Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 15

There were so many explosions. Every five-seconds or so, there was another loud bang or boom. Intermixed with the bursts were sounds of people crying, screaming and yelling. Nine-year-old Leo Daniel Scott shivered in fear, wondering, "What's goin' on, dad?"

Standing just off to the left of the living room windows with her husband, Leo's mother, Nadine Scott, saw Molotov cocktails explode in flames inside several parked cars. She softly asked her husband, "Was that our car?"

"It was," Walter Scott, Leo's father sighed. He then answered his son, instructing, "Stay low, Leo."

Already on his butt and on the floor, in the corner of the living room with a heavy entertainment center behind him, a sofa to one side and a love seat to the other side, Leo cringed. Folded up tight, his chin was practically resting on his knees. He couldn't get any lower or occupy less space if he tried. Both his parents were frightened, Leo could hear it in the tone of their voices.

The area of Central Los Angeles where the Scott's lived wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't the worst, by any measurement. This night though, everybody seemed to be out of control. The neighborhood had nice people, and they were especially nice on this street. Even the old folks living in the apartment building across Francis Avenue were kewl. The Scott family had a decent three bedroom house at 2765 Francis Avenue, and there were others just like it up and down the block. 

Trembling, Leo watched his mother and father move furniture before the front door. They went to the back rooms to move the table and china hutch to barricade the back door. The few lights that were on in the house suddenly went out and the emergency lights came on. A car screeched around the corner. Every few minutes, the family heard that sound. Walter felt certain that it was the same car, racing around the block, seemingly just for laughs.

Swiftly, Nadine and Walter unplugged several of the emergency lights downstairs, leaving only one in the dining room brightly shining. Walter went to the quivering mass that was his nine-year-old son. Grinning, Walter joked, "Ain't staying up with the big people fun?" and reached to lift his son up off the floor.

Rising up off the floor and into his dad's arms, Leo nervously giggled, "It could be more fun, dad."

Already on her way upstairs, Nadine scrambled to reduce the light visible from the street. Carrying his only child up the steps, Walter assured, "We're staying inside and upstairs, away from the windows. All we have to do is let the loonies outside wear themselves out. We're safe, as long as we stay away from windows. If nobody knows we're home, everything will be fine by morning."

In his dad's arms, Leo softly wondered, "Why are they freakin' out? Why don't I hear sirens? Where are the cops?"

"I don't really know, Leo," Walter sighed. "What I do know is that we're safe inside, as long as we stay away from the windows. Can you promise me that you'll stay low and away from the windows, son?"

"I promise, dad," Leo nodded.

"We're going to play hide-and-go-seek," Nadine cheerfully told Leo. "No matter where we go, we're going to stay low and out of sight. Crawl down along the floor, like a baby, my big strong boy."

"Like in the western cowboy movies, Leo," Walter instructed, and put his son down in the tub, the most protected place in the house. "This is where I want you to stay, no matter what. You can use the toilet and get water from the sink, just..."

"Stay low," Leo finished.

Walter smiled and ruffled his son's blond hair, cheering, "Smart lad. You make me proud and stay here, while mom and I make sure the house is secure."

"We'll be right back," Nadine assured, and then leaned down to kiss Leo's forehead.

Walter galloped downstairs. Nadine was only gone ten- or fifteen-seconds, returning to the bathroom with Leo's bed pillows and blanket. She stuffed the pillows behind Leo's back and covered him with the blanket, gently whispering, "You're my pride and joy. I love you so much."

Forcing a small grin, Leo whispered, "I love you too. Hurry back."

Nadine raced out of the bathroom and flew downstairs to help her husband. From the upstairs bathroom, Leo heard more furniture being moved downstairs. Outside, there were more screeching tires, pops, bangs and distant explosions that caused Leo to jump in his skin, but he still heard his parents softly talking and moving things around. As long as he could still hear his parents, everything would be fine. The last time Leo saw a clock, it was after two in the morning. It was going to be a long time before dawn. He wondered if the crazies outside would stop shooting before sunrise, or if it would stop after daybreak, or if it would ever stop.

It seemed like an excruciatingly long time before Leo heard footsteps climbing the stairs. In reality, it was only about fifteen minutes, but reality had ceased to exist even before Leo woke around one-thirty from the noises of the rioting. Nadine, and then Walter came into the bathroom to check on their son. Curled up under the blanket, Leo smirked at his parents, "Back so soon? I was just about to yell down for a beer."

Walter chuckled, "Well, you know, there are places to meet, people to do and things to go."

Nadine impatiently huffed, "If our dry cleaner has been damaged, I'm going to have an 'A' number one shit fit."

Helplessly, Leo giggled at his parents.

Walter explained, "We're going to move a few more things to block the staircase, Leo."


"Your bed and dresser and then our dresser," Nadine answered. "If anyone gets inside the house, we'll be perfectly safe up here."

"Okay," Leo muttered. Only a few weeks ago, a fireman had been to his school and taught that all exits should be clear in case of a fire, so you could escape. It seemed to Leo that his parents were doing things that shouldn't be done, but he said nothing about it. With all the other stuff going on, a fire would be the worst possible addition to the chaos. 

His parents left the bathroom again. He could hear them moving his twin-size bed. After a minute or two, they could be heard carrying his dresser. It was a tall chest of drawers that only recently Leo could clearly see the top of. They returned to the bathroom, obviously tired. Lowering the top toilet seat, Nadine sat down, wondering, "Did we miss anything?"

Leo giggled, "The Lakers just came by to ask if we wanted to play. I said we were too busy."

"That figures," Walter smirked, "just when I feel like playing too." He leaned against the door-frame to catch his breath and seemed to inspect the room he had been in thousands of times. The small windows were high off the floor in this room, above the tub and on the same wall above the toilet. They would all be safe in this room, Walter was certain of it. He asked his son, "Is there anything you'd like to help pass the time?"

"My iPod Nano?" Leo softly requested.

Nadine added, "And the portable radio, so we can hear news and know when it's safe."

From his back pockets, Walter pulled two of the emergency lights out and put them on the edge of the tub then left the room. A minute later, he returned with the iPod, ear-buds and the radio. Leaving them on the floor near the tub for Leo, he sighed hard and long.

Leo prompted, "Take a break, dad. We're good for a little while."

"Are you implying I'm too old?" Walter teased.

"Not too old," Leo giggled. "Just old enough for piggyback rides."

"You're lighter than your dresser, that's for sure," Walter smiled. "What've you got in there anyway, rocks?"

"My stash," Leo giggled.

Nadine laughed, "Your stash, huh? You've been holding out on us, Leo."

Walter sniggered, "When this is all over, we're gonna break into your stash and tie one on."

Leo cackled, "They said at school that old folks shouldn't toke out, it's bad for them."

Nadine giggled, "It's fine for you though?"

Rapidly nodding, Leo teased, "Eighteen and under only."

Sadly shaking his head, Walter chuckled, "We have got to get you out of this city."

Hopefully, Leo suggested, "Up into the mountains?"

Slowly nodding and widely smiling, Walter answered, "We'd all like it up there." He then turned to his wife, asking, "Ready for one more trip?"

"Let's get it over with," Nadine sighed, and stood.

Leo whimpered, "Don't go yet."

Nadine and Walter knelt down beside the tub. Nadine leaned over to kiss her beautiful boy and softly called him exactly that. Brushing his son's blond mop back out of his eyes, Walter smiled, "We only have our dresser to move. Another two or three minutes is all it will take. You can be strong for that long, easily."

Nodding, Leo tearfully admitted, "I'm so scared. It's worse when you're not here."

"We're scared too," Nadine admitted, and then assured, "We'll make it through this night. We'll have a new car over the weekend and then we're off, into the mountains."

Walter instructed, "You know how to make the fear go away. Love conquers all, and this little family of ours has so much love, nothing can stop us. We're like Godzilla, King Kong, Superman and all the best comic book heroes combined."

"You can be brave, Leo, I know you can," Nadine confidently said, and kissed her son on the mouth.

Quaking, Leo whispered, "I love you."

"I love you very much too," Walter smiled, and landed two kisses, one on his son's forehead and the other on his cheek. He promised, "Two or three minutes and we're right back here, breaking into your stash."

Nodding, Leo forced a small grin and shivered, "I love you."

Brightly smiling, "I love you too," Nadine and Walter stood. With their adrenaline pumping, they hurried out of the room to complete this one final task and get back to safety quickly. Nadine and Walter each took a side of their long dresser. Another car screeched around the corner that neither adult paid any attention to. They believed that same lunatic was coming around the block again. However, this lap around, inside the car were two men hanging out the windows with AK-47 assault rifles. One fired low and the other fired high. Nadine and Walter never knew what hit them. They never even made a sound.

From the bathroom tub, Leo heard the loudest gunfire yet and flinched when something heavy hit the floor. He wondered if his parents dropped the dresser. With his eyes darting in their sockets, Leo waited for some other sounds from his parents. Hearing nothing for way too long, Leo called, "Dad? Mom?" He waited for a reply, then more loudly yelled, "MOM! DAD?" Again there was no reply and no sound of the dresser being moved. All he heard was more yelling, pops, bangs and explosions. Beginning to cry, Leo desperately screamed, "DADDY! MOMMY! PLEASE?"

When there was still no answer, he scurried out of the tub, but remembered to stay down low and crawled along the hallway floor. Stopping at his parent's bedroom doorway, he saw their lifeless forms on the floor. Behind the dresser, the wall was riddled with bullet holes and the windows were shattered. Feeling like his skull and chest were going to explode, Leo quickly crawled the length of the bedroom floor. By the street light cascading into the room, Leo saw his father was missing a large section of hair and skull. It seemed the area above his dad's right ear was gone. Blood seemed to ooze from the wound. A few feet to his left, Leo saw his mother, also bleeding from her head. He whimpered. Without consciously deciding to, Leo scrambled along the floor, back into the bathroom and into the tub. Pulling the shower curtain closed and the blanket up over his body, Leo cried for his parents to come back, to never leave, to stay with him in the safety of the tub. Every so often, he'd call for them, not really believing what he had heard, seen and experienced. It couldn't be really happening.

Without meaning to, Leo cried himself to sleep. His parents were with him in his dreams. He woke briefly around dawn Friday, clearly remembering them in the dream saying that he would be fine, and that they would protect him. Sounds of gunshots, rioting voices and insanity outside woke him. Sobbing his heart out, Leo reached for his iPod, put the ear-buds in his ears and turned it on to play, so he wouldn't have to hear anymore from the outside world. Every muscle in his body ached more than anything had ever hurt before. He fell back to sleep, feeling like his life was as good as over. Nothing would ever be the same again. He would never laugh with his parents over silly jokes. He would never see the mountains of Southern California again. If only he could die too, he'd be with them and happy again.

Leo didn't wake again until that afternoon, when he realized that his iPod's charge had completely worn out. He took one ear-bud out of his ear and listened. There were no shouting voices, pops, bangs or explosions to be heard. It was eerily quiet. Not knowing much of anything other than the fact his parents were dead in the next room, Leo lay there shedding quiet tears, wondering why he was left alive and alone. What was he supposed to do now? The single emergency light in the bathroom had dimmed long ago. Just to hear a voice, Leo reached over the tub for the portable radio. He switched it on and turned the dial, searching for his favorite station. Each and every station had the same voice, from the Emergency Broadcast System. The words were meaningless to Leo for a long and painful few hours. They spoke of places that he knew, but none of it registered for a long while.

About three o'clock that afternoon, the words started making sense. He knew the time now. He also knew that the sun would be setting in a few more hours. Another night, in this house, with his parents' bodies wasn't a pleasant idea. As if he might get an answer, Leo wondered aloud, "What do I do?" Only sitting and that thought made him realize it had been at least twelve hours since he last peed. The radio announcer soon said that Staples Center was an evacuation point. That was where the Clippers and Kings played. His family had been there a couple of times, and it was pretty close. He recalled his dad saying once that it might have been quicker if they had just walked instead of driving.

Pocketing his iPod and ear-buds, Leo stood in the tub. Listening more carefully to the radio, he went to the toilet and relieved his bursting bladder, and then brushed his teeth. According to the radio, the rioting was still going on in some areas down by the airport and Santa Monica, but the State's National Guard had very much restricted the violence to those areas. He would be safe walking the mile or so to Staples Center, and he could get there by dark easily. Still in shock, Leo went on autopilot, deciding to shower and put clean clothes on. He could not go anywhere wearing only the clothes that he had been wearing the prior night and day. Once that was done, Leo made sure he had his iPod, ear-buds and the radio.

Pausing at the pile of furniture before the staircase, Leo put the radio down on the dresser, to use both hands and a shoulder to shove his dresser and bed aside, at least enough so he could squeeze past to the stairway. Picking up the small radio again, he turned to his parents bedroom, softly sobbing, "It's time to go now. I'll always remember you guys. Please, if you can, keep an eye on me? I kind o' know where I'm going, but I'm still really scared. Everything's so creepy quiet. What's going to happen to me now, ya know? Love conquers all, you always said that. Well, I love you both. It feels like there's so much more I should say, but I can't think now." He squeezed past the bed and dresser and started down the steps. Becoming more upset with the thought of leaving his parents and the only home he'd ever known, Leo paused and hollered in a squeaky voice, "I won't forget you," and then broke down crying. He would not ever say the word "goodbye" to his mom or dad. Feeling weak, he slowly shuffled down the steps.

At the staircase landing, Leo couldn't believe his eyes. The living room was a disaster area. The furniture that had been moved in front of the door was lying on its sides, creating a barrier he would have to carefully climb around and over. Any of those items would seriously hurt if it fell on him. Curtains, drapes and mini-blinds were on the floor. The picture window was just a big gaping hole in the wall. Photos that had been on the walls were knocked down to the floor. His parents certainly wouldn't have done any of that. Turning slightly to look back toward the dining room and kitchen, Leo found cupboards opened and their contents scattered on the floor. The table and hutch moved to block the back door were knocked onto their sides and into the middle of the kitchen. 

Glancing around, Leo got the distinct impression that someone had managed to get in the house and looted the place. They got in through the picture window, and when they were ready to leave, they had pushed the stuff away from the doors. Feeling an intense shiver race up and down his spine, Leo realized that he had slept through the whole thing. Scowling, he wondered why they didn't push their way upstairs. They would've found him asleep and killed him in the tub. His parents had already saved him, Leo realized. 

Scared to death, he hurried to the gaping hole that was once his living room window. Leo used the twisted remains of a steel corner lamp post to clear the remaining glass from the window. He then used the curtains to cover the ledge, and carefully climbed out to the porch that ran the length of the front of the house. Never even feeling a small scratch on the inside of his left thigh and down to his knee, Leo kept hurrying. The apartment building across the street had been on fire at some point too. The outside wall was burned and discolored. The flames were out now, but he could still see a river of water flowing along the curb.

Sprinting as fast as he could down the walkway, Leo turned left. All the homes on his street were wrecked. He turned right on South Hoover Street and kept running, down to Olympic Boulevard where he turned left. There was no traffic at all, frightening Leo more. For a while, he wondered if everyone was dead except him. At the corner of Olympic and South Alvarado Street, he saw a jeep and four armed National Guard troops. He ran to them and wailed, telling them where he lived, that his parents had been killed during the night, that his home was broken into while he slept in a bathtub, and that he really needed a ride to the Staples Center evacuation center, where he might finally feel safe.

Keoneuli Beach House, Kaho'olawe Island

Sunday, November 7, 2004 6:54 AM HTZ

With Leo's nightmare getting louder, and more scared kids waking in tears, Wade and Frankie hurried to the first floor bedroom to wake their fathers. Upon waking, John immediately felt and knew that Wade had experienced some of Leo's dream. He promptly replaced the scary images with fun ones and climbed out of bed. For the first time, Stephen was in such a flustered state that he didn't care about being naked and hurried to the living room with John and their two sons. 

Simultaneously, John held the blocks on Wade's telepathy, entered Leo's dream and sent loud telepathic calls to Corey, Drew and all the other Core Rimmers, who were still sleeping upstairs. Barely awake, Drew jumped out of bed and hurried, taking two steps at a time down the stairs, to get to his eldest son. Before Corey and Drew even made it to the living room, John was already sharing Leo's nightmare with them, so they could know what had happened to their boy. No wonder Leo was more clingy than the average nine-year-old; after what the boy had gone through the early hours of November fifth, anyone would be.

Crying and shaking so bad that every muscle in his body ached, Leo woke. Nearest around him and on their knees watching him carefully were Corey, Drew, Dee, Kenny, Geoff and Lenny. Standing behind that group were Gage, Sammy, Jonah, Ben, Billy, Jason, John, Stephen, Wade, Frankie and Reyes. Beyond that group were all the other boys who had been sleeping in the living room nest, and all their fathers. Prez, Keith, and all the Core Rimmers were soothing the youngest boys that had been awakened by Leo's nightmare. Even some of the security guys were inside. Realizing what he had done, Leo covered his face and cried harder.

Only about nine or ten inches taller than his eldest son, Drew leaned over, wrapped his arms around Leo and pulled him up. Drew stood and carried Leo out of the room, with Corey, Geoff and Lenny trailing behind. The family went down the foyer and out the kitchen dinette sliding doors. Drew sat on a lanai chair and parked Leo on his lap, gently shushing the boy's tears and rubbing his back.

Latching onto Drew with everything he had, Leo softly whimpered, "Don't leave me, daddy."

"Never, Leo," Drew assured, and held his weeping son tightly. Locking eyes with Corey, they shared worried expressions. Between soft kisses on Leo's cheek and face, Drew firmly promised, "You're with us, all day today, all night tonight, and forever." He looked at Geoff and Lenny, offering, "Tonight, we'll all crash in our master bedroom's king size bed. Leo's going to be in the middle, with two brothers on one side and two dads on the other side. It'll be our own family nest. How does that sound?"

Like Christmas had arrived early, Geoff and Lenny grinned at each other, and then rapidly nodded, cheering, "Really kewl, daddy."

Tapping his sub-vocal, Corey asked, "Alden, is Doc Wiener awake?"

"Yes, he is," Alden answered, and quickly asked, "Would you like me to get him there?"

"As soon as he's able," Corey instructed.

"I've informed him that he's needed, and he's getting dressed," Alden relayed.

With his face still buried in the crook of Drew's neck, Leo reached both arms out. Corey took one outstretched hand; Geoff and Lenny took the other hand. All three surrounded the chair where Drew and Leo sat.

Beginning to calm down, Leo sighed, "I woke everybody, didn't I?"

"Don't even worry about that," Corey gently said. "Me and dad saw a lot of your dream, Leo. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably still be in the tub."

Looking up, Leo wiped his eyes, asking, "You really saw?"

Corey nodded, "The shower curtain was dark green and light green stripes."

"The shower walls were tan and brown tiles," Drew shared. Leo scowled, wondering how it could possibly be that Corey and Drew could describe his old bathroom. Drew grinned, "John's my brother, your uncle, and an N-Gen. That means he can look into other peoples' minds and share what he sees. Only me, pop, John and you know what really happened. That's why you're going to be in the center of the bed tonight; you might not think you did very good Friday, but let me tell you that you did everything perfectly. For being so great, you're going to get smothered with so much love from us. We're going to do everything possible to help you get past this."

Glancing at his dad and pop, Geoff asked, "What happened?"

Corey grinned, "All you need to know is what we already assumed; that Leo's parents didn't make it through the riots... oh, and that Leo's originally from Los Angeles."

"Where movie stars are," Lenny smiled. "Kewl."

Wearing shorts, a sport shirt, sneakers and socks, but unshaven, Doc Wiener appeared on the porch. Corey smiled, "Good morning, Doc."

"Good morning all," Doc Wiener cheerfully said, and then asked, "How can I help?"

Corey gestured to Leo, saying, "Bad dreams, of his parents, from the LA riots." He then rubbed Leo's back, adding, "I'm going to take Geoff and Lenny inside, so you can tell Doc Wiener about your nightmare."

Leo nodded, and then asked, "Do I have to say it all?"

Squatting down behind the chair, where Leo could see him, Doc Wiener gently said, "The more people you tell, the better it will be in the long run, Leo." He asked, "Are there any friends inside that you'd like to share this with?"

Leo blinked, "I don't know about that. It's really scary. I mean, Kenny's like me, I guess, but from New York City."

Doc Wiener nodded understandingly, saying, "That would be good for both of you then."

Drew prompted, "Is there anyone else, Leo?"

"Dee," Leo quickly said, and then added, "Sammy, Gage, Jonah, Ben, Jason and Uncle Keith."

Drew grinned, "You like Keith?"

Leo nodded, "He took me surfin'."

Looking up at Corey, Doc Wiener prompted, "Please send them out here."

Nodding, Corey gathered Geoff and Lenny, and then they went inside.

Standing and glancing around, Doc Wiener smiled, "This is a nice place. We could stay right here or go for a walk along the beach? Which would you prefer, Leo?"

Leo hummed then answered, "The beach, but I'm only wearing underwear, and dad's naked... again!" Drew helplessly chuckled, squeezed Leo tightly and planted a soft kiss on his son's cheek.

Doc Wiener sat on the next chair, grinning, "My job doesn't require special attire, but however you're comfortable, Leo."

Noticing Doc Wiener was sitting to take his sneakers and socks off, and that Leo was uncertain, Drew assured, "Briefs are fine. I'll bet that most of your friends come out here wearing only underwear or naked."

"For sure," Leo giggled.

Dee, Jason and Kenny hurried out the back door. Dee and Jason were nude and Kenny only had his white briefs on. They immediately went to Leo. Kenny smirked, "Ya scared the crap out o' me, pal." Right behind the first group of three, Sammy, Ben, Keith, Jonah and Gage walked outside. Not one of them had a stitch of clothing on.

Leo nodded at Kenny, sighing, "I'm sorry about that, but I..."

After waiting a few moments for Leo to finish his sentence, Doc Wiener offered, "Couldn't help it?" Leo nodded at the adult man. Doc Wiener said, "That's what this session's going to be about, boys. You're all victims in one way or another. Our goal is to not live as victims, so we're not feeling helpless most of the time. Leo would like to walk the beach while we talk, so if everybody's ready?" Heads nodded and Keith led the pack of boys to the lawn. Leo got up off Drew and held out his hand to his new dad. He held out his other hand to Kenny Hunnicutt. Kenny looked deeply into Leo's pale blue eyes, smiled and took the offered hand in his. Leo, Drew and Kenny walked down the lanai steps to the lawn.

Leo was encouraged by Drew to tell his story. "It was a school night, " Leo began his tale, "so I went to bed a little before ten Thursday night."

Inside the house, fathers were feeding breakfast to the remaining boys. The nest in the living room had been dismantled and the bedding transported back to the Hundsers' basement. The coffee table had been returned to its spot near the sectional sofa, where Prez, Derrick, Mike, Reyes, Corey, Jerry and AJ sat with their breakfasts. Around the other side of the coffee table, sitting on the floor with their morning milkshakes, were Richie, Geoff, Lenny, Dillon, and the other two Hunnicutt brothers, Shaun and Mike. In the dining room were Kaleo, Tory and their five sons.

After the excitement, everybody was calming down. Only John was still a little on edge. The prior evening, he had managed to create a room in his N-Gen mind for his new nephew, but hadn't linked with Kenny. John stood at the kitchen dinette sliding door, with Wade at his side, watching Kenny walk away. Wade sent, 'I think Kenny's okay, daddy.'

'His mommy and daddy didn't come home, so he's not the same as Leo, thank goodness,' John relayed to his son.

'Daddy?' Wade called. When John looked down, Wade giggled, 'I'm hungry,' and telepathically tickled John for the first time. It was an unfocused tickle that caused John to shake and shimmy where he stood.

Having a giggling fit, Wade backed away. John sniggered, 'You learned that on your own, huh?'

Nodding, Wade giggled, 'From you!' and turned to run, but John already had his boy and levitated him off the floor. In seconds, Wade was twisting, turning and loudly laughing. Going to help his new brother, Frankie found himself also stuck in John's telekinetic grasp and being mercilessly tickled.

Sitting at the dinette table with their sons, Troy and Sean grinned at John, Frankie and Wade. Billy, Scott and Jimmy helplessly giggled at their two floating and hysterical friends.

All the Core Rimmers were sharing plans for the day with their kids. Mike asked Alden to check around and find out when their new arrivals might be coming. Over the ceiling speakers on the ground floor of the house, everyone heard Alden's reply; "The newbies will be at Ewa Beach about one this afternoon, guys. Some are in Las Vegas, some are in Philadelphia, and another set are in Cincinnati. They've all been fed breakfast and will have had lunch before leaving the medical facilities they're at."

Around his breakfast, Derrick mumbled, "So we can meet them in the dining room, get them to the store, and then gather the Clan in the auditorium."

Corey asked, "Are there any other pending refugees, Alden?"

"The Wells Fargo Arena was cleared yesterday afternoon, Des Moines time, and is being cleaned now," Alden answered.

Prez asked, "Is there any other activity we need to know about, Alden?"

Privately to the Core Rimmers only, Alden responded, "The Short Family and the Core members of the UNIT were called away and are off planet. Uncle Colin woke at four this morning. He's surveying damages at Washington and New York City. King Aalona was told that his Starfleet force fields will be installed tomorrow, however it might be several more days before the damages to the palace have been repaired." 

Over the ceiling speakers, Alden whined, "Kerry's got his body, and I want mine too!" Everyone in the house paused for the arguing AI brothers, and then Alden giggled, "Bob Busch has adopted fifteen kids in 48 hours, maybe a new record, outside of Momma Janet and Daddy Joe. So far this morning, twenty-seven boys at Ewa Beach were caught talking to their dicks. Out of the twenty-seven, nine have named their dicks, a surprisingly low number statistically, but not everyone is awake yet either." All around the house, boys began chuckling, giggling and laughing.

Reyes looked up and over at the nearest camera, giggling, "No, no, no."

Believing that the AIs were speaking privately into Reyes' sub-vocal, Derrick smiled, "What are they saying?"

Reyes giggled, "None of us were given choices about our dicks, were we? I simply cannot fathom having that choice, and if I did, would I want my dick any different from the one I have? Hell no! Looking around this house, I see exactly what I would expect hanging between everybody's legs." Looking back up at the camera, Reyes laughed, "Pardon the pun, but you guys are making big deals over nothing!"

Six AIs giggled, "That wasn't funny, Reyes!"

Entering the room with Troy and three of their four sons, Sean smirked, reminding the AI's, "All you guys have seen me limp and hard. You've seen me and Troy alone together too. At the orphanage, I wished that my dick didn't grow quite so much. Troy's the only reason I'm not still wishing that. Now I know that it's all in the eyes when two people make love. All that really matters to us gay dudes is that there's something hanging between our lover's legs; quantity has nothing to do with it. Quality is in the heart, and that can only be seen in the eyes."

"It took me four days and a lot of trying to successfully get what I needed and wanted," Troy told the AI's. "I also happen to know that Sean talked to Darren Devault. If you guys haven't talked to Darren, then you need to. What he's got hangin' is damn close to what Sean's got erect. Not to mention, he was a prostitute, so he's got lots of experience with men and women. Just like Sean, Darren's dick got him attention, most of which he didn't appreciate or want."

Looking up and around for the camera, Billy seriously said to the AI's, "You guys don't know this, but I had to mess with Jason and he had to mess around with me, just to make our old foster parents happy and give them something to film. At nine, Jason's got plenty. He's told me that I've got enough too, but we're still growing up. What matters most is, what's enough to some people might be too much for others. If you want to be copies of Joey, that's your choice, but I wouldn't, if I were you."

Looking directly into a camera again, Reyes smiled, "There ya go, dudes. If there's one dude anywhere in the Clan that isn't perfectly happy with what they've got, I'd be very surprised. It seems to me, the only real choice to be made is whether you want to be circumcised or not. About one-third are, on our base anyway, and each choice has its pros and cons, so two of the six of you can make that choice."

Arguments about who would appear snipped began amongst the AI's, and then the ceiling speakers popped mid banter. All the boys and teens in the house grinned at the ceilings. Looking up at Troy, Sean and their sons, who were obviously done with breakfast, Prez sniggered, "Let's get some showers going."

Troy and Sean clasped hands and started for the staircase. Jimmy and Scott stood and followed their dad and pop. Noticing that there was no one his age indoors and most of the kids were still eating, Billy hummed uncertainly. Standing and going to Billy, Corey smiled, "It's you and me, bro."

Vigorously shaking his head, Billy asked, "What about Drew?"

"He's busy with Leo, and we're only showering," Corey reminded the newbie Rimmer son. Taking Billy's hand and starting for the stairs, Corey then mischievously cackled, "Who knows, I might get to take two showers this morning."

Billy giggled, "The second much more fun than the first."

Looking down at the other boys on the floor, Prez reminded, "There's a big shower and a bigger tub in the master bathroom. Little dudes get the big tub, four or five at a time, easily."

Since Stephen was finished with his milkshake, John prompted Wade and Frankie for a family shower. The four of them got up and started for the staircase. Stephen silently reminded, 'John, I've never been naked with you and not gotten stiff.'

'It's perfect for our boys,' John immediately replied. 'We won't make love, but they will see that we're in love and that we love them too.'

'Are you sure this is good for them?' Stephen worried.

Frankie smirked, 'Com'on, pop. You can't really think me or Wade care about seeing you and dad stiff. I've been your son for twelve days, including the week at Archnania, and today's the first time I've seen you naked.'

Wade wondered, 'Why won't you take your clothes off, poppa?'

Stephen sighed then told his boys the truth. 'Because I'm a year older than daddy, but shorter and thinner than him and lots of other boys. I'm the same age as Corey and Billy, but Corey's about six inches taller than me. Billy's about four inches taller than I am.'

Frankie reminded, 'You've been naked since we woke and nobody said a word about your height, weight, or your dick, did they?'

'It's okay, poppa,' Wade silently assured, 'Grammy thinks you're still gonna be big, like your daddy.'

At the top of the stairs, Stephen came to an abrupt halt and faced his sons, squealing, "Did she really say that?"

Shaking his head, Wade giggled, "She thought it though."

Covering his mouth, Frankie softly chortled, "Poppa, you're gonna be big and tall too!"

Watching Stephen's jaw drop as he got Frankie's meaning, John helplessly sputtered then loudly laughed, "YIPPEE! LUCKY ME!"

Fiercely blushing, Stephen squinted at John. Giggling their little butts off, Frankie led Wade up the remaining steps, past their dads and into the master bedroom. Stephen smirked, "I have got to teach my mother to be careful what she thinks of around our family."

Leading Stephen toward the shower, John smiled, "She loved your father for a lot more than his height and his dick. He was a lot like you, from what I've gathered. You're the best parts of your mom and your dad. Even when they decided not to marry, he stuck around for a long time, until school and work led him out of the ROH, to Japan, as far as your mom knows. She's not hiding anything from you, baby."

"I know," Stephen sighed. "I can't help wishing he'd been around, ya know?"

Pointing toward the master bathroom, John nodded and softly said, "What we're going to do is right in there. Those boys are ours. They need to know that we're in love and love them. Letting them see our bones is really nothing to worry about. I'd be surprised if we didn't see them with little bones, from fathers washing sons and each other, and brothers washing each other and us too. We just slightly limit them touching our bones, and when they want to know why, we explain that to them. It's just a little restraint, ya know?"

"We're the grownups," Stephen smiled, and then placed a tender kiss on John's mouth. Taking John's hand, Stephen led the way into the master bathroom and into the shower, where water was already running and their two sons were already giggling.

Soon after John and Stephen entered the shower, Kaleo and Tory came upstairs with their brood of five California orphanage boys. Entering the bathroom, Kaleo loudly said, "It's just us, dudes. We're gonna see if all five of our sons can squeeze into the tub at once."

Tory chuckled, "We're gonna hang in here until they're done, to make sure they're safe. By that time, you guys will be done, and then Kaleo and I can jump in the shower real quick." Seeing the whirlpool tub, Tory gasped, "Holy shit! This tub is huge!"

"Six little guys could easily fit in this tub," Kaleo sniggered.

Over the sound of the shower and the tub water faucet, John suggested, "We'll take over watching your kids when we're done too."

Frankie giggled, "Bet you they won't ever fall down," and then rose off the floor squealing, "Daddy!"

John sniggered, "Why should Wade bend down to wash your legs, feet and toes?" Wade lost it and cracked up. Giggling insanely, Stephen braced his youngest son before the boy slipped. Peeking over the top of the shower doors, Frankie waved at Kaleo and Tory. Softly chuckling, Kaleo and Tory waved back. John levitated a bottle of shampoo up to Frankie, and instructed his eldest to wash his hair while he floated.

Climbing into the whirlpool tub with his brothers, Stan smiled at two of his younger brothers that were staring at his dick. Realizing he was being watched, the youngest of the five, Marv, asked, "Wha's wrong, big bro? Why's your dick like that?"

Shrugging, Stan giggled, "Like what?"

Marv hummed, then muttered, "I never seen it like that. It's big, pointing up, and now I can see the head."

Relieving Stan of answering the question, Tory smiled, "It's because he's very happy to be bathing with his brothers. Stan's the oldest of you, so when he's really happy, it shows."

The next youngest boy, Mark worried, "It looks like it hurts."

Desperately trying to maintain, Kaleo softly chortled, "It don't hurt. Remember what me and poppa told you about foreskin? Marv and Leonard had theirs removed as babies." Pointing at Stan, Mark and Russ, Kaleo smiled, "You three still have skin. When you get older and happy too, your skin will stretch like that too."

To prove the point, Tory stood at the side of the tub, reached down and pulled the skin back on his dick. Tory said, "Now I look just like Leonard and Marv and all circumcised boys." All five of his sons agreed. Standing in the tub, Mark and Russ did the same as their pop, and a little more, proving to their brothers that the foreskin stretched in both directions very easily and it didn't hurt a bit. 

Hearing Kaleo explaining the differences to his sons made Stephen's life infinity simpler bathing Wade's little uncut unit. All Stephen had to do was check that the boy was keeping it clean after going to the bathroom. At least Wade's birth father had instructed his son properly about that necessity.

Outside, on the beach, Leo had finished his horror story. He had all his new friends, cousins, dad and uncle surrounding him, to help him understand that nothing like that would ever happen again. Doc Wiener, Keith and Drew said that New York and Los Angeles experienced societal breakdowns which hadn't occurred in many other cities, in the US and around the world. Silent tears flowed down the faces of Dee, Gage, Kenny and Sammy. The words those four couldn't speak erupted in torrents of vulgar bitterness from Jason Mullins, Ben and Jonah. They expressed their disgust that so many good parents were taken when each of them had lived hellish existences.

As soon as Keith knew which address to have investigated, he silently instructed Alden to get Kekoa to assign a strike team to examine the Scott's house, gather evidence and above all, make certain that the corpses of Mr. and Mrs. Scott were respectfully cared for. Kekoa told Keith that he would pull his own team, and accompany Assault Team Alpha to Central Los Angeles. To begin investigations into all of their Battle Of Earth kids, Keith asked to speak with the Pacific Rim Division's new Founder representatives and interfaces to Ark.

Into Keith's sub-vocal, a new teenage male voice said, "Hi Keith. I'm Damon Praefectus."

"And I'm Ian Praefectus," a younger pre-teen voice offered. "Alden's already filled us in on what's happening."

Damon assured, "We're sending the personnel files of our Battle Of Earth rescued to Ark now. Since there were power outages affecting many street cameras, we'll check any available satellite video. We'll pickup investigations of the rest of our newbies."

"Save the majority of your UNIT Detachment for military situations," Ian instructed.

Damon added, "Leo's part of your family, so Kekoa can do his bit, and we'll handle the remaining investigations. It might take a day, maybe two, depending on how much actual legwork needs to be done."

Keith smiled, "Kewl, dudes. Hopefully we'll get the chance to meet face-to-face later today, but with almost a hundred more newbies on the way, I can only promise we'll try."

"Catch ya later," Damon and Ian chorused.

Knowing that Leo didn't need to hear gunfire, Keith went to Justin, asking that those on the security team who had phasers help to assist his rattled nephew. Soon the entire group of six were gathered near Doc Wiener and the boys. Several of the personal security around the beach fired phasers at targets provided by Alden. Various sized targets placed out on the rocks by the waterfall, some three hundred meters away, were quickly and easily vaporized by the trained UNIT security troops. Kites were used as moving targets and were disintegrated just as easily. Conner and Chuck were amongst the group. Drew specifically pointed them out to Leo, confidently stating that he, Corey and all the Core Rimmers were always safe with these kinds of friends around. Lastly, Keith and Drew proved that all the Core Rimmers had been trained and fired phasers at targets about one-hundred meters away. Two more targets turned to dust on the beach.

Opening up to share his story, Kenny didn't know what had happened to his parents, but that didn't make living through the New York City riots any easier. His parents went to work, but never came home Friday evening. If it weren't for two kind neighbors in their apartment building, Kenny and his brothers might still be waiting. The two men kept the boys safe and got them out of the city, only telling them that the downtown area where both Hunnicutt adults worked was the hardest hit area of town. It was after six o'clock Friday night when the two adult men took the three distraught Hunnicutt brothers to the Meadowlands. By eight eastern time, the Hunnicutts were in Des Moines. And it was about an hour later when AJ, Corey, Drew and Jerry picked them up to go to Ewa Beach.

In a single day, lives were turned upside down and flipped around. Doc Wiener made sure the traumatized boys knew appropriate ways to voice any discomfort they might experience in coming days and weeks. It could be as simple as headaches or bellyaches or understandable worries, but the important thing was to let someone know what they were feeling. At that point, all Kenny and Leo wanted was their new families always close by, and the safety they always had had before Friday, November fifth, 2004. For almost an hour-and-a-half, Doc Wiener and the group of boys had strolled along the beach. Near the end of the session and the walk, Doc Wiener's comm-badge chirped.

Carl Seibert asked, "Where are you, Randy?"

"At Kaho'olawe, chatting with two brave young men," Doc Wiener answered. The other boys agreed with the Doc's assessment and poured praise upon Leo and Kenny.

Carl heard all the boys and waited for them to finish before telling Doc Wiener, "I'm at the dining room, with the other parents and our Clan. Some of the other boys rescued Friday are having troubles too. Near me are Fred Eckhart, Travis McAuley, Craig Nash, Nate Ramos, Chris Stokley and Jay Montigua. They've told us that Raphael Montigua, Phil Nash, Sal and Rickie Ramos, Chauncey Eckhart and the Stoeher twins had a rough night."

Off to the side, Keith tapped his sub-vocal, telling Alden to share this information with the other Core Rimmers and the personal security around the beach house. Alden replied, "I already have, Keith. Everyone in the house is hurrying to get back to Ewa Beach."

Doc Wiener told Carl, "I need a comfortable place to talk with all the boys rescued Friday."

Travis said, "We're all in dorm three. How about the common room there?"

"That's a good idea," Doc Wiener replied, and then instructed. "Gather all the rescued boys from Friday into that room, even those who haven't had nightmares, Carl. I'll be there in a minute or two."

Keith loudly said, "A lot of us Core Rimmers will be there too, Uncle Carl. We'll bring the Steib quadruplets along."

"Good, Keith," Carl replied, and added "Many of the parents will be there as well. Carl, out."

Glancing at Leo and Kenny, Doc Wiener grinned, "As you've heard, what you boys are feeling is completely normal given the circumstances." He reminded, "On Friday you were victims. What are you now?"

"Survivors," Leo and Kenny responded.

Nodding, Doc Wiener assured, "No matter what you did or didn't do, it was all appropriate and necessary, or you wouldn't be standing here now." He then asked, "If you feel anything at all, who do you talk to?"

Grinning at the group around him, Kenny answered, "First our friends, and then our dads..."

"And our leaders, and then you," Leo finished. "The important thing is to talk about it."

"Perfect!" Doc Wiener cheered, and then locked eyes with Keith.

"Go ahead, Doc," Keith smiled, "I'll take care of this group, get 'em home and get 'em fed. Drew and I will probably be the last of the Core Rimmers to join you at dorm three."

"I'll see you there," Doc Wiener softly said. He then told the gathered boys, "Have a better day and I'll see you soon." All the boys either waved or said goodbye to Doc Wiener, who then tapped his comm-badge and transported to Ewa Beach dormitory three's first floor common room.

"Okay, dudes," Keith clearly told the boys, "let's get back to the house, and get showered, dressed and back to our home base. Once there, all of us are going to eat breakfast before we do anything else." Leading the way, Keith jogged toward the house.

"I'm going directly into the bathroom," Drew grinned. The other boys began giggling. Purposefully, to lighten the serious mood the boys were in, Drew chuckled, "I woke with a major piss hard-on and have to drain the lizard." Cracking up, many of the boys agreed they had the same priority.

Through his loud laughter, Leo couldn't agree or disagree, but he did need to go too. Leo's real father might have admitted needing to relieve himself, but definitely not the way his new dad just did. For Leo, it was great to be around all these kewl dudes that simply stated what was the truth. It seemed nothing was ever held back. Keith flung open the screen door and they filed inside. Drew, Leo and Kenny made it to the ground floor's bathroom first.

Hurrying through the house, Keith found the place bustling with activity. Kaleo, Tory and their boys were in the living room getting dressed. Pulling up his boxers, Kaleo quickly told Keith, "John and Stephen have already left with their boys."

Half in his shirt, Tory giggled, "What was a relaxing bath time suddenly went into overdrive."

Heading for the stairs behind Jason, Ben, Sammy, Gage and Jonah, Keith paused and wondered, "Where's Prez?"

"Heading for a shower with Derrick and Mike," Kaleo answered.

Already climbing steps two-at-a-time, Keith heard Tory cackle, "The master bathroom's shower and tub are huge. Eight of us teens could fit in that shower easily. With a shower head on each of the three walls, it's like a mini mob shower, like our dorms."

Coming downstairs with Billy while Keith was going up, Corey asked, "Where's Drew and Leo?"

"Takin' a leak," Keith quickly replied. Ben, Sammy, Jonah and Gage went directly to the first available toilet. Keith entered the master bedroom and heard loud chatter from the bathroom. Stepping inside and going directly to the toilet, Keith found Richie, Dillon, Geoff, Shaun and Mike Hunnicutt in the tub. Opening the shower door, Keith discovered Prez, Mike, Derrick, AJ and Jerry. Joining the group, Keith chuckled, "Kind o' reminds me of gym class."

"Just don't drop the soap," Prez sniggered.

Derrick smiled, "Mike did. Unlike gym class, four hands goosed his ass when he bent over."

"Horny bastards!" Mike laughed, "I almost cracked my skull on the wall!" Evil snickering erupted from AJ, Derrick and Prez.

Jerry grinned, "It's a nice muscular butt."

"I've heard that, yeah," Mike sniggered.

"You and Prez have to get those DNA scans done," AJ told Jerry, and pointed out the two lower red-heads to Keith.

Other than foreskin on Jerry's meat, Keith noticed they were in fact very similar in every other respect. Keith nodded, "Yep, I think the theory of relativity applies."

Scrubbing his pits, Jerry sighed, "Because I moved here as a baby, and my folks died before I turned five, I just don't know much of anything. I can't even tell Prez what American State we came from."

Prez assured, "We'll have a Doc check it out for us, Jerry. For now, we're brothers; that's more important than anything else from our heritage."

Keith asked, "When we get back, what's the plan?"

Derrick answered, "We split up. Corey and Drew have their own needs with Leo. AJ, Jerry and the Hunnicutts can go to the pools. Kaleo, Tory and their boys will check with the kids at the playground. Before John left, he told Reyes to be with him at the dorm three common room, doing their empath thing. Reyes is showering in one of the other bathrooms. Once he's dressed, he's there."

Keith offered, "Drew and I can cover the dining room and CIC rec room. All of us that were out with Leo need to eat as soon as we get back home."

Finishing up his shower, Prez shared, "That leaves me, Derrick and Mike to join the dudes at dorm three." He stepped out of the shower, and was followed out by Mike, Derrick, Jerry and AJ. While the door was still open, Drew, Leo, Gage, Jonah, Sammy and Ben stepped in with Keith. Kenny paused to say a few words to his new pop.

"Every other bathroom is filled, bro," Drew simply stated.

Wetting down under a shower spray, Sammy said, "Kaleo's left with his family, dad." He grabbed a bar of soap and started washing Ben's chest. Seeing his new boyfriend wearing a goofy grin, Sammy cheekily smiled at Ben.

Jonah shared, "Reyes was just getting out of the shower. Sung and Kawazoe jumped in that tub."

Meanwhile, Kenny gestured for his pop to lean down so he could share something. When Jerry leaned over, Kenny whispered, "I told Doc Wiener what happened to us. There's a meeting of other Battle Of Earth kids goin' on. I don't think Shaun and Mike need to go, especially so soon after Leo's nightmare."

Jerry locked eyes with his eldest son, then softly asked, "How do you think we should deal with it then?"

"I heard the same stuff that Leo did," Kenny whispered. "If it happens, we deal as a family, and I tell them what I learned."

Standing up again, Jerry nodded and smiled, "You're an awesome big brother. Go ahead and grab a quick shower, Kenny. We'll talk more later."

"Kewl, pop," Kenny proudly grinned, and slid the shower door open. 

Outside the shower, giggling erupted when each of the five Core Rimmers who had just left the shower helped one of the five little dudes get out of the tub and towel dry. Geoff squealed, "That tickles, Unca Mike!" Drew helplessly sniggered. Leo giggled at his dad′s expression and his little brother's laughter. In seconds, all five little boys were gleefully squeaking and the older boys drying them were evilly snickering. Moments later, Keith opened the shower door to step out, but had to yield to the five naked, partially dried, rug rats running by.

Over the next fifteen minutes, Troy and Sean transported back to Ewa Beach with their sons; then AJ and Jerry left with their boys, followed by Corey, Drew and their three boys. The last group remaining made sure the house was relatively clean and had Alden confirm there were no stragglers anywhere in the house. They went outside. Prez and Keith told the teams of personal security that they were ready to leave.

Stopping before his own four brothers and the four Steib brothers, Derrick squatted down and smiled, "Right after we get done with Doc Wiener, we're going to find my mom and dad and tell them how it is. Tonight, the Steibs are part of the Seibert family."

Kelly, Lawrence, Matthew and Nicholas all giggled, "Kewl, bro."

Sung firmly told Derrick, "Us four are going with our new brothers and you, bro."

Nodding, Kawazoe emphasized, "We've got to be with them, so we know what happened and can help make it better." Chad and Herbert nodded agreement, making it clear Derrick had no choice.

Standing up again, Derrick nodded, "If everybody's ready, we're outta here."

Jonah cheekily smiled, "Pop, I'm stayin' with Gage."

Mike chuckled at his son's expression, and then asked Ben, "You're with Sammy?"

"Course!" Ben giggled, causing all the boys to break into giggles.

Without further ado, Mike, Derrick and their group of eight transported to dorm three's common room. Moments later, Keith and Prez took their boys and their boyfriends home, to the CIC's dining room, so they could grab some breakfast. The remaining security checked with Alden to make sure the beach house was empty then they left for Ewa Beach.

Ewa Beach, C.S.P.R.D. Dining Room

Sunday, November 7, 2004, 9:27AM HTZ

Immediately upon arrival, Ben, Sammy, Jonah and Gage went to the kitchen chow line. Dee went over to the table where Leo was sitting with his new family. Since he'd already eaten, Prez told Keith, "I'll start making the rounds, beginning in the rec room, T'hy'la."

Nodding, Keith assured, "I'll catch up with you, baby." They kissed and separated. Keith called Dee and then they joined the boys in the kitchen chow line.

Richie took Prez's hand. Heading for the rec room, Prez grinned down, promising, "Keep it up, Richie. You're going to be a great Core Rimmer one day."

"I kinda already am, Poppa," Richie giggled. "So are Dee, Gage and Sammy, and Geoff, Lenny, Dillon, Jonah and Randy. In a couple o' days, all the new dudes 'dopted yesterday will be too."

Prez checked, "Kids are going to you guys asking about stuff?"

Richie nodded, "All kinds o' stuff, even asking us about our daddies and poppas. It was weird last week, but now, I kinda expect it, at least once a day."

On the wall between the two sets of double doors leading into the rec room, Prez noticed six additional double-wide doorways. They looked like normal doorways would, except the center area appeared silvery, almost like a semi-liquid fixture. All six had lit marquee-style signs above them. Two were marked as 'INCOMING'. The third was labeled as LAS VEGAS. The fourth was displaying DES MOINES; and the final two were marked as 'OUTGOING'. Pausing a moment, Prez called, "Alden, are these what I think they are?"

Alden giggled, "Only if you're thinking they're dimensional doors. They were installed last night."

"What about the one to Des Moines, and the other to Vegas?" Prez wondered.

"That's just the last destinations used, Prez," Alden answered. "Carrol and Terrance came here from Vegas for Richie Telford. A little while later, Ronnie went to Des Moines to be with Garrett and the double-twins. Those are the first and only uses of the doors so far. Any kid with a comm-badge is authorized to go certain places, like where friends are and where school is. They work as master-slave pairs, partly to remove the possibility of traffic jams. Kids just tell the door where they want to go. The silvery facade connects to the distant end, a room thousands of miles away, and kids walk through like any other doorway. There are three more in the Command Center, boss. One is fixed for emergency evacuation to the Ark Compound. Another is fixed to Orlando Clan Headquarters. The third is 'dialable' to other divisions' Command Centers. If they had been installed for Thursday night's craziness, we would've had Core Rimmers hither and yon."

Entering the rec room, Prez noticed there were more kids than usual, considering the time of day. Sixteen-year-old Peter Dano, one of the first group of street prostitutes, loudly called, "Welcome back, Prez."

"Hey, Pete," Prez smiled, and then wondered, "What's happening here? Why are so many inside?"

"It rained last night," Pete answered. "It's still cloudy and cool outside."

Roy smiled, "Some of us went over to the pools, but it's just not a pool day, so far."

Pete softly sniggered, "Without the sun, it's major shrinkage, bro." Roy, Prez and Richie nodded understandingly and softly chuckled.

Approaching Prez from the far side of the room, one of the newly assigned dorm leaders, Nell Deckert said, "Some of us decided to stay here in the rec room. A lot decided to go to their dorm rooms to watch TV, or check out the Internet. It's shaping up into that sort of lazy Sunday, unless the clouds break."

"Oh, well that'll make passing out comm-badges pretty easy," Prez chortled.

"That's been done too, Prez," Nell grinned. Pointing out the comm-badges pinned to their shirts, Pete and Roy also grinned. "During breakfast we got them distributed," Nell giggled. "Last night, me, Mollie, Horacio and Sonia talked about it, then we asked Alden if our plan was kewl. So, everybody got a comm-badge with breakfast, adults and kids. All they had to do is tap it, identify themselves to Alden, and it was done."

Walking into the room with Sonia at his side, Horacio said, "Only the boys that were with you at the beach house still need comm-badges, Prez."

"Excellent!" Prez cheered. He smiled at the subset of dorm leaders, saying, "The weather at Kaho'olawe was sunny and clear. Gather the rest of your team mates and take the afternoon off there."

Sonia giggled, "We haven't done much of anything, Prez."

"Yes, you did," Prez grinned. "You thought of what was planned and relieved us of another task. Since school's starting tomorrow, take the rest of the day off. It may be a week before I can do this again, so take a break. The beach house is a lot like the single family homes here. There's surfboards, a replicator for munchies, five bedrooms upstairs, a smaller bedroom on the ground floor, and the basement is set up like a night club with a gaming room on one side. We brought our sons and some brothers, so grab a group of friends and go have fun." He tapped his comm-badge and called, "Matt, are you awake, dude?"

Over the comm-badge, Matt replied, "Have been for hours, Prez. What's up?"

"I'm sending the group of dorm leaders to Kaho'olawe," Prez grinned. "Since some people worked through the night, grab a group of security guys to go back to Kaho'olawe. I'll see all you guys back here for dinner or soon thereafter."

Matt chuckled, "We're on our way. Matt out."

With an open palm, Prez gestured to the door.

Nell grabbed Pete and Mollie took Roy's hand, then they hurried to gather another crew of kids. Following the group to the door, Sonia smirked, "It's funny, Prez specifically mentioned bedrooms." Mischievously flashing his eyes at his girlfriend, Horacio swiftly swept Sonia up off the floor and into his arms. Holding on tightly, Sonia loudly cackled, "HORACIO-O-O!" Appearing as a newlywed couple, they exited the rec room, to the laughter of the other kids.

"You're so bad, Poppa," Richie giggled.

Smiling down at his boy, Prez bounced his eyebrows, saying, "It's a team building tactic. Some teams are much closer than others, ya know?" Rapidly nodding, Richie laughed his ass off. Widely smiling, Prez asked, "You don't believe me?"

"I do!" Richie cackled.

Prez sniggered, "Good, I thought I was going to have to count down." Holding out his hand for Richie to take, Prez suggested, "Let's start walking around the dorms."

Out in the dining room, Keith was finishing up his late breakfast. Dee, Gage, Jonah, Ben and Sammy were gathered around the same table, with milkshake glasses before them. At the next table sat Drew, Corey, Geoff, Lenny and Leo. With their four sons, Sean and Troy came in the dining room from outside. Walking up to the tables where their teammates were sitting, Sean loudly shivered, "BRRR! I don't think it's even seventy degrees out there."

"The wind is what's really making it feel cool," Troy added.

Watching Jason leave the family group and head directly toward Leo, Billy grinned, "Try Michigan in the late fall, Pop."

"New Jersey was cold enough," Troy chuckled, and pulled his eldest son close. Seeing Prez and Richie approaching, Troy said, "Everyone's hiding indoors today, Prez." Richie let go of his pop's hand and scampered directly to Jimmy. The two little boys hugged each other like they'd been separated for days.

"I heard," Prez answered, and then added, "I just sent the dorm leaders to Kaho'olawe for the day, since they've already handled passing out comm-badges. We've got very little to do until the newbies show up, so I thought I'd just stroll around the dorms, to let everyone know we're back home, and to see if anyone needs anything. Would anyone care to join me?"

Troy smiled, "I need to find my mom and tell her she's a grandmother of four." Having found the pool area deserted, AJ and Jerry came into the CIC with their three sons.

"We'd better find Doc Howard first, Lover," Sean giggled. "Mom will need to be revived and given her Valium prescription."

"You're prob'ly right," Troy sniggered. Once they checked with their already mingling four sons, Troy and Sean left the dining room to accomplish their mission.

Keith nodded, "Just let me take my stuff to the dishwasher, baby." He stood and began placing everything on his tray.

Mike and Derrick walked in with Dillon and Randy. Mike smirked, "John told us to leave dorm three's common room. The older dudes supposedly felt uncomfortable with us there."

"The room was packed anyway," Derrick shrugged. "All our parents are there, plus John, Reyes, Relud and Inoyra, and all twenty-seven kids from Friday, and their friends and boyfriends too, of course."

Mike huffed, "Part of me thinks we should go right back there. They've gotta know any of us would be as freaked as they are." While Mike was speaking, Kaleo, Tory and their five boys walked into the dining room.

Finished with his breakfast, Drew said, "I'm sure they do know that. Other than each of us saying that, what more could we contribute? We can offer shoulders to cry on, but that's about it."

Since no one else was saying anything, Prez sighed, "Drew's right. Another thing to consider is that group building bonds, amongst themselves, with their friends, boyfriends and our parents too. This is only their second day here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the original eighty-seven took three days to be comfortable enough to move into dorm one. The street kids from Monday and Tuesday night took a few days getting situated and comfy too." He pointed toward the rec room, grinning, "Now there are a mix of all those kids, and Latin Kings, and the level one orphans in there."

Returning from the kitchen, Keith smiled, "Handfuls of those first rescues are now Core Rimmers and dorm leaders. Something's happening that we didn't intend, but it's working out pretty good, over all. In less than a week, the kids built bonds. Everybody's discovering what they're capable of doing, and most comfortable doing. Christian Beresford is back at the dishwasher, for the third day. According to Miguel, he's showing interest in becoming a chef."

Kaleo grinned, "Now think of the newbies we're about to get. Almost a hundred kids will be just like the rest of us in a few days. They'll be together, with similar histories, living in dorms over at the Oneula Beach base. They'll mingle and mix with other kids here and with other newbies we'll likely get over the course of the next week. Then we'll have other kids taking the odd jobs, a couple more dorm leaders and maybe others might want to become Core Rimmers."

"Which reminds me," Tory quickly said, "we started with less than a hundred and had eight Core Rimmers. Four of us over there at Oneula Beach doesn't seem like enough."

Corey suggested, "What about Sean and Troy? They've gone to tell Judy she's a grandmother. It's a fair bet that they'll need a place for their family."

"That sounds like a good plan," Derrick smiled, "assuming kids want to move into dorms."

Prez nodded, "Just like everyone else, we can get them started on the right foot with a nest." Facing Kaleo, Tory, Jerry and AJ, Prez suggested, "Since we have the time, you four dudes prepare to move out of the dorms here and into townhouses at Oneula. Be back by lunch time and ready for the newbies. While you're doing that, the rest of us will wander around dorms and check on the rest of the Clan."

When the Core Rimmers agreed, Billy giggled, "Me and Jason just moved into the dorm Friday night. We only spent that one night there."

Jerry grinned, "Have Alden help you pack. Your dad and pop will be along soon to help."

Keith told Kaleo, Tory, AJ and Jerry, "When you get to the townhouse, you'll have everything you need except food and household items. Have Alden get the place stocked up, so you guys can at least have stuff to snack on and drink there. Make it your home, dudes."

Stan frowned, "Us kids were just about to go play in the rec room, dad."

"That's fine," Kaleo smiled. "We'll get your stuff packed and moved."

Sean's and Troy's two youngest sons, Jimmy and Scott chimed, "What about us, Jerry?"

"Your stuff is still packed in suitcases," Jerry replied. "You guys can play and we'll get your stuff moved."

Jason asked Leo, "What do you want to do?"

"Spend time with my dad and pop," Leo quickly answered, and then wondered, "Don't you want to be with your dad's too?"

"Yeah, but only if that's kewl with you," Jason grinned. Standing up and sliding his chair under the table, Jason widely smiled, "See ya later?"

Rapidly nodding, Leo giggled, "I'll be here, dude."

Noticing that Leo now had two friends, Jason and Kenny, constantly fawning over him, Drew helplessly sniggered, "All the Core Rimmers and all our sons will be down in the store together, with our newbies after lunch. We'll see each other again soon, dudes."

Kaleo, Tory, AJ, Jerry, the three Hunnicutts, Billy and Jason turned and left the CIC. Dee, Richie, Dillon, Randy, Geoff, Lenny, Scott, Jimmy and all five of Kaleo's and Tory's sons hurried across the dining room for the rec room. As soon as most of the group had left the area, Corey burst into giggles. Sammy, Ben, Gage and Jonah softly chortled.

Seeing his dad and pop, and the other four Core Rimmers, and the four sons all widely grinning, Leo wondered, "What's the joke? Did I miss something?" Corey lost it and howled laughing.

Going to his eldest son, Drew offered his hands, and Leo took them then stood. Wrapping Leo in a hug, Drew softly chuckled, "Kenny and Jason would turn the round world into a spinning diamond if it made you happy."

Loudly gasping, Leo glanced around at his remaining friends. When they nodded, he looked at the other Core Rimmers and saw them slowly nodding. Still holding onto his dad, Leo whimpered then locked eyes with Drew, softly wondering, "What am I gonna do?" Beginning to hiccup, Corey parked his ass in the chair Leo had been sitting in.

Shrugging, Drew smiled, "What do you want to do, Leo? Do you want a boyfriend?"

After thinking for a few moments, Leo giggled, "Yeah, I think so, but... ya know... two? I've only been here a little more than a day! What did I do to deserve two?"

Scratching his jaw as if the answers required thought, Derrick offered, "You're sincere and compassionate..."

Corey loudly hiccuped.

"Curly long blond hair, emotionally expressive intense blue eyes, and about as cute as humanly possible," Keith smiled.

Prez reminded, "And the way you woke us all this morning put the final touches on the picture. Most people want to be needed. This morning, you needed, so all your friends were there for you."

Watching Leo turn shades of Mikyvis purple, Mike chuckled, "Put all that together, and you'll have every unattached gay nine-year-old following your every step, Leo."

Twice in quick succession, Corey hiccuped again.

Turning a dozen shades of red, Leo hollered, "OMIGOD!" and hid his face on his dad's chest.

After checking with one another, Ben, Sammy, Jonah and Gage disjointedly laughed, "You're making it worse, Leo!" Corey howled laughing and hiccuped again.

Reaching for Keith's hand, Prez softly chuckled, "Were we like that at nine?"

Taking Prez's hand and starting for the exit, Keith shrugged, "You were far worse, to me anyway."

Mike and Derrick followed their friends out of the CIC, softly teasing Prez, reminding him that he did often seem much more shy and reserved at the time. Prez defended himself, reminding his husband and friends that appearances and blushes didn't stop him from participating in every new sexual experience they all shared.

Still embracing Leo, who was sufficiently embarrassed enough, Drew tried to get his husband to stop hiccuping, instructing, "Three deep breaths and hold it, angel." While Corey got his hiccups under control, Drew had Alden deliver enough comm-badges for all the Rimmer sons still in the CIC. 

Sixteen communications devices appeared on the table where Sammy, Ben, Gage and Jonah were sitting. Over the room's ceiling speakers, Alden instructed, "Pin it to your shirt and give it a tap then state your names, guys, and I'll assign them to each of you." The four boys each picked up a comm-badge and followed Alden's instructions. Drew pinned one onto Leo's shirt. Still a little flushed, Leo tapped it and stated his full name. By this time, Corey had pretty much stopped laughing and hiccuping, but his face was still very red. He picked up a handful of comm-badges and Drew took the remainder. They then walked with Leo into the rec room to hand out comm-badges to the other Rimmer sons hanging out in there.

Finishing their milkshakes, Sammy and Gage decided to follow Ben and Jonah to the Gibbons' house, where the later two would practice guitar for twenty or thirty minutes. After that, Sammy would show Ben the bedroom he shared with Dee. Jonah would show Gage the bedroom that he shared with Reyes.

While in the rec room passing out comm-badges, a large group of boys and girls surrounded Drew and Corey, all wanting to be introduced to Leo. Corey and Drew didn't think anything of it and began introducing Leo to those kids and the others in the room that hadn't directly asked to be introduced. Thirty-something names later, Leo's head was practically spinning off his shoulders. As they were leaving the room, Leo softly asked his dad and pop, "How can you remember all those kids?"

Corey shrugged, "It took the first day or two to get names associated with faces and personalities. If you think you're straight, Earleen and Noreen Maygar are interested."

"Omigod," Leo bashfully muttered.

Drew huffed, "Corey!"

"What?" Corey giggled, "They walked away giggling! We know the reason why."

Shaking his head, Drew smiled, "These kids were about as shy as you those first days, Leo. Now they see a new face and want to meet him. I know for certain that Aaron Farris and Stephen Wickes, and Aki and Hajime are gay couples, so it's not like they're treating you any differently than anyone else. You're getting recognized a little more because you're with me and Corey."

Crossing the dining room, Corey seriously asked, "Didn't you have friends in LA?"

Nodding, Leo said, "Sure, a couple, but none that were more than friends. Now I've got a bunch of cousins who are my friends, and two others that would like to be my boyfriend, and two girls... I just don't know... how to act... or why things are happening the way they are."

Walking out of the CIC, Corey smiled, "Remember what we talked about in the store, Leo?"

"Sure I do. That was awesome, Pop. I never knew how to tell... ya know, my real parents how I was feeling. Now I do, but it's still so weird."

Following the path to dorm one, Drew sighed, "You're adjusting, Leo. Don't rush it, okay? All you need to do is take it all in, just like every other kid here has, and the newbies still are. There's really nothing to worry about. As for your real parents, I'll bet they knew how you felt without being told. My folks knew about me, Keith and Prez too. We can feel how much you loved them, and how much they loved you, without John's N-Gen empathy or telepathy. It might also be that they're watching over you, like you dreamed and asked them to do. You were a happy family and they want you to stay happy."

"Just like all your other friends in LA, you'll make new friends here," Corey assured. "Like I told you, me and your dad were friends for years before we started hugging and kissing. Look at Sammy with Ben, and Gage with Jonah; they're doing the same stuff they were doing all week, just as partners in a group now. I don't see anything seriously sexual happening with either couple for a while. They'll be a lot like me and dad were when we were their ages, holding hands, hugging and kissing, and getting silly because boys dicks have minds of their own."

Stopping outside the doors to dorm one, Drew reminded, "Eventually, Jason and Kenny will realize that they're both trying to get your undivided attention. What you need to do is tell them where you're at. So, tell us where you're at, like you might tell them."

Scowling, Leo blinked, "I like them, a lot, but not like boyfriends. We just met and got friendly. Neither is special right now, like a boyfriend should be."

"That's perfectly kewl too," Corey quickly said. "That'll tell them to slow down or look for a boyfriend elsewhere. If you say that to both of them, with the same caring in your voice, they'll understand perfectly. Then it's their choice to grow a friendship with you or move on without you."

Drew nodded, "The Hunnicutts arrived here with you. Jason got here the day before. You're all in the same age bracket too, so it should be kewl with them to be your friend, for as long as it takes for real deep feelings to grow."

"Love conquers all," Leo softly muttered, remembering what his parents always said.

Knowing why Leo said that, Corey and Drew nodded and chorused, "Yeah."

Drew reached for the door into dormitory one and opened it. Corey started to walk in when Leo checked his shorts pockets. Leo loudly gasped then whined, "Where is it?"

Spinning around in the doorway, Corey asked, "Where is what?"

Beginning to shed tears, Leo cried, "My iPod Nano! I came here with it, I know I did! My parents gave me that for my last birthday. Everywhere we went... everywhere I went, it was in my pocket. Where did I leave..."

"It fell out of your pocket Friday night, while you were getting tickled," Drew quickly and loudly interrupted, and embraced his freaked out boy. Hurrying over, Corey went to his son, effectively sandwiching him. Over Leo's weeping, Drew said, "I picked it up, got you the charger and put it in an end table in our basement."

Shaking like a leaf, Leo hugged his new dad tightly, crying, "Really? Omigod! I thought it was lost and gone forever. Can we go get it now, please, dad?"

"Sure we can," Drew softly assured, and planted a kiss on his boy's forehead. Pulling back just far enough to look into Leo's eyes, Drew pleaded, "Just slow down and take it easy for me, okay? It scares us when you get scared, ya know?"

Wiping his eyes and nodding, Leo forced a small grin, promising, "I'll be fine, as soon as I see it and have it, dad."

Panting nervously as the Leo sandwich broke apart, Corey huffed, "It's safe, Leo. We're a family now, lookin' after each other and all these important things."

"It's so important too, pop," Leo shared. "My last birthday, it was the one major thing I asked for. It went every place with me." They started walking towards the house. Leo nervously giggled, "Picture it, a couple o' times my dad worked late, so my mom took me grocery shopping. A real fun place for me to be, right?"

Drew chuckled, "Yeah, real fun."

"Like sitting in a dentist's chair," Corey sniggered.

Nodding, Leo smiled, "So the ear-buds are in my ears and I'm pushing the cart. Every now and then, I realize my mom is speaking. I take an ear-bud out, wondering, 'What's that, ma? Were you talking to me?' As if she was talking to herself! She'd roll her eyes and giggle. I'd crack up and stuff the ear-bud back in my ear. Every trip to school on the bus, I'd be listening to tunes. It was a two hour trip into the mountains. Twice last summer we went up to Big Bear. All the way there and all the way back, I'm chillin' in the backseat, listening to my music, not theirs. A lot of really kewl memories are in that little iPod."

"That's what makes it special," Corey simply stated.

Glancing over at his son, Drew smiled, "Understand something that we already do, Leo; we're your dad and pop now, but we know you had parents, very good parents. We're not trying to replace them and won't ever try. What matters now is that we started loving you at the Wells Fargo Arena."

"Why?" Leo wondered.

Corey shrugged, "It's you, Leo; it's in your eyes, in your expressions, in the way you hold yourself and walk. While I was still on the ground with your brothers, you had given Grandma Morrison your trust, and easily transferred it to our little family. You need what you've always had, and we can easily give that to you."

Drew asked, "In the dining room, when Corey was cracking up over the boys that like you, what did you really think?"

Leo giggled, "I was confused, but Pop was obviously having fun, so it was all good."

Drew asked, "Do you see what we mean?"

Shaking his head, Leo admitted, "I don't think so."

Corey explained, "Another boy might have gone one way or the other, becoming very serious or angry because I was laughing, or becoming just as silly and forgetting all about the reasons why. Not you, Leo; you accepted both, what was going on around you and what was felt internally."

"That's why we started loving you and love you more now," Drew easily admitted. "You're serious, and you're fun; you're willing to goof around, and equally willing to share your deepest feelings, like this morning with Doc Wiener. In addition to a whole bunch of other memories, that iPod got you through a very rough night. Now we know why it was with you in the first place. All that is also why you made friends so easily yesterday, and why two boys in particular find you irresistible."

"Please don't call me that," Leo whined through giggles. Corey and Drew cracked up. Cradling his head with both arms, Leo couldn't help himself; with both of his new fathers hysterical, he quickly found himself laughing along.

Still giggling, they stopped at the front door. Drew took an extra minute to program the door to allow Leo access. As soon as they stepped inside, they immediately smelled something sweet cooking. Drew loudly called, "Aunt Kathy?"

"We're in the kitchen, Drew," Kathleen Marr responded.

They started down the foyer to the kitchen, but were met half-way by Carmella, Renee, Dewi, Kokaku, and lastly Bruce. All five had flour sprinkled in their hair, on their faces and on their clothes. Carmella ran directly into Drew's waiting arms, loudly giggling, "We was makin' choco'chip cookies!"

Lifting his little sister, Drew chuckled, "I can tell."

Bruce grinned, "Aunt Kathy showed us how. We mixed the dough and she works the oven."

"And we eats 'em up!" Dewi and Kokaku proudly chimed, pushing Renee and Bruce into giggling fits.

Corey sniggered, "Did you leave any for us?"

"Lots!" All five mini-chefs cheerfully answered.

Spinning around, Bruce led the pack back into the kitchen. There they found a large tray containing piles of chocolate chip cookies on the dinette table. In the kitchen and wiping up a counter-top, Aunt Kathy smiled, "On a damp, dreary day like this, cookies seemed like the best remedy."

Everybody helped themselves to a cookie, except Leo, who softly prompted, "Dad?"

Still chewing, Drew nodded and gestured toward the basement door. Leo went there, opened it and went down stairs. Following his son, Drew swallowed then said, "It's all in the end table drawer, at the far wall, beyond the sofa, Leo."

Leo went and opened the only drawer. There was nothing else in there except his iPod, ear-buds and the plastic encased charger of a type that Leo had never seen before. It wasn't a cable to a computer, or an AC adapter, and it looked more like a case for the Nano, but the packaging read 'Apple iPod Nano Kinetic Charger'. Spinning on his heals, Leo smiled, "I thought I'd lost it somewhere in LA or Des Moines. Do you know what the word kinetic means, dad?"

"It means motion or movement," Drew answered, and then wondered, "Why?"

"I've never heard of a kinetic charger for any iPod before," Leo giggled.

Going over to his son, Drew asked, "Can I see it?" Nodding, Leo handed over the packaged charger and then pocketed his beloved iPod and ear-buds. Scowling, Drew read the package. It had an Apple logo on it, so it wasn't some off-brand crap that wouldn't work. Drew called, "Alden, is this charger something new?"

"It's very new," Alden giggled. "Thanks to our Clan's ties to Steve Jobs, we're getting to try out several new products for Apple. That's the first one anybody in the Clan has ever had the opportunity to try. The unit is a charger and a rubber water-proof case too, so it should keep your iPod safe from any sort of damage, Leo. Let your dad or me know how it works, and if it meets your needs and the hype on the package. Then we'll let Uncle Steve know if it's good for release, or to go back to the drawing board."

Coming most of the way downstairs, Corey heard much of Alden's explanation. Sitting on a step, Corey said, "Later tonight, when we go back to our townhouse, we'll help you and your brothers set up the Macbooks you've got waiting for you."

Rapidly blinking, Leo giggled, "I've only ever used Windows machines."

Drew smiled, "Me and your pop are computer geeks. Did you notice the computers in our master bedroom?"

"Yup, four of 'em."

"Two are Linux desktops, one MacBook Pro, and one Windows desktop," Corey explained. "We develop stuff on the Linux machines, and the other two are for testing what we've developed."

Drew cheekily smiled, "The only time you'll hear me or pop cuss is over Microslouch Schwindows."

Leo giggled, "It's not that bad, is it?"

Handing the charger back to Leo, Drew shrugged, "No other operating system is as prone to viruses. No other operating system will crash because of a misbehaving application. The app will crash, but all the other running apps and the OS chug merrily onward, for weeks without a reboot."

"I guess I'll be learning a new computer," Leo smiled. "I'll also have to rebuild my iTunes library from scratch. First, I need to cut off this plastic packaging and try out the charger."

"There are scissors up in the kitchen," Drew said, and then turned around. Corey stood and started back up the stairs, with Drew and Leo trailing behind. In moments, Corey had asked Aunt Kathy for scissors. Leo set about the task of opening the hermetically sealed package. Once it was open, he read the instructions and put his iPod Nano in the case. It only added a few millimeters of rubber around the small, gum pack sized unit. According to the instructions, it would only take a few minutes of walking for a completely discharged Nano to have enough of a charge for use, and as long as the user kept moving, the unit would continue to charge. Aunt Kathy removed a fresh batch of cookies from the oven, distracting Leo from further reading. Going over to the table where his dads and the other kids were sitting and pigging out on cooled chocolate chip cookies, Leo helped himself and thanked his dad for the charger.

AJ, Jerry and the three Hunnicutts transported from dorm one room eight to Oneula Beach townhouse number three's master bedroom. Jerry took the boys to their new bedrooms. Seeing his two little brothers thrilled with their new room, Kenny remained there to help them unpack. In no time, Shaun and Mike were paying more attention to the game station, television, stereo and computers in their room than to where their clothes were being stowed. Looking up at Jerry with an exasperated expression, Kenny sighed. Jerry sputtered and tried to hold his laughter to mere chuckles. Once the two youngest were set, Jerry led Kenny into the other room to help him unpack.

Kenny grinned, "I've got this, pop."

Nodding and flinging the suitcase onto a bed, Jerry warmly smiled, "I know you do. I just wanted to tell you how awesome you made me feel before, when you told me about the chat with Doc Wiener, and how we should deal with Shaun and Mike."

Joining his pop at the bed and helping to open the suitcase, Kenny blushed and explained, "They didn't have nightmares Friday night or last night. Let's leave it alone until we need to talk to them about it. For at least a few nights, I'm sure I'll be sleeping in their room."

Taking the packages of white briefs from the suitcase and heading to the dresser, Jerry asked, "How do you feel about everything that's happening?"

Kenny sighed long and hard, then shared, "You and dad have been great since we met. I think the two men that helped us get out of New York City were a gay couple. Shaun and Mike made you and dad our fathers at Des Moines. Neither of you seemed the least bit bothered, but I have to wonder if you were bothered."

"Nope," Jerry quickly answered. "We were made Core Rimmers during dinner, about an hour before going to Des Moines. We knew we could adopt, but we really weren't thinking of adopting quite so fast. You, Mike and Shaun changed our minds. For you three, we want to be dads. It was automatic, kind of like how you're automatically their big bro. Until Friday night, my happiest day was the previous Friday, when I was rescued from bad foster parents. That was made even better when I arrived at a house and found Arnie there. I felt the same chills yesterday, when Prez announced the adoptions official. I really am very happy with all three of you, and our new family. Arnie's just as happy, Kenny."

Kenny smiled and wiped his eyes, softly admitting, "I thought we were really screwed when my parents didn't come home. I thought we'd never have a good place to live, or good parents again."

Seeing his boy struggling to be a grown man, Jerry turned and closed the door. He then went to Kenny and wrapped his arms around him. Burying his face in his new pop's belly, Kenny held on tightly to Jerry and sobbed. With tears welling in his eyes, Jerry promised, "We'll be the best parents we can be, I promise. Tell us what you need, Kenny. Whatever it takes, we'll make it happen. We're a family now. You're the big bro that needs to speak for your two little bros. We're the dads who will answer all the questions."

With his mouth mostly covered by Jerry's shirt, Kenny cried, "Why did my folks die? Why did Leo's folks die? Why did so many die Friday? Why... why did we get so lucky to find new parents the very same day? How can anything be so wrong and feel so right at the same time?" Kenny looked up for an answer. Instead, he found tears pouring down Jerry's cheeks. Kenny sniffled, and then wondered, "Why are you crying?"

Jerry shrugged, "I'm sad because you are, and because I don't have many answers to give you. I'll do my best to get the answers though. We'll find out what happened to your parents. The first chance I get, I'll talk to Prez and Keith. Arnie and I are here for you and your brothers, whenever you need us. Even tomorrow, when we're at school, we're still just a comm-badge tap away. We'll be a real family, I swear we will."

Nodding, Kenny wiped his eyes. He forced a small smile then said, "We are already, pop. I know I could call you by your name, but I really don't want to. I want you and dad, just like Shaun and Mike. This is our home. I want to come back here later. More than ever, I want to make something bad turn into something good. After spending the day at the beach house yesterday, I know that can happen, with you and dad and my brothers."

Jerry widely smiled, "My big boy was forced to be a young man way before his time. From the moment we met, I saw you trying so hard to be a man for your brothers. You need to return to being only a brother again, just like you were yesterday, Ken. Watching you yesterday, I was so proud of you so many times. I'm more proud now, having my little man tell me what he needs and wants, for himself and for his brothers. We'll make this the very best family ever, I promise."

Matching his pop's smile, Kenny nodded, "I know it. Thanks for listening, pop." He stepped back and returned to unpacking his suitcase. Picking up packages of socks, Kenny smirked, "Will I ever get to wear these?"

Jerry chuckled, "December and January are usually pretty rainy and cool. When we picked out sneakers, you said that you liked to play basketball. Anytime you're wearing sneakers you'll need socks."

Ripping open the package, Kenny put the new socks in his dresser drawer, softly muttering, "I wonder if Leo or any of my cousins shoot hoops?"

Taking a pair of jeans to hang in the closet, Jerry shrugged, "What's the deal with Leo?"

Kenny giggled, "He's really nice; a new friend who seems to like me too."

"That's a good beginning," Jerry offered. "That's where your dad and I were."

Before Jerry finished his sentence, the door flew open and Mike ran in giggling, "Shaun took a crap and there wasn't toilet paper! His whole world almost ended!" Jerry sputtered and uncontrollably cracked up.

Kenny huffed then smirked, "Me and pop were talkin', but did you knock, Mike?"

Mike scowled and whined, "Don't start that again, Kenny! We was all nekkid yesterday. We're all boys in this house now!"

Picking up his middle son, Jerry chortled, "Kenny's a big boy and there's a price to be paid for not knocking, ya know." Jerry began tickling Mike, and Kenny hurried over to get in his licks too. Loudly squealing, Mike promised to remember to knock on closed bedroom doors.

Walking into the room, carrying Shaun on his hip, AJ grinned and loudly announced, "I had Alden get us some basics in this house, including Oreo's and milk, if anyone's interested." In a flash, Kenny was out of his bedroom and stampeding down the stairs.

"NO-OO-OO!" Shaun screamed, "Kenny's gonna eat up all da cookies, daddy!"

"He's gotta find them first," AJ laughed, and hurried downstairs.

Following with Mike, Jerry sniggered, "I assume we have toilet paper too now?"

Hiding his face on AJ's shoulder, Shaun giggled, "It's plain white."

Mike grinned, "Our mommy used to get toilet paper that was pink with flowers. It drove daddy nuts!"

AJ cracked up. Jerry chuckled, "Alden, do we have glasses for milk with our cookies?"

From the ceiling speakers, Alden giggled, "In the kitchen cupboards there are glasses, plates, silverware, pots and pans. All that stuff was already here, Jerry. I provided the food, drinks, and other household necessities, like plain white toilet paper."

Coming down the final steps into the living room, AJ, Jerry, Mike and Shaun saw their new living room, complete with a large sectional sofa, two recliners, end tables, lamps, a large sixty-inch wall mounted television and the Bose surround sound system. To their left, they saw the large oak dining table, eight chairs, and three bar stools at the breakfast counter. They went into the kitchen, where Kenny had climbed up onto the counters to search the cupboards for the Oreo cookies. Seeing his dad, pop and brothers, Kenny gushed, "This place is so kewl! Our old kitchen was painted yellow and had more flowery wallpaper. This is painted white, with no girlie flowers. I think the countertops are real granite too." Locking eyes with Jerry, he wondered, "Did you ask for a place like this, pop?"

Shaking his head, Jerry smiled, "I can only assume all the townhomes have the same sort of stuff." He sat Mike down on the counter then tapped his comm-badge, calling, "Jerry to Kaleo."

"Here, bro," Kaleo replied. Deciding to imitate Kenny, Mike stood up on the counter, almost giving Jerry his first parental heart-attack.

Following his middle son from the floor, so he could react if needed, Jerry asked, "Have you been to your townhouse yet?"

"We just got here," Kaleo sniggered.

Tory laughed, "Is this place friggin' awesome or what?"

Jerry chuckled, "Yeah, that's why I called. We've got everything here, dudes. There's a really large fridge, stove and microwave in the kitchen. Kenny took glasses out that are a light frosty green color..."

"They match the plates too, pop," Kenny giggled, and opened another cupboard to show the rest of the family a plate that was mostly white with light frosty green around the edge.

Kaleo said, "Our glasses and plates are a powder blue color."

Pouring glasses of milk for the three boys, AJ wondered, "Which townhouse did you take?"

"The end unit, number one," Tory answered.

Kaleo asked, "Do you have a big black leather sectional sofa in your living room?"

"Ours is brown leather," Jerry answered, "and we've got a killer entertainment center. The TV looks the same as the one in the Hundsers' basement and in the dorm common room."

"Yep, that's what we've got too," Kaleo happily chortled.

"Upstairs, we've got a king sized bed," AJ shared.

"OH, PLEASE GOD!" Tory hollered.

Kaleo sniggered, "We haven't even been upstairs yet, but Tory just went up to check it out."

Putting the package of Oreos down on the counter and opening it, Jerry laughed, "Somebody fucked up, big time, bro. Don't they know we're orphans? We would've been happy with simple stuff, but this is just like the stuff at the beach house."

AJ giggled, "If we didn't have other stuff to do, I'd stay here with my new family all day and into the night."

Across Jerry's comm-badge, everyone heard Tory enthusiastically singing, "Kaleo, get your sexy brown ass up here, before I faint!" Jerry, AJ and all three of their boys cracked up.

Kaleo chortled, "I'll talk with you in a bit, guys. Kaleo out."

Taking a cookie from the package, Jerry shrugged, "It sounds like all the townhouses are basically the same."

Around the partially chewed Oreo in his mouth, AJ mumbled, "I guess we might've known. Our dorm rooms were awesome. A townhouse for three times as many is three times more awesome."

Shaun giggled, "We gots a big boy's dresser an' beds, jus' like Kenny!"

Splitting his Oreo cookie, Jerry started licking the sweet creamy filling. AJ coughed and began giggling at his partner's provocative show. Glancing around and seeing his pop and dad being goofy, Kenny softly sniggered, "After our snack, I think dad and pop need some alone time, bros." His two younger brothers giggled and nodded.

Meanwhile, over at dorm one, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick had finished wandering around the first floor. Seeing their leaders in the hall, some of the boys came out of their rooms and reported that the Internet was returning to normal. In the common room, Makan Kama was painting and a small gathering of younger boys were watching television. The Core Rimmers then went upstairs to check on the girls. The only big difference between the first floor and the second floor was that the boys generally kept their dorm room doors open. Only a few of the doors upstairs were open, but a large gathering of girls were in the common room watching TV. Some had their laptop computers with them. A few were updating their personal web pages, while others were just browsing the various pages to see what the other Clan bases looked like and what kids were listed there.

Not seeing Melonie Correro around, Prez wondered where she was. Twelve-year-old Leia Iona answered, "She went with Sonia, Horacio and the other dorm leaders, Prez." Speechless, Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike glanced at one another.

Noticing that the Core Rimmers were flabbergasted, Lani Keawe smiled, "Don't worry, dudes. Sonia is Melonie's roommate. We all know she's fine and won't try to hurt herself again, like last week."

"The boys here proved that she's safe," Ipo 'aukai explained. "Melonie's just not sure what she wants now, long term. Since men have hurt her so badly, she's not sure if she can hook up with a boy. As much as Sonia and Doc Wiener have helped, watching Horacio with Sonia has helped Melonie too. If I were inclined, Horacio's exactly the type of boy I'd want to be with." Softly giggling, Lani leaned over and kissed Ipo on the mouth, making Ipo's statements perfectly clear. Once again, four gay Core Rimmers were dumbstruck. Noticing their expressions, Ipo smiled, "What did you want us to do, dudes; tell you we're lesbians?"

Shaking his head, Prez grinned, "Bluntly telling me or any of us isn't necessary, Ipo. I'd just like it if everyone felt comfy about who they are and the partner they've chosen. You've all seen us kissing our partners. I hope you don't think you have to hide your feelings."

"We don't," Ipo and Lani chimed.

Ipo explained, "Maybe some other couple would kiss in public, but it's not our way. It's like many of the boys have no problem showing off around the pools. Boys do things that way, very blunt and direct. On the other side of the fence, some girls might want to be almost as direct, but we choose to be a little more discreet."

Understandingly, Keith nodded and smiled, "Tell the other girls, no matter what their sexuality, that we don't expect anyone to feel like they have to hide anything. We've never been closeted and sure don't expect anyone else to feel like they have to be."

Disjointedly, all the girls in the second floor common room agreed to tell the other girls. The Core Rimmers waved and left the girls in the common room. The shorter hallway of the second floor seemed to be deserted. Heading downstairs, Mike chuckled, "So Prez, you're suddenly into muff divers?"

Prez sniggered, "Keith and I were eight and you had just turned nine the first time we sucked dick. I'm very happy with my sexuality and sex life, and I think we all made that abundantly clear yesterday."

"This is their home," Keith reminded. "They should feel as comfortable as we are showing a little affection."

Derrick admitted, "I was only stunned. I guess it's just as well I was shocked in a small group, rather than in the dining room, where everyone could see me chasing my eyeballs around the floor."

Mike hummed then said, "I guess we should've guessed that girls were hooking up, since everybody else seems to be, including our sons." Reaching the first floor landing, he held open the door for his friends, saying, "I'm completely thrilled with Jonah and Ben. All I'd like to know is why nobody said a word about Gage liking Jonah."

Roughly pulling Mike by the arm away from the door, Keith sniggered, "Hey bro, my kid's got the hots for your kid." Prez and Derrick cracked up.

"That's great," Mike giggled, "better late than never. I guess the next question is, should we talk to any of them about it?"

"Only if they want to talk," Prez easily answered.

Derrick nodded, "They're building the friendships now. When they're ready to take the first sexual steps, they'll figure it all out, just like we did. All it took was each of us giving a damn during every first step. Caring for each other is all it takes, slow progress, orally and anally."

The four Core Rimmers walked into dormitory two. Again, many doors were left open. In room number three, Hugh Gartrell sat at his desk before his laptop computer. Knocking on the door frame, Prez checked, "How's it goin', Hugh?"

"Good, Prez," Hugh answered before even turning around. When he did turn and saw the other three Rimmers with Prez, he got up and smiled, "Kelly and me would like to get a water fountain for our room. Is that kewl?"

Prez blinked, "I'm not sure what you're referring to."

"It's like a sculpture that you fill with water and it trickles down through a little pump," Hugh explained. He then chuckled, "We went to hang out at the diving well last night and Wednesday night. The sound of the pool filters had us yawning up a storm, so we came back here, put the TV on and we were out cold in minutes." He then waved the four Rimmers into his room and showed them what he was considering on his laptop at Nile-dot-com. "This is a pretty big model," Hugh offered, "but it's the one me and Kelly like the most. It would be a night-light as well as soothing water bubbling over little rocks."

All four Rimmers nodded and Derrick smiled, "Very kewl. If that's what you dudes want, go for it."

Keith wondered, "Where's Kelly?"

"He went with Horacio and Sonia," Hugh replied.

Prez wondered, "Why didn't you go too?"

Hugh shrugged, "I didn't feel like it. Since I got here, every day's been kind o' busy, so I decided to chill."

Mike confirmed, "Everything else is good?"

Hugh nodded, "Really good. What's most awesome is not having to sell my ass to eat. Now I can choose, and there are so many really cute guys and girls to choose from, I can't make up my mind." All four Rimmers and Hugh chuckled.

Derrick smiled, "There are ninety-five newbies arriving after lunch."

Hugh wondered, "How many are teenagers?"

"Probably about a third of 'em," Mike answered.

Keith recalled, "You're bi, right?"

"On the streets, I had to be to make the bucks," Hugh replied. "The only good part of that whole two years was realizing it ain't dick or tits that make the person. I'll go either way to have a real relationship, like you dudes have."

Prez checked, "That's not happening with Kelly?"

Shaking his head, Hugh grinned, "Similar pasts is what makes us kewl roommates, but friends is where we want to be. We'd both like something more than memories of our time on the street."

"Understandable," Derrick softly said.

Keith assured, "The right person will make themselves known, Hugh."

"Soon, I hope," Hugh cheekily grinned, "like before I have to ask for a new mattress, because I've drilled a hole in this one." The Rimmers cracked up and left Hugh to his online shopping.

A few doors down, twelve-year-old roommates Jeff Cummings and Thomas Cork were sitting cross-legged on the floor playing a video game in room nine. Keith checked on the boys. All they wanted was another week off before school started. Since they were level one orphans that just arrived on Thursday, Prez told them they could choose to take the time to adjust or decide to go to school.

In the common room was another gathering of boys, mostly ex-Latin King kids between five- and twelve-years-old. Two were playing checkers and most of the others were watching TV cartoons. Tommy Cork had followed the Core Rimmers, and began tinkering at the piano. Since the boy was interested, Keith spent a few extra minutes teaching Tommy some simple exercises.

The remainder of dormitory two visits were uneventful, inasmuch as the kids were glad to see their leaders, but didn't have much to say or share. Since dorm three was mostly boys rescued from the Battle Of Earth, who were still in a meeting with Doc Wiener, Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike skipped that building and went to dormitory four to visit the UNIT base and personal security. There they found AJ's, Jerry's, Kaleo's and Tory's personal security teams preparing to move to Oneula Beach.

When they walked back outside again, the dreary cloud cover over the South side of Oahu was burning off and the sun was shining through. Judy Faris approached the four leaders, pleasantly beaming, "You made me a grandmother exactly one week after arriving, and I couldn't be happier." The boys started chuckling and giggling. Judy smiled, "Of course, it also means the family has grown such that I told Troy it was time to get a place of his own."

Approaching from behind Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick, Troy loudly laughed, "In other words, she's kicking me out on my ass, Prez."

"No," Judy giggled, "it means one middle aged grandmother in a two bedroom flat with her son, son-in-law and their four sons is a bit too much. Besides, with you out of the way, I can concentrate on several very available adult men here, and perhaps rebuild another family by adopting some adorable children of my own." Troy smirked and rolled his eyes. The other five Core Rimmers cracked up.

Troy groused, "Thank goodness you said that you're adopting."

"My biological clock is winding down, but not dead yet," Judy teased. Troy's jaw dropped. Again, five Core Rimmers roared laughing.

Rolling his eyes, Troy waited for Sean and the other four teammates to slowly soften to mere chortling. Locking eyes with Prez, Troy grinned, "I know you want us all together, but since that's not reasonable, I thought we'd take a townhouse at Oneula, saving our boys from grandma's bad influence."

Judy giggled, "I could say so many things, but Tiger and Lover would implode, leaving us with two fewer leaders, so I'll leave it alone, for now." Wondering what they had said or done that Judy heard or saw, Sean and Troy flushed scarlet red.

Keith chuckled, "Six leaders at the other base would be awesome, dudes."

"We just told our personal security to pack and move over there too," Sean shared.

Tapping his comm-badge, Prez called Donnie Williams, simply to insure that the Oneula Beach base security would be available by evening. Donnie replied, "So you're aware, your base security forces will become Clan Security, effective immediately. After this weekend's insanity, JJ, Seth and I agreed that Special Forces is the military, and JJ leads Clan Security. Going forward, when the other three bases are ready to be occupied, contact Clan HQ and they'll allocate resources for you. Your Clan Security are moving over to Oneula Beach now, Prez."

Judy interjected, "Chefs, housekeeping and lawn care were told yesterday to be there today."

"Excellent!" Prez cheered, "You guys make my life so easy. Thank you."

Donnie asked, "What's the expected population, Prez?"

"Right off the bat, ninety-five newbie kids, six Core Rimmers, their thirteen sons, another twenty adult staff, some of which have kids, and the fifty base security, so about one-hundred-ninety," Prez answered.

"They're your fifty security, Prez," Donnie teased. "Seth or JJ will take over only when something's wrong that you need to report. Otherwise, they report to you and the Core Rimmers. I hope to visit you guys later today. Donnie out."

Prez groaned, "I guess I need to put someone in charge at Oneula too then."

Scowling, Keith wondered, "Why, baby? That only muddies the waters."

Sean softly offered, "Kaleo's most familiar with everything, but Troy doesn't have the same pasts that the rest of us have. I'd immediately defer any big decisions to them, unless it was big enough to ask you about, Prez."

"Then that's the way it'll be," Prez smiled. He checked with Sean and Troy, asking, "You've still got some time to get your move started, if you want?"

Troy nodded, "Yeah, we might as well."

Sean reminded Troy, "There's only a few things of mine still in my dorm room. Most of my stuff has already moved, so let's start at the condo."

Sean and Troy started for the condominium. Judy smiled, "I want to meet my grandsons during lunch."

"Yeah, so you can tell them the same stories you told Sean," Troy snickered. "That'll be real near the top of my list, ma."

Waving her hand and fingers, Judy giggled, "I'll see you boys later. There's still laundry to move around."

"See ya later," the four remaining Rimmers chanted.

"Dad!" Leo yelled, "My iPod's workin' again already!" 

Corey loudly laughed, "What's that, Leo? They didn't hear you at Maui." Geoff and Lenny cracked up.

Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike turned slightly to watch Drew's and Corey's family approaching. Leo had ear-buds in and a wire leading down into his shorts pocket.

Grinning at Leo, Drew sniggered, "That's one feature to tell Uncle Steve about." 

Keith blinked, "Which Uncle Steve is this?"

"Steve Jobs," Drew answered, "one of the Orlando dudes is related to the CEO of Apple Computers."

Corey explained, "The iPod Nano that Leo came here with needed a charger, so Drew got one from Alden. It's a recently developed kinetic charger that Leo's testing for Uncle Steve and Apple. In the walk from your parents' house to here, barely two minutes, and it's already working."

Going over to his new nephew, Keith slid in close, and pulled one of Leo's ear-buds. Keith put it to his own ear and sang along;

I don't care who you are
Where you're from
What you did
As long as you love me
Who you are
Where you're from
Don't care what you did
As long as you love me

Every little thing that you have said and done
Feels like it's deep within me
Doesn't really matter if you're on the run
It seems like we're meant to be

At the next chorus, Derrick, Mike and Prez danced, clapped their hands and snapped their fingers in time, and sang backup vocals for Keith.

I don't care who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
What you did
As long as you love me (I don't know)
Who you are (who you are)
Where you're from (where you're from)
Don't care what you did
As long as you love me (yeah)

I've tried to hide it so that no one knows
But I guess it shows
When you look into my eyes
What you did and where you're comin' from
I don't care, as long as you love me, baby

Leo giggled, "You dudes know and play Backstreet too?"

Lenny nodded, "The very first night, right after we was rescued, their band played at a luau, and that was one of the songs."

Corey told Leo, "That night and before, the band's name was Old Habits. Now they're Platinum Habits. They can play about two-hundred and fifty of the best hits from the past forty years."

"Some stuff wasn't exactly a big hit," Mike offered, "but we play it because it's challenging us, as musicians and as a band."

Prez grinned, "Right after our newbies show up, I think we'll hit the store, have a meeting in the auditorium, and then we'll jam for at least an hour."

Keith smirked. "We never went to any other store as often as we have this one since Monday. If we went to music stores this often, the entire Clan might go broke."

Doc Wiener, parents and kids walked out of dormitory three. All of them were heading towards the CIC. The rescued Battle Of Earth boys looked perfectly fine, the Core Rimmers noticed. Phil Nash pointed at Drew's family, and then he and his big brother Craig started jogging toward the Rimmers. Following along, Scott, Lance, Travis, Erik, Chris and Jay were softly chuckling. All eight boys hollered, "DREW!"

Slouching, Drew impatiently yelled, "WHA-AT?" All eight of the boys sped up to a full run, directly at Drew.

Before John had even stepped outside with his family, he playfully warned Drew, 'Better run, bro. Those dudes are hell bent on specifically thanking you for bringing them here. You're goin' swimmin'!'

Jogging away, down the path between the dorms and the CIC, Drew giggled, "It's not my fault! Blame the Romulans!" Knowing that he had little chance of escaping fifteen- and fourteen-year-old boys, Drew turned left and ran down the path between the dorms and the townhomes, toward the pools. The best Drew hoped for was making it to the diving well and jumping in, before he was captured and tossed in. Giggling, Corey, Leo, Lenny and Geoff followed after Drew.

Suddenly, more boys aged between eleven- and thirteen-years-old appeared on the path between dorms one and two. Most surprisingly, the Vulcan boy, twelve-year-old Vaziik was among the pack and as tall as any of the thirteen-year-old boys. Laughing his ass off, Drew turned up the juice and bolted for the pools.

Corey and the rest of the family followed the pack of older boys. Many meters ahead of the older set, the set of slightly younger boys were gaining ground on Drew. "Alden?" Drew laughed.

"No," Alden giggled.

"Please?" Drew begged.

"Nope," Alden giggled, "and by the way, I've decided to be thirteen, pubescent, and a Hawaiian version of you and your brothers. I might not have the longest dick amongst my brothers, but it definitely will be thickest and uncut."

Roaring hysterically, Drew could barely run. Moments later, so many pairs of hands had a hold on him that he couldn't even hit the ground and curl up to protect himself. In seconds, the original eight older boys were there too. Drew was ceremonially stripped and lifted high up off the ground, with Vaziik, Fred and Chauncey Eckhart underneath Drew, holding up his back and buns. The Vulcan boy was the quietest of the lot, but one of the strongest, and anyone watching would've seen him wearing an expression of satisfaction.

During the remaining steps to his watery retribution, Drew giggled, "Why me? Why not John, Stephen or Corey?"

"Because you're kewler," Travis sniggered.

"All three of them look up to you," Scott Shetley chuckled.

Craig reminded, "How many other twelve-year-olds don't piss their pants when fifteen-year-olds scream at them? Not too many."

"All you did was spin around and yell back," Phil giggled.

Jay playfully shared, "Not to mention, you drop your drawers pretty darn fast for a shy gay boy." Hearing that, Corey, Leo, Lenny and Geoff cracked up.

Chris chortled, "Given what we've seen so far, in another five or six years, when you're done growing, you could easily be the sexiest Core Rimmer of the lot, assuming you're not all turtled up from being tossed in pools."

Arriving at the diving well, Craig instructed, "No swinging, dudes. On the count of three, toss him."

All twelve boys counted together. "One... two... three!" and hurled Drew over the center of the diving well. Before Drew hit the water, Alden got in a lick too by transporting his friend and co-creator ten meters up in the air and re-materializing him there.

Quickly curling up before having the belly flop of the millennium, Drew loudly laughed, "ALDEN!" Over the pool-side loudspeakers, Alden laughed along with all the other boys as Drew dropped and hit the water.

When Drew rose to the surface, the pack of Battle of Earth boys rounded on Corey, Leo, Lenny and Geoff. Since none of the later four knew it was coming, it was far easier to catch, strip, lift and toss them. The only excuse given was that they were Drew's family and therefore equally cute and worthy of being dunked.

Materializing before Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike, Donnie Williams transported onto base with another teenager and two men. Donnie and the other teenager were wearing dress greens and the other two men were wearing Navy dress whites. Smiling widely at the unannounced visitors, Prez chortled, "Alden, we're under-dressed for some occasion here. Get the four of us into our Starfleet uniforms." The four Core Rimmers phased out and back again. Three of the four, Derrick, Keith and Mike were wearing commander insignias on their shoulder lapels. Wearing Admiral's insignia on his lapels, Prez suddenly found himself being saluted by his three friends, Donnie and the other three. "Knock it off," Prez giggled, and then sloppily returned the salute.

Donnie helplessly chuckled, "Director Preston Albert O'Brian, please meet Colonel Cody Wilkins, Petty Officer Third Class Radcliff Conklin and Seaman Gilbert Hoover. The latter two men were aboard the U.S.S. Nicholson Thursday night, and were part of the task force that intercepted the Romulan Warbird destined for San Francisco."

Reaching forward to shake hands with both men, Prez smiled, "I skimmed through the report; awesome job, dudes. Call me Prez."

"As soon as you get out of that penguin outfit, Admiral," the Petty Officer chuckled, and shook Prez's hand, adding, "Call me Rad."

The Seaman shook Prez's hand and grinned, "Call me Gil, Admiral."

Prez sniggered, "What I'm trying to figure out is how three Lieutenants became Commanders, Alden."

Across their comm-badges, Alden giggled, "It just happened minutes ago. It's on your PADD, that you rarely keep with you. Cory Short had some time to get caught up on paperwork. For the California Orphanage operations and the Hyatt Rescues, Keith, Mike and Derrick were promoted two ranks. You went from Rear Admiral lower half, with one star, to Rear Admiral upper half, with two stars. Cory was considering creating a new award just for you, Prez. He had second thoughts about having any Rimmer wearing a Purple Tush though, so you got a plain ol' Purple Heart."

Nudging and shoving Prez for his heroism, Derrick, Keith and Mike helplessly roared laughing. Donnie explained to the Rimmers that Rad and Gil chose to work for the Clan instead of the UNIT, so both men now reported to Prez. 

Alden giggled, "Just a warning, Prez; watch your coconuts and watermelons for holes!" Gil fiercely blushed. Holding his lover close, Rad explained the AI's remark, assuring that since Friday morning, fruits were no longer on his list of favorite partners. All eight in the group busted a gut laughing.

In the light-hearted mood everyone was already in, Donnie dropped a bomb, grinning, "Emily is pregnant." Before Donnie could say another word, all four Rimmers enthusiastically congratulated Donnie on becoming a daddy. Bolstered by the well wishes, Donnie smiled, "I'm stepping down to give my family all the attention they deserve. Going forward, Colonel Wilkins will be taking my place." Donnie turned to his replacement for him to continue.

"We're hoping to have the turnover complete this week," Colonel Wilkins explained. "My wish is to keep everyone doing their jobs exactly as they had been under General Williams. The same sort of friendly interface between Family Clan Short and Clan Short Special Forces will also continue. Part of my days will be spent here, mostly to observe, but partially so we can get to know one another, thus keeping things informal until they absolutely need to be formal."

"You'll regret that," Alden giggled. "Should I order the Valium now, Admiral Blister-butt?"

"Remember he's a Rear Admiral... it figures!" Mike laughed.

Prez evilly grinned, "As long as my pissed off chickens keep laying explosive eggs, and the gardens of Maui keep blooming primo herb, I won't need Valium. You might though, Alden. Your first day with a body, after you climb out of the diving well, you're spending with Grandma Morrison." Prez then shook Cody's hand, asking, "Turn over starts when, Cody?"

"Donnie's left that up to me," Cody answered. "I think I should jump in with both feet and start right away, with Donnie acting as my advisor. Right now works for me."

"Kewl," Prez smiled.

Keith stepped forward to shake hands and asked, "Do you have a partner, Cody?"

Nodding, Cody shared, "His name is Sheldon Lloyd."

When Mike took his turn to shake hands with Cody, he warmly invited, "I hope we'll be seeing each other a lot. The past week has been insane."

Derrick took his turn to meet the new R.R.B. Commander, adding, "We've only seen Donnie on TV monitors since last Saturday. Bring Sheldon along with you any time you're visiting."

"Thank you," Cody sincerely gushed, "I'll do that."

While the Hundser-Seaver family were climbing out of the diving well, drying off and getting dressed, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick were wrapping up with Donnie, Cody, Rad and Gil. The two enlisted naval men wanted to continue their education and didn't feel ready to accept officer ranks. Prez promoted both men to Chief Warrant Officer. Considering themselves a life-long couple after two days together, Rad and Gil chose to move into a two-bedroom condo. Donnie and Cody returned to the Rapid Response Base to continue the turnover process.

The four Core Rimmers entered the CIC. Many of the kids had already arrived, but the four Core Rimmers saw their teacher, Ms. Diaz, sitting at a table and having lunch with her husband, daughter and son. To greet and welcome their teacher and her family, all four immediately went to them.

Ms. Diaz and her husband started to stand, but Prez immediately begged, "Please sit. Y'all are eating. We just wanted to say hi, and meet your family."

Mr. and Mrs. Diaz returned to their chairs. Laxmi Diaz introduced her husband, Eugene Diaz, her teenaged son, Angelo, and younger daughter, Cecelia, to the four ex-students who were now Clan Short leaders. Ms. Diaz explained that her husband would finish his dental surgery internship in December then start his practice on base. Office space had already been allocated for him at each base's FYS Building. Eugene had been considering specializing in pediatric dental surgery, but was struggling with a decision that would limit his income. Circumstances worked in his favor as well. The prior day, the family had started to move into the townhouse beside the Taylors'. They had been finishing that process during the morning. During the afternoon, while her family unpacked, Ms. Diaz, Mr. Taylor and Mrs. Taylor would be meeting Mr. T and taking a class for special education, concentrating on the needs of Clan kids who had been abused by adults.

Across the room, John was introducing his family to the family of Roy Combs, who were also moving in that day, Roy would become the Pacific Rim Divisions' new Facilities Coordinator. His wife, Monica, would become an additional chef, with prior experience working in bakeries making breads and various desserts. Their children were thirteen-year-old Reginald, who preferred the nickname 'Reggie', and ten-year-old Cameron. Naturally, John was sharing all the introductions telepathically with the other Core Rimmers who weren't yet in the dining room. John also shared one additional tid-bit of information, telling his brothers and teammates, 'Angelo and Reggie have already seen each other entering and exiting their new townhomes. Although neither considered himself gay, attraction is a small word for what these two already feel and think for one another. Once they meet and get together, each of 'em is strongly considering tearing the clothes off the other.'

Prez and that group already noticed Angelo's medium frame, wavy, dark brown hair and beautiful brown eyes. As far as they were concerned, Angelo was a fitting name for the angelic boy at the table. John's family and Prez's group swapped places to meet the other new family, by which time Drew's family was entering the dining room with the bulk of the rescued Battle Of Earth boys. During small talk at the Combs' table, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick took note of Reggie's slightly larger frame, dirty blond hair and blue eyes. Interestingly, Reggie seemed quieter and more reserved than Angelo, who was a bit more willing to converse, but was still a new boy in a new place. 

The dining room and chow line had filled while the various Core Rimmer couples made the rounds, visiting newbies and making them all feel welcome. Erik Kendricks and Travis McAuley were at a small table alone, way over by the rec room and Shirley's cage. Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike were roaming around tables of teenagers, including Chris Stokley, Jay Montigua, Lance Kinchen, Scott Shetley, Craig and Phil Nash. John and Stephen went with their sons to where Jimmy Matos, Taron Reyce Otter, the Hiram and the Stoeher twins were sitting. Jason Taylor approached Prez. As soon as he was able, Jason grinned, "Our family needs your assistance at your earliest convenience."

Concerned that something was wrong, Prez quickly asked, "What can I do to help?"

"Two things," Jason smiled, "We'd like to adopt Robbie's three brothers, and Richie's foster brothers, Carrol and Terrance, and with their addition, suddenly our big, beautiful townhouse isn't large enough for our family."

Derrick, Mike and Keith softly chortled. Prez laughed, "You've been here three days! Are you related to the Short family, by any chance?" While other nearby kids and Core Rimmers laughed, Prez called, "Alden, get my tricorder, and please assist the Taylors with their move from a townhouse here to a single family home at Oneula Beach."

Over the Head Rimmer's comm-badge, Alden giggled, "Got it covered, Prez," and the tricorder appeared, hanging off Prez's neck. Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike followed Jason back to the table where his family were sitting. At the same time, a dimensional door chime went off. Ronnie, Garrett, Adam, Mark, Brian and Jeff walked through the door from Des Moines, specifically to be present for the adoption. All six hurried across the room toward Jason and Prez.

Nearing the table and locking eyes with Trinity, Prez playfully sang, "Mrs. Taylor, I didn't even know you were pregnant, and now you've gone and made two more? The three additional copies of one weren't enough?"

Around the area, several kids giggled. Rafe Montigua shot soda out of his nose, loudly groaning, "Argh! Prez!" His brother Jay cracked up. Chuckling madly, Chris handed Rafe a handful of paper napkins to wipe his bubbling nose.

"Sorry about that, Rafe," Prez chuckled.

Trinity giggled, "Some things are unplanned. We started hearing yesterday that Richie would be happier with Carrol and Terrence here. With one of them wishing, we heard about it from all four. Adding two more would only make all of us happier."

Prez nodded and told the family, "The home you'll be moving into has one ground floor guest bedroom. Upstairs, all but one of the five bedrooms are huge. The smallest room is about sixteen square meters. It has one double-size bed. The master bedroom and master bathroom suite occupies about a third of the upstairs. The other three bedrooms are about four meters by five meters, so four could fit in one room, on two double-size beds. There are three bathrooms too, so whenever you want to, you could expand your family more. Beyond sixteen kids, we'll have to design a new home for you."

Over the comm-badges at the Taylor table, Alden giggled, "Well, Carl Seibert has prepared for that eventuality too. Each of the other bases will have at least one twenty-story condominium that has three penthouses consisting of two floors and twelve bedrooms. The new limit will then be twenty-four."

Noticing Jason Taylor's worried expression, the quadruplets giggled, "Don't look so nervous, dad. We can prob'ly manage with only twelve brothers for a month or two."

Adam cheered, "Grandma will be happy to hear this!"

Prez smiled, "By tonight, you'll have ninety-five newbies, and three Core Rimmer couples, and their sons, there at Oneula Beach too."

George's voice came over the speakers. "If the quads decide they want to contribute to the family fun, we've also got what's known as the 'Patriarch Special' which will house a small village or two!"

"Yeah, Timmy's got an entire Indian Camp in the courtyard!" Kerry added helpfully. "It's only five-hundred-ten-thousand square feet or so, not including the courtyard in the center. It's a cozy little castle!"

Beginning to slump, Jason withered into a chair, with his wife and family softly giggling at him. A holographic image of the Patriarch's home was displayed over the table.

"Can I visit the Indian Village? That looks fun!" Terrance asked Richie and Carrol, the puppy dog eyes already in gear.

"Sure you can," Prez replied, and then pointed at the dimensional doors, explaining, "You can go with any of your brothers to Orlando and visit Timmy. All you need is your mom's and dad's okay and a big bro with you, okay?"

"SWEET!" Terrence giggled.

Pulling over an unoccupied chair, Prez sat down near Terrence, asking, "Remember when I met you on Friday?"

"Uh huh," Terrence grunted, and shimmied over onto Prez's lap.

Holding him in place, Prez reminded the boy, "You told me then that Richie and Carrol were like your brothers and dads."

Terrence nodded, "Yep, I reme'ber."

Prez gently explained, "What I want to know is how you'll feel, deep inside, when you're adopted by Jason and Trinity? That makes you their youngest son. That makes them your mommy and daddy. That will also make Richie and Carrol your brothers, like Ronnie, Robbie and Ralphie, not your dads."

Terrence giggled, "Yep."

Richie gently prompted, "Tell Prez how you feel, Terrance."

Terrence hummed a moment then pointed at Jason, saying, "Daddy played catch with me and it was so much fun." He pointed at Trinity, saying, "Mommy put med'cine on my ouchies from Pat, and it didn't hurt." Dropping his hands, Terrence said, "Richie and Carrol did that stuff too, and they saved me from Pat, and they's a little bit more like big bros, I think. And ya know what?"

"What?" Prez asked.

Rapidly blinking, Terrence frowned, "I don't wanna be a Terry or a Terrence ever again, and I don't wanna be nothin' but a Taylor, like mommy, daddy and my brothers."

Prez asked, "What would you like your first name to be?"

"Trevor," the little six-year-old answered.

Pulling his tricorder over and getting it set up, Prez explained, "I'm going to call you by your old names two more times, to ask you if you want Jason and Trinity as your mommy and daddy, and then to ask if your want your name changed. All you have to do is answer into the machine, okay?"

"Kewl, Prez."

Prez asked, "Terrence Myers, do you want Jason Taylor and Trinity Taylor for your real mommy and daddy from now on?"

"Yep, I do."

"Do you also want your name changed from Terrance Myers to Trevor Taylor?"

"Yep, I don't like Terry or Terrence, and I don't like bein' a Myers either."

Looking up, Prez asked the adults if they wanted Trevor as their son. Holding hands, both affirmed it. From there, Carrol, Ralphie, Ronnie and Richie agreed to be Jason's and Trinity's sons and they all wanted their last names changed to Taylor. It was clear that five boys were very pleased, but Robbie was ecstatic, having all three of his blood brothers accept his parents, plus the two extras that made Richie very happy. When the task was complete and Prez announced it official, the entire dining room broke out in cheers and applause. Chuckling helplessly, Prez listed the double-twins, Keith Hundser, Mike Gibbons, Derrick Seibert and the majority of the Pacific Rim Clan as witnesses.

Mark giggled as he had a thought. "I think Grandma adopted your new parents, Trevor! That makes you a Morrison too!"

Adam nodded. "Yep; and all her grandkids get free rides on her Harley!"

Chuckling and sadly shaking his head, Prez got up, passed Trevor over to Carrol, and left the new family to explain to Trevor that a Harley is a motorcycle and that he couldn't go for rides until the family got moved to their new home.

Getting into the chow line to get lunch, Keith told Prez, "I was surprised you didn't wince when Trevor sat on your lap."

Shrugging, Prez grinned, "It's only bugging me around my waist, T'hy'la. That would be the case in a shower wrap too, so I'll stay dressed." He and Keith ordered grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and French fries for lunch.

Once served and returning to the dining room, Keith checked, "Greet the newbies and then get them to the store?"

"Yeah," Prez answered, "I thought it would be better to meet in the auditorium after that. Then we can chat and play a couple of tunes until dinner time. After dinner, we'll get them over to Oneula Beach. Those that want to move into dorms can, and the rest come back here to nest."

With his mouth full, John told his brothers, 'Me and Stephen and our boys can cover the nest, bros. Drew and Corey covered it two nights in a row.'

Passing John's table, Keith scowled, "That might be an awful lot of kids. If it is, we'll be there too."

Stephen shook his head, reminding, "That's an even better reason for your family to not be there. Besides, it gives our family a chance to check the newbie kids empathically and telepathically, so we know where they're at. After being in hospitals and those awful orphanages, I'd bet they're all a little freaked out."

Nodding, Prez offered, "Let us know if you change your minds."

Wade sent, 'Why'd we wanna do that, Unca Prez? The minds we got are fine.' John, Stephen and Frankie cracked up.

The Core Rimmers eyebrows raised, hearing Jeff and Brian in their heads. 'We're hanging to annoy... we mean help... our big quad bros get moved in. Yell if you need a hand with the newbies; we picked up a few tricks from Grandma.'

Putting his tray down at the table where Derrick, Mike, Reyes, Sean and Troy were sitting, Prez tapped his sub-vocal, calling, "Alden, my PADD, please?"

Alden privately replied, "Pissed Off Chickens?" and delivered Prez's PADD.

"After I shop for telepath proof hats," Prez sniggered. At one side of the dining room, eight boys giggled, and at John's table the laughter only got louder.

Over at condominium 'B' fourth floor apartment 'A', Rad and Gil got settled into their new home. Alden was called to stock the refrigerator and cupboards with food and household supplies. Rad also asked for a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne. The two young men toasted their good fortune and their new relationship. They took their glasses and the bottle of bubbly to their bedroom. In minutes, both young men were naked and rolling around their new bed.

While eating, Prez checked the housing situation at Oneula Beach from his PADD. As of that moment, two of the four single family homes were already occupied by employees with large families. With the three Core Rimmer families and two chefs' families already moved in to the townhouses, only one townhome remained unoccupied at Oneula Beach. It was now imperative that the condos get built quickly over there, so Prez messaged Derrick's dad and Roy Combs about it.

Via PADD, Carl Seibert replied,

No problem. Using Tech-bots and human construction employees, we'll have them built in three to five days, only accounting for possible rain and weather.

Prez grinned and messaged, 

Take a telepath out of petty cash.

Moments later, Carl replied,

Thanks, but we've got four Steibs pending adoption already. Glance over and notice the McPhearson boys sitting with the Gibbons' family. Does after dinner sound good for both families' adoptions?

After replying affirmatively to Mr. Seibert, Prez showed Derrick his PADD. Beginning to chuckle, Derrick showed it to Mike. Sniggering, Mike passed the PADD back to Prez, and then asked Derrick, "We're moving permanently?"

Nodding, Derrick replied, "I guess we have to." He then tapped his sub-vocal, asking Alden to get the instruments moved out of the Gibbons' basement, and their kittens moved out of his parents basement, to their townhome's basement. Keith gave Alden a similar request, to have his keyboards and Prez's bass and guitar moved to their townhome's basement.

Tapping his comm-badge, Reyes called, "Paul?"

From South Carolina, Paul's voice replied, "Here, Reyes. What's up?"

"I just finished lunch," Reyes explained. "We'll have some new kids arriving anytime too. I was hoping you and Ryan could break away and keep me company this afternoon."

"We'll be there," Ryan cheerfully answered. "Give us a minute to change out of jeans and into shorts, Reyes."

Sounds of the brothers rapidly climbing stairs could be heard. Saying, "We're on our way," Paul then ended the communication.

A few tables away, more laughter broke loose. Gage was spoon feeding Jonah pudding. At the same table, Sammy was sharing an ice cream cone with Ben. To tease the older boys, Richie spoon fed Dillon and Dee spoon fed Randy. It was a sloppy process, but the boys were having fun.

Over the remaining fifteen minutes of lunch, Kaleo, Tory, Sean, Troy, AJ, Jerry and all their sons returned from the Oneula Beach base. The younger boys scattered to sit with their friends. The six Core Rimmers told their teammates that the move was complete. Alden even swapped around laptop computers, so they could keep the ones they were already using, and the now empty dorm rooms had new, unused laptops waiting for the new occupants.

Shifting his eyes mysteriously, Kaleo grinned, "The cartons of rubbers were transported to Sonia's and Melonie's room. The cartons of lube went to Horacio's room."

Once again, Jason Mullins and Kenny Hunnicutt were with Leo at the table with Drew's family. Gently and sincerely, Leo thanked both boys for that morning, and then told them that he liked them both very much, and that he was interested in someday having a boyfriend, but that day probably wouldn't be soon. Kenny and Jason both seemed very satisfied to be Leo's friend and that all three could easily remain friends.

The kids that had finished their lunches were making beelines out of the CIC for the playgrounds and pools. The families of the new employees left to complete their moves. The Core Rimmers' fathers also left with some of their children. By one o'clock, only the Core Rimmers, their sons, four mothers, the three doctors, Lindsay Gibbons, Nathan Hayes, and a few other kids that were either still eating or chatting with friends remained. Paul and Ryan transported into the dining room. Reyes stood to greet his friends with open arms. Once again sandwiched between them, all three shared hugs and kisses, causing Reyes to helplessly giggle at the method they were always greeting each other.