to see it for himself. If I recall correctly, Paul's exact words were, 'you don't lie, but conveniently omit certain details'.

Reyes smiled, "What am I gonna do with you?"

"Anything ya want!" Ryan laughed. Derrick, Mike, Jonah, Randy and Dillon cracked up.

Reyes giggled, "As soon as we're alone, we'll have to chat about a few things that occurred last night."

"There's no reason we need to be alone," Ryan giggled. "I was a slut!" Mike and Derrick roared laughing. Taking Reyes hand in his, Ryan smiled, "Before we went to bed, it was only partly for Paul's benefit. Laying on the couch with you, I nervously hoped you would and wouldn't make love to me, at the same time. Honestly, I've learned almost as much as Paul. All day today, everything I've said and done was completely for you." Never breaking eye contact with Ryan, Reyes widely smiled and glowed.

"Okay," Derrick chuckled, "we only wanted to see how you're doing and bring you lunch. It's time for us to leave." Jonah, Randy and Dillon got up from the sofa. Dillon and Randy went toward the door, but Jonah went to Reyes to give his bro a kiss on the cheek.

Standing and pushing his chair back under the table, Mike prompted, "Reyes, please consider coming to school with us tomorrow afternoon? We'll be focusing on jazz, and your input would be appreciated."

Nodding, Reyes queried, "As a guest speaker?"

Derrick stood and nodded, "We can only talk about the history that you lived part of."

"I'll be there," Reyes assured.

Ryan corrected, "We'll be there, love."

Patting Reyes on the back, Derrick grinned, "Stay and finish your lunch. We'll show ourselves out."

"Thanks, dad," Reyes giggled.

Unexpectedly, Mike kissed Ryan on the top of his head. Ryan smiled, "What was that for?"

Mike followed the rest of the family to the door. After everyone else had left, Mike answered, "For giving Reyes a little hope," and closed the door behind him.

With Reyes' eyes digging deep into his soul, Ryan giggled, "What?"

Reyes softly asked, "Please tell me what you're feeling?"

Ryan sighed, "That Paul's idiotic bullheadedness kept him from sharing great love and warmth. It permeates you, your family and this entire division. If only he had stayed, his anger would've been drowned. Once he decides to join us, he'll witness this for himself." After a brief pause, he softly admitted, "All morning, I've been reviewing possible pet names for you. You're not my honey, or baby or anything else. To me, you're the embodiment of love, so that's your pet name." He then wondered, "How do you feel?"

"Almost the same."


Nodding, Reyes admitted, "Because you're here, I'm falling deeper in love with you."

Ryan giggled, "Even though I'm a conniving slut?"

Reyes smiled, "I can't fault you for how you deal with Paul. He's your brother. All I can say is, it's not what I would've done. I can only hope that someday we'll have him with us and feeling the same way we do."

After taking another bite out of his cheeseburger and swallowing, Ryan softly wondered, "What's the plan for the rest of the day?"

Reyes shrugged, "The only thing I need to do is have a chat with Grandpa Rob. Some time can be spent with Joey and Jerry. Maybe later we can find KC and Fred. Prez wants to jam for the kids later this afternoon too."

"That sounds good, but a little light on activity, compared to yesterday."

"Right after we're done eating, it's time for cold and warm compresses again. That was our original purpose, before I turned to jelly in your arms."

Ryan asked, "If I got naked for you, like last night, would you please touch more than my bruises?"

Slowly nodding, Reyes smiled, "You made my family believe I've been an innocent virgin. I was far from saintly when you backed up to me in the shower."

"True," Ryan giggled. "Your erection proved that you do love me, even though you didn't take me."

"Was it really enough?"

Rapidly nodding, Ryan assured, "It was perfect, Reyes. Being caressed and kissed by you was the most beautiful experience I've had in years. It'll be plenty if all we do is show a little love."

"Then that's the kind of stuff we'll do," Reyes promised.

Ryan checked, "You do realize that every day we'll go a little further?"

Reyes nodded, "Yeah. The longer Paul stays away, it becomes inevitable. I can't ignore what I'm feeling for you. That would be so wrong, for both of us."

Softly, Ryan assured, "He'll join us, Reyes. I just can't say when, how or why." After he and Reyes had eaten a little more, Ryan wondered, "What do you need to talk with Grandpa Rob about?"

Reyes sighed, and then answered, "The men that attacked us last night, and their loved ones." Noticing Ryan was patiently waiting for more, Reyes explained, "Manny is enhanced, and telepathic. Of the four men involved, the last one was actually the leader; he stirred up the other three. That man, and the first one in the group are married. The leader also had a four-year-old son. The other three men came here on vacation; one with his wife and the other two with their girlfriends. Some time in the next few days, I'm going to have to go meet with those women." Reyes picked up his cheeseburger again, but didn't immediately bite into it.

Ryan softly asked, "Is there something more?"

Shrugging, Reyes sighed, "The one thing that bugs me is that there's now one fatherless boy to be concerned about. How that's dealt with depends completely upon the boys' mother."

Ewa Beach, CIC Dining Room

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 11:57AM HTZ

Meanwhile, the two newest Core Rimmers, Chris and Jay, were working through lunch with Lance, Scott, Erik and Travis. Since there were so many kewl activities for bigger kids and teens, the goal was to provide more appropriate entertainment for the many dozens of little kids.

Lance recalled, "I went to a birthday party when I was about seven. At the party, they had these huge inflatable, transparent balls." Scott evilly grinned, causing Erik to crack up. Lance giggled, "Seriously, kids and even adults could climb into the center of the balls. It was like bumper cars at Coney Island. Kids rolled around and into each other. It was a blast and completely safe."

Beginning an Internet search on his PADD, Chris smiled, "We could get about a dozen of them for each base."

Erik remembered, "How about a few of those water trampolines? They come in different sizes and styles, for the smallest and youngest kids, and for the bigger kids up to twelve. I saw one that looked like a gothic castle, another that looked like a rocket, and even ones for girls that look like doll houses. Up to ten kids can bounce around in those things. They're completely enclosed, so nobody falls off, and they're pretty safe too." Jay started another Internet search for water trampolines.

Chris sniggered, "Believe it or not, Lance's idea is called Giant Hamster Balls." He passed his PADD to Lance.

"Yep, that's them," Lance confirmed, and passed the PADD back to Chris.

Scott chuckled, "We'll need some sort of fenced in area to store them when they're not in use, or we'll have wind blown Hamster Balls scattered around both bases." All six cracked up.

Starting to calm down, Chris tapped his sub-vocal, asking, "Alden, can you get a Hamster Ball enclosure installed near the playgrounds?"

Across the six comm-badges, Alden giggled, "Heaven forbid our blown hamster balls get scattered hither and yon, but I need the size of your hamsters' fuzzy balls." Again all six cracked up. Nearby and hearing Alden's remark, almost every teenage boy howled laughing. It also interrupted the conversation between Prez, Keith, Angelo, Reggie, Sean and Troy.

Jay sniggered, "This is how rumors start."

"Oddly enough," Sean giggled, "what you told us you intended to do does not match what Alden said."

Chris laughed, "Trust us, guys. When you get out of school later this afternoon, there will be a hundred exhausted rug-rats."

Lance giggled, "Each Hamster Ball is about six feet in diameter, Jay."

"OH MY GOD!" crowed Aki, Hajime, Keanu and Liki.

Aaron sniggered, "That's one damn big hamster."

Nodding, Keanu playfully teased, "Imagine what's hangin' over six foot wide nads."

Offering Keanu his hand, Liki giggled, "Do we need private time before school this afternoon?" Shaking his head and taking Liki's hand, Keanu leaned over for a tender kiss.

Blushing intensely, Reggie giggled, "I'm not hearing any of this."

Angelo playfully asked Prez, "Does everyone here talk about hookin' up and sex?"

Shrugging, Prez gestured to the table of little boys, and sniggered, "The youngest tikes don't talk, they just go for it."

Watching Angelo and Reggie look over at a table where Jimmy Car was kissing Richie, Keith said, "Remember when liking someone wasn't a major decision? There's a lesson to be learned over there."

Hearing John's telepathic remarks regarding how much time Angelo and Reggie have had alone, Keith, Prez, Sean and Troy grinned. Keith prompted, "Go build your relationship, dudes."

Prez nodded, "We'll see you later, and remember, what's here is yours too."

Nodding and standing, Angelo giggled, "Thanks."

"Later," Reggie chirped. He and Angelo had taken only two steps away from the table when their hands automatically clasped. Prez, Keith, Troy and Sean noticed Angelo and Reggie, widely smiled, and deliberately nodded their heads.

Scott smiled, "To hold twelve Hamster Balls, each enclosure needs to be at least eighteen feet by twenty-four feet, Alden."

Travis chuckled, "Just a question, but how're we going to inflate twenty-four huge Hamster Balls? I mean, I love a challenge, but let's be real." 

"We'll get tanks of compressed air to blow our balls," Jay joked.

Almost every boy over eight-years-old on that side of the room cheered, "YIPPEE!" At the table where some of the youngest Rimmer sons were sitting, Richie, Jimmy, Scott, Geoff and Mike Hunnicutt held onto each other and hiccuped through their laughter. At the next table over, Sammy, Ben, Gage, Dee, Bruce, Stan, Leo and Kenny giggled at the chaos they had helped to create.

Gage moaned through his giggles, "I wish Jonah had stayed ten more minutes. He would've loved this."

Sammy smiled, "As soon as they check on Reyes and Ryan, Jonah will be right back, glued to your side again, bro."

Gage pleasantly sighed, "He invited me to go too, but one more person in a small apartment might've been one too many. Besides, Reyes needs his family as much as we need ours. Jonah would've loved hearing about Hamster Balls though."

Ben reminded, "We'll be together again in school. Our first music appreciation class is today, with your dads, Jonah's dads and Troy as our teachers."

"Your Hamster Ball enclosures are built," Alden reported, "and I've inflated the Hamster Balls. They're ready for use, Jay."

Starting with the youngest Rimmer sons, tables of little kids got up and raced out of the CIC. John, Stephen, Frankie and Wade also went with the little kids. Jay smiled, "Excellent, Alden. On my PADD, I've selected three models of water trampolines; the castle, the rocket, and the doll house. Please install them near the playgrounds and outdoor rec area field here and at Oneula Beach."

"Comin' right up, Jay," Alden giggled.

AJ, Jerry, Kaleo and Tory stood to join their youngest sons out by the playgrounds. As they were walking out, Derrick, Mike and Jonah came back in the dining room. Jonah went to Gage, sat on his lap and immediately stole a kiss. Gage began sharing the fuzzy hamster ball story. Derrick and Mike returned to the table where Prez, Keith, Sean and Troy were waiting. Wanting to see the hamster balls for themselves, Ben, Sammy, Gage, Jonah, Dee, Bruce, Stan, Kenny and Leo got up and soon left the CIC.

Derrick shared, "I told Reyes that he's off duty today. He knows we're rehearsing after school, but as far as I'm concerned, he can choose whether or not he wants to join us."

Keith asked, "How is he?"

Mike shrugged, "He's got his brave face on, but we know it's an act. He doesn't want anyone interfering, so that's the way it'll be. I can tell that Reyes and Ryan are good together. Each is hoping for Paul to join them. They'd be happier if he was here."

Derrick gently tapped Mike's thigh. When Mike turned to his hubby, Derrick grinned, "You're over-thinking it, Lick. There's nothing anyone can do. We can think of a hundred different ways to change what is, but ultimately, it's Paul's decision."

Prez sighed, "I'm so annoyed about the situation that I'm tempted to take nighttime strolls along the beach, purposefully making myself a target."

Troy nodded, "I'm there too. Let's give the homophobic radicals more targets and take 'em out."

Sean, Derrick and Keith loudly chorused, "See what you've done now!"

Prez, Troy and Mike laughed, "WHAT?"

Sadly shaking his head, Keith grinned, "We aren't going looking for trouble with one aggravated Irishman and two irritated Italians. We'll deal with 'phobes of every sort, when they make their bigoted ways known."

"Then I need to burn off some energy," Prez smirked. Reaching for Keith's hand, Prez stood and loudly announced, "Let's go to the diving well, T'hy'la."

Almost at once, the remaining teens and tweens in the dining room got up to follow their leaders to the pools before the afternoon school session. Once outside and crossing through the housing area, peels of laughter could be heard from the playground. Everyone could see many little kids rolling around inside their transparent Hamster Balls. Inside the three water trampolines, other kids could occasionally be seen bouncing around. Corey, Drew, and other tweens ran past the older kids.

Troy smiled at Sean for what the two new Morale Rimmers had accomplished. With nods of their heads, they went to Chris and Jay. Troy brightly beamed, "You guys are doin' great."

"We had help," Chris smiled.

"We all get help, dudes," Sean smiled.

Troy suggested, "I'd like you two, and your helpers, to consider going out on a date ASAP. By then you'll have your security, and you can take our security guys with you. Try to avoid those nasty homophobic moose, if you can."

"One more beach incident and all of us will have big problems when Prez flips out," Sean nervously giggled.

Nodding, Jay chuckled, "We'll talk about it."

Sean softly realized, "They don't have debit cards yet, Lover."

"I'll see if Prez can get them expedited," Troy offered.

"Don't go to any trouble," Jay smiled. When Chris turned to him, Jay offered, "Not until this cast is off. How about a sunset stroll along Ewa Beach, all the way down to Oneula Beach? Then we can decide to walk back, or through a dimensional door." He checked with Scott, Lance, Erik and Travis, asking, "What do you guys think?"

"It sounds awesome!" Travis cheered. The sentiment was echoed by Erik, Lance and Scott.

Already at the diving well and standing naked on the five-meter diving platform, Drew noticed Jay and Chris approaching. Having an evil idea, Drew widely grinned. He tapped his sub-vocal and silently told Alden his plan.

Mid-stride, Chris and Jay unexpectedly phased out and back again, without their clothes. Walking behind and almost into the naked couple, Erik sniggered, "Nice butt, Chris!" Already hysterically laughing, Travis nudged his lover.

"Their profiles are kind o' bouncy too," Lance giggled. He checked with Scott, "Did you know dicks bounce and sway without clothes to keep 'em in place?" Shrugging, Scott cracked up. Slumping and beginning to glance around the group for guilty expressions, Chris and Jay disappeared from the walkway, and reappeared ten meters above the diving well. Dropping to the well, they saw Drew cheekily grinning and waving at them.

Chris and Jay screamed, "DREW!"

"Initiation time," Keith chuckled. Prez, Keith, Derrick, Mike, Troy, Sean, Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott took off running for the diving well.

Stepping outside, turning right and following the path toward the townhouses, Angelo shook his head and grinned, "These kids are nothing like I had imagined."

"They're definitely not sad, which is what I expected," Reggie offered.

"I've learned a couple o' lessons from almost every kid in there."

Nodding, Reggie brightly beamed, "I still can't quite believe what you said to Nate, Ray and Tony."

Angelo wondered, "Which part?"

"Where will we sleep tonight?" Reggie giggled.

"Actually, I wonder if we'll be sleeping tonight. You're real easy to talk with, Reg. I want to tell you everything; that'll take all night."

Nodding, Reggie giggled, "Since the first time I stepped into a junior high locker room, I've noticed other dudes. I never saw anyone before that affected me like you have."

Shivering from another compliment, Angelo sighed, and then brightly beamed, "That's how I could say all that stuff about body types and frames. I never considered myself gay, but figured I was bisexual."

"Me too," Reggie smiled.

"My first thought when I saw you was, I wonder what it might feel like to be in his arms and rest my head on his shoulder."

Shaking his head and blushing, Reggie giggled, "I knew as soon as we held each other close that I'd want to kiss you. Talk about your major surprises! I hadn't ever imagined kissing anyone before, male or female." He turned to see Angelo's reaction.

Before turning left, toward the townhouses, Angelo paused, and then gently pulled Reggie into his arms. Face-to-face, Angelo softly admitted, "I thought we'd be going to your place, so I could see your drawings, and then to my place, so you could hear my music, but now I think that needs to wait. The most important things in my world don't mean as much as being with you."

Nodding, Reggie's eyes teared up, and he whispered, "There's no denying it, and I can't help it; I'm falling in love with you. My brain can't figure out all the reasons, but my heart says that it's real." He carefully planted a tender kiss. 

Angelo was speechless. He had surmised that Reggie was sensitive and caring, but had underestimated the depth of his new boyfriend's feelings. Hugging Reggie tighter, Angelo returned the tender kiss and it turned into a passionate lip lock. Within a minute, each could feel the other's heart racing, and lower they could feel their bodies reacting to the closeness. When the kiss broke, Reggie rested his head on Angelo's shoulder to whisper, "Where we're going to sleep tonight and in the future is now a serious issue."

Angelo giggled, "Yeah, we're kind o' stuck, unable to separate without making our feelings more obvious. What're we gonna do?"

After a few moments, Reggie lifted his head off Angelo's shoulder, grinning, "Just lean back a little bit." Angelo did so, carefully insuring that his hips remained against Reggie's. Reggie tapped his comm-badge, calling, "Hey, Alden."

"Yes, Reggie?" Alden giggled.

"We have a problem," Reggie sorrowfully smirked, and prepared for repercussions.

"I can tell!" Alden laughed. "I could call for a Core Rimmer rescue team and a crowbar?"

Alden's brothers shouted across the comm-badge, "No-oo-oo!"

"A bad combination if I ever heard one," Remi giggled.

Reggie rolled his eyes, sniggering, "So we don't make a spectacle of ourselves, can you get us someplace private?"

Without warning, Alden transported Angelo and Reggie, and then he giggled, "This room used to be Kaleo's and Tory's room. Every other guy in this dorm will be heading to school soon, so you're alone until at least three o'clock."

Never separating, Angelo and Reggie glanced around. The drapes and mini blinds were open, allowing daylight into the room. They noticed the full sized beds, dressers, closets, desks, computers, chairs, television, game station and stereo speakers. Angelo smiled, "All the kids get rooms like this?"

"Yup," Alden giggled. "Kaleo and Tory moved out of here and into a townhouse at Oneula Beach on Sunday. Everything's been cleaned by the housekeepers, so it's like a brand new room again. Even the computers are unused."

"It's perfect!" Reggie cheered.

Angelo asked Reggie, "Maybe we can stay here tonight?"

"No brother, no sister and no parents," Reggie brightly smiled.

Looking up and around until he found a camera, Angelo evilly snickered, "Turn off that camera and microphone, Alden."

Alden giggled, "I have never interrupted any couple, and never will." Alden then flatly said, "This room is now routed to one of my VI's. As long as I don't hear a kid in trouble, you won't hear another word from me."

Still closely embracing, Angelo and Reggie waited a few moments. Angelo softly asked, "What do you want to do?"

"This room is exactly what we need, a place to be alone, to say and do what we want," Reggie answered. He stepped back from Angelo, went to the TV and picked up the remote control to turn it on. He checked with Angelo, asking, "Got a favorite program?"

Shaking his head and going to his boyfriend, Angelo answered, "At this hour, there's nothing good on. Just choose a music channel, Reg."

Selecting the guide channel and getting to the start of the music channels, Reggie asked, "What's your favorite music?"

"I like almost all types of music, so find a pop and rock mix that you'll like," Angelo answered.

While he searched, Reggie asked, "Do you like to dance?"

"I never have before, but I want to do that with you too," Angelo blushed.

"Me too," Reggie giggled. "Any excuse to be in your arms works for me."

Taking a place just behind his boyfriend and wrapping his arms around his waist, Angelo wondered, "Where did you used to live?"

"On the windward side, Kaneohe," Reggie replied, and then asked, "Where are you from?"

"Right here in Ewa Beach," Angelo answered, "My mom was a teacher at James Campbell High. In another year, I would've been at the same school. Next week she'll be one of our teachers."

Stopping his search, Reggie said, "This says it's a pop mix." He put the remote control down on top of the TV stand, and then turned to face Angelo, giggling, "Where were we?"

Moving closer, Angelo smiled, "Talking about my mom and teachers." He then softly prompted, "Lift your arms?" Without hesitation, Reggie did so, and Angelo stepped back to take his boyfriend's shirt off. Reggie noticed that Angelo took his time removing the shirt and felt his boyfriend's hands caressing his torso. Softly saying, "You're so handsome," Angelo tossed the shirt onto a desk chair. The moment Angelo turned around again, Reggie lifted Angelo's arms to return to the favor. From the gentle tickles, Angelo squirmed and giggled. As soon as the shirt was tossed onto the same chair, they embraced and began swaying to the music. Angelo whispered, "I swear, if I ever say or do anything that hurts you, I'll never forgive myself."

"I know what you mean. That's all right, I'll forgive you plenty, for just about anything."

"How did I wind up with the most awesome dude in the world in my arms?"

Reggie giggled, "Second most awesome, and you reached for me, so..."

"It's not like I would back away from you," Angelo finished.

"I feel like I need to promise you anything you want."

"All the promises are already assumed," Angelo assured.

Reggie sighed, "The worst part of promises is that they can be broken."

Angelo nodded, "That's why we'll never say them aloud. All we're doing is trying, and it's making us a couple, so much so that Tony and Ray noticed. Don't worry about promises, please?"

Nodding agreement, Reggie asked, "Besides music, what other topics do you like?"

"You'll laugh," Angelo warned.

Leaning back, Reggie smiled, "Is it funnier than geology?"

Calling for his stack of halos to brightly shine, Angelo nodded and giggled, "Biology." Reggie turned beet red and cracked up. "Seriously," Angelo giggled, "without any effort at all, straight A's in that class last year."

Cackling wildly, Reggie suggested, "So I get to inspect your rocky parts and you can dissect my lizard?" Quickly stepping back so he didn't loudly laugh in Reggie's ear, Angelo howled and nodded.

Getting a good long look at Angelo's medium frame and the happy expression on his face, Reggie pleasantly sighed. He moved closer, reached for his boyfriend's boardies, and slid his fingers around the waistband. Since Angelo wasn't protesting in the slightest, Reggie asked, "Are you ready to see me too?" Still giggling, Angelo rapidly nodded. Equally afraid, surprised and thrilled, Reggie moved slowly, and watched Angelo's expression as much as he watched his hands working. 

When Angelo's boardies dropped to the floor, and he was still wearing white boxer briefs, he held up a finger to signal a pause. Stepping back, Angelo kicked his sandals and boardies aside, and then stepped forward again. Placing his hands on Reggie's shoulders, Angelo left enough space for Reggie to complete the task and leaned forward to steal a deep kiss. Reggie pushed the rear of the boxer briefs down, and then pulled the elastic waistband forward to lower the front. With a few pushes at the sides, Angelo's briefs also dropped to the floor, but they held the kiss a little longer, allowing their tongues to play.

Feeling a little woozy from the kiss and the excitement of the situation, Angelo broke the kiss and stepped back. Kicking his boxer briefs away, he never broke eye contact and watched Reggie's eyes dance over his body. When Reggie locked eyes with him again, Angelo felt like his heart might fly out of his chest at any moment. At last, Reggie smiled, "You're absolutely beautiful, and your dick is a bit more than medium sized, by the way."

Uncontrollably blushing, Angelo asked, "Ya think so?"

"I know so," Reggie confirmed, and shyly explained, "A couple of dudes at my school commented on mine, because it hangs a little long. One dude brought in printouts of what he found on the Internet. Normal flaccid is between seven and nine centimeters; normal erect is between thirteen and fifteen centimeters. You've got at least sixteen, probably seventeen. It's probably thicker around than what's considered average too. In every way, you're more than I hoped and dreamed, Angelo."

Stepping closer and reaching for his boyfriend's boardies, Angelo wondered, "Where are you at?"

Since Angelo had already seen him limp and had to have felt his erection through their clothes, Reggie smirked, "A little more than eighteen limp and over twenty-one erect. It's embarrassing, especially those first times in junior high showers. Everybody saying stuff to me about it was looking down. You're not doing that; you're looking in my eyes. Get me naked quick, please, before I have a nervous breakdown."

With the drawstring untied, Angelo paused, put his hands on Reggie's hips and instructed, "Hold eye contact with me, Reg." When Reggie did so, Angelo gently reminded, "You were awesome to me Saturday, while we were passing each other and moving into our new homes. For three days, I wondered what made you special. All morning, I've been getting the answers to that question. Other large framed dudes, like you, know it and take advantage of smaller dudes because they can; that's not you though, not my boyfriend. You're careful, gentle and sensitive, and playful and completely fantastic in every way, with everybody. I heard you threatening your bro, and I totally got how annoyed you were, but your tone was so unthreatening, your bro probably took it all as a game. I've been falling for a dream too, and the real you is way better than the dream. What you've got is only another part of you, dude. I'd still love you if you were completely average. I'd still love you if you were less than average. I'm attracted to your hair, eyes, physique, voice and personality. Your dick never mattered all weekend, and still doesn't, okay?"

Nodding, but a little teary-eyed, Reggie sighed, "I saw the naked dudes out by the pools, and tried to not see at the same time. As much as I'd love to be the way I was when I was younger, getting naked and skinny dippin' at the beach, I haven't wanted to, for a long time, because of what they'll see, and what they might say. I'm not a lady killer, or a heartthrob, or anything like that, and I never wanted to be."

"I figured that out already."

"For the next few hours this afternoon, and later tonight, I want us to be naked together, mostly so I can relax about it. When you first saw me in the mens' room, I saw in your eyes what you never said."

Angelo smiled, "What is it you think you saw?"

"Wow, he's got a nice bit hangin', more than I expected."

"You're missing the rest, Reg. Try saying it like this; Wow, he's got a nice bit hangin', but he's not stuck up, or a snob about it. Here's this awesome dude, who could make at least half the dudes around here envious, yet all he wants to be is kicked back and relaxed about it, and every other guy's equipment."

"Is that really what you were thinking?"

"Cross my heart. If you had ever acted like a snob once, and I had seen it, the dream would've evaporated days ago. I never would've wanted to knock on your door. We sure as hell wouldn't be standing here now."

Practically flinging himself on Angelo, Reggie tearfully shivered, "You're right. Since puberty, all I've wanted was for everything to be like it was before. My dick grew faster than the rest of me. My voice changed and I had pubes growing before finishing grade school. Everyone looked at me differently. In less than six months, between Christmas and June, I looked and sounded like a different person, but inside I hadn't changed at all. That summer and all last summer, I kept my shorts on. I didn't want anyone to ever see me. For the first time in a long time, I want someone to see. I want you to see, because you'll still be able to look in my eyes, like you have since we were in the mens' room. You look into my eyes all the time, even when we're kissing."

Rubbing his boyfriend's back, Angelo assured, "This ain't a tiny first crush, or puppy love. You want this to work as much as I do. That makes us the real thing, like what we were imaging we might be only a little while ago; us like roommates, us like boyfriends, us like committed partners for life."

Reggie sighed, "What I really want most is to be near you. Since we walked out of my house, I kept wanting to take your hand in mine, and kept telling myself, no. We could've left space between us in the men's room, but I didn't want to be that far away. Now that we're together, I don't ever want to be apart from you." With his tears drying up, Reggie chortled, "Here we are, in a private room, with you nude and me crying on your shoulder, instead of me being naked with you."

"Tell me when you're ready, Reg."

Before Angelo knew it, Reggie's arms were under his butt and he was being lifted off the floor. Once again, Angelo howled. Reggie carried Angelo to one of the beds, placed him down on it and crawled over him. At the lustful grin Reggie wore, Angelo mooed through his giggles. Reggie softly proclaimed, "You're the only one for me, Angelo Diaz. Now I'm gonna prove it." Amazingly to Angelo, Reggie didn't immediately reach for his chubbie. Instead, Reggie began with tender kisses and the gentlest of fingertip traces around Angelo's ear, jaw, neck, shoulders and chest.

Melting from unexpected romance, Angelo moaned, "Oh, Reg."