Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 6-A

O'ahu, Ewa Beach, C.S.P.R.D. Main Base

8:45 PM Monday, November 1, 2004

Prez and Keith looked around the C.I.C. dining room. Dee, Richie, Gage and Sammy hurried over to embrace their dads. At least half the UNIT kids and most of the rescued kids were still there. Mike and Derrick had returned with their kids. The four big televisions mounted on the walls were still turned on. The doors to the rec room were open, with another dozen or so kids in the doorway, and the television that could be seen in there was on too. This family dinner had turned into much more than Prez had envisioned.

Since most of the Rimmers were present, Prez told Daileass to patch him in across the base P.A. system, and then stood on a chair while holding his hands up to get some quiet. Once Daileass gave the word, Prez said, "King Aalona and I have opened up the flood gates. We're going to have street kids showing up soon. Think about that for a second please. The people those kids work for are not going to be happy about this. Extra base security needs to be on alert through the next few nights."

From the Command Center, Paulie interjected, "We're already on alert, Prez. Base shields have been activated. No one gets in or out without your prior say."

Prez grinned, "Excellent! Thanks, Paulie. Put our parents on both lists for tomorrow. They have to go to work.

"Tomorrow morning, we'll need the remaining parents manning the F.Y.S. building and prepared for interviews. Guaranteed we'll have C.P.S. workers knocking at our gates tomorrow morning. Hopefully, we'll have all sorts of professionals coming to us for employment. Let's get a coffee urn and a few dozen coffee cups over there. Since the adults will be occupied, we'll need the teens watching out for the tweens and little tikes at the pool, diving well and recreation centers. Drew and Corey, please oversee the safety of the kids."

At the tables with the newest nine Rimmers, Drew and Corey simultaneously responded, "No problem, bro!"

"Mister Gibbons, I'm hoping you can get the Clan Liaison situation sorted and be back here by noon."

Mike's dad replied, "I don't foresee any issues. I'll be gone around eight and back by ten, Preston."

"That would be great!" Prez cheered. "Return to the F.Y.S. building, please." He then continued, "John, Nathan, Jamie, Jacob and Beau, your services will be required to insure we hire the very best people."

John loudly assured, "We got it covered, bro!"

"Thanks," Prez said, then scanned the C.I.C. He then asked, "Where's Jason Evans?" Getting no response, Prez wondered, "Has anyone seen any of the Evans kids?" Again, there were no replies. "Well shit," Prez softly grumbled, "They didn't even say goodbye."

John telepathically replied to Prez and Keith; 'Sorry bros, it took a little extra time. Jace says you and Keith can know, but no one else, except me, of course. Off base V.S.O. are watching the streets just outside our fences. If anyone tries something, they'll be lucky to find themselves in a V.S.O. jail cell. Now don't say anything!'

Prez said, "If anyone thinks of something I haven't, let a Core Rimmer know A.S.A.P.," and then got down off the chair. Keith and Prez took their Clan robes off then draped them over a chair. Taking Prez's hand again, Keith led the way over to the tables where the nine new kids were sitting. "How're you guys doin'?" Prez cheerfully asked.

After getting positive replies and compliments about the food from all, Keith turned to Drew and asked, "Who's who?"

Remaining seated, Drew rattled off brief introductions, pointing at each boy as he proceeded. "Here's Nicholas Shavers and his boyfriend Roger Mosqueda. Then we have Jeff Cummings, John Huth, Manuel Simonton, Jonathan Dupre, James Hahn, Jerry Burk and Stephen Marr." Each boy waved and widely smiled at Prez.

Keith grinned then whispered to Prez, "You did it again, baby."

Scowling, Prez searched Keith's eyes for an answer of what he'd done. John answered; 'They were barely here an hour before watching their new leader on TV with the King. They think you're awesome, Prez.'

Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Prez then smiled, "Okay you guys, just chill out and listen. Friday afternoon, I was just another high school student. What I said on TV is the truth. We're here for anybody that needs and wants our help. I'm the same as any of you, doing the best I can as each situation presents itself." Seeing the same awestruck expression in almost all of the boy's faces, Prez turned to Keith.

"Prez is my partner," Keith said, and pulled Prez close. "We're just like you in every way; we sleep, eat, shower and relieve ourselves just like you do. Hero worship is totally uncalled for." Keith then kissed Prez deeply, but when they stopped and looked back at the boys, all they managed to change was skin tones as a few were now blushing.

Getting up and moving between Prez and Keith, Drew took hold of them both then chimed in, "We're brothers and all you guys are our new brothers. We've only been Clan for a few days." Corey stepped up and Drew proudly said, "Corey's my partner."

John, Kaleo, Mike and Derrick joined Drew, Corey, Keith and Prez. Keith quickly introduced Mike and Derrick and explained, "Derrick and Mike are our Clan Historians. When you need something or if there are any problems, we're the guys you come to. Our main job is to make you dudes safe and comfortable. We're just getting our act together as a new division, but all the important stuff, like chefs and housekeeping, is already taken care of."

Prez pulled a chair closer and so did Keith, Kaleo, Mike and Derrick. Drew, Corey and John excused themselves to spend some time with Jacob, Jamie and Beau. Everyone sat down and Keith put his hand on the nearest boy's shoulder, then asked, "Tell us a little about yourself, Jerry?"

Jerry blushed and smiled, "There ain't much to tell. I'm eleven years old. My mom died of cancer a few years ago. I was placed in a foster home last year. My foster dad ain't too bad, but the woman, she's wicked; she goes out of her way to make my life shit when he's not around. Only when he's around and watching does she act nice. He don't believe what I said about her. Now she's even worse and he don't trust me no more. Saturday, she threw a knife at me while my back was turned. It was only luck or bad aim that kept me from getting hurt. I heard on TV that Clan bases were here last night. I left home before the sun came up this morning."

Prez asked, "If we could broker a peace, would you be interested?"

Jerry shrugged, and then tearfully answered, "She goes before I take another step in that house. If I ever see her again, I might be killed or forced to kill her in self defense."

"We'll take care of it, Jerry," Prez assured.

Keith nodded, "Don't worry about a thing, Jerry. Your foster dad will ultimately make the choice, but we've got your back now."

Before Keith finished speaking, John sent confirmation to the other Core Rimmers; 'Omigod! She really did throw a knife at him! It wasn't a small knife either; it was big! What a bitch! When are we getting our phaser training?'

Mike sputtered, and then covered his mouth before cracking up at an inappropriate time. Prez grinned and moved on to the next boy. "Your turn, Stephen."

"I'm eleven too," Stephen said, but then he broke down in tears. "It's only my mom and me," he sobbed, "She ain't got a good job and tries so hard, but it ain't been workin' out. We can barely stay in an apartment for a while then the rent goes up and we can't afford 'lectricity or food." The boy fell apart and everyone tried to comfort him at once. During that chaos, Kaleo told Prez and Keith that Doctor Andrews had already been called for Stephen. John didn't know what to think of Stephen because the new boy didn't want to be in the Clan; Stephen only wanted to be with his mother and didn't care that they didn't have a home. This boy was more frightened than any of the other eight newbies.

When Stephen finally calmed down and could hear beyond his own sobbing, Prez said, "We're gonna take care of your situation too, Stephen. How would you like it if your mom worked for us?" The boy looked up with a bit of hope in his eyes, and Prez said, "It don't matter what her job is or how much she gets paid; the most important thing is to save families that need saving."

Prez then stood and looked around. He shouted, "Troy, c'mere a sec please, dude." Troy Faris hurried over to the tables. Prez introduced Troy to Stephen, then said, "Troy's mom is one of our housekeepers. We'll get in touch with your mom then you can live with her on this base or one of four other bases. We'll find her a job and you two get to be a family. How does that sound?"

Struck dumb, Stephen could only hang his mouth open as if it couldn't be real, but finally said, "That would be really good."

Looking at Troy, Prez asked, "Show Stephen around please, bud? Let him meet your mom and see your condo. Then take him over to my mom. If we can, let's get the ball rolling tonight."

Troy nodded and, as Stephen stood to follow, he grinned, "Two days ago, my mom and me were freezin' our asses off in New Jersey. Now my mom's got a great job right here on base. We've got a really nice apartment too."

Turning his attention back to the other boys, Prez sat again then continued, "This is what we do and how we do it; no red tape, no bullshit; if we can save a family, we will. Does anyone else have a family worth saving?" The rest of the boys shook their heads. The Core Rimmers listened to seven more horror stories from the new boys; one involving alcohol, another involving drugs, some anger management issues and some of complete parental indifference. The only other bright spot came telepathically from John via the Terrible Trio when Jonathan Dupre was talking. It was quite likely that Jonathan had an Aunt in Maine that was already associated with the Clan Northeast Division.

The Core Rimmers then explained sleeping arrangements. The new boys had the choice of dorms or nesting in the basement, as had been the norm for the last two nights. Kaleo explained that most of the existing Rimmer tweens had decided to try out the dorms for the first time. Afterward, Prez tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Daileass?"

"Mister Popularity!" Daileass teased. "What can I do for you? Perhaps you'd like to talk to the U.S. President or Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth?"

Prez sniggered, "No, no, we've got enough to deal with right here. All we need is some clothes for these new kids I'm with."

"Just in time," Daileass replied. "The store is finally stocked."

"What store?" Prez frowned.

Connecting to all the Core Rimmers sub-vocals, Daileass giggled, "Have everyone stand and I'll show you."

"Ooo-kay," Prez droned uncertainly. All the Rimmers stood and asked everyone else gathered to stand. Prez picked up Richie. Once the group was standing, Daileass transported them into what appeared to be a department store. "Where the hell are we, Daileass?" Prez excitedly wondered.

"In the basement of the C.I.C.," Daileass laughed.

"I didn't even know the C.I.C. had a basement," Keith said.

"It was an empty basement until today," Daileass giggled. "The only way in or out is via transport; there are no stairs or elevators. At least one of the Core team has to request transport. To your left are the girls' and ladies' departments. To your right are the boys' and mens' departments. All the clothing you'll ever need is down here: underwear, socks, sneakers, shoes, sandals, shirts, jeans, shorts, suits, slacks, jackets and raincoats. There are some basic accessories too, like belts, hats, wallets, handbags, combs, hair brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other toiletries. We even have our own Clan Short Speedos. Guess where the Clan emblem is?"

Knowing Daileass all too well by this point, Prez roared, "This is a hard one!"

"Is it?" Daileass teased, "Can I see?"

"No!" all eight of the Core Rimmers loudly laughed.

"Fine; be that way!" Daileass giggled. "Have the guys grab a shopping cart and start picking out their own clothes. There are dressing rooms too, if anyone needs to try on their new clothes. Don't forget Clan suitcases. When you're all finished, just swipe over the bar code readers at checkout and you’re all done. This system will let me know what needs to be replaced and can keep everything stocked up. You guys also should know that the store occupies a third of the space down here. Another third is an emergency bunker. I'd doubt there's anywhere safer on any of the islands. You can fit a thousand people in there. The other third of the basement is emergency food and water storage and bathrooms with showers."

"Excellent!" Prez cheered. "Thanks, Daileass."

"One other thing you'll all need to know," Daileass interjected. "Cory Short, being a blond, forgot to mention that he had contacted the A.I. Division in South Carolina. Pacific Rim Division will have their own A.I. installed. Caleb and Noah will be on-site by the time you wake up in the morning. Your new A.I. will work in parallel with me and Draco. Of course, he'll be your primary contact for transports and other requests. He's kind o' cute too, but I'm biased."

Mike smirked, "Will he be a perv like you?"

Daileass giggled, "Not exactly like me, but he will be monitoring things just like I have. He takes after his daddy." All the Core Rimmers began groaning through their chuckles. Exactly how an A.I. could reproduce was a question none of them were willing to ask.

"Okay dudes," Keith loudly said. "It's time to go shopping. And best of all, it's free!"

"It's free?" James Hahn and Jonathan Dupre, the two youngest boys uncertainly repeated.

"You bet," Keith smiled. He then realized the two boys had probably never gone clothes shopping before and didn't have any idea what size clothes they needed. "We'll help all you guys out," Keith reassured.

One after another, the boys began grabbing shopping carts. Gage looked up at Keith and asked, "Can we get some stuff too, Dad?"

Keith nodded, "You guys will need rain gear of some sort. It's getting to be that time of year."

"Lemme down, Poppa," Richie smiled, and Prez put his son down on the floor. Gage and Sammy grabbed shopping carts then led Dee and Richie down the center aisle. Prez hurried after his four boys while the remaining Core Rimmers helped the new boys select clothes. Drew and Corey made sure James and Jonathan were getting the correct sizes while Mike, Derrick and Kaleo helped the older boys. Socks and underwear were the first items gathered. None of the boys were interested in pajamas; they all slept in their underwear.

Keith trailed behind and ensured everything remained organized. John walked over to his oldest brother and reminded, "The Downings' funeral is Wednesday. They're Buddhists, bro. I need a suit and so does Bruce."

"What time is the service?" Keith wondered.

"Eleven," John answered. "Bruce already knows you guys can't make it because of school."

Keith nodded, "Are any other kids going?"

"Eight other boys that I know of," John replied.

"Go get Bruce and the others that are attending," Keith said. "Tell mom and dad what's going on too, please." He then paused and chuckled, "We keep transporting in and out. They never know where the hell we're at any more!"

"I know," John laughed. "You should've heard what they were thinking when we all disappeared from the dining room."

"I can imagine," Keith smiled.

"Daileass?" John called.

"Bruce is with your parents now, John," Daileass replied.

"Sweet!" John chirped. In a flash, John was back in the C.I.C. dining room.

Keith caught up with the new kids at the footwear department. Manuel, Jeff and Roger had older sneakers with hardly any tread remaining. Keith had them select new sneakers too, so they wouldn't slip in the coming rainy season. Out of the corner of his eye, Keith thought he saw someone run past, but when he turned, there was no one there. Returning to the task at hand, he finished getting the new boys' sneakers and reorganizing the shoe department.

Mike and Derrick led the boys to the summer clothes department where they could choose T-shirts, board shorts and swimwear. Some of the boys were only taking two pair of shorts until Drew and Corey went over and told them everyone should have at least a week's worth of clothes. Soon every boy had five pair of boardies and five T-shirts in their carts. They passed through the sports and dress shirts, picking two or three out each and then moved on to the jeans.

Over by the racks of belts, Mike noticed movement and grinned knowingly as he stealthily crept between tables and racks. By the time Mike arrived, the belts were swinging, but no one was there. Then he saw that some hats seemed to be moving on their own and hurried over. There he found Spike and Xander, already wearing shiny new patent leather belts and trying on similar black patent leather Derbies. Mike grinned, "What are you guys doing?"

"Shiny Daddy!" the two ferret boys chimed in unison.

Xander grinned, "We's getting new clothes."

"For the funeral." Spike finished.

"You're lookin' pretty snazzy," Mike chuckled. He dug his hand in his pocket then handed each boy a worn out guitar pick saying, "These will go well with those clothes."

Bouncing happily, Xander took a pearloid guitar pick and smiled, "Thank you, Daddy!"

"We's thought maybe you forgot," Spike slyly grinned.

Mike shook his head saying, "I can't give just one away when there are four of you." He then asked, "Where are your sisters?"

Spike and Xander pointed and chorused, "Over in the girls' section."

"I've got two more picks for them," Mike smiled.

"We'll go get them!" Spike and Xander cheered, and then scurried off across the store.

Stepping up beside Mike, just in time to see Spike and Xander scamper away, Derrick grinned, "The Scoobies are here?" Mike nodded and Derrick softly giggled, "Shiny clothing racks."

Mike chuckled, "They picked out shiny patent leather belts and hats."

"Of course they did," Derrick howled.

Over by the coats and jackets, Prez was helping his boys choose Clan Short ponchos for the rainy season when his comm-badge chirped. He tapped it and replied, "Prez here."

"Hey, Prez," Paulie said, "Daileass just transported a box of credit cards into the Command Center.”

Prez frowned and asked, "Why do we need a box of credit cards?"

"For the kids," Paulie answered.

"Ya lost me, Paulie," Prez honestly said.

"Okay," Paulie began. "They're pre-paid credit cards. The kids get allowances every week and they're automatically added to the credit cards. If the kids do odd jobs around base, they get paid for that too on their credit cards. This way the kids learn responsibility, not only for the work they do, but for the money they earn. Then they can go online and order stuff they want, like video games, posters, music and stuff like that. Mister Takamura owns lots of companies; Nile dot com, e-Cove and Target, to name a few, so the kids can get their stuff at wholesale prices instead of paying retail."

"That's excellent!" Prez excitedly cheered. "Tell ya what, we can get that stuff sorted and the credit cards handed out tomorrow."

"One other thing," Paulie said. "Jamie, Jacob and Beau left your Clan Short I.D.'s here in the Command Center."

Prez said, "Cory Short didn't mention we got Clan Short I.D.'s too."

Paulie said, "He wouldn't; Intel Division handles Clan Short I.D.'s."

Seeing the light, Prez droned, "Therefore, the Terrible Triplets."

"For the Rimmers, John's the head of Intel, so he fills out the forms and gets everybody their I.D.'s."

"Okay, I'll stop by with the Core Rimmers when we're done with the new kids."

"Kewl. Thanks, Prez. Paulie out."

Prez grinned at Richie in his green Clan Short poncho. Other than a little bit of red hair and a portion of his pale freckled face, the boy was lost under the hooded poncho. Prez grinned, "Can you walk around wearing that, Richie?"

"I think so," Richie said, and started walking around.

Uncontrollably, Prez giggled, "Let's get the next size smaller, son. I'd like to see your feet so I know you won't trip over the poncho."

"'Kay, Poppa," Richie said, and then tried getting out of the poncho himself, but was failing terribly until Prez lifted Richie's arms and helped him.

"I knew you were under there somewhere!" Prez laughed, and then began hanging the poncho.

"It was a size five," Richie blushed.

"Boys' sizes don't match ages though," Prez instructed. He then returned the poncho to the rack and pulled out a size four. "Try this one on." Prez held up the poncho and Richie stepped underneath it and got it on. Pleased that he could now see more of his son and his hands and feet were also visible, Prez nodded, "That one looks good, Richie. Bend, twist and turn to make sure you're comfortable."

Richie did as he was told and then began dancing and singing, "Well, shake it up baby now, twist and shout!" Prez swept the boy up and together they laughed their asses off.

John returned with Bruce, Dewi, Dillon, Geoff, Jonah, Reyes, Benjamin, Sung Henjes, and Bane Kahele. Since John not only knew Bruce, but could feel his emotions, John had Daileass transport his group of boys to the swimsuit department. Since there were no girls around, John stripped off his boardies. At first Bruce and the other boys giggled, but then they followed their young leader and got naked too. The next thing Keith knew, his brother was streaking down the center aisle of the store, followed by Jonah, Reyes, Bruce, Benjamin, Bane, Dillon, Geoff, and Dewi. 'Don't say a word!' John warned his fellow Core Rimmers. 'Getting suits is bad enough. Getting suits for a funeral is even worse. I'm making it fun so Bruce don't cry.'

John had started more fun than he could've imagined. From that point forward, few of the boys bothered using the dressing rooms to try on boardies or jeans; they simply stripped and tried on their new clothes where they stood.

Peter Lambert popped in beside Keith while he was reorganizing the shorts tables. "Got your message!" Peter cheered, and then wrapped his arms around Keith.

"Hi, Peter!" Keith giggled, still feeling a bit jumpy because the towhead Mikyvis appeared out of nowhere.

"You guys need more condos at your other bases?" Peter confirmed.

Keith nodded, "We're gonna be staffing up quickly. I don't think we'll need your special talents, but we like the general design."

"How about I get Derrick's dad involved?" Peter suggested, "That way we give more people jobs and the work still gets done quickly. We could work twenty-four hours a day, as long as the bases are unoccupied."

"That would be great!" Keith enthusiastically said. "We'd like to start at the O'ahu Incoming base. Then we can continue with Hawaii, Maui and Kaua'i."

Peter nodded then said, "There's another idea you guys might like. How would you like a small strip mall on base? We could maybe have a convenience store, a video game store, a skate and surf shop, a novelty store for posters and other stuff the kids might like. Maybe add a hair stylist too?"

"That sounds really good!" Keith cheered.

"Lemme check with Derrick's dad," Peter said, and then released Keith before disappearing. Peter popped into the C.I.C. dining room a few yards behind Carl Seibert then hurried over to his side. After greeting each other, they began talking about the new condos and strip malls. Carl Seibert loved the plans; hundreds could be employed across the Islands building the two projects.

Troy and Stephen had returned to the C.I.C. dining room, but the Core Rimmers were nowhere to be found. Troy asked Tory where they had gone, but Tory wasn't sure so he hollered at the ceiling, "Daileass, where's Kaleo and the rest of our leaders?"

"Just a moment, Tory," Daileass replied through the dining room speakers. Daileass then contacted Kaleo, giggling, "Oh, Fist Rimmer, your boyfriend is looking for you!"

Kaleo smiled, "I'll bet he is."

"The new boy Stephen Marr, and Troy Faris are with him," Daileass playfully sang.

"Stephen probably needs some clothes," Kaleo replied. "Go ahead and transport them down here." Laughing his little butt off, John led the pack of hysterical streakers back down the center aisle. Their numbers were growing. Dee, Sammy and Gage had joined the group.

In the dining room, Daileass said, "Tory, Troy and Stephen, stand up and prepare for transport."

Troy looked up at the ceiling as he stood. He was about to ask Tory about the transport when he found himself, Tory and Stephen standing in what appeared to be a department store. Tory hurried over to Kaleo; Troy excitedly muttered, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph! How the hell did we get here?"

Stephen grinned, "Pretty wicked, huh? That's my second time. First time took me from Hawai'i to O'ahu and it was just as quick."

Still shaking off the experience, Troy asked, "Do you know where we are?"

Shaking his head, Stephen answered, "Nope."

Kaleo walked over with Tory and put his hand on Stephen's shoulder saying, "You're in the C.I.C. basement."

The streakers raced up the center aisle again and John sent to Kaleo; 'Stephen's got ratty ol' clothes, bro. He needs all new stuff.' Troy's and Stephen's mouths hung open in surprise at the nudists as they passed.

Stephen looked up at Kaleo and shyly smiled, "I never said thank you."

Kaleo tilted his head uncertainly and asked, "Thanks for what?"

"Bill Devine was closest to me," Stephen reminded. Worshipful, Stephen blushed, "He could've grabbed me and broken me in two."

"Not in this lifetime," Kaleo assured. He then said, "Let's get you some clothes, Stephen."

"I got a suitcase full already," Stephen replied.

Not wanting to embarrass the boy, Kaleo smiled, "It's free, dude. Everybody gets a week’s worth of the basics. Use what you've got as spares." Taking Tory by the hand, Kaleo led Stephen and Troy to the front of the store.

Troy wondered, "Are Prez and Keith down here?"

Kaleo nodded, "Around here somewhere."

Looking down at Stephen, Troy asked, "You all set now, bud?"

Stephen looked up and gratefully smiled, "Yup. Thanks for showing me around, Troy."

"No sweat," Troy assured, and then said, "Catch ya later, okay?"

Stephen nodded then, as Troy wandered off, glanced at Kaleo and Tory softly offering, "I hope they find my mom tonight."

Nodding and grinning impishly, Kaleo was a bit distracted because Tory had slid a hand up the back of his shirt and was running his fingers under the waistband of his boardies.

Appearing completely innocent of any controversial activity, Tory asked, "Your mom is nice?"

Looking through the stacks of packaged underwear, Stephen nodded, "We've just had it rough, ya know?"

Sliding a hand behind his back while Stephen was busy, Kaleo pulled his boyfriend's hand out of his shorts and giggled, "Stephen, this is Tory."

Briefly glancing up, Stephen smiled, "Hi," then tossed a few packages of briefs in his cart.

Tory then asked, "Would you excuse us for a minute?"

"Umm... sure," Stephen replied, and then checked with Kaleo, "I can just take what I think I need?"

Again unable to reply because Tory was now searching for an elusive ticklish area, Kaleo nodded.

Tory smiled, "We'll be right back."

Without looking up from the socks he was perusing, Stephen nodded, "'Kay."

Kaleo and Tory then quickly moved several displays away and behind a larger rack of shirts. Kaleo softly giggled, "What's with you?"

"You're with me!" Tory playfully replied, and then pushed himself against Kaleo and into the rack of shirts, grabbing a kiss in the process. Breaking away and sighing contentedly, Tory softly admitted, "I'm so friggin' horny."

"I can tell!" Kaleo chuckled, "You're getting me all hot and bothered too!"

"Let's sneak away for a few minutes?" Tory softly pleaded.

Brushing Tory's dirty blond mop back, Kaleo whispered, "You know I really love you?"

Tory nodded and smiled, "Let's show it," then began grinding himself against the front of Kaleo's boardies.

Kaleo giggled, "I can't just walk away from a new kid." Tory whimpered and Kaleo said, "Help me get Stephen caught up with the rest of the guys. Then we can disappear alone for a while."

Becoming more frustrated, Tory whined, "I want some now!"

"I know," Kaleo warmly smiled, "I do too. But I'm a leader now. Soon, okay?"

Tory softly grumbled, "Don't put me in second place."

"You're not second place."

"Prove it!" Tory demanded.

Kaleo looked around and saw Stephen moving his cart forward to the shoes. He tapped his comm-badge and said, "Keith?"

Keith replied, "Wassup, dude?" Tory ripped open the Velcro on Kaleo's boardies.

"I have a... umm... emergency," Kaleo nervously said as Tory knelt down and started lovingly playing with his dick. "Stephen Marr's... over... by... the shoes. Can you... help him... out... for a few minutes?"

"Sure dude," Keith replied, "I'm on my way. Is everything all right?" Tory swallowed Kaleo's dick and Kaleo's eyes rolled back in his head.

"Uh huh," Kaleo stammered, "it'll be fine... way fine."

Going back in the store toward the shoes, Keith briefly wondered why Kaleo was speaking oddly, then thought maybe he needed to use the bathroom. Finding Stephen not far away, he said, "Give me a holler when you can."

Nodding as if Keith was close enough to see it, Kaleo brushed Tory's hair back and gazed into his hazel eyes whispering, "Love you so much, baby."

Keith giggled, "'Scuse me?"

Realizing things were spiraling out of control, Kaleo abruptly said, "Sorry, Keith."

"Yeah!" Keith loudly laughed, "Over and in and out!"

Knowing he was caught, Kaleo giggled, "Out!" then tapped his comm-badge again. Smiling down at Tory, he sniggered, "You're gonna get me in so much trouble!"

Beginning to laugh, Tory had to spit out Kaleo's cock, but began stroking his lover's dark meat and snickered, "You're my Rimmer! All mine!"

Dropping to his knees on the floor, Kaleo helplessly cackled, "And you're mine!"

Approaching Stephen and still chuckling like a mad man, Keith could see the boy was having a rough time measuring his feet. "Lemme give you some help there, dude," Keith smiled.

"Thanks," Stephen meekly offered.

While helping Stephen, Keith noticed his socks were threadbare and softly asked, "Did you get yourself a week’s worth of undies and socks?"

Stephen nodded, "Yup, Kaleo said I should even though I got a suitcase with some clothes."

"Kewl," Keith said, and checked the scale. "Size five and a half," Keith rattled off, and then stood. "Let's get you a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers, bro." Blushing because Keith had called him "bro", Stephen stood and followed the older boy to the racks. Keith wondered, "Are there any sports you like?"

Stephen shrugged, "I'm not really any good at basketball; too short. I like tryin' though."

Concentrating on the basketball sneakers, Keith asked, "Did Doc Andrews see you?"

"Yup."

"What did he say?"

"I'm malnourished," Stephen softly answered. "I gotta drink special shakes three times a day."

Pulling a pair of Converse sneakers off the shelf and nodding, Keith softly said, "It's gonna be okay now. Go ahead and try these on." Stephen nodded and returned to the chair. Beginning to lace a sneaker, Stephen started leaking tears again. He then fumbled and dropped the sneaker. Keith reassuringly said, "Hey, it really is gonna be okay. We'll get your mom and you all fixed up, you'll see."

Wiping his eyes, Stephen nodded and shuddered, "She ain't got a phone. She ain't even got a place to live no more."

Keith put the sneaker he was lacing down then sat beside the boy and asked, "Did you tell anyone else about that?"

Looking down at the floor, Stephen nodded and sobbed, "A lady in the dining room. She said she'd find her."

"Which lady?" Keith wondered.

Drawing in an unsteady breath, Stephen replied, "Mrs. Huzzer."

Keith grinned, "Mrs. Hundser is my mom."

"Really?" Stephen squeaked.

"Really," Keith smiled. "You're set, dude. It might take a day or two to find her, but we will. Then we'll offer her a job and you'll be living here on base with her and with us." Finally, Stephen looked up at Keith with a small spark of hope in his eyes. Keith's heart melted and he leaned closer to whisper, "Com'ere," then patted his lap. Stephen looked uncertain at first, then got up and sat in Keith's lap. Holding the boy close, Keith whispered, "Trust us. Your mom did the smartest thing ever and she doesn't even know it yet. But you and I do."

Stephen trembled uncontrollably and admitted, "I'm so scared."

"Scared of what?"

"New place, new people; I don't even know where my mom is."

Keith sighed, "She dropped you off in a car, right?" Stephen nodded so Keith explained, "Then she has a driver's license and her car is registered. We have our very own Honolulu policeman here that will help us find your mom. As for being in a new place with new people, you'll find out real fast this is the best place with the best people. All the kids you've seen around here had it worse than you. Some were orphans with no mother or father. Some had really bad foster parents that beat them or sexually abused them."

Stephen blushed, "Not sure what that means."

"It means grownups played with their dicks and worse. If it was a girl, they did sex stuff with them too. It didn't matter how old they were either."

Stephen grimaced and groaned, "No!"

Keith nodded, "That's why Clan Short is here. Your mom prob'ly heard the news over the weekend. When she learned about the Clan being here, she knew her boy would be safe with us. What she didn't know was that we can help families too. She's gonna find out real soon though."

Relieved, Stephen sighed then rested his head on Keith's shoulder. Keith pulled the boy in close and hugged him. Stephen softly wondered, "Why's ev'rybody so nice if they've been hurt so bad? Was Troy hurt too?"

"Troy wasn't hurt, but his mom had a rough time finding work, just like your mom," Keith answered. "That's why Prez sent you off with Troy; to show you what it could be like for you and your mom. As for the rest of the boys and girls here, they want to be nice people. Everyone wants to be nice at first, it's just bad stuff that makes some people mean. All you've gotta do is give us a chance. Just like Troy, these kids want to be your friend."

"In school, lots o' kids made fun of me."

Keith sighed, "Some kids think they're better than everybody else. Some don't even know they're that way or how much it hurts other kids. Others do it on purpose, to make themselves feel better than they really are. The kids here though, they know how bad things can get. They don't want to make anyone feel bad; all they want is another friend. You wanna know what I think?"

"What?"

"I think you're gonna have lots of friends here. And in a few days, once we find your mom, I think they're gonna look up to you."

Blushing, Stephen grinned, "Ya think?"

Keith nodded, "You're already a sensitive, caring boy. All you gotta do is stay just the way you are."

After a few quiet moments, Stephen said, "Keith?" Keith hummed, then Stephen whispered, "The stuff in my suitcase is really old and don't even fit me good."

"It don't matter. We're gonna get you fixed up with lots of brand new clothes and a new suitcase too."

Stephen's head popped off Keith's shoulder. For the first time since arriving, Stephen smiled.

Keith asked, "You're feeling better?" Stephen rapidly nodded then Keith said, "Let's get you some nice clothes." Stephen slid off of Keith's lap then Keith stood and tapped his comm-badge. "John?" Stephen sat down and returned to lacing his sneakers.

"Hey bro!" John replied, then asked, "How's Stephen?" Hearing his name, Stephen paused and looked up.

Keith's eyes rolled and he slouched. "Why do you even bother asking?"

John giggled, "We're just finishing up with the suits for Wednesday. I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Kewl, bro."

"Turn around, Keith," John said.

Keith did as his brother asked and saw Kaleo with Tory holding hands and walking towards him.

Over the comm-badge, John sang, "Kaleo and Tory sittin' in a tree..." then cracked up.

Kaleo and Tory could only blush, grin and hold each other close.

"God, bro!" Keith huffed impatiently. "You're worse than Daileass!"

John howled. Over the loudspeakers, Daileass giggled, "Shirt Rack Rimmers! I can't claim comedic value this time though!"

Mike grumbled, "That honor was saved for me!"

Privately to Mike, Daileass giggled, "That was a shower with the Scoobies and you have to admit, it was funny."

"I guess," Mike grinned. "If it was anybody else, it prob'ly would've been."

Daileass laughed, "The first time Spike shook muddy water all over you, the look on your face was priceless!"

Keith's comm-badge chirped. Keith tapped it and said, "Keith here."

"Okay," Prez suspiciously said, "John's laughing his ass off in a dressing room and Daileass is cracking Rimmer jokes. What did I miss?"

The dark Hawaiian skin on Kaleo's face turned even redder. Keith smiled and briefly answered, "New lovers."

"Oh," Prez droned, and then chuckled, "As long as they didn't leave a mess."

Grinning evilly, Tory loudly giggled, "Cleaned up every drop, Prez!" From opposite ends of the store, Prez, Troy, Keith, Kaleo and Tory cracked up laughing.

Keith knocked knuckles with Kaleo and Tory then told Prez, "We're just getting Stephen started here, baby. It's gonna take us a while more."

"No problem," Prez replied. "Our boys have new ponchos. John, Bruce and that group have almost finished up with the suits. Our new Rimmers are checking out and loading up their suitcases."

Dee asked, "Where should we put our ponchos, Poppa?"

"I'll have Daileass transport them to Grandma and Grandpa's house," Prez replied. He then suggested, "Why don't you guys go help Daddy with Stephen?" Four positive replies from the boys burst forth then Prez yelled, "John! Put some clothes on!"

John giggled, "I will, but I left my board shorts by the Speedos!"

"Exhibitionist!" Prez shouted. Laughing, John raced down the aisle.

"When ya got it, flaunt it!" John loudly laughed so that he was heard both over the comm-badge and in the store, heading toward Keith. 'Oh, by the way,' John sent to Keith and Prez, 'Mom's already talked to Mike's dad. There's an APB out for Stephen's mother. The Terrible Trio are scanning Stephen too. We'll find her.'

Stephen stood and started walking around in his new sneakers. Keith went over to him and asked, "How do they feel, dude?"

Making a crooked face, Stephen shrugged, "Weird; like they're... stiff."

Keith asked, "Do they feel tight around your toes or by the heel?"

Shaking his head, Stephen said, "No, they just don't bend right."

"Well, it's nice enough out for sandals tonight anyway," Keith assured. He then picked up a similar pair of sneakers and instructed, "Later tonight, bend and twist them in your hands like this. The next time you wear them, they'll feel better and, after a few hours on your feet, they'll be broke in just right."

Stephen sat down again to take his new sneakers off and shyly smiled, "Thanks Keith, for everything."

Keith smiled, winked and nodded then found a pair of sandals in a nearby rack. Kaleo and Tory had followed Keith. Keith dropped a pair of sandals in Stephen's cart then Stephen put his new Converse sneakers in the cart. Once he was dressed again, John hurried over to the shoe department carrying his own Speedos and a pair of Speedos for Stephen. John said, "Here Stephen, try these on."

Stephen smiled at John and, seeing the tiny swimsuit, he blushed, "Where?"

"Right here," John grinned. Rather than freak out the new boy, John moved closer and whispered in the smaller boy’s ear. "It's kewl, dude. We was all running around the store naked."

Helplessly, Stephen giggled then pulled John closer and whispered, "I can't."

Tilting his head curiously, John softly said, "There's no girls here. Why not? Are the older dudes..." But then John heard Stephen's thoughts and pulled back to look into Stephen's hazel eyes. His heart beating faster, John then anxiously looked around. Kaleo, Keith and Tory were near the swimsuits and board shorts. Since they weren't watching, John reached for Stephen's hand, pulled him aside and nervously whispered, "I umm... like your eyes. I think you're way cute too."

Abruptly pulling his hand back, Stephen said, "It's wrong."

Shaking his head, John softly admitted, "I'm only ten, but I know it's not wrong to like another boy. I just think we could be friends... really good friends... maybe." John wanted to share his feelings more, but didn't know what to say or how to say it. In his frustration and without even trying to, John pushed his feelings to Stephen. For a long few moments the two boys locked eyes. John then tentatively reached for Stephen's hand and Stephen reached for John's hand.

'Do you feel me? Can you hear me?'

Stephen nodded.

'It's okay. I know you're scared. I am too. Let's just be friends, please?'

Again, Stephen nodded and grinned. He thought it would be nice to hug John, if only for a second or two.

'Yeah, I'd like you to. You can, if you want.'

John clearly heard Stephen's worries in a long series of rambling short phrases.

'I don't know what I want either. I know what I feel now though and it's okay. You can hear me in your mind and feel my feelings cos I'm empathic and learning telepathy. If it scares you too much, I'll stop.'

Shaking his head, Stephen moved closer to John. They hugged and contentedly sighed.

'Oh man, this feels real nice! I don't wanna ever let go, but Keith's wondering what's wrong. If we don't catch up soon...'

Keith called, "John? Stephen?"

'Rats!'

Stephen giggled hysterically and then stepped back, smiling at John. He then loudly said, "Just a minute, I'm trying on my new Speedos." Stephen then started to take his shorts and underwear off.

"Oh, okay," Keith replied.

While Stephen changed, John only briefly glanced at Stephen's dick.

'You got no reason to be ashamed. Turn around.'

Blushing harder than he ever had, Stephen slowly turned around in a pair a Clan Short Speedos.

'Nice,' John then smiled, "Put your shorts back on, dude."

Stephen then quickly changed back into his briefs and shorts, but never lost eye contact with John. The whole time, John read Stephen's concerns and telepathically pushed answers back to him. Holding on to Stephen's Speedos, the two boys hurried over to the board shorts displays. Tossing both his own and Stephen's Speedos into the cart, John said, "Sorry." John then introduced Dee, Gage, Sammy and Richie to Stephen, adding that they were Keith's and Prez's sons and his nephews. He then went to the boardies and found a pair that was brown and sand tan in Stephen's size. John handed them to Stephen saying, "Try these on," then looked up at Keith and said, "Get boy's medium size T-shirts for Stephen please, bro? Stick to browns, tans, light blue and especially greens, but no reds."

Keith grinned, "Don't ya think Stephen can choose his own clothes?"

Dropping his shorts and standing in white briefs, Stephen smiled, "It's okay. That's exactly what I would've got anyways."

John smirked at his older brother and tapped his head. Keith rolled his eyes, shook his head and wandered off to the shirts. Giggling at the two brothers, Kaleo and Tory followed Keith. Once they walked off, John dug through the stacks of board shorts and kept handing Stephen new ones to try on. After only a few minutes, Stephen had tried on five pair of really nice board shorts that all the boys thought looked good on him. By the time they caught up with Keith, Kaleo and Tory, five T-Shirts were picked out.

Stephen only tried on one and browsed the others. "These are really nice," Stephen gushed.

John smiled at Stephen and sent, 'I think so too, but I think you look good all the time.'

Stephen turned bright red and silently wondered why John thought so much of him.

While they walked to the jeans department, John sent, 'Because I can feel my brothers. I knew that Keith liked you a lot already. What he said about you being sensitive is so true and I think that's awesome. I couldn't wait to meet you. And then...' John turned and glanced at Stephen and sent, 'Your eyes! I could lose myself in your eyes!' John and Stephen both began giggling and blushing.

Wondering what John and Stephen were giggling about, Gage and Sammy grinned and glanced curiously at each other. It was Richie that made the connection first though and started laughing.

Dee suspiciously wondered, "Why's ev'ryone laughin' and gigglin'? Did I miss somethin'?"

Richie laughed even louder. John did a quick scan of his little nephew then warned, "Don't you say it, Richie!"

"What?" Richie squealed, "Jus' cos you remin' me of Daddy and Poppa!" The next thing Richie knew, he was four feet off the floor and being flipped upside down.

"UNCA JO-HO-HON!" Richie hysterically laughed. Gage, Sammy and Dee cracked up at their brother.

"John!" Keith hollered.

"What?" John evilly grinned, "He was teasing me!"

Watching his son spin ass over tea kettle, Keith complained, "Well you’re not really teaching him not to tease you. He seems to be enjoying it, if ya ask me."

"Oh?" John wickedly said, then sent Richie higher and spinning in a horizontal circle, as if there was a pole through his belly button.

Richie laughed "WOO-HOOOOO!"

"If he pukes, you're cleaning it up," Keith warned.

John hummed and slowed Richie's spin, realizing his nephew could vomit, then lowered him down to the floor, laying flat on his belly.

Dizzily, Richie got up and staggered around, bouncing off tables and clothing display racks, but helplessly giggling.

Keith picked him up before he hurt himself. "Close your eyes," Keith softly instructed.

Richie giggled, "Everythin's still spinnin', Daddy!"

"I've got ya, Richie," Keith softly assured.

John noticed that Stephen was now watching him carefully. Stephen croaked, "You did that?"

'Please don't be scared,' John desperately pleaded.

"How can I not be scared?" Stephen asked, and then searched the racks of shirts.

John stood beside him and begged, "Please?"

Stephen sighed then softly said, "What am I supposed to think? In the last fifteen minutes I've felt your feelings; I heard your voice in my head. I know you heard my thoughts by what you said... or sent. Now I learn you can pick people up and spin 'em around too? Tell me how to react to this?"

John lowered his head and felt tears welling up in his eyes. "I'm sorry. I guess... maybe... I was only trying to help." John then looked at Stephen and saw he wasn't looking back, but only glancing through shirts. John sighed, "I'm really sorry," then wandered away into the center aisle, severely chastising himself. Not knowing where to go or what to do, John went back to the place where he first got to know Stephen, in the shoe department. He sat in the chair Stephen had been sitting in, wondering what he could've done differently.

By this time, Richie had told Keith why John was spinning him around. In the shirts department, Stephen had picked out two nice shirts. Keith went over to Stephen to find the boy had the same lost and hopeless expression he had before they had talked.

Still carrying Richie, Keith softly asked Stephen, "What's the matter?"

Shrugging, Stephen moved on to the jeans, but didn't reply. Keith asked Gage, Sammy and Dee to find their Uncle John then followed Stephen. Before Keith could say another word to Stephen, Prez and the other boys joined with Keith, Stephen, Kaleo and Tory. "Where's John?" Bruce asked.

Stephen pointed in the direction he had last seen John walking, but didn't say a word. "Thanks," Bruce smiled, and then hurried off.

Richie whispered to Keith, "Lemme tell Poppa what's goin' on."

Keith nodded and handed Richie off to Prez. Immediately, Richie began whispering to Prez. Now understanding, Prez softly told Richie, "If it's meant to be, it'll be okay." With help, Stephen gathered jeans, a canvas belt, two baseball hats, toiletries, a Clan Short windbreaker, a poncho and a suitcase.

At the other end of the store, in the shoe department, John talked with his nephews and Bruce about what had happened. "I don't know why I did it!" John whined. "Richie was just bein' a kid. Stephen didn't seem to mind me talking telepathically. He really seemed to like it. When I played with Richie, I thought he'd like that too. I didn't even feel him getting scared, but should've. I dunno..." Leaning back in the chair, thoroughly confused, John closed his eyes and huffed.

Dee, Gage, Sammy and even Bruce grinned. "I know why you did it," Bruce smirked.

Without opening his eyes, John wondered, "Why?"

"Cos you like him," Bruce helplessly giggled.

"Course I do; I even told him so."

Bruce asked, "Did you tell him you love him?"

"No."

"You do though, don't you?" Bruce grinned.

"So he got scared," Gage offered. "You bein' away ain't making him less scared."

Sammy nodded and reminded, "You guys just met. He dealt with a lot and liked it."

Dee agreed, "Look at this place. We got gorillas, G-Cats, chimps and a hundred other kids. We've had days with 'em and I still get weirded out watchin' gorillas patrolling the base."

"You did what any of us woulda done if we really liked someone," Gage smiled.

Sammy giggled, "You were showin' off!" Bruce, Dee and Gage all began giggling and laughing.

Opening his eyes, John demanded, "I don't like him like that!"

The other boys glanced at one another then sang, "Yes you do!"

"You wouldn't be so upset if ya didn't," Bruce said.

"Admit it," Gage cackled, "a part of you wants to be with him."

"Sitting here ain't doin squat!" Dee urged. "If you like him, ya gotta be with him."

Bruce nodded, "If he's scared, make him less scared. Show him the way you are, the way you were when you found me."

"Keith and Drew will tease the piss outta me," John pouted.

"They better not!" Gage giggled. "We've had pouncing lessons from Timmy and Ricky!"

Bruce suggested, "If they tease you guys, show 'em your powers all by yourself. Power up and toss 'em in the pool!"

"Wasn't that you flying Mrs. Seibert around the pool?" Sammy reminded.

Dee giggled, "You can get Daileass to help too; without even saying a word aloud."

A little uncertainly, John wondered, "Yeah?"

In John's ear, Daileass confirmed, "In a heartbeat, John. The North Atlantic is awfully chilly this time of year."

John couldn't help snickering evilly. "Yeah!" With a new found determination, John got up and said, "Thanks, guys. I owe you." John then led the pack running down the center aisle of the store. In the distance, by the checkout counters, everyone was gathered around Stephen. Keith, Prez and Kaleo were helping him get his clothes folded into the suitcase. There was still a lot more to do though. Stopping short of the checkout counter, John said, "You guys are taking way too long." Three pair of jeans, two button down sport shirts, five T-shirts, a poncho and a jacket all flew into the air at once and began folding themselves. Then John neatly laid each item in the suitcase, closed it and zipped it up. While all that was happening, John sent Stephen a warm hug with one short message; 'I'd do anything for you, anytime; please just give me another chance?' Stephen only nodded his head once, but that was plenty for John. With the suitcase closed and the task almost complete, John silently mouthed, "Daileass, me and Stephen need to talk alone. Transport us to the trees near the outside rec area, please?"

"Way to take charge, John!" Daileass giggled, "You got it, Soul Rimmer."

When John and Stephen vanished, Bruce, Dee, Gage and Sammy cracked up. "That's my big bro," Bruce cheered.

"And our uncle," Dee giggled.

Prez frowned and whined, "Someone tell me what the hell is going on?" Bruce, Dee, Gage and Sammy filled everybody in. Although no one really knew the details, John definitely had a crush on Stephen. It was too cute for the older Rimmers to comprehend.

Prez and the remaining Core Rimmers got the kids they had picked up at Hawaii settled into their dorm rooms then went to the Command Center. When they walked into the room, Paulie told Prez, "Colonel Williams called while you were busy, Prez. He's got more kids for us, all between four and eight years old."

"How many?" Prez wondered.

Paulie answered, "Eleven. Seven boys and four girls."

Drew suggested, "Let's bring some of our little guys with us again, Prez."

Keith agreed, "Bruce and our kids will make them feel safer."

"Not to mention, I like having them around," Corey admitted.

"We all do," Keith confirmed and Drew rapidly nodded.

"Back to the store we go," Prez grinned. He then told Paulie, "Contact Donnie to be ready to have the kids transported to the store, where we'll be waiting." Keith led the seven Rimmers to the C.I.C. dining room to gather their sons, Bruce, Carmella, Dewi and Kokaku. Once Drew and Keith explained there were seven new little boys and four girls that were going to be scared, all their sons readily agreed. Since Prez didn't know how many were what age, Jennifer Hundser, Anna Seibert, Lanna Seaver and Laura Gibbons all insisted that they join the welcoming committee. Finally, Prez called Daileass. "Here we go again, dude, back to the store; all us kids and our mothers."


John and Stephen appeared beyond the volleyball courts, near the south end of the outdoor recreation area. "You're scared?" John worried.

Stephen nodded, "It's only my third time moving around that way. Where are we?"

"Still on base," John answered, and then turned himself and Stephen around. He pointed and said, "That's the indoor rec center. On the other side of that is our pool and diving well; there's the Seiberts' house. Ya can't see it from here, but there's four houses over there. That big dome is our C.I.C. and auditorium."

A deep voice back in the trees asked, "Is that my Johnny-boy?"

John recognized the sound of his gorilla's voice, turned and said, "Yep. How ya doin', Lucky?" Seeing the massive gorilla, Stephen gasped and hid behind John. "It's okay," John quickly said, "Lucky's my personal security gorilla. Saturday, when I asked him his name, he rattled off a bunch of numbers. The first and last numbers were seven so I named him Lucky."

"Seven-nine-o-three-two-seven," Lucky chanted. He then grinned, "You really shouldn't be out alone at night, Johnny-boy."

"I'm not alone with you around," John playfully reminded. He then pulled Stephen's hand to introduce him to Lucky, but Stephen was frozen solid. Moving beside Stephen, John said, "Lucky, this is Stephen; he's a new kid on base."

"Nice to meet you, Stephen," Lucky pleasantly grinned. He then locked eyes with John and said, "I'll let you talk with the newbie, but I'll be close by."

"Kewl, thanks Lucky," John smiled, and watched his gorilla return to the trees. Realizing that Stephen was stunned silent still, John inquired, "It's an awful lot, huh?" Stephen rapidly nodded. John sighed and briefly wondered how he could make Stephen more comfortable. Hitting an idea, he said, "Ya know what? This place is missing some really important stuff. Hey Daileass, with all these kids, we got no swings, jungle gyms, merry-go-rounds or slides. How about it?"

"You smoothie!" Daileass giggled. "Coming right up." In the grassy area between the edge of the outdoor recreation center and the tree line appeared two sets of six swings, two jungle gyms, two merry-go-rounds and four slides.

"Awesome!" John cheered. Then he checked with Stephen; "Better now?"

Shrugging, Stephen stammered, "Umm... where? How?"

"It's a long story," John smiled. "I could tell you, but it would be quicker if I showed you instead." Still partially dumbstruck, Stephen nodded. John then took Stephen by the hand and telepathically showed him everything that had happened since meeting Joel Friday afternoon. In Stephen's mind, everything flashed by like a movie being played at triple speed. John finished his little show in the C.I.C. basement store, when he and Stephen hugged each other. "That's how it happened," John said. "We went from normal kids to Clan Short leaders, just like that. It's only been three days. What really matters is you."

Stephen blushed crimson and softly wondered, "Why? Why me?"

John shrugged, "Every kid here matters." He then paused and softly admitted, "You matter to me."

With an obvious quiver in his voice, Stephen nervously said, "I don't know who you think I am. I mean, my mom dropped me off because she couldn't afford rent in a one-bedroom shit-hole. I hadn't sat down to eat before a doctor here told me I was malnourished. I've got nothing, John."

"None of that stuff matters to me," John easily said. "Remember I showed you Brandon and Viccy. They're nice people and I like them, but they miss the mark somehow. But you; you made my heart beat really fast. You got scared of me and it hurt so much, like nothing else mattered if you didn't like me anymore. I can't explain it right. Part of me wants to do something... to make you like me, but I know that'll only scare you more. I don't wanna trick you into liking me because... well... I don't wanna be N-Gen right now with you. If you only liked me because I'm N-Gen, it wouldn't be enough, it wouldn't be right." Not knowing what else to say, John went over and sat on a swing then looked helplessly at Stephen.

Stephen walked over and sat on the next swing saying, "I can't help being scared. Talking with Keith helped some, but you helped even more. When I saw Richie doin' somersaults and spinning in mid-air, I got scared again. Then I got angry at myself for being scared. Do you know why?" John shook his head and Stephen answered, "Because it hurt you. I didn't mean to, ya know. There's so many things that scare me here; new places, new people, transporting from place to place, talking gorillas, playgrounds that just appear out of nothing."

"It is weird," John giggled.

"John?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm curious. What else can you do?"

Shrugging, John smirked, "I'm not even really sure yet. But I can do this." The swing Stephen was sitting on pulled back and way up then John let it go. Holding on to the steel chains of his swing, Stephen cackled hysterically as the swing moved forward and back then John pushed it again. John made the other ten swings start moving too. Smiling widely because Stephen was obviously enjoying it, John watched Stephen swinging. Then John thought of another small demonstration. The sand in the volleyball court before them started springing up in thin and high towers then dropping back down again. Within a few seconds, John had a synchronized sand fountain shooting before them too. Stephen howled laughing. John then envisioned synchronized fountains of sand in all the volleyball courts. Soon, sand fountains from all the volleyball courts were popping and falling.

"Okay!" Stephen hysterically cried out.

Fearing that Stephen might get scared again, John stopped his sand fountains then let the swings stop on their own. Stephen let his feet drag on the ground to slow his swing. In a short while, he was sitting still on his swing beside John, still giggling.

"How about a tour?" John suggested.

"An N-Gen tour?" Stephen grinned.

Shaking his head, John said, "A walk around the base. Once you see everything, you won't have to be afraid of where you are anymore." Enthusiastically, Stephen nodded.

The two boys got off their swings then walked across the driveway. Following the concrete walkway, John led Stephen around the indoor rec complex. Through the transparent aluminum walls, they could see almost everything in there except the locker rooms. John pointed out the soccer field and basketball courts. They then walked around the pool, pool house and diving well. The main housing area was next and John told Stephen which families were in each home. They went over by the dorms next. John told Stephen a little about the UNIT and base security while they passed. Then they walked by the townhomes. John told Stephen that as soon as things settled down, Keith, Prez, Mike and Derrick would be moving there with their kids. On their way to the C.I.C., they passed the condos, where Troy had already taken Stephen, and walked back around the dorms. John pointed at the one that some of the older kids were already using.

"Is that where I'll be sleeping tonight?" Stephen asked.

"If ya want," John softly replied. "We've been nesting in the basement of my house the last few nights."

Stephen curiously repeated, "Nesting?"

John nodded, "Lots of the kids were just as scared as you when we got here. Saturday night, there were over a hundred kids in our basement. About fifteen were from the Northeast U.S. Clan division, the rest were our kids. It was pretty kewl. We have lots of TV's and game stations and one really big TV mounted on a wall. One half of the basement is like a rec room with our old living room furniture; the other half is where we all sleep. I don't know how many will be nesting tonight though. I'm figuring about thirty or forty, not including the seven of us Core Rimmers."

"Are you rich?" Stephen wondered.

John sniggered, "Nope, Clan Short is. We get what we need from them. Everything I've already showed you and the rest I haven't yet was all put here Saturday. It was just a big empty field before that."

Stephen incredulously repeated, "Everything here was built in one day?"

John nodded, "With Starfleet's help. Here's the C.I.C., where we arrived and had dinner."

"John?"

"Yeah?"

"Where am I sleeping?"

"Wherever ya want; in the dorm or in the nest." John then pointed to his left and said, "Here's our auditorium. My bros have a band. They had a concert Saturday night and a jam session in there earlier today."

As they walked past and out to the driveway, Stephen asked, "You're sleeping in the nest then?"

"Yep."

"Can I sleep with you there?"

John's heart skipped three beats then hustled to catch up. He turned and smiled at Stephen then nodded, unable to answer with words. They walked towards the housing area security checkpoint and Stephen reached for John's hand. Shocked and thrilled to death, John struggled to point to his right and choke out, "Parking garage."

"I can see that," Stephen grinned.

Turning to the left, John giggled, "Federation Youth Services offices over there." Pointing forward and to his right, John said, "Shuttle pad."

"Is there anything else?" Stephen asked.

"Nope, that's all."

"Can I ask a favor?"

"Course!"

"I told you my mom and me had to move out of our apartment?" John hummed affirmatively. "I ain't had a shower since then."

"Oh! No problem. I'll show you the inside of the dorm then."

After a few silent steps heading back around the C.I.C. on the way toward the dorms, Stephen chirped, "John?"

"Yeah?"

"I really like you a lot."

John blushed and giggled, "I like you too."

Stephen grinned, "I know already, remember?"

"Oh yeah! Sorry about that. I just didn't know what to say."

"If I tell you something, promise you won't laugh?"

"Okay, I promise."

"You make me feel really special. Better than I've ever felt before with anyone else."

"I'm glad," John smiled. 'It's so weird. I never wanted to sleep with anybody before. Drew and me used to have twin-size bunk beds. For the first time, I'm looking forward to sleeping beside someone.'

"You're not doing anything to me, you know, with your mind?"

"No. What happened in the store, sending you my feelings, was an accident, honest. I hope it never happens again."

Stephen nodded then thought for a few moments before saying, "I hope it does happen again."

Coming to an abrupt halt, John stopped and looked at Stephen carefully. The boy before him was a year older, but appeared a year or two younger; about Bruce's height, but much thinner than Bruce. Stephen smiled and nodded. John sent, 'You're so great, it's making me crazy inside! Nobody has ever made me not know what to say or do before. Part of me wants to show you everything everywhere, just so we can be alone longer. Another part of me wants to cry. Another part just wants to hold you.'

"I know," Stephen nervously whispered. "It's the same for me."

Following his instincts, John stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Stephen. Both boys sighed and closed their eyes. After about a minute, John softly wondered, "Is this love?"

"I hope so," Stephen whispered. "I'm not thinking of my mom or anything else; only you."

"Can I kiss you please?"

"Yes."

Their eyes opened. Two faces slid by one another and their lips met for the first time. They both gasped and their mouths opened then their eyes closed.

Something happened then that none of the UNIT kids or gorillas had ever seen before. John and Stephen began slowly levitating; two feet then higher and higher, until they were up about thirty feet off the ground. They then rotated until they were horizontal and began slowly swaying; as if they were lying side by side in an invisible hammock.

Outside the housing security checkpoint, Chaz saw them and softly chortled, "Oh shit!"

One of the gorillas asked, "What should we do?"

"I have no fucking idea!" Chaz laughed. "If we say something and break John's concentration, they might fall."

"Daileass, are you seeing this?" the gorilla asked.

"I was," Daileass giggled, "the camera can't tilt up that high!"

Chaz ordered, "Get a trampoline underneath them, just in case." A second later, a huge gymnastics trampoline appeared on the ground beneath John and Stephen. John and Stephen began slowly drifting down moments later, like two feathers in the light Hawaiian breeze. As they made their way down, UNIT kids, G-Cats and gorillas hurried over to the trampoline and surrounded it. They landed and broke their first kiss, contentedly sighing and euphoric.

Then John heard soft giggling and opened his eyes. The kids, G-Cats and gorillas began clapping and cheering. "Oh no," John groaned. "Daileass, get us outta here!"

"Where to?" Daileass giggled.

Stephen's eyes opened and he looked around then closed his eyes and hid his face.

"Someplace more private!" John begged, "I don't care where!"

"No one's in your bedroom at home," Daileass suggested.

"Works for me!" John replied.

The next thing the boys knew, they were laying in the same position on a bed in a dark room with only the outside lights shining in through the windows. Relieved, John grinned, "Any chance of keeping 'us' a secret just ended in applause."

"Why would you want to keep it a secret?" Stephen seriously asked.

"I wouldn't," John quickly replied. "But we haven't found your mom yet and I thought maybe you would."

"Not because of her; because of kids at school."

"Oh," John droned. "So other kids at school teased you?"

Stephen nodded, "They bullied me, John. That's why I pulled my hand away at first."

Feeling his temper rise, John huffed explosively then asked, "You know better now?"

Stephen nodded and brightly smiled, "After a kiss like that, I know way better."

Giggling like a hyena, John rolled back and pulled Stephen on top of him. The computer in the room began beeping and the screen flashed, 'Incoming Message'. "What the heck?" John grumbled. "Daileass, I ain't the director of this division. Why's my computer beeping?"

Over the bedroom communications system, Daileass giggled, "You need to see this message, John."

"Now?" John whined.

"As soon as possible," Daileass replied, and then giggled, "I think you and Stephen will really like it. It does raise a question or two though."

"All right," John groaned, and then let go of Stephen. After grabbing a quick kiss and making John giggle again, Stephen rolled off to the side of John. Getting up, John went to the computer. In a few clicks, he had opened the message Daileass sent and the attached QuickTime video. Watching himself and Stephen kiss then begin to rise in the air, John's eyes opened wide. "Holy crap!" John shouted. "You gotta see this, Stephen!"

Stephen got up and leaned over John's shoulder. He giggled and kissed John's cheek then confessed, "I thought I was imagining it."

"But no N-Gen's ever done that before!" John told him. "Sure we can lift other things and people, but Jace never told me I could do that!"

Stephen asked, "So this is new; for you and everyone else?"

John replied, "As far as I know." John then warned, "Step back, baby."

Stephen moved back from the chair and tearfully repeated, "Baby?"

Blushing and giggling, John stood and nodded, "I think I love you and, judging by what we just did, somethin' special is going on. Now I just gotta figure out what and how." John took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Imagining himself kissing Stephen, John tried to levitate off the floor. After about thirty seconds, John's eyes opened and he whined, "It ain't working!" He then said, "Kiss me, Stephen."

Stephen grinned, "Call me 'baby' again."

John giggled, "Kiss me, baby."

Stephen happily obliged. Their eyes closed and they began tickling one another's tongues. Almost immediately, John and Stephen rose up off the floor. A few seconds later, John's head bumped the ceiling. Helplessly giggling, John and Stephen broke their kiss and dropped to the floor with a loud thud.

"Okay!" John snickered, "One plus one equals two. Kiss me again."

Stephen smirked, "You just want more kisses!"

"Yep!" John laughed. "And to see if we can slowly lower down again, like we did outside."

"So we break the kiss more slowly this time?" Stephen queried. John rapidly nodded. Stephen teased, "Just say the magic word."

"Please?"

"Close!" Stephen giggled, "Four letter word beginning with 'B'."

John pleaded, "Please, baby?"

Stephen then laid a whopper on John. Humming deliriously, the two boys rose again. This time John expected the bump on the head. The kiss broke more slowly this time though and they gently lowered to the floor.

"One more test," John suggested. He took a step back, but held Stephen's hands and closed his eyes. This time they only rose an inch or two off the floor. "This is kewl!" John declared then pulled Stephen close for a hug. The same thing happened until John closed his eyes and imagined kissing Stephen. They rose a few inches higher then stopped. Humming curiously, John pushed Stephen away, but held his hands. They immediately lowered back to an inch off the floor. John released only one hand from Stephen and they dropped to the floor. "It's you," John laughed, "You and me together make it happen! How awesome is that?"

There was a knock at the door and Jennifer Hundser opened it then turned on the lights. Jennifer smiled and wondered, "When did you get home?"

"A few minutes ago mom," John answered. He then confirmed, "Mom, you know Stephen?"

Jennifer nodded, "We met a few hours ago, yes."

Stephen waved, "Hi Mrs. Hundser."

John smiled at Stephen briefly then turned back to his mother and asked, "Where's dad?"

"In the kitchen," Jennifer answered.

"Have I got some stuff to show you!" John excitedly laughed. "Let's go downstairs."

Closing her eyes for a few moments as the two boys passed, Jennifer muttered, "Every time I hear that lately, I get nervous." Turning around, she followed the boys downstairs and into the kitchen.

Entering the room and finding his dad at the table, John smiled, "Hey Dad! Have you met Stephen?"

Jim Hundser nodded, "We met earlier. We're still looking for your mother, Stephen."

Stephen nodded and softly said, "Thank you, Mr. Hundser. I'm sorry I mispronounced your name earlier."

Jim chuckled, "All our boys mangled our surname. I think John said Huzzer until he was three or four."

John and Stephen giggled while Jennifer sat at the table.

"Okay," John grinned, "I got good news and then even better news. First, me and Stephen learned we really like each other a lot." Wearing a wide, loving and appreciative smile, John turned to Stephen saying, "We're boyfriends!"

"That's wonderful!" Jennifer cheerfully said, and felt more relieved that nothing odd was about to happen.

Jim nodded and smiled, "We're very happy, for both of you."

"What's even better is what happens when we're together," John grinned. He then paused and thought how to explain it since he wasn't quite sure himself. "My N-Gen abilities let me move stuff around telekinetically. But when Stephen and me are together, something new happens." John stepped forward and hugged Stephen. Stephen wrapped his arms around John and rested his head on John's shoulder. Before John's parents' eyes, both boys levitated about six inches off the floor. After a few seconds, John whispered, "Kiss me, baby." Stephen and John tenderly kissed. Two bewildered parents watched while the boys rose higher as their tongues danced. Before hitting the ceiling, their tongues slowed and they lowered down back down. Breaking the kiss, they squeezed each other tightly then separated and landed on the floor. Turning his head to see his parents, but already knowing they were frightened, John softly grunted, "Uh oh!"

Jim simply eyed the boys suspiciously, but Jennifer's head was hanging in both her open hands.

"Mom?" John softly called.

Jennifer lifted her head and leaned back in the chair. "I know boys grow up," Jennifer began, "I know boys are more adventurous. I also realize that things have changed. But now I only have to ask, how high can you levitate? Is there any chance you could float off into outer space?"

"I don't think so," John answered. "I really don't know because it's brand new to me too." John then tapped his sub-vocal and asked, "Daileass, can you help me out here, dude?"

Replying privately to John, Daileass giggled, "Do not tell your parents how high we know you can levitate!"

"DUH!" John laughed.

Over the room's loudspeakers, Daileass then seriously offered, "There are three telekinesis trainers in the Clan."

Draco added, "Eli and Benji have just woke up."

"Only three?" Jim asked.

"It is a rare skill," Draco replied.

"How quick can they get here?" John wondered.

"You rang?" Two voices announced from behind John. He spun around and saw two boys standing about a foot off of the ground, a pajama-clad leg doing circles around them.

"Don't forget us!" Two more voices announced from near the ceiling.

"I'm counting four," Jim helplessly chuckled.

One of the boys giggled from the ceiling, "I'm Sammy, he's 'Bastian, that one is Eli, the other is Benji, and our little friend is 'Leg'."

"Hey, hot stuff, you can stop getting us up now!" the boy identified as 'Bastian giggled, obviously speaking to the boy named Eli.

Jim sputtered and tried not to laugh for his wife's sake. "Oh Lord!" Jennifer smirked, and then laid her head on her crossed arms on the table. She then began softly mumbling, "If I take two Valium, I may not wake up until noon; it could be very bad."

Watching 'Leg' dance around, John chuckled and introduced himself, Stephen and his parents. He then demonstrated what happened whenever he and Stephen were close or kissing.

Twisting to and fro, 'Leg' seemed to look around the room, then hopped over to a table with a notepad and pencil on it. It hopped up on the table, grabbed the pencil between its toes, and furiously scribbled on the paper. It then picked up the paper in its toes, and hopped over to Jennifer. After placing the note on the table next to her, it cuddled up to her side.

Jennifer glanced at 'Leg' then lifted her head and read the note. It read:

Mommy Jennifer,
I'm the prosthetic leg that Eli used to wear before Uncle Marc gave him an android leg and arm to replace the ones that he lost when his parents' plane crashed. Eli is silly, but he won't let anything happen that could hurt John; he still remembers how messing around caused his parents to lose control of the plane. Can I have a hug?

'Leg'.

P.S. Do you have a single lost sneaker? My toes are cold!

Saddened but also relieved, Jennifer looked up at Eli saying, "I'm not sure if I need to cry or laugh. Instead of choosing, I'll trust you boys to take care of business." She then got up from the table, kissed John on the forehead and warned, "You be careful!"

John smiled, "I will, Mom."

She then hugged Stephen and said, "Welcome to the family." She moved from Eli, to Benji, to Sammy to 'Bastian, hugging each boy. Kissing her husband, she said, "Work in the morning. Good night all."

Jim promised, "I'll be up soon, Jen."

The boys all said, "Good night," then waited until she had left the room.

Almost bouncing with anticipation, John asked, "So what do I do now?"

"Kiss again. That was cuuuuute!" Sammy giggled.

Turning to his new boyfriend, John smiled; ready, very willing and able. Stephen playfully complained, "I've been hoping for my first kiss forever. Now it's getting like kindergarten show and tell."

John took hold of both Stephen's hands. Once again, they lifted off the floor a few inches. Wrapping their arms around each other in a tight embrace, John and Stephen levitated a few inches higher. Finally, John whispered, "I really do love you, baby." Stephen whimpered then hurried to kiss John. This time though, they almost shot to the ceiling and again, John bumped his head.

Benji giggled as he lightly punched Eli's new arm. "Told ya we shoulda brought your spare crash helmets."

The two hovering lovers only sputtered briefly, but seemed to forget about any lessons to be learned and kept on kissing.

Jim asked, "Does it mean anything that they rose so quickly this time?"

"Yeah, they need to get laid," Sammy muttered under his breath.

"You got a one-track mind, babe!" Benji giggled. "Actually, we're watching it now, me and Eli on the T.K. side and the cute boys we call boyfriends watching the mental side."

"So the more willing they are, the faster the levitation?" Jim pondered. "Interesting."

Eli tapped his comm-badge and asked, "Hey Draco, you think you can arrange a set of padded ceilings here?" Looking at John's dad, Eli said, "You're right, Jim, but we are trying to figure out just what John is doing differently. This is a new twist on the skill; at least in how it's being applied by John."

"Sure, one completely padded-ceilinged-house comin' up!" Draco giggled. The ceiling of the kitchen shimmered slightly. "Should help keep the noise down when Prez and Keith get it busy," he mischievously added.

"If they're like Cory, there's not enough padding in the Universe to do that." Eli giggled. "Jim, 'Bast thinks he might have figured out something about what is happening. We'll find out if he's right once the two lovebirds decide to take a break to breathe."

Hearing that their demonstration was sufficient, John and Stephen slowly lowered, but since neither was willing to separate, they remained hovering inches above the floor.

Since the boys were safe, Jim smirked, "This house is built well, but I'm sure a little padding and sound proofing could only help. As for Keith and Preston, if they don't take a break soon, I might be forced to lock them in a bedroom."

Contentedly snuggling Stephen, John softly offered, "They had a break today, Dad. Cory Short made 'em take time off."

Relieved, Jim cheered, "Oh! Thank goodness!"

"Now if Cory could just follow his own advice," Eli giggled. "Hey, John, you think our brain-leech boyfriends can look in you guys' heads while you're floating there?"

Feeling Stephen becoming nervous, John softly shushed his boyfriend and assured, "It's okay, baby. It won't hurt at all, I promise. Just stay with me." Stephen relaxed again then John nodded at Eli, "Go ahead."

Sammy and 'Bastian nodded and began their scan, keeping a respectful distance from the two boys to help them stay comfortable. After a few minutes, they both smiled; at the same time the two floating subjects blushed and giggled. "Okay, I think we've got it," Sammy announced. "Eli, Benj, stand by for dumping."

"Go for it," Eli replied.

Sammy completed the dump into Eli's mind, and then, after a moment for Eli to sort through it all, the boy giggled and said, "It's interesting. You've always been an empath, John, but when you became an N-Gen your mind opened up a lot more. You've always had the other abilities, but you've only used telepathy once before your change. Now, even with the basic training and Vulcan legal stuff the other guys gave you, you're still using your other abilities as if they were empathy."

"What do you mean?" John asked curiously.

Eli smiled, "You read people's minds and see images, pictures, feelings, desires, flavors, all that stuff. You don't usually hear the words they are thinking, but still understand what they are thinking as you interpret it through your empathy. You can talk to other minds, like a telepath does normally, and could listen the same way, but you're just doing it different. Same for your telekinesis. You've been shown how to do the beginning stuff; exploding carrots, floating your brothers and others around; but the higher stuff, like floating yourself up and more, you were meant to find out for yourself. It's just that you're doing it by going through your empathy first! So, when you're with Stephen, you're super happy. When you kiss him, you are literally walking on air. Your triggers for telekinesis are empathic. That's it. You need to find out exactly what those triggers are, then learn to not hit them when you are kissing your boyfriend. Or, when you both go further, you'll really join the 'Mile High Club'!"

Stephen blushed and hid his face. John giggled, "I'll work on the triggers. I guess what I don't understand is, why Stephen? I mean, he's the first person I've ever wanted to kiss. Would the same thing have happened if it were Lindsay, Tommy, Brandon or Viccy?"

"To a degree, but not to the same level," Benji giggled. "What makes this so obvious is that it is Stephen."

"Me?" Stephen incredulously squeaked. "Why me?"

"Because you're special," Eli said with a smile, yet dead seriously.

"I know that," John smiled. He and Stephen floated just a little higher as they hugged tighter.

"Well, yes... but not the way I meant," Eli giggled. "He's a resonance chamber for you, bro! You put in ten parts of power, you have an effect of one hundred or something. Since it's Stephen you like, your power output is increased by being near or in contact with him. That helps you, right now. You can learn quicker what the trigger is so that you don't flip it when you kiss or cuddle and feel good faster because he amplifies anything you do so you'll see it easier!"

Jim Hundser leaned back in his chair chuckling, "Oh no."

Letting go of Stephen for a moment, John turned to his father and asked, "What's wrong, Dad?"

Shaking his head, Jim smiled, "Nothing's wrong. Stephen acts as a power amplifier, raising ten to one hundred. You know what your brothers will say, don't you?" John thought for a moment then shook his head. Jim chuckled, "I can hear them now; introducing Stephen Marr, the Power Rimmer." All six boys cracked up and howled laughing. Throwing his arms up in defeat as he stood, Jim said, "Since I know everything will work out fine, I'm going to bed." Holding his son and Stephen by the shoulder, Jim grinned, "You two stay under a roof until you figure out how to control your triggers."

"DAD!" John loudly laughed, and blushed just as much as Stephen. The other four laughed even harder.

"No matter what you might think, I was referring to the triggers in your mind, not the other ones!" Jim then turned to Eli, Benji, Sammy and 'Bastian saying, "You boys are welcome to stay the night if you like. I hope to see you again tomorrow."

"Holding hands won't be a problem, will it?" Stephen shyly asked as Jim walked out of the room.

"Do it now," Eli giggled.

They did, and both found out that they were about an inch or so off of the floor.

"How do we walk?" John giggled.

Eli shrugged and said, "Try it anyway."

They did and found that John was subconsciously moving them along as if they were.

"We're walking in the air!" John sang through his giggles, "We're dancing in the moo-oonlit sky!"

"Well," Eli cracked up, "at least you can do that outside until you learn control! Just anything more, stay under something solid."

"Or tie your ankles to a lamp-post!" Sammy howled laughing.


During the time John was alone with Stephen in his bedroom, practicing his kissing and floating skills, Keith had said it was time for Dewi, Richie, Geoff and Dillon to join the nest. Jennifer had taken the youngest F.C.C. kids home with her and got them settled in the nest. Bruce had taken the other young kids back to the Hundsers' house. Bruce, Gage, Sammy, Dee and Jonah played video games for a while before also going to sleep. Meanwhile, Prez and the remainder of the Core Rimmers were with the eldest F.C.C. kids, getting them acquainted with the base then situated in dorm rooms.

Shortly after eleven that night, while John was with Stephen and his parents in the kitchen, Prez and the Core Rimmers were in the Command Center. They picked up their own new Clan Short I.D. cards. Then they began discussing how to deal with passing out credit and I.D. cards to more than a hundred kids. Pages were printed out listing each kid by name so each kid got their cards. Right after breakfast would be the best time to get everyone together. Kaleo and Tory would ask Sean and other older kids for help getting the job done as quickly as possible. Kaleo was hoping for four boys and two girls on the team passing out cards. If they could get four or more on the team, they might get all the cards passed out in an hour or less.

Just before they left the Command Center for the night, Donnie Williams called for Prez once again. A new potential threat had been identified through the mole and others captured during the F.C.C. operations. They called themselves the Human Liberation Front; a group that believed any and all alien interference in Earth governments were to be eliminated. This not only affected Hawaii because of the King's recent declaration, but also several mainland American States. The UNIT Intel division needed to do more 'research' to find out more about the H.L.F. Donnie and Prez promised to share whatever information they learned about the H.L.F. with each other then said goodnight.

Clapping his hands like one of the four- or five-year-old kids, Keith sarcastically shouted, "Oh goody! Greed, zealots and arrogance!" He then bent over, pointed his ass at Prez and grabbed his ankles yelling, "Thank you, Sir, may I have another!"

Prez swatted his partner's butt and sniggered, "You're so bad, babe." Kaleo and many of the others in the Command Center howled laughing. Grinning insanely, Mike, Derrick, Drew and Corey only shook their heads.

Covering his mouth with his fist, Kaleo yawned then turned to Prez and asked, "If it's okay, I'll go over to the dorms and talk with some of the kids, so we can get a team organized to pass out the credit and I.D. cards?"

Prez nodded, "Kewl, dude. Have a good night. See ya tomorrow." Everyone else said goodnight too and Kaleo turned to leave.

Keith hurried to Kaleo, held his shoulder then whispered, "You and Tory, in the store before; it's totally kewl with us, dude. We just gotta be careful we don't get caught by the kids, ya know?"

Kaleo blushed and whispered, "Thanks, Keith. There was no chance of waiting."

Keith whispered, "Next time, make yourselves more comfy. Have Daileass transport you back to your room for a quickie." He then put his clenched fist out. Kaleo knocked knuckles with Keith then left the Command Center.

Stepping up to the console, Drew said, "Computer; Internet search, news articles, Republic of Hawaii, United States of America, Canada, Mexico, Japan, China."

The computer responded in an emotionless adult female voice. [Ready. State additional search parameters.]

"Human Liberation Front; attack or diplomat or embassy or representative or threat. January one, 2000 through current date, inclusive. Display results. Execute."

[Processing. Estimated search completion time, thirty minutes.]

Corey stepped closer to Drew and from behind, wrapped his arms around Drew's waist. Corey sighed, "I get all tingly when you talk logical to the computer."

Drew blushed and softly said, "Love you so much, Cor."

Prez grinned, "Okay you two, you're relieved..."

"Don't say 'relieved'," Keith cackled.

Prez chuckled, "Okey doke. Go home, dudes."

Corey giggled, "Thanks, Prez."

Turning around and taking Corey's hand, Drew said, "Good night, guys."

Everyone said good night to Drew and Corey then, as they left the Command Center, Paulie said, "Hey, boss?" Prez turned to Paulie and Paulie pointed at one of the display screens saying, "Check it out." A bus had stopped at the corner of North Road and Iroquois Avenue. A bunch of male and female kids got off the bus. Some pointed down North Road then the group started walking.

"All right, here we go, dudes," Prez pleasantly said. "Our first group of teen street kids."

Keith frowned and wondered, "How should I contact Jamie, Jacob and Beau?"

Prez giggled, "Any one of three should work."

Keith tapped his comm-badge and called, "Jamie?"

"Hi, Keith," Jamie replied. Then came the all too familiar circular reply from the Terrible Trio; "Those kids," "are dressed," "real nice." "We'll meet you," "at the gate," "to check them out."

Rapidly shaking his head because the telepathic triplets had obviously seen what everyone in the C.I.C. had, Keith grinned, "Thanks, dudes. See ya in a few. Out."

Derrick called Doctor Andrews while Mike called Doctor Wiener. Both doctors were asked to meet the team at the North Road gate.

Prez told Paulie, "We're going home after this, Paulie."

Paulie nodded, "My shift ends at midnight, Prez. I'll let the next shift know at turnover."

The team of four Core Rimmers said good night then walked out of the Command Center and outside. With towels in their hands, but still wet, Jamie, Jacob and Beau ran up to them.

"You guys need to know about John and Stephen," Jacob cackled.

While they continued to walk to the gate, Beau giggled, "They kissed a little while ago."

"You shoulda seen it," Jamie cheered, "They actually floated way up in the air!"

All three pointed to the area by the C.I.C. and in unison chanted, "It happened right over there."

"Together, they make an awesome couple," Jamie added.

Beau stated, "Stephen's only a little empathic."

Jacob explained, "When John gets close to Stephen, his N-Gen powers grow."

All three simultaneously laughed, "We've never seen anything quite like that."

"Whoa!" Prez loudly chuckled. "They kissed and actually levitated?"

All three boys laughed and nodded. Beau tapped his comm-badge and called, "Chaz, tell Prez and the guys what happened to John."

Over Beau's comm-badge, Chaz chuckled, "He scared the piss out of us. Swear to God, he and Stephen were up at tree-top level. We were all worried they'd fall and got them a trampoline."

Keith groaned, "I don't know if I should be happy or scared to death."

The terrible triplets surrounded and pounced Keith then began tickling him. "Be happy!" they all laughed as Keith struggled to protect himself from six hands tickling him at once.

Beginning to tickle the three terrors, Prez saved his partner from further abuse then asked, "So how does this work?"

"Our friends from Orlando were here," "Eli, Benji, Sammy and 'Bastian," "They checked 'em over to find out what the deal is," "Stephen's like an amplifier for John."

In unison, they all cackled, "Your dad called Stephen the Power Rimmer!" The eldest four Rimmers cracked up and agreed to keep the name.

By this time, Drew and Corey had finished making love in the shower then went downstairs to get ready for bed. They walked down the flights of stairs into the basement and couldn't believe their eyes. Hovering about a foot above the couch cushions, Stephen was laying on John.

John smiled, "Hey."

Corey complained, "I'm so jealous! I've always felt like that when Drew hugs me, but we've never actually floated."

"Stephen's my little amplifier," John explained. "He's empathic and my powers are based on empathy. When we're close, like now, this is what happens."

Stephen softly offered, "I was so scared when I got here. Ever since meeting John, I've felt so much better, like everything else is candy. It was love at first sight."

Running his fingers through Stephen's wavy auburn hair, John assured, "I love you too, baby." Stephen softly kissed John and they floated up another two feet.

"Wow!" Corey and Drew chimed.

Holding the kiss, John transmitted to Drew; 'I've never felt like this before. I feel like I could easily lift Aloha Stadium, but I just don't have the time. How can I be so happy and so peaceful at the same time?'

"That's love, bro," Drew smiled.

The next second, a bunch of two inch tall Lilliputians came running out from nowhere and started firing off grappling hooks with long ropes around the floating boys. "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade inflatables!" they all squeaked, and they started lowering the laughing boys back to the sofa.

"What the hell are these guys?" Drew exclaimed.

"Imaginary," came a giggling voice from behind them. Corey and Drew turned to find a boy with bright yellow eyes and mischief clearly showing on his face. His white blond hair gleamed in the lights of the room. His impish grin was infectious. "I've never come across a psionic like your brother, so I was curious. Be scared."

"Who are you?" Corey asked cautiously.

"A friend of Levi's," the boy giggled. "You can call me Lord and Master." Levi's hand appeared from nowhere and slapped him. "Okay, okay," the boy giggled again. "I'm Quint. Nice to meet you." Looking down at the tiny troops, he called, "Now, my minions, start the Parade."

"Yeah!" all the Lilliputians cried. John and Stephan started getting towed about the room, laughing hysterically all the while.

Approaching the North Gate security station, the team of seven saw the two doctors standing by. Outside the gate stood a group of twelve teenage boys and girls. One boy was constantly tilting his head from side to side and holding his left arm. Another boy had a black eye and several fresh wounds on his face, neck and arms.

One of the UNIT security guards named Billy met the Core Rimmers. "Hi, guys," Billy softly said and gestured to the group behind the gate. "Some of these guys have weapons; knives and mace."

"They're afraid," Jamie said.

"Of their pimps and tricks." Jacob added.

"They don't mean no harm." Beau finished.

Prez nodded and softly asked, "What do you think, Billy?"

"It's my job to keep this base and you guys safe," Billy answered. "My gut says to call a company over."

Keith asked, "Can they be scanned as they enter?"

Prez agreed and added, "To see which has the weapons?"

Keith and Billy nodded, but the triplets assured, "They just want in. They'll give up the stuff as soon as they feel safe."

Prez thought for a moment then told Billy, "You and Andy stay sharp. I don't want them scared or shot on arrival. Let 'em in, Billy."

Billy went to the security station. A moment later, Andy came outside with his M-16 drawn. Billy opened the shield portal at the gate. All twelve kids hurried in at once. Many of the boys and two of the four girls were complaining about having to wait, exposed to possible identification. Hearing a disturbance, six security gorillas came from out of the trees and rapidly approached. The twelve street kids backed up against the closed gate, frightened of the massive beasts carrying M-2 rifles and grenades.

Prez gestured for the UNIT troops to lower their weapons and grinned, "Now that I've got your attention, let me say welcome to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division. I didn't invite y'all here to be scared. The gorillas are only responding as they've been trained. As long as you're kewl, they will be too. There's one thing we have to get out of the way right now. We know some of you have knives and weapons. You won't need them here; you're all safe now." Keith bent down and picked up a small pebble then tossed it at the shield, just to the side of the kids. The stone bounced off the shield and fell to the ground. "That's a Starfleet quality shield around the entire base," Prez explained. "It's active now, for the first time, because we already know the pimps you guys worked for are going to be pissed off. They could fire bullets at that shield until they're blue in the face and out of ammo; nothing will hurt you here. So please, just toss your weapons and mace to the ground. Then we can introduce ourselves and get acquainted."

The twelve kids began unloading various knives, small bats and cans of mace. When they stopped, Prez glanced at Jamie, Jacob and Beau. All three nodded and approached the street kids. Billy and Andy began gathering the weapons on the ground. Prez clearly said, "Y'all know me from TV, so let me introduce my teammates. To my right is my boyfriend and life partner, Keith Hundser."

Keith waved and smiled, "How's it goin', guys?"

Prez then said, "To my left are Mike Gibbons and Derrick Seibert. They're also boyfriends and partners. We're the oldest of the eight leaders of this division."

"You're the oldest?" One of the girls incredulously repeated.

Prez chuckled, "Yep, 'fraid so! The other four members of our team are either asleep or taking care of other things. You'll meet everybody tomorrow."

The boy that had been holding his arm and tilting his head to and fro grunted then groaned, "OW! What the fuck?"

Beau looked up at the boy and asked, "Feel better now?"

The boy turned his head left and right then rotated his sore arm around. He smiled, "Yeah, I do."

"Your shoulder was dislocated," Beau said. "Next time some jerk-off throws you into a brick wall, get up and kick him in the nuts."

The boy grinned, "I should've thought of that."

"You did!" Jamie and Jacob giggled.

Shaking his head, Prez chuckled, "That little black haired boy is Beau, a Clan Short healer, and the other two, Jacob and Jamie are telepaths. Their job is to check you guys over. Whatever they can't fix, they'll tell me about. The only other people that will have to know about your overall health are the two gentlemen standing by the security shack." Gesturing to the two men, Prez said, "This is Doctor Andrews, pediatrician, and Doctor Wiener, child psychologist."

"We don't need no head shrink!" one boy sourly bitched.

Prez moved forward and stood before the boy that spoke. He was about the same height as Prez, but a little thinner. Knowing what was about to happen, Derrick, Mike and Keith glanced at each other then shook their heads. Prez softly said, "You're here so I assume you want to get off the street, correct?" The boy nodded and Prez took one step back then loudly said, "There are over a hundred kids on this base right now. I'm responsible for them, my friends, their families and everyone else that arrives across five bases. We'll give you a warm bed in a nice room and plenty to eat whenever you want it. We'll give you education and recreation of every sort. There's no price or cost for any of it. Nobody's gonna tell you to bend over and get ready for a good fucking. If or when you find somebody you like and they like you too, then you can make love together, consensually. The last three days those hundred kids, ranging in age from four to fifteen, have been here recovering from their own nightmares. They never got paid for sex. They were abused by adults that were supposed to be taking care of them. If the telepaths tell me that any of you need to see either doctor, then you will see them. I'm not jeopardizing the welfare of all for one person. If you'd rather go back to the streets then let me know now." Prez paused and locked eyes with each of the kids.

Beau looked over the group with a critical eye before adding his own two cents. "Before any of y'all go coppin' an attitude, you better understand somethin' right now. My two boyfriends there started out on the street, and were the reason that a group of great kids became Clan Short. I had no living relatives, and was almost killed by the sperm donor of a kid who became my brother. That asshole decided that since he couldn't screw my bro, nobody else would get to either. When you walked through those gates, you were asking to join the Family of Cory Short and to enjoy all of the benefits of that family. With those benefits comes the responsibility to allow yourself to be helped to become the person you should have been all along. It's all or nothing; either agree and find out just how great you really are, or turn around and make the stupidest move in your entire life. Your choice, but once you make it, you're determining your entire future."

Prez asked, "Does anyone want to leave?"

Eleven heads shook, but one of the smaller boys tentatively held up his hand.

Prez went over to the cute little African boy. He was looking really sharp in his black suit, red dress shirt and black neck tie. Prez asked, "Don't tell me you want to leave?"

The boy shook his head and asked, "Is this like a military base?"

The Terrible Triplets helplessly giggled. Prez grinned, "Is Clan Short military? No, we're not. We have a military division. Anyone that decides they'd like to participate in our military organization just let me or any of the Core Rimmers know."

"Core Rimmers?" the tallest boy laughed. Turning away briefly, Prez rolled his eyes and realized that he had slipped. The Triplets, Derrick, Keith and Mike cracked up. Unable to control themselves, Andy and Billy quickly turned away and tried not to laugh. All the street kids began snickering.

Mike giggled, "Clan Short Pacific Rim Division was too big. We weren't Clan five minutes before Prez called us The Rimmers." All the new kids lost it and howled.

Derrick loudly laughed, "We've got Toy Rimmers, a Soul Rimmer, a Mouth Rimmer, Shiny Rimmers and most recently, a Power Rimmer. Prez is the Head Rimmer."

After waiting for everyone to calm down, Prez chuckled, "ANYWAY! We're a big family, not military. We have the facilities to protect ourselves, like the shields and base security."

Prez heard the Triplets in his mind then went back to Keith, Derrick and Mike, gesturing for them to take over introductions.

Keith went over to the four girls. They were: British fourteen-year-old Cassie Cornwall, American thirteen-year-old Caitlin Axford, German fourteen-year-old Helena Schmoll and Irish fifteen-year-old Mollie Mcelhannon. Derrick and Mike spoke with the eight boys. They were: American fourteen-year-old Christian Beresford, American fifteen-year-old Lance Elling, African sixteen-year-old Jessie Foulds, French-Canadian fifteen-year-old Darren Devault, American fourteen-year-old Hugh Gartrell, African thirteen-year-old Clinton Foshee, American fourteen-year-old Allan Farabaugh and American fifteen-year-old Darryl Don.

Prez returned to the group and whispered to Cassie, Christian and Darryl to please see Doc Andrews. In only a few minutes, the Doctor had scanned them with his tricorder and administered inoculations via hypo-spray. Mollie and Clinton were asked to go with Doc Wiener to the C.I.C. dining room for a private conversation. Waiting for Doc Wiener, Clinton and Mollie to pass, Prez then led everyone else to the C.I.C. dining room. The Terrible Trio decided they were going to go check on John and Stephen then join the nest.

Much to everyone's surprise, Kekoa had gotten two extra chefs to man the grill in the kitchen for the incoming kids. Three of the older kids recognized Kekoa even though he was wearing fatigues. Once everyone got their food, Kekoa stood on a chair and told everyone of his own history from orphan to street hustler to rescued Clan Short kid to UNIT Colonel and Commander of the Pacific Rim detachment. Prez was thrilled. The one thing he and everyone else had forgotten was extra chefs to feed the kids. Kekoa took it upon himself to get the chefs and tell his story. Prez went into the Command Center and wrote a message to Adam Casey, giving accolades and the highest praise for his new UNIT Commander.

Once Kekoa had finished his pep talk, Derrick, Mike and Keith told the kids about current sleeping arrangements. By the time Prez came out of the Command Center, the kids had already finished eating and had decided to sleep in the dorm. They were in the process of deciding who would buddy up with whom. All Prez did was tap his comm-badge and call Kaleo.

Kaleo immediately replied, "What's up, Prez?"

"Sorry to bug you dude, but we have a bunch of newbies here," Prez said. "The only problem is, I don't know how many rooms are occupied in the dorm."

"Got it covered Prez," Kaleo said. "Out of fifty-two rooms in this building, we're using twenty-nine. We've got one hallway upstairs with girls now. That's eleven rooms and twenty-two girls. Down here, we've got thirty-eight boys in eighteen rooms."

Prez asked, "Shouldn't that be nineteen rooms?"

"Four of the seven- and eight-year-old boys are sharing one room. They feel better that way."

"That's great!" Prez beamed.

"Until they get more comfortable, they'll stay together."

"That's sixty kids," Prez cheered. "You're awesome, Kaleo! Expect at least one big hug when I see you. You might even get four hugs."

Kaleo giggled, "I didn't do it; the kids did it all by themselves."

"You got bonus points twice today in my book, Fist Rimmer!" Without intending to, Prez caused another roar of laughter from the new kids. Even Kekoa was shaking his head, but chuckling.

"We'll meet you there after we take them to the store for clothes, Kaleo," Prez smiled. "We've got four girls and eight boys."

"No problem... Head Rimmer!" Kaleo giggled. In the background, Tory was obviously hysterical.

Soon, all the newbies had dumped their trash. Their empty trays, plates, glasses and silverware were left by the restaurant-grade dishwasher. When everyone was gathered, Keith explained, "We're about to take you guys and girls to the store for clothes and suitcases. Just so ya know, we won't walk there. We use something like Starfleet transporters. It feels a little weird the first few times, being one place and then suddenly being in another place. Is everybody ready?" Getting nods and vocal affirmations, Keith then tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Daileass?"

"Ready when you are, Keith," Daileass cheerfully said.

"We're outta here," Keith confirmed.

A moment later, the entire group of sixteen was standing in the C.I.C. store. A couple of kids shouted expletives of various sorts. Prez, Mike and Derrick grinned or chuckled. Keith giggled, "I said it felt weird!"

Prez turned to Mike and Derrick saying, "Show the girls through please, buds? Keith and I will show the guys through."

Derrick nodded, "No problem, Prez."

But Mike playfully complained, "Oh sure! We get to be embarrassed with bras and panties!"

Wide-eyed and giggling, Keith teased, "I've seen you in your frilly panties. Kinda cute, but ya really need to shave the panty lines, dude." Some of the street kids were smiling and softly chuckling, but the rest obviously couldn't tell if Keith was serious or not.

Shaking his head, Mike grumbled, "Fucker."

Derrick smiled and assured the kids, "He wears boxers all the time, as far as I know."

Prez grinned, "To each his own," then slid in closer to Keith and wrapped him in a warm embrace. Each of the twelve kids grabbed a shopping cart. The four Core Rimmers led them through the various departments: socks, underwear and pajamas; sandals, shoes and sneakers; summer wear; shirts; jeans; belts, hats and accessories; dress clothes; coats, jackets and ponchos; toiletries and finally, suitcases.

Another hour was spent getting the boys through the store, checked out and their suitcases packed. Then Mike and Derrick got the girls checked out and packed. Seeing they were almost finished, Prez tapped his comm-badge and called, "Kaleo?"

"Here, Prez," Kaleo replied. A television could be heard in the background.

"We're almost done in the store, dude."

"Me, Tory, Sean and Horacio are standing by in the first floor rec room."

"Kewl, bud. See ya in a few minutes."

Once the final suitcase was packed and everybody was ready for transport, Mike called, "Daileass?"

"Shiny Daddy?" Daileass giggled.

Rolling his eyes, Mike grinned, "Wise ass. To the dorm rec room where Kaleo's waiting." A split second later, the group was lined up with their suitcases between a sofa and the piano.

In a thick Irish brogue, Mollie excitedly asked, "How in the hell do you get used to it?"

Derrick shrugged, "Repetition."

On the sofa before them, Tory got up off of Kaleo. At opposite ends of the front sofa, Sean and Horacio turned around. Prez quickly introduced everybody then suggested, "Derrick, Mike, Tory and Kaleo, get the guys situated. The rest of us will take the girls upstairs."

Kaleo said, "Prez, I put signs up at the second floor doorways. The girls want to know when boys are around."

Tory nodded, "Everyone on both floors keep their bedroom doors open a lot of the time. By now, I'll bet most of them are asleep, but there might be someone in the bathroom."

"When you open the door, just shout, 'Boys on the floor'," Kaleo added. "That's almost exactly what the signs say."

Prez smiled, "Necessity is the mother of invention."

Keith added, "Once we're finished, it's bed time."

Mike checked his watch and realized, "It's after two in the morning. We've got a concert at school at ten in the morning."

Everybody split up and started to show the newbies to their dorm rooms. Walking up the stairs and carrying Mollie's suitcase, Keith softly said, "Hey, Daileass?"

"What's up, Keith?" Daileass asked.

"We're gonna need wake up calls in the morning, dude."

"Say when," Daileass said.

Keith suggested, "Nine?"

Prez said, "Make it eight forty-five."

Keith agreed, "I'm gonna need some coffee."

Into each of the Core Rimmer's sub-vocals, Daileass said, "Wake up call at eight-forty-five Hawaii time. Do you want alarms or music?"

"Music," all four chanted.

"Classic rock?" Daileass suggested, and all four agreed.

"Thanks, Daileass," Prez yawned. Stopping at the second floor landing and opening the door, Prez hollered, "Boys on the floor."

Referring to how tired they were getting after their third rescue group in one night, Keith softly joked, "Almost literally on the floor."

While the two leaders and everyone began walking down the second floor hallway, Sean softly said, "We left a few doors open down at the end of the hall. You can pick which room you like."

Prez told the girls, "They're all very much alike. Only the carpet, wall colors and game systems are different."

Beyond the bathroom and before the rec room, four bedroom doors were left ajar. Once again, the four girls were pleasantly surprised at the spacious rooms and amenities. The four split in half and chose two rooms across from each other. Prez and Keith told them to get with Kaleo in the C.I.C. dining room for orientations after breakfast. The boys said good night and started back down the hall.

Glancing between Sean and Horacio, Prez said, "I'm not prying, but I am curious; are you two a couple?"

Sean and Horacio grinned at each other. Horacio explained, "I'm bisexual, Prez. Yeah, we're messin' around together, but since Sean's gay and I'm bi, we're both free."

"We're free in more ways than sex," Sean happily said. They started back down stairs and Sean added, "There is one dude I'm very interested in. He don't know it yet, but I have been watching him."

Horacio asked, "Should I tell them?"

"I can do it!" Sean giggled. "It's that dude that was playing keyboards with your band earlier."

Prez and Keith excitedly shouted; "Troy?"

"Is that his name?" Sean asked.

Prez couldn't help laughing. Keith answered, "His name is Troy Faris. His mom's one of the housekeepers and yes, he is gay."

At the first floor landing, Prez leaned against the door and chuckled, "Would you like us to introduce you to him?"

"Hell yeah!" Sean laughed. "If he's really as cute as he looks..."

"Sean can stop beating his meat," Horacio interrupted.

"HEY!" Sean laughed and uncontrollably blushed. "I didn't even know his name!"

"Am I lying?" Horacio grinned at Sean. "Did you or did you not tell me that he gave you a raging boner?" Keith and Prez cracked up.

Sean cackled, "Yeah, but let’s not put the cart before the horse, so to speak. He might not like me or I might not like him. He's definitely eye candy though."

Keith smiled and promised, "We'll get ya hooked up sometime tomorrow, Sean. You take it from there."

Reaching for the door handle, Prez warned, "Troy's really shy, as best as I can tell."

Keith agreed, "The only reason he got on stage is because..."

"Keith!" Prez loudly squealed.

"What?" Keith cackled, "I was only gonna say that the telepaths knew he wanted to jam."

"Shy is good," Horacio confirmed. "Sean's not exactly the most outgoing person around."

Sean only nodded, but Horacio, Keith and Prez noticed a dreamy, faraway look in Sean's eyes. They all began chuckling. Opening the door, they went down the hall. Several bedroom doors were still open. When they noticed Prez and Keith out in the hall, Nick and Roger, two of the boys picked up at Hawaii earlier that evening, hurried out of their room in their underwear just to say hello.

"How're you guys doing?" Keith pleasantly asked.

The two boys cheered, "We're GREAT!"

"This place is really awesome," Nick gushed.

Roger nodded, "It's like the best hotel; big beds, televisions and game stations in every room."

Horacio grinned, "We're choosing which room we want based on the game stations."

"Is it working out evenly?" Keith wondered.

Horacio nodded, "I think so. Most of us don't know one game station from the other. We've been trying them both out."

Grinning at the two younger boys, Prez slyly asked, "Will it still seem like a resort when school starts?"

Obviously less enthusiastic, Nick and Roger hummed. Keith, Sean and Horacio chuckled. Prez grinned, "Come on, you guys, even I have to go to school. But I will tell you this; Clan school won't be anything like your other schools. There will be placement tests and teachers for the basics; reading, writing and arithmetic. Depending on your placement scores, you could find yourself in more interesting advanced classes. You could take trade school classes like carpentry or auto mechanics or computer programming. One of those computer classes is taught by Patriarch Cory Short. There will be special military classes over at the UNIT base here on O'ahu or in Utah, U.S.A. Other classes are available in Florida or Des Moines or even in Wales, U.K."

Seeing a spark of interest in both boys' eyes, Keith added, "We spoke with the Clan education adviser today. He asked if me, Prez, Mike and Derrick would be interested in teaching music classes. We're talking everything from music appreciation to music performance and theory. You name it, the Clan schools can teach it."

"Don't forget our close affiliation with Starfleet either," Prez reminded. "If you've got the right skills, you'll get recommendations and could attend Starfleet Academy."

"Really?" the two younger boys delightedly squealed. When Keith and Prez nodded, they found themselves on the receiving end of tight hugs from Nick and Roger.

Prez returned Roger's hug and said, "All you guys need to adopt a new attitude. Keep telling yourselves, 'I can do anything if I seriously want to do it enough'."

Roger looked up and smiled, "Thanks, Prez." Nick repeated the sentiment to both Prez and Keith.

"Any time, dudes," Prez assured.

"Spread the word," Keith said.

Prez then informed them; "Drew's working on setting up our own division website so all these little pieces of information can be shared with all the kids."

Keith said, "Until the site's built, things are going to be largely word of mouth."

Snapping his fingers, Prez said, "Daileass, I want cork bulletin boards in every dorm, on every floor, by the doorways and in each rec room."

Daileass asked, "How large and where exactly, Prez?"

"Twenty-four inches by thirty-six inches, landscape orientation, forty inches high off the floor so even little tikes can see and read from it."

Daileass said, "There's one by Kaleo's room now, Prez. Is that what you want and how you want it?"

Prez turned around then went and checked it out. Keith, Sean, Horacio, Nick and Roger followed Prez. Hanging perfectly centered on the wall and at the height Prez instructed was a new cork bulletin board. Humming uncertainly, Prez checked with the others; "Is that too high? There could be little kids, five, six or seven years old trying to read from this."

Everyone turned to Roger for his opinion since he was slightly shorter than Nick. "I don't know," Roger said, "The overall height's okay, I guess. The lower half would have to be 'specially for kids announcements. Then it should work all right."

Keith praised the boy. "Good job, Roger."

"That'll work, Daileass," Prez said.

"All dorms are done, Prez," Daileass replied.

Tilting his head, Keith grimaced, "It's real low tech for a place filled with so much high tech stuff."

"It'll get the job done until we get the web site up," Prez said. "After the web site is running, we could use these for 'this dorm only' stuff or even the kids' artwork."

Kaleo and Tory returned from the other hall to find the group standing outside his room. "Lookin' for me?" Kaleo grinned.

Prez pointed at the bulletin board and told Kaleo, "I just had an idea to help with communication, Mouth Rimmer... or should I say, Fist Rimmer?" Nick and Roger began giggling.

Kaleo laughed, "I prefer Mouth Rimmer."

Bouncing his eyebrows, Tory seductively growled, "So do I!" Everyone gathered cracked up.

Kaleo chortled and appeared to change the subject. "Prez, I need to show you something."

Prez said, "Sure, dude, as long as it’s relatively quick."

Keith nodded. "We have to wake up for school in the morning."

Horacio said, "We'll say good night and let you guys take care of business."

"We'll be helping with the I.D. cards tomorrow morning anyway," Sean explained. He, Horacio, Roger and Nick said good night then went back to their rooms.

Tory unlocked the door and led the way in. Entering the room, Kaleo pointed at two stacks of boxes beside the stereo. The first stack was cartons of Wet, K.Y. and AstroGlide lubricant. The second stack was three cartons of Trojan Lubricated condoms. Each of the three cartons were different sizes; regular, Magnum large and Magnum extra large. Keith and Prez grinned.

Prez gave Kaleo the hug he had promised and declared, "You rock, dude. There's so many trivial things like that I completely forgot about." Stepping back from Kaleo, Prez asked, "You took that upon yourself too?"

With Tory wrapping his arms around him from behind, Kaleo nodded, held his boyfriend's arms and giggled, "Kinda had to."

"Besides you two being a couple, the great thing is, you thought of the other guys too," Keith expressed.

Prez glanced at the boxes again then turned to Keith, shook his head and grinned, "Extra large! And the box is opened! Dear God in heaven, I couldn't begin to imagine."

Keith, Kaleo and Tory cracked up. Then Tory offered, "Regular works for me. I'm completely average; six inches long and five inches in circumference."

Prez grinned, "Regular for me too. Six and a quarter by five and a half."

Keith and Kaleo grinned at each other. "Come on!" Tory giggled and swayed excitedly, pulling Kaleo around with him. "You say it or I will," Tory warned.

"Regular," Kaleo blushed, "Six and a half by five and a half."

"Omigod!" Keith groaned. "I can't believe we're talking about this."

Prez prompted, "Tell 'em, Keith."

Keith sighed then grinned, "Seven by six."

Kaleo and Tory incredulously hollered, "SIX? A LARGE! HOLY SHIT!" They then turned to Prez for confirmation.

Prez nodded, wrapped his arms around Keith then giggled, "It's a bonus." While Kaleo and Tory roared hysterically, Keith turned ten shades of red and shook his head.

To make matters worse, in Keith's ear, Daileass giggled, "You stud! Half a dozen hard disks just crashed!"

Draco warned, "Watch it, mate."

Over-tired and playful, Prez shared, "Being director of this division has nothing to do with how I act alone with Keith. We're versatile all the time."

Kaleo and Tory were surprised. Kaleo smiled, "We are too, but we thought it was because of the orphanage."

Shaking his head, Prez confirmed, "I don't think it has much to do with the orphanage. There are times when our roles change. That's just the way it is; that's love. Derrick and Mike are the same. I'm not sure about Drew and Corey. If they aren't versatile now, I'd bet money on them eventually becoming so."

Wanting to change the subject, Keith wondered, "Just curious, but who asked for the extra larges?"

"You'll never believe it," Kaleo devilishly grinned.

Prez thought aloud, "The tallest, biggest and oldest guy here is Roy Angula."

Tory cackled, "Nope! Try again."

Keith hummed, "Until Roy showed up, Horacio was the tallest and biggest."

"You're off track completely, Kaleo grinned, "Go the other direction."

Prez begged, "Please don't say it was someone thirteen or younger?"

Shaking his head, Kaleo honestly said, "I gave lube to the twelve- and thirteen-year-old kids. None of them, except Tory, asked for rubbers. They know I got 'em if they need 'em though."

"Fourteen and thin?" Keith softly considered. Kaleo and Tory nodded.

Prez asked. "Tall or short?"

Kaleo answered, "Taller than me, about the same height as you two dudes."

Tory reminded, "You've both already seen him naked, but that's all the clues you get."

Prez checked with Keith. "Almost all these dudes we've seen."

Keith softly listed the fourteen-year-old boys on the beach Friday and Saturday. "Kaleo, Keanu, Liki, Hank, Sean or Horacio."

"Liki and Hank aren't much taller than Kaleo," Prez recalled.

Tory cackled, "Ooo! They're burnin' up they're so close!" Kaleo only grinned and nodded.

Little light bulbs almost flashed over Keith and Prez. They both softly chanted, "No."

"I have no proof of this," Kaleo grinned, "just his word and what size rubbers he asked for."

Tory's eyes flashed mischievously and he whispered, "Nine by six and a half."

Keith and Prez gasped, "No way!"

Kaleo grinned, "We may never know for sure unless something happens in plain sight for everyone to see."

All four shook their heads then Prez locked eyes with Kaleo and asked, "Can I give Tory a hug?"

Kaleo nodded and said, "Sure," but couldn't get Tory to release his grip. After a few moments of playful struggling, Tory let go.

Prez gave Tory a hug and said, "That's for keeping Kaleo happy."

"It's so easy and so much fun too." Tory giggled.

Keith gave Kaleo a hug saying, "For doin' an incredible job dude."

They all separated and Prez reminded, "We're outta here early tomorrow for our school concert, Kaleo. You're in charge until we get back."

"About eleven-thirty, dude," Keith added.

"You about covered everything already, Prez," Kaleo smiled. "All I have to worry about is more incoming kids while you four are away."

"Even if you do, you know the drill anyway," Prez assured. All four said good night then Prez and Keith left the room. On the way home, Keith gave Prez hell for sharing cock sizes. Laughing, Prez blamed Tory for starting it. They then discussed another very long and busy day. The Pacific Rim Division was growing by leaps and bounds. Cory and Sean were a cute couple, as were Adam and J.J. John was now an N-Gen and he had a boyfriend; one that could make their little brother literally float in the air. They promised to find the time to have a chat with John and Stephen. Their first trip to school turned out really well, all eagles and ferrets considered. Mrs. Diaz could've passed out from all the shocks, but she didn't.

Quietly walking in the house, they went directly downstairs. About twenty Teddy Bears waddled away from the stairs and retracted their claws. The nest had shrunk considerably over the last three nights; from about one hundred and twenty, to about ninety, to forty-nine of the youngest kids, four ferrets, and the seven Core Rimmers. Stephen and John were spooned together. Kicking off their sneakers and stripping off their clothes, Keith and Prez joined their sons in the nest and quickly fell asleep after an eighteen hour long day.

Only a few hours later, about seven-thirty in the morning, Dewi, Kokaku, Richie and Geoff woke up. The four youngest boys had heard noises upstairs. Together they climbed the stairs and went directly to the bathroom. Geoff and Richie taught Dewi and Kokaku to wash their hands after peeing. But the two four-year-old boys couldn't reach the sink. So the five-year-old nephews lifted their four-year-old uncles. The issue of uncles versus nephews never came up between the boys however...

At the kitchen dinette table, drinking their first cups of coffee, Jennifer and Jim Hundser heard two little boys loudly laughing, "Gramma and Grampa!"

"Mammy and daddy!" The two other boys screamed.

While the silly argument continued, Jim grinned at his wife. "You realize we'll be in our mid to late fifties when they reach eighteen?"

Smiling widely and nodding, Jennifer playfully whined, "I'm already getting too old for this." The sound of tiny feet rapidly climbing the basement steps was added to the boys’ argument.

Then little Carmella raced by in her new pajamas. ''Mornin', daddy! Morning, momma!" the girl shrieked as she ran down the hall and upstairs on her own bathroom mission.

The pitter-patter of more feet on the basement steps was heard by the two adults. Jim reached for the pad of paper and pencil then began hastily scribbling. Jennifer wondered, "What are you doing, Jim?" Murakami, Shimizu, Cesar, Felipe and Dillon opened the basement door then ran into the bathroom with Dewi, Kokaku, Geoff and Richie. They did not bother to close the bathroom door, but just gathered around the toilet and pushed their underwear down.

Without looking up from his frantic work, Jim loudly responded over the sounds of four boys arguing and five boys pissing. "A quick family tree. It's only a matter of time before the boys come in here asking if we're grandparents or parents. I can only hope a visual will settle the problem."

The four youngest boys stormed out of the bathroom. Approaching Jennifer and possessively wrapping his arms around Jennifer's arm, Dewi sternly told Geoff and Richie, "My mammy!"

"You're all correct," Jennifer helplessly smiled at the forceful tone of voice and thoroughly disgusted expression on her new son's face. Now she only had to wait for Preston to make it official.

Geoff frowned and wondered, "How can that be?"

Jim said, "Gather around me and I'll show you." All four boys hurried to either side of Jim's chair. He then pointed to the little bubble characters he had drawn then said, "This is me and this is my wife," He connected the first two bubble characters with a line.

Dewi wondered, "Hows come ya don't got a willie and Mammy ain't got boobies?"

Jim grinned, "I forgot," then rapidly drew the correct body parts.

Noticing the oversized breasts and penis her husband had drawn, Jennifer grinned, "We will discuss your artistic interpretations later."

"I'll look forward to that," Jim grinned, but then continued on with his explanation. "This is Keith and this is Drew and this is John. They are our sons so we're their mommy and daddy, correct?" All the boys nodded, so Jim drew lines connecting each to the line between himself and Jennifer's exaggerated caricature. He then added appropriate appendages between his son's legs before Dewi asked about it. "Along comes Preston. He falls in love with Keith. And here's Corey falling in love with Drew. Here's Stephen, the new boy that loves John." Three new connecting lines were drawn. "Remember Saturday morning, when Joel made us part of Clan Short?"

Again the boys nodded, but Dewi frowned, "I wasn't 'round."

"But here you are, Dewi, and here's Kokaku, Bruce and Carmella." Jim drew four new lines connecting them to himself and Jennifer. Circling the entire row of kids, Jim said, "Everyone in this group are our sons and daughter. Now that we're Clan, Keith and Preston adopt Richie, Dee, Gage and Sammy." Quickly, more lines connected those four to the line between Prez and Keith. "Over here is you, Geoff. You're Drew and Corey's boy, correct?"

"Yup!" Geoff proudly declared, "dems my Dad and Pop!"

Again Jim circled that entire row, saying, "This is two rows away from me and my wife so everybody here are our grandsons. So you see, you are all correct." Gesturing at Geoff and Richie, Jim said, "You guys are our grandsons." Turning to Dewi and Kokaku, Jim said, "Since you're only one group away, you're our sons." Cutting off the inevitable argument over which is best, Jim said, "Everybody here is our family. You're all the best things that ever happened to us."

Obviously satisfied, Richie hollered at the ceiling, "Daileass, a bowl of Cocoa Puffs with milk."

"I can get you breakfast, Richie," Jennifer softly said. "I can get all of you breakfast."

Daileass giggled, "It's really all right, Mrs. Hundser, but I'll meet you halfway." On the dining room table appeared boxes of Cocoa Puffs, Coco Pops, Fruit Loops, Frosties, a gallon of cold milk, ten bowls and ten spoons. Daileass giggled, "In the dining room, guys. All you have to do is pour, Mrs. Hundser."

All the boys turned around to look. Dewi squealed in delight; "COCO POPS! I LOVE Coco Pops!" He then ran into the room and wiggled his way into the nearest chair. As if Dewi had rung the meal bell, Carmella came down stairs as fast as she could. The other five boys in the bathroom raced to the table and squirmed into chairs.

Walking into the dining room with her husband, Mrs. Hundser said, "Thank you, Daileass."

"You're very welcome," Daileass giggled.

Opening the first box of cereal, Mrs. Hundser said, "We really need to get to know each other better, don't we?"

"I'd like that," Daileass replied, and then added, "I do have some information for you and Mr. Hundser."

Pouring cereal for Dewi and then beginning to add milk, Jennifer queried, "Oh?"

"Neither of you really need to hurry to work," Daileass said. "About six hours ago, Teri Short began making phone calls. She has already found replacements for both of your old jobs. To Teri, Clan Short is the primary concern. She realizes you're both juggling too many eggs."

Dewi looked up and carefully said, "Mammy? The milk?"

Jennifer Hundser looked down and gasped as she realized she had poured too much milk. It had overflowed out of the bowl and onto the table. Dewi instinctively flinched, ready for a whipping. But Jennifer only apologized, "I'm sorry, Dewi. Mommy was distracted." Dewi looked up awestruck at Jennifer. Dewi began to realize more completely that his old mammy was bad and this new mammy was really nice.

Dealing with new Clan adults was familiar to Daileass. He disconnected himself from the speakers while he cracked up and cleaned up the mess. Dewi was provided a fresh bowl of Coco Pops with milk.

The two adults glanced at each other occasionally while feeding the hungry kids. They then went to the living room, sat down and sighed. Jim Hundser then looked up and softly called, "Daileass?"

Only just beginning to calm down, Daileass choked back a giggle and said, "Yes Sir?"

"I'll be honest with you, we're conflicted. We've worked all our adult lives."

Jennifer Hundser added, "We carefully chose our careers and enjoy the work we do."

"Pardon me, but all that is obvious," Daileass said. "Your sons and foster son are testament to your values and abilities as parents. Joel and his team saw it; Donnie, Emily, Adam and all the UNIT here saw it; the Northeast division kids and their families saw it; Cory Short, his brothers and their sons saw it yesterday. I can assure you, Teri Short did not have to pull any strings. The hospital and legal firm were both very willing to concede to Clan Short priorities. Not because you're bad employees, but because you found work with employers that care as much about children and justice as you both do. It's guaranteed you'll both get your final paychecks. All you both need to do is a little turnover to make sure your replacements are up to speed on the cases you're working on. Once you and your replacements are comfortable, come back home, check on the kids then go over to the F.Y.S. building. According to my records, there will be sixty ex-C.P.S. employees looking for work either today or over the next few days. You have work to do here. Your sons have been working their cute butts off the last three days. If you'll please go over to the sofa, I'll show you your sons in action."

The Hundsers moved across the room to the sofa. The television turned on. Daileass played video with audio of the rescues at Maui, Hawaii and Ewa Beach. All ten kids at the table finished their breakfasts and joined the adults in the living room watching their fathers or older brothers doing what they do. Each of the kids recognized Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Drew, Corey, John and even Kaleo. Most amazing was Kaleo at Hawaii dealing with Bill Devine and Prez at the Ewa Beach main gate greeting the street kids.

When the clips were complete, Daileass seriously told them; "Stephen's only a little empathic, but a very sensitive kid. He was frightened beyond adequate description until he met John. They complement each other in ways no one in the Clan has seen before. Every relationship is unique and so is theirs. John stayed awake talking with Stephen and reassuring him until one in the morning. Drew and Corey were home about eleven-forty-five, but stayed with John and Stephen until they were ready for bed. Mike and Derrick didn't make it to the nest until two-forty in the morning. Prez, Keith and Kaleo were working until almost three. Then they talked and released some tension by goofing around until ten minutes after three. Then they all went to bed.

"It's yours, The Gibbons', The Seavers' and The Seiberts' values coming out through them. Each of them do their bit just like their parents do. Your jobs are here with Clan Short now."

Jim turned to Jennifer and said, "It was highly likely that we'd be doing turnovers to replacements anyway. Teri just expedited things."

"The six-hour time difference is keeping lines of communication limited," Daileass reminded. "It's already after two in the afternoon in Orlando." After a moment's pause, Daileass said, "Stand by please." Another few moments passed then Daileass said, "Teri Short is having a conversation regarding Pacific Rim Division. Joel wants to visit. He was rather insistent about it. Now they're deciding when. If they decide before you leave for work, I'll let you know when they'll be arriving." Daileass then transported two comm-badges to the coffee table and added, "If you've left for work, I can contact you when Teri arrives with these communications devices. Would you like training now?"

Jennifer said, "I've seen the boys just tapping them when they chirp."

"Keep them with you at all times, preferably on your shirt or blouse. They're also tracking devices. That's all you really need to know for now," Daileass said.

The Hundsers chanted, "Thank you, Daileass."

Jennifer added, "We'll get ready for our last day of work now."

"Any time," Daileass giggled, "Hey, kids, ya wanna see something really kewl?" Ten different positive replies burst forth from the living room. "John is awake. Go downstairs and check it out."

All the kids hurried back down to the basement. Any chance of the others in the nest remaining asleep was shattered when ten kids began squealing excitedly at the sight of John and Stephen, still horizontal, but hovering four feet off the floor. Forcing his eyes open, Keith saw them, groaned and pulled a pillow over his face. Some of the other kids that hadn't seen it before rubbed their eyes, then bounded up. Carmella, Dewi and Kokaku were underneath John, jumping up and poking him in the back, amazed that the couple were moving higher from the pokes, but then slowly lowering down again. John and Stephen began laughing hysterically into their kiss and suddenly lowered to only about a foot above the nest.

Still lying down, Mike began singing; "Got a crazy feeling I don't understand, 'Gotta get away from here."

Derrick and Prez joined in and sang along. "Feelin' like I shoulda kept my feet on the ground. Waitin' for the sun to appear. Mamma's gonna worry, I been a bad, bad boy." At that line, John howled laughing while the others continued singing. "No use sayin' sorry, It's something that I enjoy. 'Cause you can't see what my eyes see."

Lifting the pillow off his face, Keith sang; "I can see it, I can see it!" then joined the others singing; "And you can't be inside of me, flying high again!"

While the band continued singing, John began telekinetically lifting the kids. Imitating his parents, Bruce crossed his legs into the lotus position and hummed. Since the band were still singing through the screeching rug rats, John warned Stephen of what was about to happen then powered up and lifted his brothers, Corey, Reyes, Mike and Derrick.

Seeing the pretty bright blue shining from John's eyes, Stephen wasn't frightened since he'd been warned, but was thrilled nonetheless. Kissing John caused the couple and everyone else to float higher. Raising one arm and touching the ceiling, Reyes finally began laughing loudly at the situation.

Finished singing, Keith asked, "Hey bro, I don't suppose you could float my lazy ass up and into the shower?" Prez cackled at the question from his way overtired lover.

John was not able or willing to respond since he was kissing Stephen so he sent; 'I prob'ly could, but can't guarantee you won't bump into a few walls on the way.'

"Oh well," Keith sighed, "never mind then."

Mike stretched then yawned, "Coffee; I must have coffee and lots of it."

Derrick asked, "Hey Prez, do you think we could get Doc Andrews to give us a shot of B vitamins?"

"I don't see why not," Prez replied.

Derrick said, "Coffee will get me through the concert, but I'll be draggin' ass after that."

Drew sweetly called his brother and asked, "Let us down, please?"

Powering down, everyone began lowering back to the floor and Stephen slowed his tickling of John's tongue. Soon, everyone was down on the cushions and pillows on the floor.

Some of the little girls that had not yet been to the bathroom raced up the stairs before the giggling boys had a clue they needed to go. All four bathrooms had been occupied by the girls and there were already lines formed. Having a revelation, James Hahn told Bane Kahele; "Dorms!"

"And quick!" Bane giggled. Then the two boys raced out of the house in their boxer shorts and directly to the dormitory with their Teddy Bears struggling to keep up.

Remaining in the basement nest were the Core Rimmers, their sons, two new little brothers and Carmella.

"Hey, John?" Corey sweetly called. "Can I ask a favor?"

"Yeah?"

"If I kissed Drew right now, could you... you know?"

John giggled, "Sure!"

Rolling over on top of Drew, Corey chanted, "Ready?"

John grinned, "Set!"

"Go!" Corey said, then quickly kissed Drew. The couple began levitating and settled about four feet off the floor with their blanket draped over them.

Standing up, Geoff giggled happily then jumped up and pushed his fathers a little higher, but only for a moment.

Derrick hummed then said, "There's one minor issue with this activity."

"Only one?" Mike cackled.

"Oh?" John wondered. He then turned his head towards Derrick and asked, "What's wrong, bro?"

Pointing up at Drew and Corey, Derrick smirked, "Drew's naked!"

Prez, Keith and their boys chuckled, but Mike teased, "Why are you looking?"

Derrick laughed, "My eyes are open and he's right there, barely four feet away and four feet up! It's not like I have much choice in the matter!" Corey simply changed his hold on Drew from the upper back to his buns and naturally, had to give them a firm squeeze through the blanket.

Drew broke the kiss and wondered, "What would happen if we rolled or moved, bro?"

John hummed then said, "You could, but I'll bet it would feel weird."

"Weird how?" Corey asked.

"There's nothing to push against at all," John reminded.

Stephen added, "When we're standing and kissing, our feet just dangle. There's nothing pushing or pulling us up. When we come back down slow, our toes touch the floor first."

Proudly smiling at his boyfriend's explanation, John said, "You and Drew would have to use only yourselves, your muscles working together to roll or move."

Drew softly asked Corey; "Ya wanna try?" Corey nodded then dove back down for another kiss. Together they rolled towards their left where Prez and Keith were with their boys. The blanket draped over Corey's back fell on top of Prez, Sammy and Richie.

Prez laughed and Richie giggled hysterically, completely covered by the blanket.

Pulling the blanket off his face and seeing way more of his Uncle Corey than he wanted, Sammy snickered, "That's just wrong!"

Keith cracked up, setting off Dee and Gage in fits of giggles.

Mike sat up and said, "I can wait no longer. Coffee is what I seek!" He and Derrick stood, found their boardies and put them on then were followed by their sons to the stairs. "We'll meet you dudes after breakfast," Mike said.

On their way up, Derrick wondered, "The Scoobies are already gone?"

Mike shrugged, "Sixteen to twenty hours sleep is what I read is normal for ferrets."

Keith reminded, "They're ferret-human hybrids though."

"They get by on much less, like three," Mike said, "They go to sleep with us, but are already gone when we wake."

"Five hours is all we got," Derrick figured. "We'll have to ask them if they're sleeping enough." The family went through the kitchen then out the back door on their way home for breakfast and showers.

Keith sat up and pulled the blanket off of Richie. Keith suspiciously grinned, "What're you doin?"

"Hidin' from Unca Corey's butt!" Richie giggled. John and Stephen cracked up.

Drew said, "Let us down, bro."

John shook his head and teased, "I dunno. I was thinking of leaving you there. A hundred Rimmers might like to see this. Fifty cents a pop times a hundred is fifty bucks! Can you meet the fifty?"

Wickedly smiling, Corey warned, "We haven't got you back for yesterday, John. An opportunity will present itself."

Drew agreed, "It's even more likely now that you've got a boyfriend too."

Realizing that he and Stephen could someday be caught in a compromising situation, John huffed, "Oh, all right," then lowered Corey and Drew to the nest.

Getting up, Prez and Keith pulled on their boardies. Prez found his T-shirt and tapped his comm-badge. "Doc Andrews?"

A moment later, the Doctor replied, "Good morning, Preston."

"I've got a small favor to ask, Doc. We were up late and now we're awake early. There's a concert today we need to be alert and functioning for. Could we get shots of B vitamins, please?"

The Doctor hummed thoughtfully then answered, "I have an alternative idea. An additional Doctor from Starfleet has been assigned to our division by Doctor Leonard McCoy. Doctor Elaine Howard is with me now."

The woman then said, "Hello, Preston. I've been briefed about all the children here. Since I arrived at six local time, I worked with the chefs already. I recommend that you go to the C.I.C. for highly nutritious breakfast shakes. They were developed by Doctor McCoy. The shakes are excellent for malnourished and undernourished children, but they wouldn't do the rest of you any harm."

"Excellent!" Prez chirped. "I look forward to meeting you, Doctor Howard."

Doctor Andrews said, "We're on our way to the C.I.C. dining room now, Preston."

"We'll meet you there," Prez said.

"Andrews out."

Keith suggested, "How about we take our boys to the dorm showers, baby?"

Prez agreed, "Six of us could get done more quickly."

Drew checked with Corey then said, "We'll join you with Geoff."

Glancing around at the youngest kids, Prez asked, "Did you guys eat already?"

While most of the kids nodded or simply answered 'Yeah,' Dewi bounced around happily about his Coco Pops.

Keith scooped up Carmella and asked, "Did our little sister get a bath last night?"

Carmella giggled, "Uh huh, Mommy gave me a bath b'fore bed."

"Excellent!" Keith cheered, then asked, "Do you need help getting dressed?"

Shaking her head, Carmella answered, "I can do ev'rythin' 'cept tie sneakers. Mommy'll help me."

Keith put his sister down and she hurried up the stairs.

John noticed that Stephen had a worried expression on his face. Being malnourished and underdeveloped for his age, he wasn't in any rush to be naked around a bunch of other boys.

'It's okay, Stephen,' John sent, 'We'll stay here and shower together.' Feeling Stephen's continued trepidation, John paused then sent, 'I would never ever make fun of you!'

Nodding, Stephen smiled, "Let's go," then got up off of John.

Sitting up and standing, John said, "We'll meet you at the dining room," then sent to his brothers and Corey, 'Do not tease us in any way! I can deal, but Stephen can't.'

Everyone nodded and Keith said, "Kewl, bro."

While everyone was climbing the stairs, Prez brought up the rear and tapped his sub-vocal. "Daileass, are Derrick and Mike in the shower already?"

"A very hot shower," Daileass giggled, "they're steaming up the camera lens."

Prez grinned, "I was going to have you tell them to meet us at the C.I.C. dining room, but I'd better do it."

"Patch complete, Prez," Daileass giggled.

"Dudes!" Prez called. "Breakfast at the C.I.C. today. Doc Andrews has some vitamin fortified shakes for us that will keep us goin'."

Over the sound of the running shower, Mike asked, "No shots?"

"He and the new Doc say the shakes will be enough."

Derrick asked, "When did we get a new doctor?"

"It sounds like she was here at the crack of dawn."

Daileass loudly laughed to only Prez, "Don't say 'crack'!"

Derrick said, "A lady doctor? That's especially good for all the girls."

"Exactly what I was thinking," Prez shared.

Mike said, "We'll meet you for breakfast then."

"Later," Prez chirped. Walking around the main floor of the house, Prez grinned, "Draco?"

Draco replied, "How can I help you, Prez?"

Prez snickered, "You need to keep Daileass more occupied, if you get my meaning?"

"He does!" Daileass playfully assured.

Draco replied, "It's our job to watch everything. Daileass just gets a bit more enthusiastic about the job."

"I can't help myself!" Daileass giggled.

"Someday!" Draco warned.

While John and Stephen went upstairs, Corey, Drew, Geoff, Keith, Prez and their four boys went outside then began walking to the dorm. Now that they were finally alone, John asked Stephen, "Did you get to eat three times a day?"

Stephen shook his head and sadly answered, "Never. Usually once a day at school. Every now and then, there'd be something at home; usually peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sometimes Ramen noodles."

"Everything's gonna be fine now," John confidently assured, then stepped into his bedroom and pulled his T-shirt off. "I forgot your clothes," John griped. He then said, "Daileass, where's Stephen's suitcase?"

Daileass replied, "Outside your house, John."

"Transport it here, to my bedroom, dude," John said. "From now on, he's with me." The suitcase appeared beside the bed. Stephen smiled and shook his head. "What?" John grinned.

"I just don't know what I stepped in or when I stepped in it," Stephen honestly shared. The two boys began undressing and Stephen said, "Sunday, my mom and me moved out of our apartment because we had to. We slept in the car that night. After we talked all morning and most of the afternoon, she dropped me off at the Clan base in Hawaii late yesterday afternoon. The security guys there fed us. It was a big sandwich, a salad, a pint of milk, an apple and cookies. It was more food than I've ever had at once. I couldn't even finish all the sandwich. The other guys there ate all their food and one took my salad, another took the apple and another took my cookies."

Obviously annoyed, John excitedly asked, "They took them from you?"

"No, sorry. I hadn't touched 'em so, when they asked for them, I gave them away."

"Oh, that's okay."

Already naked, John led Stephen, still in his threadbare briefs, to the bathroom. "This house is huge!" Stephen loudly giggled.

John nodded and went to the toilet. "It's bigger than the house we used to have." Pointing his dick at the bowl and beginning to pee, John glanced at Stephen. "Don't ya have to go?"

Stephen blushed, "I'll wait."

Wondering what he could say, John sighed, "Com'ere." Stephen took a few steps closer, but remained away from the bowl. John patiently explained, "Our other house had two bathrooms; it was less than half the size of this house. My parents, Keith, Prez, Drew and me all lived there. Us guys learned to share a bowl if we needed to."

"Didn't you ever feel embarrassed?"

"No," John chortled, "what's worse, pissin' your pants or sharing a toilet?"

Stephen giggled, "Pissing your pants."

Finished leaking, John flushed the bowl then turned to Stephen. "We're boys; we all got dicks. Prez moved in after his folks died. He's two weeks older than Keith, but Keith's dick is a bit longer than Prez's. I've seen Drew and Corey too. They're older than me and each of their dicks is different than mine. Prez and Mike are the only two on the team that have circumcised dicks. My friends Jeff and Tommy are my age and even their dicks are different than mine. I saw yours last night and it's a bit longer than mine. We're all different some way or another; there's nothin' to be ashamed of."

Stephen blushed, "I just never had brothers or did stuff like this before."

"It's okay, I just want you to feel more comfortable," John said. He went to the tub and turned the water on then turned back to Stephen. Finally out of his briefs and naked, Stephen was relieving himself. John said, "You'll see at the pool later, at least half the guys here swim naked. An added benefit is not having to stay in wet shorts. It don't matter to any of us who sees our dicks. There's girls and adult women around too. When you see a dude suddenly running for his shorts and putting them on, you know what's happened?"

Giggling hysterically, Stephen nodded then reached to flush. Facing John again, Stephen blushed, "He got a stiffy?"

John laughed, "Some of the little dudes don't even care about that."

"They don't know better," Stephen offered.

John led Stephen by the hand into the tub saying, "We do though." Stephen slid the door closed then John turned on the shower. After wetting himself down under the spray, John moved around Stephen to allow him to get wet. Grabbing the soap while Stephen's back was turned, John then began washing Stephen's neck, shoulders and upper arms. "My brothers are gay," John explained, "I never thought of myself as gay or straight, because I don't honestly know, but it don't matter to my family. What's inside a person matters way more than the outside. All I know is I care about you, Stephen. Your past is past. You're gonna get healthier. Some day you're going to grow and maybe get taller than me. It don't matter to me how tall you might get. All that matters is you getting better, being comfortable here with all the kids and with me."

Choking back his sobs, Stephen said, "John? I told you they teased and bullied me at school. It's because I like boys and they figured it out. I guess I act girlie and seem gay."

"First of all, I see a boy in front of me," John seriously said. He then asked, "How does anybody seem gay? Does Keith? Does Prez? Or Drew or Corey? Or me for that matter?"

"No. I'm just different than a lot of boys."

"Yup, you're so different that I fell for you. You're so different that you can make me a more powerful N-Gen. You heard what they said, Stephen. I just have to figure out how to control it." Feeling that Stephen was frightened again, John said, "Turn around."

"I can't."

"Are you crying?"

Stephen nodded.

"Why?"

Stephen shrugged, "Because they were so mean and you’re so nice. Because I'm falling in love with you and I'm scared you won't love me back."

John softly begged, "Please turn around?" Stephen huffed then did as John asked. Their eyes locked for a moment then they noticed the other had an erection. John blushed, "From washing you, baby."

Still upset, but seeing that John was similarly aroused, Stephen helplessly giggled, "It felt real nice."

Blushing crimson, John admitted, "I was beginning to worry too. All them hugs and kisses last night and we never got hard."

"You're not angry or nothin'?"

Shaking his head, John admitted, "A little scared too now."

"Of?"

John shrugged, "I think I'm falling in love with you too. I wanna hold you so bad but..."

Before John could finish speaking, Stephen stepped closer and wrapped his arms around John.

John gasped, "Omigod!"

"So warm," Stephen sighed, and then tenderly kissed John.

The communications between Daileass and Draco were flying at the speed of light. Daileass giggled, "Do you think they'll float?"

"It don't really matter," Draco sniggered, "I'm just glad for their sake the house is empty."

"They're getting awfully loud," Daileass laughed.

"Above the shower door, is that the top of John's head?" Draco wondered.

"I think so. They're floating again."

"And calling each other's names as if they've forgotten who's who."

"Uh oh!" both A.I.'s grunted in unison.

Daileass giggled, "Thank goodness you put the padded ceilings in."

Draco laughed, "John would be unconscious by now."

Daileass began counting the numbers of times John's head hit the ceiling. "Six... seven... eight..."

"Nine... ten, eleven, twelve... thirteen..."

"Where'd they go?"

"They're laughing. End of round one, intermission."

"Do you think they'll finish their shower or go for it again?"

"Dunno," Draco giggled, "I've activated the backup water heater, just in case."

By this time, Drew, Corey, Prez and Keith and their sons had finished their showers at the dorm and were walking into the C.I.C. kitchen. The prior day's dirty clothes had been transported home by Daileass. A new display had been added at the kitchen entrance to help kids choose their breakfasts. It showed pictures of the various ways eggs could be prepared, breakfast sandwiches, and waffles versus pancakes. Keith and Prez greeted the chefs. Prez asked, "What's the story behind these shakes?"

"Doctor Howard ordered them," Charles replied. He then explained for the boys, "There are several flavors: chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, butterscotch, eggnog, apple, cherry, lemon-lime, mango, pineapple, orange and strawberry. Each of the flavors can be mixed with others for variety. Many of the kids have tried apple and cinnamon for an apple pie flavored shake; others have tried various mixed fruit flavors. We can offer small sample cups."

Looking down at his sons, Keith asked, "What flavor would you guys like?"

Richie delightfully squealed, "We can have shakes for breakfas' now?"

Chuckling at their youngest son's enthusiasm, Keith and Prez nodded.

Gage quickly asked, "Can I try the apple pie?"

Sammy said, "I'll try chocolate and strawberry."

Dee hummed uncertainly then said, "Chocolate?"

Richie asked, "What's scutterbotch?"

Prez and Keith helplessly laughed at the mispronunciation. Charles grinned, "It's a very sweet candy flavor."

Gage grinned at Richie and explained, "Butterscotch and chocolate would taste like a candy bar, bro."

"ALL RIGHT!" Richie cheered. "Dat's what I'll have!"

Charles went to work getting small sample cups made for each of the four boys and quickly returned. Prez and Keith handed the appropriate cups to each of their boys. Each of them were pleased and ordered their shakes. Keith got a strawberry shake. Prez ordered a chocolate shake. Drew decided on a mixed fruit shake; lemon-lime, mango, pineapple and orange. The chef that prepared it remarked that it was the most unusual shake he had prepared thus far. Corey and Geoff had apple shakes.

Mike and Derrick came in with their boys, got their shakes and coffees then sat near Prez and Keith. Glancing around the dining room, the six Core Rimmers noticed that almost every table had only shake glasses. A lot of the glasses seemed to be less than half full and very few seemed to be empty. Fewer kids had plates of food.

Leaning back in his chair, Dee huffed and grinned, "Dunno if I can finish this."

Gage nodded, "My stomach's about to explode."

"They're just too good to not finish," Sammy smiled.

"Just do the best you can, guys," Prez suggested. "Don't overdo it, okay? Me and daddy could barely finish ours." Standing up, Prez glanced around until he found Doc Andrews sitting with an unfamiliar woman wearing a Starfleet uniform. Squeezing Keith's shoulder, Prez said, "I'll be right back, babe." Keith nodded and Prez went over to the table where Doc Andrews was sitting.

Doctor Andrews and Doctor Howard noticed Prez approaching and stood. The three of them shook hands and Prez grinned, "I have to ask, what's the deal with these shakes? I could barely finish mine and most of the kids seem to be struggling to finish theirs."

Doctor Howard smiled, "A sixteen ounce glass has the equivalent of ten times the Federation's Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals in less than one thousand calories. They've been designed by Doctor McCoy for malnourished and undernourished children, but everyone can benefit from them."

Prez incredulously chuckled, "Ten times the R.D.A.?"

Doctor Andrews asked, "You've met the new boy, Stephen Marr?"

Prez nodded, "Yes, I have. He and my brother John have latched onto each other."

"Even better," Doc Andrews said, "Stephen needs to drink as much as he can of those shakes twice a day until further notice."

"My son Dee is undernourished," Prez told them.

The two doctors glanced at each other. "Sit with us please, Preston," Doc Andrews smiled.

Prez sat down with them and Doc Howard said, "Most of your Clan is in good health, by the book, but they're not like you or your core teammates. What you've seen over the last few days are a bunch of kids that are happy to be out of the bad situations they've been in. They're most likely eating better than they ever have before and, because they're happy, they're burning those calories playing."

Doc Andrews added, "When you asked me for B vitamin shots earlier, I suggested these shakes because they have twenty times the R.D.A. of B-1, B-6 and B-12."

Wide eyed, Prez laughed, "Twenty times? So the kids are going to be even more active?" Both doctors nodded.

"Who are those two boys drinking coffee with their shakes?" Doc Howard wondered.

"Mike Gibbons and Derrick Seibert," Prez answered. "They're part of my core team and band mates." Again the two Doctors grinned at each other. Prez asked, "Is something wrong?"

"No," Doc Howard smiled, "It's simply the combination of the shakes and the caffeine in the coffee."

Doc Andrews helplessly chuckled, "Your two friends will be high as a kite most of the day."

Prez cracked up then softly chortled, "Derrick's usually pretty mellow, but Mike is the exact opposite."

"Get a rope!" Doc Andrews laughed.

"Make it two, one for each of them!" Doc Howard giggled.

Seeing John and Stephen entering the C.I.C. dining room, hovering a foot off the ground, Prez cackled, "Better make it four ropes," and pointed for the two Doctors to watch.

Jonathan Dupre hurried over to John. Jonathan reached for John and Stephen's shoulders then pushed them down to the floor. The second he released them, John and Stephen rose back up again. A few moments later, Jonathan loudly snickered, "Let go of each other!"

"Not on your life or anyone else's!" John laughed.

Prez noticed Derrick, Mike, Corey and Drew heading into the Command Center.

Jacob, Jamie and Beau hurried over to John and Stephen. In one voice, they said, "Watch what happens when they kiss." Stephen blushed and covered his eyes with his free hand as more kids gathered around.

Feeling his boyfriend's embarrassment, John loudly said, "Come on, you guys! Let us eat first."

Stephen then softly said something to John. Obviously, Stephen wanted to get it over with. He and John kissed then levitated, but much more quickly than Prez had previously seen.

"Draco!" Jacob loudly laughed. "Padded ceiling in the Rimmer's C.I.C. dining room now!" The sixteen-foot-high ceiling in the dining room shimmered and changed just in the nick of time. When John's head bounced off of the ceiling, every kid in the room burst into applause and cheers. Slowly the couple returned to their previous location about a foot off the floor. They then went to the kitchen for their breakfasts.

"Psionics," Doc Howard muttered, "Very interesting indeed."

Doc Andrews smiled, "This is good. Stephen needs someone that cares watching what he eats."

Before Prez could reply, he heard John in his mind. 'I already knew that, bro. I'll take care of Stephen.'

"John's already aware of it," Prez assured the doctors. "He'll watch over Stephen."

Kaleo, Tory, Sean and Horacio walked in soon after the large mass of kids that had been around John and Stephen scattered in various directions. Sean and Horacio went directly to the kitchen. Finding the first available chair and standing on it, Kaleo said over the P.A. system; "Can I have your attention please?" When the chatter lessened, Kaleo said, "Last night we received Clan Short I.D. cards and personal pre-paid credit cards. I need everybody to stay in the dining room after breakfast so we can get them handed out. Prez, do you want to tell everyone how the credit cards will work?"

Prez nodded then got up and stood on his chair. "As Kaleo said, these are pre-paid credit cards. That means you cannot exceed the amount available on the card. These cards are for you to purchase the miscellaneous things that you want; like things for your dorm rooms, posters, music, video games, and so forth.

"Everybody will get a default weekly allowance. In addition to the allowances, you can each take optional odd jobs of various sorts. I'll repeat, the odd jobs are optional. We're thinking simple stuff appropriate for all the age groups. For instance, little tikes can work with the landscapers cleaning up any litter around the grounds. Older guys and girls can do housekeeping chores or work in the kitchen. We especially need help in the kitchen, mopping floors and running the dishwasher. Our auditorium can be used as a movie theater too. We'll need projectionists and concession stand people. Any one that takes a job will be paid for the work they do. Remember always, you're kids; school and recreation come first, then you can spend time doing odd jobs. We'll work it so that you can do one job for a few hours, then take time for your other responsibilities until you decide that you want to work another few hours."

Prez paused then asked, "Are there any questions?"

Nine-year-old Makaio Ka Ľaukai asked, "We're really getting allowances, Prez?"

Prez nodded, "Yup. We want you guys to learn responsibility for yourselves, the work you've done and your money. You can't get everything you want all at once, you'll run out of money. That means priorities. What do you want most and do you have the money for it?"

Seven-year-old Lupe Jui said, "Clan Short already gives us everything, Prez. What else could we need or want?"

Prez answered, "If you like flowers and want a plant in your room, get a plant. If you like pictures of snow-capped mountains and want to see that every day, get a poster of a snow-capped mountain. If you’re interested in building stuff, you can get model cars, ships or Starships. All the little, relatively inexpensive, miscellaneous stuff Clan Short doesn't provide is what you want to get for yourselves. If you want to be a musician and are taking guitar classes at our school, the Clan will get you a guitar. Remember, Christmas is coming soon too. Leave some stuff for us to get you for Christmas."

Thirteen-year-old Nicholas Shavers stood and said, "These odd jobs, can we spend time picking up garbage one day, and then a few days later mop floors, and then a day or two later run the dishwasher?"

"Exactly like that, Nick," Prez replied. "We're thinking it takes a certain physical ability to do some stuff, so those jobs require older and bigger kids. However, for picking up litter around the base, we have over seven hundred acres on this base and everyone can participate in that." Prez waited for a while for another question. Since none were asked, Prez said, "Please make life easy for Kaleo and those that will be handing out the I.D.'s and credit cards? Form lines, wait your turn and do what Kaleo and the others tell you to do. Keith, Derrick, Mike and I will be leaving for school soon, but will only be gone an hour and a half. Kaleo, Drew, Corey and John will be here with you guys."

Prez got down off the chair and the chatter level quadrupled. The kids were obviously excited about having their own money to spend. He then welcomed Doctor Howard to Hawaii and the Pacific Rim Division before explaining there were a few 'Director' things he needed to check on in the Command Center.

Stepping inside the Command Center, Prez heard Keith and the others complaining. "What's going on?" Prez wondered.

Drew sighed, "There's virtually nothing about the Human Liberation Front, Prez."

Keith said, "They've taken responsibility for various things, but so have other militant groups and terrorists. What's real and what's not? Are they full of shit and wanna-be bad guys or are they the real thing?"

"Even the U.S. F.B.I. and C.I.A. public published reports come up empty," Derrick added.

"Okay," Prez said, "We've got Clan Short Intel divisions, the V.S.O. and the UNIT. Share what we've learned with the other divisions and we'll take it from there." Prez started to reach for his comm-badge to call John, but then it surprisingly chirped. He tapped it and said, "Prez here."

Through the comm-badge, John said, "Stephen and me are having breakfast with Nathan and the Terrible Triplets." The three boys blew loud raspberries at John then began giggling. John chuckled, "Everything you, Keith and Drew said and heard, I heard too, Prez. When we're done here, we'll go in there. Jamie, Jacob and Beau want to show me some Intel stuff anyway."

Prez sighed then grinned, "We're gonna have to have a long talk about what you can and cannot hear from us, bro."

John honestly said, "Keith and Drew are the loudest and you're just behind them, Prez. Mom, Dad, Mike, Derrick, Corey, Bruce, Dewi and now Stephen are in my head too. It's just a matter of how much I want to pay attention to any of you." Keith and Drew locked eyes and began thinking of John hearing their thoughts. John huffed impatiently then his eyes blazed azure blue as he lifted Keith and Drew till their heads bumped against the ceiling.

Keith and Drew simultaneously screamed, "JOHN!"

Two twelve-year-old boys walked into the Command Center and grinned at the other two hovering almost three feet off the ground. With them was a younger boy.

Jamie, Jacob, Beau and Nathan cracked up. Still drinking his shake, Stephen glanced at John and the other four boys at their table wondering what was so funny. John evilly grinned, "What did I just say? Who can I hear loudest? Any more questions about what I can hear?"

Looking up at Keith and Drew, Prez chuckled, "No more plotting against our little brother, I guess."

John snickered, "Only if you want the table suddenly turned on you," and then put his brothers back on the floor. His eyes returned to light brown and he finished his shake then said, "Later, bros."

One of the two boys introduced himself to the Core Rimmers. "I'm Caleb Barnes." Pulling the younger boy close, Caleb proudly smiled, "This is Hunter."

The other boy waved, "I'm Noah Barnes. Your new AI is online. His name is Alden."

After each of the Core Rimmers greeted the two boys, Caleb explained, "We're running him through a few tests now, but he'll be available soon."

Prez explained that they had a concert at school and had to leave, but looked forward to chatting during the afternoon. Derrick and Mike struck up a conversation with Caleb and Noah regarding Reyes. Once Caleb was up to date, he tapped his comm-badge with an evil grin. "Hey Marc! You know, for being a gay Android you sure gotta lot o' kids. You sure you ain't Bi?"

"I told you all that sugar would rot your brain," Marc replied. "What tangent has that warped mind of yours drifted off on this time?"

"I guess that means Austin didn't tell you his big bro showed up, did he?" Caleb giggled. "Are you sure that all you and Danny were doing is sailing?"

"Stuff it, Shrimp!" Marc exclaimed, his blush obvious. "I already know where KC is; I put a tracker on him so I don't have to hunt him down next time he knocks himself out."

Caleb shook his head. "His other big brother, oh thou of the defective memory! Never mind; you and Danny get some clothes on, we're bringing back company."

"Whatever... unlike you two, we have some decency! Marc out!"

Drew fixed his hair and complained to Keith, "Life's definitely not the same anymore."

Keith nodded at Drew and sighed then reminded Prez, "We gotta move into the townhouse soon, baby."

"Where we're at prob'ly doesn't make a whole heckova lot o' difference," Prez realized. He then went over to Staff Sergeant Jimmy Hayes and asked, "What've you got for us this morning, Jimmy?"

"Nothin' serious, Prez," Jimmy responded. "There's some pending investigations around the Rim that the A.I.'s are still reviewing. The only other thing worth mentioning is a car accident further up North Road, where it turns into 12th Street."

"Was anyone hurt?" Prez worried.

Jimmy explained, "A single vehicle lost control. Four adult males including the driver got out of the Mercedes. We never saw where the men went. Within an hour, a tow truck removed the car."

Prez silently wondered, a Mercedes lost control with four men less than a thousand feet from the base? "We're kewl until eleven thirty then?" Prez asked.

"Should be fine, Prez," Jimmy replied.

"Please notify our security we'll need to leave for school soon," Prez ordered.

"Got it," Jimmy chirped and then began contacting the eight personal security guards.

"Kaleo's got the ball, guys," Prez loudly said to everyone present. "Drew, Corey and John will be here too if anything gets weird."

Tilting his head and appearing thoughtful, Jimmy softly and slowly repeated, "If... anything... gets... weird?"

Prez grinned, "Okay, weirder."

Derrick joked, "There is a limit to the definition of 'weird', and I think we breezed past that about two days ago."

The Command Center's door opened and John came in with Stephen, Nathan and the Terrible Triplets. At John's appearance mere seconds after his name was mentioned, Keith and Drew shook their heads sadly. First thing, John and his entourage greeted Caleb and Noah. John went to Derrick and Mike and asked, "Do you remember the names of the street kids rescued last night?" Derrick and Mike both nodded. "Thanks," John smiled appreciatively. "We got I.D. cards for everyone except the ones we picked up last night." Spinning around to face Prez, John said, "Jamie, Jacob and Beau are gonna show me how to fill out forms for I.D. cards. Then we're gonna find a new voice for the computer; this one sounds too much like my Principal at school. Another thing we're gonna do is see if we can find out Kaleo's birthday." Prez smiled at John. Their eyes locked and Prez heard John say; 'I know, a Mercedes lost control close to our base. Is that just too weird or what? We're gonna dig deep to learn what we can about the H.L.F. too.'

Prez cackled, "If there's anything else, you'll let me know?"

"That about covers it, bro," John smiled.

Keith begged, "Please don't change our computer's voice to Woody Woodpecker or something dumb like that. Find something kewl we can all understand."

The Triplets all moaned, "Aww! Woody's kewl!" and then they all began laughing like Woody.

"We're outta here, dudes," Prez chuckled. Keith was closest to the door and opened it for Caleb, Hunter, Noah, Mike, Derrick and then Prez to pass before he followed them out of the Command Center. Derrick stopped at the table where his boys were sitting to tell Reyes that he needed to go with Caleb and Noah to A.I. Division headquarters in South Carolina for a checkup. Jonah said that he would go with Reyes.

As the team passed through the dining room, many of the kids greeted each of them by name and gave them words of encouragement for their upcoming concert. Feeling a chill race down his spine, Prez waited until they were gathered outside before sharing; "Thank goodness they're all chilling out. I don't wanna be on any friggin' pedestal. When people on pedestals screw up, it's a big crash to all that put the person up so high to begin with."

"They're recovering, baby," Keith assured. "The better they feel as individuals, the more they'll see you as just another teenager."

Prez nodded and smiled then glanced around at the security guys. Other than the short military hairstyles the guys had, they looked like any other teen boys. Prez confirmed, "All set, dudes?" Receiving positive replies, Prez tapped his sub-vocal, "Let's jam, Daileass. Outside our school's main entrance, please." For the first time, Daileass didn't reply, but simply followed the order. In front of his school, Prez frowned, "You okay, Daileass?"

"Sorry Prez," Daileass replied. "I'm a bit preoccupied with Alden and trying to make heads or tails out of some real screwy accounting records."

They all began walking towards the school. Prez said, "I'm okay if you are, dude. It's just not like you to say nothing."

To the entire group, Daileass giggled; "On the tits of a barmaid named Gayle, Were tattooed prices of beer, stout, and Ale. And on her behind, For the sake of the blind, Was precisely the same, but in Braille."

In an emulated Irish accent, Draco playfully sang to them; "There was a young gigolo named Bruno, Who said, 'Screwing's one thing I do know. While women are fine, and sheep are divine, Llamas are numero uno!'"

In fits of hysterics, the group came to a halt before the school's entrance. Prez roared, "I'm so glad I mentioned it now!"

The boys went inside the school and a new voice, their new A.I., Alden, obviously now online, continued reciting dirty limericks. "An agreeable girl named Miss Doves, Likes to fondle the young men she loves. She will use her bare fist, if the fellows insist, but she really prefers to wear gloves."

Daileass giggled, "There was a young man named Dave, Who kept a dead whore in a cave. Said he, 'I'll admit, She does smell a bit, But look at the money I save!'"

Outside the main office in tears, the boys heard Draco sing; "There was a young Scotsman called Andy, Who knocked over his bottle of Shandy. He lifted his kilt, To wipe up what he spilt, and the barmaid said 'Blimey! That's handy!'"

"We give! We give!" Derrick laughed.

Daileass got in one final shot. "What're you giving away?"

"Catch me at home in the bathroom, I'll show you!" Derrick giggled.

"Woo-Hoo!" Alden, Daileass and Draco giggled. Then they began arguing who would see what first.

Checking his watch and realizing the time, Keith chuckled, "We really gotta get movin', dudes."


About ten o'clock, Mike's dad, Rob Gibbons, transported from Honolulu back to the Federation Youth Services building with his security contingent. He was now officially the Rimmer Liaison to Honolulu Police. The gorilla decided to stay with Rob when he went inside. His wife Laura, Derrick's mom and Corey's dad, Anna and Bill, were performing interviews of R.O.H. Ex-C.P.S. workers. Miguel was doing interviews with chefs. The two doctors were meeting with nurses and receptionists. Landscapers were also doing interviews. Lanna Seaver and Carl Seibert were watching over the kids by the pool, diving well and the newly installed playground. Rob did a quick head count of people waiting in the lobby and came up with twenty-four.

During the time Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick were at school, Drew and Corey were in the server room, creating the Rimmers' web site. After confirming that Apache was already set up on the Linux server, Drew began writing the web pages. Corey handled creating the graphics with the Gimp program. The entrance page contained a G.I.F. of a large ring of fire. In the center of the ring was a graphic of the Pacific Rim. They built the menu options across the top and had each catch on fire (or 'flame up', as Corey playfully explained to Drew) when the mouse pointer hovered over the individual options.

John and Nathan were getting all the newest Rimmers entered into the system as Clan members so they could get I.D. and credit cards as quickly as possible. After John had gotten his boyfriend's information entered into the system, he and Nathan continued with the other boys picked up at Hawaii, the younger F.C.C. kids, and then the group Keith and Prez had picked up late the previous night. It took about half an hour to complete that task.

Then John began going through the various available computer voices. John liked the Terminator voice at first, but after a brief demonstration of the computer reading the Gettysburg Address, John grimaced then searched the list again. John softly rambled, "Bugs Bunny, Charlie Sheen, Chickenhawk, Goofy?" John grinned, "I gotta hear Goofy reading the Gettysburg Address," and everyone in the room began giggling before the computer said a word. While it was funny, John knew that Prez and Keith would quickly lose their patience waiting for Goofy to finish any short phrase. John re-sorted the list in a descending order. He found Zsa Zsa Gabor, Wolfman Jack, Victor Borge, Robert Redford and a bunch of others before finally hitting upon a winner that wouldn't make his brothers completely insane. John then played the demonstration of Foghorn Leghorn.

"Four score and sev, I say, seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Pay attention boy! Any o' this gettin' through that little blue bonnet of yours?"

"It's perfect!" John shouted, and spun around in the chair with his feet out and his arms up. "That's what my bros need; an occasional insult to keep them on their toes."

Stephen softly giggled, "You're plain evil, hon."

Slamming his feet down onto the floor, John smiled at Stephen and sent; 'Did you just call me hon? As in honey?' Blushing because he was around a bunch of boys he had only just met, Stephen grinned and slowly nodded. John got up and began walking over to his boyfriend.

Quickly moving to hold John back by his shoulders, Jacob giggled, "Oh, Draco!"

"Oh, what-o?" Draco playfully sang. John twisted and turned to get past Jacob.

Standing directly in front of Stephen as a last line of defense, Jamie laughed, "They're gonna do it again!"

Beau crowed, "We need padded ceilings in here too, dude."

The ceiling shimmered briefly and Draco teased, "They're the most padded division in the Clan."

Jacob let go of John and jumped out of the way. Jamie moved away from Stephen. Without further delay, John quickly went to Stephen. The two boys wrapped their arms around each other and kissed. Quicker than they ever had before, they rose to the ceiling and hovered there for about thirty seconds while the other boys in the Command Center looked on. John pushed so much appreciation and love to Stephen that he shed tears of joy. They drifted back down slowly. Once they had set foot on the floor, the Terrible Triplets began singing, "Slip sliding away, slip sliding away, You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip sliding away!"

"Shush!" John giggled at the teasing triplets. "We still got Intel stuff to do." He then asked, "How can I find out Kaleo's birthday?"

"We need his feet," Jamie said.

Tilting his head curiously, John repeated, "His feet?"

Beau explained, "Every baby gets tiny foot prints taken and stamped on their birth certificates."

John tapped his comm-badge and asked, "Kaleo, you busy, bro?"

Kaleo replied, "Still got a bunch more cards to pass out, John."

Jacob said, "Hold a foot up to one of the cameras."

"Have your tootsies smile, Kaleo," Jamie giggled.

Kicking off one of his sandals, Kaleo put a foot up on a nearby empty table and said, "Cheese!"

John said, "Snap a photo of Kaleo's foot please, Alden."

"Even his feet are cute," Alden giggled. "It's snapped and on the Intel division console."

Beau instructed, "Now we check Hawaiian birth records."

John said, "He's as old as Keith so for 1990, right?"

Jamie said, "For 1989 too, just in case."

"He might be turning fifteen today for all we know," Jacob added.

John commanded, "Computer, search Republic of Hawaii birth certificates, years 1989 and 1990, using the supplied image for a boy named Kaleo Palakiko. Tell me the date of birth. Execute."

"Hold yer horses there buckaroo!" Foghorn replied, "The search will finish in about three minutes, boss."

While they waited, Jamie, Jacob, and Beau began showing John just how much access he really had. To start it off, they had a little fun, bringing up Admiral Morrow's test scores throughout his entire Starfleet career.

John giggled, "An Admiral with average test scores, mostly. But a 'D' in diplomacy? Puh-lease!"

"I kinda like him though," Beau grinned, as the 'D' suddenly turned into a 'C'. "I'm givin' him extra credit for dealin' with Cory!"

John smiled, "Can the change be traced back to us? Prez would get pissed off."

The three teachers giggled. "Naw, we give the V.S.O. headaches tracing us. They are about the only ones that can pull it off." Jamie replied. "A double route through Alpha Centauri's secure networks along with a redirect through random Earth government agencies pretty much hides us."

Jacob pressed a few unmarked areas on the screen. "This session is routing through the U.S. Department of Education servers!" he giggled. "That's soooooo fitting!"

Giggling at the irony, John cackled, "Better than the U.S. Department of Fish and Game anyways!"

Jacob giggled. "They're on the list though. There's one other thing; what is the highest level of security encryption that you've heard of?"

Humming thoughtfully, John tried to recall what Drew and Corey had said about encryption. He answered, "Level 6."

"I can break that in twelve seconds. Justy's working with me to get my times better," Beau bragged. "We use up to level fifteen normally; we will be able to use up to level twenty-five pretty soon."

John asked, "That means we can get just about anywhere, but can be found by no one?"

"If we really wanna hide, we can. Lots of times we don't need to though," Jacob said seriously. "I need to register you with a server, come over here and stand in front of the console."

Moving over and standing before Jacob, John wondered, "Which system is this?" He then joked, "My handsome face might cause a few fried circuits."

[Identity confirmed. John Hundser access to Clan Short Diplomatic and Intelligence Networks confirmed. Note to Lieutenant Hundser, it is illogical that physical appearance will have detrimental effects on the physical makeup of my circuitry.]

Making a crooked face at the computer's remark, John turned around and griped, "Gotta be Vulcan."

Stephen blushed and giggled, "It's okay, I still think you're handsome, hon."

'I love you too, baby,' John quickly sent to Stephen.

Jamie, Jacob and Beau loudly giggled, "Float break!"

"Not this time," John blushed. He then asked, "What can we find out about these H.L.F. scum bags?"

[H.L.F. Search activated. Interstellar database access pending authorization.]

Glancing at the three teachers, John croaked, "Authorization?"

"You started a search, dude. Just say 'authorization confirmed'; the system knows that it's you by the bio-signature." Beau chuckled.

"Authorization confirmed," John repeated, and then smirked, "Stupid thing should've known it was authorized since I asked for it!"

"You have to verify, silly." Jacob laughed. "It needs to make sure that it understood you correctly."

[Search initiated. Results to be delivered upon completion.] The system announced.

"Besides, the search is keyed to you now." Jamie added. "Nobody else can access the results."

While they were still waiting for records on the H.L.F., Foghorn said, "Search complete, I say, the search is done. Kaleo Palakiko was born September sixteenth, 1990. Pay attention to me boy! I'm not just talkin' to hear my head roar!"

Tapping his comm-badge again, John smiled, "Kaleo?"

"Here John, what's up?"

"Happy belated birthday bro," John grinned. "You were born September sixteenth, 1990. Just so ya know, Prez's birthday is September twelfth and Keith's is September twenty-second. You're right between the two of 'em, bro."

"That's great!" Kaleo chuckled. "Can I get a belated birthday cake too?"

"Sure," John giggled. "Tell the chefs your favorite and that we're making up for fourteen missed birthdays with a party of one hundred and thirty." With that, all the kids still in the dining room cheered and began wishing Kaleo happy birthday.

John smiled, "Septembers are gonna be busy birthday months from now on." Too quickly, John's smile flipped upside down and he wiped his eyes.

Concerned at the sudden change, Stephen hurried over and asked, "What's wrong, hon?"

John sighed, "Remember I told you about Joel?" Stephen nodded and John said, "He's here and hurt worse than I could've imagined."

"We're done here," Jacob quickly assured. "Let's go see Joel."

Jamie offered, "We'll cover the F.Y.S. interviews for you later, bro."

John sniffed and nodded, "Thanks, guys."


Over at James Campbell High School, the trumpet player Bobby, who had mysteriously lost his shiny horn the prior day, wasn't participating in the jazz band's recital. His girlfriend Sheryl had been locked in the janitor's closet for hours, until almost eleven o'clock Monday night. When she was first heard banging on the door and calling for help, a locksmith was called. Arriving at the school hours later, the locksmith was unable to unlock the door. He wound up having to dismantle the knob and lock then take the hinges off the door to let the girl out. Completely freaked out after standing alone in a dark janitor's closet for over eight hours, Sheryl didn't even bother going to school that Tuesday. Mrs. Diaz was livid. Both Bobby and Sheryl lost their places in the jazz band and the marching band.

In the C.I.C. dining room, Kaleo, Tory, Sean, Horacio, Sonia and Vera worked as three teams passing out credit and I.D. cards. Although everything was organized with two lines of boys and one line of girls, the task still took an hour. Many of the kids wanted to know more about the jobs that were available and some were even interested in the hourly rate of pay. All the kids had to do was initial the printed list beside their name for proof they had received the cards. Only two sets of cards remained at the end; one set for Melonie, who had a scheduled appointment with Doctor Wiener that hour, and one set for Troy Faris. Kaleo tapped his sub-vocal and called Alden. "Where's Troy Faris at this morning?" Kaleo asked.

Alden replied, "He's in his condo apartment, practicing his guitar and singing, Kaleo."

Kaleo hummed thoughtfully for a few moments. Noticing Sean nervously fidgeting, Horacio grinned, "Sean will take them to him, Kaleo."

Almost snapping his neck turning to his roomie, Sean glared at Horacio.

Unaware of Sean's crush on Troy, Kaleo innocently asked, "Would you, dude? I'll ask Alden which apartment he's in."

Sean tried to find a graceful way out, but never said a word before Horacio let him off the hook by saying, "We'll both go over there."

Kaleo then asked Alden which condo unit was the Faris'. Kaleo told Sean and Horacio, "Building one, apartment 5-A; that's the fifth floor on the right side coming out of the elevator."

Tory appreciatively smiled, "Thanks, guys. This saves us a bunch of time," and then handed the two cards for Troy to Horacio.

"We've gotta show the newbies around first, and we're gonna give Melonie her cards, then go hang by the pool and diving well," Kaleo said. "Mrs. Seaver and Mr. Seibert are there managing all the kids pretty much by themselves." Kaleo and Tory stood, held hands and walked out of the C.I.C., leaving Horacio there grinning and Sean sweating.

Once they were out of earshot, Sean faced Horacio and softly grumbled, "Why are you doing this?"

"Why are you so upset?" Horacio smirked. "I'm goin' there with you to make sure you actually get there... today! I can see you, roaming around this entire base, wondering how to tell Troy why you're there and what you really want."

"What do I want?"

"Come on, man," Horacio softly smiled. "You want to meet him and get to know him. What happens after that is up to you and him. You could have said something to him last night at dinner. But noooo! We sat at the same table as Troy and his mom, but not a peep out of you." Standing, Horacio pulled Sean up by his upper arm.

"You're forcing this. Why?"

Taking Sean by the shoulders and pushing him forward, Horacio answered, "We've been friends since we met at the orphanage, right?"

"Right."

"You know me and I know you just as well."

Sean nodded.

"I can give you what you need physically, but won't always be there for you. You need what I can't give you, Sean. I want a wife and my own kids someday. You want a boyfriend and partner." Horacio then moved beside Sean and wrapped an arm around his shoulders then softly admitted, "I'm being selfish really. If I found a nice girl and left you alone, how would you feel? Like shit, that's how. I know it and don't want to chance losing you as a friend. So, I'll help you as much as I can. Just show Troy what you've always shown me, that you can be a real friend and then some."

"But what can I say to him?" Sean desperately moaned.

Outside the condo building, only a few yards from the double doors, Horacio stopped and stood in front of Sean. "Open your eyes, Sean!" Horacio giggled. "Don't just look at him, look around his house. What's in there? What is he interested in? Is there anything you guys have in common? Talk to him like you talk to me. You go in there stutterin' and staring at him, frothing at the mouth and he's gonna think you're a spaz. Just chill! Our friendship has lasted through good times and bad since we were nine years old. Whether you accept it or not, you are a great person."

Since Horacio was being honest, Sean was too. He grinned, "Dude, no one has ever affected me like he already has and I don't even know him. He's gonna smile and I'm gonna melt; party's over, just like that." Horacio cracked up. Sean giggled, "See, you know it's true!"

Horacio went to the doors and opened one, then gestured for Sean to walk inside. As Sean reluctantly walked past, Horacio followed saying, "Here's what your gonna do; act like you don't know him or like him; look at his I.D. and confirm he's Troy Faris then introduce yourself. Tell him you were passing out the cards with Kaleo, since he probably knows him as a Core Rimmer. All the while you're talking, look around his apartment. Pass a simple compliment about something..."

"Like what?" Sean interrupted, and then joked, "Nice apartment, dude?" Sean noticed that on this ground floor there were two apartment doors on the right and the left sides.

"Yeah!" Horacio laughed, "That or anything else you see. Not his hair, or his eyes, or his face, or his ass."

Sean smirked, "Uh huh, then what?"

"Well, he might say thanks or something else, so strike up a conversation. If worse comes to worse, you can tell him about the I.D. and credit card. Say what Kaleo said. Say what Prez said. The idea is to say something so he has a reason to invite you inside." Stopping before the elevator, Horacio pressed the button and joked, "Once you're inside, you're set. Now you can talk with him... or jump his bones!"

Momentarily surprised, Sean then shook his head and grumbled, "You bastard," then snatched the two cards from Horacio.

"Yeah, I am," Horacio laughed. The elevator bell rang and its door slid open. Horacio pushed Sean into the elevator and promised, "I'll wait out front for five or ten minutes. If you're not back by then, I'll know we have a success."

The elevator's door began to slide closed and Sean reached his hand out to stop it. It automatically slid open and Sean blushed, "Jeez; I forgot where I'm goin'!"

Barely stopping himself from laughing, Horacio repeated, "The fifth floor, apartment 5-A."

"Right," Sean grinned, "If this don't work, I'm gonna chase you all over this base."

Horacio chuckled then countered, "If this does work, I'm gonna chase you around until you tell me everything that happened." Sean pressed the button for the fifth floor. As the door began sliding closed, Horacio smiled, "Good luck!"

"I'm gonna need it," Sean huffed. The door finished closing and the elevator began to rise floor by floor. Horacio turned around and laughed, shaking his head, but wondering how he might react, after all the sexual abuse he'd been through, when faced with some girl he really liked.

Wondering what he might be able to say to Troy, Sean glanced around at the elevator walls. Brushing his fingers across the nearest wall, Sean realized it was a real wood wall, not a simulated veneer. Sean absently thought that what he'd seen thus far inside the new condominium was really nice. He looked up at the lights in the ceiling, noticing the new brass fixtures around each of the six frosted glass bulbs. The floor he was standing on looked like it might be real marble. The bell rang twice at the fifth floor and the doors slid open.

Sean stepped out of the elevator and looked around. Just like the first floor, the elevator was at the end of a single hall. However, here there was only one door on each side, not a total of four doors as on the first floor. Obviously, some floors had single bedroom apartments while others had two-bedroom apartments. The lower half of the walls on this floor matched the walls in the elevator. At the end of the hallway, well above where the entrance doors were on the first floor, was a large tinted window. It was about three feet off the floor and went almost to the ceiling. Wanting to catch a glimpse of what the base looked like from about fifty feet up, he walked to the end of the hall and peered outside the window. He was way above the trees and slightly higher than the domed C.I.C. directly before him. To the right were the flat roofs of the dormitories. Sean hadn't realized it before, but all the dorm rooftops had solar panels. The closest one was the building he and the other kids were already living in. Sean noticed that the UNIT dorm rooftop was set up with armaments of various sorts. Beyond the dorms were the pitched rooftops of the four Rimmer family homes. Over to the left was the roof of the Federation Youth Services building and the parking garage. "I wonder what this looks like at night with the C.I.C. dome and the auditorium lit up?" Sean softly muttered. Knowing it had to be pretty, Sean realized he was just delaying the inevitable, sighed then turned around and went back down the hall.

He stopped and stood before apartment 5-A. There was a small doorknocker in the center, just below one of those security peek lenses. Sean lifted the doorknocker and was surprised to hear a bell ringing. Accidentally, he dropped the two cards. Squatting down and reaching for the cards, Sean mumbled, "An electric bell hidden in the knocker? That's a new one." The door opened while Sean was picking up the two cards.

Troy looked down and grinned. Sean looked up from Troy's bare feet past his legs and khaki cargo shorts to find him shirtless, but with an acoustic guitar hanging off his shoulders. Oh man, Sean silently thought, even his feet and legs are perfect. Quickly standing, Sean blushed and said, "Hi." Looking at the I.D. card, he confirmed, "Troy Faris?"

"That's me," Troy smiled, but then blushed because his voice cracked for the first time in at least a year. The word 'me' came out of his mouth sounding something like a chipmunk. Too much singing too early in the day, Troy reasoned. Covering his mouth with his fist, he cleared his throat so it wouldn't happen again.

Hearing Troy's voice for the first time, Sean's heartbeat quickened and everything Horacio told him to say fast-forwarded through his mind at once then was completely gone. He stammered, "I... uh... I'm Sean Moorhead. I was helping Kaleo... pass out credit and I.D. cards before... earlier, in the C.I.C.?"

Troy thoughtfully scowled and said, "My mom's an employee."

Sean shrugged, "Guess it don't matter; you live on base." Holding out the two cards, Sean said, "The credit card is pre-paid." Troy reached for the cards and their fingers briefly brushed. Becoming light-headed, Sean softly explained, "We all get weekly allowances. We can work odd jobs on base for extra money too, if we want."

Nodding, Troy then glanced at the cards in his hand and softly wondered, "You brought these to me instead of calling me to come get them?"

Feeling his face heat up, Sean nodded and grappled for an answer. "Saw you yesterday," Sean stammered, "with the band, on stage... and dinner last night. Didn't think you'd mind." He paused then asked, "You play guitar too?"

Troy nodded, "Guitar, keyboards and a couple other instruments."

"Kewl," Sean chirped. He then pointed down the hallway and admitted, "I was lookin' out the window. Bet you have an awesome view." Both boys blushed and Sean sighed, "From up here, of the compound, at night, I mean."

Troy nodded and smiled, "Ya wanna come in and check it out?" Not liking how he said what he had said, Troy's eyes closed briefly then he shyly added, "The view... out the windows?"

"Could I?" Sean excitedly squealed. Then he forced himself to relax a little and said, "If it's all right with you, I mean?"

Stepping back and aside to let Sean in, Troy said, "Sure, man."

Walking in the apartment, Sean admitted, "I don't think I've ever been in a building this high up before."

Closing the door, Troy said, "Really? I used to live in New Jersey and went to New York City a couple o' times. I've been to the observation deck of the World Trade Center. Talk about a view! It was a clear day and I'll bet it was twenty or thirty miles in every direction."

Stopping and waiting for Troy, Sean glanced around the kitchen and dinette offering, "I've never even been in an elevator before. If it wasn't for TV and movies, I wouldn't have known how to work it."

Realizing that Sean was a Clan rescued kid for the first time, Troy didn't want to make him feel bad, but couldn't think of anything to say at first. So he took his guitar off and said, "Lemme put this down in my room."

Trying to not stare at Troy's bare chest, Sean nodded then absently followed him through the living room, down a hall, past a bathroom and into Troy's bedroom. Troy's bare back was every bit as attractive as the front though. Slightly above the waistband of his khaki shorts was the waistband of his FTL underwear. In the bedroom, on the queen size bed was a guitar case. Troy put his guitar in the case then turned to see Sean still in the doorway looking around his room. Walking around his bed, Troy said, "Com'ere, Sean." Troy stopped before a set of sliding glass doors and pulled open the blinds. As Sean joined him, Troy smiled, "The C.I.C. looks really kewl at night, almost like a space ship." Gesturing further beyond the C.I.C., Troy pointed out, "Way out there, you can even see the beach." He then went to the other window, on the adjacent wall, facing southwest, and raised the blinds.

Sean followed and looked out the second window. "Wow!" Sean softly gasped.

"You can see part of the pool from here," Troy offered.

"Yeah," Sean said, "We're always over there by the pools and rec center."

Troy exclaimed, "There are two pools there?"

Sean nodded, "An Olympic size pool and a diving well." Glancing at Troy, Sean wondered, "How come I've never seen you over there?"

Troy blushed and shrugged, "I'm really into my music. When I'm not practicing, I'm listening to tunes or watching VH-1. I've thought about going to the pool, but then I hear something, take a tangent and forget all about it." Troy chuckled, "The next thing I know, it's dark."

Sean giggled and nodded, "You really should go over, at least to check out what's there. The indoor rec center has bowling alleys, handball rooms, weights and lots o' stuff. There's even a sauna in the men's locker room and a Jacuzzi."

"Yeah, I should," Troy nodded.

"The rainy season's gonna start in December. I'll show you around, if ya want?"

Troy shrugged then said, "I was working on a song before. I think I've got it down pat. If I played it for you, would you give me your honest opinion? Then we can go over to the pool."

"Sure," Sean giggled. "I don't know anything about music, but I can tell when something sounds good."

Going over to get his guitar and then to the stereo, Troy rambled, "I heard this song last night on the radio and I knew it was in my collection somewhere. It took me a while to find it, but I think Prez and the guys will like it." He paused then prompted, "Tell me what you think of this." Sean nodded, but was still standing by the window. Troy grinned and gestured to the bed. "Have a seat."

Sean sat on the edge of the bed and Troy pressed play on the CD player. The Moody Blues tune The Story In Your Eyes began playing through the stereo and Troy strummed the acoustic guitar part along with the recording. Sean began tapping his feet and smiling. Troy then loudly sang; "I've been thinking about our fortune, And I've decided that we're really not to blame, For the love that's deep inside us now, Is still the same.

"And the sounds we make together, Is the music to the story in your eyes, It's been shining down upon me now, I realize.

"Listen to the tide slowly turning, Wash all our heartaches away, We're part of the fire that is burning, And from the ashes we can build another day.

"But I'm frightened for your children, That the life that we are living is in vain, And the sunshine we've been waiting for, will turn to rain."

Troy played through the middle eight and then sang; "Listen to the tide slowly turning, Wash all our heartaches away, We're part of the fire that is burning, And from the ashes we can build another day.

"But I'm frightened for your children, That the life that we are living is in vain, And the sunshine we've been waiting for, will turn to rain.

"When the final line is over, And it's certain that the curtain's gonna fall, I can hide inside your sweet sweet love, for ever more." With his eyes closed, Troy played through the end of the song. As the stereo's music faded out, Sean began clapping.

The moment that Troy opened his eyes and turned to press the stop button, Sean bounced up, still clapping and loudly cheered, "That was excellent. What a great song! You really played and sang it perfectly." Sean realized he was spazzin' out and stopped clapping.

Blushing fiercely at Sean's compliments, Troy giggled, "I was thinking maybe Keith or Derrick would sing lead vocals. I'd sing backup with Mike and Prez."

Shaking his head, Sean forcefully said, "No! You have to sing it, just like you just did. What was that line? I'm frightened for your children?"

Troy recited, "That the life that we are living is in vain, and the sunshine we've been waiting for will turn to rain."

"Awesome." Sean reverently cheered. He then wiped his eyes and looked down.

Noticing that Sean seemed a little upset, Troy softly asked, "What's wrong?" and took his guitar off again.

Sean shrugged and sighed, "It's just... me. That line in the song makes me want to cry. I'm damaged goods. No one nice is ever gonna like me."

"I like you," Troy quickly said before he could even consider stopping himself. Putting his guitar back in its case, he blushed and added, "No one except my mom has ever clapped after I played like you did. Besides, you're a nice guy and..."

Sean waited for Troy to finish then softly wondered, "And what?"

Shaking his head, Troy quickly considered everything he knew about Clan Short, the people at this compound, especially Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick. Rather than wait to say something and have it turn out badly, Troy looked off beyond Sean and huffed, "And I think you're really cute. I'm gay, Sean."

But Sean didn't get up and leave like Troy expected. He only smiled for a few moments then giggled, "I'm gay too. Not only do I think you're cute, my roommate forced me to come up here. Since I saw you yesterday, I can't get you outta my head."

Turning a hundred shades of red and purple, Troy squealed, "Me?"

Looking away slightly, Sean blushed and nodded, "Can't help it."

Troy thought for a few moments then grinned, "So much for going to the pool... again. We have some stuff to talk about, don't you think?"

Nodding, Sean giggled, "You want to know more about the credit card?"

Troy helplessly laughed, "Screw the credit card!" Sean cracked up. When they had stopped laughing, Troy then seriously said, "Tell me why you think you're damaged. If you're damaged, I must be Quasimodo."

Sean grinned and tilted his head wondering "Who's Quasimodo?"

"The Hunchback of Notre-Dame," Troy explained, "frighteningly ugly."

"You ain't ugly," Sean slowly and softly said. He then grinned, "As a matter of fact, if you don't put a shirt on real soon, we'll never get to talking."

Blushing bright red, Troy went to the closet and picked out a faded navy blue Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon T-shirt. Sliding it over his head and getting the shirt adjusted, Troy began, "You were rescued by the Clan?"

"Friday," Sean answered, "from an orphanage."

"It was bad for you there?"

"For all of us. The men and women there were vicious, in every sense of the word." Sean wiped his eyes; partially because of the memories and partially because he really didn't want to tell Troy what he had been through.

Pulling over his desk chair, Troy sat close before Sean and softly said, "I know a little about Clan Short. You don't have to tell me anything that will make you sad, okay? We can save that for another time."

Relieved, Sean sighed, "The summer of 1999, me, my dad and stepmother came here on vacation. My dad had a heart attack and died. After the funeral, she didn't even tell me she was leaving to go back to the States. I didn't find out until that afternoon, when the hotel housekeeper came to the room. She took the plane tickets and some of her stuff, but didn't say a word to anyone that I was still in the hotel room. By that night, I was at the orphanage."

"How old were you?"

"Nine."

"That sucks. Obviously she was in love with your dad, but didn't give a shit about you."

Not wanting to dwell on it any more than he already had, Sean simply said, "She was a bitch."

Quickly doing math in his head, Troy asked, "So you're fourteen?" Sean nodded and Troy smiled, "I'm fourteen too. What's your birthday?"

"January twenty-seventh, 1990."

"I'm exactly a month older than you are. I was born December twenty-seventh, 1989."

"Here's the part I have to tell you," Sean shuddered. He paused and gathered every ounce of strength to softly admit; "I've been sexually abused by men and women."

Shocked, Troy couldn't think of anything to say. Saying that it sucks would've been an understatement. Troy softly asked, "That's why you think you're damaged?"

Sean nodded, "I never wanted to do it; I had to do it."

"I assumed that."

After a long many moments, each boy waiting for the other to say something, Sean asked, "You're not bothered about it?"

"Well, yeah! I mean, shit! Who wouldn't be angry about something like adults molesting kids?"

Sean nervously asked, "You're not gonna tell me to leave?"

Shaking his head, Troy softly answered, "No. I want to help, if I can."

Sean brightly smiled, "You are, right now." Relaxing more, Sean chuckled, "I was sure that would be the end; you would tell me to get out."

"That wouldn't be much help," Troy smirked. "I have one question; then we can drop that topic as being just history."

"What's that?"

"They never got you sick, did they? No sexually transmitted diseases or anything?"

"No. The Vulcan doctors checked us over real good. There were bruises, cuts and scars before a little guy named Peter fixed me up."

Troy grinned, "A boy named Peter..." and then helplessly chortled.

"Not that kind of peter!" Sean laughed. "I don't know how he cleared all the marks up, but he did."

Playing the suspicious, jealous boyfriend, Troy teased, "Peters and Marks?"

Blushing fiercely, Sean giggled, "No Peters or Marks, just gross old ladies and men. Soon the ladies realized they weren't my type and, for the most part, they left me alone. Then it was just gross men."

"Just curious, but umm... what made them gross?"

"What wasn't gross? Beard stubble, bad breath, body odor, you name it."

Dramatically grimacing, Troy asked, "You've never been with anyone our age?"

Sean thought carefully then admitted, "My roomie Horacio. We've been friends since the orphanage. He's bi though and don't like kissing. We helped each other through some really bad times. He'll jack me off and I'll do the same for him, but that's all it's ever been."

Troy shyly admitted, "It's more than I've ever done."

Believing he had said too much, Sean sighed, "I shouldn't have told you that, huh?"

Thinking it over for a moment or two, Troy grinned, "Extra points for telling the truth."

Sean wondered, "What else do you do beside play guitar and keys?"

"I play clarinet, recorder, harmonica, tenor and baritone saxophones. I've played tennis too, but I'm not really good at it. I do enjoy it though."

"Do you swim?"

Troy nodded, "Used to go to the shore all the time. Point Pleasant is a beach in New Jersey that I really liked."

"Ever surfed?"

"Nope, never tried."

"I tried Saturday for the first time. It's really kewl."

"You'll have to teach me some time then."

"You still wanna go to the pool?"

"Sure," Troy agreed, "we can talk more there. Lemme just change into trunks." Sean nodded and widely smiled. Standing and moving his chair back to the desk, Troy turned to Sean and loudly giggled, "You're just gonna watch?"

Turning fire engine red, Sean cackled, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours?"

Troy howled laughing then leaned down and planted a kiss on Sean's forehead.

Stunned, Sean blushed and softly remarked, "No beard stubble, nice breath too."

Turning around and dropping his shorts and underwear, Troy giggled, "No B.O. either, I hope! I just showered this morning."

Sean hummed agreement then commented, "Really cute butt too!"

"Hey now!" Troy laughed, "You can look, but no touching... yet." He then pulled a pair of boardies out of his dresser drawer.

Watching Troy dress, Sean wondered, "When then?"

"Jesus! You move fast!" Troy giggled. Once he had pulled his boardies up, Troy turned around and honestly answered, "I want to, Sean. I just can't go from 'I like you' to sex quite so fast. I'll tell you some important things though."

A little concerned, but mostly curious, Sean softly said, "Okay."

"I intend to spend the rest of the day with you. No matter what else happens, I want you nearby."

Smiling and standing, Sean said, "Sounds real good so far."

Troy devilishly grinned then moved closer and seriously said, "From now on, you keep your hands off your roommate and he keeps his hands off you. I know I'm the jealous type already. I also know I want a real relationship, not a one or two night stand. If we're gonna hook up, then it's long term."

Sean nodded, "I ain't runnin' for the door."

"Good. Nothing you've said has made me like you less. As a matter of fact, I like you a lot and have high hopes for us."

Holding his right hand up, Sean seriously swore, "I promise, no messin' around with Horacio or anyone else." Dropping his hand, he explained, "Sex before, at the orphanage, it was always fast. I don't mean to rush it; I just don't know any other way."

"I don't know of any way at all; I just have dreams and ideas."

Sean wondered, "What kinda ideas?"

Troy shrugged and blushed, "Being held close, hugs, slow dancing; guess I'm more of a romantic than I'd like to admit."

Understanding, Sean slowly reached for Troy's face and gently brushed the back of his fingers along Troy's left cheek and jaw. Sean whispered, "Somethin' like this?"

Closing his eyes, Troy whimpered then whispered, "Exactly like that."

Taking a chance while Troy's eyes were closed, Sean tenderly kissed him on the mouth. It was a short, heartfelt kiss that left Troy reeling. Breaking the kiss and waiting for Troy to open his eyes, Sean then softly assured, "I'll wait, Troy."

Locking eyes with Sean, Troy couldn't believe how lucky he was getting. Sean was really good looking, about the same height and weight as he was, self-conscious, but sexually active and a great kisser. Troy whispered, "I won't make you wait too long, Sean." Reaching for Sean's head and tapping lightly, he said, "I need to know what's in here," and then he tapped Sean's chest adding, "and in here. All we have to do is tell each other the truth. Otherwise, we're screwed from the start."

Nodding, Sean asked, "Ready for the pool?"

"Yeah, just lemme grab a towel," Troy said, and started walking down the hall.

Following close behind, Sean told him, "There's piles of towels there already."

Troy grinned, "Force of habit. My mom told me she's been washing loads of towels every day. I'll leave a note for her so she won't expect me here for lunch."

After the note was written, the two boys left the condominium then went down the elevator. Looking into Sean's deep blue eyes, Troy asked, "Who taught you to brush your hand across my face like that?"

Sean grinned, "Promise you won't tell." Troy rapidly nodded and Sean admitted, "Keith and Drew. When they do it to Prez or Corey, anybody can tell how much they like it. Did you like it as much as I did?"

"Definitely," Troy giggled. "I thought maybe... you learned it from one of those gross older men."

Sean huffed and smirked, "Those dudes just wanted to get their rocks off. Romantic to them meant asking me to take my pants off."

Stepping out of the elevator, Troy reassuringly said, "No more of that for you or any of the others," then reached for Sean's hand. They glanced at each other and Troy admitted, "This is what I've always wanted to do. I hope you don't mind."

Sean grinned, "Why would I mind?" then opened the door for Troy and followed him outside. Sean took the time to introduce Troy to a few of the kids then showed him through the indoor rec center. They paused at the Jacuzzi and again at the sauna then went directly to the diving well. Horacio was naked, up on the three meter diving board and Sean pointed him out. Seeing a handsome Latino teenager, Troy slowly and deliberately nodded then grunted. Grinning, Sean softly said, "You really are the jealous type."

"Sorry."

"Don't be. It makes me feel really good."


Copyright Notices:

All music and lyrics referenced in this chapter are the property and copyright of their owners.