Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 25

Ewa Beach, Dormitory 3

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 7:47PM HTZ

Kassidy gently held Matt's hand, softly confessing, "Even before losing my folks, I was starting to feel like I needed someone really special. Since Friday, it's like, I haven't stopped hoping and looking for that person. Part of me wonders if it's grief that's making me feel the way I do?"

"Only partly," Matt offered, "that's life. We're old enough to feel that way, so it's natural, a part of growing up."

"So it's not only one situation, it's all of 'em combining?"

"Yeah, I think so."

Widely smiling, Kassidy chortled, "I don't want anything interfering with what I'm thinking and feeling. One something to think about is all I can handle."

Curious to know exactly what Kassidy was saying, Matt prodded, "Give me an example of what you're thinking."

"The whole string of events since we went on vacation, and more so since last Friday," Kassidy explained. "You must know it too. Back home in Kentucky, there were gays and lesbians, but they weren't talked about; they were the dirty little secret kept hidden. Even though I never had a boyfriend, or any quick flings to try it out, I always hated that attitude. While visiting Los Angeles, they weren't hidden and sure didn't keep much secret. To me, seeing two dudes holding hands, huggin' or kissin' was just as cute as any straight couple. Then, after the accident, I started meeting some of the Clan guys. They're some of the nicest people I've ever met. They make it real obvious that some folks back home didn't take the time to know what people were really like."

Nodding, Matt confessed, "That's why dad took the job here. I was one of those dirty little secrets, and he hated it more than I did."

Kassidy asked, "How do you know you're gay?"

Matt chuckled, "The best lookin', nicest folks are other guys. It's always been that way for me. There's never been any other way to be. Think of it like shopping for clothes; what fits and what's comfortable is what you walk out with."

Kassidy sniggered, "If the sneaker fits..."

"Or jeans versus slacks, or polo shirts versus dress shirts and ties," Matt smiled.

"Like warm weather versus cold weather."

"Warmer is always better," Matt smiled. "Daddy says, the only good part of winter is snuggling up with someone to get warm. I can't wait to find out if that's true."

With a purpose in mind, Kassidy grinned, "It's always warm here. It rained Saturday night and was below seventy degrees Sunday morning. Almost everyone here was shivering, except me and my brothers." Knowing he was about to step out on a limb, he paused and then giggled, "We'll have to make an excuse to snuggle under a blanket sometime."

Matt's smile waned. He softly said, "I think you're awesome, Kassidy, but I would like to get to know you really well, before we start snuggling."

Beaming, Kassidy shared, "That's exactly what I hoped you'd say. When you mentioned snuggling, that's where I thought you wanted me to go. Sharing how you really feel, even though we've just met, is really important to me, Matt. I don't want quick flings or meaningless sex. What I do want is someone that knows it takes time, caring, and the willingness to make something good last. I think you're awesome too; my miracle man."

Chuckling insanely with relief, Matt dropped to one knee and prayed, "Good Lord, thank you so much for giving me an awesome boyfriend. Help us both to make it as life long partners, so our favorite place to be is together. One thing you'll need to help with though, is keeping our teenage hormones under control."

Standing there with Matt's hand still in his, and Matt looking like he was proposing marriage, Kassidy looked up at the ceiling, and added to the prayer. "God, you gave me the perfect boyfriend, when I needed it most, when I thought there was no one for me. Do us both a favor and help us become a really close couple, like Prez and Keith, Derrick and Mike, and Chris and Jay."

Standing up, Matt smiled, "You believe in prayer?"

Nodding, Kassidy admitted, "For a few days there, I wondered if it did any good. I guess I just got a busy signal."

"That's a real good way of lookin' at it," Matt chuckled. "I think we got another answer to our prayers too." When Kassidy curiously blinked and tilted his head, Matt giggled, "Somebody's telling me that we've spent enough time here in your bedroom. We're doin' a good job of ignoring temptation, but we're only human."

Heartily giggling, Kassidy revealed, "We never should've mentioned snuggling. I know it too, but I wanted to know where you were heading, short term and long term."

Loving that Kassidy was being so truthful, Matt smiled, "I'll go anywhere with you. Show me around this base, please?"

Going to slip into his sandals, Kassidy asked, "What haven't you seen yet?" He then returned to Matt and took his hand again.

"Just about everything," Matt answered, "I got here about two this afternoon. While unpacking, I glanced out the windows of my bedroom." Kassidy led the way out of the room.

Closing and locking his door, Kassidy asked, "Where's your new home?"

"Condo B, unit 7-B," Matt quickly rattled off. And then, while he and Kassidy walked down the hall toward the exit, he explained, "Dad got the best view he could, two floors higher than what was initially offered to us. I've seen buildings and lots o' kids, but don't know much of anything, or anyone."

Kassidy checked, "Since Chris and Derrick brought you to meet me, I guess you met their partners too?"

Nodding, Matt rambled, "Chris is with Jay, Derrick is with Mike, Erik is with Travis, Angelo is with Reggie, and Lance is with Scott. That's everybody I've met. In one night I've met more gay couples than I ever have before. I can't recall most last names though."

Kassidy chuckled, "I know a lot more, but haven't met anyone named Angelo or Reggie."

Stopping short before heading out the door, Matt muttered, "They said they had the last room in this hall." He walked back a few paces, and then knocked on the door to room twenty-six. It took a few moments, but the door opened. Only one bed stand light was on in the room, and soft instrumental music was playing. Standing there shirtless and in a tight embrace were Angelo and Reggie. Matt chuckled, "I'm sorry, guys. You're probably the only two I know that Kassidy doesn't, so I only wanted to introduce my boyfriend to you." He then formally introduced, "Kassidy, the blushing blond is Reggie Combs, and the brunette is Angelo Diaz."

Reaching an arm out to Kassidy, Angelo giggled, "We're learning to slow dance together. It's good to meet you, Kassidy." Angelo and Kassidy shook hands and knocked knuckles.

Recalling Matt's prayer, Reggie offered a hand to shake with Kassidy, said, "Hi," and then asked Matt, "another prayer was answered?"

Nodding, Matt chuckled, "Before falling for temptations, we decided to go for a walk."

Curiously blinking, Reggie repeated, "Temptations?"

Matt sniggered, "Three beds, and alone with a real cutie."

"And no little brothers," Kassidy grinned.

Angelo giggled, "You'll have to let us know how successfully you avoided temptation. I gave up after about two hours and willingly threw myself into the fire." Kassidy and Matt cracked up.

Blushing more, Reggie sniggered, "You're being bad, babe. It was more like two and a half hours."

"No," Angelo giggled, "if I were bad, we sure wouldn't be dancing!" Softly sniggering, Reggie planted a deep kiss on Angelo before anything more embarrassing was said.

Turning to Kassidy, and again seeing the same soft smile, Matt grinned, "More temptations?"

"I'll say!" Kassidy giggled.

Matt smiled, "Get back to dancing, guys. We'll catch y'all later."

Angelo reminded, "Don't forget the cozy cuzzy fuzzy water blaster battle at nine o'clock, dudes."

"The what?" Matt incredulously chortled.

Rolling his eyes, Kassidy loudly laughed, "Temptations!" and then waved, leading Matt to the exit doors.

Rapidly blinking, Matt wondered, "What kind of water blaster battle?"

Opening up the outer door and leading the way outside, Kassidy giggled, "You met Jay. I'm surprised he didn't give you a Mr. Fuzzy puppet." Kassidy led the way down the path that would take them between the pool and soccer field.

"He was supposed to," Matt admitted, "but helping you was higher priority to all those guys."

Suddenly, everything said since they met organized in Kassidy's head. Matt wasn't even on base half a day, and he happened to meet Angelo and Reggie, who brought Matt to the dormitory to meet Jay and Chris. The plans got side-tracked when Chris and Derrick brought Matt to meet him. Kassidy stopped walking, causing Matt to pause. Kassidy carefully wondered, "What were you told about me?"

"That we're from the same State, and that you were feeling a little down," Matt answered. "They couldn't even say if you were gay or not, but I figured, even if you weren't, I could spend a few minutes and maybe gain another new friend."

Kassidy beamed, "You put other plans aside just to meet me?"

Matt shrugged and smiled, "They weren't like the biggest, most important plans in the world. I'm the new guy, tryin' to meet folks, figure out where I am and how I can fit in. You made the change worthwhile, Kass. You might've decided to stay down in the dumps, no matter what I said." Noticing Kassidy wiping his eyes, Matt worried, "What's wrong?"

Kassidy muttered, "They were all concerned about me, so you just went with that?"

Nodding, Matt giggled, "Well, that was another idea and plan running amuck, and the good Lord intervening at the right time for you and for me. I sure didn't expect to find the boyfriend of my dreams standing in the room." Matt reached his hand out and Kassidy took it in his hand.

Turning left to walk between the main pool and rec center, Kassidy giggled, "Don't exaggerate."

"I'm really not exaggerating at all," Matt gushed. "Ask Angelo and Reggie who I was praying for soon after I met them. The entire Holy Trinity must've listened, because you're everything I prayed for, and then some."

Thankful they were outside in the dark, where his blush couldn't be seen, Kassidy softly said, "You're exactly the kind of guy I was wishing for too; I couldn't have molded a better boyfriend if I tried."

Matt grinned, "Admit it, you were bummed about your brothers finding boyfriends before you."

Rapidly nodding, Kassidy giggled, "And that I was obviously doing stuff wrong."

"It might've been wrong for everyone else, but everything you've said and done is perfect for me. I'm seriously attracted to you, Kass. I made a deal with the good Lord, and since he kept his end, I'm keeping my end of the bargain. I'm gonna do good by you, everyday and every chance I get. Dad told me that he and mammy always helped each other; like if one was a little down, the other would haul them back up again; if one needed help, the other was always willing. That's the way I'd like us to be."

Kassidy was about to tell Matt that he was equally attracted, and with two annoying little brothers, he had a high tolerance for daily aggravation. Giggling voices caused him to pause and squint in the darkness.

From over by the townhouses, Kade loudly teased, "All that gum flappin'!"

Karey joked, "It's teenagers, tryin' to be kewl, instead of admittin' they really wanna roll in the haystack!"

Frantically nodding their heads, Brad Triggs and Cameron Combs cracked up.

Sighing, Kassidy mumbled, "They just can't keep from bustin' my hump."

Matt sniggered, "The two red-heads are your brothers?"

Painfully and reluctantly, Kassidy droned, "Yup."

"The other two are their boyfriends?"

"Gross but true," Kassidy smirked.

Matt whispered, "We could catch 'em."

Shaking his head, Kassidy sighed, "My brothers are telepaths. If they didn't catch you saying that, they caught me hearing it." Already, the four younger boys were separating so they could bolt if necessary. Kassidy pointed them out to Matt, and then softly suggested, "Let's get on with the tour." Matt nodded and they started walking.

"Hey bro," Kade hollered, "Brad's spending the night with me in our room."

"And I'm staying the night with Cameron at the Combs' house," Karey shouted.

Releasing Kassidy's hand, Matt spun around and yelled, "Kassidy's with me at our condo. Betchya we have a much better time than any of y'all!" Kade and Karey cracked up. Matt spun around again, took Kassidy's hand in his, and they started walking again.

"Why did you tell them that?" Kassidy giggled.

Matt squeezed Kassidy's hand and smiled, "Because, you don't want to be in the same room with two little kids playing little kid games, and I want to introduce you to my dad anyway. We'll just make a quick stop at your dorm room, so you can pickup whatever you need to spend the night. Brother or not, no telepath is going to read your dreams. You get to tell me about them, the normal way, when we wake up."

Happy shivers raced through Kassidy that pushed him past giggles and into laughter. Softly chortling, Matt drifted dreamily through the sound of his new boyfriend's heavenly laugh. He was taken completely off guard when Kassidy pulled him close and hugged him tightly. Hanging out at the tables near the diving well, many of the teen dorm leadership team and their partners saw Kassidy with a new kid. Matt held his left arm behind Kassidy's back and ran the fingers of his right hand through the thick mop of red hair he had prayed for. As Kassidy's laughter quieted, he locked eyes with Matt.

"I've never felt happier than I am right now," Matt softly admitted. "This is a peaceful feeling that I never expected. Somehow, I always thought I'd jump for joy and completely spaz out. Instead, I feel more calm and content, like the search is over and I can chill out, at last."

Kassidy sighed, "You make me feel great too. All those thoughts and worries I had the last couple of days are gone."

"You shared 'em, with me, and realized they ain't half as bad as you thought. This is only the start too, Kass. I promise, we'll always be the best parts of each other, from now on."

"Oh man," Kassidy groaned. "You feel so good in my arms too." Once again, Kassidy softly smiled. He whispered, "Maybe we've been together less than an hour, but there aren't any fears about being with you, a virtual stranger. This is so kewl, like it should be, but it shouldn't be, because we've only known one another a short time. Weird, but awesome at the same time too."

Matt assured, "The feeling's very mutual, my ginger boy," and sealed it with a tender kiss. 

Kassidy liked it so much, he didn't give Matt a chance to pull back for reaction before returning another tender kiss. Since their arms effortlessly moved into position to hold one another, Matt gave up and held the kiss. Another of Matt's dreams became reality. Kassidy hadn't fantasized of kissing another guy and was therefore dreamily purring into Matt's mouth. As moments passed, Kassidy realized how they were standing; one of his legs was between Matt's legs, and one of Matt's legs was between his legs. Kassidy could also feel Matt's package through four layers of cloth. He thought, so this is what it's like to take a step toward intimacy with another guy; kewl! A blissful, euphoric feeling surged within them.

The nearby girls began giggling and the boys applauded, causing Kassidy and Matt to break out of their trance. Realizing they had inadvertently put on a show for other teenagers, they uncontrollably giggled into their kiss. They rested, forehead-to-forehead, knowing that something needed to be said, since the innocent and shy boy act was completely blown away.

Kassidy chortled, "Let me introduce you to some folks."

"Lead the way," Matt beamed.

In the area around the diving well there were twelve patio tables for four, and nine of them were occupied, each with at least two kids. Realizing there were about thirty kids to introduce Matt to, Kassidy began laughing again. He pulled himself together and loudly chuckled, "There's a bunch of y'all out here tonight, so this is gonna take a while. Everybody, this is Matt Thornton. He just moved here today with his dad."

"So naturally, you had to check his tonsils," Nell giggled.

Pete Dano sniggered, "There might've been dangerous explosives down there." All the kids lost it and howled laughing when Kassidy's complexion swiftly matched his hair color.

Sadly shaking his head and wishing for a stronger sea breeze to cool off his blush, Kassidy giggled, "Matt, this is Nell, a dorm leader, and beside her is her boyfriend, Pete. Across from them are Molly and Roy; Molly's a dorm leader too."

Roy asked, "What's your dad's job here, Matt?"

"Housekeeping and maintenance in the boys' dorms," Matt answered. "His primary motivation was me though, so I could go to school here. I play guitar, and hope to get better."

"So Kass was searching for your instrument?" Pete teased. More giggling and evil snickering erupted.

Locking eyes with Kassidy, Matt chuckled, "I already promised to show him my instrument... later." Loud mooing broke free, the loudest was from Kassidy though.

Since Kassidy had clearly lost control of introductions, kids began introducing themselves, starting with Horacio and Sonia. Kassidy and Matt moved around between tables to greet Craig, Felicity, Phil, Owen, Neil, Tad, Carter, Doug, Relud, Inoyra, Susana, Jesse, Adrienne, Bianca, Corbin, Dominic, Heather, Robyn, Mike and Terry.

When the introductions were done, the boys at the tables realized it was twenty of nine. It was time to get ready for the planned cozy cuzzy fuzzy water blaster battle. Neil asked Kassidy and Matt, "Are you dudes going to play?"

Having already participated the prior night, Kassidy smiled, "It's up to Matt."

"There is a dress code," Phil giggled, "or rather, an undressed code."

Evilly grinning, Craig reminded, "They qualify for Mr. Fuzzy G-strings too." He then told Kassidy and Matt, "You'll need to call Alden for your G-strings and water blasters."

Rapidly blinking and widely grinning, Matt checked with Kassidy, "An undressed code, G-strings and water blasters?"

"It's a long story," Kassidy cheekily grinned, setting off all the others at the tables with overlapping remarks.

At a break in the silliness, Owen explained, "Some of the dudes in the long hall of dorm three soaked Craig last night. To get them back, everybody awake in the short hall chased them outside, wearing only their Mr. Fuzzy G-strings."

"There's a video of it too," Felicity giggled, and turned to wickedly smirk at Craig. Most of her questions regarding Craig's physique were answered that morning, from a TV screen in the CIC dining room, where every other straight teen girl could see plenty.

Robyn hollered, "Hey, Alden!"

From the pool house speakers, Alden replied, "Yes, Robyn?"

Robyn blushed and giggled, "Capture video of tonight's battle, and concentrate on Kassidy and Matt. Pipe it to the big TVs in all the girls' common rooms." The jaws of the gay boys dropped. Kassidy and Matt glowed red. All the girls and the straight boys cracked up.

Alden giggled, "I expect five or six times as many battle warriors, but with eight cameras outside the quad, I'll do my best."

Kassidy laughed, "I think I'd rather meet Matt's dad."

"We can do that and this too," Matt chuckled. At Kassidy's curious expression, Matt explained, "At least one of your brothers is in your dorm room. Where else could we get changed?"

Gesturing to the pool house, Kassidy smiled, "That's all that's for, is showering, changing clothes, restrooms, and there's saunas too."

Slowly glancing from Kassidy's hair to his feet, Matt leered, "Saunas too, huh?" Widening his eyes, Kassidy blushed and giggled at his new boyfriend. All the gathered kids cracked up, and stood to leave for their respective destinations. Matt took Kassidy's hand and started back toward the condos. Once they were alone, Matt asked, "After the water blaster battle, how about we get warm in the sauna?"

"You're falling for temptations," Kassidy giggled.

Matt grinned, "We're sleeping together tonight, Kass. During the summers back home, skivvies is the most I've worn to bed in years."

"Me too," Kassidy smiled.

"We're gonna go slow," Matt assured, "but expecting one hundred percent control of our hormones all the time isn't very realistic."

"I already like what I see," Kassidy carefully explained. "I don't need to see you nude to know I'll like that too."

"That's the point," Matt smiled. "You obviously played last night. Tonight's only slightly different for you, and it's turning into one incredible first night at my new home for me. I expected things would be way more fun here, but this night has been awesome in ways I never expected. Everything we've done so far shows me parts of you, and vise-versa. Seeing you blushing before was great for me. If I knew these kids better, maybe I would've blushed more than I did. Now I get to introduce you to my dad, and tell him that I've already met a lot of kids. That'll make his day, probably more than it's made mine. Let's keep it going, until we're both too tired to stay awake."

Widely smiling, Kassidy warned, "We'll be awake most of the night."

"Kewl," Matt cheered. "I've seen three in the morning a couple o' times before. Don't know if I can manage it tonight."

"We could get tours of both bases completed."

"Let's save that for daylight," Matt suggested. Seeing Kassidy brightly smiling, Matt giggled, "You're way more important. I'll see the other base in a couple o' minutes, if only from the outside and at night. You'll see my new home, and we'll see the inside of a sauna later too."

Kassidy chortled, "I'm so not used to this."

"What're you not used to?" Matt wondered.

"The way you're treating me," Kassidy smiled. "With two younger brothers, and a younger cousin, it's been a long time since anyone acted like I mattered."

Coming to an abrupt halt before walking inside the condominium, Matt smiled, "You sure do matter. I've wanted a boyfriend all my life. Even when I was little, my best friends were my boyfriends, and I specifically called them that. You can imagine how I was treated when I got to be about ten and still insisted I had boyfriends."

"Rough, huh?"

Matt shrugged, "Mammy and daddy have always been very kewl about it, but just about everybody else, not so much. I had two things going for me; first is, I've always been one of the tallest in my class, and second, dad got me into exercising. Few people chanced mocking me, but every school year since sixth grade, I've had to prove that gay does not mean pussy, at least once a year. That's why I'm here, Kass; I'm gay, proud of it, but I'd have to hurt guys that I'd much rather hug the stuffing out of. Nobody ever wins a fight, but afterwards, I'd be leaking tears because I hurt them, even though I had no other choice, it just sucked."

Much more enthusiastically, Matt cheered, "Hell yeah, I care about you, and I'll care more tomorrow. For over a week I've been dreaming of moving here, and the best part is, the reality is far better than even my best dreams. Everybody is very kewl, and I'm already making some friends. I can't wait to tell my dad what's been happening since I left the apartment."

Stepping closer, Kassidy wrapped his arms around Matt's waist, softly saying, "I'm sorry it was so difficult, Matt. I can easily picture you doing what you had to, and then being destroyed inside about it. It really is very different here. Of all those kids at the diving well, about half are gay, and they were sitting together; being teen couples in love matters more than who you love here. It's really gonna be so much better for us here, as a couple, I mean."

Brightly smiling, Matt nodded, "I know, Kass. Our days as single and available are over."

"Yeah, it's true," Kassidy gleefully giggled.

"Let me introduce you to my dad," Matt prompted. They went inside condo B, down to the end of the hall, and into the elevator. Matt pressed the button for the seventh floor, warning, "This thing is jet propelled, so hold on." He expected Kassidy to hold the railing in the elevator. When the door closed, Kassidy slid behind Matt and wrapped him up tight. Matt roared laughing, "That works for me!"

"It's working really good for me too!" Kassidy cackled. "I can't wait to see what's under that shirt, hunky bear. If your arms and what I can feel of your belly are clues, I'm gonna crash to the floor."

"Fifty pushups and fifty sit-ups every morning," Matt giggled.

Feeling more than his temperature rising, Kassidy whimpered, "Temptations."

Turning in Kassidy's arms, Matt beamed, "The feeling is very mutual. Everything I see is exactly what I've always hoped for." He leaned in for a kiss that neither of them wanted to ever end. The elevator stopped, the chime rang and the door slid open. Holding the kiss and each other, Matt waddled backwards out of the elevator with Kassidy still attached. Being unfamiliar with the hall, he waddled well past his own apartment door before stopping.

The kiss broke, but before going to the door, Kassidy asked, "What's your dad like?"

"The best," Matt cheered. "You called me hunky bear before. Well, I'm the teen version of dad. He's six-one and about two hundred pounds. He was a running back for KSU, back in the day, as the old folks say. He's also ninety-nine percent heart. Dad gave up an engineering career for me, so he could be a housekeeper and maintenance guy here."

Kassidy grinned, "What's he gonna say when he sees me?"

Matt chuckled, "You're safe, Kass. I'll be bearing the brunt of all his jokes, and lovin' it too, guaranteed." He then checked, "Ready?"

"Ready," Kassidy confirmed.

Matt led the way to his apartment door, put his hand on the security plate and stated his full name. The lock disengaged with a click, and Matt turned the knob. He and Kassidy stepped inside to find Mr. Thornton on the living room sofa and watching TV. Jeremiah Thornton turned to his son. Seeing Kassidy, a wide grin split Jeremiah's face, and he locked eyes with Matt. Unable to control himself, Matt chuckled, "Dad, this is Kassidy Oldcambus, originally from Louisville. He's my boyfriend."

The old man didn't even try to hold back and loudly laughed, stood and went to the boys. Jeremiah first shook hands with Kassidy, and then pulled both boys against him, roaring, "You're not gone a whole two hours, Matt. Granted, that's longer than it might take to check out the view, like you said you were doin', but you obviously did a lot more."

Matt giggled, "That's how it all started. At the other condo, I met a gay couple sweet talkin' on the tenth floor balcony. They took me to their dorm, where I met a couple more guys, got a comm-badge, and then met Kassidy. We started walking around, checking out the base, and Kass introduced me to a bunch of other kids. If I had to guess, I'd reckon I met about forty kids already."

"You're making me happy and very proud," Jeremiah cheered. He released the boys and stepped back, prodding, "Since it's early, I know you have better things to do than stick around here. What's on the agenda?"

"A water blaster war at the other base," Matt sniggered.

Jeremiah gushed, "A water blaster war sounds like fun. Don't let me slow you down. I'm still on Kentucky time, so don't be surprised if I'm already asleep when you get back. Or is that too much to assume? Are you sleeping here?"

"We're both sleeping here tonight," Matt giggled and blushed.

Jeremiah looked up at the ceiling, sighing, "Don't give me no lip, Lord. I taught him the best I could."

Blushing bright red, Kassidy and Matt cheered, "TEMPTATIONS!"

"Gotta love 'em," Matt added.

Jeremiah asked, "How old are you, Kassidy?"

"I'm fourteen, born March thirtieth, 1990, Sir."

Matt smiled, "You're four months older than me. I was hatched August seventh."

Meandering back to the sofa, Jeremiah muttered, "I remember fourteen very well." He sat down and softly recited, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul..." Thinking, like father, like son, Kassidy turned to the door, covered his mouth with both hands, and quietly cracked up.

"Dad!" Matt laughed, "I already made my promises to God, the Lord, and to Kassidy. It's our first night, and it's already been awesome. How much more do we need to add to that?"

Spinning around, Kassidy giggled, "Sharing a bed together is an awful lot. I'm scared and anxious about it, so I know Matt has to feel a little of that too."

Nodding, Matt assured Kassidy, "I sure do. Not to mention, tomorrow's dad's first day of work at a new job. We're not gonna chance interrupting his sleep." Grabbing Kassidy's hand and starting for his bedroom, Matt giggled, "But after dad's gone in the morning, we know exactly how to greet the rising Sun." Unable to cover his mouth in time, Kassidy roared laughing.

On the sofa, Jeremiah picked up where he left off in the 23rd Psalm.

Behind the closed bedroom door, Matt and Kassidy slammed against each other and digressed into shoulder muffled hysterics. When they started to calm down, Kassidy giggled, "Were you serious about those promises?"

Pulling back to look into Kassidy's gray eyes, Matt smiled, "Completely serious. I'm not gonna screw up the best day ever because of hormones. Hugs and kisses are perfect for me, and you're an awesome kisser too. We have plans for now, later tonight, and tomorrow's another day." Stepping back and releasing Kassidy, Matt pulled his shirt up and off. Kassidy's eyes widened and he gasped. Tossing his shirt onto his bed, Matt giggled, "You like?"

Kassidy leered, "You're a rock, Matt. Sit-ups and pushups did that?"

Nodding and giggling, Matt reminded, "We need Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, and it's your turn." Snapping out of his trance, Kassidy blinked and pulled his T-shirt up and off. "Nice!" Matt cheered, "Exactly what I pictured, wide shoulders, trim waist and a couple of freckles scattered around creamy skin. I like too, very much."

Intensely blushing, Kassidy giggled, "If we finish changing in front of each other, there's going to be at least one large problem, and more temptation than I've ever successfully ignored."

"Because of two large problems, I was plannin' on changin' in the bathroom," Matt cackled.

"Good plan!" Kassidy laughed. He then looked up and called, "Alden, say hello to Matt and get us Mr. Fuzzy G-strings."

"Hi Matt," Alden giggled, and then transported two Mr. Fuzzy G-strings onto the bed, sharing, "Chocolate chip cookies and brownies are still more popular in the Clan, but only just barely."

Sniggering, Kassidy and Matt went to the bed. Picking up a skimpy G-string and figuring out how he would need to put it on, Matt howled laughing, "Who's bright idea was this?"

Kassidy giggled, "Jay's mostly, from what I've been told."

"It's true," Alden giggled. "A silly conversation with Chris, Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott, led to the idea."

Seeing Matt wordlessly checking with him for an explanation, Kassidy grinned, "Alden's an AI, and will be a real guy, in an android body soon enough. He's kewl, Matt." Pointing up at the small camera in the corner of the room, Kassidy explained, "Alden and his brothers keep an eye on all the kids at every Clan Division. Any questions you have about anything goin' on here, Alden can answer."

"You know, fuzzy G-strings are getting to be more popular than jokes about our blond leaders!" Kerry giggled as he joined in. "Good thing too, since blond's my color!"

Alden giggled, "We knew you were blond the minute you came online, little brother!"

"Bite me, surf-boy!" Kerry shot back.

A large dog padded into the room through the far wall, as if he did it every day, growling something that sounded suspiciously like "Be good kids, or I'll sic your Grandpas on you!" He then sat and stared at the nearest speaker.

"Sorry, Slider," both AIs quickly and meekly replied.

The dog, obviously named Slider, barked "I thought so," before turning and trotting through the opposite wall, which lead to the patio.

Matt gasped, "Did you see and hear that?"

Nodding, Kassidy sniggered, "I wasn't here more'n a couple o' hours when floating arms dumped Welsh cakes onto a tray. I guess you figured out we can understand dogs, but we can understand birds, cats and squirrels too. By the way, did you see any of the G-Cats or security gorillas yet?" Matt vigorously shook his head. Kassidy smiled, "There are a lot of amazing things that go on here. Love at first sight, and teasing from regular kids, and wearing fuzzy G-strings are all normal, compared to some other stuff around these parts. You'll get used to it."

"Or develop an addiction to Valium, like many of the adults," Alden giggled.

Going to Matt and wrapping him in a hug, Kassidy loudly laughed, "You're not helping, Alden! I like my boyfriend just as he is! He's starting to turn pale!" Concentrating on his boyfriend, Kassidy gently prompted, "Breathe with me, hunky bear. It'll all seem very normal in a day or two. I love you and need you."

Regaining his ability speak, Matt huffed, "I thought I'd seen it all. Talking dogs walking through walls, gorillas, and what the heck is a G-Cat? I mean, gay guys sweet talkin' and goofin' around everywhere I looked, stuff that I'd never seen back home." After a brief pause, Matt grinned, "Did you just say you love and need me?"

"There you are, back with me again!" Kassidy giggled. "Yeah, I said it and meant every word."

Matt moaned, "Oh man, you feel so awesome against me too, bare chest to bare chest, like this. A substantial amount of time is going to be spent this way."

Kassidy smiled, "Kiss me, hunky bear." Matt did as he was told, silently praising the good Lord for allowing Kassidy to speak his feelings, and for being the one he'd been searching for. When the kiss broke, Kassidy softly prompted, "Let's finish getting changed. We're already late for the water blaster battle."

Taking a half step back, Matt smiled, "Do you want me to change in here with you?"

Nodding, Kassidy giggled, "Yeah. I like your idea of saving the best parts till later though. To reduce temptations, let's turn away from each other, so we don't see." Matt took another step back and then turned towards his bedroom door. Also turning around, Kassidy began untying his board shorts and called, "Alden, get my water blasters and get two for Matt, please?"

Alden giggled, "Um... your water blasters are being used by Kade and Brad."

"It figures," Kassidy grumbled, and then ordered, "Dunk 'em both, Alden, and get us water blasters."

Matt chortled, "Dunk 'em?"

"In the diving well, for not asking if they could use my water blasters," Kassidy grinned. "That's another thing you'll learn about, Core Rimmer and dorm leader initiations are dunks at the diving well. It also works for bratty little brothers."

Delivering the four fully loaded water blasters, Alden giggled, "Kade thinks it was Karey that ordered the dunk. What should I do when they figure out it was you, Kassidy?"

"Save it for after the water blaster battle," Kassidy giggled. "A cool down before bedtime will be appreciated, I think."

"Most definitely, sexy cinnamon stick," Matt sniggered. He pulled up the G-string, smirking at the cotton cloth and single elastic rimmed port that he was obviously meant to stick his dick and nuts in. He figured that getting into it was far less of a problem than getting out of it again would be. Even if he was careful, a couple of pubes were certain to get caught in the elastic.

"We need to have a semi-serious chat after the battle," Kassidy warned.

"I know it," Matt chuckled. "This idea of not seeing what we both know we'll eventually be seeing is good, and it's really, really bad too."

Adjusting his package into the fuzzy G-string, Kassidy giggled, "What does it really matter? The facts are, you're the sweetest and best boyfriend around, and your dad is so kewl too. At the pools, I'd guess two-thirds to three-quarters of us guys are usually skinny dippin'. I've seen more dicks in four days here than I ever did before. There are three hundred kids on this base, and another eighty at the other base. Being at the pools here is like being at the lake back home, with every guy in town naked and skinny-dippin'. Nudity isn't much of a problem here in the ROH, and it's very kewl. Most teenage guys are in the same size range. There are slight variations in length, width and skin color, all of which I only noticed since arriving here. What you've got needs to be a surprise to me, just like the surprise I felt when Chris and Derrick brought you to my room, and the dozen or so surprises we've both felt since. There's no chance of me suddenly falling out of love with you only because of your dick." Turning around and seeing Matt was already facing him, Kassidy challenged, "Prove to me to me you feel any differently?"

Matt beamed, "I don't, and I'm thrilled with everything you've said."

Kassidy glanced down and then back up into Matt's eyes, before acknowledging, "You fill that real nice."

"I like what I see too," Matt giggled. "Remind me to chat with Jay about the design of this thing."

Nodding and giggling, Kassidy picked up and passed two water blasters to Matt. He then grabbed his water blasters before calling, "Hey Alden, since walking past Matt's dad like this isn't such a kewl idea, and we're already late, could you get us to Oneula Beach?"

"No problem," Alden giggled, and then executed the order.

Arriving at the grassy quad between the dormitories at Oneula Beach, Kassidy and Matt were well beyond the mass of about two hundred laughing and giggling boys. Matt noticed most guys were in their underwear, but many had Mr. Fuzzy G-strings. He also recognized some of the faces of the guys who had been at the tables by the Ewa Beach diving well. Matt turned to Kassidy, grinning, "Circle the group and attack?" With a nod of Kassidy's head, they took off running, making their presence known and firing non-stop.

A chorus of surprised shouts and squeals preceded the returned fire. Kassidy and Matt howled laughing. Warning moos erupted from the cozy cuzzy fuzzy veterans from dorm three. Craig, Phil, Owen, Travis, Erik, KC, Fred, Chauncey, Tony and Ray led the counter attack, blocking Kassidy and Matt, and forcing them to turn fuzzy tail and run away. Reading their brother's escape plan, Kade, Karey, Brad, Cameron cut them off. Jerry Owens and Joey led another group to block their escape. Encircled by the masses, with most of the water blasters aimed at them, Matt and Kassidy leaned against each other, back-to-back, trying to return fire as best they could.

Without warning, the entire group surrounding Kassidy and Matt were fired upon. The twenty Core Rimmers had arrived with all their sons, and their boyfriends. They would've been there sooner, but the five-year-old sons demanded another redesign of the Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, so they would fit their tiny bodies. And if the smallest of them could have Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, then the tweens had to have theirs too. There were now four basic designs of the G-strings; one for little guys, one for tweens, and the two for the teens. Leading the charge and cackling their little butts off, John, Stephen, Bruce, Frankie and Wade hovered about three meters over the crowd, firing down at unsuspecting victims. Seeing five- and six-year-old boys with Mr. Fuzzies covering their unfuzzy bits drove almost all the tweens and teenagers to fits of hysterical laughter.

While chaos erupted around the quad, the Scooby Gang transported to the scene, dressed in full ferret-body-sized Shiny Fuzzies, made from silver and gold tinsel, and armed with super-duper soakers, designed by the chimps, that were fed by fifty-gallon drums of water. Those water-blaster warriors who had arrived promptly at nine o'clock, and now had empty blasters, ran through streams of water to get back to their dorm rooms. Slowly but surely, the crowd thinned down, but Jay's wicked plan to create a feeling of brotherhood amongst all the boys had worked. Regardless of their backgrounds, physical states, or sexuality, all the boys in the division had participated in this battle.

On the way back to Ewa Beach via the dimensional doors, Matt noticed Angelo and Reggie, who were wearing boxer-briefs. Matt called for his two new friends, and then excitedly gushed on and on about all the great things that had occurred since they met. Matt prompted Angelo and Reggie to tell Kassidy the kind of boyfriend he had prayed for. After scanning Kassidy, Angelo quoted part of Matt's prayer, and Reggie swept his free arm from Kassidy's hair and on down. Brightly smiling at Matt, Kassidy glowed. All four passed through the Oneula Beach dining room on their way back to Ewa Beach. When the four boys had stopped talking, Kassidy and Matt unexpectedly vanished. They reappeared ten meters above the Ewa Beach diving well and dropped. 

For the first time, Alden didn't hear his name being screamed. Fuzzy free-falling, Kassidy and Matt bellowed, "HOOT!" They splashed down, quickly rose to the surface and cracked up.

From the pool house speakers, Alden worried, "Are you guys angry with me?"

Since Matt was hysterical and splashing around like a much younger boy, Kassidy giggled, "No, I asked you to dunk us later and we expected it."

"Oh," Alden softly said. "Usually people forget."

Kassidy sniggered, "I'll scream your name now, if you want."

"Can we try again?" Alden giggled.

"As soon as Matt gets a grip and stops laughing." Many moments later, Matt waded over toward Kassidy. Noticing his boyfriend's wicked leer, Kassidy cackled, "Now!"

Matt wasn't prepared and his yell clearly showed his frustration. Kassidy's shout was more like a loud laugh, followed by "HOOT! HOOT!" Just before hitting the water again, Matt smirked at his evil boyfriend and Kassidy cracked up.

Immediately upon surfacing, Kassidy found Matt swimming for him and giggled, "Be good, hunky bear."

"I'll let you be the judge of that," Matt leered. 

Mooing through his laughter, Kassidy backed away for the nearest ladder. He wasn't really trying to escape, but at least play hard to get and delay the inevitable. Backed against the edge of the well and a fair distance from a ladder, Kassidy cackled, "Fight the temptations!"

Holding the edge of the well and trapping Kassidy between his arms, Matt brightly smiled, "We'd both drown if I didn't. This isn't ending any time soon. I expect we'll last far more than two hours."

"Yeah," Kassidy softly chortled, "I think we'll last a long lifetime."

Matt planted a deep kiss, and then softly asked, "So, what are these semi-serious topics we need to discuss?"

"Let's start with the most simple," Kassidy offered. "You're on Kentucky time. Are you tired, Matt?"

"A little, but not too much; I could probably be awake until eleven or midnight."

"Do you sleep on your back, or on your belly?"

"I fall asleep on my side, and usually wake face up. Tonight, I might just spend the whole night on my side, spooned up with you."

Kassidy giggled, "Me snuggling behind you, or you behind me?"

"We'll have to try it both ways. That's generally how I'd like us to be."

"How long before we get there, do ya think?"

"At least a few days, hopefully we can make it a whole week before landing on home base."

"Why do you want it to take so long? Our feelings are already driving us crazy."

"I never expected love at first sight, Kass. Since that's what happened, we really should try to move along in baby steps. We can do a lot of fun stuff together, but since we're both virgins, that last step is going to take time and repetition to get right. In the meantime, we'll learn a lot more about each other."

"I'm liking your plan more and more."

"I'm glad, because I sure don't want anything we do in bed to damage the best opportunity in the world."

"Have you done some self exploration?"

Matt sniggered, "Far too much. At least I know enough to say its gotta be slow. How 'bout you?"

"Enough to know exactly what you're talking about," Kassidy giggled.

"We can do plenty with our hands and mouths," Matt assured. "There's so much I want to know about you, and that I still have to tell you about."

Kassidy prompted, "Anything in particular you want to know, just ask."

"Let's start with some basics. I get the impression that you've been scopin' guys and girls, so when did you choose guys over girls?"

"When I saw how gay couples acted here clinched it," Kassidy easily answered. "Before the vacation to Los Angeles, I knew I was as bisexual as anybody could be. All around LA, everywhere we went, there were gay couples. It was way different from home; holding hands was tame, and others were huggin' real tight, and others went for some kisses, little ones and really deep ones. Then a couple of guys here got my attention, but each and every one of 'em was already spoken for. I'd name them all for you, but I can only think of three who you'll know; Jay, Travis and Mike."

Matt smiled, "Yeah, I can understand that easily."

"Of all the girls here, I was never motivated to do more than talk with them. They're really cute and even nicer to talk with, but I never wanted to take a walk alone with one of 'em. Those talks proved that I was sliding further from heterosexual and closer to homosexual." Kassidy checked, "How did you know at such an early age?"

Matt shrugged, "Guys have always been cutest. My dad and mamma taught me the facts when I was nine. Way before that, the first time I saw a picture of a nude girl, I almost screamed in horror." Kassidy cracked up, and Matt sniggered, "She looked like a sexless doll! Where's her wiener? Dang, that's gotta hurt!" They both busted a gut laughing. Then Matt giggled, "Nope, it's always been other guys, dressed and undressed, they're the cutest."

Kassidy smiled, "You've never had a boyfriend before?"

"No one before you," Matt answered. "There were attempts, but no one wanted to hug or kiss, never mind showing me their willies, or letting me touch it. Generally, the friends I hung out with were groups of guys. I reckon they felt safer that way. As far as I'm concerned, it's just as well."


"So I could be the same as you. We have some stuff in common, and some that's about as different as can be. I never had brothers or sisters, but you have two brothers. I lost my mamma four years ago, but you just lost both your parents. How do you feel about them, Kass?"

Rapidly blinking, Kassidy replied, "Ya know, it might sound weird, but I'm really not sure. Both my folks worked full time, and they were okay as far as parents go. Some of my friends' parents were too strict and others seemed to not care at all. My folks were a good compromise, when I think back on it."

More softly, Kassidy revealed, "It was too sudden. They told us to go take care of business in the mens room before the flight. In the minutes the four of us were in there, all four parents and lots of other people were gone. It was chaos, people running away, other people running there with fire hoses. It didn't take long to find out for sure that they had died, maybe two hours. We all knew it though.

"Friday night, I was in shock, but I had brothers and my cousin keeping me grounded. For once in our lives, none of the four of us wanted to take a chance on separating from the other three. Before we went to bed, we were told to choose a Clan Division. Since Friday, it's been like, now I have to be the big brother that they always wanted me to be, and I had rebelled against it. I also gained a cousin in the deal too. So I played that part the best I could. Last night, my cousin hooked up with a boyfriend. Today, my brothers found boyfriends. Since dinner, I'm thinking its time to chill on the big bro act."

"Can you do that?"

"To a degree, I have to; they're growing up and taking their lives in directions that may or may not match mine. I'll say something to them, if I feel it's important enough, something our parents would definitely say. So, I'll still be their big brother, but not their dad, mom and brother, like I've been trying to be."

"What about the life you left behind?"

"This life is better in ways that matter most. There's no acting here; be who you are and strive for your own goals. My parents would've liked it here, I'm sure. We can be boyfriends without anyone mocking us. My folks weren't bigots, but often kept their views private, so bigots wouldn't get upset. I say its time to upset the bigots, and far past time to rock the boat. I think that's why Battle Of Earth happened; bigoted humans teamed up with Romulans to get their way, and they lost."

Matt beamed, "That was wicked kewl, Kass. I loved every word. I hope you meant what you said."

Kassidy nodded and giggled, "Yeah, I did. I do miss my parents, but I don't like having to be everything for my brothers and cousin. Life is good here. There's nothing missing except my folks, and I really think they know we're cared for. And lastly, it's definitely time for the high and mighty to get knocked down a few pegs; they're human beings, just like the rest of us. The galaxy opened up long before we were born, so lets act like one world, and join a bunch of other worlds with common beliefs. There are two Vulcans on this base, an adult man and a twelve-year-old boy. I don't understand all there is about their culture, or them individually, but I really want to learn."

Stifling a yawn, Matt sighed, "I'm really sorry, Kass. The time change is catching up with me. I'd love to stay here and talk more, but I think it's time to move this chat indoors."

Wrapping his legs around Matt's waist, Kassidy pulled him close for a tender kiss. He then smiled, "I hope my ramblings weren't boring."

"The last thing you are is boring," Matt assured. "I was totally into what you were saying, so much so that I relaxed even more. Now I'm even more certain it's you that the Lord's been saving for me."

Madly giggling, Kassidy's legs pulled Matt closer again. Once in range, they locked lips. Matt held onto Kassidy, and Kassidy released the side of the diving well to hold onto Matt. They sank. Needing oxygen, they bobbed to the surface. Matt prompted Kassidy to climb the ladder out of the well and instructed, "I left the sliding door in my bedroom unlocked. Dad won't ever see us wearing our fuzzy G-strings, if I can help it. I've got no problem with him seeing me nude, but this thing is far more embarrassing."

Rapidly nodding and evilly snickering, Kassidy swam for the ladder. As soon as Kassidy's bare butt was in view, Matt mooed and snuck in a few gropes. Laughing hysterically, Kassidy flew out of the well, grabbed his water blasters and started running toward condo B. In seconds, Matt was out and chasing his boyfriend around the quad, past the townhouses, around condo A, and up the exterior staircases of condo B to the seventh floor. Only a small night stand lamp was lit in Matt's bedroom. The clothes left scattered on the floor were picked up, making it obvious that Matt's dad had at least peeked in the room, organized things, and turned off the overhead lights.

As soon as Matt closed the sliding door and blinds, they were embracing and helping each other peel off their G-strings, and succumbing to the temptations of the last couple of hours. Matt was a giddy as a five-year-old with a new, long-expected present. At the same time he was pushing Kassidy's G-string down, he was grabbing kisses and licking water droplets off of his new boyfriend's shoulders and neck. Elastic in Mr. Fuzzy was preventing the skimpy G-string from dropping off, and that prompted Matt to ask, "Do you wanna... or shall I?"

Kassidy giggled, "Whether you remove it or I do, a couple o' pubes are gonna be tugged. You go for it, but I get to return the favor for you."

Reaching down, Matt used his hands like shovels; four fingers followed hair to flesh and then stretched the elastic. Slowly pulling Mr. Fuzzy forward, Matt grinned, "I never dreamed the first time I touched another guy's dick would be like this."

Nodding, Kassidy warmly smiled, "You did great too. A few hairs were pulled, but I don't think any were lost. Now it's my turn."

Holding Kassidy's shoulders, Matt asked, "Do you want to hear my plan?" Concentrating on painlessly removing Matt's G-string, Kassidy nodded. Matt said, "We'll get to know every inch of each other. The goal is to make our dicks bounce, to see what really feels the best. The last thing we'll do before kissing goodnight, only because we'll have to, is to finish off."

Delightfully shivering, Kassidy giggled, "You said hands and mouths."

"No blow-jobs tonight, Kass. Touch and taste only, until the very end. Then we'll finish with our hands. Even that's a learning experience; teaching each other how to make that the very best it can be. Kewl?"

"That sounds like a great idea."

Matt giggled, "It's been a dream of mine. Now I'm going to love my dream boyfriend." Taking one step back, Matt scanned Kassidy from head to toe. He chuckled, "Yep, the good Lord has definitely intervened. Even our cocks are almost exactly the same length and girth. Yours is paler than mine, but that was expected." Acknowledging that with a nod and a smile, Kassidy reached for Matt's arms. Gently and slowly, Kassidy began examining the feel of his new boyfriend's body. Matt gushed, "You're good at this! I thought I'd be showin' the way."

Shaking his head, Kassidy giggled, "I have a few ideas of my own that won't break the rules. I'm getting more ideas the more I look at you and touch you."

With goosebumps popping, Matt softly giggled another prayer of thanks, and began his own careful examination.

Near the end of the water blaster battle, Alden made a report to the majority of Core Rimmers' sub-vocals. Stevie made a different report to Reyes. Since most of the boys were scattering for their dorms, Reyes had Stevie transport Ryan and himself back to their flat. Moments later, Prez had the remaining group of Core Rimmers and their sons transported to the Rapid Response Base.

Arriving dripping wet before the desk of Colonel Cody Wilkins, the Rimmers softly chortled and giggled, waiting for their host to stop laughing at them. Many moments later, Cody locked eyes with Prez, wheezing, "Now I know why I couldn't reach your comm-badge!"

Prez chuckled, "There's really no place to put it, is there?"

Keith smiled, "We were giving a lesson in brotherly love."

In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Derrick grinned and began introductions, starting with Jonah, Randy and Dillon, and then moving on to the other Core Rimmers, who introduced their sons and boyfriends. Lastly, Prez introduced his sons. He then asked, "What's the scoop, Cody?"

Pointing at the Admiral's bars on Prez's Mr. Fuzzy, Cody grinned, "I wanted to show you your fleet, Admiral Fuzzy." Off to the side and out of Prez's reach, Jay and Chris began sniggering.

"Fleet?" Prez queried, "What fleet?"

"The Clan's Pacific Fleet, Sir," Cody smiled. "We already have Clan Short Crest flags, and were wondering what we might use for a Pacific Rim Division flag. That's been answered now."

Prez blinked and wondered, "What's your suggestion?"

Pointing at the groins of the Core Rimmers, Cody sniggered, "Feral Fuzzies, of course!" 

Smirking, Prez looked over at Jay and Chris, who were slinking behind Troy, Sean, Lance and Scott.

Chris giggled, "Jay's got a doctor appointment." The younger boys began giggling.

Tapping his sub-vocal, Jay sniggered, "Alden, take me and Chris to Doc Andrew's office." They disappeared.

Prez sighed, "Put rings of fire around the Feral Fuzzies and I guess we're set."

Nodding, Cody asked, "Would you like to inspect your fleet?"

"I'd like to have a look," Prez replied, "but first, explain to me how this could be useful, post-Battle Of Earth?"

Without delving into too many specifics, Cody answered, "We now have additional mobility, in the form of two destroyers, two submarines, two cruisers and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, including her twenty-five hundred aircraft." Seeing all the Core Rimmers' jaws dropping, Cody continued, "Explaining to his superiors how ineffective his weapons were against the Warbird, Admiral Noonan had a melt-down Friday afternoon. On any other day, under almost every other circumstance, Admiral Noonan would've been relieved of duty, but President Powell was part of the conference call. The only way to meet the Admiral's demands for more sophisticated weapons was to make his new strike group part of the Clan. Now he's got his weaponry, and many specialized enhancements only available to Starfleet and Clan Short, like micro-fusion generators to power his ships." Since everyone seemed dumbfounded, Cody sniggered, "Personally, I can't wait to see an aircraft carrier hit eighty knots."

"Alden," Keith hollered, "why is it we're just hearing of this now?"

"It's honestly not his fault," Cody interjected. "Until all the orders were signed, and the strike force could officially be considered the Pacific Clan Fleet, Alden had little to report. As of twenty-hundred hours today, they're yours."

Alden giggled, "Thank you, Cody," and then dimmed the lights. A moment later, an image of the Iowa, most of her black hull above the waves, zooming at maximum speed, appeared on the wall. 

A chorus of excited expletives erupted from the Core Rimmers. All their sons cracked up laughing. Softly whimpering, Cody went back behind his desk to send his partner, Sheldon, a racy warning message. In return, Sheldon sent an image of only his Mr. Fuzzy G-string covered crotch to his lover. It suddenly became imperative to get the Rimmers to the docks, and get his fuzzy butt back home as quickly as possible.

Sullivan's Island, SC

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 3:27AM EST

Paul Owens lifted his suitcase and walked out of the room he had once shared with Ryan. When he had accepted the Owens' hospitality weeks earlier, he had guessed it would be temporary. What he never could have foreseen was leaving without his brother. Ryan had chosen Reyes though. There was no chance of changing Ryan's mind, and Paul couldn't see himself ever apologizing for anything he had done. Without Ryan, there was no reason to remain on Sullivan's Island. By morning, he fully expected another confrontation with Danny anyway. When Paul was gone, the Owens family would be able to reunite. Jerry, Joey and KC would return home, so his disappearance would be better for everyone. Paul walked out the back door and kept walking past Marc's house to the beach. Not one of the AI Division's security had noticed him leaving. Paul reasoned, either they hadn't noticed or they chose to not notice him.

Following the beach, Paul breathed in feelings of freedom with each autumn breeze. Going forward, Paul could easily take care of himself. He would effortlessly return to his streetwise ways, and try to forget that he had ever accepted a home within the AI Division of Clan Short. Paul would forget the names Danny Page and Marc Furst, the two people that he had argued with because they wanted to "fix" Ryan.

Arguably, meeting Reyes was the best and worst parts of the entire Clan Short experience, as far as Paul was concerned. Ryan had a good boyfriend that had an even more positive outlook than Ryan. It was then, as Paul followed route 703 off Sullivan's Island, that he recalled Reyes ordering the homophobes executed for what they had done. Reyes could take care of Ryan and they would be happy without him. Now his bro could be safe and Paul wouldn't have to deal with their naivety.

At the intersection of route 703 and highway 17, Paul turned around, stuck his thumb out and started hitching rides. A few cars passed him. Less than a minute later, an eighteen-wheeler approached and flashed his high beams, signaling the driver's intention to stop. Grinning and running along the roadside, Paul thought, some things never change. At most, this ride would cost Paul a blow-job or two and he could get many miles away. With luck, Paul might even get back to Columbia soon after daybreak. There, he could disappear into the city he knew very well. The young driver called over, "Where ya headin', kid?"

"Columbia would be awesome," Paul replied.

"It's on the way," the driver replied, and instructed, "Jump on in." Doing as he was told, Paul got settled in the passenger side seat, with his suitcase at his feet. The driver said, "My name's Dan."

"I'm Paul."

After pulling away and getting his rig back on the road, Dan asked, "Have you got relatives in Columbia?"


Thoughtfully humming, Dan wondered, "You've got friends there?"

"Not really; it's a city I'm familiar with." After many minutes of silence, Paul asked, "What's the cost for the ride, dude?"

"Cost?" Dan chuckled. "There's no cost, Paul. You're not taking me off my route. The drive's easier with someone to talk with. If conversation can be considered payment, then chat up a storm."

Paul muttered, "I just left a guy named Danny. He was a jerk." He then double-checked, "No ass, cash or grass?"

Dan laughed, "I don't need any of the above. My wife would kill me if I touched a kid, never mind fucking a young boy; she'd castrate me. Grass and driving these big bitches don't mix, and you probably don't have enough cash to even worry about that. You know far too much for a kid. How old are you, thirteen going on thirty?"

Paul grinned, "Thirteen going on fifty."

"Stay thirteen as long as you can and enjoy it," Dan recommended. "Then again, so much has changed the last few days, maybe you can remain a teenager through your teen years. The Battle Of Earth shook everyone to their souls, it seems. It's sad that it took an alien invasion and hundreds of thousands of lives to cause the change. Everyone seems to be learning from them Clan Short kids. Let's hope folks don't forget and fall back into their old habits."

"Uh... people are learning from the Clan?"

"Hell yeah!" Dan cheered. "Kids around the world fought in cities everywhere, when adults were creating big problems, making the Romulan's job easier. Don't you watch TV, browse the Internet or read the news?

"Generally no, and these last few days, I've been busy with other stuff."

"Well, the new deal is for everyone to simply give a damn," Dan shared. "That's why I stopped for you, if the truth must be known. A kid your age shouldn't be walking the streets in the middle of the night. Since you're carrying a suitcase, I figure wherever you were was bad enough to want to leave. I'd be much happier if I knew you had people to be with in Columbia, but I'll do my part and get you where you need to be. I know a few people there too, other drivers, like me, making out like a bandit, delivering goods to places that desperately need it. This rig is filled with construction materials destined for Washington, D.C. Everybody is trying to get the city cleaned up and rebuilt. Once this trip is complete, I'll reload and head up to New York City. I'll reload again on the trip back, drop more off in Washington, then head home for a day off with my pregnant wife."

Paul smirked, "You make it sound like there are no bad people anywhere."

"I'm sure they're still out there, but last night's news mentioned substantially reduced crime rates in every major city across the nation. For instance, in my own little corner of the world, neighbors are watching my wife. It didn't used to be that way last week; my wife and I only knew one other young family in our apartment complex. It started changing Saturday, with people saying more than hello and spending time getting to know us. Of course, we got to know them too. Now I know that one old woman is a retired nurse. I was gone Sunday and came back late that night to a completely different neighborhood, where everyone was watching out for one another. Now I can work without worrying quite so much about my wife. My first born kid is going to have a promising life.

"Our country's president is talking about changing economic and societal standards. If half of what President Powell wants to see changed actually does change, my kid's going to have opportunities I never had. It's really hard to believe some of this, but the changes have already impacted my life and my career. I used to drive six days a week. I was off Friday when the shit hit the fan. I worked Sunday, had Monday off, and here I am working another day, but I've been told I'll be off when I get home, and I won't have to work again until Friday. My boss says it'll be a day on and a day off. If I have to work two consecutive days, then I'll get two consecutive days off. I haven't had two days off in a row in more then three years. The best part is, when I become a daddy, my schedule and routes will change so that I can be a father, and my pay won't change."

"That sounds nice for you, but how can you say that it's all because of Clan Short? It seems to me that it was you and your neighbors."

Danny smiled, "What came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, before the Battle Of Earth, Clan Short was helping kids. Those kids who have been helped were the ones helping others all day Friday and into Saturday. Some joined League and federal forces militarily, while others acted to provide homes for the many thousands of refugees. People helping people was the lesson learned, and it's funneled through to many communities. Washington, New York and Los Angeles got screwed over because the people didn't help one another. Why wasn't Boston screwed too? Why not Chicago, or Cincinnati, or Charleston, or Columbia, or dozens of other cities that are large enough to have had similar problems? The only answer is because people pulled together as teams. We sure as hell didn't learn it from our government. Congress needs to spend years debating whether or not people should wipe their asses when they shit, for Christ's sake!"

Paul couldn't help softly chortling.

Dan grinned, "You'll see for yourself, Paul. Everything has changed and it seems like it might just continue down a better path."

"I'll believe that when I see it. It'll probably take seeing it dozens if not hundreds of times."

Sadly shaking his head, Dan mumbled, "You're far too cynical for a young man. You're far too cynical for thirty, or for fifty." After a pausing to collect his thoughts, Dan asked, "Do you have hobbies or interests?"

"Not really," Paul shrugged. "Camping, hiking and mountain biking are the closest things, but it's been a long time since I've done any of the three."

"How long?"

Knowing what kind of response he'd get, Paul grinned, "Over twenty years."

Dan howled laughing and slammed a palm against the steering wheel.

Deciding to test Dan's perception that people had changed, Paul waited until the man was softly chuckling, and then stated, "I'm an android. I was first activated June fourteenth, 1951. My original parents were Lance and Miriam Coplin. My dad was a maintenance technician for Vision Industries. My mom was a secretary for Vision Industries. They always wanted children, but couldn't have any. We lived in Chapin, near Lake Murray, off of route 76, until my parents died in September of 1984. I lived on the streets of Columbia until October twenty-sixth, doing everything I needed to survive. Where I've been living since didn't work out, and I'll leave it at that. I don't have any grass, or much cash, but I would've given you head for this ride."

Dan stopped laughing and glanced to his right several times before softly asking, "You're serious?"

"Completely," Paul flatly answered. A crushing minute of silence passed before Paul asked, "What's the cost now?"

Dan assured, "There's still no cost. I've never met an android before, not that I know of anyway. You've shocked the shit out of me. I don't even know what to ask or say that wouldn't be misinterpreted as insulting." 

Digesting that for another silent minute, Paul muttered, "You've shocked me too. I expected you to stop this rig, pull over for quick, meaningless sex, and then toss me out on my ass."

Shaking his head, Dan smiled, "All I said is true. My wife of four years is pregnant with our first born. I love her. Since I don't find boys or men attractive enough to even get it up, you're getting a free ride. Judging by what you've said, you've had it rough. If there was something more I could do, I would, but our two bedroom apartment is set for our baby. You don't need a temporary place, but a permanent one, with people that care enough to make right what's been wrong."

"The ride is plenty, Dan. I survived before and I'll survive again."

Oneula Beach, Taylor Residence

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 9:42PM HTZ

After the water blaster battle, Ralphie, Richie, Robbie, Ronnie, Billy, Carrol and Pat invited Theo Triggs back to the house. Since the afternoon's concert, Richie was falling for Theo. Richie had invited Theo to eat dinner with the family at the CIC dining room. Ralphie, Robbie and Ronnie knew Richie liked Theo a lot. Theo liked Richie too, but was still struggling with the idea of another boyfriend. The impressions implanted by Theo's parents left the kid feeling abundant self-doubt. As far as the quadruple Rs were concerned, it was time to include Theo in the family fold.

Still wearing damp underwear and Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, the group of boys went down to the basement. Robbie went to turn on the radio. Ralphie and Pat began dancing. At first, Billy tried to telepathically share his history with Theo. Giggling at the slightly younger and shorter boy before him, Theo wondered, "Is there something you want to say?" making it clear that Billy's words went unreceived.

Billy grinned, "Who do you think I am?"

Theo blushed and giggled, "Robbie's main squeeze." The other boys in the basement began giggling.

Nodding, Billy softly shared, "A week ago today, I was naked, with my brother Jason, and we were being filmed by our now ex-foster parents." Theo's jaw dropped. "We had to do stuff, just to get a can of soup or a frozen dinner," Billy continued. "Even my littlest two brothers had to do stuff."

Ronnie added, "I lived right next door to Billy, and the deal was the same in our house. A week ago seems more like a month, since I met my other three bros."

Billy offered, "Saturday afternoon, me and my three brothers were adopted by Sean and Troy. It was right after Keith and John went to Ewa Beach, for you and Brad."

Carrol stepped up beside Billy, telling Theo, "Most of the kids here have bad pasts. When our old foster started his freaky shit with Trevor, Richie and I got him out of there that night. We were part of the Clan Desert Division for a few days, until Richie was called here to meet his brothers for the first time. Now we're part of a real family. Billy's got his family. Garrett's got his family in Des Moines. No matter how bad things were for you and Brad, it's better now."

"And we're going to make it even better," Richie softly but firmly said. He moved closer to Theo, sighing, "I want to spend a lot of time with you, dude. You don't need to be scared of me, because I won't choose someone else, especially not over some grown-up's messed up thoughts and actions."

Fighting to control his emotions, Theo sadly muttered, "It barely took him a week to find someone else."

"I won't do that," Richie stated. "We had a good time dancing at the concert, and you seemed to enjoy being with our family at dinner."

Theo said, "I did, but..." and trailed off, looking at the floor, as if the words he needed to say were printed there.

'All I wanted was someone to dance with,' Richie silently confessed. 'I didn't know that I'd start feeling stuff, or that I would invite you to have dinner with us. Did I make you change into a Mr. Fuzzy G-string with me and my bros? No, I showed you to a bathroom, where you could choose what you wanted to wear. I won't ever force you to do anything, Theo. All I want is for us to try our best...'

'Like I'm doin' with Pat,' Ralphie interjected.

'And I'm doin' with Garrett,' Ronnie added.

'And I'm tryin' with Billy,' Robbie finished.

Richie grinned at his three mirror images, impatiently huffing, "Heaven forbid I should finish a thought on my own." Everyone in the basement broke down in giggles. Facing Theo again, Richie assured, "Trying is how we'll grow past friends that had a good time together, and into boyfriends."

Turning around with Ralphie, so he could face Theo, Pat explained, "Boyfriends are two different people that choose to do everyday stuff together. I met Ralphie last Friday. Later that afternoon, he needed some time alone with his brothers. I easily said yes, and then wished I hadn't, because I missed him being with me. It gave me and Ralphie time to think though, so it worked out in our favor when we got together again Friday night. The next thing I know, Saturday afternoon, I'm in Des Moines with this set of quadruplets, and with Ronnie's foster brother, who is half of one set of double twins. I lost one family, but within a little more than a day, I had two full families; the Taylors and the Morrisons. All day and into Sunday, we bopped from Ewa Beach to Des Moines, back and forth a couple o' times."

"We followed the smell of food and never missed a meal," Ralphie sniggered.

Trying to learn to dance with Carrol as a fill-in partner, Ronnie giggled, "We want you around too, because Richie does, and because our extended family traverses five time zones."

Rapidly blinking at Ronnie dancing with Carrol, Richie chortled, "What are you two trying to do?"

"We need to learn how to dance too," Carrol giggled.

Ronnie sniggered, "Without stepping on each other's feet."

"There's still lots of space between 'em," Robbie smiled.

Billy giggled, "Try dancing like us. Move your whole body, and not just your feet."

In time with the music, Robbie called out, "Left foot and shoulders, right foot and butts. Billy's leading; he learned from Sean and taught me." Ralphie rested his arms on Pat's shoulders, and Pat held Ralphie's hips. They began imitating Billy and Robbie. Then Ronnie and Carrol duplicated the dance.

Without hesitation, Richie went and put his hands on Theo's hips. Theo draped his arms over Richie's shoulders, silently worrying if he would hurt him or be hurt by him. 'Ain't gonna happen that way, not this time,' Richie sent. 'Your parents interfered and caused everything to fall apart last time. Yeah, I know, since the first time you thought about it, in the auditorium. I didn't mind talk with you much before now just to give you a chance to tell me on your own. We're gonna take our time and really get to know each other, the way we're supposed to. Think about what you'd like to know about me, and I'll tell you everything.' 

After a brief pause to read Theo's first question, Richie silently replied, 'No, I never did anything with Carrol or Trevor. Our old foster was the prime definition of a pussy; he liked hurting hairless boys, because he was too much of a fag to face his homosexuality with men his own age. Next question?'

Richie giggled, 'What's there not to like about you, dude? The best part is that we're about the same age and will grow up together. Yup, I'm uncut too, just like you. I've got exactly six long pubes scattered around down there. You'll have to count them and tell me how many you have. Yeah, I wanna see for myself, but that's a couple o' days away. I don't know, I never measured it limp or stiff. There's a whole bunch of other fun stuff we'll try.' 

Theo giggled, "Like?"

Richie dropped his arms and stopped dancing. He moved around and behind Theo, put his hands on his new boyfriend's hips, and then leaned forward to taste the brown hair hanging down by his neck. Cringing, Theo cracked up, getting the attention of Robbie, Billy, Ralphie, Pat, Ronnie and Carrol. Soon, all six were laughing as hard as Theo and barely dancing.

Ralphie giggled, "What's it taste like, bro."

"Sweet milk chocolate," Richie evilly snickered. "More like cake than a cookie or candy." The other seven in the basement howled.

"It's a family trait," Pat cackled.

Spinning around, Theo dove for Richie's long blond hair and tasted a mouthful. His lips only brushed the side of Richie's neck, but it was enough for an intense shiver to race up and down Richie's spine.

Squinting at Ronnie, Carrol warned, "No way!"

"Garrett says, if you keep that up, he's gonna order a four-way!" Kerry's voice stated over their giggles. "If you're really good, I'll make it a five-way!"

Seven sets of eyes focused on Carrol. Intensely blushing, Carrol giggled, "Not ever in any group larger than two, Kerry. Even then, we'd start having problems when I'm a teenager and you're still a hairless tween."

Noticing the time, Richie asked Theo, "Do you want to go back to the dorm or stay here?" Six other voices softly mooed.

Grinning slightly, Theo answered, "I think we have a lot more to talk about, without company. Let's go for a walk first." Louder provocative mooing erupted.

The one thing Theo didn't say, Richie read telepathically. Theo's brother, Brad Triggs was spending the night with Kade Oldcambus, so they might still be alone after the walk. "Kewl," Richie nervously squeaked. His brothers began sniggering. After clearing his throat, Richie said, "Let me tell my folks and we're gone."

Theo took Richie's hand and led the way back upstairs. The whole way, Richie heard his three brothers telepathically teasing him. Breaking out in a nervous sweat, Richie paused in the kitchen to splash cold water on his face. Theo checked, "Are you okay?"

"Fine," Richie smirked. "I just got paybacks for all the teasing I dished out to my brothers." Grabbing a towel to dry off, he sent, 'Part of me thinks I should apologize, and the other parts says, nah, just get even another time.'

Understandingly nodding, Theo asked, "Do me a favor?"


"Talk to me the normal way," Theo gently instructed. "When we're alone, there's no reason to mind talk, is there?"

Richie asked, "Does it freak you out?"

"No," Theo answered, and then sighed, "One of the things I missed most was just hearing my other boyfriend's voice. If we're not alone and you want to send me stuff privately, that's kewl, but it's not necessary when we're alone."

Widely smiling, Richie tossed the towel on the counter and offered Theo a clean hand. After having his hand taken, Richie led the way into the living room, where Jason and Trinity, his new mom and dad, were lounging together on the sofa.

Seeing Richie in his Mr. Fuzzy G-string again, and Theo in almost dry blue boxer-briefs, Trinity covered her eyes and began giggling. Richie giggled, "Sorry mom. We're just gonna go for a walk and chat for a while."

Waving his free arm at both boys, Jason sniggered, "Like that?"

Shrugging, Richie giggled, "It's something, and more than most dudes wear around here."

Jason smiled, "Are you coming back home tonight?"

Richie shrugged and turned to Theo, who replied, "After we talk more, we'll know the answer to that question." He faced Richie and added, "I can't deal with one bad ending, never mind two, and I won't go there. If we're both ready and can deal, we'll spend the night here, or at my dorm room at Ewa Beach. It only depends on which is closer, and how both of us feel about spending the night together. We'll meet at the dining room here in the morning, no matter what."

"Good enough," Jason said, "have a good talk, and a good night."

Trinity warmly said, "And good luck, to both of you."

The boys said, "Good night," and walked hand-in-hand to the front door. 

Soon after stepping off the porch, Richie prodded, "Will you tell me his name?"

"I'm surprised you don't already know."

"I'm not telepathically interrogating you, Theo. You're my boyfriend, not some future employee with a dirty history."

"Bryant Engelman was his name."

"What made him special to you?"

Theo scowled, "Why does that matter?"

Richie shrugged, "It don't matter that much. It's just that you still miss him, so he must've been special somehow."

Theo sighed and then struggled to calmly explain, "He was a school friend. We never hung out much together until the end of last school year. Soon after school ended, we started hanging out together, with his friends, or with mine, and then more often alone, at his place or at mine. The first hugs were easy, completely natural, and got to be constant. It's just that he was the first, ya know? We didn't talk about becoming boyfriends, and just did what we wanted, when we wanted. I didn't even realize how much he mattered to me until I wasn't allowed to be alone with him. Suddenly there's no more hugs, no more kisses, no one to talk with or hold close at night. I've barely gotten over the fact that I gave my heart away without knowing it, and now I'm with you, wondering if it's going to happen again. This time I have to pay attention, Richie. Another short friendship that leaves me feeling all alone again can't happen; the first one hurt too much."

After a brief pause, Theo pulled himself together and smiled, "When you reached for my hand in the auditorium, I was fighting myself, saying no, and then yes, over and over again, even when I took your hand and went to dance with you. How much of that did you know?"

Richie giggled, "They were your surface thoughts, so about all of it. Now I know the reason why though, and that makes what I read even better."

Trying to understand, Theo scowled, "It's even better?"

"You said it yourself," Richie smiled. "Bryant was automatic and it simply happened, without thought or trying. I am thinking, Theo, a lot, about you, me and us. 

"Imagine me," Richie prodded, "coming here to meet two long lost brothers, just knowing that they'd hate me, because I'm gay. Come to find out, they're gay too. We've got something in common and a reason to be friends as well as brothers. Then, a few hours later, Robbie showed up with his mom and dad. That was Thursday night. I wanted Carrol and Trevor here, with me and my brothers, so we made it happen. By lunch time Sunday, we're a real family, and it's nothing like I ever thought it might be. I was scared to death of my old foster. My new mom and dad haven't frightened me or any of my brothers. Ralphie finds Pat and almost flipped right where he stood. Ronnie has Garrett, and Robbie zeroes in on Billy. Are any of us jealous? Nope, we're proud and thrilled. Are the new mom and dad bothered in any way that four of their six sons are gay? Nope, they're happy that we're happy, and we're bringing more to the family. Dad's not the slightest bit gay, but he has no problem with a bunch of gay sons, and even more gay guys scattered around both bases. Do you know why?"

Shaking his head, Theo grumbled, "I'd really love to know, since my folks have attitudes about it."

"Dad used to coach football, and he wants to do it here," Richie explained. "That tells me he likes guy stuff, just like every other guy. The one thing that makes a gay dude different from a straight dude is the sex part. Dad doesn't need to prove anything to mom. And he'll have no problem coaching football with a team that's half gay and half straight. Look at the Core Rimmers, and their dads. There's bunches of other grown men here that aren't looking at any kid like some kind o' conquest. I know that there's two men, 19 and 21 years old, and they're a gay couple. Nobody is trying to prove how manly they are, or wondering if they need to prove it to any one."

Pausing in the middle of the outdoor rec area field, Theo blinked, "You're saying my dad needs to prove it?"

Richie shrugged, "To some extent or another, for some reason that only he knows, having gay sons made him feel uncomfortable. He kept you away from Bryant, and Brad secluded from other dudes his age. Or maybe it was your mom that was uncomfortable. It could also be that they both were, and agreed completely that grounding you and Brad was the way to cope, so they wouldn't have to face the fact that it's them with the problem."

Watching Theo process the information, Richie sighed, "Being gay means one thing to me; that I always prefer being with other dudes, and when it comes to sex, dudes have the equipment I prefer. I know how sex should never be done, Theo. I also have a good idea how to make it the best, from a straight father and three awesome brothers. I already care about you. When its time, I won't ever do any of the bad stuff that was done to me; it's gonna be careful and slow, like my dad and bros said. If both of us ain't havin' fun, then what's the point?"

Seeing Theo wiping tears from his eyes but also widely smiling, Richie was confused. Feeling like he had screwed up majorly, he groaned, "I'm really sorry."

Shaking his head, Theo moved closer and took Richie in his arms. "Thank you," Theo softly wept. He rested his head on Richie's shoulder and tried to stop crying.

Thankfully, Theo couldn't see Richie scrunch his face while he took the time to process. After a few moments, Richie whispered, "What for?"

Squeezing Richie tighter, Theo giggled, "I wish you had said all that earlier; it would've made things easier for me."

Not knowing exactly what he had said that made the difference, but happy enough with Theo in his arms, Richie carefully offered, "I couldn't say it in the auditorium, or while we were having dinner either. I sure wasn't gonna go there with my brothers and their boyfriends around."

Giggling insanely at the images implanted, Theo squeezed Richie tightly, slid his face around and planted a deep kiss. Richie still had no clue what he said that made the difference, but the tongue invading his mouth tasted really good, so he had no problem waiting until the kiss finally broke to pose the question. When the kiss did break, Theo prompted, "Read my thoughts, Richie."

Immediately closing his eyes, Richie giggled, "Nope, you'll have to tell me the old fashioned way."

Now that he wanted his thoughts read, Theo couldn't believe Richie had closed his eyes. Smirking, Theo got in the first opportunistic rib tickle. Opening his eyes wide, Richie laughed and brushed away the tickling hands. Laughing his ass off, Theo turned and ran for the diving well. Richie took off after him, but couldn't catch up. By the time Richie got to the diving well, Theo was naked and almost all the way to the top of the five-meter high ladder.

Richie loudly cackled, "I am not diving from way up there!"

Theo cracked up and then playfully instructed, "Take off that Mr. Fuzzy and meet me under water." Richie's eyebrows shot up and he quickly began peeling off his Mr. Fuzzy. Before Richie could get the Fuzzy on his fuzzy completely off, Theo dove. He did three awesome summersaults then straightened up and hit the water on an incline, making a big splash. Richie quickly followed, with his Mr. Fuzzy G-string still clinging to his right ankle. They found each other under water, embraced and locked lips.

Relaxing on lounge chairs near the diving well were Carter, Doug, Neil and Tad. The four teenagers were chilling after the cozy cuzzy fuzzy water blaster battle. Used to their level two orphanage lives, the four teens knew how to carry a whispered conversation. Away from any lights, they weren't noticed by Theo and Richie. All four smiled, glanced at one another, and then returned to their prior conversation regarding their new home.

Theo and Richie surfaced and began giggling. Richie wondered, "What did I say to deserve a kiss like that?"

Theo giggled, "What I needed to hear. They almost had me believing there was something wrong with me, Richie. Thanks to you, I know now that it was them. I'm thinking clearly again, like a dude that likes being around other dudes. For a while there, I thought..."

"No," Richie interrupted. "Don't say that... don't even think it, Theo. You're my boyfriend; you just proved it. What's hangin' between our legs makes us male; and since there's no third sex you can be, then you're a dude. Being a nice guy don't make you a fem."

Nodding and allowing the topic to drop once and for all, Theo clung on to Richie, warmly saying, "And you're my boyfriend."

Getting up from their chairs, Carter, Doug, Neil and Tad applauded. Separating to see who was clapping their hands, Richie and Theo blushed and giggled. The four older teens didn't even look back; they gathered their water blasters and walked to their dorms, to leave the younger dudes alone.

Still giggling, Theo asked Richie, "Would you come back to my dorm room with me?"

"Are you sure?"

"There's still a lot more to say and hear. I wanna fall asleep in your arms, talking, hearing about your thoughts, and telling you mine."

"We don't have to... ya know, do anything more than that."

Theo nodded, "With Bryant, we didn't fool around that much. Talking ourselves to exhaustion, kissing and hugging were our favorite things to do. It took us almost two months before we started messin' around. At first we could talk, hug and kiss without either of us getting hard. When we started feeling the other was boning up, that's when we showed, and when everything really started." He paused and giggled, "After what you said, it probably won't take us two months. Not to mention, Bryant didn't dance near as good as you."

Richie giggled, "I was only having fun; imitating what some of the teenagers were doing."

"Then we're gonna have lots of fun with our clothes on, cos I really like dancing," Theo revealed.

Richie prompted, "Let's go back, get our clothes, and tell mom and dad what we've decided." Theo nodded, and they swam for the ladder.

Ewa Beach, Dormitory 3, Room 26

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 10:05PM HTZ

After the water blaster battle, Angelo and Reggie changed out of their damp underwear and got dressed again. They needed to go back to their homes to get the belongings they needed and wanted in their new room; namely, their clothes, Angelo's electronic music gear, and Reggie's art supplies. Most of the clothing that Alden got for them earlier, when they thought they would be hiding their new love, was returned. They kept only the new shirts and boxer-briefs that they had already worn. The unused computers in the dorm room were also returned to the warehouse. Once the dorm room was prepared, with closet doors, desk and dresser drawers left open, for Alden to transport everything, Angelo and Reggie left the room for the townhouses. 

They went to the Combs' home first. Playing video games in Cameron's room, Cameron and Karey were in dry briefs and sitting on the floor. Pausing at the open door with Angelo at his side, Reggie wondered, "Where's mom and dad?"

Paying more attention to the game, Cameron answered, "Over at the Hundsers' house, I think."

Without looking up and over at the two teens, Karey offered, "That was their plan, anyway. All the grown-ups are meeting over there, getting to know each other, like ol' fogeys do."

"They'll probably be home soon," Cameron finished, and then giggled, "What're you dudes doing here?"

Karey teased, "Don't you have better stuff to do?"

Angelo broke down in giggles. Reggie smirked, "We're moving, getting our stuff from here over to the dorm." After a brief pause for remarks, Reggie sniggered, "Don't get all emotional or anything, bro."

Sparing a glance up at his big brother, Cameron laughed, "PLEASE! You're moving a few hundred meters away! It's not like we won't see each other a dozen times a day!"

Angelo giggled, "So, are video games the way ten-year-old boyfriends play?"

"You're just jealous," Karey cackled. "You teens make such a big to-do about everything. We're not holding hands now b'cause we can't, but we have, and we've hugged and kissed and done everything you've done, and didn't make a mess, or need a shower when we were done. Kassidy's around somewhere, with Matt, hoping he loses his virginity, and hoping he doesn't, AT THE SAME TIME!" Cameron cracked up. Karey giggled, "Chill about it, and just have fun."

Angelo checked with Reggie. The two teens grinned and nodded. Reggie teased, "I'll remind you of what was said tonight in about three years, when you dudes are able to do more than shiver and shake." Cameron and Karey howled laughing. Reggie led Angelo into his room. Before Reggie was anywhere near ready for it, Angelo gave him a whopper of kiss. Groaning and loosing himself in the affection, Reggie let his hands roam around Angelo's torso. A few moments later, they heard giggling. Cameron and Karey were just beyond Reggie's bedroom door, trying to imitate the kiss and hand roaming, but only managing to tickle each other into hysterics. Rolling his eyes, Reggie sniggered, "Chill about it, and just have fun," and then closed the door.

Returning to Angelo, Reggie asked, "Take care of the desk for me, babe?" 

Nodding, Angelo called, "Alden?"

Alden giggled, "Ready when you are, babe!"

"He's my babe, Alden," Reggie chortled, and went to his dresser. He began opening drawers.

Angelo called, "Take the computer, Alden." It vanished and Angelo began opening the desk drawers. A few meters behind him, Reggie had Alden take drawers of clothes to the dorm dresser. Curiosity got the best of Angelo, and he began browsing another drawing pad while ordering other drawers to be transported. Running across an incriminating drawing, Angelo began giggling.

Reggie wondered, "What's so funny," and had the final dresser drawer transported. He then turned to see what his lover was giggling at. Finding Angelo red-faced and almost hysterical, Reggie blushed, "I said that I never gave any dudes a second glance. I said nothing about girls."

Angelo giggled, "So, how much did you like her?"

"Enough to sketch her, like she asked me to," Reggie giggled. "I was doing it to give to her, but she told me to keep it. That was last June, before the school year ended. When school started in September, she had a boyfriend. Before we moved here, she had a different boyfriend; better lookin' than the first, but still kind o' blah, as far as I'm concerned."

Angelo giggled, "Do I detect a little jealousy, or is it remorse?"

Cracking up, Reggie shook his head, wrapped his arms around Angelo, and sniggered, "She was searching for Mister Right. I lucked out, and found my Mister Right by moving. Some cutie carrying a box said hi to me, and I almost tripped over my own two feet." Angelo provocatively mooed. Reggie giggled, "Are you going to help, or just glance through all my sketches?"

"I think I'd better do both," Angelo suspiciously smirked.

Reggie laughed, "Okay, later tonight, I'll sit there nude and draw my fantasy girl. You'll see for yourself that there's not much reaction, if any. Then I'll draw you again, this time all of you, in the buff. You'll see where my interests are, but you can't complain when I go bonkers and won't let you sleep."

"That sounds like fun to me!"

Reggie grinned, "Do you really need proof, babe?"

Rapidly shaking his head, Angelo smiled, "No, but it still sounds like an awesome way to spend some time alone with you. While you work on your fantasy girl, I'll start writing a song for you." 

Reggie nodded and stole a tender kiss. He went to his closet, opened it, and had the contents transported to the dorm. Seeing the rest of the room was emptied of his stuff, Reggie began closing drawers, and Angelo followed his partner's lead, but still held onto the pad in his hand. They left the room, heard Karey and Cameron giggling beyond the other closed bedroom door, and went downstairs. Before walking out of the house, Reggie muttered, "Ya know, I think I am jealous." When Angelo scowled at him, Reggie shrugged, "If I had known you, and if we were boyfriends when I was ten or eleven, puberty might've been easier for me."

They stepped outside and Reggie closed the door. Walking down the steps, Angelo said, "I would've bent over backwards to make it better, Reg."

Nodding, Reggie smiled, "I know. You've done enough today to make that obvious. I still can't quite get over the other dudes in the shower though."

"As couples, they were occupied," Angelo reminded. They walked up the steps to townhouse number five, where Angelo held his hand on the security plate and stated his name. The door unlocked and they went inside. In her robe and PJs, Cecelia sat on the couch watching TV. She didn't say a word to Angelo or Reggie, even after they had greeted her. Untroubled, Angelo lead Reggie upstairs to his room.

As they had in the unit next door, Angelo concentrated on the desk while Reggie emptied the dresser. Angelo had a good Yamaha 61-key keyboard workstation connected to his computer that he had Alden transport. Occupied with the task at hand and softly chatting about their hopes for their first night alone together, they didn't hear Laxmi and Eugene come home, until they heard Cecelia loudly bitching, "You're letting him move out, with Reggie? What about me?"

Mrs. Diaz calmly asked, "What about you?"

"What're kids gonna say? My big bro is queer!"

Loudly, Eugene Diaz ordered, "SHUT IT AND SIT DOWN!" Up in his room, Angelo's eyebrows shot up and his mouth formed a cute little circle. Knowing his sister had crossed several lines, he went to Reggie and held him tight until the storm front passed.

"We have given you, and your brother, every chance, and tried to make your lives easier," Laxmi shouted. "You still haven't stepped foot out of this house either. Your brother took a chance today..."

"Several chances, actually," Eugene added.

Laxmi continued, "Not only has he found a boyfriend that cares for him, he met many other boys and made friends. He made his bed, he cleaned up after his breakfast, he even gathered the trash and took it out at some point. But here you sit, glued to the TV. Are you afraid?"

"No," Cecelia meekly offered.

Eugene asked, "Do you think your better than all these other kids?" There was silence.

Laxmi sighed, "It's a good thing that we've moved here then, not only for our family, but for you in particular. You're starting school tomorrow, so you can mix in with the other kids, and hopefully realize that you're no better than any of them."

Cecelia incredulously squealed, "You're punishing me?"

Eugene sighed, "The fact that you see school and mixing with the others as a punishment proves that we erred somewhere along the line. Your actions and language upsets us. Angelo is not queer, or any other derogatory expression; he is in love. He's proved responsibility at home, so what excuse could we give him to keep him home? Whomever makes him happy, makes us happy, and it would be the same with you, whether you find a boyfriend or a girlfriend, makes no difference. To us, all that matters is that our kids are happy."

Laxmi more calmly said, "If you had taken a trip out of the house, maybe you would've met Lindsay Gibbons. Lindsay is your age, has two loving parents, several newly adopted siblings, and her big brother is in love, and married to another fine young man. Michael Gibbons and Derrick Seibert were my students, and are now leaders of this Clan, just like Preston and Keith. Without the help of those boys, we would've lost our home, before your father completed his internship. Instead, we're here, employed and living in a house that's at least as large, and much nicer than our old house. We're selling our old house, without rushing because we have to sell and move.

"I don't know who taught you that being gay is bad, but you certainly did not learn it from us. Tomorrow, you will meet Lindsay, and many other girls your age. If you learn nothing else, you'll learn that you are no better than any other girl here."

Weeping, Cecelia whined, "I don't wanna. I miss my friends. I don't want to be here."

"I'm sorry you feel that way," Eugene sincerely said. "The fact is that your mother and I are employed here, and are quite happy with our home, with the other adults we've met and gotten to know, and with the orphaned children that we've met. This is a nice community. If you'll just try, I think you'll like it here too."

"Please try," Laxmi begged.

Shaking her head, Cecelia hurried up the stairs and into her room. Eugene and Laxmi sighed, turned the television off, and followed their daughter up the stairs. Seeing lights on in both of the smaller bedrooms, they realized that Angelo was home, most likely with Reggie, and the boys had heard everything. Laxmi went into the second room, found her daughter laying across her bed and still weeping. She set the alarm clock in the room and reminded, "We're going to eat at the CIC in the morning, and then we're going to school." The door closed for a brief mother-daughter chat.

Eugene went into his son's room. He found Angelo and Reggie still in a tight embrace, and softly offered, "I'm sorry for what she said. As I'm sure you both heard, that's not what we taught her."

Angelo looked up at his dad, frowning, "It was her friends, it had to be. Some kids don't like the Clan, and just don't get it."

"We do get it," Eugene assured. "Every kid deserves a decent chance, even your sister. Please don't hold her words against her; together, we can correct those misconceptions."

Genuinely willing, Reggie asked, "How can we help?"

"Little things make the biggest impact," Eugene smiled. "Come home once in a while, just to show her that we're still a family, and how two young men in love act. Eventually, she'll learn that her friends were wrong, and that the world is full of different kinds of people. Differences used in a negative manner are what caused Battle Of Earth, and caused your mother to lose her job, for that matter. We can allow our differences to separate us, or we can use them to make us stronger."

After checking with Reggie and receiving a firm nod, Angelo said, "We'll do that."

Coming into the room, Laxmi smiled, "So, how many friends did you make today?"

Reggie giggled. Angelo chuckled, "It started with four this morning; Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott. Then we met Ray and Tony."

"And then Reyes, Ryan, Chris and Jay," Reggie grinned.

Angelo continued, "We wrapped up lunch with Nate, Prez, Keith, Troy and Sean. By dinner, we added Phil and Owen."

Reggie explained, "The day seemed pretty complete at sunset, but then we met another new kid, Matt Thornton. He just arrived today with his dad. Through Matt, we met Kassidy."

"That's nineteen total," Angelo cheekily grinned. "Almost all of 'em live at dorm three."

"A full first day," Eugene chuckled. He hugged both boys, and then stepped back to allow his wife to kiss the boys good night.

Ewa Beach, Dormitory 3, Room 118

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 10:22PM HTZ

After the water blaster battle, Tony and Ray played with the dildos as they had planned. They took their time and enjoyed the intimacy. Since that was so much fun, Ray tried mounting Tony. He tried several times in various positions, but Tony was a fair bit larger than the five-by-four dildo. Embarrassed, frustrated and feeling very sad, Ray sincerely apologized, believing he had completely destroyed their budding partnership.

Seeing Ray on the verge of tears, Tony gently shushed him and then rolled to reach for one of the dildos. He lined up the toy with his bone, to show Ray that there was a considerable difference. Once Ray agreed that Tony had near seven-by-five inches, Tony lined up the dildo with Ray's erection. Again, there was a fair amount of difference. Ray was about six inches long and visibly thicker than the toy, near Tony's circumference. Lastly, Tony lubed Ray's bone, and then mounted him. Even though he was older and Ray wasn't quite as large, Tony still had some challenges. Getting all of Ray inside, Tony remained very still for a while, until he got used to the new sensation.

Smirking at Tony's varying twisted expressions, Ray implored, "You don't need to exaggerate."

Remaining perfectly still, but panting like he was exerting himself, Tony smirked, "This ain't an exaggeration, pretty boy. An inch difference might as well be a foot." Slowly, Tony rode up and more slowly lowered down, causing Ray to gasp. Wearing a mischievous smile, Tony huffed, "Woof!"

Ray giggled, "Please don't move again. I'll cum."

"Omigod!" Tony cheered, "I can barely believe you feel this good! By the time I'm fourteen and you're thirteen, I'm gonna be your slut! Six months from now... WOOF!" 

Taking hold of Tony's stiffy, Ray digressed into a giggling fit. Only Tony would've gone to such lengths to prove there was no reason to be frustrated or sad. Tony wore the widest smile and the dreamiest eyes, like none of what he was experiencing was real, but it was pure ecstasy. In a rapture induced stupor, Tony softly whimpered, "Omigod. This is awesome! It's gonna get so much better too. My bi days are officially over."

Barely controlling himself, Ray giggled, "It really feels that good?"

"Omigod!" Tony cheered. "The dildo was cold. You're so warm. The dildo didn't give even a tiny bit. I can feel your bone pulsing. You're so much better, I can't begin to describe it all." Carefully and slowly, Tony leaned down closer to Ray so he could whisper, "I really love you so much."

"I love you too," Ray whispered. With less of Tony's weight on his hips, and feeling like only half his erection was inside his new boyfriend, Ray thrust up. Tony gasped, and then began placing a series of tender kisses around Ray's lips, encouraging him to keep going. Again and again, Ray pumped, Tony gasped, and the kisses became more urgent. Ray released Tony's erection and held his head firmly in place for the grande finale tonsillectomy. Feeling throbbing and extra moisture, Tony helplessly chortled into their kiss. Needing to breathe, Ray turned his head and puffed, "Omigod! That was amazing!"

Evilly snickering, Tony gushed, "I agree; it was better than I ever expected."

"I can't wait to get you inside me," Ray confessed.

Locking eyes, Tony smiled, "I can wait. It don't matter if it takes days, or weeks, or months. I won't risk hurting you, and I absolutely loved the ride."

Ray confirmed, "You really won't mind waiting?"

"Course not," Tony giggled and squeezed his new partner tight. He pulled back a little to share, "What made this day totally awesome to me was everything we've done since lunch. Nate hugging us while we were dancing during the concert proved that he's genuinely happy for us. We ate together as boyfriends for the first time. Then we hung out in the rec room, making it obvious to everyone that we're not just buds and roommates any more. Then we played in another water blaster battle with almost every dude at both bases, wearing only Mr. Fuzzy G-strings. Topping off all that awesome stuff is what we've been doing alone." 

Lowering back down again, Tony whispered in Ray's ear; "Three orgasms each this afternoon, and tonight, two for me and three for you. Your three took longer tonight than the three you had this afternoon." Ray began giggling. Tony chuckled, "And let me remind you of something else, pretty boy; it's no accident that I didn't unroll a rubber on your bone. I wanted it natural because I wanted you to have my virginity. You made me yours, in the very best way. When it's your turn and you succeed, you'll feel exactly how I feel; like it's not just words, or hopes, it's real. You're the best part of me now."

Giggling insanely, Ray gushed, "Just this morning, I used to think you always went out of your way looking for new, fun and interesting stuff; that you were rarely ever serious." Noticing Tony's wide eyes and mischievous grin, Ray laughed, "It's just you, Tony. Even when you're being seriously super romantic, telling me all this awesome stuff, you say it like it's the newest, most interesting, most enjoyable thing you've ever discovered. Can you tell me how you do that?"

Tony chuckled, "It's you, me and us. In this case, all I was doing was trying to get you inside me. When I managed that, it really was the newest, most amazing feeling I've ever experienced. There was a point when I thought that I wouldn't manage it. I only thought, I need to know that I can be your bottom, and you needed to know that you can be my top. A minor adjustment and the ache faded, only to be replaced with the most awesome feeling ever. This time, entry seemed to be damned near impossible, but once you got far enough inside, suddenly it was easy, and so beautiful. I wasn't exaggerating, Ray, not in the slightest." He stole a tender kiss then backed off slightly and giggled, "Woof, pretty boy! I've got you now, and I ain't ever lettin' go!" 

Knowing that Tony had just done it again, Ray howled laughing. Making matters worse, Tony began munching on Ray's neck, and softly giggling, "Gonna make you hard. My butt needs filling again."

"Oh no!" Ray cackled, "It's my turn to try, and you're still hard too, you lunatic!"

Playfully, Tony checked, "You know I'll love you no matter what?"

Knowing what Tony was asking, Ray giggled, "Yeah."

Lowering down on top of Ray, Tony snaked his arms underneath his love and rolled them over. Before releasing Ray to try again, Tony softly suggested, "Why not wait until tomorrow morning? Right after we wake, you'll be relaxed. Take your time, but please don't be disappointed if your body isn't ready. I know your heart and that you're trying. That's all that matters."

After grabbing a deep kiss and hugging Tony tight, Ray smiled, "I really love you."

"I know," Tony dreamily sighed. "You've gotta be totally relaxed. Pushing, like you're taking a dump, I learned doesn't work. When I tried that, I almost pushed you out. Remember, you told me to stay still, but I would've any way, because I was trying to stay relaxed. Once you were all the way in, it changed to a full feeling. Even the little movement I made to lean forward, closer to you, felt good. When you took over, it felt awesome. Stay relaxed, and remember, I'll always love you, no matter what, okay?"

Ray nodded and stole another kiss, and then admitted, "I feel kind o' weird."


Ray shrugged, "I guess it's a couple o' reasons. Everything's been so kewl with us as roommates and friends; I don't wanna be the reason that changes. I'm the gay boy and I really want to, but couldn't do what you did." He briefly paused, and then giggled, "Bi boy."

Before Ray could say more, Tony grinned, "Let me deal with this one at a time?" Ray smiled and nodded, so Tony offered, "You just told me what you were thinking and feeling. That really matters to me; it's what I want most of all. It's what I've wanted since we met. Do you know why it means so much to me?"

Shaking his head, Ray muttered, "I'm not sure, and I'd rather hear what you have to say."

"Okay," Tony smiled, "let's start at the beginning, when we met. I was attracted to you from the start, and since you told me that you felt like you had known me longer, that says you had some level of attraction for me too. All I was thinking was, 'Damn, he's cute! I'd like to get to know him.' At the same time, what were you thinking?"

"He's nice, and social, and fun," Ray giggled.

Tony nodded and explained, "Immediate attraction, covered. So becoming roommates and following up on the attraction was good for both of us, but that didn't make us boyfriends, it made us friends, anxious and willing to learn about each other. Saturday, Sunday and yesterday we did everything together, because we wanted to, not because we had to. Look back and rewind the little, every day things, like eating and goin' to the bathroom. We shared meals, but there were times that I wanted a drink or a snack, and you went to the CIC with me, even though you didn't always want something. When nature calls is different for everybody, and that's the only times I can honestly recall minutes of separation. Am I right?"

Ray giggled, "Pretty much."

Tony asked, "Was there ever a time where you purposefully did something with me that you really didn't want to do?"

"I warned you that I sucked at basketball," Ray giggled.

Tony sniggered, "And your dad told you that you're too young to lift weights, which we proved was at least partially correct."

Ray softly confided, "I didn't want to be alone, Tony. There were so few reasons to do anything other than go home after school. I always wanted things to be different, to do something more than homework and watch TV. My first few months of junior high were lonely. The best part of it was spending more time with my dad."

Already aware of Ray's prior lifestyle, Tony shared, "And I wanted things different too. I had six good friends, but I was the common link between all of 'em. Two despised each other, and two put up with each other. There was never a time where all seven of us could be together. The point being, the two of us haven't been lying to each other. We hid a little bit, until today, but there was enough honesty to allow us to break through the hidden facts. Honesty is what got us here, Ray. I'm not the tiniest bit angry or frustrated right now. You're still here, naked and sharing with me. Today's our first day, our first times as boyfriends, and tomorrow's another day for us. Everything's gonna get better, every day. Someday soon, first times will be over, and then we'll be able to make love easily."

After a brief pause, Tony checked, "Is there anything else buggin' you?"

Ray shook his head. He gave Tony a short but deep kiss, and then asked, "Wanna watch TV?"

"If there's something good on, and I can hold you close," Tony answered. Ray rolled off Tony and reached for the remote control on the night table. After checking the channel listing, they found 'Phenomenon' had just begun on one of the movie channels. Ray had seen it once before and liked it, but Tony had never seen it. Kicked back against the headboard, they watched the flick. Softly talking during the movie, they shared even more when movie plot points stirred memories. They also chatted about Angelo and Reggie, and about Phil and Owen; agreeing that they had a growing circle of close friends. Afterward, Ray changed to a music channel, lowered the volume and set the timer. For the first time, they fell asleep spooned up together in Ray's bed.

Down the hall, in room twenty-six, Angelo had started his ballad for Reggie and gotten pretty far along in the composition. At the same time Angelo was working, Reggie was sketching his bikini clad fantasy girl and proved that his dick hadn't changed in the slightest. He then started another masterpiece, of Angelo reclining naked on a bed. Only minutes into the drawing, Reggie was softly giggling. Angelo turned to his new boyfriend. Before he could ask what was funny, Angelo noticed Reggie's dick was stiff and bouncing. With his concentration destroyed, Angelo played the ballad he had written, went to Reggie and knelt down between his legs. It was almost midnight when Reggie paused work on the drawing, and then pulled Angelo up onto the bed so they could make love.

Columbia, SC, I77 and Shop Road Intersection

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 5:47AM EST

The truck driver named Dan took the Shop Road exit to drop off Paul Owens. Paul thanked Dan for the ride. Dan wished Paul the best of luck, and watched the teen android walk off to the Northwest, toward the city. Paul was still in Dan's sight when he dialed the phone number of the first of his four friends that live close to the intersection. Whether Paul thought he needed help or not, the man was not about to let a thirteen-year-old boy, android or not, walk the streets and fend for himself. Before getting off of the I77 loop and continuing his way north, Dan had awakened each of his four friends, gave them descriptions of Paul and what he was wearing.

Paul had a two mile walk on Shop Road to get to the center of town, where he could find work, hopefully a place to sleep and disappear into the city. Relieved of the heavy weights he had been burdened with for more than a day, Paul kept a brisk pace during his walk into the city. However, Paul had been awake all night and the stress of the prior day was wearing him down. Being alone was very different as well; Paul couldn't help wishing Ryan was beside him. Logically, Paul knew Ryan was safe and happy with Reyes, but now, on the familiar streets of Columbia, memories surfaced.

Approaching the intersection of Barlow Road, Paul stumbled. Two pairs of hands caught Paul, saving him from a potentially nasty spill. On Paul's left stood a woman and on his right stood a man. Both were middle aged, probably in their early forties, Paul reckoned. He softly thanked them both.

"It was no trouble," the man warmly smiled. "We were here, on our way to breakfast, and happened to be in the right place at the right time."

The woman purposefully took on the over-protective mother role, impatiently huffing, "You're coming to breakfast with us, young man. What in the world you're doing wandering around with a suitcase, this early in the morning, I don't even want to know."

The man grinned, "Bea, you're a terrible liar. Of course you want to know, but you're attempting to be nice about it."

The banter between the married couple continued, only allowing Paul to get one word in - his name. They walked with Paul and led him to a cafe. Of course, Paul had little choice but to accept the invitation to breakfast. What Paul didn't know was that the man and woman were friends of Dan's. Also, Paul didn't know that the woman had gone to the ladies room mostly to phone the other three couples to let them know where Paul was. During his first hours away from the Clan, Paul was being watched, guided and cared for by regular 'normal' citizens of Columbia.

Another thing Paul failed to realize was that in his haste to pack, the Clan comm-badge on the shirt he was wearing fell into his suitcase. When Paul left the Owens' home, Stevie immediately contacted Reyes and Ryan, who had just completed the cozy cuzzy fuzzy battle. 

Changing into some dry boardies, Reyes and Ryan discussed the situation. Their first instinct was to immediately transport to Sullivan's Island, but they also realized that Paul felt trapped. Intercepting him wouldn't help that perception. Clan Short was not a prison, so Reyes told Stevie to track Paul and display all available camera feeds to their flat's TV. At almost every intersection Paul walked past, Reyes and Ryan saw him. They didn't see Paul get in Dan's truck, but they did see the eighteen wheeler from Interstate highway cameras, and they did see when Paul got out of the truck, and his walk on Shop Road. Through Stevie and Alden, Reyes and Ryan learned that Ark had monitored the phone calls the truck driver had made.

At midnight in Ewa Beach, Ryan asked Stevie to wake his new parents, Jon and Mary, and also wake Marc and Danny. It was minutes after six in the morning at Sullivan's Island when Reyes and Ryan explained their decision to Jon, Mary, Marc and Danny via teleconference. Now Reyes and Ryan could go to bed, knowing that Paul would be monitored from Sullivan's Island.

Ewa Beach, Dormitory 3, Room 118

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 4:56AM HTZ

Having a nightmare of Battle Of Earth, Ray Varga softly whimpered in his sleep. His dad had died, much more savagely than he had in reality, but none of the sheriffs acted like Ray mattered. Instead of taking him directly to a refugee center, and insuring he was safe under Clan Short care, Ray was left to wander the streets in a grief induced daze. Rather than getting help, Ray was another casualty; robbed, stripped, beaten and raped. Left in an unconscious state to die in an alley, Ray was repeatedly kicked about the body by passersby. With a jolt, he woke in the dark room. The only thing he saw was the digital clock display. He reached over to where Tony was still sound asleep and softly called his name.

Getting a soft hum in response, Ray whispered, "I need to talk, Tony."

Barely aware, Tony pulled Ray close, asking, "What's wrong?"

"I had a nightmare," Ray sorrowfully admitted.

Taking a deep breath, Tony forced his eyes open, prompting, "Tell me about it."

"Friday was bad, and everything stayed bad, and then got horrible," Ray shared. "My dad... chopped up into pieces. I was beaten to a pulp, raped and left to die."

Tony sighed, "I'm sorry. A nightmare was bound to happen."

"I wish it hadn't," Ray groaned.

"Friday was horrible," Tony reminded. "I was there too. Dodger Stadium was our closest evac center. I was walking in that direction, but couldn't get there by foot. I couldn't find anyone to help me, and wound up asking some street gang dudes for help."

Ray smirked, "You were lucky they were kewl, Tony. Instead of getting you to the Clan, God only knows what another gang might've done."

Tony smirked, "Beaten to a pulp, raped and left to die?"

Staring at Tony in shock, Ray asked, "Are you saying..."

Tony interrupted, "Think about it; you haven't had a nightmare the last four nights, when a bunch of other kids did. What makes tonight different from the last four days is us, together as a couple."

"So I changed your nightmare into my own?"

Tony nodded and grinned, "The mind works in really weird ways, usually when we least expect it. You know I was scared. The main difference between you and me is, you spent more time at home, where I went home to eat and sleep." Chortling, Tony teased, "You put yourself in my shoes, pretty boy. I guess this means that you love me, huh?"

Ray giggled, "I do, but right now I'm torn if half, wanting to smack the shit out of you, for taking chances that caused my nightmare."

Widely smiling, Tony provocatively joked, "Whip me, beat me, make it hurt so-oo-oo good!"

Bounding up and onto Tony, Ray tickle attacked, giggling, "You could've been killed, you jerk! Where would I be then?"

Half-heartedly blocking Ray's hands, Tony cackled, "Tickling someone else, no doubt, you pretty gay boy!"

"Oh yeah," Ray sarcastically giggled, "there's such a long list to put my slick moves on too."

"There's long lists and then there's long dicks," Tony roared.

"Ooo, yeah, Vaziik!" Ray giggled.

Tony sniggered, "Do you think it gets greener when it's hard?"

Pausing his attack for a moment, Ray grimaced, "I hope not."

Tracing a fingertip along the side of Ray's erection, Tony giggled, "Your lips say no, but I think you liked something an awful lot."

Reaching back for Tony's bone, Ray reminded, "Technically, it is morning."

Tony smiled, "Your nightmare proved how much you love me; that's plenty proof for one morning."

Nodding, Ray said, "That's part of why I need to do it. I really do love you very much."

Ready, willing and able, Tony guided Ray down for some kisses and dry humping. After a couple of minutes, Tony whispered, "You know everything's perfect as it is, right?"

Ray smiled, "It's perfect for you because you got some already. I need to be there with you, Tony."

Indifferently shrugging, Tony promised, "We'll keep trying until it's right. If that's not now, then we'll try this afternoon, and again later tonight. There's no rush."

Pushing up off Tony, Ray giggled, "Being as awesome as you're being is only making my decision."

Reaching for the bottle of lube on the night table, Tony then handed it to Ray, instructing, "Use a lot, on me and in you. If you're not able, don't worry about it; we can try again any time."

Nodding, Ray did as he was told. During the preparations, Ray leaned over for more kisses, and Tony reached down to gently massage Ray's butt hole. Grabbing a final kiss, Ray pushed up and reached back. Tony held his stiffy at the base, keeping it in position. Ray closed his eyes and thought only of Tony; his best friend and roommate for going on the fifth day; the one he cared so much about that his imagination and subconscious went off on frightening tangents. 

In small increments, Ray tried, backed off and tried again. With each attempt, Ray got more of Tony inside him until, at last, many minutes later he had his cheeks pressed firmly against Tony's hips. For the first time in his life, Ray felt like he was completely alive and aware. Tony's whispered words of pride seemed to be shouts. The light breeze coming in from the windows felt like Arctic blasts. And lastly, Tony's pubes felt like velvet against Ray's butt. Both remained motionless for about another minute, and then Ray wiggled his butt around, making Tony gasp and groan.

Now that he had success, Ray let his body take control and rode Tony for a while. Watching Ray's torso bend fluidly, like that of a snake, Tony could barely believe his eyes; his cute boyfriend looked so damned hot. Completely amazed with how good he felt, Ray wanted to experiment with alternative positions. He got up and turned around to face Tony's toes, and then lowered down again. Entry was easier and the ride every bit as good. Not wanting it to end too quickly, Ray got up and lay beside Tony. Chuckling insanely, Tony rolled over for more kisses and to express his extreme pleasure. 

Much to Tony's surprise, Ray wanted more. Pulling his legs up, Ray prompted Tony to take control. Soon after Tony did so, they discovered it was a lot different from going for rides. Working it out together, they found another new method; shallow entry and complete exit felt good for both of them. Reaching down, Ray guided Tony's erection. Tony controlled entry, which was a monumental effort for any thirteen-year-old. They started kissing and desperately calling one another's names, leading directly to the first set of orgasms.

Panting and sweating, Tony collapsed beside Ray. Carefully watching Tony catch his breath and cool down, Ray began giggling. Turning only his head toward Ray, Tony grinned, "Woof, pretty boy."

Ray laughed, "You were amazing! Now I know how you felt last night."

"It only lasted two or three minutes," Tony sniggered.

Rolling to Tony and grabbing a kiss, Ray giggled, "They were the best minutes of my life! Slow don't mean stop, Tony."

"I was already going slow," Tony cheekily grinned. "Besides, if I didn't stop once in a while, three minutes would've been more like thirty-seconds." Giggling insanely, Ray rolled on top of Tony and stole many kisses.

Thrilled with one another, Tony decided it was his turn to get some of Ray. Already on his back, Tony lifted his legs and playfully prompted Ray to take him. Ray laughed his ass off. He had never gotten off more than once in a day, and rarely more than twice in a week, but in one day he had surpassed a months worth. Yet, he pushed up and prepared to do his duty for his boyfriend. 

What they lacked in experience, they more than made up for in passion and silly pleasure. The first signs of daylight were seen from beyond the window blinds. They swapped twice more, this time each tried it doggie style. Again, they found a way to make this position work, allowing the bottom to take complete control and do most of the work. 

Afterward, in a semi-conscious stupor, they decided to take an intimate shower together, before other dudes woke. While soaping up, they discovered that their butts were sore, leading to the reluctant decision to limit themselves to masturbation or oral sex for the rest of the day. Cackling hysterically between kisses, they realized that they'd be lucky to walk comfortably to the dining room and back. They finished cleaning up, got dressed, and then went to the CIC for breakfast.

Surprisingly, the Core Rimmers were awake, and so were their sons, and so were most of the telepathic kids. Not expecting anyone awake at half past six in the morning, Tony and Ray waved at the quadruple Rs, Lance and Scott, and Chris and Jay. The Stoeher twins began giggling, which set off the quadruple Rs and their boyfriends. John sent one short message to the new couple; 'Can you turn down the glow a few notches? It's early and you're brighter than the rising Sun.' With that, almost everyone in the room began chortling. All the Core Rimmers flashed thumbs-up at the couple.

Turning beet red, Tony and Ray realized that John's message wasn't private. Madly giggling, they went to the kitchen. Tony ordered pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage patties, and then went to get a bowl of fruit and a large glass of pineapple-orange juice. Equally famished after the pre-dawn romp around the bed, Ray got waffles, a breakfast sandwich with an over-easy egg, bacon and cheese on an English muffin, and a medium chocolate shake. When Tony and Ray left the kitchen for the dining room, the large group were gone.

In the now barren dining room, Ray and Tony chose a small table and sat across from each other. Tony teased, "Everybody knows everything about us now, pretty boy."

Nodding and giggling, Ray forcefully pressed down on his sandwich, making yoke squirt out across the plate and onto the tray. Tony's eyes almost shot out of their sockets. "I'll lick that up too," Ray giggled.

Tony loudly cracked up. Softly giggling, Ray wagged his tongue at his lover. Breathlessly, Tony softly sniggered, "That's all it took for me to sprout wood."

Through giggles, Ray whimpered and then leered, "Don't tell me your hard?"

"Mostly," Tony smiled.

"After lunch, I promise."

Tony groaned, "God, I love you."

Buttering his waffle, Ray said, "You were so careful; that made what could've been uncomfortable really excellent. I'm devoted to you, Tony, because you're obviously devoted to me. You proved that yesterday and this morning."

"I am, completely. Maybe I was a little Saturday, but definitely every day since."

Softly, Ray prodded, "Please tell me how you feel?"

Tilting his head slightly because he had already shared a lot the last day, Tony wondered, "What do you mean?"

Shrugging, Ray giggled, "We've changed everything. In your opinion, what were the best and worst parts?"

Putting his fork and knife down, Tony reached both hands across the table. Beaming, Ray took Tony's outstretched hands. "Until yesterday afternoon, I only had hopes," Tony began. "I hoped that maybe you'd be into a little experimentation. I agreed with Nate's plan just to prove to you that trying stuff is normal. I hoped that maybe we'd become a little closer; two bi dudes willing to offer a helping hand. We'd grow up and always have that closeness, best buds and a little more. Instead, I got a dude who knows exactly what he wants and needs; a dude who is more mature than I am, at the very least in this respect. I'm really very proud of you; I was before lunch yesterday, and it's only more intense now. Even though I kept telling you it could wait, you wanted intercourse, and were determined to succeed. That tells me a lot more about you; because there really wasn't much reason to be that determined before today. I'm the bi dude who's decided to go completely gay, for the best partner in the world; the one I'm committing myself to, the one I'm devoted to, and the one I'll love the rest of my life."

Most of the time Tony was speaking, Ray sat there brightly smiling. Reaching up, Ray wiped away stray happy tears. Tony bounced his eyebrows, pushing Ray into soft mooing, and then a giggling fit. 

They ate breakfast, softly talking about other thoughts and feelings their new relationship made necessary. Tony asked, "Now that you've experienced gay sex, how do you feel? Is it what you thought it would be?"

Although chewing his breakfast sandwich, a wide smile split Ray's face. When he swallowed, Ray giggled, "It's better in lots of ways, mostly because of you."

Tony chuckled, "I didn't do anything special."

"Com'on, Tony!" Ray cackled, "Everything was special! Because you said you're bi, I didn't expect anything you did."

Shrugging, Tony mumbled past the food in his mouth, "Maybe some bi dudes are closer to the straight side. I think I was straddling the center and could easily go either way." Lifting his glass of juice, and swallowing a mouthful, Tony then grinned, "For you, I would do anything you want, anytime. All I need to know is that you love me. The best parts weren't sex; it was you snuggling up to me. Each time you did that, I got hard again. That's a pretty clear indication of what I like."

Leaning over the table, Ray warmly smiled, "Did you really like everything we did; your not just saying it to make me happy?"

Pausing his breakfast, Tony smirked and softly explained, "I won't lie to you, ever, especially about how I feel. Before I ever got to hug or kiss you yesterday, I loved you. Yes, I loved when my pretty boy went for it orally, and I loved when you got determined this morning, but what I love the most is holding you and being held by you. When we hugged in the rec room last night, we were close enough to feel everything, from heartbeats to limp dicks under our clothes. That's as much of rush as everything else; feeling my lover's goods in his normal limp state. Did you notice that?"

"Yep," Ray giggled.

"We're both sore from this morning's games," Tony continued. "I'm not bothered at all about limiting our private games today, because I'll be getting and giving away lots of hugs and kisses all day. Give me an excuse and I'll grope your pretty butt, in front of everybody. Feel free to do the same to me, dude. Nothing I've said or done is fake, Ray. I want to make us last forever, but I need you to want that too."

"I do!" Ray gushed. "It's just a big surprise, Tony. Part of me still thinks that I must be dreaming. I've got a boyfriend, one that's my best friend, one that's a little older, who I can talk to about anything. I never dreamed this could happen; I barely ever thought about it. Only when I saw a Core Rimmer couple would I think, 'that would be real nice'. Instead, I've been awake over an hour with my boyfriend; we made love in our room, and we showered together again, taking the time to bathe every inch of each other. We live in a hall that's full of dudes my age, all of whom I like, but they're nothing like you." Pausing, Ray sighed, "As happy as I am, I guess I need to know that you are too; that all this won't end because of something dumb I say or do."

Slowly shaking his head, Tony chuckled, "I am very happy with you. As for saying or doing something dumb, let me ask what you would do if you saw me gazing at Melonie's awesome knockers?"

Cracking up, Ray laughed, "Nudge you to wipe the drool off your chin!"

"The point being, I'm not perfect and I'm just as likely to do stupid shit as the next dude. I'm not perfect, and neither are you, but we're falling in love and kind o' forget that nobody's perfect. I'm very willing to work out a life time full of dumb stuff with you. Can you do that?"

Ray giggled, "Yeah."

"Even if Darren jogs by and my eyes are wagging in time with his dick?"

Ray cackled, "You'd definitely get smacked!"

"I'd deserve it," Tony sniggered, "and give you deep kiss, to remind you that I don't want him. I want you."

Returning to his breakfast, Ray giggled, "What if I don't get a nine-incher?"

"It don't matter," Tony grinned. "Your six-incher filled me real nice, and I can take it all into my mouth. Have you noticed any major change in your dick yet?"

"No," Ray giggled.

"One day, probably from a mirror, you will," Tony smiled. "If you don't notice, then I will. We'll probably miss breakfast and lunch that day." Intensely blushing, Ray howled laughing. Tony stoked the fire by teasing, "I'm sorry to say, I've already had that day. Looking down at it to take a leak, you won't notice, but in the mirror you will, which means that I'll probably notice before you do. Heaven help us both that day, pretty boy. If you think we're sore now, just wait." 

Ray roared hysterically. When he finally chilled, and was about to return to his breakfast, Ray giggled, "You think a lot about dicks for a bi dude."

"Cos my pretty boyfriend has a nice grower that I really like playing with," Tony chortled.

Ray loudly laughed, "Tony!" He gestured to his plates of food, giggling, "Please stop, I can't eat."

"I'll be good for now," Tony chuckled. "And then after lunch, I'll be even better, when I try out some of my other wicked fantasies on you."

Concentrating on their breakfasts, Tony shared many evil glances and lots of giggling. Other kids began walking into the dining room, so Tony and Ray had to chill out. They were still there when constant streams of kids came into the room, so they took their trays to the dishwasher. Dorm brothers and other friends were greeted. All the twelve-year-olds from the short hall of dorm three got a large table together. Phil and Owen invited Tony and Ray to sit with them.

Ewa Beach Townhouse #1

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 6:00AM HTZ

Into Prez's sub-vocal, Alden softly called, "Prez? Yoo-hoo, Head Rimmer?"

Sleepily, Prez groaned then quietly wondered, "What's up, Alden?"

Alden sighed, "I'm sorry to have to wake you, bro, but there's a problem. Danny Page and Marc Furst would like to speak with you. I have a video teleconference pending. You can take the call at the computer in your bedroom."

Becoming more aware, Prez double checked, "A problem, and from Danny and Marc?"


"Where's KC?"

Alden giggled, "Asleep with Fred Eckhart, over at dorm three; KC's not the problem for once in his life."

Forcing his eyes to open, Prez grunted and rolled away from Keith to the edge of the bed. He stood and staggered across the room to the computer workstation in his master bedroom. Dropping onto the chair, Prez wiped the sleep out of his eyes and yawned, "Go ahead and connect us."

The large monitor flickered, showing Danny and Marc sitting in a conference room with an adult man. All three were wearing standard white doctor smocks over their clothes. Danny quickly said, "I'm sorry to have to wake you, Prez, but I did wait a few hours, rather than wake you at three in the morning your time."

"It's okay," Prez smirked, "we got to bed before midnight for the first time in over a week. What's going on?"

Danny sighed, "It's the level three orphans, Prez. We've got thirty of the eighty here at Charleston. These thirty are kids that needed amputations, ranging from fingers and toes to partial limb removals, from the various gangrenous wounds."

Picking up where Danny left off, Marc said, "Physically, the new android parts are healing perfectly, but the kids are scared to death. They're so lethargic, we can't get them to go beyond the beginning stages of physical therapy, because they simply don't want to try. Beside me is Doctor Arthur Hubbard, our top child psychiatrist here. I'll let Doctor Hubbard explain further."

Leaning forward and resting his arms on the table top, Doctor Hubbard pleasantly said, "Good morning, Director O'Brian."

"Good morning, doc," Prez replied. "What's the situation there?"

Doctor Hubbard explained, "The children have gone from one frightening environment to another. We are treating all of the kids in our care appropriately for their physical and emotional states, given where they came from, but they're shutting down. My colleagues at Blank Children's Hospital, and at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia are witnessing the same recovery stagnation. Our original plan to begin getting kids to you this weekend is in jeopardy, unless we do something about this quickly."

Prez called, "Alden, why haven't you been showing these kids the same as the level two kids?" Keith woke from his husband's voice. Dazed, Keith looked around his new bedroom.

"We didn't know," Alden quickly replied. "The level two kids asked their doctors and nurses to be shown who saved them and where they would be going."

"Start the audio and video relays immediately," Prez ordered. "Begin the same process you and your brothers did with the level two kids. They don't get to watch regular television again until they're here with us. Until then, they watch us."

"We're on it," Alden, Kerry, Stevie, Jack and George announced.

Thoughtfully scowling, Danny wondered, "What's goin' on, Prez?"

Prez sighed, "It's a difference in the orphanage kids, guys. The level one kids showed here, cleaned up and looking great, but a little disoriented, because they were only treated over night. The level two kids, slightly worse off than the level ones, had the curiosity and presence of mind to ask, the very next day, who saved them and where they were going. Given the horrors of their lives, loved ones lost and those atrocious homes they were in, and then the confusion of the raids, I'd bet that at least half the rescued kids thought it was all a dream. Suddenly, they've got professional care givers treating them like people, and not insignificant annoyances. Alden and the AIs fed our base's surveillance audio and video to the level two kids. Those kids learned directly from us, and from the AIs, what to expect. For three-and-a-half days, those kids were introduced to each of us and this base. Upon arrival, they knew all of us and our parents, and what their first days would be like."

"Our children never asked," Doc Hubbard quickly interjected. "We've been dealing with them individually as severely traumatized children."

"Keep reading them individually," Prez recommended. "I've learned the last week, from all the kids here, that each responds differently; some may take more time and care, and others, like my first two sons, know exactly what they need and want. Even less traumatized kids sometimes take a few days to comprehend how their lives have changed. Remember, these kids were locked away in their rooms most of the time. The kids that are talking need to be talked to, so start grouping them together. Let them talk to one another and watch the television feeds our AIs are sending."

"This could work," Marc brightly smiled.

Nodding, Danny huffed, "If only we had known, we might've avoided every delay."

Smirking, Prez huffed, "I wish I had thought of it before now too."

"The children are barely speaking, giving us yes or no answers," Doctor Hubbard reminded. "We can't read minds, but we can understand what's meant when a child turns away and doesn't want interaction."

Sitting up in bed, Keith loudly called, "Alden, wake all the Core Rimmers, all our sons, and all our empathic and telepathic kids. We want the quadruple Rs, Inoyra and Relud Glith, Ida and Caitlan Durand, the Steib brothers and the Stoeher twins. Tell them to meet us in the CIC within half an hour. You might as well get Doc Wiener to join us too. Even if the kids aren't ready for him, he can consult with the doctors. After we brief our kids, we're going to start visiting our level three kids at the hospitals, beginning with Charleston."

Alden replied, "It's in progress, Keith."

Prez added, "It's obvious we won't be making it to school this morning, Alden. Let Jason and Trinity Taylor know what's going on, so we're not expected."

Kerry answered, "While Alden's doing those tasks, I've informed Julio and Jesse to gather the Des Moines empaths and telepaths. George is passing the word at Orlando headquarters. The Teddy Bear Brigade at Camp Little Eagle has been notified."

"Let's keep this organized," Prez ordered. "Pacific Rim Division will start at Charleston. Des Moines can start at Blank. HQ and Camp Little Eagle can start in Philadelphia. We'll swap around hospitals daily as necessary."

Clearly showing his relief, Danny giggled, "You guys are awesome, Prez."

"We're a team, Danny," Prez smiled. "Every division will help, as much as it can, I'm sure."

Joining Prez at the workstation and stopping behind his seated husband, Keith smirked, "We went through hell Wednesday night rescuing those kids. They'll get all the help we can give them." Keith then went to check on Dee, Gage, Richie and Sammy. Of course, Keith was naked and inadvertently gave Danny, Marc and Doctor Howard a brief show as he walked away from the camera. Danny and Marc widely grinned, but Doc Howard showed no visible sign that anything surprising had happened.

Prez nodded, "If the kids need extra time, they can have that too, but we want them here with us, as soon as they're able and ready. Right now, they have video in their rooms showing very little activity, because it's so early here. Once we get showered, dressed, and brief our kids, we'll be there, dudes. If you want to tell the level three kids anything, tell them help is on the way. Kewl?"

"Very kewl," Danny and Marc chorused.

"We'll see you soon. Prez out." The video connection ended. Prez turned in the chair to find Richie squinting at him. Prez chuckled, "Are you gonna count down, Richie?"

Going to his poppa, Richie complained, "I was havin' a real nice dream when Alden woke us."

Prez lifted his son, parked him on his lap, and grinned, "Was Jimmy in the dream?"

Richie smiled, "Course!"

Nodding, Prez sniggered, "You've got a really good boyfriend already. How kewl is that?"

"The kewlest!" Richie cheered.

Standing in the doorway and listening to the conversation, Keith quickly announced, "All you AIs are to refrain from waking mini-Rimmers who are having nice dreams about their significant others."

Alden giggled, "Yes Sir!"

"Does that mean that you are authorizing us to go on flagpole patrol?" Kerry asked with a wicked giggle.

Keith chuckled, "Tents in the middle of the sheet are the best clues."

"Daddy!" Richie incredulously giggled, "Jimmy don't gimme a stiffy all'a time; only when we're kissin'!"

Struggling to hold back his laughter, Keith nodded and giggled, "Lesson learned."

"You and Jimmy will be our secret weapons," Prez smiled. "We've got lots of really scared kids that need our help."

Sliding down off Prez's lap, Richie nodded, "What're we waitin' for?" and went into the master bedroom to run his bath.

Taking Prez in his arms, Keith softly giggled, "Everything poppa does and says, Richie imitates. You need to be really careful, T'hy'la."

Nodding, Prez sniggered, "I already am. He'll never see me having a hissy fit." After a quick kiss, they went into the bathroom to relieve themselves.

While his daddy and poppa were standing at the toilet, Richie sat in the tub and asked, "Tell me again why Jimmy couldn't sleep over last night, and why Gage and Sammy needed breaks too?"

Prez answered, "It's real simple, Richie. Think of a couple as two separate people. As a couple, you act as one, doing stuff together, right?"


Prez explained, "And then there's you alone, and Jimmy alone, so really, there are three separate states you can be in. Me and daddy started as friends at seven, and had to be apart way more than we wanted. So we decided the best way to encourage you to be yourself, as well as half of a couple, is to split the time in thirds. You and Jimmy were together Saturday at the beach house. By Sunday, we saw you guys were serious. So, Sunday and Monday night you and Jimmy got to sleep together. Last night was your night to be only you, with us and with your brothers."

Finished at the bowl, Keith went to Richie at the tub to add, "Think of it as sharing your time with both families, Richie. Me and Poppa talked with Sean and Troy, so that we all get to be happy and spend time together. Since Dillon's with Scott, Derrick and Mike were part of the same conversation. We love seeing our boys hookin' up together, but at the same time, we want family time too. By splitting the time in those three ways, you and Jimmy can be here one night, then with Sean and Troy another night, and then home with us and your brothers the next night. It's a compromise, so that we all get to have the best times together."

Keith went to the shower and stepped inside. Prez checked, "Do you understand, Richie?"

Nodding, Richie sighed, "I guess. I still dreamed about him. That means I missed him."

"Me and daddy only got to have sleep-overs Fridays and Saturdays," Prez patiently reminded. Heading into the shower with Keith, Prez offered, "We missed each other and dreamed of each other too. We think this compromise is best for everyone. Instead of only two nights a week together, like me and daddy had, you and Jimmy only have two nights a week apart. So you and Jimmy can grow in our family, and in Sean's and Troy's family, and as a couple and as individuals. It's all good because we all get to have time together and be happy."

Soaped up and starting a slippery grind with Prez, Keith said, "All the Core Rimmers really love their sons. You guys make our jobs so much easier, especially when we're greeting newbies. These kids we're about to go meet are really scared, Richie. Since all of us are different ages, we can approach this job as a really big team. Maybe some of the kids need hugs. So, we all get to give them hugs, and show them what their new life will be like here. That's our job today; to show these kids they've already got friends. Before we get them here, we can show them that we're family, brothers and sisters."