Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 21

Ewa Beach, FYS Building

Monday, November 8, 2004 10:06PM HTZ

Under the bright lights of one of the doctors' treatment rooms, Reyes got up off his knees and went to the bio-bed where Ryan lay, still unconscious. Concentrating fully on Ryan, and ignoring Paul's rants, Reyes operated the bio-bed and triple checked for injuries. Still finding nothing, Reyes whispered, "This isn't what I wanted to do, Ryan." He then called, "Alden, strip Ryan for me."

Ryan phased out and back onto the bio-bed. Doc Andrews ran into the room and went directly to the bio-bed and Reyes.

"I've scanned him three times, and can't figure out why he's still unconscious," Reyes told Doc Andrews.

After taking a quick glance at the bio-bed readings, Doc Andrews scowled, "He's an android."


Raising his eyebrows, Doc Andrews checked with Reyes. Reyes nodded, "It's true. As far as me and everyone is concerned, Ryan's human. Let's treat what we can while he's unconscious..."


Leaving the bio-bed and sighing, Reyes went to Paul, and then shouted, "SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LISTEN! I WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO RYAN OR YOU! I LOVE YOU BOTH, BUT YOU ARE NOT HELPING RYAN!" Seeing tears form in Paul's eyes, Reyes huffed, "For any other android, I would've just revived him with smelling salts. I know he's special, and I intend to keep him special."

Paul stopped struggling in Kahdi's grip, sobbing, "You almost had me believing it, Reyes. I almost believed people were different here. I almost believed I could love you back and everything might be perfect. No, it's not going to happen, not now, not ever."

Reyes blinked tears away and sighed, "What's most important right now is Ryan. Let me help the doctor, please? I want you here to see that we're not going to harm, change or invade Ry in any way. But if you can't calm down and help us help Ryan, I'm going to have Kahdi remove you from the room."

"You have me removed and you can forget all about me," Paul warned.

Reyes frowned, "How can we help Ryan?"

"He thinks he's human!" Paul insisted, "It's fully integrated. Whatever happened to him, he'll react exactly like a human."

"There aren't any broken bones," Reyes explained.

Kahdi said, "He was jumped on, on his chest, and repeatedly kicked about the body, perhaps once near or at the head."

Doc Andrews announced, "I found a bruise on his right side jaw and neck. Nothing's seriously damaged."

Reyes asked, "What should we do?"

"Nothing!" Paul growled. "He'll come around any minute."

"Then we'll wait together," Reyes softly said. Returning to the doctor, Reyes more clearly explained, "We were sitting in the sand together. We never really knew what the hell happened. One-second we were laughing, and the next it was ugly."

Doc Andrews asked, "How long ago?"

"Four minutes and forty-seven seconds," Reyes and Paul answered.

"From a kick to the jaw, he should be coming-to soon," Doc Andrews said.

Reyes nodded, "Then we won't interfere," and picked up Ryan's limp hand. He began softly calling Ryan's name.

Kahdi released Paul and let him go to his brother. For a while, Reyes and Paul alternated calling for Ryan to wake up. After another minute and a quarter, Ryan's eyelids began fluttering.

Thirty-one seconds later, Ryan softly groaned, "What the fuck happened?" and pulled his hands away from Paul and Reyes. His right hand reached for his jaw and his left hand reached across his belly for his right side.

"A herd of homophobic moose," Paul smirked.

Reyes nodded, "An insult to all moose everywhere, but I promise not to tell Joey or Timmy."

Realizing he was chilled as well as sore, Ryan looked down, smirking, "So the correct treatment for homophobic moose attacks is to take all my clothes off? I'm not sure about this, Reyes."

Blushing, Reyes giggled, "It sure wasn't my plan, but I had to see where you were hurt."

"Nice excuse," Ryan smirked. Glancing around, he wondered, "Can I sit up without all of you freaking out?"

Reyes nodded, "Your right side is going to be really sore and bruised for a couple o' days, so take it slow." Reyes and Paul offered Ryan hands to hold and their other hands supported his back.

Taking both offered hands and sitting up, Ryan groaned, "You had homophobic moose imported just to get me naked? Kind o' extreme, but then again, all your naughty plans have been. All you needed to do was ask, Reyes."

"Are you outta your fucking mind?" Paul incredulously wondered. "After all this, you're still flirting?"

Reaching for his sore jaw, Ryan shrugged and winced, "Course."

"NO!" Paul shouted. "We're going home! We're going to forget this entire night happened!"

"I'm not going home or forgetting anything," Ryan firmly stated. "I'm staying with Reyes."

Paul yelled, "No you're not! This is partly his fault! Safety is home! Reyes can't give us that!"

Ryan shrugged, "I never expected him to. He can't control all the homophobic moose on the planet. I'm staying here. If you want to go home, then go."

"Maybe it would be better, Ryan," Reyes gently prodded.

Shaking his head, Ryan replied, "Not for me, it isn't. I've seen this side of Paul before."

Paul loudly exclaimed, "Which side is that?"

"The overprotective side," Ryan flatly answered. "The side that tells you everything is fucked up and won't ever be different. I'm not buying it this time, bro. Things might not be perfect, but they have been and are better with Reyes. Go home, alone this time."

Paul hollered, "You're serious?" When Ryan nodded, Reyes started to call Paul to wait, but was cut-off by Paul tapping his comm-badge and shouting, "Stevie, get me outta here and back home." Paul disappeared from the treatment room.

Ryan whispered, "Asshole." Turning to Reyes, Ryan asked, "Can I have my clothes?"

Reyes blinked and softly confirmed, "You are serious?"

Carefully sliding off the bio-bed, Ryan nodded, "Completely serious." Landing on his feet, Ryan told Reyes, "This is what he's like when he's flown off the handle. If it had been him that was hurt, it would've been bad, but I probably could've talked him into staying. Because it was me, it's everybody's fault; the world is hell and we're only trying to find a temporary kewl spot. He can believe that all he wants, but I know we've found two permanent kewl spots; here in the Clan in general, and close to you."

"You love him," Reyes reminded, "and I love him too."

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

Nodding, Reyes called, "Alden, get Ryan into clean clothes, please?" As soon as Ryan phased back in and was dressed, Reyes then turned to say, "Doc Andrews, this is my boyfriend, Ryan Owens. He'll be staying with us a while."

Smiling, wincing and reaching an arm out to shake hands, Ryan corrected, "A long while, since this is where Reyes lives."

"My pleasure," Doc Andrews smiled, and shook Ryan's hand, instructing, "Alternating cold and warm compresses on the bruises tonight and into tomorrow." When Ryan nodded and thanked him, Doc Andrews reminded Reyes, "I'm going to have to mention this in my log, which means Preston will know..."

"Which means my dad and pop will too," Reyes finished. Doc Andrews slowly nodded.

Kahdi added, "We'll have to report it too, Reyes. I can't say what kind of repercussions this might have. We were keeping within our guidelines for a Clan leader on a date, but the guidelines might need to change."

Reyes sighed, "Fine. I'll tell my side and do my best to make sure nothing changes. You guys were awesome. As far as I'm concerned, we'll just have to put up homophobic moose crossing signs on Waikiki Beach."

"Right next to the swimsuits optional signs," Ryan sniggered.

Reaching for Ryan's hand, and having his hand taken then firmly squeezed, Reyes smiled at Doc Andrews, offering, "Sorry about the late night madness. We'll see you in the morning." Ryan, Doc Andrews, and Kahdi said goodnight. Leading Ryan out of the treatment room, Reyes shared, "I'm considering telling my dad and pop first."

Ryan wondered, "Do you think they'll be awake?"

Nodding, Reyes grinned, "Awake, but will they be dressed or intimately involved is the question."

Pausing in the reception area, where Casim, Clay and Manny were waiting, Ryan smiled, "How about we take care of that first. As soon as Derrick and Mike see that I'm only slightly worse for wear, I'll transport home to get my stuff. I'll have to deal with Paul too, but I am returning, Reyes."

"This is exactly the kind of the situation I was afraid of," Reyes sadly groaned.

Before Reyes could say another word, Ryan gently placed his index finger on Reyes' lips. "This is Paul overreacting," Ryan explained. "He really does love you, as much as I do, and he will remember that. Maybe I can make it happen tonight, or it might take him a while. Whichever case it happens to be, I am coming back." Ryan then nodded his head toward the three security personnel.

Facing Casim, Clay and Manny, Reyes asked, "The work is complete?"

Casim nodded, "All but the reports."

"Kahdi reminded me," Reyes said. "After I review your reports, I'll write another report. This was not your fault. You guys can't keep respectful distances and be supermen, always arriving in the nick-of-time. Regardless of what Kekoa, Cody or anyone else believes, we cannot be protected from every jack-off out there. Which reminds me, where are they?"

"Dust in the wind," Clay grinned.

Reyes nodded, "You earned some time off. You're dismissed, guys."

"Thank you," Ryan warmly smiled at the security teams.

Reyes led Ryan out of the FYS Building. They were followed out by Casim, Clay, Kahdi and Manny. All six said goodnight and went in opposite directions. Ryan shared, "Your best feature is a chronic positive attitude, Reyes. I don't want to change that in the slightest, but you have to understand, something like this would've eventually happened. Paul needs to understand that he can only protect us so much..."

"Protect us?" Reyes softly queried.

Nodding, Ryan chuckled, "I have no doubt he was protecting both of us; maybe me a little more than you, but he thinks you're awesome, Reyes. He absorbed a little of your positive attitude. After we talked last Wednesday morning, and then had breakfast and told our family, we went back to our room. He was trippin' so bad that the moment the door closed, he kissed me hard. For the first time in years, my bro actually showed me real love and appreciation. That was your doing. He's been tripping for a week. The old cranky Paul is still there, but the other loving Paul is coming back too. He flips from one extreme to the other several times a day, and that's from spending limited time with you. Between us, we can get him over the shitty street years. I see things a little more like you; all three of us can help one another more than anyone else could. We can move forward instead of stagnating or slipping backward. I don't want to argue with Paul, but there's no other choice, because he'll push me one way, to stay there, and I'll push him the other way, to come back here.

"Think of how little we told you about how we spend our time," Ryan prodded. "We don't do much of anything. Paul is perfectly fine hiding in our room, enjoying the safety and family that we haven't had in so long. I drag him out for walks on the beach. The Poe Library is right there, within walking distance, but we've never once been inside it. Friday was very much an emergency at the Charleston hospital, so we were there, doing what we could. Saturday, when Danny invited us to Kaho'owhatsie..." Reyes cracked up, and Ryan giggled, "Paul heard you would be there, and he dragged me back upstairs, to change into beach clothes. Yeah, he was still worried about who else would be there, and if we'd be safe, but you're like a magnet that we're drawn towards."

Walking around the CIC and approaching the townhouses, Reyes grimaced, "He blames me that you were hurt."

"I know," Ryan sighed. He shook his head and firmly said, "You didn't cause that, Reyes. From my point of view, we were having a nice walk and kewl chat, I got stepped on, then woke in a doctor's office, with you and Paul fussing over me. All I remember is the guy stepping right on top of me. Everything else is a blur."

"It happened that fast," Reyes explained. "All those other people we passed weren't a threat at all, but I could feel Paul's stress, in his hand in mine. Those four men were typical high and mighty controllers, forcing their view upon us, as the supposedly weaker and insecure homos. They waited until we were sitting down too, making us even less capable of retaliation. Now they're all dead. All I wanted was time alone with both of you."

"You succeeded in every way," Ryan warmly smiled. They stopped in front of the steps to townhouse number two. Locking eyes with Reyes, Ryan firmly stated, "Everything was fantastic, all night, until some dopey guys tried to ruin it. I refuse to allow them to fuck up a really great night. They haven't won squat, or even proved themselves better than us. Now they can prove themselves high and mighty to the Creator." Stepping closer to land a tender kiss, Ryan then softly assured, "Please don't believe you're to blame for anything other than a damn good time. Paul will be back here, with us. I can't say when, but I know he won't stay away from me, and he sure doesn't really want to be away from you. His choices are to hide out alone, or join us, plain and simple."

Reyes smiled, "I really love your perspective. I really love Paul's too. His idea of protection is different from mine. All I cared about was making sure you were all right. I'll have to admit that the Clan law enforcing justice in this case made me feel weird." Noticing Ryan's curious expression, Reyes sighed, "I ordered four executions, on the spot. All four of them are dead, for being stupid enough to call us faggots."

Ryan worried, "How do you feel?"

Reyes shrugged and thought a few moments before answering, "Justified. They hurt each of us, in multiple ways. What might've been is now seriously delayed. Yeah, justified works."

"That's why this will work," Ryan smiled. "You are a little bit like each of us, and another really awesome perspective to add." After a short pause, he prompted, "Let's tell your family what's gone on and is now over."

Tapping his comm-badge, Reyes called, "Dad? Pop?"

Derrick replied, "Here, Reyes. Have you decided where you're sleeping?"

Reyes grinned, "Sort of. We're right outside the house. I just wanted to make sure you're awake and dressed."

Opening the door and looking out at Reyes and Ryan, Mike laughed, "It's not even ten-thirty! Dillon and Scott are in bed, but Jonah and Gage are still awake. Is this how dating was in the fifties?" Watching Reyes and Ryan walk up the steps, Mike backed up to allow them inside and scowled, "There's one missing?"

Followed Ryan inside, Reyes sighed, "It's been an interesting first date."

Seeing Ryan's bruised jaw, Derrick hurried to him, groaning, "What happened?"

Ryan giggled, "I'm fine, Derrick. We had a really great dinner at an awesome restaurant, and then walked the beach."

"We went southeast from the restaurant toward Diamond Head, and then turned around," Reyes recalled. "We must've passed at least two-dozen other people. Since we walked about two kilometers in the sand, we decided to sit. Only minutes later, four men ran right into us, to intentionally harass us. Ryan got stepped on and kicked around, I was shoved and clunked heads with Paul. Paul went nuts. Ryan was unconscious. Four men have been executed for assault, for sexual harassment. That's the basics of what you'll see in the report."

Gage, Jonah, Derrick and Mike loudly asked, "Are you okay?"

"Bruised, battered and a little sore, but I'm fine," Ryan cheerfully answered.

Reyes shrugged, "I'm just a little discouraged. Ryan's staying, but Paul's gone home. All the progress made all day and through most of the night was lost, thanks to four assholes. Ryan's already argued with Paul."

Focusing completely on Reyes, Ryan repeated, "This kind of argument was bound to happen. I'll take care of it."

Reyes asked, "Now?"

Ryan nodded, "Might as well. Give me half-an-hour or so to pack some stuff, and then I'll be wherever you are." After giving Reyes another peck on the cheek, Ryan waved goodbye, and then had Stevie transport him home.

Reyes asked, "Should we tell Prez?"

Nodding, Mike explained, "If he reads about it in the morning, he'll be a basket case, searching for you before school."

Derrick grinned, "The problem is, Richie and Jimmy are probably asleep, Sammy has gone with Ben back to the Gibbons', and the two Head Rimmers are pretty much alone." Gage and Jonah began giggling. Bouncing his blond eyebrows, Derrick chuckled, "This should be comical." He tapped his comm-badge and called Prez.

Moments later, in the squeaky voices of their Mr. Fuzzy puppets, Keith and Prez giggled, "What?"

Immediately, Gage lost it and howled laughing. Giggling, Jonah took Gage's hand and pulled him off the couch and up the steps.

Sullivan's Island, S.C.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 4:33AM EST

Ryan appeared in the bedroom that he shared with Paul. With little more than a glance at his brother, Ryan went to his bed, kneeled down, and pulled his suitcase out. Paul growled, "You're going back, after all I've done?"

Ryan put his suitcase up on the bed, stood and turned around hissing, "Because of what you've done."

Paul incredulously hollered, "What have I done?"

"You hurt him," Ryan grumbled. "Reyes told us what he's most afraid of, so you took the first opportunity to throw it in his face. He didn't want to see us arguing. Here's what I'm like protecting my bro, like it or lump it. His heart is breaking! I can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice." Ryan spun around and went to his dresser.

Getting up off his bed, Paul yelled, "It was his fault! He took the risk and we should've known better."

Grabbing armloads of clothes, Ryan huffed, "Yeah, Reyes' elaborate first date plans also included asking four assholes to fuck with us. It was first and foremost in his mind, before setting up a condo love nest complete with Champagne." Antagonized and irritated beyond control, Ryan accidentally pushed the first drawer closed a little too hard. He dumped the first pile of clothes haphazardly into the suitcase.

Paul smirked, "Do you want to fuck him that bad?"

Spinning around, Ryan yelled, "You take that back! I want to make love with the most careful and considerate person we've ever met! The ways we used to make love were barely a warm up for what Reyes deserves. You know that too, but I won't wait for you to admit it. From what I've been told, you fought again for me, but left me laying in the sand. Reyes was the one checking me over, not you! It used to be you, Paul! The way you changed was good while we were on the streets, but it's not good now. This shit has got to stop." He stormed to the closet and yanked more clothes off hangers then threw them in the suitcase.

Sadly shaking his head and taking a deep breath, Ryan said, "If you really think Reyes would lay a single finger on me, without you there too, then you really don't know him the same way I do. I'll bet you that he won't, no matter how much I try to put my best moves on him, he'll say no. If I win the bet, you transport to Ewa Beach and apologize for ever blaming him. You bend over backwards for as long as it takes to fix what you've fucked up." He called, "Stevie, you can transmit audio and video from any Clan camera, right?"

Stevie reluctantly and softly answered, "I could."

"Do it, on the TV in this room," Ryan ordered. "The moment I arrive back at Ewa Beach, show my stubborn, pig-headed brother exactly what's going on." He told Paul, "I'll purposefully use my entire bag of tricks. Let's see who wins this bet, bro. If Reyes does more than hug and kiss me, I'll turn around and transport right back here. If he doesn't, you transport there and apologize to him. Is it a bet?"

Paul sighed, "I can't take that bet, cos I couldn't pay up."

"Why not?"

"In my opinion, it was partly his fault."

"So let's hide out here from the rest of the world," Ryan impatiently growled. He went to the dresser, opened another drawer and grabbed more clothes.

From out in the hall, they could hear Joey ask, "Awe Unca Pauwh and Unca Wyan fighding?"

KC firmly said, "Joey shouldn't be hearing any part of this, and has already heard too much. I'm taking him to Ewa Beach."

Jerry said, "Where my son goes is where I'll be."

Mary sighed, "I'll help you pack."

Jon was heard saying, "We'll let Danny and Marc know later this morning."

Paul groaned, "We woke everybody."

"Good," Ryan huffed. "It's a gentlemen's bet with a household full of witnesses. There, now you can watch and learn and it won't cost us anything." Closing his suitcase, Ryan evilly grinned, "You'll see, bro. You're wrong this time. It wasn't Reyes fault. He won't touch me. And you're being a class A doofus, hiding out in the safety of this room, so that no one can ever get too close to us." He turned and pulled his suitcase off the bed, sighing, "I can't do that, bro. I choose to be with Reyes. He tries his damnedest everyday, just like we used to. I'd rather try with him than wait for you. When you're ready, you know where I'll be."

Ryan called, "Stevie, transport me to Reyes, and then start monitoring me and Reyes." Simultaneously, Ryan vanished from the room and the television flickered on. In condo building B, in the single bedroom condo he had prepared, Reyes was sitting on the sofa watching television. Ryan appeared in the room behind Reyes. Convincingly, as if nothing had upset him, Ryan giggled, "Hey there, sexy."

Swinging around, Reyes smiled, "That was quick."

Putting the suitcase down, Ryan nodded, "Not quick enough. Unfortunately, we got loud and woke everybody up. We're about to get some more guests. KC, Jerry and Joey are packing to come here too."

Reyes called, "Alden, what've we got to accommodate our friends?"

Alden replied, "There's a two bedroom condo, one flight upstairs, number 4-B." To try and lighten Reyes' mood, Alden giggled, "It's right across from Rad and Gil, our resident watermelon lovers."

Reyes said, "Excellent, we'll be really close. Go ahead and get it loaded with food, drinks and stuff Aunt Mary can cook. We all know she'll be stopping by at least once a day."

"As long as she's awake, the woman has to cook," Ryan giggled, and then leaned down to give Reyes a passionate kiss. He purposefully coiled his tongue around then tried to suck Reyes' tongue off its roller.

As soon as the kiss broke, Reyes giggled, "Wow!"

"That was the warmer-upper," Ryan giggled.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, Paul rolled his eyes and sadly shook his head, softly mumbling, "I can tell that you sucked his tongue, Ry. Just rip his pants open and go for it. He won't turn it down."

Ryan caressed Reyes' shoulders, chest and belly. Reyes giggled, "Come around and sit here by me." Overplaying his excitement, Ryan bounded up and over the back of the couch, landed on a cushion and snuggled up close to Reyes. "I know what you're doing," Reyes smiled.

Ryan innocently giggled, "You do?" and a stack of fifty virtual halos almost caused a white-out on the TV screen.

Nodding, Reyes smiled, "You're trying to make me feel better, like everything is fine as is. You being here makes a big difference in my warped little positronic mind, but there's one person missing."

"We could still have an awful lot of fun," Ryan seductively giggled, and emphasized his goal by rubbing Reyes' thigh. He leaned over for another kiss and started moving his hand up close to Reyes' crotch.

Blindly reaching down, Reyes stopped Ryan's hand. The kiss broke and Reyes warmly smiled, "Not for our first time, Ry. I know it'll be that way someday, but that's not how I want it from the start, and you already know it. It's a sweet gesture, but I can wait."

Playing up his disappointment, Ryan softly wondered, "Are we going to do anything while we wait for Paul?"

Reyes nodded, "Lots of those kinds of tongue-tingling kisses and probably twice as many hugs. I'm even wondering if I can shower with you in the morning. We might only share water, soap and back scrubs, and I'm not even sure we can do that. I figure we can try, but if there aren't two raging erections to start with, then even showers won't get steamy."

"That's it; hugs, kisses and possible shower fun?"

"Until a half-dozen bruises fade off you, that'll be a constant reminder of how an awesome night fell apart on us. I'll keep you plenty entertained with a hundred different things, and almost four hundred other kids. I'll sleep here with you, and do everything else with you, and I really hope that's enough."

Pretending to think about it, Ryan looked directly into the camera wearing his most victorious 'I told you so' expression. Returning his focus to Reyes, Ryan giggled, "I'm gonna try and wear you down, ya know?"

"I know you will," Reyes sniggered. "It would be impossible for me to make a move without telling Paul about it. I don't want my first words to be, 'I'm so glad you're here, Paul, and I did all these things alone with Ryan, so get your pretty white ass into the bedroom, cos now it's your turn!' There's a lesson in subtlety in there that none of us would appreciate, I'm sure."

"That's true, but I can..."

"You can do a lot and so can I," Reyes interrupted, "but it's unfair for all three of us. Think of it this way; our consciences will be clear, so once Paul gets here, we can take our sexual frustrations out on him." Rapidly nodding, Ryan roared laughing. 

"You dawgs," Paul softly griped. "Neither of you are getting anything from me anytime soon."

The apartment doorbell rang. Reyes stole a quick kiss from Ryan, got up and answered it. Seeing Jerry, Joey and KC waiting in the hallway, Reyes moaned, "I'm so sorry you guys got woke up, but I can't help being glad that you're here."

KC grinned, "Don't worry about it, Reyes. I have my work cut out for me with Fred. Now I've got to prove to him that the Shannon protocols are working. In the process, I can teach the mountain boy how to surf."

Jerry peeked inside the condo, giggling, "This is going to be a tight squeeze for five of us."

Pointing at the ceiling, Reyes smiled, "One flight up, boy genius. Alden's got a two bedroom flat ready for you guys."

"Bud Weyes, how can I pounce you fow bweakfasd if we awe up dhere?" Joey innocently asked.

Reyes grinned, "We'll have breakfast at the CIC dining room, twerp. You have my permission to pounce anyone that doesn't have a Mr. Fuzzy puppet."

"Awden? Can you hide aww dhe Misdew Fuzzy puppeds ad bweakfasd?" Joey asked, with an evil grin spreading across his face.

Alden giggled, "All but one, Joey. If Jay misplaces his Mr. Fuzzy, he starts frothing at the mouth and quivering like a junkie going cold turkey. For Divisional sanity and safety, I suggest we not go there."

"Okay," Joey replied, satisfied that he was now under orders to pounce at will. 

KC shook his head, grinning, "The island will never be the same. Jerry, you wanna give me a hand keeping the punk under control while he recruits local 'Rat Pack' members?"

Jerry shrugged, "The bigger trick is getting Joey back to bed for another few hours. It's still Monday night here, kiddo. Most of the kids are in bed, for at least another seven hours."

Reyes sniggered, "Let's show you your apartment first. If Joey can't sleep, there are two auditoriums with various drum sets to keep him occupied. Reyes called Ryan over, and then had the entire group of five transported to apartment 4-B. Reyes and Ryan got KC, Joey and Jerry settled, showed them the balcony, and then left them to return to their own apartment. Fighting his need to sleep, Paul intently watched his brother and Reyes. Sooner or later, Reyes would cave and Paul's beliefs would be proven. To be vindicated, Paul only had to watch them and catch it.

Ewa Beach Dormitory #3 Common Room

Monday, November 8, 2004 10:41PM HTZ

Since dinner, and with his older brother Craig getting to know Felicity, Phil Nash had a lot of ideas running circles in his mind, but no outlet for them. His mom was wandering around in spirit, and she knew that Phil liked boys. He had to talk to Craig, and he also had to talk with Owen Reed. Phil wondered, how does a dude tell his big bro that he likes dick; how does a dude say hello to another dude that looks like a strawberry blond angel; which should be done first? Making matters even more awkward and confusing, Phil knew virtually nothing about Owen; only that Owen was from a level two orphanage, which was automatically assumed to be worse than the level one orphanages.

Phil thought, maybe I should try to get to know Owen first. That way, if Owen turns out to be total loser, I won't have to say anything to Craig about being gay. After all, with no boyfriend, there would be no reason or purpose to rattle Craig's cage. 

But he had to wonder, how rattled would Craig be? He didn't want his big brother to feel uncomfortable changing clothes in their room, and he sure didn't want to lose the only remaining member of his immediate family. Craig was an awesome big brother and always had been. At ten-years-old, Craig got interested in soccer and had practiced with Phil when he was only seven. Now, Craig had a considerable height and weight advantage, but once Phil broke the ball free from his bro, the goal was easily within reach.

The most disturbing part of what Dulce had told Phil was that his mom would continue hanging around until both Craig and Phil were settled and happy. Sarcastically, Phil thought, wonderful! He would be the main reason his mom would stay, longer than necessary, only to make sure he was happy. That was another driving force pushing Phil to take some action, instead of sitting there fussing while other boys in the common room watched TV and imitated dialogue using their Mr. Fuzzy puppets.

Still uncertain what he might do first, Phil got up and left the common room. He went down the other hall where some other really kewl guys lived. Maybe Pat O'Hara was in his room. Everyone knew that Pat was hooking up with Ralphie Taylor. They would be kewl to talk with about this stuff. Just thinking about it though seemed to be filling Phil's bladder to overflowing, so he passed Pat's closed door and went to the lavatory. He was still in there washing his hands when music from the hallway poured into the tiled room.

One after another, Pat, Ralphie and Rafe came into the restroom and went directly to urinals. Unzipping, Pat checked, "How's it going, Phil-'er-up?" and faced the porcelain on the wall.

Sadly shaking his head, because Craig's private joke was becoming more public, Phil sniggered, "It's been a mind blowing sort of night. Truthfully, your room was my next stop."

Rafe asked, "Craig's still with his new girlfriend?"

Drying his hands, Phil replied, "Yeah. We have some family stuff to talk about later. There's other stuff going on too. I'm not sure if I should mention that to him though."

Ralphie remarked, "Stuff you don't wanna talk with your bro about? Must be heavy duty." He peeked over at Rafe's urinal, making it obvious what he was looking at. Swaying to and fro, to show off and hide his dick, Rafe broke into giggles. Ralphie then checked out his boyfriend's snipped goods and hungrily hummed.

"You're insane!" Pat giggled. "I show it to you every time you ask!"

"I'm asking," Ralphie leered.

Phil sniggered, "Nice goin', Ralphie. Did you even look at me to read that?"

Scowling, Ralphie seriously wondered, "Read what? I didn't read you, Phil."

Moving back to the urinals, slightly behind and between Ralphie and Pat, Phil prompted, "Read me, dude. It would make my life a hell of lot simpler."

Looking over his shoulder, Ralphie focused his telepathy just above Phil's forehead. In only a few seconds, Ralphie gasped, "Holy crap, Phil! Dulce hears your mom?" Everything Ralphie learned he immediately shared with Pat.

"That's just one of the challenges too," Phil softly said.

Ralphie giggled, "Those aren't challenges!" He then playfully corrected, "Well they are, a little bit, but that's easy compared to your mom." Finished first, nine-year-old Rafe Montigua stuffed his goods away, closed the Velcro fly and went to the sinks.

Phil smirked, "What's easy about any of it?"

"We'll help," Ralphie smiled, and shook his dripping dick. He zipped up and shared, "We just went through this with Rafe. All you need to understand and believe is that it's kewl; it's just another piece of you. Craig won't care. Your mom obviously doesn't mind."

Phil scowled, "How do you figure that?"

"She gave you his name," Ralphie giggled, and then went to the sinks. "Proving to your mom that everything's kewl is the biggest problem. The rest we'll help you with."

Phil and Pat followed Ralphie to the sinks. Pat smiled, "My first day here, in the basement store, Ralphie got on his knees and begged me to like him. Reyes, Chris and Rafe saw it too. I was still asking myself if I'm gay, and Ralphie is the opposite extreme, comin' right out and saying that I'm who he wants, and would give anything, if I'd only say yes."

Phil smiled, "So you said yes."

Soaping up his hands in the sink, Pat nodded and grinned, "It really was the only answer."

Ralphie sniggered, "We learned Rafe had some similar stuff happen to him today."

Already done drying his hands, Rafe nodded and giggled, "Maybe I lost my chance with Jase, but now there's a whole bunch of really cute, possible boyfriends who're my age."

Phil asked, "What's my next step?"

Ralphie replied, "You're attracted, so now you have to give him some clue. The only way to do that is to get to know him." Pausing only a moment to look at Phil's reflection in the mirror, Ralphie smirked, "You'll fall flat on your face if you keep thinking the way you are. You're plenty cute and plenty nice, Phil. Now we need a little more help."

"Alden?" Pat called.

Over the speakers, Alden replied, "Yes, Pat?"

Pat asked, "Can you tell us where Owen Reed is?"

"He's at the Oneula Beach rec room," Alden answered.

"Let us know if he decides to go someplace else," Ralphie requested, and then added, "We're heading there now."

Phil nervously squealed, "Now?"

Rafe cracked up. Ralphie nodded and sniggered, "Why not now? You can stay awake all night wondering, or find out if the guy is all you think he is."

Frozen by his own thoughts and worries, Phil soon had Pat taking one hand, Ralphie taking the other, and Rafe behind him and pushing him forward. Leaving the lavatory, Pat began the pre-meeting pep talk by saying, "You're really kewl, Phil. Maybe I haven't seen everything the last couple o' days, but I have seen you and Craig kickin' a soccer ball around. More than a dozen other kids were learning from you. Soon, another bunch of kids went to the field with four more soccer balls. You and Craig started teaching them how to play the game. Maybe it wasn't much to you, because it wasn't a real game and they're only beginners, but put yourself in the shoes of any of those orphanage kids. Two brothers working together showed them teamwork. You guys gave them something else to do that they'll enjoy."

"The next huge bonus comes in a couple of months," Ralphie continued. "Malnourished orphans are being well fed, and now they're getting exercise, out in the sunshine. Each and every one of these kids are gonna suddenly be taller and healthier. It's something they might not realize you helped with, but know that you have. As for your bro and what he might think, you've got it all twisted up in your mind. Sure, Craig's older and more mature, but what you're seeing in him isn't attraction, it's competition. When you're fifteen, you'll be like him. Everything he's got, sooner or later you'll have too."

Still pushing Phil's back, Rafe shared, "I've seen you and your bro at the diving well. What I see are two brothers that are already really hot. Of course you're shorter and thinner than Craig, but was he that much different when he was twelve?"

"I guess not," Phil reluctantly admitted. They went out the two doors and started across the quad toward the CIC. Phil shrugged, "He's always seemed bigger and stronger than me."

"Try being nine-years-old with a fourteen-year-old brother," Rafe giggled. "What we do can't even be called wrestling. Jay wins and I lose, every time! Sometimes I have to warn him that I'll fart or pee if he doesn't let me go." Phil, Pat and Ralphie cracked up. "Hey!" Rafe loudly giggled, "It always works!"

Pat sniggered, "When we get there, remember all this, Phil. You've got a heck of a lot to offer. Introduce yourself and then try to get him alone."

"How?" Phil wondered.

"We'll be in a rec room," Ralphie reminded. "Ask him to play one of your favorite video games. Games you played, they weren't allowed to, so teach him the ropes. Or maybe ask if he wants a milkshake and a snack, then take him into the kitchen, and then grab a table alone with him. Now you can tell him about yourself, and remember to ask him to tell you about himself. Since he showed up yesterday, you already know he's an orphan, so expect him to not want to talk about it. Your job is to show him you care, which is really easy, cos I know you do. Make him comfy enough to want to tell you stuff."

Suspiciously, Pat asked, "Did you have a plan in the store, Ralphie?"

Smiling past Phil at his boyfriend, Ralphie chuckled, "Only to let you know that I like you. Everything else was pretty much automatic for me."

After humming thoughtfully, Pat sniggered, "If you really want to prove how much you like this guy, do silly stuff in public. Ralphie chose most of my clothes for me, right down to my underwear."

Phil smiled at Ralphie.

"I already knew Pat was the best and hottest guy around," Ralphie grinned, "just like you think Owen is. Since I used to model clothes, I went to work to make sure everybody saw the best dressed, sexiest twelve-year-old in the division."

Phil chuckled, "Isn't that like asking someone to steal him away from you?"

Ralphie shrugged, "Maybe, but if Pat's lookin' around to be stolen, then I haven't done something right. On the other hand, when guys watch me with Pat, I'm sure they're lookin' at us and wondering, 'how'd that skinny little shit score that smokin' hot red-head?' Instead, I get massive ego boosts from Pat and from every pair of eyes watchin' him." He then asked, "Are you lookin' around, Pat?"

Rolling his eyes, Pat giggled, "If I were, I wouldn't be leading Phil to meet some other guy." Ralphie and Rafe softly chortled. Stunned, Phil glanced at Pat and flushed red. Pat shrugged, "I'm not looking because I have no reason to. Everywhere we are together, Ralphie's great. You can get Owen to think the exact same stuff, Phil. I'll be more honest if you think you can deal with hearin' it."

"Be honest," Phil instructed.

Walking into the CIC dining room, Pat nodded, "The truth is that you'll put Owen in shock. He'll be wondering, who is this cutie and what could he possibly want with me?"

"Nice try," Phil grinned. "Owen's strawberry blond and cuter than all four of us combined."

"In your eyes," Ralphie giggled. "One of the things I learned is when you tell someone how cute they are, you had better be prepared for the table to turn on you. All my self confidence from years of modeling evaporated completely when Pat started telling me what he liked most. Assuming everything goes well, that'll be tomorrow or the next day. Your goal tonight is to get to know Owen. Before you say goodnight, tell him you'll be looking for him tomorrow."

Rafe said, "One thing I learned from Jay and Chris is that they're useless alone. Both boyfriends make each other better than they usually are. So, you make him feel good and he'll make you feel good. After two years of watching Jay and Chris make goo-goo eyes, now I get to watch Pat and Ralphie doin' it! When is that going to happen to me, is all I want to know!"

Pat, Phil and Ralphie helplessly sniggered. Approaching the dimensional doors, Ralphie and Pat released Phil's hands and Rafe stopped shoving. Pat told Phil, "You go first and we'll follow."

Ralphie nodded, "Once we see you're alone with him, you're set and we're gone."

Phil asked, "Do I look all right? Please say I don't look as nervous as I feel?"

"Jeez!" Rafe giggled. "If this Owen guy turns you down, how would you feel with me for a boyfriend?"

Phil sniggered, "I think I'd probably feel pain, from Jay pounding the shit out of me."

Ralphie gave Phil a modeling review, tugged his polo shirt down and instructed, "Loosen the other button on your polo shirt, man. One button says, middle-of-the-road, both buttons say, completely casual and chillin'."

Once Phil had loosened the button, Pat nodded and smiled, "You look great; like you're ready to sweep Owen off his feet."

After taking a deep breath, Phil huffed, "Here goes nothin'." He ordered the dimensional door, "Oneula Beach," and seconds later walked through.

Pat checked with Ralphie, offering, "He still seems a little nervous to me."

Shaking his head, Ralphie smiled, "Phil's been slyly checking out guys since he started school. The last two years, he's been hiding his feelings as much as he could. Owen was his wake-up call, just like you were mine. Also, Phil's been playing little league soccer for five years and dealing with a big brother too. I think he knows exactly what to do, how to do it, and make an impression that Owen won't ever get the chance to forget."

Looking down and locking eyes with Rafe, Ralphie reminded, "Exactly like I told you earlier. You've hung around plenty of guys, and some were five years older than you. If someone like Chris Stokley thinks you're a kick, then imagine what guys your age might think when they get to know you."

Rafe confirmed, "All I have to do is choose?"

Pat nodded, "It'll be two ways, bro. He's gotta like you too. Once you're there, and you both know how the other feels, then it's a matter of spending time together."

Rafe teased, "You're in love, Pat."

Unable to deny it, Pat giggled, "I've got the major bonus of a telepath telling me what he's thinking before he ever says a word aloud. Ralphie's reading me too, so even if I wanted to exaggerate or lie, he'd catch me. I don't think I'd want it any other way."

Ralphie told Rafe, "Pat wasn't hitting on Phil before. I could tell by Pat's tone that he was honestly telling Phil that if we weren't already a couple, he'd be considering Phil. It was a compliment, and it all says something about basic attractions." Locking eyes with Pat, Ralphie shared, "The whole world stopped spinning Friday when I saw you."

Going into a daze, Pat muttered, "You're the model in the Sunday fliers I always dreamed about."

Giggling, Rafe went to the dimensional door, ordered "Oneula Beach," and passed through, leaving the two love-birds alone. Making a quick turn, Rafe was soon walking into the rec room. The first familiar faces he saw were Taron Reyce Otter, the Hiram twins, the Stoeher twins and the Triggs brothers. Crossing the room, he noticed Phil Nash was at a video game with Stu Sutliff, Ray Varga and Owen Reed. Vaziik was actually playing the fantasy role-playing game.

With bruised lips forming wide smiles, Pat and Ralphie entered the room hand-in-hand. They went directly to where Phil was and stood behind the group. In a few seconds, Ralphie silently told Pat, 'Owen's into the game and learning from Vaziik. Stu is next to play, if Vaziik ever purposefully messes up and lets anyone else play. That's when Phil will try again.'

Stu was Vaziik's roommate over at Ewa Beach dorm three. Stu was learning a lot from Vaziik about Vulcan philosophy. Vaziik was learning how to mix and mingle in a division of humans from Stu. Accordingly, Stu had already informed Vaziik that sometimes it appeared to other boys that he was showing off and always better at most things then everyone else. In the world of video arcade games, Stu and Vaziik had prepared signals, so that Vaziik could participate yet not take over the game, and lose everyone's interest in the process. Of course, Vaziik had to make it appear that his loss was circumstantial, and not just throw the game. Cleverly, Stu would evilly snicker for the first signal, and then he'd chuckle a little louder. If Vaziik hadn't already lost, Stu would signal once more with a loud laugh.

In this particular role playing game, titled 'The Labyrinths Of The Middle Ages', Vaziik had demonstrated four complete levels and earned as many points and skills as were available, at least as far as most of the boys knew. Stu had already given the first two signals. Fighting a werewolf and surrounded by nipping bats, Vaziik made an impressive show of how to lose with style. When Vaziik moved aside, Stu patted his new friend on the back, chortling, "If I get that far, I think I'll avoid that labyrinth."

Slightly grinning, Vaziik remarked, "Very wise."

Phil checked with Owen, "Ya wanna check out any other games? Mortal Combat's pretty kewl. If that's too gory, maybe the World Soccer League?"

Owen shrugged, "I've still got a long way to go with those games."

Having a good idea that Owen was going to say that, Ralphie discreetly shoved his Mr. Fuzzy puppet into Phil's back pocket. Ralphie sent to Phil, 'Mr. Fuzzy is everybody's friend. Try again.'

Reaching back and putting the puppet on his hand, Phil squeaked, "How about a little something to eat? It's been hours since I've had a full fuzzy."

Helplessly giggling, Owen nodded, "That sounds really good," and walked away from the video game with Phil following close beside him.

Pat sputtered and coughed back a laugh. Ralphie grinned, 'I honestly didn't tell Phil what to say, only what to do. That was all Phil and not my doing.'

Occasionally glancing at Phil as they walked across the dining room, Owen admitted, "I can't help wondering why... I mean, you were with your brother today. Why'd you wait for night to come talk to me?"

"It's a really long story that I promise to tell you soon," Phil partially answered. "To make a long story a little shorter, I'll admit I wanted to talk to you, but I didn't really know what to say."

Owen scowled, "You didn't know what to say?"

"Or even if I should," Phil struggled. "It's weird, ya know? Honestly, I noticed you last night at dinner, and again at the concert, and a couple o' times today. It's the first time ever I was like, I've got to get to know you, just from seeing you. So yeah, I spent most of the day wondering what was going on and how to deal."

Nodding, Owen smiled, "Yeah, I know what you mean. This place is so different."

"What makes it different for you?"

"I used to share a room less than half that size with three other dudes," Owen softly replied. "Now I've got one room-mate, Ellis Pierce, and so much stuff, in our room and everywhere."

"Is Ellis kewl?"

"Very," Owen giggled. "We were at different orphanages in LA, but were roomies at the hospital. Since that worked for three days, we decided it would be kewl here too."

"Is he gay?"

"I don't think so. He's twelve and talks like he's straight anyway." Noticing Phil blinking and processing, Owen clarified, "He talks about girls he wants to get to know, and more."

Phil softly asked, "Are you straight?"

"No," Owen whispered. In the kitchen chow line, Owen meekly asked the woman chef, "Is it kewl to have a milkshake this late at night?"

"Certainly," she smiled, and then asked, "Which flavor would you like?"

"Strawberry chocolate, please," Owen answered.

When the woman turned to him, Phil introduced himself, and Owen, and then asked her name. She smiled, "Coletta Jasper. Please call me by my first name, boys."

Nodding, Phil grinned, "I'd really like the same thing Owen's having, but I'm wondering if all the vitamins would keep me awake until dawn." Owen widely smiled, believing that Phil had asked the correct question; the one he had meant to ask, but failed to properly word.

Coletta checked, "I don't believe so. Have they been affecting you that way?"

"No," Phil smiled, "I just thought I'd ask and make sure."

Coletta confirmed, "Two strawberry chocolate shakes?"

"Yeah, thanks," Phil answered, and then told Owen, "Macadamia nut cookies are my weakness." He walked over to the cookie and pastry counter, beaming, "Omigod, they're addictive, I think." Owen sputtered then giggled. Holding up his Mr. Fuzzy, Phil tried to squeak but chuckled, "Do you want some too?"

Owen nodded and giggled, "One. I never had 'em before."

Stuffing his Mr. Fuzzy into his back pocket, Phil smiled, "Then I'll get four, two for you and two for me, cos I know you won't be able to have only one. I'll be lucky if I don't come back for another four, just for my addiction."

Giggling louder, Owen nodded, although he knew he'd be lucky to eat a single cookie with his milkshake. He couldn't say that aloud though. Phil couldn't wipe the smile off his face. Owen was about three inches shorter than Phil and had the kewlest dark green eyes. To top it off, Owen's voice was changing; even while giggling, it was alternating between croaking and squeaking. Placing cookies on a small plate, Phil knew he was wearing a completely dorky smile for little reason, but the alternative was to grab hold of Owen, squeeze him tightly and kiss him repeatedly.

Turning around, Phil saw that Owen already had his milkshake. Coletta was returning with another glass and soon slid it across the counter. Phil thanked her, took the glass, and then told Owen, "Let's find a small table, dude."

Owen nodded. It was after eleven o'clock and no one was sitting in the dining room, so they had their choice of tables. Both the Ewa Beach and Oneula Beach dining rooms had tables of various sizes and shapes; some were small round tables seating no more than four, some were oval shaped that could seat up to eight, and there were longer, rectangular tables that could seat up to twelve. Sitting at the first small table, Owen asked, "When did you get here?"

"Friday, because of riots in LA," Phil softly answered, and gestured to the plate of cookies for Owen to help himself.

Taking a cookie, Owen carefully and softly asked, "Will you tell me why now?"

Nodding, Phil took a bite out of his cookie to gather his thoughts. His eyes seemed to glaze over from the freshly baked macadamia nut cookie. Drinking his milkshake through a straw, Owen helplessly chuckled and blew a big bubble into the glass. He blushed and giggled. Phil covered his mouth with one hand and laughed, "I told you I'm addicted." Since he wasn't sure what to say, Owen nodded, giggled, and patiently waited.

Phil sighed and then scowled, "I've always liked other dudes, played little league soccer and stuff, but didn't really know what that meant. Two summers ago, my dad had the whole birds-and-bees talk with me. It seems like only days later we went to Malibu for dinner out, but it was probably longer than that, maybe a week or two. Anyway, driving down PCH, past the beach parking lot, there's this straight couple, maybe in their late teens. The girl was okay, all the curves in the right places and a real pretty face, but her boyfriend grabbed my attention. He wasn't a muscle-stud or anything, just perfectly stacked from the ground up. The dude made Michelangelo's David statue look like a total loser. I couldn't stop thinking of him all through dinner and the rest of the night. Bed time, Craig comes into our room, after a shower, wearing only a towel and drops it. While his back is turned and he's putting clothes on, I'm there wondering, okay, my bro's got all the same parts, his shoulders were starting to get wide, but there's nothing interesting there. He notices me in a trance and laughs, 'What are you looking at?'"

Owen nodded understandingly and warmly smiled.

Phil continued, "So part of what I was thinking was how I could hide this from everybody, especially my bro, my dad, and all the dudes I used to hang with. It wasn't too kewl, ya know, to other people. I'm mostly fine with it, but just have to watch what I'm doing."

Owen wondered, "How old were you then?"


"You're twelve now?"

"Yeah. How old are you?"

"Thirteen," Owen answered, and blushed because Phil was younger but taller.

Phil grinned, "Then I noticed your new group walking into the dining room last night. Out of all those kids, I saw you... really, only you. Again, Craig notices me and wonders why I'm not eating. Now I'm rethinking all that same stuff again. It's a different deal now, in the Clan; it seems that half are straight, and the other half are gay. Now I'm thinking it's time to stop hiding how I feel. Being gay doesn't change much of anything. Even all our leaders are gay. A bunch of us dudes were talking about them in the common room late Saturday night. It was kind o' wild, shifting from funny to intense. Even though the Core Rimmers are gay, a lot of the dudes admitted that they wouldn't ever want to get into a fight with them. Even my bro said that, and he's about as tall and built as they are. Last night, after the concert and alone with me, Craig brought it up again. He called them determined, and it was more obvious seeing the band perform."

Owen smiled, "They're a lot of fun, but I know better."

"How do you mean?"

"They act like they never could or would fight," Owen shrugged, "but I heard the news reports about our rescues, while I was in the hospital. Our leaders do what all Clan Short leaders do; they save kids like me and help kids like you and your bro. When they have to, they'll kill very bad adults. I can't figure out how they can go from one extreme to another like they do."

"They think of all of us as family; as brothers and sisters."

Nodding, Owen smirked, "It's not like the orphanage, that's for sure."

"Yeah," Phil chuckled, and tried to get back on topic. "All I said is why I had to talk with you tonight. The deal is so different, now we can be who we are without worrying about much." He had another bite of another cookie, washed it down with his milkshake, and then asked, "What was it like before you got here?"

Owen huffed, "I'd rather not talk about it, or even think about it."

"That bad, huh?"

"It took three days in hospitals to get us healthy enough to be here. The only good part was watching video feeds from Ewa Beach. Sorry, but I can't go there now."

"It's kewl," Phil assured. "Whenever you're ready, I'll listen."

Owen blinked and softly wondered, "You'd want to hear it?"

Nodding, Phil said, "It's kewl though. Don't worry about it."

Owen scowled and repeated, "I'm thirteen-years-old and shorter than you. I had three other dudes sharing one tiny bedroom with me. It took three days of medical care for me to be here."

Phil nodded, "Some of that bugs me, but the important thing is that you're here now. We're all brothers." He softly admitted, "I'd like us to be more than brothers, and more than best buds."

"Don't feel sorry for me," Owen firmly ordered.

"Is that why you think I came here?"

Owen shrugged, "Dunno."

Phil grinned, "Let me make it perfectly clear then. I liked you the first moment I saw you. I came here looking for you because I didn't even know if you were gay or not. It would be just my dumb luck to have my first crush on a straight dude. As far as I can see, we're at the same place, and everything's really kewl, so now it's up to us. I'll warn you now though, if you say you only want to be friends, I'll be your friend, and always hope you'll change your mind, so we can be more."

Phil noticed Pat, Rafe, Ralphie and Taron coming out of the rec room. They waved to Phil and Phil waved back. Owen noticed the other four walking through dimensional doors. Phil grinned, "We all live in the same dorm at Ewa Beach. So, what are you thinking?"

Owen shrugged, "We're different."

"We're not that different," Phil reminded. "We're both orphans, both gay, and most importantly, I think you're awesome just as you are." Watching Owen's pale complexion turn pink, Phil smiled, "You're really cute. I'm havin' a pretty kewl time with you." He pulled his Mr. Fuzzy out and slipped it onto his hand. Owen began giggling. Phil's Mr. Fuzzy squeaked, "Say you like me too, Owen, and I'll be your fuzzy follower forever."

Slipping his Mr. Fuzzy onto his hand, Owen giggled, "Mr. Fuzzy's afraid."

Phil made his puppet nod and squeaked, "Me too. Feeling this much, this fast makes my Mr. Fuzzy freaky."

Owen roared laughing, "I like Phil's freaky fuzzy!"

Phil warmly smiled, "That's all I needed to hear," and slid his Mr. Fuzzy puppet off. He then carefully reached his hand across the table.

Owen took his Mr. Fuzzy off and then tentatively took Phil's hand, whispering, "I really hope I don't screw up, or make you angry."

"I want you happy too," Phil reminded. "It's gonna be really kewl. Later tonight, I'll tell Craig what's going on." He then giggled, "And he'll be telling me about his new girlfriend, so neither of us will hear a friggin' word!"

Owen sniggered, "So when I meet him, he won't remember what you said, never mind my name."

Phil wickedly grinned, "I'll be mumbling your name all night long. If I know my brother, he'll turn this into another competition, betting that he can get to home plate first." Owen giggled and turned crimson red. "Oh, jeez!" Phil giggled, "I'm really sorry. That's really what Craig will prob'ly do, but I shouldn't have said it like that."

"It's alright," Owen giggled, and held the cold shake glass up against his face.

Stuffing an entire cookie into his mouth, Phil mumbled, "Dhere, dow I can'd thay dum thduff."

"I'm not that naive," Owen giggled. "Four dudes in a room, remember?"

Nodding, Phil held up his index finger to signal a pause, so he could chew and swallow. Owen cracked up, and was still laughing when Phil finally swallowed and helplessly laughed along. When they had calmed somewhat, Phil smiled, "Most of the last two years, me and Craig had separate bedrooms right next to each other. I heard plenty from his room, bed squeaks and grunts. Since we got here and started sharing a room, I'm surprised I haven't heard those sounds."

"Yet," both boys simultaneously giggled.

Owen softly assured, "You'll win the bet." It became Phil's turn to practice imitating an apple. Also blushing, Owen whispered, "I was thinking that's what would happen with you. I would've and loved it, but this is even better."

"Have you ever?"

"No, but I would... with you; especially now."

Phil uncertainly repeated, "Especially now?"

Nodding, Owen offered, "It wouldn't be only sex. You're a lot of fun. I really like you... a lot."

Pushing his glass nearer to Owen's glass, Phil got up and then slid into the chair beside Owen's chair, whispering, "I couldn't have just done anything like that, Owen."

Nodding, Owen softly explained, "I'm seeing a lot of dudes hooking up, but don't really understand."

Phil shared, "Really watch the Core Rimmers, dude. That's how I want us to be, not just attracted, but the closest two people in the whole world."

Owen smiled and confirmed, "Like Doug and Carter?"

"Yeah, from what I've seen, they're gettin' there too. It's something I can see in their eyes. I want to see that in your eyes all the time. I want to brush my teeth in the morning, think of you, and see it in my eyes in the mirror."

"I think I'm already seeing it your eyes."

"Do you know what it is that you're seeing?"

Slowly and deliberately shaking his head, Owen admitted, "I'm not sure."

Repeating what he had learned from his parents, Phil told Owen, "It's the real me; a little piece of my heart shining through. When people say they've given their hearts away, that's the way it shows."

"You're sure about that?"

"As sure as I can be."

Owen wondered, "When will we get that look?"

"It's starting already," Phil giggled. "We're going to spend a lot of time together. Everything you want to know, about me and anything else, I'll tell you. If I don't know, then I'll find someone that does."

"Okay, so how can we make the look in our eyes permanent?"

Slowly leaning closer, Phil placed his first ever tender kiss on anyone outside of his immediate family. He then carefully inspected Owen's eyes, muttering, "Maybe this?" and planted a deeper kiss. Unexpectedly, Owen threw his arms around Phil and urgently returned the kiss. Tasting strawberry and chocolate, Phil uncontrollably giggled, then closed his eyes, allowing Owen to decide when to break it off. Both boys learned why tongue kisses were so kewl and breathed through their noses.

Phil's comm-badge chirped. Craig's voice called, "Phil? Where are you, bro?"

Not wanting to be the one to break off the fun, but having no other choice, Phil leaned back and replied, "At Oneula Beach, having a late night snack." He silently mouthed, "With my awesome boyfriend." Owen almost flew apart and giggled. He lifted Phil's hand and started placing soft kisses on each finger.

Craig sighed, "We've got stuff to talk about, and it's after midnight. I expected you here waiting, and bursting at the seams, bitching me out for staying out late."

"Give me a couple of minutes, bro," Phil giggled. "Go take a cold shower."

"Tell me about it!" Craig sniggered. "See ya soon."

Phil quickly called, "Out," and tapped his comm-badge. He then softly assured, "It's in your eyes now, so I guess it worked."

Between finger kisses, Owen giggled, "You're so awesome! It's in your eyes too. I think I love you."

"I'm falling in love with you too," Phil smiled, and gently guided Owen's face up off his hand to add, "First thing in the morning, I'm finding you and we're having breakfast together. If I didn't have family stuff to talk about with Craig, I'd stay right here. The last thing I want to do now is leave."

"Call me when you're done with your bro," Owen suggested, and then blushed, "There's no chance of me sleeping anytime soon."

Raising his eyebrows, Phil grinned, "How about you come with me, hang in our common room watching TV, and when I mention you to Craig, I can come get you to introduce you?" Clearly seeing a more hopeful expression, Phil smiled, "By then, our family chat will be about done anyway. Then we can pick up where we left off."

"In your room?"

"In the common room," Phil answered, and then evilly snickered, "so Craig can spank his monkey, and we're alone."

"Do you really think we'll be alone?"

Phil shrugged, "If we're not alone on the first floor, we'll try the second floor, and every boys' common room in all the dorms at both bases." Nodding, Owen giggled at Phil's determined tone. They kissed, gathered their glasses and the empty cookie plate, and took everything to the dishwasher. Soon, they were returning to Ewa Beach and walking to dormitory three.

Ewa Beach Dormitory #3

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 12:01AM HTZ

About the time Owen and Phil were getting to know each other, Alden and his brothers were joking around with the teens gathered in their underwear in Chris' and Jay's room. Chris and Jay were sharing their Fuzzy version of the facts of life chat with Lance, Scott, Erik and Travis. Alden played recorded copies of the chat from Troy's and Sean's living room. Watching the six younger boys listening to six teenagers, four of which were division leaders, talking about un-fuzzy versus fuzzy fuzzies, Lance, Scott, Erik and Travis were hysterical. The Clan AI's actively participated in this conversation.

While his brothers and the teens were still laughing, Kerry giggled, "I have a semi-serious question."

Jay sniggered, "I can barely wait."

"Well, if each couple has two Mr. Fuzzies, like a Mr. Fuzzy on his fuzzy, then how do we distinguish fuzzies," Kerry giggled.

George chortled, "They would be friendly fuzzies of course."

Chris playfully offered, "Kissin' cuzzy fuzzies."

Breathlessly, Lance cackled, "Cozy cuzzy fuzzies!" causing everyone participating to crack up.

"OH WAIT!" Jay loudly laughed, "THAT'S WHAT WE NEED!" A chorus of groans and frightened squeals erupted.

Collapsing slightly over onto Lance, Erik playfully prompted, "Tell us, please, oh master of fuzzy freakiness."

Jay sniggered, "Alden, we need properly designed cuzzy fuzzy cozies." Everyone roared, and Jay laughed, "Really, like a skimpy G-string with Mr. Fuzzy's face covering our dicks and balls. It's gotta fit right though, guys. Our nads should hang in Mr. Fuzzy's jaw, and our dicks in the top half, filling Mr. Fuzzy's nose."

Sliding down Lance's body, Scott howled, "We can't have our fuzzies hangin' out of our Mr. Fuzzy's, now can we?"

Slamming his palm down on the bed, Chris cackled, "Make sure it's comfy cotton inside our Mr. Fuzzies, Alden."

Travis roared, "No sweaty fuzzies in our Fuzzies!"

"WE CAN DO THIS!" Seven AI's enthusiastically shouted.

 "You can do what?" Draco asked, his face appearing by the wall of the room. After checking around quickly, he rolled his eyes. "Boys; AI or bipedal, you're all the same. Have fun, guys," he grinned before vanishing again.

"Okay, Dad!" all the AIs called out, giggling like kindergardeners.

In moments, as the laughing boys were calming down, Alden giggled, "Okay guys, we have something that should work for you six; waist size twenty-six through thirty, with sufficient room above and below. It won't work too well for guys that hang longer than six inches..."

"Unless they fold their fuzzy," Kerry playfully interrupted.

Six Mr. Fuzzy G-strings appeared on the beds where the boys were sitting. All six got up and stripped out of their underwear to try on their new Mr. Fuzzy G-strings. Glancing at his boyfriend adjusting his goods, Jay grinned, "This is Clan 'gays only' attire."

Chris sniggered, "Definitely! I don't see too many straight guys wanting one."

Carefully getting his scrotum into the elastic, Lance giggled, "We'll have to take these things off to piss."

Scott nodded and chortled, "Like every other jock."

Alden checked, "Are they comfortable guys? The real pain was putting in elastic, so that nobody's fuzzy bits got squished."

One after another, each of the six boys twisted around, stretched and did deep knee bends, and checked their partner's Mr. Fuzzy, and their friends' Mr. Fuzzies, and then announced they were good.

George sniggered, "And for the problem urinating, we have Water Warriors Steady Stream Power Pump Water Blasters." He transported six of the toys onto the beds, giggling, "Effective range of thirty-eight feet."

"I officially take back all the nasty things I said about you guys," Jay chuckled. Evilly snickering, all six tore into the Water Blaster packages.

Chris playfully warned, "I'll chase after you with a carving knife if any of you get carried away." Moments later, all six boys hurried to the utility room where there were two large, deep sinks to load their Water Blasters.

Scott offered, "Anywhere there's electrical gear, like TV's and stereos, are water-free safe zones."

"Yeah," Erik grinned, "we don't want to go frying that stuff in the common room or our bedrooms. Hallways are the main indoors battle area, but outdoors, everywhere's kewl."

"For safety's sake, no shots directly on our Mr. Fuzzies from closer than four or five meters," Travis chuckled. "I really don't want to go to Doc Andrews, explaining that my nads are bruised and sore, because of over-excited Mr. Fuzzy Water Blaster fights."

"Important safety tips there, guys," Jay sniggered.

"DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS!" the other five loudly laughed.

First to leave the utility room with full blasters, Chris, Jay, Travis and Erik immediately went into the nearby common room. Hiding as couples, out of sight on both sides of the doorway, they got ready to ambush Scott and Lance. While the former four were hiding and waiting, Phil and Owen walked into the dorm hallway. From the CIC, it was the most direct route. Phil could get Owen settled in the common room and then go down the other hallway to talk with Craig. 

Reaching the lavatory near the center of the hall, Phil and Owen witnessed Scott and Lance stepping out of the utility room, wearing only Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, and uncontrollably cracked up. Lance and Scott spun around to see who was laughing. Chris, Jay, Erik and Travis popped into the common room doorway and fired on Lance and Scott. Spinning around, Lance and Scott returned fire. Seeing four more Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, and that those wearing them were armed, Owen and Phil howled laughing and bolted into the lavatory.

Already soaked from his hair to his fuzzy, Scott laughed, "That was Phil Nash."

"Holding hands with another guy!" Lance loudly giggled, and turned around, wondering, "Where'd they go?"

Pausing his attack, Jay evilly snickered, "In the john."

Also ceasing fire, Erik grinned, "Okay, when did Phil Nash join our ranks?"

"And why weren't we told?" Travis chuckled.

Stepping out of the common room, Chris sniggered, "This absolutely requires compensation and education."

Once all six were gathered, Jay whispered, "Scott and Lance, take the shower. Erik and Trav, check the commodes. Me and Chris will cover the center of the room, for escaping gay boys, who've been pretending to be straight." With nods, they hurried down the hall and stealthily entered the lavatory.

Scott and Lance bounded into the shower changing area with their Water Blasters set to super soak, but they didn't see anyone in the shower. The lights weren't even on, thanks to Alden watching his cameras. They turned to watch the lavatory, expecting two younger gay boys to come flying out and past them.

Since Scott and Lance had cleared the shower, Jay scowled, and wondered if Alden had intervened to transport the two younger guys to safety.

Hiding in the near left side corner of the mob shower with Owen, snuggled up together and taking advantage of the situation, Phil broke the kiss and silently ordered, "Run!" They took off out of the shower, barreled past Lance and Scott, and laughed their asses off. The other four waiting in the lavatory spun, aimed and fired. Speeding past them and out into the hall, Owen and Phil bolted for the common room with all six chasing after them and firing non-stop.

Already drenched, Owen and Phil kept going through the common room and a few steps down the other hallway. They stormed into Craig's and Phil's room and slammed the door closed behind them, giggling madly and tightly embracing.

Just finished with his shower and bent over, pulling up his boxer shorts at the foot of his bed, Craig grinned up at the ceiling, chortling, "Ma, I had nothing to do with this. Swear to God!"

Rolling his eyes, Phil giggled, "Owen Reed, this is my big bro, Craig. Craig, this is Owen, my boyfriend. This really isn't the way I had planned stuff, but six armed fuzzy maniacs chased us in here."

Intensely blushing, Owen waved and roared laughing.

"You're both soaked," Craig sniggered. "You met in the shower? Nice one, bro! It's not what I expected from you at all."

Stepping back from Owen to face his brother, Phil laughed, "We did not meet in the shower! Those lunatics have super-soakers! I'm seriously not touching what they're wearing!"

Bending in half and grabbing his belly, Owen howled laughing. On base for less than thirty-six hours, Owen had never had so much non-stop fun in his thirteen years. Just when things started to seem normal, something else would happen to push large groups of kids of all ages into giggling fits. Compared to his miserable existence in an LA level two orphanage, Pacific Rim Division Clan life was a looney dream come true.

Walking across the room and sadly shaking his head, Craig opened the door to check the hall. He had barely crossed the threshold before being blasted by six super-soakers. He jumped back into the room, hearing his assailants laughing, "Sorry Craig!" and slammed the door.

Glancing at each other and mooing through their giggles, all six knew they had messed up. Lance whined through his giggles, "I miss my mommy." Erik cracked up.

Jay sniggered, "We don't have much time," and quickly led the group to their own hallway.

As far as Owen was concerned, Craig was very tall, muscular, and there was now valid reason to be frightened. Grinning widely, Phil softly giggled, "Told ya," and then pulled Owen close. Since Phil wasn't scared, Owen started to calm down, and wondered what would happen next.

Wiping water off his face and calmly re-crossing the room, Craig picked up the towel he had brought from the shower. Drying off for the second time in under ten minutes, Craig sweetly called, "Aaaallllden?"

"Yes, Craig," giggled Alden from the ceiling. Without being asked, Alden delivered six fully loaded super-soakers to the room. "I can't let you have a Mr. Fuzzy G-string though," Alden giggled. "Since you spent almost six hours with Felicity, you don't qualify. Phil and Owen can have 'em, though."

Craig grinned, "Kewl," and went to pick up the super-soakers lying on the carpet before the door. He passed them out so all three of them were armed with two weapons. He softly smirked, "Owen, you open the door and jump back out of the way, just in case. They can't be dumb enough to be standing there waiting. They're probably back in their own hallway by now."

"Maybe they're reloading, in the utility room," Phil giggled.

"That's our first objective," Craig smiled. "They cannot re-arm from any sink anywhere tonight."

Taking his position by the door, and holding both his super-soakers with one arm against his chest, Owen giggled, "What about our Mr. Fuzzy G-strings?"

Happily giggling and rapidly nodding his head, Phil bounced his eyebrows at his big bro.

"No-oo-oo," Craig softly sang. "First we get even, then you two can take the distraction, and soak each other all ya want."

Phil's jaw dropped. Owen roared laughing. Phil giggled, "I can't believe you said that!"

"Com'on, bro," Craig smiled. "I had a damn good idea this would happen. I expected it to take you until the end of the week. Nice time, by the way."

"Mom knows," Phil grinned.

Craig nodded, "She asked my opinion, a long time ago. I played dumb, since I don't care which side of the fence you play on. The most important thing for any dude is to have someone to play with." He checked with Owen, "Ready?" and got a nod. He checked with Phil, "Set back-to-back?"

Phil nodded and smiled, "Set."

"Go," Craig softly told Owen. As soon as the door was open, Craig flew out with Phil right on his tail. They covered both ends of the hall. Owen came out to a safe hallway and closed the door behind him.

Having heard the neighboring door three times, Fred Eckhart peeked out of his room across the hall. Seeing Craig in soaked boxers, and Phil and Owen also drenched, Fred chuckled, "What's goin' on?"

Craig grinned, "The gauntlet has been tossed. Is Chauncey awake?"

Also arriving in their doorway threshold, Tony Lanning and Ray Varga heard Fred answer, "Yeah," and quickly ask, "Is it all-out hallway wars?" With both his brothers sleeping, thirteen-year-old Nate Ramos opened his door to find out what was going on. Lastly, Kassidy Oldcambus stepped out of his room.

Seeing additional warriors gathering, Craig cheered, "Excellent!" and then called, "Alden, double super-soakers for everyone that wants to play."

Laughing his artificial ass off from the speakers, Alden couldn't reply, but executed the order. Twelve loaded super-soakers appeared on the hallway floor. The boys heard Chauncey telling Rikko, in dog, "You sniff 'em out and point, buddy." Rikko barked approval and trotted out to the hall.

Since it was late at night, all the boys were down to their underwear when they came out to the hallway and picked up their water blasters. Chauncey giggled, "Hey Alden, can you get Rikko armed too?"

Alden sniggered, "Give us a couple of seconds." A few moments later, two loaded water blasters, one on each side, were slung from Rikko's back. Alden whined and growled, telling Rikko, "Bite down on the ball in your mouth to fire."

Craig evilly snickered, "Awesome! We'll advance down the hall and chase them outside, so everyone awake can see their Mr. Fuzzy cock warmers." All the other boys cracked up.

Kerry laughed, "We'll record it and show it during breakfast at every division."

Chauncey gave Rikko the signal. The Siberian Husky pup put his nose to the carpeted floor and advanced toward the common room, with nine boys trailing close behind. Rikko cautiously went into the common room and as far as the door into the other hallway then backed away, softly growling, "Here. Very close."

The hallway lights had been dimmed and the floor LEDs were lit. Taking the lead were the oldest and tallest boys; Craig, Kassidy, Nate and Fred. They stormed through the common room and into the hall, firing all the while at the six Fuzzy G-string madmen that started it.

"SHIT!" all six laughed.

"Even the damn dog is armed!" Lance howled.

The larger group of doubly armed hallway invaders progressed, however they started getting hit from the sides. The Stoeher twins were armed and firing into the hall. Across the hall, the Hiram twins were also armed and firing. A little further down, Rafe, Pat, Ralphie and Taron made their presence known. Hysterical laughter reverberated from every direction, even from the ceiling speakers where seven AIs made it clear they were spectating. Determined to chase Jay, Chris, Scott, Lance, Travis and Erik outside, Craig led the charge down the hall. The primary six targets were eventually pushed out the dorm doors and into the night.

Awake and crossing the compound, destined for the auditorium, Joey, Jerry and KC witnessed the ongoing battle of water blasters, and howled laughing, primarily at the Mr. Fuzzy G-strings that six of the boys were wearing. Stevie provided additional super-soakers so they could join the fun. The first thing KC did was fire his super-soaker directly at Fred's butt. Spinning around and returning fire, Fred giggled, "I'm glad you're here."

"Get used to being wet," KC chortled, "we're going surfing in the morning."

Fred wondered, "When did you get here? Where are you staying?"

KC replied, "About an hour ago. We've got a condo, building B, unit 4-B, but wherever you are is where I intend to be."

Fred giggled, "Yeah?"

"Hell yeah," KC leered at his mostly naked boyfriend.

Chauncey fired on Fred and KC, giggling, "Both of you need to cool down!"

Fred and KC soaked Chauncey. KC sniggered, "I've been asleep already. When Fred decides it's bed time, I'm either tucking him in or snuggled up close."

Aiding his favorite human companion, Rikko fired and growled, "Better keep quiet!"

During the course of the conversation, a few more underwear-clad teenagers came outside to join the fun. By this time there were more than twenty-five soaked boys in the quad, goofing around in their underwear, most of whom initially focused their attacks on Jerry, Joey and KC, who were the only three still dressed. In the ensuing madness to get three undressed, what little the other twenty were wearing mysteriously got yanked off. When his blasters were empty, Craig tapped his brother and Owen to follow him inside. 

From dormitory two, twelve more boys raced outside in their underwear; six teens and six tweens. For about another half hour, the boys romped around the quad. When super-soakers were empty, the naked boys returned to their dorms. Kerry titled his video, "Cozy Cuzzy Fuzzy Water Blaster Battle Number One," and transmitted it to every Clan Division around the world.

Carrying their wet clothing, Craig and Phil led Owen back to their dorm room. The first order of business was to get dressed in some dry underwear. Phil offered Owen a pair of boxer-briefs, but no sooner did Owen pull them up, they slid right back down and off his malnourished ass, settling about half way down his thighs. Parking his buns on the edge of his bed, Craig grinned at Owen's blush. Going back to his dresser and grabbing a pair of boardies, Phil giggled, "Okay, the draw string should keep them around your hips and not your knees."

Unable to wipe the smirk off his face, Owen squinted at Phil and warned, "After a few months of McCoy milkshakes, my clothes will slide off your butt."

Phil nodded and smiled, "You know I'll be helping you get there."

Owen pulled up the boardies, tied them and released them. Seeing they were staying up, Craig chuckled, "Okay, first things first. It doesn't matter to me that you're gay, bro. I kind o' suspected, but didn't really have a whole hell of a lot of clues. Dad never said a word about it, but mom did, and it didn't matter. All she cared about was you and the social implications; that's not gonna be a problem here though. If you want Owen to spend the night here, I'm completely kewl with it, as long as you two don't spend the night giggling, talking, or doin' stuff that will keep me awake. We'll figure out some signal so you can be here alone with Owen, and I can be alone with Felicity. Maybe tomorrow, we'll all get together for dinner or something. No matter what, you're my kid brother and always will be." He paused to check, "Are there any questions before we move on?"

Already seated on the edge of his bed with Owen beside him, Phil grinned, "You really have no problem with Owen sleeping here?"

Craig shrugged, "Why would I, as long as you dudes don't wake me up?" Seeing Phil and Owen widely smiling at each other, Craig reminded Phil, "You had to have heard the same talk that I got, bro. Everybody is at least a little bisexual, at least enough to be able to say, 'hey, that dude's cute'. The difference between gay dudes and straight dudes boils down to who's willing to have sex with whom. Of all the dudes outside goofin' around, I know at least half are gay, but did anyone sprout wood? Nope, not one bone was seen, even with gay partners teasing each other. That was very kewl and lots of fun. Did either of you notice who pulled my boxers down?"

Giggling, Owen shook his head. Phil sniggered, "No, the Stoeher twins made me their target. When I turned around again, you were naked too, bro."

"It was Chris Stokley," Craig proudly grinned. "Now there's a dude who's beyond cute and bordering on hot, as far as I'm concerned. He did it specifically to yank Jay's chain, I'm sure, but if I were motivated, someone like Chris is who I'd be chasing after. I simply can't make myself imagine having sex with any dude, no matter how hot he is. Since we arrived here, I've been imagining what it might be like to have a boyfriend. I can't get past hugs and kisses, but I understand where gay dudes are at. Every one needs someone. Dudes that get all freaked out are usually the insecure ones who can't deal with their own bisexual or homosexual feelings and thoughts. We slept in the nest near Travis the other night. I think he's very kewl, and a lot like me, when it comes to sex and sexuality. It took the right dude, Erik Kendricks, to flip Trav's switch on."

"It took Owen to flip mine," Phil giggled.

Owen smiled, "Yeah?"

"All it took was seeing you at dinner," Phil reminded. "I didn't even know your name."

Craig smiled, "It was the same for me and Felicity; complete tunnel vision. All I needed was an excuse and time. She gave me the reason to go to her table. After dinner, we walked this entire base, and then went over to Oneula Beach and walked around there."

Grinning, Phil wondered, "How far did you get?"

Sadly shaking his head, Craig chuckled, "She knows I like her a lot, and she told me that she really likes me. When I walked her back here to her dorm room, she kissed me, and I kissed her goodnight. Considering other dates I've been on, this one was the very best. We talked for almost six hours, with no other entertainment whatsoever. I know about her, the orphanage she's from, and a whole bunch of other stuff. She knows me at least as well as mom and dad ever did. Which brings up the second topic for tonight – mom and dad."

"Dulce really freaked me out," Phil admitted.

Craig nodded, "Me too. The whole time I was with Felicity, I'd wonder if mom was with me, or if she was with you."

Phil nervously giggled, "I'm pretty sure she split her time. For about three hours, I was completely blown away. What's most scary is that she's staying here with us, until she's sure we're both happy."

"Once a mom, always a mom," Craig chortled.

Phil playfully wondered, "How the hell can we prove to her that we're happy?"

"We can't," both brothers chorused.

Owen meekly asked, "I thought you dudes were orphans from Battle Of Earth?"

Craig nodded, "We are, but as usual, our mom is checkin' up on us. It's a double-edged sword; we're glad to know it, and that there's something more after this life, but she really needs to move on."

Turning to Phil, Owen asked, "You spent all that time thinking about me?"

Phil shrugged, "You and my mom, mostly. That's why I had to talk to you tonight; to find out if I was only dreaming, or if there's something really there, so my mom could go be with my dad..." He paused to loudly tell whomever might be lurking; "WHERE SHE BELONGS!"

"Wait a minute!" Craig laughed. "Dad went and mom stayed?"

Phil nodded, "That's what Dulce said; he crossed over and she decided to stay."

Bounding up off the bed, Craig excitedly hollered, "Ma, what the hell are you doing? We're fine! Considering how shitty things could've been, we got really lucky in major ways. I've got a really awesome girlfriend, and Phil's got a boyfriend. Our lives are moving on and everything's really kewl. You can't stay here watching and waiting forever. Dad's without you and that's not right!"

Owen softly giggled, "Maybe he needed a break?"

Widely smiling, Craig mooed through his chuckles. Phil cracked up and fell back onto his bed, completely hysterical.

"Incoming Saint-O-Gram!" Alden giggled over the room speaker. "The Clan's Guardian team has been asked to pass the following: 'You don't know how right you are. Welcome to the family, Owen. I'm happy to have you as my son-in-law. Love, Dad.' End message."

Not knowing whether or not to take Alden seriously, all three boys howled laughing. Unexpectedly, the stereo turned itself on. The tuner scanned stations and stopped on the chorus of 'Ghost Riders In The Sky'. It then scanned stations again and stopped for 'Love Will Keep Us Alive'. Craig and Phil turned slightly to the nightstand beside Craig's bed where the remote control lay, well beyond the reach of any of the three of them.

"Hey, go back to that first song, I like it better!" Alden whined.

Noticing Owen wasn't laughing anymore, Craig sniggered, "The first song was from our dad, the second was from our mom. Their sense of humor and tastes in music haven't changed a bit." He yawned and glanced at the clock. "It's almost one o'clock in the morning," Craig softly said. "If we want to wake up and have breakfast with the rest of the Clan, we'd better call it quits. I don't know about you two dudes, but Felicity is expecting me there."

Phil nodded and checked with Owen, asking, "Do you want to go to the common room where we can talk?"

Shaking his head, Owen answered, "It's late. We've got all day tomorrow." Craig flipped down the top blanket and sheet on his bed, and then went to turn the stereo and the overhead light off. Phil turned down the covers on his bed. Owen turned on the small night table lamp, giggling, "Spiritual encounters were not part of what I expected tonight." Craig nodded and flipped the overhead light switch to off.

"Neither was the water blaster war," Phil smiled. He crawled onto his bed and patted the mattress for Owen to join him. Owen slid into bed with Phil. Craig slid onto his bed and pulled up the covers. Owen kissed Phil and got settled. Craig inhaled deeply and exhaled. After about a minute of silence, Owen rolled onto his side and cuddled up to Phil. Urgently and uncontrollably, Phil giggled. Then Owen giggled.

Craig softly chuckled, "This is what I was talking about, dudes. Sleep means quiet."

"I'll remind you of that when Felicity is in bed cuddled up to you, bro," Phil playfully warned.

"Nice image implanted there, bro! Thanks a lot!" Craig loudly laughed, and covered his face with the spare pillow. Owen and Phil evilly snickered.

"What do you think?"

"I haven't got wings to see into the future. We taught them the best we could."

"It's up to them now?"

"Cut the umbilical cord, my love."

"Easier said than done."

"One more day, and then say goodbye?"

"One more day."

Sullivan's Island

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 6:55AM EST

For over two hours, Paul had stayed awake, watching Reyes with Ryan on the sofa. Most of Ryan's right side was splotched with black-and-blue patches, from his jaw and down to his hip. Without hesitation or request, Ryan stripped off his shorts and boxer-briefs, proudly displaying his chubby uncut dick. For a while, Reyes typed on his PADD, entering the message to augment the reports from the doctor and security teams. To make his intention even clearer, Ryan lay on the couch with his head resting on Reyes' lap. Every fifteen minutes, Reyes got up to alternate between cold and warm compresses on Ryan's various bruises. For most of that time, Ryan constantly teased Reyes, trying to turn him on.

Returning from the kitchen with warm compresses, Reyes softly giggled, "After a couple o' days of this, it's going to take you and Paul to restrain me."

Ryan smiled, "Touch me, you sexy Polynesian Casanova."

Placing the warm compresses against Ryan's scattered bruises, Reyes evilly snickered, "When I start, nothing you or Paul say will get me to stop. It might take wearing me out and tying me down."

Knowing his brother had to be awake and watching, Ryan grinned, "Tell me what you like about Paul?"

"His intensity," Reyes easily answered. "I'd bet big bucks he was like that before being on the streets." When Ryan nodded, Reyes shrugged, "Paul was able to be fun and equally intense, wasn't he?" Again Ryan nodded. Reyes sighed, "I'm seeing that already. All day he showed it a tiny bit. He showed it at the beach house too. You can make him show that, Ry. You did it the first night, on the bus ride back from Myrtle Beach. That soft side is what I find most attractive, because even his warmth is intense. Without having had sex with either of you, I'll guess you're the loud one, especially on top, and Paul's the groaner-moaner, because he simply can't form words anymore."

Ryan only giggled and didn't give Reyes any clue, teasing, "You'll find out."

Struggling to stay awake, Paul mumbled, "Damn. How the hell did he know that?"

Reyes didn't notice that Ryan again signaled the nearest camera by "scratching" the side of his nose with his middle finger extended, effectively flipping Paul the bird.

Paul simply couldn't believe his eyes. Ryan was laying there nude on the couch, and Reyes was caring for his brother's bruises. Paul asked Stevie, "Is there any delay in what you're sending me, Stevie?"

"Point two-seven seconds," Stevie replied, "the time it takes to transmit up to the satellite and return again."

Paul softly wondered, "How the hell can Reyes be so damn calm? The only time he's even looking at Ry's dick is when he's gathering up compresses to switch 'em around."

Stevie responded, "We've seen lots of couples interacting, Paul. If you really want, I could give you the answers to that question?"

"It was rhetorical," Paul impatiently grumbled.

"The offer's out there," Stevie said.

Shaking his head, Paul smirked, "Great. You haven't got a body and you're going to teach me about sex?"

Stevie said, "I wouldn't do that to you, Paul. You don't need me lecturing you. You're my older brother, when you really think about it. What I would do is show you selected clips of Clan couples, adults and kids, being intimate without having sex. Most of the time, they're fully clothed, but each are moments that my brothers and I have seen and learned from."

"Another time," Paul impatiently said.

"Whenever you want," Stevie assured.

Ryan softly wondered, "What do you like about me?"

Reyes sighed, "Where Paul is the intense roller-coaster ride of emotions and extremes, you're the smooth road, with little turns here and there, only to signify some kind of event that changed some part of the way you think. The road might gradually climb to some emotional outburst, and then it'll gradually decline again, back to the smooth road. Earlier tonight, you never let Paul really upset you. I saw you get more upset on the bus ride from Myrtle Beach."

"I'm really very annoyed with him," Ryan softly admitted.


"Yeah," Ryan sighed. "We made a weak promise this morning, with lots of openings for any of us to change our mind. When I look at the smaller picture, it's only me and Paul. This afternoon, for the first time ever, that picture expanded so you could fit. The bigger picture includes everyone this situation has touched in some manner or another. Your security gorilla saw Paul flip out, and so did Doc Andrews. It's affected the entire Owens' family, and your entire family. Tomorrow, Danny and Marc will know, and so will Prez and the rest of the Core Rimmers. I don't like having everyone witness this, really I don't, but there are only two choices; to live in the world or separate from it. We've been separate so long. On the streets, it was really hard for me to be that cold and uncaring, but most of those people made it easier just by being jerks. No one here or at Sullivan's Island deserves that kind of coldness. All people do is show they really care, so how can I be uncaring? How can be Paul be uncaring? For two weeks, we've had good food, warm beds, a mother and a father and two little brothers. The change in our lives happened then. To make an already good situation better, you showed up. My choice is to accept the good change and be part of the world, part of Family Clan Short, part of the Owens family, and part of a relationship that includes only three."

"You couldn't return to only two?"

"Not over this; I can't hurt you over it. This problem is Paul's. Being part of the small, medium and large pictures requires risks. To accept Paul this time would be like reducing all the pictures back down to only the smallest again; just me and him. If I accept that, then I have to accept him getting annoyed over something else. For instance; what if this had happened on the beach there? Then Paul could easily decide Sullivan's Island isn't the place to be. Then we're back on the street again. I can't do any of that."

"Now I understand," Reyes muttered.

Ryan smiled, "Kewl; enough of the compresses for tonight. Let's call it day's end or you'll be carrying me to bed."

Picking up the TV remote, Reyes giggled, "The bathroom's on the way," and then turned off the television.

Slowly sitting up, Ryan sniggered, "Since that was your first thought, I guess it's a priority."

"It's been a few hours," Reyes grinned. He stood and went to the kitchen to turn the light on over the stove before turning the lights off in the living room. 

Ryan took Reyes hand and leaned closer for a quick tender kiss. He led the way to the short hallway. To the right side there were only linen closet doors, the bathroom door and a utility closet door. To the left were three lower half-sized doors and three upper half-sized doors that caused Ryan to wonder, "What are these for?"

"I asked Alden that earlier," Reyes smiled. "They're storage closets."

"This is a really nice apartment," Ryan smiled.

"One bedroom, one bath, about eight-hundred-seventy square feet," Reyes rambled.

Taking a position to the far side of the toilet, Ryan giggled, "Paul's gonna love this place."

Stopping right beside Ryan and ripping open the Velcro fly of his boardies, Reyes smirked, "I thought this place would be enough to start. Considering I'm a Toy Rimmer and an Analyst Rimmer, we'll likely need a two bedroom, with one bedroom used as an office for computers, and maybe some percussion instruments. The two bedroom flats have nicer bedroom views, and each have sliding glass doors out to the balcony. The alternative is a three bedroom townhouse with a basement, like my dad's and pop's place."

Purposefully looking at Reyes' dick, Ryan giggled, "That would be really big."

Reyes laughed, "You are being very bad!"

Ryan giggled, "I can understand your point of view, but I can't help feeling the two of us alone would be awesome."

"But our new plan is?"

Ryan giggled, "Take out our frustrations on Paul."

"HA!" Paul sarcastically laughed. "In your dreams!"

Reyes and Ryan finished at the toilet, washed their hands, brushed their teeth and went into the bedroom. They only paused to decide who wanted which side of the bed. Reyes chose the door side and Ryan chose the side nearest the window. In less than a minute, they were under the covers, kissing good night, and getting comfortable.

Watching them still, Paul undressed and ordered Stevie to record them through the night.

"Those are Ryan's orders," Stevie reminded. "You'll have the option to watch them as long as you feel you need to, or Ryan specifically tells me to stop."

"I'm too tired to argue," Paul muttered, and slid under the covers of his bed, alone. 

Ewa Beach, Dormitory #3

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 6:45AM HTZ

Rolling over and briefly waking from the sounds of birds drifting in through the open window, Lance realized that he had managed to roll away from Scott. He rolled back and snuggled up close. After their final rounds of love making, neither had bothered to take another shower. Still, Scott smelled so good, Lance couldn't help whispering, "I really love you."

Closing his eyes, Lance had some introspective thoughts. The top of the list was wondering where he would be now had he not met Scott. How would he have reacted meeting up with McPhearson brothers if he were alone? Going back to sleep, he considered the entire previous day, all he had done for Scott, and all Scott had done for him. It was far beyond sexual in nature; seemingly the perfect resolution of two individuals into one couple. Yeah, Scott had the guts to say what needed to be said, which gave them the chance to discover that gay sex was not only acceptable, it was beautiful and fun. Yet, they were still the same two people. Scott had begun teaching him music theory and they even did that nude, with limp dicks hanging as if neither of them could get an erection.

Chris and Jay entered the dream replay of the day; making themselves a prime example of two teenage guys in love. They had done that twice in the shower. Gathered together in their dorm room with Erik and Travis, the six of them had goofed around, having one of the kewlest conversations ever, and it was all done in their underwear. A majority of that discussion revolved around Chris' and Jay's earlier facts-of-life chat, and not one of the six gay guys in the room got excited.

As if none of them were gay, they stripped off their underwear, slid into the Mr. Fuzzy G-strings and checked one another out. They played with the water blasters outside in the quad, with a larger group of gay and straight guys, and it was just like all of them were exactly the same, being goofy and provocative, and playing like they were all very young boys that had no idea what they were doing.

Until almost one in the morning, they played outside. When the super-soaker battle was over, he had walked naked back inside, carrying his Mr. Fuzzy G-string, with Scott, Chris, Jay, Erik and Travis. They stopped at Chris' and Jay's room to get the underwear they had left on the floor. All six of them said goodnight with tight hugs and friendly kisses on the cheek, again proving that they had bonded during the day's activities.

Those goodnight hugs and kisses replayed in slow motion through Lance's dream. All six of them acted like they weren't naked and weren't gay. The hugs were full body, best friend kinds of hugs. They were simply good friends showing some appreciation for sharing a completely awesome day. Erik had hugged and kissed him first. Erik was about as tall as Scott, but was thinner. Next, Jay hugged and kissed Lance. Then it was Travis he was holding onto, and lastly Chris stepped up to Lance. Jay and Travis were definitely the tallest and hunkiest two teenagers in the group. After all those hugs and kisses, not one of them had gotten the least bit excited from the contact. It was so special that Scott mentioned it to Lance the moment their dorm room door was closed.

Embracing again, both of them admitted that they were thrilled with the entire day, and slightly confused that none of them got so much as a chubby from all that warm bodily contact. Proving they hadn't worn out their dicks from the abundance of sex they had, their bodies quickly responded to their embrace. It established, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that becoming a gay couple hadn't fundamentally changed either of them. It also verified that their sexual interests were limited to one another. Scott was his cuddly lover. Scott's dick was his to play with, to suck on, to have deep within him. Scott was the center of Lance's new life and would remain that way as long as there were breaths to be taken.

Feeling an orgasm rising and startled from an apparent wet dream, Lance woke trying to hold back what couldn't be held back, only to discover Scott draped over his hips and bobbing away. He sleepily moaned, "You are fuckin' awesome!" and gently caressed his lover's scalp.

Helplessly sniggering around the bone in his mouth, Scott never slowed down. From the throbbing he felt on his tongue, Scott prepared for the inevitable splash of bitter-sweet semen. Now that Lance was awake, Scott felt his boyfriend's firm thigh muscles. Scott ran his hand up to cup Lance's balls and press his fingers against the ultra-sensitive area behind them. That was all Lance could take. Scott took all Lance had to give and contentedly purred until he felt no more throbbing and Lance started giggling.

Widely smiling, Scott snuggled up to Lance, chuckling, "Guess that makes this a really good day for both of us."

Nodding, Lance giggled, "I was having a pretty normal dream, reviewing yesterday and last night. None of it was particularly erotic, but I suddenly knew I was gonna cum and woke up."

Scott cheekily grinned, "I figured it was a good way for both of us to start our second day as a couple, SLB."

Lance blinked and uncertainly repeated, "SLB?"

"Sexy lover boy," Scott chuckled. "It's unique, it's you, and it's completely innocent, so I can call you that whenever I damn well please. It may occasionally change to MSLB, my sexy lover boy, only when I'm in a randy mood and want you naked as soon as possible."

"Now I'm gonna get you back," Lance giggled.

"Save it for tomorrow morning," Scott grinned.

Lance whined, "Seriously?"

Nodding, Scott assured, "I want to have an innocent dream wake me up. Of course, with you as my boyfriend, I don't know when that might happen. I dreamed of us making love all night. You might think you need to return the favor, but believe me, you were as incredible in the dreams as you were all day yesterday."

"It doesn't feel right leaving you to wait until tomorrow though," Lance honestly shared. "I really wanna do you now too."

Scott gave Lance a deep, passionate kiss then softly assured, "We'll make love a couple of times today, so it's not like I'll be waiting too terribly long. My purpose was to give you a thrill, not to get anything in return, okay? I really want us to wake each other up this way, as often as possible." He paused to check the clock, and then grinned, "It's twenty-to-eight. Let's grab a shower and go have breakfast." Squinting and scowling, Lance thoughtfully hummed. Scott chuckled, "Does that mean I'm in big trouble?"

Lance giggled, "Damn right. The question I have to answer is how I'm gonna show you that was the greatest way to wake up."

"Show me tomorrow morning," Scott sniggered, and rolled to sit up. He habitually stretched his arms and legs.

Propping himself up on both arms, Lance giggled, "Do that again. I saw every one of your back muscles flex, super-stud."

Leaning back so his face was within Lance's reach, Scott prompted, "Would another kiss do the trick?" Happily doing so, Lance waited for Scott's tongue to enter his mouth, then gently sucked. Moments later, Scott broke the kiss, smiling, "Awesome."

Lance sighed, "You have the tastiest tongue in the whole world."

"Next to yours," Scott teased. He got out of bed and offered Lance his hand.

Instead of taking it, Lance kissed it and scooted over. He bounded out of bed and took Scott in his arms, grinning, "A reminder of where I belong."

Shivering with excitement, Scott smiled, "You've already made my day twice." He glanced around the room, then said, "After we shower, we need to straighten up this room. Specifically, dildos, lube and rubbers can't be left out for the housekeepers to find."

Nodding agreement, Lance suggested, "Maybe we can get Joey and KC interested in another jam today."

Stepping back and taking Lance's hand in his, Scott reminded, "KC and Fred Eckhart are hooking up. If KC's not available, Joey probably will be. When we're not jammin', we can get back to the music theory again. Maybe take our acoustics and our laptops outside with us and be sociable?"

"Sounds like a plan," Lance offered. They separated to grab their toiletry kits and left the room. They found the lavatory bustling with activity.

The Stoeher twins were excitedly telling the eight youngest boys about the late night water blaster war, when Lance and Scott walked up to two sinks. In moments, younger guys were congratulating Lance and Scott for becoming a couple.

Similarly, in the lavatory down the other hall, Craig, Owen and Phil were being congratulated and more water blaster war stories traveled around. As new boyfriends, Owen and Phil were most interested in what they were seeing of each other in the brightly lit shower. Owen had really nice pubes that were only slightly more red than his strawberry blond mop. Phil had an awesome, firm and perfectly formed torso that was starting to show signs puberty was in progress. Dreamily, Owen hoped he grew to be as tall as Phil and they would remain the same height through their lives.

Over in dormitory two's lavatories, more tales traveled around amongst the boys. The ex-Latin King kids who had gone to bed and missed the fun wished they had stayed awake late. Returning to their room, Jake Westcott and Terrance Fisk, two of the ex-level one orphans, needed to have a conversation. Jake carefully asked, "What do you think, Terry?"

Pausing to shrug before pulling up his underwear, Terry grinned, "I think our secret has been kept long enough. I don't know if I can be like the Core Rimmers, or any of the other gay couples though. Can I kiss you whenever and wherever I like, Jake?"

Already in his underwear and pausing with a polo shirt in hand to consider it, Jake scowled, "All we can do is try. If we do and don't feel kewl about it, then we'll still be who we are, just our way. Would you mind talking with Drew and Corey about it?" He put his shirt on.

Pulling up his board shorts, Terry smiled, "Yeah, they rescued us. They would be kewl."

Jake wondered, "Are you worried?" and adjusted his shirt.

Terry shrugged and softly replied, "Only a little. It's probably a left-over from the orphanage, where we had to hide how we felt. I'm still really sorry for everything I said and did that hurt you."

Going to his boyfriend, Jake smiled, "Did it ever really stop us though?"

Shaking his head, Terry giggled, "Never. It only slowed us down. Two wanks a week has become twice a day."

Jake landed a tender kiss then softly assured, "I want you. As scared as we are to take those next steps, I can't deny that you're who I want to be with. We'll talk with Drew and Corey at breakfast."

Terry smirked, "The only real problem is that they'll be going to school and we won't. How can we say everything in under an hour?"

Jake shrugged, "All I know is, I can't keep hiding it. A dozen times a day, I want to kiss you and don't. Two dozen times a day, I want to hug you and don't. How the hell do they do that stuff so damn easy, is all I want to know."

Patting his boyfriend's buns, Terry grinned, "Put some shorts on and let's go find out." While Jake went to slip into boardies, Terry groaned, "What if they're eating with their kids? They usually do."

"I'll handle it then," Jake promised.


"A quick, discreet whisper. This is our day, Terry. Whatever it takes, I'll do, okay?"

"This is for us," Terry groused. "I can't let you do everything for me."

"Then you come with me. While I'm telling Drew, you tell Corey."

Slipping into his sandals, Terry asked, "Tell him what?"

"The facts; we're in love and have been for almost a year, but we're just not sure how to be public about that, and we have a few sexual concerns to figure out."

"Omigod. This is going to be embarrassing."

Nodding, Jake smiled, "I know, but middle of the night water blaster wars were more fun than we've ever had. All those dudes got naked and we were right there with them. By some miracle, we didn't pop major bones and out ourselves in front of thirty other guys."

Terry rapidly nodded and giggled, "Very un-kewl."

Taking his boyfriend by the shoulders, Jake guided Terry to the door, chuckling, "You have until the words are said to change your mind."

"I won't change my mind," Terry firmly assured. They went out to the hall. Jake closed and locked the door, then they walked down the hall side-by-side. For the first time, Terry tried to take Jake's hand in his. Nervously fumbling, they managed to find a way to do it just before arriving at the first set of doors. It suddenly became apparent that functioning one-handed took a bit of coordination and practice. They began giggling, released their hands and walked outside, then once again tried to hold hands.

"At least it's a longer walk to the CIC," Jake helplessly laughed.

Terry whined through his giggles, "It's so pitiful! Who knew the simplest thing required thought?"

Jake sniggered, "This should be the easiest thing ever."

"We could've figured it out," Terry grinned.

Turning slightly, Jake warmly smiled, "It feels good, Terry."

Nodding, Terry giggled, "I feel like I'm showing off, like everybody's watching, and nobody is."

Jake grumbled, "It was Beulah-bitch, at the orphanage, fuckin' with our minds. We're going way past that now."

"I'd love to know what happened to her," Terry evilly grinned.

"In prison, off this planet, for the rest of her life," Jake reminded. "That's all I care to know. I hope it's painful and she loses a lot of weight. Everything we got, which is next to nothing, is all she deserves."

Nearing the CIC, Jake noticed Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Drew, Corey and all their sons rounding the corner. He told Terry and altered their direction to meet with them.

Keith and Prez lifted and displayed their clasped hands. Keith widely smiled, "This is a pleasant surprise, dudes." They kept walking to the CIC.

"It's one I completely expected," Corey giggled.

Almost simultaneously, Jake and Terry wondered, "How?"

Drew grinned, "Last Thursday afternoon, in the PA booth. I really figured it was mostly where you had been that kept you so close, best friends in close quarters. My bad!" Corey, Leo, Lenny and Geoff giggled, causing Terry and Jake to blush.

Patting Drew on the shoulder, Mike teased, "You're on, bro."

Corey told their sons, "Go ahead and get breakfast."

Leo worried, "Pop, if Kenny and Jase aren't here..."

"Go to Oneula and meet them there," Corey finished. Geoff, Lenny and Leo walked into the CIC dining room together.

Noticing Jake and Terry seemed to be speechless, Drew stopped before them, gently smiling, "Please relax, dudes. We didn't mean to embarrass you, we just love seeing couples forming, gay, lesbian and straight."

"You dudes being happy makes us happy," Corey added.

The all too familiar cry from the Nash brothers of "DREW!" was heard across the quad.

Drew loudly laughed "WHAT?" and turned around, half expecting another chase to the diving well. Instead, he saw Phil holding hands with Owen Reed, and Craig cheekily grinning along side them. Seeing the other new couple and Drew's hanging jaw, Corey immediately went into a giggling fit. Craig, Phil and Owen started jogging across the quad. Turning to Jake and Terry, Drew chuckled, "All I did was go home and go to sleep. Twice in one morning, I'm surprised with two completely new couples."

Corey confirmed, "You two just hooked up since being here?"

Jake shook his head, meekly replying, "Almost a year, Corey."

In seconds, Corey realized it took these two ex-level one boys four full days at Ewa Beach to get comfortable enough to hold hands. Turning to Drew and rolling his eyes, Corey grumbled, "Instead of stunning that bitch, I should o' disintegrated her."

Terry giggled, "You stunned her?"

Drew grinned, "For being a foul-mouthed wench. The virtual Bible she carried, that she thought gave her authority, was missing quite a few important passages. So, you dudes need to relearn a few things."

Upon arrival, Craig gestured to his brother and Owen, playfully asking, "Can you dudes explain stuff that would make me blush, stammer and sweat?"

Nodding, Drew chuckled, "It's covered, big bro. Go find Felicity."

Craig smiled, "Thanks, bro. Following my instructions, Phil and Owen won't get beyond first base, where they already are." He hurried to the dining room, leaving Phil and Owen behind.

Corey made sure Terry, Jake, Phil and Owen knew one another. Of course, Owen was the newest of them, but all four had spent the prior morning and afternoon exploring the two bases, and all four were part of the water blaster fight. Corey then giggled, "It just so happens we're prepared for you dudes. Last night, Troy, Sean, AJ and Kaleo had a chat with their sons. Their boys are between eight- and eleven-years-old. Since you're all in the same age bracket and at the same place, getting serious about relationships, all of you need to watch the video."

"As embarrassing as it might seem, it would be great if you watched it together," Drew offered. "That's up to you, but I'd highly recommend it. You can talk about what you're learning."

"We promise you, it'll be more fun watching together," Corey giggled. "Start getting used to it, what you'll be learning, every couple knows about."

"Only so you know, Jay Montigua and Chris Stokley are also stars of the flick," Drew sniggered. "Needless to say, bring your Mr. Fuzzy puppets."

Glancing around to Owen, Jake and Terry to determine if it was kewl all around, Phil joked, "Sounds like more fun than a barrel of Mr. Fuzzy G-strings." Owen, Jake and Terry cracked up. Unaware of the water blaster battle, Drew blinked and scowled. Phil giggled, "Tell us where to be, dudes."

Corey shrugged, "A dorm room or a common room, whichever you want. Just call Alden and he'll show you the flick."

Jake asked, "Can we talk to you afterward, maybe during lunch?"

Corey and Drew nodded. Drew assured, "I fully expect you to."

Corey smiled, "The video is only a base to build on. Definitely talk to each other, then talk to us, or to any of the Core Rimmers that you feel most comfy with."

Terry wondered, "The next time you dudes are back in the PA booth, would it be all right if we helped again?"

Jake nodded, "That gear is very kewl."

Owen asked, "What gear?"

"The band's sound system," Drew replied. Leading the way to the CIC, he then told Jake and Terry, "Prez is planning on a band rehearsal this afternoon, after school. He'll call for anyone that wants to attend, he always does. Meet us up there. The room is marked, and we'll be in there with all the lights on, so you can't miss it."

Inside the dining room, kids and adults were laughing. Pausing a few steps beyond the doorway, Drew, Corey, Jake, Terry, Phil and Owen looked up and saw the Cozy Cuzzy Fuzzy Water Blaster Battle Number One video, already in progress, on all four monitors. Hysterical, Troy and Sean staggered through a dimensional door into the Ewa Beach dining room. All four battle participants that were with Corey and Drew turned crimson red. Not so mysteriously, they left their giggling leaders for the kitchen chow line. Troy and Sean went to the table where Jay, Chris, Lance, Scott, Erik and Travis were sitting. The whistling and the catcalls started when the first article of clothing was pulled off. Every thirty-seconds or so, priceless facial expressions of evil disrobers and their surprised disrobees filled the screen.

Troy loudly laughed, "It's on the TV's at Oneula too. There's nowhere any of you can go."

Sean cackled, "Somebody will recognize your fuzzies!"

The rest of the Core Rimmers howled laughing. Corey began loudly hiccuping. Seated at a table with Felicity and a few other teen girls, Craig was attempting to softly explain how the battle started, at least from the point of his involvement. At another table, KC, Fred and Chauncey were with Tony Lanning and Ray Varga, unable to eat or drink through their combined laughter. Not too far away, the Stoeher twins and the Hiram twins were also becoming more popular with kids in their age group.

Troy and Sean hurried across the dining room to the table where Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick were sitting. All six of them laughed, "Jay's done it again!"

Troy sniggered, "Those G-strings are the Cuzzy Fuzzy Cozies."

Keith checked, "I understand Jay and Chris were with you dudes last night, teaching your sons and their boyfriends?"

Sean nodded and giggled, "They were both awesome, especially at the end."

"I know Alden made a video of it," Troy grinned. "He also recommended we use it for similar required discussions. I have to agree, it'll be a kewl start for any of the boys, especially gay boys."

From the next table over, Drew chuckled, "It'll be shown this morning, to Phil Nash, Owen Reed, Terry Fisk and Jake Westcott."

Troy suggested, "Maybe we should ask some of the female dorm leaders if they would be willing to make a similar video?"

Chewing his breakfast, Prez enthusiastically nodded. 

Locking eyes with the division's director, Sean softly sniggered, "You have to tell Chris and Jay, Prez. They're already doing an awesome job."

Troy nodded, "Let them be recognized for what they've already done."

To all the Core Rimmers, John sent, 'I've already got rooms set up for them. The Safe Haven Act and Clan Short Charter can be dumped any time.'

Keith, Derrick and Mike agreed, the entire Clan needed to know, and the announcement didn't need to wait. Still chewing breakfast, Prez nodded and mouthed instructions for Alden to put sub-vocals on Jay's and Chris' trays. Also knowing about the prior day's lunch time chat with Lance and Scott, Prez wiped his mouth and stood on his chair. He noticed Chris and Jay were peeking in the little boxes that had appeared before them. Troy and Sean started back for the table where their six friends were sitting.

Over the PA at both bases, Prez announced, "I'd like to say that all the fun we've been having since yesterday, when the first Mr. Fuzzy puppets appeared, is all because of two people. In the last day, I learned of four separate instances where two dudes have gone far beyond the duty of any big brother, including the video we've all been watching. The decision was easily made yesterday afternoon, soon after we returned to school. I had intended to wait until Jay's cast was removed before telling them, and everyone, to please welcome our two newest Morale Rimmers, Ensign Jason Montigua and Ensign Christopher Stokley."

Both dining rooms erupted in applause and cheers. All the Core Rimmers, their parents, and the King, Queen and Prince stood to give them an ovation. Younger kids slipped on their Mr. Fuzzy puppets and held them up high.

Watching Chris' and Jay's jaws drop, Scott, Lance, Erik and Travis cracked up laughing. Troy and Sean helped Chris and Jay get their sub-vocals fitted, then instructed them on their use.

Prez sniggered, "Erik, Trav, Lance and Scott, I have no idea why you're laughing. There were six Mr. Fuzzy fuzzies on the screen. Suffice to say, if you think you're not being watched, you can fahgedaboudit!"

The dozen or so rescued New Yorkers and their friends all hollered, "FAHGEDABOUDIT!" The shocked expressions on Erik, Travis, Lance and Scott's faces were priceless, and caused tables of teenagers to lose it and howl.

"I rest my case," Prez chuckled, and stepped down off the chair to finish his breakfast.

Reyes and Ryan ran into the dining room, paused to catch their breaths and glanced around. Mike grinned, "Where's the fire, Reyes? My dad's already made the homophobic moose report to the police."

Already looking up at television monitors, where dozens of scantily clad or naked tweens and teens romped around, Ryan giggled, "We overslept, through a lot, obviously."

Nodding and leading the way to where his dad and pop were sitting, Reyes grinned, "I wanted to at least be here a little while before you guys went to school."

Gesturing to the table where KC was with Fred, Ryan explained, "KC, Jerry and Joey are staying here a few days, at the same condo we're at and one floor up. The argument I had with Paul got loud and pretty nasty. Since KC and Fred are starting a relationship, I guess KC figured this would be the best place to be." He loudly asked, "KC, where are Joey and Jerry?"

KC replied, "Still asleep, the last I heard from Stevie and Alden. Joey jammed until about five in the morning, then they returned to the apartment. I'd expect them to wake in an hour or so."

Reyes asked, "Are you still taking Fred surfing?"

"Right after breakfast," KC answered.

"Take my security," Reyes instructed.

"There's no need," KC smiled. "I already called John and Rich Murphy." He paused to snigger, "We already know about homophobic moose beach attacks."

Prez called over, "Please consider two more security guys, KC? You can take my two guys, since I'll be safe at school. I figure there's a reason you dudes call Danny 'grandpa,' and I really don't want to learn why."

Nodding, KC chuckled, "Kewl, Prez."

Tapping his comm-badge, Prez asked Chris and Matt to join KC's surfing party. Matt groaned, "I was looking forward to the first music classes today, Prez."

Prez shared, "It's music appreciation today, Matt. The only other thing we'll be doing is learning who might want to take up an instrument. You're set on guitar, and Chris on trumpet, right?"

"Yup," Chris and Matt replied.

"Be back by three-thirty," Prez instructed. "We'll be rehearsing after school."

Matt sarcastically sniggered, "Give us something challenging, Prez."

Reyes checked, "Is there anything I need to do today, dad?"

Derrick smiled, "Keep Ryan and our AI Division guests entertained."

"And learn 'Comfortably Numb'," Mike added.

Ryan mooed and then giggled, "I like that combination; entertainment and then comfortably numb."

Blushing, Reyes giggled, "Let's get some breakfast, Ry."

"Sausages?" Ryan provocatively giggled, "On buttermilk biscuits?"

"We'll share," Reyes evilly snickered.

Walking out of the Command Center, Rad Conklin crossed the dining room. Derrick noticed Rad approaching, widely grinned and nudged Mike and Prez. Soon, all four were widely smiling. Rad chuckled, "Some time soon, I really have to get the entire command team together for a meeting. I'll provide watermelons, cocoanuts and a couple dozen cucumbers." All four boys cracked up. Rad sniggered, "The only way to prove it was all a drunken dare is to let you dudes learn for yourselves. Just don't bitch at me when you're picking watermelon seeds out of your pubes for two days."

Quickly contemplating the sticky ramifications, the four Core Rimmers groaned through giggles. Focusing on Prez, Rad reminded, "Fruits and veggies gardens might be a nice way to relax, but I still need a job, Prez."

Nodding, Prez admitted, "I have been thinking about that. Given your prior service, I assume you have some knowledge of handguns and phasers?"

Rad nodded, "I do."

Prez suggested, "We need Clan certified arms trainers. I'd love to have someone onsite for our own people to get the training they need. Clan level two is where we're at to carry hand phasers. Level five is where I'd like you to be, as soon as possible. Derrick, Mike and Kaleo expressed the desire to go to level three, at least. That'll allow us to get what we need, a familiar, friendly face to teach us, and what the Clan needs in general."

"Sounds good to me," Rad smiled. "It'll leave time for university classes too. Thanks, Prez."

"Any time," Prez evilly grinned.

Keith, Derrick and Mike cracked up. Keith giggled, gestured to Prez, and explained, "That expression means get the watermelons lined up, and take a trip to Maui for some herb."

"No booze?" Rad chuckled.

"For you and Gil, if ya want," Prez smiled.

Keith reminded, "Personal use quantities are legal in the ROH."

"Booze means hangovers," Mike grimaced.

Derrick nodded, "Hangovers mean dead brain cells, and most likely barfing. Weed is better for all those reasons."

Rad smiled, "I would never have guessed you dudes had even tried it."

Prez shrugged, "Only a few times last summer. We can't play worth a shit stoned, and coughing makes for really poor vocals."

Derrick nodded, "Listening to music is awesome, playing it in a stupid state makes stupid music."

"Do your parents know?" Rad wondered.

Keith nodded, "They got us four joints the start of summer, at a luau. It took all summer to finish all four joints."

Prez explained, "I think their attitude with stuff like that is, it's better to say it's okay and have us supervised, rather than take chances."

Mike smirked, "All our parents and siblings told us that our band really didn't sound as good as we thought."

Patiently, Rad nodded, "Impaired and performance are two words that don't work together."

Oneula Beach

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 8:03AM HTZ

Having not seen AJ, Jerry, Kenny or any of his brothers at Ewa Beach, Leo went to find Kenny. Crossing the Oneula Beach dining room, Leo hadn't seen any of the Core Rimmers or any of their kids. Many giggling new kids who were watching the water blaster video greeted Leo. He struggled to remember names, and managed to successfully say good morning to Lester Freeman, Leroy Wheeler, Dallas Clark and Frank Perry. Being the new eldest son of two Core Rimmers, Leo sighed and thought, 'I'd better get used to it, and start remembering names, fast!' Also greeting Leo were Jason and Trinity Taylor and most of their sons. Only Ralphie and Robbie were missing from the table where the Taylors were sitting. Going to their table, Leo greeted everyone, and then focused on the adults, Trinity and Jason, asking, "Are AJ, Jerry and the Hunnicutts here yet?"

Jason nodded, "They're in the kitchen, Leo."

"All the Core Rimmers and their families just got here," Ronnie pleasantly added.

Richie giggled, "Yeah, you had it right, Leo. That's Ronnie and I'm Richie. Ralphie spent the night with Pat, and Robbie's in the kitchen with Billy. Jase is in there too, with JD."

"Thanks," Leo giggled and blushed, and then headed toward the kitchen chow line.

Leo didn't notice that Carrol's eyes followed him almost the entire way. Richie realized what was going on, and then silently shared it with Ronnie. Richie and Ronnie began nudging and teasing Carrol. Trevor hurried over to sit on Carrol's lap and be his big bro's mini-protector. "He's nine and that cute," Carrol softly giggled. "What a heartbreaker!" Richie assured Trevor everything was very kewl and then tickled his little brother.

Kaleo noticed Leo picking up a tray. He smiled, "How's it goin', Leo?"

Rapidly blinking for a few seconds, Leo uncertainly giggled, "I'm not really sure. It was a weird night, which caused even weirder dreams. None ever woke me, so that's a good thing."

While Kaleo helped Marv and Russ, Tory chuckled, "You seem all right, like you got a good night's sleep."

Leo nodded, "Our entire family slept in the big bed."

"That sounds like our house," Stan grinned.

Glancing down the line, Robbie quickly scanned Leo. He silently shared with Billy, got a reply, and then offered, "Sit with us, Leo; me, Billy, Jase, JD, Kenny and Stan were planning on a table together."

"That'll be kewl, thanks," Leo warmly accepted. Beyond Billy and Robbie, Leo noticed Kenny with his brothers and new fathers.

A chef stepped before Leo, cheerfully saying, "Good morning. What can I get for you?"

Leo read the man's name tag, and then politely said, "Good morning, Alan. I'd like a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and a small chocolate shake, please."

"Comin' right up," Alan smiled, and then set about completing the order. Leo went over to the chilled salad bar, where he picked up a bowl of mixed fruit and brought it back to his tray. Since joining the Clan, fruit was a new item in Leo's breakfast choices, but the mix of kiwi fruit, pineapple and assorted melons was just too good to pass up. Morning milkshakes were also new and Leo quickly learned that medium or large milkshakes were too much to finish. Alan returned with Leo's sandwich and shake. Leo thanked Alan and then followed Stan, Robbie and Billy to a table.

As soon as Leo put his tray down, Stan grinned, "We had a really weird night too."

Kenny giggled, "A facts-of-life sex talk, featuring my dad wearing a Mr. Fuzzy suit!"

From the next table, where he was seated with Jerry, Kaleo, Tory, Troy and Sean, AJ teased, "You liked it or you wouldn't have laughed."

Nodding, Kenny chuckled, "Thank goodness you had clothes on under that thing, dad."

Pointing up at the nearest TV, Robbie sniggered, "Chris and Jay were there too. That was hours later."

"That would've been normal, compared to my night," Leo giggled. He then picked up his biscuit sandwich and took a bite.

Billy softly wondered, "What happened, Leo?"

After swallowing, Leo shared, "First, I learned my Uncle Keith had the UNIT detachment commander take a team to LA, to find out what happened to me. All of us rescued from Battle of Earth are being investigated, to find out what happened to our parents. Then I learned that the men who killed my parents had been arrested, and are now in Clan custody." Pausing to have another bite of his sandwich, Leo then leaned over the table so he could softly say, "They're gonna be executed for murder."

Robbie carefully prodded, "Say the rest, bro."

Leo nodded and whispered, "My dad, pop, Uncle Keith and John are going to execute them." He scowled, "I'm so mixed up. The dudes deserve to die, but I don't want my new family to do that, but that's exactly what they feel they have to do. They say a Vulcan mind meld will make it all better, but..." Leo huffed, "I dunno."

Up on the television, Craig Nash had just lost his boxer shorts thanks to Chris Stokley, and the entire room around the seven seated boys erupted in laughter. Hysterical, Sean and Troy got up from their table and went to Ewa Beach. A moment later, Ellis Pierce loudly laughed, "That's my roomie, Owen. No wonder he never came home last night!"

Watching his new dad and pop stand and hurry through the dimensional doors, Jason sniggered, "Oh God! My dads just went to headquarters."

Billy softly chortled, "We really don't want to know why, bro."

Kenny checked, "Are you all right, Leo?"

Nodding, Leo smirked, "That was only the first part of the night. John came over with a little girl. She can see and hear ghosts. My real dad talked through John. There's no chance she or John could've faked any part of what was said. That's why I'm confused. I got to talk with my real dad, which was awesome, but at the same time, it's sort o' weird knowing they're here."

JD suspiciously grinned, "Where?"

Leo shrugged, "I dunno, but within about fifty feet of me, so somewhere here in this room."

After swallowing what he had been chewing, Robbie shared, "Leo's telling the truth. John became the unknowing link between a little clairvoyant girl and Leo's parents."

Leo smiled, "I heard my dad's voice for the first time in almost four days, through John. That was such a big surprise, I couldn't say a word for a couple o' minutes. Then it was exactly like talking with my dad."

"No wonder you came looking for us," Jason softly muttered.

Kenny nodded, "That's exactly what Doc Wiener told us to do."

Leo worried, "I really hope it don't make you feel sad, Kenny?"

Kenny thought for a moment, shrugged, and then grinned, "Leo, if that had happened to me, I wouldn't be here. I'd still be pissing myself." Everyone around the table cracked up. Since there was a fair amount of laughter already from the Cozy Cuzzy Fuzzy video, it wasn't out of place and no one seemed to notice.

Leo giggled, "Now that I think of it, I did pee about four times between nine o'clock and eleven-thirty last night. It's just that I was still in that weird place; knowing my folks are gone, but they're still here; it's good and it's bad. The Doc was right; just talking about it, I do feel much better." Glancing around the table, Leo grinned, "So, do I see three new couples here?"

Blushing crimson red, Stan gasped, "Me and Kenny? We're not a couple!"

Kenny giggled, "Only two couples, Leo. The way we're sitting just worked out this way." To prove the point, Kenny pushed his tray over to his left, and then took the empty chair beside Leo.

Billy grinned, "Do I need to get a fire extinguisher, Stan?"

Covering his face with both hands, Stan giggled, "No, just give me a chance to want a boyfriend before assuming I have one."

"I could arrange a harem for you to pick from containing all known sexes!" Kerry helpfully announced over Stan's comm-badge.

Stan softly giggled, "Only boys matter, Kerry."

Robbie grinned and turned to Leo, explaining, "Last night, during our fuzzy-facts-of-life chat, Stan said he wants to grow taller. We're all helping him get there, which is why Stan has almost as much food as the rest of us do."

With his face still covered, Stan giggled, "You know we're gonna be here for a while, right?"

Kaleo leaned back to tell Stan, "Remember to not push it. Puking doesn't help at all."

Dropping his hands, Stan nodded, "I know, dad. The docs said, more food and less exercise, for the time being. I might seem a little lazy, but I'll still be walkin' around."

The conversation and laughter paused for a minute or two when Prez announced Chris and Jay were becoming new Morale Rimmers. Jerry howled laughing, "That secret didn't last a full day! It might be a new record!" The dining room erupted in applause and laughter again.

Tory giggled, "I'm surprised it lasted that long, with John telepathically sharing stuff all the time." Levitating off his chair, Tory laughed, "Gimme a break, John! You know it's true!"

"Yeah," John sarcastically sniggered over comm-badges at the table. "And you didn't say that purposefully hoping to be floated, Tory."

Sullivan's Island, S.C.

Tuesday November 9, 2004 2:32 PM EST

After a restless six hours in bed, where he was repeatedly haunted by the Waikiki beach incident, Paul wearily sat up in bed. The sight of Ryan's empty bed caused him to longingly sigh. He could barely believe that Ryan was choosing Reyes over him. The television was still on. Ryan and Reyes were in the Ewa Beach dining room, seemingly going on like everything was normal. After first clearing his throat, Paul called, "Stevie?"

"Yes, Paul?"

Swinging his legs out of bed and standing, Paul wondered, "How long have they been awake?"

"Forty-seven minutes," Stevie replied.

"Did they do anything in bed besides sleep?"

"No. They kissed once, right after they brushed their teeth. They did shower together, completing that in a little more than seven minutes, because Reyes wanted to hurry to the CIC, before his family went to school."

"Unbelievable," Paul softly grumbled. He went to the dresser. Noticing the drawers were now half full, Paul paused and sadly shook his head. He grabbed some clothes and left his room, destined for the bathroom to start his day.

The entire time he was in the bathroom, Paul tried to understand how Reyes made it through the entire night without wanting something sexual from Ryan. His bro was damn good looking and earned them plenty of meals. They had been a great team on the streets. The fact that Reyes wasn't taking what had been repeatedly sold for survival was insulting. Ryan's tongue sucking kisses had given decrepit old men erections, but all Reyes did was say, wow. Going into a stupor, Paul bathed and rinsed and bathed and rinsed again, not even realizing he had doubled up until the warm shower water began to cool.

It was then that Paul recalled the prior day. It had been he that mentioned getting away from Clan perv AIs, which had given Reyes the off-base dinner date idea. He and Ryan had made Reyes fully aware how pleased they were with the idea. That sort of mistake was one they would've made their first months on the street. It was the kind of mistake that might've gotten them killed, but they fell right into it, like it was all safe because it would be with Reyes. It took Paul longer than usual to dry off. Shedding tears, he realized that if there was blame to be placed anywhere, it was strictly on his shoulders for giving Reyes too much credit. It had been and always would be his job to keep his brother safe, and Paul had completely forgotten that. Pulling up his boxer-briefs, Paul softly wept, "Love is the nastiest, most horrible four letter word out there."

Coming out of the bathroom with tears flooding his eyes, Paul saw Ryan sitting on his bed. He hurried to his bro, wondering what had happened that brought him home. The second he stepped in the room though, he saw it was Jon sitting on his remade bed. Disappointed and not hiding it, Paul walked past his new dad to turn the television volume up.

Jon carefully and gently asked, "How're you doing, Paul?"

Without turning around, Paul sighed, "Not good, Jon."

"I'm Jon again? Not dad, like yesterday, even J-dad like the week before? We're back on a first name basis again? I'm sorry you feel that way."

"I didn't sleep well."

"You also missed breakfast and lunch."

"I'm not hungry."

Jon sighed, "Can you tell me how long you intend to continue watching Ryan and Reyes?" Paul only shook his head. Jon wondered, "Will you at least tell me what happened?"

With nothing spell binding keeping his attention on the Ewa Beach dining room, Paul turned around asking, "You don't already know? You haven't asked Stevie?"

Jon shrugged, "Stevie's perspective is not what I'm interested in. You were the happiest I've ever seen yesterday. This morning you and Ryan argued; hurtful words were said, and now you're here alone, watching your brother and your boyfriend. Do you think you're not welcome there?"

"I'm prob'ly not," Paul muttered.

After waiting a few moments for more to be said, Jon called, "Stevie, please tell me what happened last night – the short version and without commentary."

"Okay, daddy," Stevie began, and outlined the entire series of events from the prior day, since Paul, Reyes and Ryan returned to Ewa Beach, right up to Paul's departure from the examination room. Stevie finished with "The rest you heard at four-thirty-five this morning, daddy."

Jon huffed, then groaned, and then muttered, "Interesting."

Slightly tilting his head, Paul wondered, "What's interesting?"

Standing up, Jon smirked, "The AI without a body called me 'daddy' twice, at the start and end of his dissertation. The teenaged boy who I call my son can't do it any longer. I've had some big arguments with my wife, but we didn't need half a day apart to calm down, figure it out and resolve the issue. All this is because of placing blame? Don't you know that there is no blame game in relationships, Paul? Blame is shared in every relationship, especially the most important ones. In events considered a good time, do you praise one person for making a group happy? No, it was a good time because everyone involved feels it, knows it, and participated in it. Happy days are made in families because of participation; everyone did their part this day and the family is happy."

Pointing at the TV screen, Jon said, "I waited here at least ten minutes for you. I watched two-thirds of a threesome getting by, making the best of it, while the final third sits here playing blame games. I don't see Ryan or Reyes jumping for joy. They're coexisting with family and friends the best they can, when they know you should be there too. If I were in either of their shoes, I'd be sad every time you were mentioned, knowing that you were choosing to be apart from them. If you're thinking it's the opposite, that they're choosing to be apart from you, then you are wrong. They know you and are trying to patiently wait for you."

Jon went to the door, turned and said, "Learn two words helpful in these situations – I'm sorry. I've said it. Mary has said it. Jerry has said it. Joey, KC, Willy, Marc and Danny have all said it for one reason or another. Go to Ryan and Reyes, say those two words, and watch how fast they bend over backwards to make everything better for you and for the relationship." Closing the door without waiting for Paul's rebuttal, Jon went down the hall and back downstairs.

Completely confused and discouraged, Paul whispered, "What should I do?"

Stevie wondered, "Are you asking me?"

Going to his bed, Paul shrugged, "Sure," and fluffed a pillow to use as a backrest.

Watching Paul settle on his bed to watch Ryan and Reyes on the monitor, Stevie said, "The word 'should' implies placing blame. I'll tell you what I would do, if I had a body and I was in your shoes."

"Go for it," Paul prompted.

"Exactly!" Stevie and all his brothers giggled.

Stevie playfully shared, "With a body to match my lust, I'd be chasing after any one of the three of you."

"For Reyes and Ryan together, I'd do anything and everything they wanted," Kerry giggled.

Alden sang, "It's sad, so sad, Why can't we talk it over? Oh it seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word." He then admitted, "I would say I'm sorry in a heartbeat."

Jack sighed, "You're acting like we are, Paul. We're stuck watching, but wanting to participate. If I had legs, I'd be participating in everything with everyone as often as I possibly could." He giggled, "For Ryan and Reyes, I'd easily swallow my pride, and anything else they put near my mouth."

"You know, if you had butts to spank, I'd spank them," Draco put in quickly before giggling. 

"I'm the innocent one!" Kerry inserted. "But even I couldn't just sit around and watch the best chance in a lifetime run out the door." 

"Innocent? Pull the other one, sprout," Draco responded

"Compared to George!" Kerry replied in self-defense. 

"Hey, leave me outta this!" George announced. "I'm busy trying to keep Seth from visiting South Carolina!"

"Behave, the lot of you," Draco demanded.

"We are!" all six sons responded.

"Badly, yeah!" Draco retorted, with a smile in his voice. Then he became serious. "You might not know me yet, Paul. I'm Draco. Their 'father' in a way. But I want you to know that I agree with them. If I were you, I would go to those two, and not just watch them. Pride is the worst of things to hold onto when it hurts others, and especially yourself. Think about it, but don't think too long. You can only be sure of the time you have right now, and not of tomorrow."

At a pause in the banter, Paul at first regretted asking, but then seriously thought of what was said. It would be a hell of a lot easier to concentrate if Ryan and Reyes weren't spoon feeding each other breakfast. On the television, voices of a few boys laughed, "Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!"

Jonah walked into the scene, giggling, "The whole point of feeding each other is to miss and lick off the mess!" He nudged Reyes' arm, spilling whipped cream fruit salad all over Ryan. "There," Jonah giggled. "Lucky you, some landed on Ryan's shorts!" A chorus of loud laughter from many kids, including Reyes and Ryan, exploded from the TV speakers.

The TV seemed to flicker for a second, then everything on it paused. 

"Uh, Stevie? Did we lose the connection?" Paul asked, looking at the frozen screen. 



"He can't hear you, kiddo," said an eighteen year old lad that was sitting on Ryan's bed. 

Startled, Paul jumped slightly on his bed, excitedly shouting, "Who...? What?" 

"I'm Mikey. Don't worry, I'm a friend of Davey. In fact, his boss." 

"B...boss? You're an angel," Paul whispered. 

Mikey continued to smile as he made his golden wings appear. "Saint actually, and you're one of my charges," he said, and then he got up and went over to cuddle the shocked looking thirteen year old. 

"Uh..." Paul stammered. "Ummm, what did you do with the TV?" he asked, grasping for something... anything to say.

"Nothing," Mikey grinned. 


"A friend of mine stopped time, is all," the Saint continued, in an offhand way, as if stopping time was no big deal. 

"Ah. Okay, why?" 

"To give you more of it to think," Mikey said seriously. "I'd not be much of a Saint if I couldn't give one of my kids the chance he needed to think without losing out on any 'short-nibbling' time, now would I?"

Paul growled, "You think I'm wrong too?"

"Nope," Mikey responded easily. "Could I side track you - you're not related to Pablito, are you? Never mind. Seriously, no. I don't believe you're wrong any more than Reyes or Ryan. When people argue, no-one is right. All are wrong. About your situation? Mmm... I have a brother. He was beaten in his old life before I rescued him. He was tortured. He was given a home with the Clan... and then, after all that, he tried to be the hero and got raped. Was he wrong? Or were my other brothers wrong in showing him the best he could be, even when he then failed and got hurt? Or... or were those that raped him wrong? Should my brother be responsible for anyone's actions other than his own?"

"My actions were to believe love is possible in this hell of an existence!" Paul shouted. "I never should've thought for a moment Reyes could make me and Ryan happy. I gave every one, especially Reyes, way too much credit." He paused to point at the frozen frame on the TV, huffing and groaning, "I know it was as much my fault as anyone's, but they're acting like I'm not even missed."

"Are they?" Mikey asked gently. "Paul, let's deal with this in reverse. Didn't your brother say that Reyes would do nothing with him unless you were with them?" 

Huffing through his nose, Paul nodded his head. 

"And your brother made a bet with you to prove that point?" 

Again, Paul nodded. 

"Did you win that bet or lose it?" 

"I..." Paul tried to answer, but then hung his head. 

"And I know what you had originally said in response to that bet. Moving on," Mikey continued, just as softly. "Love has a price tag. It's called pain. Grief. Loss. You cannot ever have love without accepting that possibility, but if you refuse to love or take the chance on love, you will always be empty; alone. Lose everything and everyone anyway. Do you want to push them both to the point that they cut you off, and then really be alone? Do you want that?" 

Mikey watched the boy for a moment. 

His head still bowed, Paul fought with himself. Then a tear trickled from his eye and splashed downward. 

Mikey caught it. "This is your answer, little brother. Love is precious. You will fight, you will argue, it will happen in the best of relationships. It's what you decide on after is where your heart truly lies. Do you love them? Do you choose to love them, to act on it? Or will you harden your heart and become no better than those men that attacked you yesterday? Or like those others that used and abused you for the past years? Do you become a hermit, locked away in a cave, forever regretting what he has lost? Or do you take the risk?" 

More tears, and each were caught deftly by the Angel at Paul's side. 

"As for hell," Mikey continued after a few more minutes had passed. "I know of it, little one, and this world can sometimes be it. All too often people hurt and abuse others, because they can, because they like it, or because they know of no other way. The Clan came into being to try and show that love IS possible; that the hell of this world can be changed into a heaven; that 'God is With Us', not some distant person on a cloud; that we can reach out to one another, and accept one another. Yes, Paul, love is possible in this world. My brothers - all of them - and my sisters - all of them - are fighting for that every day. We died for it. We will keep on trying and fighting to give you... YOU... a place in this world where your tears - these precious tears of pain - are wiped away and replaced by tears and smiles of joy. We haven't won yet, but we will. And we have carved out a place to be in this world where the 'Gates of Hell shall not... NOT... prevail against us'. Do you want to be a part of that, Paul? Little One?" 

Paul sniffed and shook, his tears still falling. He reached for something to say. Anything to stave off having to answer this Saint, whose words so bit at his heart. "Why'd you call me 'little one'? I've not been little for years."

Mikey laughed softly, "Your name, Paul... it means 'Little'. It means one who is small in his own sight as he puts others before himself. You've not done that perfectly, but haven't you always looked out for your brother? That's the meaning of your name, and it's a powerful name too, if you want to live up to it."

Paul softly wept, "I don't know... that I can anymore... I have been... for so long. It really hurt, time and time again, putting only Ryan first. Putting Reyes first too is a gargantuan task. I just don't know if I can."

Mikey chuckled, "Don't mistake putting others first as not getting anything back. As you give, you receive. Sorry if I sound preachy, but when you hang out with guys like Peter, Abraham and the other Paul... well, you get that way. Sheesh, I'm old... but what I said is true, Little One. If you give love, you'll receive love. If you give joy you'll get joy. If you give a smile, don't you get one?" 

Paul looked up for a brief moment and saw a wide, honest, loving smile on the eighteen year old angel's face. Without meaning to, or thinking about it, he smiled back. Then he caught what he was doing and tried to stop the smile. Doing so caused a snort to erupt from his nose, thus making both he and Mikey chuckle briefly. 

Then he sighed, "I'm just so tired." 

"Then go to them. Fighting this, fighting what you know you should do... in here," he replied, touching Paul's chest, "will only make you more tired. Why don't you rest in their arms? Let them carry you? Forgive them. Forgive yourself. They will forgive you, hold you, comfort you, help you sleep, rest, grow strong together. You've shown me your tears. Show them. You can't be mended until you break, Little One. It's not easy, but it is also easy at the same time... strange, I know..."

Paul closed his eyes and sighed... and fell back to sleep. 

Mikey curled up around the young teen, and covered him with his wing. Invisible to all, Mikey decided to remain as long as was needed, for as long as he could. Danger was coming, and maybe he would have to go before Paul was ready.

Stevie groaned, "You know, I hate it when that happens."

His brothers wondered, "When what happens?"

"This," Stevie giggled, "nothing. Damned time-messing Mikyviseses." 

"It could be the Guardian," Draco put in as he studied the time-bubble around Paul.

"Oh... well... not going to tease him. He's way more powerful."

George whimpered, "I agree. Is that Mikey?"


Icarus worried, "Could be God?"

Stevie gasped, "Even worse! I'm off, not messing with a higher power!"

Draco teased, "I'm the higher power you should be afraid of, imp!"

All seven AIs giggled, "Bite me, daddy!"