Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 27

Oneula Beach, FYS Building

Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 12:30PM HTZ

After Reggie had fainted, and had been brought to Doc Metzger's exam room, Scott checked with Jay and Chris, asking, "You're hangin' here for a while?"

Nodding, Chris grinned, "Until Reggie comes around."

Jay offered, "We'll make sure he's okay and glued to Angelo. Then we'll probably all need some time alone, before we get together to educate the new Core Rimmers."

"Kewl," Scott smiled, "I'll go find Lance. I'm pretty sure that there's something running circles in his head." Noticing Chris and Jay waiting for some additional explanation, Scott shrugged, "I can tell. Before we left that other Earth, he was getting those thoughtful, detached expressions; just kind o' phasin' out and back in again."

Jay nodded and grinned, "Go take care of it. When it's time to go into Core Rimmer orientation mode, I'll give you a call."

"Kewl," Scott grinned, "I'll catch ya later."

Chris and Jay chorused, "Later," and then Scott turned and started out of the exam room. In moments, he was walking out of the Oneula FYS building. 

During the short walk back to the base dining room, Scott tapped his sub-vocal, whispering, "Hey Alden, what's Lance doin'?"

"He's with Travis and Erik," Alden answered. "They're at a table, chatting with some other teenage guys; Charlie Fortenberry, Mike Busse, Terry Parkinson are at the same table, and there are other guys at the next table, Neil Green, Tad Markell..."

"I don't need a roll call," Scott interrupted. "Is Lance talking too, or not?"

"Not at the moment," Alden replied. "He's there listening, but not really participating." He then wondered, "Is there something wrong, Scott?"

"It's probably nothing," Scott muttered.

Alden suggested, "If I can help, let me know."

"I'm just a little worried about him," Scott admitted. "It's prob'ly not a big deal, just somethin' he's not said anything about."

"You're acting like a suspicious, jealous boyfriend," Alden giggled.

"No," Scott sniggered, "I just know my sexy lover boy; he gets an idea in his skull and it bounces around there."

"I'm not sure I get what you mean," Alden prodded.

Scott sighed, "Consider how we hooked up. All I had to do was show a little interest in him, and he tried to suck my tongue out of my mouth." Alden began giggling, and Scott grinned, "Its part of being in love, Alden. Once you get a body and boyfriend, you'll start getting the idea; some people hold stuff inside, for a little while, or for a long time, until someone says, 'hey, what's up with that?' He's my boyfriend, and I really do care a lot about him. If something's bugging him, I want to know what it is, so I can at least try to help."

"Well, he's still following the conversation around two tables, but not actively participating," Alden offered.

About to walk into the dining room, Scott smiled, "Just watch and learn." He went inside, found Lance and went in that direction. Seeing Scott approaching, Lance excused himself, got up and went to his boyfriend. Lance was beaming brightly, like they had been apart for far longer than fifteen minutes. Scott silently mouthed, "God, he's so cute!" and Alden cracked up laughing.

Lifting his arms in preparation to give Scott a hug, Lance giggled, "I missed you," and then wrapped him up tight.

They tenderly kissed, and then Scott softly admitted, "I missed you too, SLB." Taking Lance's hand in his, Scott turned and led the way from the dining room.

"Where are we going?" Lance giggled.

Scott smirked, "That depends on you. I get the impression there's some ideas brewing that I can't wait to hear."

Blushing, Lance nodded, but didn't say a word. He never could hide anything from Scott. Even though he hadn't said a word aloud, Scott knew that something was going on.

Before they walked out of the dining room, Scott wondered, "Is it about the kids at the AI hospital?"

The moment they stepped outside, Lance sighed, "No."

"Let me try and help," Scott softly begged. They followed the walkway towards the new condominiums, seeing the construction workers and the tech-bots adding another story to each of the structures.

Lance squeezed Scott hand briefly, and then huffed, "We spent almost six hours at the hospital, and then another six or more hours at that other Ewa Beach. Both messed with me, and now I'm thinkin' about stuff I couldn't help noticing at the other Ewa Beach."

Scott smiled, "I'm all ears." 

Giggling, "You are not all ears," Lance looked over at Scott with a playful sparkle in his green eyes. 

Scott chuckled, "Uh oh." Beginning to lose it and laugh, Lance released Scott's hand and took off running. Scott ran after him, off the walkway and into the trees. Scott chortled, "I'm catching up to you, MSLB!"

"It's all your fault!" Lance cackled.

Closing the distance between them, Scott playfully reminded, "You started running away. Do you think I won't chase after your pretty butt?"

Roaring laughing and slowing down, Lance ordered, "STOP! You're making matters worse!"

Caught up with Lance, Scott jogged around him, giggling, "It's always worse before it gets better. Now, tell me what you noticed at that other Earth."

Pausing and standing still, Lance panted, "You, Chris, Jay, Keith, Prez, Derrick, Mike, Relud, Kaleo, Tory, Sean, Troy, Reyes and Ryan. Hell, even Drew, Corey, John and Stephen caught my eye."

Stopping before Lance, Scott asked, "What about them?"

Locking eyes with Scott for a few seconds, Lance then blinked and sadly shook his head, frowning, "You know I really love you, right?"

Scott nodded and smiled, "I love you too, Lance, but why do you seem sad all of a sudden?"

Waving Scott to follow, Lance started walking further amongst the trees. He started rambling, "You're my best friend, my lover and my life partner. Things I never noticed about anybody, anywhere, I noticed in you. Please don't believe for a second that I want anything changed or different, but I can't help noticing and thinking. I don't want to lose you over my stupid thoughts, okay?"

"You won't ever lose me, SLB," Scott promised.

Pausing again and locking eyes with Scott, Lance whined, "Even if I said I'm completely gay, like trollin' the Village, three dollar bill gay?"

Scott blinked and then grinned, "We're gay, Lance, as in both of us, you and me. I distinctly recall leading you off to a private spot so we could make love. Then we went surfing, and then we decided to nap in the tent, with Chris, Jay, Kaleo and Tory. When we woke up, three couples got busy."

"That's part of the problem!" Lance incredulously laughed.

"What problem?" Scott sniggered. "When the six of us left the tent, Prez, Keith, Mike, Derrick, Troy and Sean went into the tent. All I learned is that we're all the same; we made love our way, and Chris, Jay, Kaleo and Tory seemed to be doing it the way they wanted too. So, where's the problem?"

Partially covering his face with his hands, Lance giggled, "In my mind." He lowered his hands, revealing a deep red blush, giggling, "For the first time, today I realized that I like dicks - all dicks, Scott, even the younger guys have the cutest, tiny peckers, and I feel so damn guilty, because I'm yours, and you're mine, and there shouldn't be any reason to notice, but I did notice, and I know that I can't ever stop noticing, but now I don't know what to even think of myself."

Widely smiling at the ranting and rambling, Scott snorted and then howled laughing.

"STOP LAUGHING!" Lance roared. Scott only grabbed his stomach and laughed louder. Lance giggled, "I'm serious! I never noticed before that every variation is beautiful, and I'm surprised you didn't notice me gazing, making all sorts of comparisons, and taking mental notes. Even cut guys like me, they're all different and still beautiful. Uncut guys, like you, got a little more attention, because their foreskins were all in various states, exposing less or more of the heads." Pausing briefly, Lance smiled at his lover, and asked, "Did you notice the younger guys? When they came out of the water, their nads were almost invisible, they were so shriveled up, and their foreskin covered their dicks completely, making cuter, little points?" Sputtering, Scott lost it again and rapidly nodded. "What's up with that?" Lance giggled. "Is it because they're so young, or because they were that cold? None of the older uncut dudes came out of the ocean looking like that." Uncontrollably bellowing, Scott gasped for breath. Sadly shaking his head, Lance smirked, "There's something really wrong with both of us. You should be angry as hell, but no, just laugh it up."

Taking hold of Lance and squeezing him tight, Scott placed tender kisses and tried to stop laughing. When he caught his breath, Scott admitted, "I've been noticing dicks for years, but just never did anything about it, until you. I've had a couple of years to think and deal with it, but obviously you're only just now realizing that you're a sexual creature, just like every other human being. Of course you're noticing other dicks, and comparing them to your own and mine, the two you know very well."

Looking up into Scott's eyes, Lance smiled, "It's normal?"

Nodding, Scott said, "Tell me if this sounds familiar; little boys have cute, little dicks, that make us wonder what they'll have when they hit puberty, and if they'll be straight or gay."

"Very familiar," Lance giggled.

"Do you want to mess around with a little boy?"

Lance hollered, "Hell no!"

"Why not?"

"There's not enough meat there for me, they can't put out, and I would hurt them."

"Excellent reasons. Now, what about Kaleo's dark meat?"

Lance giggled, "Gorgeous, limp and erect!"

Nodding, Scott sniggered, "I completely agree, and he's a heck of a great guy, but his pretty pecker isn't for me; it's for Tory. Would you rather Kaleo or me?"

"You, every day, several times a day."


"Because it's that good and there's so much more than your dick that I love."

"That's the difference, Lance;" Scott smiled, "two dudes in love making love are doing it for way more than just to get off. Let's take it to every variation, gay, lesbian and straight; two people in love making love are showing how much they appreciate and enjoy every moment they're together. It's physical and emotion sharing. Our first times Monday, I was scared, at least as much as you were, but everything we did was so good that all my fears completely dissipated. Even when we're taking our time, examining every bit of each other, we're sharing bodies, hearts and minds. Earlier, when I led you off the beach so we could be alone, I wasn't thinking about me, it was to remind you that I love you. I loved that you were so upset about those kids at the hospital. My sexy lover boy has a huge, caring heart in his chest, and he deserved everything I enthusiastically gave him."

Nodding, Lance warmly smiled, "It's never been about what I could get from you, it's always been about what I could give you."

"Every couple feels and thinks the same," Scott reminded. "It was proven fact in a tent on an alternate Ewa Beach. Don't worry about noticing dicks, SLB. I notice 'em too, but here I am, alone with you, not searching for Kaleo or anyone else's dick. Here's another random thought for you to consider; what could you get from anyone else's dick that you couldn't get from mine?"

Rapidly blinking, Lance muttered, "Nothing. It would be an act, with far less real emotion, nothing like when we're making love. I can't imagine any of 'em replacing you."

"Precisely," Scott smiled. "I don't want anyone else touching my dick. All those great guys and awesome kids, that we spent a good part of the day with, would have to work really hard to come close to what you mean to me. It would take years for anyone else to accomplish what you did in only three days."

Lance giggled, "Do you really notice dicks too?"

"Course I do," Scott chuckled.

"Got a favorite?"

"Other than yours?"


"It depends on my momentary qualifications," Scott chuckled.

"Such as?"

"Who I would consider a real possibility, like musicians who could become a close enough friend to even think of it, puts Prez, Mike and Troy at the top of the list."

Lance scowled and wondered, "Why only them and not Keith, Derrick or Reyes?"

Bouncing his eyebrows, Scott grinned, "Prez, Mike and Troy are guitar players that have cut dicks, just like my chosen mate."

Mooing through his giggles, Lance warned, "That's gonna cost you."

Scott laughed, "I'll pay your price, SLB."

Silently, Lance ordered Alden to transport them to their dorm room. Glancing around and realizing where they were, and then noticing Lance's wicked leer, Scott cracked up. Stepping back and reaching for the drawstring on Scott's boardies, Lance grinned, "So, what was the deal with the younger guys?"

Shrugging and resting his hands on Lance's shoulders, Scott giggled, "I'm really not sure. My dick changed when I hit puberty, but during New York winters, my foreskin would crimp up, just like those kids' units."

"Really? I've never seen you like that."

Nodding, Scott kicked his boardies aside, and smiled, "It was below freezing out. After a fifteen minute walk to or home from school, my dick was turtled up. To prove that we're all the same, I'll guess that you looked a lot like Jonah when you were about nine or ten. True?"

Moving closer for a kiss, and pushing Scott's boxer-briefs down, Lance then smiled, "I guess it is; the length seemed about right, but he's uncut."

"There was a kid on the beach that looked very much like I did, once upon a time. Can you guess which kid?"

Scowling thoughtfully, Lance started taking Scott's polo shirt off. When it was off, Lance tossed it aside and shrugged, "I can't really imagine what you looked like at ten or younger." He then scanned his partner from head to toe, giggling, "I sure love what I see now."

Grinning, Scott planted a tender kiss, and then stepped back to give Lance a fuller view, reminding, "Lose the wide shoulders, and pubes, and picture me almost a foot shorter, boy sized and not man sized. Redistribute everything you see."

Humming for a few moments, Lance then muttered, "Either John or maybe Gage."

"Gage," Scott grinned. "Did you notice the three Hundser brothers?" When Lance nodded, Scott said, "They're obviously brothers, and what's hangin' between their legs shows all three stages clearly, from pre-pubescent to pubescent to teenaged young man. In two years or so, John will have hair down there, and his boy-sized wiener will be gone, replaced with something more like what Drew has. And Drew will be where Keith is. Keith will be shaving weekly, if not more, and prob'ly have chest hair too, like his dad. Give Jonah another two or three years, and he'll be a low hanger, like you, SLB."

Lance smiled, "Were you really that attracted to me during our first shower?"

Nodding, Scott chuckled, "There's a wide assortment of thirteen-year-old guys on these bases. Some are still hairless and look more like boys than teenagers. You've got the wide shoulders, trim waist, long legs, with a fair amount of hair below the knees, of a teenager. I love everything about you, and was well on my way before Friday's shower, Lance. If you weren't already well into puberty, I'd have had lots of other worries during Monday's early morning hours. How the hell could I have admitted that I was falling for a guy that was still an undeveloped boy? I would've never gotten any sleep. Instead, my pal had all the signs that he was well into puberty. I could love you, and I could tell you how I was feeling. Our first times together were awesome, and somehow it keeps getting better."

Lance giggled, "I wanna see your dick turtled. Can you imagine being very cold?"

"Not here," Scott laughed. "In the ROH, it's always warm."

"Alden?" Lance giggled.

Before Scott could utter a word of warning, he was free-falling. Lance was still in front of him, now also naked and free-falling. Off to their sides was the Statue Of Liberty and the skyline of New York City. "Happy now?" Scott cackled, "We're both gonna be turtled up."

Lance grumbled, "He is so gonna get it!"

Into both sub-vocals, Alden giggled, "Fair is fair; Scott's gotta see you turtled too, Lance. You'll start warming each other up as soon as you get back home."

Way up above the clouds, where both free falling boys could not see, was a passing Vol'Kier. He, however, could see them, quite clearly. For a brief moment he worried about this odd and inexplicable sight, but at a quick message from Alden (via Draco and then Reliquary), this particular Earth-Guardian decided that all humans were grade A nuts and kept flying.

Ewa Beach, Pacific Rim Division School

Wednesday, November 10, 2004, 1:02PM HTZ

Signaling the start of that afternoon's music appreciation class, Derrick glanced around the full room. Younger and smaller kids were close to the front of the room. As he looked back, taller and larger kids intermingled, and everyone had comfortable chairs behind long tabletops that were equipped with power outlets for the laptop PCs. In the back of the room were several of the security gorillas, other Core Rimmer security boys, and a few guests, including KC, Jerry and Joey. 

Derrick clearly told the kids, "Yesterday, we quickly covered about three hundred years of classical music history. Before we move forward and into the twentieth century, let's do a quick review. Can anyone tell me what the name was of the earliest form of classical music?"

Kids began chattering. All five of the teachers heard the correct answer being softly and uncertainly muttered. To give the kids a hint, Keith sat at an electric keyboard, set it as an organ, and began playing 'Toccata and Fugue In D Minor'. It jarred some memories and kids began calling out, "Bach - Baroque."

"Excellent," Derrick smiled, and quickly asked, "When did baroque music start and end?"

Knowing his brother was in the room as a guest speaker, Jonah giggled, "A couple o' years before Reyes was born." Ryan, KC, Joey and most of the class roared laughing.

"That's one dunk in the North Atlantic," Reyes sniggered. Moos erupted around the room.

Gage chuckled, "Sixteen hundred through seventeen-fifty."

Derrick smiled, "There you have four answers for the quiz at the end of the week. Baroque was the earliest form of classical music. Bach is one of the most popular Baroque composers. Baroque music started in sixteen hundred and ended in seventeen fifty."

Leaning against the upright piano, Prez reminded, "Remember to transfer your notes into the Genius application. Genius is your electronic flashcard program; it'll present you with the question and answer to help you study. You can study alone or with your friends."

Watching kids taking notes and waiting until everyone looked up, Keith said, "There are two other big composers from the Baroque period that are extra credit questions on the quiz. Remember how we work our quizzes; there will be twenty primary questions and twenty extra credit questions. All the questions are worth four points, so you can get an A plus just by exceeding a score of one hundred. Does anyone recall those two composers?"

Around the room, some kids softly rambled names. None of the five instructors heard the correct names. Mike went to the chalkboard to give them hints. As he wrote, he said, "The first composer wrote the Four Seasons, and the second wrote Messiah, which many of us know as a song heard mostly around Christmas time."

John Huth loudly called, "Handel did Messiah."

"Good job!" Mike cheered, and wrote the name on the board, chuckling, "It's spelled, H-A-N-D-E-L. George does not have a handle, so let's let the old dude lie in peace."

Glancing around the room, Troy grinned, "The composer of Four Seasons has a difficult name to remember." He went to the board and wrote a large letter V before Four Seasons. He turned around and waited for more chatter to dwindle. He reminded, "The composer's name was Antonio Vivaldi," and wrote out the name on the board.

While kids took notes, Derrick's seven-year-old brother, Chad Bunting wondered, "How're we supposed to remember that?"

Derrick answered, "Yeah, it's a rough one, bro. Instead of just memorizing, how about if you think of it as the way you form your mouth to make an F sound, like the title is Four Seasons, and you make the same mouth form for a V sound. Now you've got the first letter, and can eliminate all the other possible answers that don't start with V." Around the room, many of the youngest kids were making the F and V sounds.

Strolling around the classroom, Prez offered, "Remember, this class is music appreciation. All we're trying to teach you is that music was made many thousands of years before anyone could write it down, and when making instruments was a craft that couldn't be easily reproduced. In other words, a guy in China made something that looked like a horn, and so did another guy in Germany, and so did another guy in Egypt. None of the three could easily make duplicates of their horns, and none of them sounded anything alike. Since you come to our rehearsals, it's obvious that all of you guys like music. All of you have your favorite styles of music. But maybe some of you never heard of Bach before yesterday. Some of you liked it and some didn't, but now you've heard 'Toccata and Fugue In D Minor' and 'Air On A G String'. All that really matters in music appreciation is hearing something new and deciding for yourself if you like it or not."

Sitting down at a rack of electronic keyboards, Troy added, "Those of you who want to learn an instrument will only go as far as you really want. Maybe playing sing-a-long songs for your friends is all you'd like to do. Not every musician wants to stand on a stage before hundreds or thousands of people. This class is only opening your mind and ears to stuff you might not have heard before. With what we've already discussed and played, you can choose your favorites." Troy began playing the introduction to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. A lot of kids began shouting the composer's name and some even recalled the title. Pausing, Troy smiled, "That's probably the most identifiable piece of popular music and it's two hundred years old. Let's see a show of hands for those who heard it before yesterday."

Only about twenty hands raised, and most were teenagers. Keith nodded and asked, "Everyone who knew before yesterday that it was Beethoven and which symphony it was, put your hands down." Only one hand lowered; thirteen-year-old Gerry Mayers' hand. Keith chuckled, "Okay, lower your hands. That's all this class is about, and you've all learned a little something in a day. For the quiz, Beethoven wrote his symphony number five in 1804, two hundred years ago."

"Those are the only questions you'll see on the quiz about classical music," Mike told the class. Picking up an acoustic guitar, he continued, "We covered way more than that yesterday, only to familiarize you with Chopin, Brahms, Mozart and other famous composers. Now we can get into how we went from classical music to popular music. Basically, there were songs that we now consider folk classics." 

Mike began strumming and singing, "She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes. (Choo choo!) She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes. (Choo choo!) She'll be coming around the mountain. She'll be coming around the mountain. She'll be coming around the mountain when she comes. (Choo choo!)"

Over the giggling kids, Troy loudly chuckled, "That's a song about some new fangled invention called trains. There are six verses that repeat the same melody over and over." He quickly sang, "She'll be riding six white horses when she comes. (Whoa back!) We'll all go out to meet her when she comes. (Hi babe!) She'll be wearing red pajamas when she comes. (scratch, scratch!) She'll have to sleep with Grandma when she comes. (snore) We'll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes. (Yum yum!) We'll all play hide and seek when she comes. (Home free!)"

"There were literally hundreds of similar songs that were popular in the late eighteen hundreds like that," Prez told the class. "Folk music tells stories everyone can relate to; the story might be about a person, or a new invention, or about some fabled event."

"There was a really big problem," Keith seriously shared. "It's really hard to go from place to place with your piano in your pocket." The kids cracked up. Keith grinned, "Suddenly, during the mid to late eighteen hundreds, people wanted some instrument that was easy to play, and above all, it had to be portable. Guitars had been around in the classical world for a while, but they were generally frowned upon, and they weren't loud enough for groups around the living room fireplace."

To demonstrate, Troy picked up a gut string classical guitar and strummed the chords to 'Coming Around The Mountain'. After only a few seconds, Mike strummed his steel string acoustic guitar. Mike's guitar almost completely drowned out Troy's guitar. Acting extremely irritated, Troy stopped strumming and squinted at Mike, causing another eruption of giggles and laughter. Reaching into his pocket, Troy pulled out a harmonica and played along with Mike. Soon, they were speeding up the tempo and began improvising, trying to out-play each other. It was all an act, but one that the kids loved and laughed at. Mike and Troy finished their little folk performance and the kids applauded.

Now wearing an acoustic guitar, Prez softly finger picked, roamed around the room and took on a mysterious tone, telling the class, "So here we are, in the eighteen hundreds. Electric light was rare. Most folks still used candles and fireplaces to light their homes at night. Only the rich could afford electric lights, or a piano. Only the extremely wealthy could afford the first radios, and they primarily played classical music, news and talk shows. But there are all these catchy little tunes that people liked to sing. The first two very popular and portable instruments were the acoustic steel string guitar and the harmonica. American cowboys driving their herds of cattle now had ways to entertain themselves."

Adding a mandolin part in harmony to Prez's finger picking, Mike half-sang, "After the American Civil War, freed slaves began getting guitars and harmonicas. They weren't singing the popular folk songs though; they were making up their own music, that told of their lives as slaves. People that had the hardest lives sang with emotion about things that were important to them, on the farms, on the plantations, in the factories and in the mines."

Shaking a tambourine in time, Derrick reminded, "The people of America were making this very free and natural music called 'the blues'. Now let's add in some French Creole beliefs in the Mississippi River city of New Orleans." Using a syncopated rhythm to his melody, Troy began blowing into his saxophone. Derrick explained, "The sound traveled up and down the river with the merchant ships and the river boats. It flowed into the Southern Baptist churches and into the countrysides. The blues became spiritual praise music, and it became country music. In the last ten years of the nineteenth century, the radios once only owned by the wealthy were now in the hands of the middle class common people. By the dawn of the twentieth century, we still had radio stations playing classical music, but we also had country music stations, and we had blues stations, and spiritual praise music, and this new bouncy kind of music called jazz."

Adding a keyboard part to the guitar, mandolin, saxophone and Derrick's tambourine, Keith gently sped up the tempo, telling the class, "Jazz led to ragtime. Jazz made kids want to dance."

By this time, Keith was stationary at one side of the room. Derrick was over on another side, and Prez, Troy and Mike had each paused at different sides of the room. Keith grimaced and loudly explained, "The problem we have is how well we can hear and what we can hear. Five of us are as spread out as we can be in a class of about a hundred and eighty. So what happens when we want to play for three hundred, five hundred, or a thousand dancing kids? We're simply not loud enough." 

Slipping behind the full drum kit, Reyes began softly playing and had to shout to tell the kids, "Enter the big bands, with their huge horn sections. Usually, those bands had about six trombone players, about six or more trumpet players, a sax section of at least eight and up to twelve players, consisting of alto, tenor and baritone saxophonists, and another eight or ten clarinet players. Right now, we still have a very big problem. How many of you can hear me over the six piece band now playing?" Only about thirty kids closest to Reyes raised their hands.

Derrick, Mike, Prez and Troy walked toward the front of the room, where Keith and Reyes were. With a silent instruction to Alden, Reyes voice traveled from his subvocal and through the room's PA system. "Enter technology," Reyes explained. "The first radios used only a watt or two to amplify sounds. By the nineteen twenties, ten watt radios were common, not just for the wealthy anymore. So let's get a group of three, four or five vocalists to sing into a microphone and through a PA system of about forty or fifty watts, to keep up with the blaring big band. For comparison's sake, the PA system in the auditorium our band uses has twenty stereo amps that drive one thousand-five hundred watts each." The kids gasped. Reyes further explained, "On the left side of the auditorium are twenty full-range speaker cabinets and each of them is capable of handling seven hundred and fifty watts each. The same situation is on the right side."

Standing up, Drew told the class, "Each amp has a left side knob and a right side knob. Each goes up to twenty. For the wedding concert last week, for an audience of about four thousand, each knob on all those amps was turned up to six; that's less than a third of their maximum. Those are the full-range speakers; there are also subwoofer cabinets, that only reproduce the lowest bass tones. Those amps are larger, two thousand five hundred watts each. Less than a hundred years ago, a fifty watt PA system was a big deal." Drew sat back down again.

Not moving from where he was standing and playing guitar, Mike asked, "Hey, why should we pay forty or fifty guys in a big band if we can amplify it? Can't we reduce the size from fifty down to ten?"

"Sure we can," Reyes answered. "By the nineteen fifties, that's exactly what happened, with the introduction of the Bossa Nova latin beats. We'll keep the piano player, and the drummer, guitarist and bassist, and cut our horn section down to four or five guys, playing trombone, trumpet, tenor and baritone saxes, and maybe clarinet too. Most famous and popular for this type of smaller band was Ray Charles. For your quiz, remember Ray Charles. Now we can split five hundred bucks a night eight ways instead of fifty ways. Now, instead of making ten dollars a night, the band members are making sixty-two fifty a night. Everyone chips in two dollars and fifty cents a night to keep the PA system maintained and functioning, so we can play the next weekend, and we're still making six times as much as we did before."

The four musicians suddenly stopped playing and the lights dramatically dimmed. Over the PA system, Mrs. Diaz played a recording of Glen Miller's 'A String Of Pearls'. Half the kids jumped in their seats, and the remainder giggled at the shock. Reyes moved over to a set of congas. Derrick sat behind the drums. Pulling over an upright bass, Prez began playing along with the walking bass line. Keith added the piano part. The drum part came in from Derrick. Simultaneously, Mike strummed the jazz chords and Troy played along with the recorded baritone saxophone part. 

Since none of the boys had sheet music before them, Mrs. Diaz assumed that either they had memorized the tune or perhaps their ears were that good. At the end of the recording and the performance, Mrs. Diaz asked, "Did you boys memorize that tune?"

Almost at once, Troy and Prez admitted that they had memorized their parts. Derrick, Mike and Keith were playing by ear and improvising.

Handing a remote control to Reyes, Mrs. Diaz shared with the class, "I've been playing piano for twenty-three years and flute for twenty years, but I could not have done what your five teachers just did." She prompted, "Go ahead, Reyes."

After thanking Mrs. Diaz, Reyes activated the slide show and began his review with an old, nineteenth century photo of African-American cotton plantation workers. "The Blues started here, with ex-slaves singing in fields." Switching the photo to another picture of an extended family sitting on the porch of an old shack, Reyes said, "At the end of the day, they sang of their lives; their woes, and their joys. Notice the wash basin, the wash board and the wooden barrel that are being used as percussion. Take a good look at the old acoustic guitar. Compare it to the one my pop is holding."

"It's way smaller in the photo," Jonah quickly said.

"Exactly right, bro," Reyes grinned. "The body of the guitar works as a resonance chamber. Sound from the strings bounces into the body and back out again. During the big band days, the guitar was a part of the rhythm section. It was way in the background and could barely be heard."

The slide advanced to a young African-American man playing another guitar. Mike picked up the story, saying, "Check out this guitar. The body is much larger. The big sound hole is gone, replaced with two F shaped holes, and it has one of the first developed pickups. The man's name is Charlie Christian. He's the first guy to play what would become the electric guitar, so take note of his name. With an electronic pickup and a wire into a small amplifier, the guitar could be heard as a primary instrument in the band."

Reyes continued, "Charlie played with the Benny Goodman band. What was usually happening was, the big band would play for kids to dance to until midnight. When that show was over, some of the band members would go out to jazz clubs. In the Benny Goodman Sextet, the six man group that played until the wee hours of the morning, Charlie was a soloist, along with Benny on clarinet, Gene Krupa on drums, and the trumpet, trombone, and saxophones. Jazz is all about improvisation, so all six members of the band got to shine before the audience. Today, Charlie Christian is considered the father of the Bebop style of jazz. Charlie was born in 1916 and sadly, he died in 1942 from tuberculosis. He was only twenty-five. In the three short years that Charlie played with Benny Goodman, he left a huge mark on music. Six years later, when I was first activated in 1948, Bebop was the popular style of jazz. So, it can be said Charlie started something that he never saw become the preferred style."

All the while Reyes was speaking, Mike was setting up another demonstration. Mike explained, "Charlie played a Gibson ES-150 model guitar. That model isn't manufactured anymore, but this is a Gibson ES-175 and very much the same sort of hollow-body jazz guitar. It has two modern pickups compared to the one on Charlie's axe." He prompted, "Keith, play the basic version of Stella By Starlight, bro." After about three minutes, Keith's piano version completed and the kids applauded. Mike grinned, "Now, here's how Charlie might've played Stella By Starlight." Mike played the same song in a solo Bebop style; Mike's version lasted about as long, and all of that was improvisation on the harmony and melody. Again, the kids applauded.

When the applause diminished, Mike put the guitar on a stand, off to the side of the amplifier and said, "Here's another problem that we'll talk more about tomorrow. This little Fender Mustang amp is fifteen watts, which is much smaller than the hundred watt Marshall amp I play on stage with Platinum Habits. The amp was turned up to about three while I was playing for this class. Listen to what happens when I turn the amp up louder." Leaning over, Mike began turning up the amp's volume. In no time, the guitar began feeding back. Over the sound, Mike shouted, "That's between five and six, only a little more than half way." He turned down the volume all the way, explaining, "Acoustic and hollow body jazz guitars get that noise all the time. It's called feedback; the sound of a string vibrating bounces around inside the guitar body, and the sound from the amp vibrates the body even more, so the tone that started the process keeps ringing. Back in the days of jazz, it wasn't easy to play for a club audience of two- or three-hundred and be heard without getting that sound. Playing for an audience of a thousand dancing kids was almost impossible. We'll talk more about feedback tomorrow and Friday."

Troy took over, saying, "Another topic we'd like to discuss is popular music, or pop. We think that pop shouldn't be considered a valid genre. For three hundred years, classical music was popular, and for some people, that still is what they prefer to listen to. Then folk music was popular; then it was country, and then the blues, and then jazz, and then the big bands. As we move along in this class, you'll learn that each of those genres became popular again when rock and roll was considered pop, and when disco music was pop, and punk was pop. Today, you can turn on a radio and hear any of those genres, plus more newer styles, and all the international and interplanetary musics from Andorians, Klingons and Tesnians, to name a few. For now, just remember that historically, classical music was followed by folk, country, the blues, and jazz."

Roy asked, "Is it safe to assume all you guys prefer rock over the other styles, since that's what your band plays?"

"I wouldn't say it's a preference," Prez offered. "In my own case, I like rock and jazz, but all the styles that grew out of the blues are favorites. I also like listening to Keith playing classical piano pieces."

Derrick smiled, "As a band, we've each added our favorites to our repertoire, but at the same time, half of what we're thinking of is what the audience might like to hear. Some music we like is technically intricate, polyrhythmic and challenges us as musicians, but it couldn't be considered popular in any genre. An example might be a tune by Mahavishnu Orchestra. During last week's wedding concert and again last night, we played primarily ballads. Normally, we would play more upbeat songs and toss in ballads to break it up."

Mike said, "I'd love to play classical pieces and solo jazz guitar a lot more than we do, but in a band, I'm part of a team. I could play classical guitar for an hour, but how many of you might still be awake afterward? As much as I love the sound of a classical guitar, I also love playing solo jazz guitar, and I like to crank it up to play rock too."

"Another thing, for those of you who would like to learn an instrument, is what style you might prefer to play," Keith prompted. "There will be group lessons for all the piano players, to begin the learning process, and then there will be specialized classes to learn songs and styles. Swap piano players out for bassists, drummers, guitarists and horn players, each going through the same process I outlined for piano. That's why we're starting with music appreciation, so you have a foundation to say, I like that style."

Kaleo wondered, "Why don't you guys include occasional solo stuff in your shows?" Each of the six band members shrugged, causing most of the class to break into giggles. Kaleo sniggered, "In this class, in only two days, we've seen each of you do things we haven't seen you ever do before. Until yesterday, we had no idea that Prez could play piano. The way Troy played 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' yesterday wasn't the same as the way it was played last week."

"He plays it solo for me," Sean softly giggled.

Smirking at Sean, Kaleo and Tory chorused, "Lucky you!" and the whole class began laughing again.

Blushing and sadly shaking his head, Troy sniggered, "Why do I get the impression none of you are thinking of the song?" Everyone cracked up.

Reyes asked, "Since we have almost half the division here, plus personal security and friends, would you like to hear more solo performances by the band members?" It seemed that everyone in the room vocally agreed. Nodding and walking to the front of the classroom, Reyes asked, "Would you like to hear more than rock or rhythm and blues; maybe some jazz or classical standards?"

Cassie Cornwell reminded, "For every one song that any of us know, you dudes probably know dozens," and then quickly added, "I say, yes." Almost everyone in the class agreed, especially loud were the sons of the band members, the personal security, Joey, KC and Ryan.

Tapping his comm-badge, Reyes called, "Alden, get me a vibraphone, for here and another for the auditorium. I'll need four mallets for each location too, please." He then told the class, "Back in the jazz days, vibes were used a lot in jazz. It's really the only percussion instrument I can play that allows me to play a melody and a little harmony. I'm no Lionel Hampton, but I can manage."

Sadly shaking his head, Derrick chuckled, "Reyes, when did you learn vibes, and why didn't you say anything before?" More giggling erupted in the room.

"I started in 1952," Reyes giggled. "I didn't say anything before because Keith and Troy can get the same tones from their keyboards, and it's not really necessary in the songs Platinum Habits plays. In this class, our kids want to hear a jazz combo. If they like what they hear, we've just added several dozen standards to our repertoire."

Joey raised his hand. "Bud Weyes, even dhough keyboawds can do id, dhe weaw insdwumend sounds beddew, 'cause of hawmoninics. Dhat's what Bonzo dowd me!"

"For those who don't know, Joey's mentioned John Bonham, the drummer for Led Zeppelin," Derrick shared with the class, and then wondered, "What year did you meet Bonzo?"

"Ninedeen-sevendy," Joey answered.

"In the seventies and even part of the eighties, that was probably correct," Keith said. "However, today's synthesizers and electronic keyboards use ninety-six kilobit per second sample rates and twenty-four bit depth. It's digital instead of analog. For reference, the CDs we listen to every day are forty-four-point-one kilobits per second and sixteen bit depth. Platinum Habits also has hybrid analog-digital synthesizers on stage. There are some things that we can't easily reproduce, like certain techniques that strings and wind instruments easily do, but thanks to electronic effects, volume pedals and wah pedals, we usually manage pretty well."

Several students had curious glares and more were blinking uncertainly, but the original eighty-seven that knew of Mikyvis were widely grinning and giggling. Moving over to the upright bass, Prez decided to return to the subject, chortling, "What are we playing, Reyes?"

Humming thoughtfully while moving to stand behind the vibraphone, Reyes then suggested, "How about a medley? There's only about twenty minutes left to the school day, so let's fill the time with real jazz improvisation. We'll play 'Night And Day', 'I've Got You Under My Skin' and 'You Make Me Feel So Young'."

Playing vibes, Reyes led the band into and through each song, changing the tempo as necessary with walking bass lines. From the left side, Reyes stood at the vibraphone; then Keith sat at the upright piano, then Derrick sat at a drum kit, then Prez stood playing the upright bass, then Mike stood playing the ES-175, and lastly was Troy, alternating between saxophones and the clarinet. 

In the back of the room, Mr. Stevenson, Miss Perez and Mr. and Mrs. Taylor joined Mrs. Diaz. Once again, Jason and Trinity Taylor started dancing. This time they danced the Lindy Hop. Mrs. Diaz called for the parents of the band members to join her at the school. In pairs, Jim and Jen Hundser, Laura and Rob Gibbons, Anna and Carl Seibert, and Bill and Lanna Seaver transported into the room. Lastly, Judy Faris transported in. Troy switched from clarinet to tenor sax and to baritone sax with ease; sometimes following the melody and other times adding accents with Keith's piano chord stabs. Mike often played jazz chords, but occasionally switched to improvising the melody. For the first time in their lives, the kids in the classroom were hearing a jazz sextet playing without any sort of sound system, as if the room were an intimate night club in the 1920s.

Horacio leaned over to ask Sean, "Have you ever heard them play these songs before?"

Shaking his head, Sean replied, "Not once. The rehearsals at Archnania were a lot like this. One of them would start playing or singing some song, and then the others join in. If they decide to keep it in the band's set list, they'll iron out the rough spots."

Sonia incredulously giggled, "What rough spots?"

Sean shrugged and grinned, "You can tell, they're just having fun."

In another couple of minutes, just slightly after three in the afternoon, the band created an ending to their jam. All the adults at the rear of the room loudly applauded and so did the class of kids. Standing at the piano, Keith asked, "Would you like to hear that sort of music occasionally?" The resounding response was affirmative.

Troy chuckled, "Okay. I guess the next question would be, how often?"

A bit of chatter erupted. Before it dwindled, Sean stood. He locked eyes with Troy, suggesting, "Why not whenever you guys want? The truth is that most of your 'so-called' rehearsals are filled with songs you've already practiced, to some extent or another, anyway. You guys enjoying yourself matters to us, so mix in those kinds of tunes."

"And some of the solo stuff you did in class too," Kaleo quickly offered.

Tory nodded, "Yeah, definitely mix in solos too. I was near Lance and Scott yesterday afternoon when they asked Mike to wail. If Mike had played just one solo guitar song, they'd have been plenty happy. That little medley was as awesome as any performance in the auditorium." A lot of positive chatter erupted from the kids, parents and teachers.

"That's the way it'll be," Prez announced. "And we're past three o'clock. School's out!" With that, everyone packed their laptops, got up and started out of the room. Troy and Mike began packing their instruments. Derrick chatted with Reyes about his vibraphone experience. Prez and Keith talked with Mike and Troy about expanding their repertoire to include a little jazz and classical music.

Skylar popped into the classroom, before Mike, holding a battered old guitar case. He giggled, "This is for you, bro," and put the case down.

Mike blinked and smiled, "I can't imagine what this is." He squatted down to open the case and the rest of the band members gathered around. All six of them gasped when the case was opened. Mike looked to Skylar for explanation.

Skylar giggled, "I heard what you said earlier about Charlie's old guitar. I checked the history and learned the family gave it away, and it would've been broke beyond repair within ten years of Charlie's death."

"This guitar has been lost for over sixty years!" Mike excitedly wailed.

"Well, yeah, but it wasn't lost," Skylar giggled. "I saw Charlie on his death bed in Staten Island. When he learned it would be given away and busted, he about had a coughing hissy fit. I told him that I knew someone who would take real good care of it, so it's yours. It wasn't lost, it just took a sixty-two year leap into the future."

Derrick playfully warned, "Your afternoon is booked, Sky. I want to check out Carl Palmer's drum kit so I can reproduce it."

"I want a sixties vintage Hofner bass," Prez chuckled.

Keith grinned, "I want a seventies analog Moog synthesizer. We'll get two, so Troy has one too."

Giggling his butt off, Skylar turned to Troy. "I really don't know," Troy grinned. "I mean, we can go back and get whatever we want, so what do I get? In the last week since joining this band, I've got more access to gear than ever before. I've gone from the beat old acoustic guitar I came here with, to an awesome 12-string acoustic, and a 50th Anniversary Stratocaster, and a Les Paul Standard, and a sweet Jackson with a Floyd Rose tremolo, not to mention the harmonicas, saxes and keys. I can't even think of anything I might want that I don't already have."

"Let me know when you decide," Skylar giggled. He then took Derrick's hand and they popped out of the room. Barely two-seconds later, they returned. 

Derrick roared, "Holy shit! Nobody's even moved and we were gone for an entire afternoon!"

Skylar took Keith's hand and they disappeared. Skylar returned alone. Prez asked, "Where's Keith?"

"At the auditorium, getting the Moog's set up," Skylar smiled. Focusing on Troy, he giggled, "He got two Moog Modular 55's."

Excited to see what Keith had brought back, Troy prompted Sean, "Let's go help, Tiger."

Sean took Troy's hand and had Alden transport them to the auditorium. Derrick, Mike, Corey, Drew, Reyes and Ryan also went to the auditorium, with Charlie Christian's ES-150, intending to set up the drum kit and percussion. That's all Joey and KC needed to hear. KC went to get Fred and then the four of them would go to the auditorium.

Skylar looked up, asking, "Ready, Head Rimmer?"

Prez nodded, "You're helping us so much on your first day. Make sure you take time off, Sky."

"I already did," Skylar giggled. "Daddy said, if I wanna learn to play guitar, that's kewl, but I really should do it like you guys did, over time." He took Prez's hand and popped out of the school. They returned to the auditorium with two Hofner bass guitars; one right handed model and the other was one of Paul McCartney's left handed Hofner basses. 

The left handed model had been severely damaged during the 1965 world tour, Prez told his friends. It was beyond repair, but during the moments that Prez was sharing his visit with a living legend who didn't have a clue what he would become, Skylar had already time-regressed the splintered instrument to like new condition. Prez had Alden transport the repaired vintage bass to his townhome's master bedroom.

Oneula Beach

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 3:02PM HTZ

Meanwhile, lounging out by the Oneula Beach pool and diving well, with Erik, Travis, Chris, Jay, Lance and Scott, Reggie and Angelo could barely believe what they were told of their new Core Rimmer jobs. Since lunch time, Angelo and Reggie learned all the basics, and what had been done at Charleston AI Hospital that day. Most amazing to the two new lovers was that their relationship was considered to be equal with all the other Core Rimmer couples. Reggie softly wondered, "How can that be?"

Chris grinned, "You talked to each other and told the truth. Although Jay and I have been a couple about a year longer than Prez and Keith, they're the same as us. Given their history with Derrick and Mike, there's no way I could say anything degrading about any of 'em. The same goes for Drew and Corey, and John and Stephen. Every couple is the same in their hearts. Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike have managed what very few ever try. Becoming friends and lovers at such an early age made what they have possible."

Sadly shaking his head, Jay smirked, "John's telepathically confirmed what Erik and Trav told us at dinner last night; it took you days to follow your hearts, and once you did, you tried to share lifetimes with each other in a single day."

Scott shared with Angelo and Reggie; "Lance and I are sort o' like you guys; we knew each other for three days before acting on it. We committed in one day, so did Troy and Sean, and so did Trav and Erik, and so have you two. Last night after dinner, the six of us talked about getting married. We already know Troy and Sean are ready to marry, and so are AJ and Jerry. All you two have to do is say yes, choose a date, and you'll be married too."

"All this seems like an awful lot at first, but the idea grows and feels very right," Lance smiled.

"The simple fact is, you spent the day building on an attraction you only hoped could be," Chris explained. "You did exactly what we tried to explain to six younger boys on Monday night. Now a solid foundation is set for you to build on. All that's left is spending time together."

"We're the same as you dudes," Erik chuckled.

Angelo grinned, "Probably not exactly the same."

Lance giggled, "If you're referring to sex, I'll say that making love only intensified what I already felt for Scott. Each and every step took us from best friends, to boyfriends, to committed partners, and lastly to soul mates. I never dreamed what was already awesome could get better, but it does. We didn't learn from John exactly what you did together or when, but we did get the complete explanation of what each of you felt during all of it. That feeling is something that each and every couple experiences. Tell me if any of this sounds familiar; he knows me and loves me even more; I cried in his arms and he didn't mock me, or say a word about the tears." Angelo and Reggie smiled at one another and then nodded at Lance. Shrugging, Lance offered, "John and Stephen may be younger, but they're just like us too. The fact is, I was the one that couldn't tell Scott what I was feeling."

"You showed it, SLB," Scott smiled. He then told Angelo and Reggie, "There I am going slow, so I wouldn't freak out Lance. Then he lays a whopper of a kiss on me that pushed me back, and he kept pushing me back until the rear of my legs were against the mattress of my bed!" Angelo, Reggie, Erik, Travis, Chris and Jay cracked up.

Lance giggled, "I wanted Scott naked first, but he won the match for my clothes. Now, it's not wrestling, it's helping each other undress. That's the most awesome thing in the world! I'm not talking about touching his dick, but his hands, or arms, and just about everything other than his dick. If you haven't tried it yet, just take each other's shirts off really slow, and concentrate more on the feel of his torso than the shirt. Now I know I can touch him and he loves it as much as I do."

Reggie blushed and sniggered, "Yeah, we did that too. I never thought I'd admit that to anyone besides Angelo. You dudes don't keep much very private, huh?"

Travis shrugged, "I'm sure we've all kept plenty private; specifically, what's been said. Let's face it, that's where two people really click. What we're talking about is nothing new, but alone with Erik, it seems like everything we talk about is brand new. Everything sexual is the same."

Jay shrugged, "We're brothers, and there's nothing surprising being said. Sometimes making love is fun, other times it's romantic and slow, and sometimes it's desperate. It's all intense and another way of sharing, just like all the talking that got you there in the first place. Not to mention, since last night's post-concert chat, we're beyond all that now, Reggie."

Since Lance and Scott didn't participate and were clearly confused, Chris carefully said, "Reggie is between Lance and Darren, seven plus inches hanging, and about eight erect."

Turning wide-eyed to Reggie and then to Angelo, Lance giggled, "I'm six inches long and grow to just a little over seven. Scott's got four thick inches that grows to seven thicker inches. I don't know whether to be impressed or jealous. Talk about excessive!" Blushing intensely, Angelo and Reggie giggled. Erik, Travis, Scott and Chris evilly snickered.

"That's not excessive," Jay grinned. "Now, if you want, I can easily exaggerate a few completely awesome..."

"NO, JAY!" Chris, Lance and Scott loudly laughed. Picturing another mob shower grind-fest with all four couples, Lance lost it and cracked up.

"I guess we could go find our Head Rimmer then," Jay sniggered.

Chris told Angelo, "Tap your new sub-vocal and ask Alden where we can find the rest of our team."

Always eavesdropping, Alden waited for Angelo's call, and then giggled across eight comm-badges, "Most of the team are in the Ewa Beach auditorium. Kaleo, Tory, John and Stephen are with the kids at the playgrounds, here and at Ewa Beach. AJ and Jerry are at the Rapid Response Base, getting their phaser training."

Scott scowled, "Prez and the rest of 'em are in the auditorium, but didn't announce a rehearsal?"

"I don't think they consider it a rehearsal," Alden seriously answered. "Each of the band members went with Skylar, back in time, to get instruments that they otherwise couldn't. They're just fooling around with their new stuff."

Jumping to their feet, Scott and Lance hollered, "Transport us there now!" They vanished.

Alden giggled, "Would the rest of you like to stand, or shall I just transport you into seats at the auditorium?"

Jay grinned, "First row seating, please, Alden." Erik, Travis, Chris, Jay, Reggie and Angelo disappeared from poolside chairs to the Ewa Beach auditorium.

Of course, other kids at the pools overheard some of what was said. Starting with the quadruple Rs and their boyfriends, kids got dressed and raced across the Oneula Beach base destined for the Ewa Beach auditorium. Stan, Kenny, Jason and JD raced to the playground to gather their brothers and the little kids to bring them to Ewa Beach.

Upon arrival, Lance and Scott stood before center stage. Angelo, Reggie, Erik, Travis, Chris and Jay materialized in seats, listening to Platinum Habits playing an impromptu jam of Pink Floyd's Us And Them, with Mike singing lead vocals. Unseen up in the PA booth, Drew and Corey precisely applied delay effects to Mike's vocals. Laser lights were bouncing off the spinning mirrored ball way above them, and another set shone out from the stage to the audience like a multicolored misty array. Derrick's drum set now included double bass drums, three Roto toms, two more mounted tom-toms and additional cymbals. Troy was playing tenor sax. The PA system was turned up as loud as it had been Sunday night. 

Regardless of the Clan kids showing up, the band continued as they had planned. The growing audience applauded and cheered. Seeing lines of kids entering the auditorium, Kassidy and Matt followed them inside. The band pushed onward with Any Colour You Like, during which Troy switched to his Stratocaster. Playing his new Moog synthesizer, Keith was totally involved in what he was playing. During Brain Damage, Prez sang lead vocals, with Mike and Troy backing him up. Freaking the audience out, Keith, Derrick and Reyes sang the harmony vocals, and occasionally laughed and giggled, exactly like the recorded masterpiece. And lastly, Eclipse, completed the last four songs from 'Dark Side Of The Moon'.

During the synthesized heartbeat at the end, everyone noticed it was Derrick softly chortling, "There is no dark side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact, it's all dark."

During the applause and cheers, Keith chuckled, "We're just playing with our new toys, dudes."

"We don't care! Play more!" Chris and Jay hollered.

Scott yelled, "That was awesome!"

"It was as good as any live version I've ever heard," Lance laughed.

Troy smiled, "It's the first time Reyes and I sat in on those tunes."

Lance and Scott incredulously hollered, "You've gotta be kidding!" 

Shaking his head, Troy giggled, "Old Habits messed around with it, and I've played with the CD, and of course Reyes is familiar with it, but we've never played it together before. It needs some work still, and a few female backup vocalists."

Seeing Lance and Scott slump, Jay tapped Angelo, softly sniggering, "Lance and Scott are going to set their guitars ablaze any minute now."

Nodding, Angelo chortled, "I can foresee two fewer Core Rimmers, because they'll be awake around the clock, practicing until they drop."

Troy walked toward the drum risers to gather with the rest of the band. Stepping away from the group, Mike approached the edge of the stage with his Alhambra classical guitar. Sitting cross-legged on the stage before Scott and Lance, Mike played Dee effortlessly, and then followed that up with Mood For A Day and Spanish Fly. Kassidy and Matt took seats in the first row. Although he had been playing for years with his dad and others, Matt was spellbound. When he was done, Mike smiled, "You can play those tunes too." He stood and walked back toward the drum risers, passing the classical guitar to Prez, who took Mike's place, cross-legged on the stage before the two heavy metal headbangers.

"There's an awesome guitarist named Rik Emmett that played for a band named Triumph, from Canada, in the seventies and eighties," Prez said. "He wrote this little diddy titled Petite Etude," and began playing the piece. When finished, Prez took a deep breath, and then explained, "Another awesome guitarist is Craig Chaquico. He made his name rocking out with Jefferson Starship. He wrote this piece titled Center Of Courage (E-Lizabeth's Song)." Prez then played them the song.

Having just heard Matt playing and singing, Kassidy thought his boyfriend was as good as the Platinum Habits guitarists. Kassidy asked, "What do you think, hunky bear?"

Matt smiled, "I've got a lot to learn." Noticing Kassidy curiously tilting his head, Matt explained, "I've been practicing the songs I played for you for a couple o' years. I couldn't have played what Mike or Prez did, not without spending a long time learning the tunes and then practicing."

After watching flying fingers on both of Prez's hands, Lance softly wondered, "Why do you play bass if you can play guitar like that?"

Prez chuckled, "Because our band needed a bass guitarist. Pull the bass out of any of your favorite songs and you've lost the most important part; that goes for almost all of the blues, jazz and rock music. If you think the bass is a lesser instrument, I'll have the band prove otherwise, kewl?"

Rapidly nodding, Lance and Scott chanted, "Kewl."

Madly chuckling, "Here we go," Prez stood, turned and called to the band, "Heart Of The Sunrise."

Staring down at the two newbie Core Rimmers, Keith laughed, "What did you dudes say?"

Pulling his lover close, Scott sniggered, "Lance wanted to know why Prez plays bass if he can play guitar so well." Almost all the members of the band mooed, except Mike.

Sadly shaking his head, Mike laughed, "I play bass! Where's the groove that sets the feel for the entire song? It's in the bassist and drummer working as one. Without that, most music becomes formless noise. Three major power trios are Cream, Rush and Triumph, and all three are bass, drums and guitar." After putting the classical guitar down, Prez slipped the Rickenbacker bass over his shoulder.

Nodding, Troy sniggered at Lance and Scott, "After this song, Reyes, Keith and I will step back to take a break." He looked over to his right and suggested, "YYZ is next."

Prez, Mike and Derrick evilly grinned, "Very kewl."

Glaring down at Lance and Scott, Keith laughed, "You couldn't wait for school to start next week?"

Shaking his head, Scott grinned, "Maybe we can absorb something we need right now."

Once all the band members were in place and ready, Derrick counted off, and the band played Heart Of The Sunrise. Derrick talked Reyes into remaining on stage to play the electronic drums along with his acoustic drums. At the edge of stage right, Troy played the Hammond organ. Keith was at his rack of keyboards on stage left, and eventually sang the lead vocals. Mike remained in the back, near the drum risers. Prez stayed at forward center stage, proving himself to Lance and Scott. Prez, Reyes and Derrick started off with blindingly fast cadence. For a few moments the entire band joined in, and then the song returned to drums and bass guitar. After a three-and-a-half minute amazing introduction, Keith sang and Mike played guitar. Soon, Prez came back in with more great bass guitar. For the entire eleven and a half minute song, Lance and Scott carefully watched everything Prez played. 

Barely pausing for applause, Keith, Reyes and Troy walked off stage. Derrick counted off again to kick off YYZ. At the start of the song, Prez played bass with only his fretting hand, and used his right hand to play the keyboards at stage right. He then moved back to center stage and stood with Mike at his side. Unexpectedly, and only to prove the point, about two minutes into the song, Prez stopped playing, during one of Mike's wailing lead lines. Prez's intention was to let Lance hear what the song sounded like without the bass part. Derrick and Mike never flinched or paused. Four bars later, and smirking at Lance and Scott, Prez picked up precisely where he needed to be, playing without any issue at all.

Near the end of the song, Prez played bass and keys simultaneously once again. When he stepped back from the keyboard rack, Keith, Reyes and Troy returned to the stage. Keith went to his stage left keyboard rack and fiddled with the Moog. Reyes went to the electronic drum kit, and Troy picked up his Stratocaster. With the final notes of YYZ, the audience erupted. While they were still clapping and cheering, Keith began playing the spacey introduction to Steve Miller's Book Of Dreams, Threshold. Up in the PA booth, Drew made the synthesized sounds travel around the auditorium. Corey darkened the stage, except for the strobe light on Keith. Timed perfectly, Derrick and Reyes came in with the opening three bass drum hits of Jet Airliner. During the introduction, Prez showed off to Lance and Scott. Mike sang lead vocals, with Troy and Derrick backing him up. Spontaneously, dozens of kids rushed the stage, including Kassidy and Matt.

Making use of the new Moogs, the band then played Jungle Love, with Mike again covering the lead vocals. Lined up playing their guitars across center stage were Prez, Troy and Mike. Electro Lux Imbroglio was the next tune Keith played. They wrapped up their set with The Stake. Lance and Scott enthusiastically applauded, proving they had learned a valuable lesson.

At the end of the songs, when the audience applause and laughter had died down, Prez cutely waved bye-bye at Lance and Scott. Furiously clapping their hands, Lance and Scott disappeared from the auditorium. They reappeared, naked, ten meters above the Ewa Beach diving well, for their Core Rimmer initiation. Knowing nothing of this ritual dunking, Angelo and Reggie asked Jay where Lance and Scott went. Seconds later, the two newest Core Rimmers were naked and falling into the Oneula Beach diving well.

All the remaining Core Rimmers evilly snickered. The band members gathered around the drum risers. A few moments later, while the band members were deciding what to play next, the movie screen began lowering to the stage. Watching Lance and Scott drop, and then Angelo and Reggie, the rest of the much larger audience cracked up. Prez and Keith disappeared from the stage, but the bass guitar Prez had been wearing appeared on the guitar stand. Knowing it was Lance and Scott getting even, Derrick and Mike howled laughing. The sound was abruptly cut short when they also disappeared from the stage.

On the movie screen and over the PA, video and audio of the dunks were presented. Kids in the audience became hysterical and roared when Core Rimmers began disappearing as couples; Erik, Travis, Chris, Jay, and then Sean, Troy, Reyes and Ryan all vanished. At Ewa Beach and Oneula Beach, naked Core Rimmers fell into diving wells like rain. The next four Core Rimmers, John, Stephen, Kaleo and Tory were pulled from the audience and dropped into the wells. The last couple, Drew and Corey vanished from the PA booth, leaving Leo giggling hysterically. The last Core Rimmer dunked was Nathan Hayes, who had been manning the CIC. Without warning, the male dorm leadership vanished from the auditorium too; Tony, Ray, Craig, Phil, Owen, Horacio, Dominic and Corbin were watched by the rest of the kids as they helplessly dropped naked into the diving wells.

Not knowing how to begin turning any of the gear off, Leo left the PA booth and started walking out of the auditorium. Before getting very far, it suddenly dawned on him that the spirits of his parents were close by. Deciding to pull another prank on them, and wondering if ghosts could get wet, Leo tapped his comm-badge and ordered Alden to transport him over a well.

Ewa Beach, FYS Building

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 4:25PM HTZ

Now that all the dunks were complete, and with AJ and Jerry back from the Rapid Response Base, Prez decided to have a meeting with the entire team. With twenty-four team members, Prez chose to use one of the large conference rooms on the second floor of the FYS Building. This conference table was circular, with a small space to allow seating around the interior of the table. There was space for sixty around the table; thirty-six around the exterior of the table, and twenty-four more could sit around the interior. Before every chair, there were touch sensitive computer display screens built into the table.

Prez started the meeting with virtually the same introductory talk he had in Kaleo's and Tory's dorm room, more than a week prior. The trip to Charleston AI hospital made the importance of the job crystal clear. Everyone needed to think 'outside of the box' about things that weren't always obvious, like rescued kids needing something more from them than what was evident; like simply visiting them in hospitals. Prez got phaser training requests entered for Reyes, Chris, Jay, Erik, Travis, Lance, Scott, Angelo and Reggie. He then reminded the team that there were two more hospitals, and forty more level three kids to visit the next two days. Since the number of kids was smaller, there was no need to have the entire team present, but Prez wanted Erik, Travis, Angelo and Reggie to participate. As assumed, all the Core team members that had gone to California wanted to go to the other two hospitals. That left AJ, Jerry, Chris, Jay, Lance and Scott free to decide if they wanted to go to the hospitals on Thursday and Friday. All they needed to do was let Prez know before morning.

Starting a new Pissed Off Chickens game, Prez opened the floor to the team. Jerry immediately asked if he and AJ could be excused to find their sons. Prez's expression softened dramatically and he prompted, "Go ahead, bros. We'll catch y'all at dinner."

Once AJ and Jerry had left the room, Angelo wondered, "Why have you pulled us onto the team, Prez?"

Only glancing up from his PADD for a moment, Prez grinned, "We need the help, and you two made it clear that you can easily do the job."

Trying to ignore the sounds of exploding eggs, Drew chuckled, "Picking up a couple o' rescues is just as easy as playing with little kids. Rescues are a relatively rare part of the job. The biggest part is just being available for big brother time."

"What the kids might want varies," Corey seriously said. "It might be a little kid wanting to do something that he or she really shouldn't, like trying to lift weights at the rec center. Explaining why they're not ready for that, and then showing them what they could easily do instead, like calisthenics, is simple."

Paying little attention to Prez or the sounds of exploding eggs from his PADD, Keith offered, "Or maybe a kid just wants to play. You'll be joked with or teased, proving that all the kid really wants is to be tickled, or picked up and tossed into the pool."

Lance wondered, "What scares you about the job?"

Reggie smirked, "The California orphanages and the Hyatt."

Shaking his PADD and playing his game, Prez reminded, "The latter, or anything like it, won't ever happen again."

Derrick said, "California was one rescue operation out of at least ten. Reyes picked up three sets of kids last Friday, got them through the store and oriented, by himself. Generally, it's all common sense stuff and nothing to be worried about."

Paying more attention to Prez and the sounds emitted from the PADD, Mike grinned, "The best part of every day is the time spent with our kids, family time, which now includes everyone on this team, and our sons' boyfriends."

Slowly shaking his head, Reggie muttered, "Angelo and I just hooked up yesterday. We're not like any of you dudes. I can't help wondering if we're really as ready as you all seem to think we are."

Turning to Chris, Scott and Lance, Jay smirked and sighed, "I guess that chat we had by the pool accomplished very little." 

Stephen, Corey, Lance and Angelo uncontrollably giggled at Prez's scowling, disgusted expression. Locking eyes with Reggie, John chortled, "Do you really think that I'm being saintly alone with Stephen? Before you answer, check this out." In the blink of an eye, Reggie was alone with John on the beach, and they were both nude. Mooing through giggles, John reached for Reggie's dangling pecker.

Swatting John's hand away, Reggie cackled, "There's no way!" and took off running down the beach. Reggie laughed, "I never even saw you tap your sub-vocal. How'd you get us on the beach?"

Unexpectedly, John appeared a few meters before Reggie, reaching both hands out to grab some long meat. Slamming on the brakes and squealing, "What the fuck?" Reggie found that no matter where he turned and looked, John was there reaching for his dick.

John giggled, "Stephen hangs like you, bro. Now I have a really good idea what he'll look like in another two years. I have plenty of fun with him in real life, and in my mind, just like this, but he won't run away from me. We may be shooting blanks now, but I promise you, we're not virgins."

Reggie gasped, "We're in..."

Nodding and dropping his hands to his side, John giggled, "Now you're gettin' the idea. Everything you need to know is already in your mind, Reggie. In a couple o' hours, by morning the latest, it'll be like you subliminally learned a bunch of kewl stuff. And it all came from me, without you knowing I was doing a thing. You can do this job, and you're gonna rock at it. Do you know why?"

Answering, "Because I've got Angelo," Reggie realized he had said that in front of the entire confused team in the conference room.

Reaching his hand over to take Reggie's hand in his, Angelo giggled, "Yeah, and I've got you too, but that wasn't the answer we expected to hear."

Squinting at John, Stephen giggled, "Did you just..."

"I had to show Reggie," John innocently grinned.

Scott, Jay, Erik and Trav wondered, "What did you show Reggie?" The instant the question had been posed, the entire gathered group found themselves standing on Ewa Beach, except Prez, who remained seated in the sand playing Pissed Off Chickens, and all were nude.

John sniggered, "Who wants to go surfin'?"

Completely into the idea, everyone except Prez, John, Stephen, Drew, Corey and Keith grabbed surfboards and hit the waves. Prez was too into his game to surf, but the other four were noticing that the sand, sea and sky seemed just a little different; a little too perfect.

Noticing that Keith was about to ask the question, John grinned, "They think all I can do is play 'Toss-the-kid' and float stuff. When everyone's ready, we'll be back in the conference room." Having only just learned how to surf during the trip to an alternate Earth, Lance was amazed that he was standing on his surfboard for entire rides. A few minutes later, with his lower leg scraped and bleeding, Lance came up onto the beach. He stood behind Prez and watched the two-player game of Pissed Off Chickens. After about thirty minutes, the remainder of the team had had their fill of their second surfing excursion that day. 

Everyone was again dressed, dry and sitting around the conference room table. At the priceless expressions, especially Lance's, who was no longer bleeding, Keith, Drew, Corey, John and Stephen cracked up. Still playing his game, Prez looked up, chortling, "It felt like an hour, but only twenty-seconds has passed."

Almost everyone in the room looked at the digital clock on the wall, except Lance. "Pay attention to the wolves and your chicks!" Lance cackled.

Prez grinned, "They're not my chicks. It's Kyle's turn."

Only Derrick, Keith, John and Mike weren't surprised. The rest of the team blankly stared at Prez, causing the former four to howl laughing. Giggling his ass off, Corey wondered, "When did Kyle move into your head, Prez?"

Shrugging, Prez smirked, "I have no idea; maybe at Anahola Bay or maybe after. He didn't really make it too obvious until I started playing this game. He likes it though, so..."

The rest of the team hollered, "OH! MY! GOD!" and then cracked up laughing.

Red in the face and completely hysterical, Keith wheezed, "Meeting adjourned!" Everyone got up and staggered out of the conference room except Prez. 

Still shaking his PADD and letting Kyle play the game, Prez giggled, "I'm supposed to say that. Wait a minute, Kyle's almost finished his turn. Dudes? Hello?" In the order in which they left, Core Rimmers popped back into the conference room. Still hysterical, everyone tried leaving again. Prez evilly snickered, "It's good to have a King Mikyvis in your head."

When Kyle's turn ended, Prez allowed the team to leave. Everyone left the FYS building and went to the pools. Most of them remained there, relaxing and spending time with their Clan, until about five-thirty, when it was dinner time.

Ewa Beach, FYS Building

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 5:05PM HTZ

At the end of the business day, Jen Hundser gathered in the reception area with some of the other adults, including her husband Jim, Rob Gibbons, Anna Seibert, Bill Seaver, and Doctor Elaine Howard. She shared, "The last three days, I've been checking up on Alec Triggs. He's been at school, but he has quit the soccer team and student council. Given the history of his parents, I have a bad feeling that Alec is being told to quit his extracurricular activities. Yesterday, I considered going to the home with only Jim, but we discussed it and decided it would be best if we all went, to determine what's happening. In our little group, we have legal, police and medical experience. We can make judgement calls regarding Alec's welfare and take whatever action is necessary and appropriate."

Unexpectedly, John appeared in the reception area, dripping wet and naked, with Skyler Richardson, also naked and wet. Jen smirked at her youngest son and Jim sighed. "Oops!" John giggled, and turned to Skyler. In a blink, both boys were dry and clothed, and the wet carpet beneath them was also dried. Looking up at his mom, John giggled, "A little warning next time would be nice. Yeah, your security are trained telepaths and empaths, but I'm director of Intel for this division. It's your show, but I'm going too." He then introduced Skyler to the group of adults, and finished by saying, "Sky can make it so we can get this done and still be back in time for dinner."

Anna, Bill and Rob began softly chuckling. Jen, Jim and John called for everyone's personal security to meet at the front of the building. "What?" Skyler giggled, "Would anyone rather waste time and have a late dinner?" Seeing shaking heads, Skyler giggled, "Then let's go."

"And our security?" Anna helplessly giggled.

John cheekily grinned, "They're waiting outside for us."

Bill Seaver laughed, "They were just called!"

Sighing, John revealed, "From inside Sky's time-bubble, that we've all been in since we arrived. Not to mention, they're pros, who grabbed what they needed and Alden transported them. Sky will get us where we need to be too, so this whole process will take only a minute or so in real world time. In the meantime, Prez and all the rest of the Core Rimmers are hanging out with the majority of the Clan, at the pools and rec center. Only Stephen, Frankie and Wade know I'm gone, but none of the rest have noticed, because I don't want them to notice. When we get back and there's something definitive to report, I'll let them know." 

Finished and ready to go, John spun around and walked out the doors, with Skyler right behind him. The rest of the adults followed. Seeing John revert to a ten-year-old boy, who greeted Blake and Lucky, and then jumped into his gorilla's arms, the adults watched in silent amazement. As serious as the task was, John wasn't the least bit disturbed. From atop Lucky's shoulder, John pointed and smiled, "Doc Howard, this is Mitch and this is Bond. They're Stephen's security, but for this mission, they're protecting you."

Going to his personal security, Jim smiled, "After dinner tonight, let's gather all the parents and other available adults, to spend some normal time together."

Knowing he was just playfully jabbed, Skyler giggled, "I'll put you all in a time bubble, so two or three hours becomes more like eight or nine. You deserve it." He then looked up at his new Auntie Jen, nodded and popped the entire group of twenty-two, including himself, to the sidewalk in front of the Triggs' residence. It was a nice two-story house in a well maintained neighborhood of middle class homes.

The group took in their new surroundings for a few moments. Rob happened to notice a car rounding a corner at an incredibly slow pace. Rob then said, "Give me and my team a minute to inspect the property, Jen."

Seeing a teenage boy bouncing a basketball that seemed to be hovering in mid-air, Jen nodded, "Let us know when your ready."

Rob sniggered, "Depending on your perspective, a minute or a few milliseconds." He and his security walked around the left side of house.

With little else to do, Doc Howard waved her tricorder over Skyler. While she watched the crazy readings, Skyler made himself slowly grow to full adult size and then shrink back down to about the size of one of the four-year-old boys. Sadly shaking his head, John giggled, "You're so bad, Sky."

Returning to his normal appearance, Skyler giggled, "I got hug lessons from Peter too!" and then lunged for Doc Howard's waist.

Hugging the boy back, Doc Howard beamed, "A heckova good hugger too."

Turning to his gorilla mounted son, Jim asked, "Are you feeling anything from inside the home?"

Nodding, John answered, "Alec's up in a bedroom, laying on a bed, bored out of his mind. His parents took the TV, computer, radio, and everything that could be considered fun. There's not even a ball to toss in the air. He's got his school books to read, but nothing else." After a brief pause, John smirked, "The parents are very sad and very angry. As far as they're concerned, Alec has destroyed the family. They don't know what to do or how to deal with this new situation, so they're frustrated too."

Anna asked, "Has the boy been hit or threatened physically?"

"Not hit, but threatened," John replied. He then grinned, "Alec's given them no reason to do more than scream and yell. I can feel that Alec knows he did the right thing for Theo and Brad, so his parents can flip out all they want, and he's still pretty satisfied."

Bill wondered, "How long do the parents intend to keep this up?"

John shrugged, "Until further notice. As far as they're concerned, how they raise their children is nobody else's business. We didn't have the right to take custody of Brad or Theo." He then turned to his mother and raised his eyebrows.

Annoyed to her limit, Jen tapped her comm-badge, calling, "Rob, are we clear to enter the premises?"

"Everything seems good," Rob reported. "We're coming around the north side of the house, and we haven't even been noticed."

Looking back and up at John, who was still sitting on Lucky's shoulder, Jen said, "I want you to go get Alec. He'll recognize you."

Flashing a thumb up, John offered, "And I'll start telepathically reading him too."

Jen ordered, "Go knock on the back door, Rob. Let's separate them, to minimize trouble of any sort. Let us know when you're there and ready." She then marched to the house, up the two steps onto the porch and waited there with Tanya at her side. Glancing at his teenaged security, Jim received a nod from Barry, who then jogged up onto the porch and stood at Jennifer's left side. The remaining adults went as far as the porch steps and stopped. At the rear of the group were John, Lucky, Blake and Skyler. Jennifer dug her FYS ID from her purse.

From Jen's comm-badge, Rob said, "We're ready when you are."

"Let's do this," Jen sighed, and then knocked on the door. Rob knocked on the back door a moment later. She held her hand up to display her ID card.

From inside the home, they could hear a woman loudly saying, "Both at once! Get the back door, please, Gordon." A moment later, the door swung open. Seeing the larger group behind Jen, Barry and Tanya, Mrs. Triggs asked, "Can I help..." She then saw the name on the ID card, and shrieked, "YOU! YOU TORE MY FAMILY APART! HOW DARE YOU!" She then took a swing at Jennifer, which Tanya easily blocked, and then shoved the irate women several steps back into her home.

"The pleasure is mine," Jen flatly said, and stepped inside with Tanya and Barry. In the back of the house, a skirmish and growled obscenities could be heard.

"GET OUT!" Mrs. Triggs screamed, and again lunged at Jennifer. This time Barry blocked her and shoved her back, down onto the floor. In the rear room, the sounds of cracking and a man's grunts were heard.

Shaking her head and stepping further inside to allow everyone else in, Jennifer said, "This is a Federation Youth Services Health and Wellness inspection for the youth Alec Triggs. From what we've learned telepathically, and from this gracious greeting, you've already failed, but let's see what else we can discover, shall we?" Bill Seaver and his security went to check on Rob in the back room of the house.

Leaning over and holding Mrs. Triggs arms behind her back, Barry softly pleaded, "Please don't struggle. You'll dislocate your shoulder."

Holding a pair of handcuffs out, Tanya smirked, "It appears to be a well kept home for a happy family, but looks are often deceiving." She went behind Mrs. Triggs, squatted down and snapped the handcuffs on the woman's wrists.

Upon entering with Lucky and glancing at Mrs. Triggs, John said, "Mom, Alec is upstairs."

Jen nodded, "Go get him." John climbed down off of Lucky and then went upstairs with Blake. Glaring at Mrs. Triggs, Jen firmly assured, "If our doctor finds one welt on that boy, your sentence will be far worse than you've ever imagined." She only paused because she saw Rob and Bill coming into the room with the bound Mr. Gordon Triggs. Seeing Mr. Triggs was bleeding from his nose and mouth, Jen asked, "What happened?"

Sadly shaking his head, Rob smirked, "He tried to forcibly remove us. When that failed, he came at us with a wooden table chair. After that, it was all blurred by Rick shoving me aside and the almost simultaneous splintering of the wooden chair." He smiled at his fifteen-year-old enhanced personal security, and then softly chortled, "I've never seen anything like it. The damned chair practically exploded. If I had jumped up and down on that chair for five minutes, maybe I would've cracked a leg."

Guiding the already handcuffed Mr. Triggs onto a living room easy chair, Rick chanted the teachings of his Master Chang, "Peace has two spellings and meanings."

While telepathic scans of the two parents began in the living room, upstairs, John loudly called, "Alec?"

Alec replied, "End of the hall on the left side."

John and Blake hurried to the last door. They found sliding security bolts at the top and bottom of the door, and the knob was turned to be locked from the outside. John slid the bolts open and Blake unlocked the knob. Before the door was opened, they could hear Alec softly chortling, "I warned 'em. I said that I was expected to visit." The door swung open. They found Alec shirtless and pulling up board shorts over his boxer-briefs.

Simultaneously scanning Alec's mind, John smiled, "How're ya doin', dude?"

Somewhat surprised that it was John standing beyond the door, Alec chuckled, "Well rested, you might say," and then reached for his shirt.

"Leave your shirt off, bro," John ordered. "There's a doctor downstairs that wants to look you over."

Picking up his shirt, Alec reminded, "They've never touched us, and still haven't." He then sighed, "Neither of them can even look me in the eye anymore."

Blake blinked, "This isn't your room?"

Shaking his head, Alec replied, "It was Theo's, and already had the extra locks on the door." He pointed at the room across the hall, saying, "That's my room."

John impatiently huffed, "Dude, what if you need to go to the bathroom?"

Joining the two smaller boys in the hall, Alec shrugged, "I go when I get home, after dinner, and before they go to bed. Honestly, it hasn't been a problem. They don't want to see me, and I'm just as happy not seeing them."

Blake grimaced, "Lucky for you and them that you didn't need it more often, huh?"

Walking back down the hallway together, John spied a second door with the security bolts. He glanced at Alec and immediately knew that room had been Brad's. Shaking his head, John told Alec, "Ya know, I've been sent to my room, and grounded, but my folks never put up bolts or turned knobs around to lock us inside. That's not normal, and it's not acceptable, and I'm surprised I haven't learned about it before today."

"It's normal to us," Alec softly said.

"What if there was a fire?" Blake asked. Alec only shrugged, and led the way downstairs.

Telepathically, John was telling his mother what was found upstairs. Alec, John and Blake entered the living room. Jen Hundser was busily typing on her PADD. Alec saw his parents handcuffed, sitting in chairs, and his father had a bloody nose and lip. Blinking tears away, Alex softly said, "You couldn't just let them in, could you?"

"Don't you DARE talk to me and your father that way!" Mrs. Triggs spat. "This is all your fault!"

Alec sighed, "No mom, it never was, and I refuse to take any blame off of you."

Jen warned Mrs. Triggs, "Another word from you and I'll have your mouth taped shut. Your fifteen-year-old son has more maturity and wisdom than you and your husband combined."

"Try it!" Mrs. Triggs hissed.

Sadly shaking her head, Jen called, "Elaine, if you would, please?" Skylar gave Doctor Howard a roll of surgical tape. The woman struggled and snapped at the doctor, continuing her loud complaints. Doc Howard pulled a hypo-spray and injected Mrs. Triggs with a sedative, and then taped her mouth shut.

While that was going on, John introduced Alec to everyone in the room, concluding with Doctor Howard.

Alec was scanned by Doc Howard's tricorder and visually inspected for any sign of physical abuse. Purposefully trying to make Alec flinch, Doc Howard moved quickly through her examination. Alec never once ducked or flinched. Sitting beside his wife, Jim took the PADD, silently advising Jen on some legal ramifications of this case. When they had left the FYS Building, neither knew how bad things had been for Alec, Theo and Brad. What had begun as a simple health and wellness inspection, that might've cost the Triggs financially, or possibly cost them custody of their eldest son, was now turning into a criminal case. Finished sharing with his wife, Jim passed the PADD back to Jen and stared at John. Reading his dad's thoughts, John slumped briefly and then nodded. Completing her examination, Doc Howard cheerfully proclaimed, "You're fit as a fiddle, Alec."

Standing up, Jim said, "Let's step outside, Alec. I'll fill you in on some details." He then asked, "Elaine, why don't you come with us?"

"Thank you," Doc Howard smiled, "I could use some fresh air." She then gave Mrs. Triggs a second hypo-spray that caused the woman to sit up straight and become more aware.

Slipping his polo shirt on, Alec nodded, but asked, "What's going to happen to my folks?"

"That's a big part of what we'll be discussing," Jim assured. Wrapping an arm around the boy's shoulder, Jim led Alec to the front door, and they stepped outside. Following close behind, Doc Howard closed the door behind her. Jim and Elaine would gently break the news to Alec that his parents had been emotionally abusing their children all their lives. Although it didn't seem to be abuse to Alec, or Theo, or Brad, their parents had clearly been manipulative. In the case of the locked and bolted bedroom doors, they had unreasonably imprisoned all three boys, and at any time the imprisonments might've been life threatening.

Once the door closed, Jen stood to face Mr. and Mrs. Triggs. "When I thought of visiting this home, I honestly did not expect a pleasant welcome," Jen began. "What we have found, beyond two obnoxious adults, who mistakingly considered themselves capable parents, are eleven violations of the Safe Haven Act. 

"Violation one, from Section 10.5, conditions that have a high probability of impacting the minor; Section 10.5.1, locks on the exterior of doors preventing egress in the event of fire or emergency. Violation two, from Section 11.2, there were threats of beating. Violation three, three counts against Section 12.2, isolation of children from their peers and normal socialization. You incarcerated Brad and Theo for months, and ordered Alec to quit the soccer team and the Student Council. Violation four, three counts against Section 12.2(c), any history of actions which prevent children from being afforded the same freedoms and opportunities afforded the general populace of the same age. Brad and Theo discovering their sexuality is not grounds for punishment or imprisonment. Alec did the right thing bringing his brothers to us, whether you want to believe it or not. Violation five, three counts against Section 12.2(d), excessive depriving of normal interactions as punishment that is a result of a violation of another section of this act. Refer back to all the prior infringements. You locked your sons away! For that alone, I would castrate him and rip your ovaries out with my own hand!"

John softly called, "Mom?" As soon as Jen turned to her youngest, she immediately felt his hug and relaxed.

Much more calmly, Jen continued, "Violation six, Section 12.3, depriving children of necessary interaction with close family members without justification. Violation seven, Section 17.4, parent involved in actions which place children's physical or mental health in jeopardy. Violation eight, from Section 17.7, the failure to support children which have differing genetic makeup than what the parent wants, as in the case of Bradley and Theodore. By the way, Brad has an adorable boyfriend, and Theo has found the son of one of our core families, and both are extremely happy. Violation nine, from Section 17.15, the isolation of children from siblings. Violation ten, from Section 17.21, punishment of children for normal developmental stages. Violation eleven, three counts against Section 17.22, unreasonable incarceration, defined by Section 17.22(a), placing children in an enclosed environment which prevents them from interacting with other members of their species without local judicial involvement. All of the previously mentioned infringements have been substantiated by Section 67.1, observation by trained local officials, namely every person that has been in this room from Clan Short Pacific Rim Division has been trained, some in multiple disciplines, as Mr. Triggs has learned, quite painfully. Addition substantiation, Section 67.5, verifiable statements made by subject children. And finally, Section 67.6, testimony provided via Vulcan Mind-Meld or certified Vulcan trained telepaths. John, Barry and Tanya are all trained telepaths." 

"Fortunately, for me that is, Federation Youth Services requires an impartial judge in these situations," Jen stated before smiling the evilest smile John had ever seen cross her face. "Unfortunately, for the two of you, the violations of Article 17, Section 17.22 are serious enough to warrant a transfer to an authority which is trained to deal with such situations in an expedient manner for the safety of the children. Commander Johnny Hundser, at this time I cede jurisdiction to Family Clan Short."

Squirming where he stood, John whined, "MOM! I hated Johnny when I was five!" Anna, Bill and Rob softly chortled.

Jen giggled, "Oh, Grandma Morrison can call you Johnny, but I can't?"

Sighing loud and long, John then turned to the accused, stating, "In California, I executed four adults for crimes similar to yours. In their cases, physical abuse was also present, in some extreme cases. Only now, do I sense some fear from both of you, but neither of you believe that what you've done to your sons was too terrible. Tell me, if there had been an earthquake or fire, and any of your sons were hurt, but you couldn't get to them because of jammed locks, how would you feel then?" 

He paused to read the two adults thoughts, then sighed, "You just don't get it, do you? The fact that they weren't hurt and trapped isn't important. They're your flesh and blood. Locking them in their rooms is just as bad as if you had hit them. Since I sense no remorse in either of you, I sentence you to life imprisonment at a Level 3 Federation Penitentiary. Now I get to tell Alec, Brad and Theo that neither of you even want to say goodbye to them. In your ignorant opinions, this is all their fault. Being attracted to other guys is nobody's fault; it's simple genetics. The fact is, you tried to change who Brad and Theo are, by locking them away. Alec's not at fault either; he protected his brothers, from you! You make me sick, really nauseous."

John tapped his comm-badge, calling, "Commander Hundser to Terra Main, Starfleet Security."

The nervous and quaking voice of a young teen replied, "Sir, Cadet James Johnston here. How can I assist you?"

"At ease, Cadet," John grinned, thankful that he could grin and this would all be over soon. "Please send down a detail for two prisoners. They'll be enjoying your high security holding cells, until they reach their destinations."

Gordon Triggs repeated, "Destinations?"

"That's right," John smirked, "at level 3, men and women are separated. Your 'so called' family was over when you first locked your sons away. Since you can treat your sons so coldly and inhumanely, you get to spend the next few hours saying goodbye to each other, and then living out the remainder of your lives alone, just like you did to your three sons. The only good that came from both of you are three awesome guys. We'll take care of them, and keep them happy."

From John's comm-badge, Cadet Johnston confirmed, "The detail is to arrive at your location, Sir?"

"Yeah," John huffed, "the quicker the better." Four shafts of sparkling light appeared in the dining room, materializing two men and two women. "Excellent work, Cadet," John cheered, and pointed the detail to Mr. and Mrs. Triggs. John ordered, "Let them spend their remaining time close together, so they can talk but not touch each other, until the transports split them apart once and for all." The detail hauled Mr. and Mrs. Triggs onto their feet. John went to his mom. Jen and John waved at the couple until sparkling shafts of light vanished. John tapped his comm-badge with his free hand, calling, "Cadet Johnston?"

"Still here, Sir," the cadet formally replied. 

"Do you have a partner?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Male, by any chance?"

The cadet meekly replied, "Yes, Sir."

"At the end of your shift, your orders are to get your partner and sit between the couple that just arrived, making out together. They seem to think there's a problem with dudes like us loving one another. You can prove them wrong."

The cadet squealed, "Seriously?"

"Very seriously, on all counts. I have a husband, and those two made my stomach turn. As a matter of fact, get all your gay friends and their partners to put on a show for them. My stomach is feeling better just thinking of that."

"Yes, Sir!" Cadet Johnston cheerfully giggled.

"Commander Hundser, out."

The moment the Cadet called, "Out," John looked around and whined, "Please, not Johnny, ever again."

Anna giggled, "Does Johnny-wonny wanna pway wid his boys?"

Gritting his teeth, John cackled, "I want my husband and my sons, quickly!" He hurried to the door, flung it open and yelled, "Dad! Make them stop talking like Joey and calling me names!" All the remaining adults chortled.

Whistling innocently, Skylar looked around the house. He pulled a bag of cookies out of thin air and started munching on them. The house started to disappear one section at a time. He started with the roof, then one-by-one walls just faded away.

With a crying teenager to deal with, Jim Hundser's gears nearly stripped, hearing his N-Gen boy acting like a normal ten-year-old; an all too rare occurrence in recent days.

Holding an invisible door knob, John swung around to Skyler, laughing, "You'd better stop! Alec might want a few things before you make the house vanish!"

"I'm leaving the stuff!" Skylar giggled around a mouthful of cookie. He pointed at a shelf hanging in mid-air, with a picture floating just above it.

Sadly shaking his head, John giggled, "Get Stephen, Wade and Frankie here, please? And check with your dads to see what you can do about Alec, so he's not spending his first week on base with Doc Wiener. I suspect I might need some couch time, and I don't want competition."

Skyler phased out and back again in seconds, with Stephen, Frankie and Wade. Seeing the mostly vanished house, with various items hanging on nothing, Stephen rapidly blinked. Frankie giggled, "Hi, daddy," as if nothing were amiss, and Wade howled laughing. Skyler phased out again, and then returned near Jim, Elaine and Alec. All four phased. Moments later, all four phased in, and brought Theo, Richie, Brad and Kade with them. At least Alec had stopped crying though.

Alec led his brothers to the house. They climbed invisible steps and helped Alec gather the things he needed. Jen asked Jim, "What happened?"

Jim answered, "Skyler brought Alec, Theo and Brad to visit their parents, a few weeks in the future. They're worse in the future than they were here today. The boys know what none of us could actually teach, from their parents own filthy mouths."

"I encouraged the three boys to lay it right back on them," Elaine smiled. "They did a great job; left their mother in tears and their dad banging his head against the cell bars. They can all move on now."

"I have a question," Rob carefully offered. When everyone turned to him, Rob wondered, "We're standing on a floor that isn't here, so where is it, exactly?"

Skyler giggled, "On another Earth the homes in this neighborhood haven't been built. They're there, partially, at least until we leave."

"Ask a silly question," Rob softly muttered, and started walking for where the door used to be, with his security trailing along and quietly sniggering. 

Rick warned, "To your right," but Rob walked into an invisible wall anyway. "Don't do that," Rick giggled.

"I haven't," Rob grinned, and altered his course, feeling around for the space where the open door used to be.

Rick giggled, "I never saw a thing."

"Neither have I," Rob chuckled.

Rob made his way down the steps and out to the street. The steps and sidewalk melted away behind him, which threw Wade into a major giggling fit. Widely grinning, Frankie shared cookies with Skyler.

Jen glanced up through the invisible ceiling. Alone in his old bedroom with Kade, Brad pulled some of his old games off the invisible closet shelf. In the next room, Theo and Richie Taylor were making out in the closet. Seeing this clearly from his room, Alec laughed, "Gimme a break, bro! Now's a hell of a time to be in the closet!"

Pausing his make-out session, Theo giggled, "Can we really be considered in a closet, when the only clue it is a closet are the clothes hanging from hangers on an invisible bar?"

"Besides," Richie giggled, "neither of us have ever really been closeted. Now we can both say we at least tried it."

Alec hollered, "Uncle Jim?"


"I still get to choose whether I want to live with my brothers?"


"Is there a temporary place I could think about it?"

Jim sniggered, "With visible walls and floors too."

Alex gushed, "Sweet!"

Stephen told John, "Its like he was made to be Clan."

Ewa Beach, Dormitory 1, Room 1

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 5:08PM HTZ

John, Stephen, Wade and Frankie arrived with Alec Triggs and showed him the room that used to be Kaleo's and Tory's. Brad and Theo went over to dormitory three with their boyfriends and the stuff they had retrieved from their old house. Alec had two suitcases and a gym bag full of miscellaneous personal belongings, including awards and his soccer ball. Commenting on the room, Alec began the unpacking task. The first thing he did was roll his soccer ball to Frankie and Wade, so the two youngest boys wouldn't be too bored. John and Stephen gave Alec a brief overview of the Clan orientation. John informed Alec that he would be able to take a few days off and start school the next Monday with about a hundred and fifty other kids.

Surprising everyone, a kid with multicolored hair appeared in the room and waved. The new kid and John smiled at each other for about five-seconds, and then John chuckled, "Your brother Dylan was just here yesterday, to meet the band, Ezzy; Troy's been searching for temporal tranquilizers ever since."

Ezra giggled, "Has anyone given him one yet?"

Shaking his head, John sniggered, "Doc Andrews has no idea what Troy keeps asking him for."

"Later tonight, none of y'all will need 'em," Ezzy giggled. "Before that though, we need you and Stephen to help move a house."

Stephen whimpered, "Move a house?"

Nodding at his hubby, John returned his attention to Ezra and asked, "How far?"

"From Pennsylvania to Fort Lauderdale," Ezzy giggled, "but Peter's there to expedite the flight. Eli and Benji are there to assist with lift off. Y'all gotta do that orbiting thing again; that was way kewl to see." Again, Stephen whimpered.

John told Stephen, "We haven't seen Eli and Benji since last Thursday night. It sounds like fun, and a heck of a lot easier than holding up a forty-story tower."

Ezzy giggled, "And some of the Intel reports you've read the last couple o' days will start making sense, ya know, as much as possible, I guess."

Raising his eyebrows, John asked, "Tracy and crew are there too?"

Ezra nodded and giggled, "Yep. I'll have you back here in time for dinner. Ready?"

Signaling a pause, John squatted down to tell Frankie and Wade, "You be good and help Alec get settled, then take him over to Uncle Prez and Uncle Keith at the pools. We'll meet you poolside, before dinner, kewl?"

Wade and Frankie nodded and giggled, "Kewl, daddy," and gave John kisses on the cheek. As soon as John stood, Stephen kissed his sons and reminded them to be good.

"Ready?" Ezra confirmed. 

Taking Stephen's hand, John said, "Ready."

"Saturday, here we come!" Ezra giggled.

"SATURDAY?" Stephen incredulously hollered, and then they were gone, with Stephen's last word reverberating around the room.

Alec asked Frankie, "Do I want to know what just happened?"

Shrugging, Frankie cackled, "Do you wanna know about Mikyvis, or which Saturday they're going to? Mikyvis I can answer, but not which Saturday."

Thoughtfully humming, Alec returned to unpacking. Wade cracked up and Frankie hysterically giggled, "We got our own Mikyvis too. That's how Sky got you, Brad and Theo around."

"It was all pretty normal when we were moving around," Alec grinned, "but seeing and hearing someone else do it isn't normal at all." For the next minutes, while Alec finished his unpacking, Frankie turned the television and stereo on. Excitedly telling Alec about all the kewl stuff on base, Wade hunkered down on the floor and powered up the Playstation. Wade and Frankie played video games until Alec was done. Minutes later, the Playstation, TV and stereo were turned off, and then the two little boys led the teenager out to the pool.

Once outside, Frankie paused and looked up, telling Alec, "This is dorm one, near the townhouses and condos and the CIC." He pointed at the nearest building, saying, "That's dorm two," and continued pointing out the other two dormitories.

Alec wondered, "Where do you dudes live?"

Pointing over by dorm four, Frankie answered, "In a house with our grandmas and grandpa, and daddy and poppa, and Bruce, Dewi, Kokaku, Carmella and Rene."

Wade asked, "Where's Sky gonna live, Frankie?"

Frankie giggled, "Pretty much wherever and whenever he wants!" Wade cracked up and staggered around.

Leaning over to pick up Wade, Alec chortled, "Frankie, don't tease your little brother." He put Wade up on his shoulders.

"Think about it," Frankie giggled. "We could give him a bed in our house, and watch him lay down on it, but every time we look away, he's gone off, who knows where, and when we look back again, there he is!" Up on Alec's shoulders, Wade hysterically squealed and clapped his hands. Reaching one arm up, Alec held Wade's back so the little guy didn't fall backwards.

Since he had his little bro laughing, and Alex wondering if he was better off locked in a room, Frankie started telling tales about Archnania while they walked to the pools.

Meanwhile, John and Stephen returned from their house moving mission with a new boy. Rather than upset the newbie with several hundred new brothers and sisters gathering around, John had Ezzy deliver them to the pool house boys' room. Ezzy hugged the three of them, and then phased out, leaving some multi-colored sparkles in his wake. Immediately, John telepathically called for Nathan Hayes to join them.

"Umm... does someone have to go?" Corbin Reid grinned.

Seeing his puffed-up, out-of-control auburn hair in a mirror, Stephen gasped at his reflection, and then whimpered, "I need a hair brush."

Shaking his head, John told Corbin, "There's about two hundred kids outside. I thought it would be easier for you if we weren't surrounded." John then told Stephen, "Wet your hair in a sink or in a shower, baby." When Stephen sighed, nodded and went to a sink, John returned his attention to Corbin. "The guy we promised would look after you is on his way. He's bringing his boyfriend too, Brice Glotzbecker. We'll get you set up so you're completely safe and comfy here, dude."

Nodding, Corbin said, "Thank you." He then softly asked, "Do I have to tell... ya know, what was happening... what I was used for?"

Stepping closer to Corbin and taking him gently into his arms, John revealed, "Our first group of 87 kids were just like you. They were between four and fifteen-years-old, getting filmed and being sold to perv adults. Another group are ex-street prostitutes. Did you hear about what we did in California last Thursday?"

"Yeah," Corbin shivered, "saw it on the news."

"The level one and level two orphanage kids are here," John said. "There's nobody out there that will give you a rough time, Corbin. You'll learn soon enough that you're just another eleven-year-old dude to all the kids."

Opening the pool house door, Nathan loudly laughed, "Sorry, John!" 

A moment later, Dee ran into the boys room, with his hands already ripping open the Velcro fly on his boardies, giggling, "Nathan tried to make me go home to pee, John!" He stood at a urinal, sighed in relief, and looked over his shoulder at Corbin, giggling, "Hi! That was a close one!" Still fighting with his hair, Stephen howled laughing.

John giggled, "Corbin Reid, meet my nephew, Dee Vanderwood."

Opening the boys' room door, Nathan grinned, "Remind me to not get in Dee's way when he needs to leak."

"He about knocked us both over," Brice sniggered.

Dee laughed, "There are two major rules here; wear clothes in the dining room, and don't pee in the pools!"

Extending an arm to shake hands with Corbin, Nathan smiled, "We've been waiting a few days to meet you."

Shaking hands with Nathan, and barely believing what was said, Corbin squeaked, "Me? Really?"

Nodding, John said, "We read the reports from Intel Division. The one thing we didn't know was when you'd show up. When Dylan showed up last night, and again when Skylar showed up this morning, I thought it was about to happen then. When Ezzy popped in, I didn't even give you a thought."

Nathan introduced Brice to Corbin. When they were done, Nathan evilly grinned, "What I don't understand is, why the boys' room, John?"

"Its close to the pools," John smiled, "and no one would really care that you and Brice were going to take a whiz."

"The rec center is almost as close," Nathan smirked.

Brice giggled, "And Dee wouldn't have raced us."

John shrugged, "But there's always someone, somewhere in the rec center. There's far less traffic here, in comparison. Corbin being comfortable was high priority."

Nathan promised, "It'll all be taken care of tonight, dude." Seeing John smirking, Nathan didn't wait for the question to be posed, answering, "Skylar was here, and I asked him to check ahead a few hours."

With Dee helping with his hair, Stephen muttered, "Doesn't that take the fun out of it?"

Wrapping his arms around Nathan's waist, Brice giggled, "Use your imagination, Stephen."

Coming to an abrupt halt, Dee shouted, "You're boyfriends?"

"Since last night," Nathan chuckled, "which will also fit into the night's activities."

Corbin giggled, "Is everything in the Clan always this weird? It was Saturday, and now it's Wednesday, and I was supposed to meet Nathan first, but Dee beat him in here, and I'm still wearing only underwear!"

"As soon as you're ready, our store is the next stop," Nathan offered. 

Releasing Corbin and pointing up into a corner, John called, "Alden, say hi to Corbin."

"Hi, Corbin," Alden giggled.

John explained, "Nathan's gonna be your shadow and protector, for as long as you'd like, but Alden will always be watching everything, everywhere on all our bases. His primary job is to make each and every kid here feel safe. While Nathan and Brice get you clothes and stuff, I'm gonna talk with all the adults, especially the men. They'll see you here and there, and greet you, but you'll never be alone with one; you get to decide when you're ready to deal with grown-ups, kewl?"

"Thank you," Corbin whispered, and then sobbed, "He hurt me, over and over again, and didn't care."

Patting and rubbing Corbin's shoulder, Brice sighed, "I've been there too."

Practically shoving the hairbrush into Stephen's hand, Dee hurried over and tearfully told Corbin, "Me too. Men didn't care that I couldn't breathe, and they didn't care that it hurt more than anything else in the world could possibly hurt." He took Corbin's hand and assured, "That won't happen here, ever. My grandpa and all my grown-up uncles are really nice. You tell me when your ready, and I'll prove it. All the grown-ups here are pretty kewl, for adults, anyway."

Corbin nodded and pleaded, "Please don't cry for me."

Wiping his eyes with his free hand, Dee huffed, "I'm crying for me and you, and all us kids that were hurt like that."

Corbin seemed to stare blankly at Dee for a few moments. He then softly asked, "Ya wanna come to the store with us?"

Trying to pull himself together, Dee grinned, "If you want."

Rapidly nodding at Dee, Corbin told Nathan, "Let's go."

Nathan tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Alden, take the four of us to the store, dude." They vanished from the pool house boy's room.

Noticing John standing there looking at where everyone had been standing, Stephen called, "Hon, are you all right?"

John answered, "Just surprised with Dee. He's helped other kids and told them the same as what he told Corbin, but without tears."

Stephen smiled, "It's a good thing for Corbin though. Right off the bat, he knows us, Nathan, Brice and Dee. Between the five of us, we can introduce him and get him over the past."

"Yeah, I guess."

Immediately upon arrival in the basement store, Dee led Corbin to the shopping carts. Nathan asked, "Corbin, can you fill in some gaps in the Intel reports for me?"

"Sure," Corbin said. "Whatever I can, ya know?"

Nathan asked, "What were you told about me, and by whom?"

"Jorge told me you're unit and good at protecting kids," Corbin answered.

Dee picked up a package of plain white briefs, since that was what Corbin was wearing, and held them up for Corbin's approval. Shaking his head, Corbin frowned, "The bastard wanted me wearing white briefs. They turned him on, I think. Anything except white briefs and tank top tee shirts, Dee." He then seriously asked Nathan, "What does your unit have to do with anything?" Brice sputtered and raced away for the boys' changing room. He howled laughing before getting there.

Turning to Nathan, Dee teased, "Yeah, good question. Brice might care about your unit, but not too many of the rest of us do."

Nathan grinned, "It's not my unit, it's THE UNIT. It stands for Universal Next-Generation Infiltration Team. I'm a Lieutenant in The UNIT. But then I decided to stay here with this division."

"Decided?" Alden sputtered. "More like you were drafted!"

Giggling his ass off at Nathan's frustrated expression, Dee held up a package of colored boxer-briefs for Corbin. "Those are kewl," Corbin smiled. Seeing Dee picking up two more similar packages, Corbin scowled, "What're ya doin', Dee?"

"There's three pair in each pack, and seven days in a week," Dee explained. "Nine is enough for a week, with two extra."

Nathan nodded, "Everybody gets enough clothes for a week. That's SOP."

Not understanding and rapidly blinking, Corbin confirmed, "Soap?"

Nathan sighed, "Standard operating procedure; S.O.P., not s.o.a.p." From the direction of the boys' changing room, Brice was heard laughing and pounding on the walls.

Dee giggled, "Go put on your Mr. Fuzzy G-string and stop acting all military, Nath."

Corbin rapidly blinked at Dee and Nathan, and then softly muttered, "Mister Fuzzy what?"

Telepathically communicating with Alden, Nathan grinned, "It's a Clan perk. Everybody gets a Mr. Fuzzy puppet. Gay guys get Mr. Fuzzy G-strings, like a jock." All four phased out and back in, wearing Mr. Fuzzy puppets on their right hands and Mr. Fuzzy G-strings over their boy bits.

From the boys' changing room, Brice loudly laughed, "NATHAN!" and came running out.

Holding up his Mr. Fuzzy puppet, Dee squeaked, "We got silly last night and had a cozy cuzzy fuzzy water blaster battle."

Watching Brice come running for Nathan and the two boyfriends start racing around the store, Corbin giggled, "You're all crazy?"

"YES!" multiple AIs screamed in unison.

Dee shrugged and giggled, "We're family and know how to have fun." Leading Corbin through the store, Dee shared stories about Joel's various rescues, the luau and concert, about Anahola Bay, gorillas, G-Cats and ferrets, and the move onto the base. He continued with his adoption by Prez and Keith, two of the members of the band Platinum Habits, and the Head Rimmers, which made Corbin intensely blush. Wisely leaving it alone, Dee told Corbin about his three brothers, about Mike, Derrick and their four sons, which Dee now considered his cousins. Every now and then, Nathan and Brice would run by Dee and Corbin, reminding Dee to tell Corbin about something more or someone else. By the time Corbin had finished shopping, Brice and Nathan caught up at the checkout counters.

With the last of his new clothes packed, Corbin sheepishly asked, "Can I please shower and change into new clothes?" He quickly explained, "This stuff I'm wearing is going into the garbage. I want to have dinner looking like everybody else, and wash the last of... and feel clean for the first time in a long time."

After zipping up the suitcase and pulling it off the counter, Nathan called, "Alden, take us to dorm one's lavatory."

Upon arrival, Corbin looked around the room and then checked, "You're not leaving me alone here, right?"

"Course not," Nathan smiled. "Me and Brice will stand guard at the shower entrance."

"And I'll stay in the changing area, until you're done," Dee cheerfully offered. He took Corbin's hand and led the way, then sat on the bench.

Getting undressed, Corbin sighed, "I don't know why I'm so scared still. I know the bastard is gone, and you guys have been awesome, but I'm scared someone will walk in and freak me out. If it's a man, I'll curl up in the corner and cry."

"Don't worry," Brice assured, "we've got this room protected. No one will interrupt or see you. It's dinner time anyhow, so everyone's at the CIC. I'd be surprised if anyone came in here." Nathan picked up Corbin's underwear off the floor and then took them to the lavatory trash can.

Dee pointed up at the cameras in the changing room and then pointed out the cameras inside the shower. He softly reminded, "You're safe, from now on."

Walking into the mob shower, Corbin chose the shower head nearest to the exit, so he could quickly escape if need be. He saw the soap dispensers and asked, "Why's there an 'H' on this one, Dee?"

"For dudes with allergies," Dee answered. "If normal soap gives you a rash or makes you itchy, use the 'H' soap." He then called, "Nath, pass me the suitcase, so I can get clothes out and ready?"

Unfamiliar with everything, Corbin tried twisting the knob on the wall, but nothing happened. Frustrated that he couldn't even get the water turned on by himself, Corbin whimpered, "Dee?"

Hurrying the few steps to the shower entrance, Dee asked, "What's wrong?"

Pointing at the knob, Corbin wept, "I can't figure it out."

Taking a single step inside the shower, Dee admitted, "The first time, I couldn't either. So you don't get hit with cold water, step over to one side, and then just push it up. The water will get warm real fast. If it's too warm, push it a little to the right, so it's cooler. If it's too cold, push it a little to the left."

Corbin did as he was told and water flowed from the shower head. He reached out to feel the temperature. It soon got warmer, but not warm enough, so he pushed the knob hard to the left. Seeing steam, Corbin impatiently huffed, and locked eyes with Dee, wordlessly begging to be shown how to work the shower. 

Dee smiled, "Lemme get undressed. We're brothers anyhow." He stepped out of the shower to tell Nathan and Brice, "He needs help. Get some clothes ready." In a minute, Dee had stripped and walked back into the shower, careful to stay clear of the steaming hot water. Taking hold of the knob, Dee showed Corbin and explained, "A little bit to the right for cooler."

Seeing how easy it was, Corbin slumped and softly wept, "I'm such a dummy. He wouldn't even let me go to school the last year."

Dee sighed, "Cause he didn't want you to learn. He wanted you to just be his fuck toy, Corbin. That ain't what's gonna happen here. You're gonna be able to go to school with the rest of us. Take it slow and easy for me, okay?"

"It's always been this way for me," Corbin sobbed. "I'm no good at nothin'. That's why..."

"You're here," Dee interrupted. "I wasn't very good at school either, ya know? At the school here, I'm learning everything all over again. The teachers care that we learn, and don't hassle us when we do it wrong, they just show another way to think of it. I never got multiplication before, but just yesterday it started making sense. Ya know why?"


"Cause the teacher helped me. Cause my daddy and poppa helped me. Cause my brothers, Sammy and Gage helped me. For the first time ever, somebody cared that I learned it right. In one day, what I couldn't do became what I could do. It ain't easy yet, but I know it'll get easier with practice. I just used multiplication in the store. This is your first time using these showers. It'll be easier for you tomorrow. Tonight, everything is new, so me, Brice and Nath will show you everything. Whatever anyone needs to know, somebody here can show us." Seeing a small forced smile, Dee grinned, "Turn around. I'll wash your back and you wash the front. It's just one of the ways Clan brothers show they care."

"Really? Everybody?"

Dee nodded, "Since I got here, yep, everybody can help everybody else, any way they can." As instructed, Corbin turned around. Dee got a palm loaded with soap and started at his new friend's neck and shoulders. During the shower, Dee learned that Corbin was eleven-years-old, and Corbin learned that Dee was ten-years-old. 

Out in the lavatory, keeping guard as they had promised, Brice and Nathan grinned at each other. Prez and Keith needed to know that Dee had been fantastic with this newbie. Nathan telepathically told John everything that had been going on since the store. Seconds later, Keith and Prez knew it all too. Minutes after that, Corbin and Dee were dressed, the suitcase was transported to the Hundser's basement, and the four of them walked into the CIC dining room. 

Seeing the adult men and women chefs, Corbin clammed up. He would only whisper to Dee. Dee wasn't surprised and took care of placing Corbin's dinner order. It included a McCoy milkshake, which Dee had made a point of drinking every morning and every night. Corbin was a year younger than Nathan, but was much shorter than Nathan. Corbin was about an inch taller than Dee. Dee knew that Corbin was undernourished too and could definitely use the extra vitamins.

Already finished eating, Keith and Prez came into the kitchen chow line. Keith proudly beamed, "You've been busy, Dee."

Dee giggled, "Kind o' by accident, Daddy."

Nathan playfully corrected, "By almost having one."

Dee smirked at Nathan, and then told Corbin, "Meet my dad and pop. Prez is my poppa, and our Division Director. Dad's name is Keith, and he's assistant director." Looking up at his dad and pop, Dee smiled, "This is Corbin Reid. He's eleven, and he's like a lot of us here; his foster dad was really bad." Seeing Corbin blush and frown, Dee sighed, "Don't worry, okay? Almost all of us were just like you; that's all over now."

Prez and Keith noticed chefs waiting to pass plates to Dee and Corbin. They maneuvered to get the plates for the boys and put them down on the trays. Prez told Corbin and Dee, "You guys carry your milkshakes, we'll carry your trays out to our table."

Keith instructed, "Richie is waiting with John's family, Dee." He grinned, "There's room for Brice and Nathan's unit too." Brice sputtered but lost the battle and cracked up.

Smirking and squinting at Keith, Nathan giggled, "Great, John shared that with everybody, didn't he?"

"Only the Core Rimmers and all the telepaths," Prez chuckled. He picked up Corbin's tray, chortling, "It's early yet. By morning, everyone will be commenting on your cute unit, Nath." Dee and Brice digressed into giggling fits. Prez and Keith led the way from the kitchen and into the dining room, with Dee and Corbin following. Brice and Nathan trailed behind. The moment Nathan was seen in the dining room, he was blasted by multiple telepathic remarks. In between all that, Daileass got in a few comments.

"Adam wants to know what you're doing calling HIS unit your unit!" Daileass informed Nathan. "Logan's not happy either, since he says your unit is substandard compared to the original!"

Oneula Beach, Dining Room

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 6:27PM HTZ 

After dinner, Prez and Keith went through dimensional doors to where Neil Green and Tad Markell were sitting with Carter Rackham and Doug Zimmerman. Seeing the two leaders approaching, Tad began giggling. Widely smiling, Neil tried to make himself smaller by sliding down in his chair. Pausing near the table, Prez grinned, "And what were you two couples doing this fine day?"

"Being couples," Neil chortled. "We were kept busy Monday and yesterday, right through last night's cozy cuzzy fuzzy water blaster battle."

Carter sniggered, "The good news is that we're right across the hall from each other, but didn't hear much of anything, just televisions."

Keith teased, "More gay couples building teamwork means more future Core Rimmers."

Hearing giggling and seeing all four shaking their heads, Prez smiled, "What makes you think you can't do the job?"

Doug sighed, "We're still too small for our ages, don't you think?"

"John's ten, Corey and Stephen are eleven, and Drew's twelve," Keith offered, "but they're not too young or too small. All our sons, between five and eleven, joined us in Charleston today. Ability, height and weight don't always have to match. All it really takes is willingness."

Prez explained, "We're looking for brains, not brawn. The truth is that we're just waiting for you dudes to become involved in something, so we know where your interests are."

"Why are you telling us this?" Neil wondered.

Keith answered, "We need the help, dudes. Tomorrow and Friday we'll be gone the first half of the days again. More dorm leaders and more Core Rimmers, some of whom can be here, just makes everyone feel more secure."

"I'm still considering it," Prez revealed, "but it's highly likely that I'll leave Drew, Corey, Sean and Troy here tomorrow. Maybe Lance and Scott too, since there's twenty kids at the next hospital, we won't need the majority of the team. We know you dudes need time, but you're adjusting and mostly concentrating on what's important to you. I already know you four have what it takes, not only to be leaders, but to be fathers and married couples."

Doug gasped, "We can get married too?"

Keith nodded. Prez smiled, "It's one of many perks of the job. Think and talk about it." Neither Keith nor Prez were facing the dimensional doors, and therefore didn't see Colonel Cody Wilkins walk inside with his partner, Sheldon Lloyd. Cody quickly found where Prez and Keith were and weaved between tables across the room.

Neil sniggered, "The idea was dumped into my head before we got here, Prez. I just don't think of myself as any sort of leader, even though others think otherwise."

"Leaders don't think like leaders, until it's absolutely necessary," Keith explained. "We're brothers, first and foremost. A brother protects his younger siblings, and offers advise to those that ask for it, from the perspective of the person that asked. We weren't leaders and generally don't act like leaders. Very much like wanting to see two assholes were tied up, and then spitting in their faces." Watching Neil evilly grin and blush, Tad cracked up. Carter and Doug evilly snickered.

"Be true to yourselves," Prez reminded.

Carter said, "I think we are being truthful. We've only been here three days."

Prez smiled, "Chris, Lance, Scott, and Travis got here Friday. Jay and Erik got here Saturday morning. Monday afternoon, Alden saw how you four helped Jason Mullins. I read a note about it. You were here little more than a day and did that. Without your help, Jason might've been down in the dumps the rest of the day. Instead, he and JD are becoming a close couple and couldn't be happier."

"Lance and Scott knew each other for three days before becoming partners," Keith continued. "Erik and Trav were a case of love at first sight, as were John and Stephen, and Angelo and Reggie. The latter couple took a few days to deal with new feelings, but the results are positive. The amount of time a couple needs only depends on the couple."

Not realizing he was being watched and listened to, Prez explained, "There are going to be five active bases in this division someday. The four hundred kids we have now will become more like two thousand, and they'll need good role models. I'm thinking of way more than you four as Core Rimmers. My thoughts since day one were to fill all six townhomes at each base with Core Rimmer families. I'm considering some very special straight couples too, like Horacio and Sonia, and Craig and Felicity. They're unique circumstances, which means some agreements need to be made. We started with eight leaders for eighty-seven kids, so I'd like to keep it with that ratio, or try to do a little better than eleven-to-one. Six townhouses with a leadership couple each makes twelve Core Rimmers for three hundred and fifty kids on each base. That's nowhere near eleven-to-one; it's more like thirty-to-one, so you see the long term problem. Right now we've got twenty-four leaders and three-hundred and ninety-five kids. That ratio is about seventeen-to-one; it's still not good enough for every kid to feel cared for and secure."

Standing behind Prez, Cody Wilkins introduced himself and his partner to the teenagers at the table. Cody then explained, "Typical military protocol is a ten-to-one ratio between enlisted and officers. This is a civilian organization, but the ratio should still be as close to ten-to-one as is reasonable. That way, when the unforeseen issue crops up, it can be dealt with, and still have sufficient leadership available for the remaining troops."

Sheldon smiled, "We heard what happened this morning from the AIs. Cody figured it would cause some confusion. Since Cody hasn't had the chance to visit, and I haven't been here to meet anyone yet, tonight was the night to make the time."

Locking eyes with Cody, Prez scowled, "Ten-to-one, huh?"

"You're not military," Cody repeated, "but I'm sure you realize that there always needs to be a few leaders left here, for the Clan, when the majority have a job to do." 

"We have dorm leadership teams too," Keith reminded. "If we included dorm leaders in the calculations, we actually could come close to ten-to-one... closer than we are anyway."

Cody asked, "How many dorm leaders are there?"

"The intention is for a pair for each floor of each dorm," Prez answered. "Right now, there are ten at Ewa Beach and four here, so we're even light on dorm leaders."

Cody scowled, "What's that work out to in numbers?"

Doing the calculations in his head, Prez sniggered, "Twenty-six-to-one." Keith, Cody and Sheldon cracked up. Prez giggled, "Yes, the problem is only getting larger."

"Growing pains," Sheldon chuckled.

Cody prompted, "You'll need to address this, Prez."

"What would you suggest?" Prez asked.

"Continue what you're already doing, on a larger scale," Cody answered.

Tapping is sub-vocal, Prez called, "Alden, we'll need chairs lined up on the Oneula Beach stage for all the Core Rimmers, and connect me to the PA at both bases, bro."

Alden replied, "Go ahead, Prez."

"Attention all Rimmers and all available adults," Prez announced. "We need to have a meeting at the Oneula Beach auditorium. Everyone that isn't occupied needs to be there for this meeting. That's all for now, I'll see you there." Returning his attention to Cody, Prez asked, "Would you mind attending and being available for consultation."

"We'll be there," Cody smiled, "but you already had a clue, Prez. I'd doubt you'll need much from me, but Sheldon and I will be in front row seats, just in case."

Kids already in the Oneula Beach dining room began taking trays to the kitchen and others left for the auditorium. Kids from Ewa Beach began filing through dimensional doors and into the Oneula Beach dining room. AJ, Jerry, Kaleo, Tory, Sean and Troy gathered near Prez and Keith to find out what was going on. Drew, Corey and their sons transported to the Oneula Beach auditorium and began powering the place up.