Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Personal Log - Neil Green

Monday, November 1, 2004

School's out. Today is the third anniversary of my parents' deaths. Only three years have passed, but it seems like life times ago. Three years ago tomorrow, I was dumped in this hell hole. Nothing has been close to what it was ever since.

To prove that nothing's the same, I just had to help Tad. He's still sick and hocked up a big ol' nasty goober. Why they keep us all locked in this tiny room when one of the four of us is sick, I can't explain, other than the hope that we'll all get sick and die. Tad's breathing is strained, and it sounds like he's got a rattling freight train in his chest. If they'd just give the dude some cough medicine and a Tylenol now and then, I'd bet Tad would feel a tiny bit better. A damn cough drop would probably make him feel a little better. But no, let him struggle to even breathe, you fucking shits. Instead, Tad's all curled up on his bed, looking like he lost a fight.

Gerry just asked, "We're gonna die in this place, aren't we?"

"He's just got a cold, Ger," I softly replied.

Jessie grumbled, "Soon, we'll all have it."

Now they're arguing about who's gonna get sick and die first. I told them both to shut the fuck up, before the zoo-keepers come up here to make a bad scene worse. "We've gotta give a shit, because they sure as hell don't," I hissed at them. About once a week we've gotta go through this same shit, arguing about pointless worries. We're trapped in this room together every afternoon and night, like the only three dudes in the whole world. In the other three rooms up here there are four girls and eight younger boys, but we're not even allowed to talk to them. We've got to be quiet, or the zoo-keepers come up and pound on our doors.

Now Jessie's looking out the window. Other kids are allowed to go out, but we aren't. Other kids are allowed to have friends. All we have is each other, except for the seven or so hours we're at school, five days a week. Holidays suck the worst; they're just additional days trapped in this room. I remember when I looked forward to holidays, back in that previous life. Thanksgiving turkeys, and Christmas cookies... oh, damn, I shouldn't have done that; now my stomach's growling. At least I got smiles and giggles out of Gerry and Jessie. I think I'll do some homework, before I start eating paper out of this journal again.

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Dinner was a joke. A glass of water, a slice of bread, two teaspoons of something that resembled creamed corn, and I'm not even quite sure what the slice of meat was, it was burned so badly. They take us downstairs to eat one room at a time. I guess they know that if all sixteen of us were there at once, we could gang up on them. Given that chance, I would grab a knife and kill them both, I know I would. And I wouldn't give a damn that I had murdered them. Instead, I'm there holding up Tad. He didn't want to eat, and barely could, but one of my warning glares told him to do his best. Without food and water, his cold would only get worse. 

I couldn't bear that. Another dude was here when I arrived three years ago. He was older, and got sick, and one day he was gone, never to be seen again. I don't know where they sent him, or what happened to him. I've known Tad since day one here. Gerry, Jessie and Tad are all decent enough dudes, but being here, and forced to keep quiet, we can barely get away with whispering to each other. We're trapped. 

I had a guinea pig once that I took better care of than we're cared for. His name was Gus. Pretty original, considering I was seven when I got him. Gus was still alive when my folks died. He's probably gone too, left in his cage to starve. I'm sorry, Gus. They wouldn't even let me get my clothes, so I didn't have a choice. After I was brought here, I didn't even remember that Gus was at home for a couple o' days. With my parents gone, I guess it took me that long to even realize...

Shit! Now I'm crying.

All I have is this notebook. All I have is this... existence. I can't even call it a life. We don't even have a light in this room. I can read and write until the sun goes down. Then there's nothing better to do than lay down and sleep. Gerry and Jessie have already moved their beds to this side of the room, away from Tad's croupy coughing and sniffling.

What was that older dude's name? I wonder what happened to him. I wonder what will happen to us. They're not taking Tad away; not if I can help it. I didn't even know that older dude, but three years later I still wonder about him. Tad got here a few months before me. If they took Tad, or Gerry or Jessie away, I'd lose it. I'm beginning to think that this is their purpose; to get us weak, let us get sick, move us someplace else where things are even worse, and let us die. I hate thinking that, really I do, but when I think of that older dude, all those years ago, and hear Tad's snotting and sneezing, it makes me believe that they want us dead.

Dreams are better than reality. Sleeping is better than being awake. Tomorrow, we'll go to school again. Even there, we're separated, on the outskirts of the school population, 'those orphans', sitting at their own lunch table away from other luckier kids. What I wouldn't give to play basketball or football. I'd be happy if someone just said something nice once in a while.

The sun is almost all the way down. Tomorrow's another day; I hope to write more then. Maybe Tad will be better. Since I'll be sleeping closest to him, I'll know what's going on.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2004

I went to school this morning, but was sent home sick. I probably caught the same bug that Tad's got. Good ol' Elk Grove High; where the rich mock everyone else. Being at the bottom of the ladder, everyone dumps on us orphans. It's not my fault that I get a timed shower twice a week. I didn't pick out the rags I wear as clothes every day. If I was allowed to, I'd run an electric razor over my face, but I don't have one, and even if I did, they wouldn't let me use it. So I look like a scruffy street kid. At least I got a tuna sandwich and milk at lunch. I get it free, all us orphans get free lunches at school. The roll was a little soggy, but honestly, with my throat as sore as it is, that helped. 

To be even more truthful, I'm glad I'm here. All day yesterday, I kept thinking they're gonna take Tad away, and my last words to him were, "feel better". Pretty damned pitiful, I think, that I have to worry about who will be at the home and who won't be when I get there. If I could've run from school all the way here, I would've. Tad hasn't gotten any better. My brisk pace during the walk here didn't help me feel any better, and I know I've got a fever, but Tad is still here, so it was worth it.

One of the zoo-keepers bitched me out for getting sent home sick. I didn't say a word until I got upstairs and in our room, and those whispered words were "fuck off and die". Plain and simple. You don't give a shit about me, and the best things that could happen to us would be for both of them to just fuck off and die. Maybe if you had helped Tad get well, I wouldn't be sick. Maybe if you gave us blankets, pillows and real beds, we'd be able to rest. Instead, here's a second hand sheet and a piece of thin foam padding on the floor to sleep on. During the summer, I sleep on the wood floor because it's cooler. 

I hate hating, but ya know, I just can't help it any more. The assholes have the TV blasting too, probably purposefully to keep me awake, to keep me sicker longer, to make me go away someplace where I'll die. I wouldn't give you the satisfaction, you slimy fuckin' bastards. Even if I did die, I'd come back to haunt you; I'd point them both out to Jesus and all the Saints as the two most unworthy human beings on the planet. They'd tell me to forgive, and I'd have to say, sorry but I wouldn't be here if they had just kept us clean, fed and warm.

Whew! All that hate took a lot out of me! I can't help giggling.

I imagined having a really big sword and chopping them up. Then I got my hands on a Star Fleet phaser and tested each of the settings on them. Finally, I was sitting in the captain's chair of a starship and ordering photon torpedo attacks on their graves. My day dreams get just a tiny bit realistic.

Uh oh! My giggling woke Tad.

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So, I fell asleep and didn't wake until after Gerry and Jessie got home from school. Once again, they started bitching and whining because two of four of us are sick. Actually, Tad thinks he's feeling a bit better, but unfortunately now I'm feeling worse. So now it's Tad's turn to deal with Gerry and Jessie. He just bitched 'em both out and demanded proof that they have dicks, and if they didn't then he would kiss 'em both on the mouth and make sure he gave whatever we got to them. I laughed myself into a major coughing fit. Since I'm way tired, I'll let Tad deal, but demanded that they wake me up for whatever table scraps the zoo-keepers decide to give us for dinner.

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Ugh! So, a herd of bison have pissed in my mouth while I slept. To add insult to injury, I had dinner. If I had the strength to retch, I'd do it... on Gerry or Jessie, for being whiney little bitches.

Tad says I was having a dream before supper; a good one from the sound of it. Just to goof on me, Gerry and Jessie wondered when I learned Russian, because all the Rs and Ps sounded backwards. Squinting at them, I wished that I could recall a little of it. Damn, it hurts to write - it hurts my fingers and my eyes and my brain.

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It's one of those colds where you lean back against the wall, close your eyes and fall asleep sitting up. Balance is nonexistent when you're sick and fall asleep sitting up, I learned. I tumbled over to one side and crashed to the floor. Now my headache is twice as bad from the clunk that's still bouncing around in my brain.

My throat feels like raw hamburger. Right now, I would kill for a bowl of ice cream. Even a plain ol' ice cube would put the fire out.

Gerry and Jessie are putting Tad's fire out now. After being sick for a week, Tad's gonna drown 'em. I wish I could mess around too, but that would definitely wreck my throat. Just accepting a blow job would raise my temperature more and fry my brain. Tad's got the finest looking ass on him though, and his dick is more than six inches. I stole a plastic six-inch ruler from school so we could check each other out. Tad's dick is normally shorter than mine, but with a stiffie he's got about a half inch more than me; damn close to seven inches or maybe a little more. 

Oh damn, Tad's getting near the edge and Gerry's gonna get the reward. Which is luckier, I'm not sure. We call it our protein fix, since we sure ain't getting enough from the zoo-keepers.

I wish it didn't hurt to laugh. I knew Tad was gonna drown someone. Gerry's trying to relearn how to breathe while Jessie, Tad and I are laughing at him. The really amazing thing is that Tad's dick ain't going limp. It's still big and pointing straight out. And there goes Jessie, on his knees for the second round.

This whole situation is so fucked up. We're stuck with each other, and know each other very well, but it's like we're dealing with our limitations the best ways we can. It's love - hate relationships, I'm sure; we can be a bunch of pricks, for sure, which is evident when one of us is sick and it's only a matter of time before each of us gets sick. At the same time, we take care of each other too, in every way, which Gerry has proved, and Jessie is still proving. Later tonight, I know it'll be Tad who's closest to me. It's always the same round-robin story each time; there's Tad and I , the two fifteen-year-olds, and then there's Gerry and Jessie, who are fourteen- and thirteen-years-old, respectively.

I'm pretty sure I'm gay. Tad is pretty sure he is, and he thinks he loves me, but Gerry and Jessie can't say they are or they aren't. Really, how can any of us know for certain when we're locked away alone together sixteen hours of every day? I'd like to try sex once with a girl, just to be sure we're not faking anything. If we ever get out of this stinking shit-hole, I wonder how things will work out.

OMIGOD! Tad did it again, and now Jessie is coughing through his giggles and our combined muffled laughter. Normally, when we can get off daily, Tad's the power shooter from hell. With more than six days worth built up, he's probably going off like a cannon. And Tad just turned to me, like I have half a chance of doing him good when I can't breathe through my nose. I half-coughed and half-giggled, "When I'm feeling better, dude. I'll show the other two losers how to deal with your monster loads."

While Gerry and Jessie went off bitching and complaining, Tad sat down beside me. He leaned over and whispered, "Both times were for you, Neil. For more than that though, I'm really sorry I got you sick, dude."

Nodding understandingly, I said, "After all these years, we all knew we were bound to share the germ. Only the two little pussies over there still think bitching about it will prevent it."

More soft cussing flowed from Gerry and Jessie. Tad softly sniggered, "I gave them the germ with my sperm. They'll be sick and alone together all next school week, wishing one could help the other out, but too sick to even try." Tad peeked over into this notebook, then gave me a kiss on the cheek and evilly cackled at our other two roommates, "Your straight boy act is blown, literally!"

Now Gerry and Jessie are bitching because they know I wrote down everything that just happened. One of the zoo-keepers pounded on our door. Eight birds just flipped him off. 

Sunlight is fading fast. More tomorrow.

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Thursday, November 4, 2004


It's four in the afternoon and I've only been awake about an hour. Last night, about two o-clock in the morning, we were woke up. I was sick and pretty much out of it, but I remember enough to write some of it down.

I'm laying there, out cold, and felt someone nudging my butt. This wasn't like the normal attention-getting nudge, or Tad grinding himself against me. Grumbling because I felt like death warmed over, I tried to see what was going on. Tad was ordering me to wake up and softly warning, "They ain't taking you anywhere." That woke me up fast. Gerry, Jessie and Tad were lined up, like they were protecting me. Our room door swung open, but it wasn't the zoo-keepers - it was some sort of green-eyed army dudes!

The scary thing was the armor the dudes were wearing when they entered our room. They had night-vision goggles and didn't even look human. It scared the piss out of me! Dumbstruck, I couldn't say a word, or understand what my roommates were saying. Needless to say, my first priority was the toilet. Giggling erupted and the two armored dudes in our room took their helmets off and cleared the way to the door. It had been so long since I could freely leave our room without the zoo-keepers, I paused to ask where they were.

"Tied up to the chairs in the kitchen," one dude sniggered.

The other dude smiled, "Go pee, bro. They won't be harassing you any more."

Without delay, I waddled as quickly as I could to the bathroom us dudes used. There were two upstairs and one was for the girls, the other was for us guys. On the way, I saw some of my orphanage sisters nude, waiting their turn at the other bathroom. I saw these girls dressed every school day morning but I don't think I ever saw any of 'em naked before. 

Tad went with me and we shared the bowl, but rapidly blinked at each other, wondering just what in the hell was going on. When we finished, another taller dude was at the door. His eyes shifted down and then back up to meet our eyes. Pointing at the sink, he warmly smiled, "Wash your hands and your willies, bros. That's normal and there's no major hurry."

Doing as we were told, Tad softly asked, "Who are you?"

"Captain Rahul Hayes, strike team India, Clan Short Pacific Rim Division Detachment."

I sneezed and went into a coughing fit, spraying snot and spit all over myself. Now I needed to wash my hands and dick all over again.

Rahul scowled, "That sounds really nasty, bro. What's your name?"

"Neil Green," I wheezed.

"You'll be better real soon, Neil," Rahul assured. "We've got the best doctors on call twenty-four-by-seven. Whatever you need, you'll have. Whatever you want, you'll get."

"Something for this sore throat would be nice."

"Daileass," Rahul called, "get some of those vitamin C cough drops Momma Janet developed, with the mentholyptus decongestant."

A younger, preteen boy's voice answered, "In your lower left side storage compartment, Rahul." He then giggled, "They're in a bag and smaller than those .45 slugs, so you can tell the difference."

Smirking, Rahul teased, "Oh, they're like the size of your dick?"

"HEY!" Daileass laughed, "I may not be Joey-sized, but even in the Russian climate, I'm a fair bit larger than a cough drop!"

Pulling out a few of the cough drops, Rahul held them out to me, grinning, "One each half hour, Neil. We need you awake and able to speak for another hour or two, but after that, you're going to have a real bed to sleep off that cold."

Tad and I finished drying off, then I took the offered cough drops from Rahul's hand. Before unwrapping one, I admitted, "I've heard of Clan Short, but I didn't know they were in California."

Nodding, Tad shared, "We thought they were too far away and there were kids worse off than us for the Clan to help."

Pointing to the device in his ear, Rahul warmly smiled, "I'm getting reports as we speak. Let me tell you, this place is plenty bad and well worth our intervention. There's a lot that's classified that I can't tell you, but I can promise you that you're out of here tonight, and won't ever be back again."

I popped a cough drop and then asked, "Can I get my journals? They're the only things here that I want to keep."

"Go ahead," Rahul said, and gestured to our room. He then loudly told all the kids in the hall the same things he had just told Tad and I. 

Returning to our room, Tad and I gathered my current journal and the other two guys. We then went downstairs. Truthfully, I was really scared, being out of bed and out of our room in the middle of the night. Kids were gathering in the living room and sitting on the furniture. We weren't even allowed in the living room, and so sitting on the furniture was really bad. The littlest kids wouldn't do it and gathered on the floor in front of the sofa. I couldn't believe this was really happening, and had to see the zoo-keepers to make sure they were really tied up. 

As if they would pop out in front of me at any moment, I slowly walked into the kitchen. They were really tied up on the chairs, and were even gagged. The cough drop was working miracles. Inhaling sharply through my nose, I gathered a big ol' goober and hocked it onto Mr. Franklin's face. I gave his bitch of a wife one too. The two Clan dudes in the room broke down hysterically laughing, which pushed Tad into a giggling fit.

Returning to the living room and feeling much more secure that things were going to work out, I heard the Clan dudes in the kitchen. 

"...and he didn't even say a word!" one of them cackled.

The other giggled, "The best part is, it's running down toward their mouths! YUMMY!"

The first kid giggled, "Alden, make a note of that and tell Prez when he has the chance to hear it."

A third voice giggled, "Move closer so I can snap a photo."

Wondering why the president would give a shit that I spit on them, I took a seat on the chair and actually hoped to leave a nice skid mark on it. Tad squeezed in beside me, and then told all the kids what I just did. The two older girls groaned, but all the rest eventually giggled.

While we waited in the living room, I checked out Catherine and Jeanette, the two oldest girls in the room. They weren't bad looking at all, and I thought some about having sex with one or both of them. Nothing happened to my dick; not even a twinge or a little shift. I let my mind build on the fantasy, but John Henry was clearly disinterested. As awful as I felt earlier, and being preoccupied with writing, John Henry still got chubby from the activity in our room. That's when I noticed Tad had been watching me the whole time. At the first convenient opportunity, Tad and I needed to have a heart-to-heart.

From the kitchen, we all heard Rahul laughing, "Okay, which one of you violated the prisoners?" A chorus of denials broke free, with descriptions of me. Rahul came into the living room and stopped before the chair Tad and I were in.

"Awesome cough drops, dude," I cheekily grinned. "I feel better already."

"I'll bet you do!" Rahul laughed. Shaking his head, Rahul moved to the center of the room, where he could be easily seen and heard. "Okay," Rahul cheerfully began, "here's what's happening. Tonight, Clan Short Pacific Rim Division raided sixteen orphanages owned and operated by Zorro Communications Corporation. 

"We've rated the orphanages by number of kids present and their general health. The rating system is simple, on a scale from one through four, with each higher number being worse than the previous. This place is ranked as a level two orphanage. In a few minutes, doctors and nurses will be arriving via transporter. They'll check each of you out, and start gathering groups to bring to hospitals. Those of you who want to be kept together with your friends only need to say something to one of us, one of the medical staff, or one of the two Clan Short Pacific Rim Division leaders, who will also be here as quickly as they can.

"We've all got the picture of what things were like for you here," Rahul continued. "Those of you who have spoke are barely above whisper. That needs to change, right now. If you have anything to say or anything to ask, you need to let us hear you. Our two leaders are finishing up across town at another orphanage. They want you to talk freely and openly about everything, the same goes for the medics and for everyone on my team." Turning to Tad and I, Rahul prompted, "Tell the rest of the group about the care givers."

"They really are tied up and gagged," I clearly said.

"And they will remain tied up and gagged until every one of you are out of this house," Rahul promised. "We don't want to hear their excuses, and you sure don't need to hear anything more from them. Once all of you are gone, then your caregivers will be judged and sentenced by the two leaders coming here. You will never see them or this house ever again. You will see each other again. You will be fed, as soon as the medics take a look at you and have an idea what each of you can manage."

He paused to ask, "Are there any questions?"

Raising my hand and gaining Rahul's attention, I asked, "Why can't you feed us something?"

"Dude, I would love to get you a big bowl of chicken soup, and something for each of you," Rahul admitted. "The fact is, I'm not a doctor. What sounds like a cold to me, our team's medic thinks might be bronchitis or pneumonia. All of you are smaller than you should be and have obviously been starved, which we can see by your distended bellies. Very little food would have one or many of you puking it up. I can guarantee that you'll all be fed, once the doctors know how much they can safely feed you. And each meal will get just a little larger, so we can have you healthy again."

"How can you know what it was like for us here?" Catherine meekly asked.

Rahul answered, "I was rescued by the Clan too. We unlocked your doors. We saw how and where each of you were sleeping. We looked in closets and dressers. Your caregivers have stop-watches and timers scattered around everywhere, leading us to believe that each of you were monitored and timed for everything. All of you are naked and not one of you asked for a robe, which tells me that clothing is something you keep off and as clean as possible, because you have so little of it. Before you go back to bed tonight, you'll be able to shower, and eat without a timer. You'll have clean clothes every day."

One of the little dudes, Dwight Scott hissed, "Liar!" Stunned, everyone looked at Dwight. Dwight was also surprised, quickly got up and ran behind the couch, sure that he was going to be hit for opening his mouth.

Carefully and gently, Rahul smiled, "I know it seems too good to be true, because I was just like you. Everyone on my team was just like you too. The only way you'll know that I'm not lying is when you're fed all you can eat as often as you can manage. You'll know I'm not lying when you have a clean change of clothing for every day." Snapping his fingers and hitting upon an idea, Rahul grinned, "Daileass, a Santa sack, with toys and games for sixteen kids."

On the floor before Rahul appeared a red velvet sack. Leaning down and picking it up, Rahul went to the sofa where the majority of the kids were congregated. Soon, he was passing out dolls to little girls, and various toy trucks and cars to little boys. Every kid got something to play with. For kids that hadn't had toys or games in years, it was shocking; so much so that we didn't even know what to say. Tad and I got GameBoys. I hadn't touched a Gameboy in three years. Tad's was basketball and mine was baseball. Immediately, we turned them on and started to play.

Grinning at us, Rahul called two of his team into the living room, so he could step outside and be ready for Sean and Troy's arrival. At almost the same time Rahul was leaving, the first of the medics arrived. There were two doctors, one male and one female. Also, there were two nurses. Since they were focusing on the youngest kids first, Tad and I concentrated on our GameBoys.

I noticed Colin Townsend and Kim Brock were staring at each other's toys. Kim, a seven-year-old little girl, had a doll in a beautiful evening dress. Colin is new, a five-year-old little boy, who had a toy excavator on treads. After a few minutes of indecision, Kim got a very serious look on her face and approached Colin. She leaned in close to Colin and whispered in his ear. 

After a few moments Colin said, "Really?" She nodded and smiled at him. He got a huge smile on his face and they traded toys. He told everybody, "My mommy had dress just like this," and then tears leaked from his eyes and down his cheeks.

I was becoming worried at this point. People were not this nice; not without getting something out of it. I was sure that there was a catch to all this. I mean, it was too good to be true, but I was pretty sure that life was going to be better than it had been for the last three years. I figured I would find out soon enough what the "catch" was. Hell, maybe I would even be willing to pay the price, whatever it might be.

A tall blond boy, who was about as cute as possible walked into the house and entered the living room. He glanced around at the activity and smiled at us kids with our toys and games. "My name's Sean Moorhead," the cutie said, "I'm one of the Pacific Rim Division leaders. I guess you're all realizing things are changing. This time last week, I was an orphan too, and just like you kids." 

At the same time Sean was chattering, telling us some of the same stuff that Rahul had said, a Starfleet Doctor came up to Tad and I. He scanned Tad with a funny lookin' little box, and said Tad had an upper respiratory infection that he was still kicking. When it was my turn to stand before Doc Metzger, I was told that I had bronchitis and a fever. When he asked how I felt, I pointed to the rest of the cough drops that I had put on an end table near the chair, saying, "Better since Rahul gave me those."

"And you'll be back to normal in another day or two," Doc Metzger smiled.

Another teenage boy, even cuter than Sean, came into the living room. Sean introduced his boyfriend, Troy, and then they started whispering to each other. Sean was gesturing to a couple of us kids in the room. Nurses were starting to transport out with some of us. A male nurse beamed in and gathered me, Tad, Gerry and Jessie together. I made sure I had my journals, GameBoy and the rest of the cough drops. With a tap to his chest, the dude ordered us to be transported to Las Vegas Children's Hospital.

Going from the relatively dim lighting of the living room to the bright lights of a hospital exam room, my eyes burned and my headache painfully throbbed. The male nurse said, "You'll be put in rooms once the doctors get finished. So that I can keep you four close together, tell me who you'd like to have as a roommate for a few days."

Tad quickly wrapped an arm around me, which I found surprising. My mind ricocheted through tangents, wondering if Tad really loved me, and Gerry and Jessie softly said that they would room together. "I'll make sure you're close together," the male nurse promised. He then gestured for us to follow him to a small room off the main exam room. He turned on the lights and we saw that it was a lavatory with showers. He instructed us to take showers, specifically telling us to take our time. Focusing on me, he said, "A very warm shower is what you need. Let the steam loosen the phlegm in your chest; hack it up and spit it down the drain. You four stay in the shower until I or a doctor come and get you."

He left us. I put my journals, Gameboy and cough drops down on a shelf. We all went to the toilets and relieved ourselves. Then we went to the showers. I bathed like I haven't been able to in three years. Everything was washed twice. The next thing I know, Tad is right before me, smiling, "There's something I want you to have that I never could give you before." He then kissed me! I was sick as a dog, but the dude kissed me hard and deep! When he leaned back from me, I started giggling, which spurred on a coughing fit. I swear, it felt like my lungs were burning and all sorts of nastiness was spit down the drain.

Of course, while I was otherwise occupied, Gerry and Jessie were laughing at me, and the twisted expression Tad was obviously wearing. There he was, being all sweet and romantic, with a sick boyfriend who couldn't even say thank you, never mind the other dozens of questions flying through my mind.

We were finished with our showers, but the nurse or doctor hadn't come to get us, so we just waited there, bullshitting about the wild turn of events from the Clan rescue. Feeling cold, I remained under the warm water. There were a lot of unanswered questions lingering. What was going to happen to us in the hospital? Yeah, I was sick and Tad had been sick, but why did Gerry and Jessie need to be there? What would happen to us when we were well enough to leave the hospital? Would we get to stay together or would we be separated? All those Clan dudes said things would be better, but in what ways would it be better? What was the cost for all these better things? Could we stay together as long as we wanted? Could we split apart if that was the way things turned out?

After being so limited in our choices for so long, having so many options was brand new and really scary. Hell having more than two options was brand new. It had been only two options for so long, do what you are told or get a beating, that we really knew nothing else.

The male nurse returned at last, and this time he introduced himself. We must've been showering for at least twenty minutes. He brought us towels and hospital gowns, that Aaron, our nurse, helped us get on and tied. I started posing questions to Aaron, and he started giving us answers. After a few days in the hospital, we would be assigned to the Pacific Rim Division Clan, but that didn't mean we were being forced to remain there. At any time, anyone could decide to move to another Clan Division. If that was where we had friends, then we could move. Another choice is not what I wanted, and judging by the uncertain expressions Tad, Gerry and Jessie wore, they didn't like it either.

Next, we wanted to know why all of us needed to be in a hospital. Since I was sick, Aaron started with me. After he spoke of my bronchitis, he asked, "How old and how tall are you, Neil?"

"I'm fifteen, and about five-three, the last I heard."

"The average height for a fifteen year old male is five feet eight inches. Accordingly, you should also weigh about one hundred and forty pounds. All of you, not just you four, are malnourished. We're going to pump vitamins and minerals into you intravenously, and we're going to give you more food in the next day than any of you have had in the last week.

"We can't undo all the damage done in only a few days," Aaron continued, "but we are going to give you jump starts, so you can join the Clan and interact with other kids. I wouldn't doubt it if all your school grades have been suffering because of your weakened states. These next few days, the four of you and I will become friends. From seven at night until seven in the morning, your health and rehabilitation is my job. In the morning another male nurse will be assigned to you four. Doctors will wander in and out of your rooms, but soon you'll be calling my name as easily as you call for each other."

"What's the catch?" I wondered.

Aaron uncertainly repeated, "Catch?"

Suspiciously, Tad squinted, "The cost. What do you want from us?"

Aaron grinned, "Help me to help you get well, and then help each other get well, and lastly help each other stay well, long after you leave here. In other words, be brothers. Don't just act like you care, really give a damn about each other."

Leading the way back into the treatment room, Aaron had us lay on these funny looking tables. They were padded, better than the pads we slept on at the home. Maybe two minutes after I lay down, I was asleep. I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke, Aaron was there with three more male nurses, four doctors, and I had an IV tube in my arm. Looking around, I saw Tad, Gerry and Jessie all had IV tubes too.

Each of us were helped into wheel chairs. We were wheeled down a hall, into an elevator, down another hall through the double-doors marked 'PEDIATRIC WING' and down the hall into our room. Gerry and Jessie were wheeled into the room across the hall. Only as I was getting helped onto a nice big bed did I shout, "MY JOURNALS! AND MY GAMEBOY!"

"Are right here," Tad giggled. "Just cos you're a veg, don't mean everyone is."

I smirked, "When did you decide to get a sense of humor?"

"I'll remind you after the nurses leave," Tad giggled. The two adult male nurses mooed through their chuckles. They showed us how to use the nurse call buttons and reminded us to use them even for simple stuff, like using the bathroom in our room. Tad blinked, "Even for the bathrooms?"

"You matter to us, to every doctor and nurse here, and most of all to the boys at Pacific Rim Division," one of the nurses told us. 

The other one grinned, "There will be no tripping, falling down, or bodily damages of any sort. Rumors are already flying about your division's leader, so we're not testing him in any way."

They went to the door saying, "Good night", and one dimmed the lights. The other pulled the door a little more than halfway closed. 

Blinking tears away, I told Tad, "No one's said good night to us in years."

"If they said anything at all, it was more like, 'get out of my sight'," Tad muttered. Another minute or two passed quietly before Tad whispered, "I never thought this day would come. I thought I'd die in that home."

"I practically ran home from school," I half coughed. Once I was done coughing, I finished, "I thought they were taking you away, like they did that other older guy."

"Dave Horowitz," Tad reminded.

"Yeah," I remembered, and then asked, "What do you think happened to him?"

"Taken away to someplace worse, where he would die," Tad answered.

"We've got a chance now."

"Hopefully, a really good chance."

I sniggered, "Why did you kiss me? I'm sick, you goof!"

"Because you helped me while I was sick," Tad giggled.

"Being in a bed feels weird. Being here feels weird. I'm tired, and I'm comfortable, and I know I should sleep, but I'm afraid to."

"I know... right... Uhm... Are you crying Neil?"

I didn't respond because I was crying. I couldn't figure out what I felt right then. Things felt so right, but feeling right felt wrong. I tried to answer but all that came out was sobs and coughing. Tad started to cry as well. I guess we didn't know how to feel good anymore. Not really.

Aaron came into our room with a box of tissues, a pitcher and a stack of plastic cups. On his way to the night tables between our beds, he asked, "Why are you awake and crying?"

All I could say through my sobs and hacking was, "I don't know."

Tad was able to squeeze out a meek sounding, "Me too... Don't know."

"Too good. Don't know how." I tried again.

Nodding understandingly, Aaron poured from the pitcher into a cup which he handed to Tad. He gave me the tissues and I pulled a few to blow my nose. He then poured a cup for me. It was apple juice. I cried harder. Aaron pulled a chair between our beds.

"Guys, it's gonna be all right," Aaron softly assured. "I know you've been through hell, but this is how things are supposed to be. It's okay to feel scared and not to be comfortable with how things are." He took each of our hands in his and gave them a gentle squeeze. It was like electricity to me. I had forgotten what this had felt like. He asked, "Would you feel safer if I stayed here until you fell asleep?"

Tad and I nodded. We both reached for the tissues and blew our noses.

"I'll stay with you," Aaron softly promised. "So you know, three other nurses for the other three groups of kids are doing the same thing. We know how bizarre all this must seem to you, and expected this."

I heard Aaron sigh. He looked at me then Tad. "Let me tell you a secret, okay?" 

I just nodded. I heard "okay" from Tad. 

"I am scared too. You know, when they told us what we were being asked to do, I couldn't believe what they told us. I am so scared that I am going to screw this up and make things hard for you guys."

"Don't be scared," Tad prompted. "You've been doin' good. The shower was a little longer than we needed though."

Aaron chuckled, "You and especially Neil needed a long hot shower. If I promise not to act scared, could you guys do the same too?"

"I can act. We learned that lesson really well. Yeah, I can do that." My voice was so bitter. It surprised me a lot. I regretted how that sounded, and tried to explain myself. "I... I didn't... I mean... I'm sorry, Aaron. Sorry. Sorry." I broke down again.

Aaron assured, "It's okay, Neil. How about we drop the acting idea? Acting isn't real. So, I'm scared and you're both scared, so we're scared together. We'll deal with it and help make each other a little less scared."

Tad softly admitted, "It's been years since we've had juice. Water at the home and milk with school lunches. That's it."

"Apple juice today, and tomorrow orange juice," Aaron revealed. "There's too much acid in orange juice for your bellies right now. Tomorrow, you'll get milkshakes too, whichever flavor you like. We're hoping by Friday or Saturday, you can have soda pop."

I did not know what to say, but Tad beat me to it with, "Thanks, Aaron."

"Don't mention it, Tad. That's what we're here for. To help you get better and see to your wants and needs, within reason of course. Besides, I think you two are pretty cool young men. I am proud to know both of you."

I thought I would die right then because as soon as I opened my mouth, all that came out was a hiccup, followed by a series of hiccup/coughs as I blew phlegm all over Aaron.

Grabbing the box of tissues to wipe up some of the mess I made, Aaron snickered, "Share and share alike, huh, Neil? I guess this shirt is laundry now." Tad howled laughing at my blush and Aaron's remarks. Extremely embarrassed, I slid down the bed and pulled the sheet over my head. I could feel Aaron picking up all the used tissues on my bed. What kind of person gets coughed and spit on, but then picks up more snotty tissues?

Honestly, for a moment, I thought Aaron was going to hit me, but he didn't. Mr. Franklin definitely would have beaten my ass for that. I did not know what to think at this point. I was sure I was going to wake back up in the home. Tad would be gone, and Mr. Franklin would be screaming at us, as usual. I peaked out from under the blanket and saw Aaron cleaning himself off. He was still chuckling. I thought that he must be nuts. I mean, Jeez, who thinks it's funny to have snot blown all over you? I don't think I've ever been so embarrassed in my life.

Rolling around his bed, completely hysterical, Tad almost rolled right off and onto the floor. Aaron sniggered, "You think it's so funny, you can have some," and tossed some used tissues at him. Tad tossed them back, but never stopped laughing. Tissues got tossed at me, which I rapidly threw back at Tad. In moments, we were having a used tissue battle.

The more we played, the more I coughed and laughed. Yes, Aaron is insane, I finally recognized. The twenty-something-year-old man, whom I had hacked half a lung onto, was playing the gross game of snot rag warfare with us. I don't think I've ever laughed so much and for so long. We finished the game with Aaron holding the waste can, so we could bounce used tissues off him and into the trash.

I had coughed, giggled and laughed myself to exhaustion. With all the tissues cleaned up, Aaron returned to the chair between the beds. Tad giggled. Turning my face into the pillow, I sputtered, laughed and coughed. Aaron evilly snickered. Sometime before five in the morning, I crashed hard, and stayed asleep until about three in the afternoon.

Sounds from the television woke me, but I still didn't open my eyes. The smell of food being brought into the room made me open my eyes. Yes, I was still in the same hospital room, with Tad in the bed closest to the windows, chowing down on something that smelled so good, my first words were, "Where's mine?"

"Ten hours later," Tad grinned, and gestured to me, telling the man near his bed, "Mario, that's Neil Van Winkle, my boyfriend." Turning to me, Tad said, "Neil, this is Mario Hines, our day nurse. Since ten this morning, I've had breakfast, pre-lunch, lunch, and now pre-dinner. The best part is, every meal gets a little larger, and somehow, a little better than the last."

By this time, Mario had walked around Tad's bed to mine, he shook my hand and asked, "How're you feeling?"

I answered, "Besides hungry, I'm feeling pretty good, and really happy last night wasn't a dream."

Around a mouthful of food, Tad mumbled and giggled, "That means he probably won't hock goobers all over you, Mario."

"I'm glad to hear it," Mario chuckled. 

"Oh God! Please tell me that you didn't tell him about... Oh God!" I said and pulled the blanket over my head again.

Tapping gently on my blanket, Mario asked, "Let me get you into the bathroom. While you shower and take care of necessities, I'll get you your first meal... and Tad's fifth, sixth and seventh meals. Maybe I'll just wheel in a mini-kitchen complete with chef for you two; it would be less walking back and forth, anyway." When I peeked out from under the blanket, Mario smiled, "Come on, Neil. There are towels and clean gowns in the bathroom."

"I just showered when we got here," I softly reminded.

"A shower a day, especially for kids with bronchitis," Mario prodded. 

"Don' wanna come out. Uh Uhhh!"

"Then we can run a tube into your belly and give you the food in a mushed up, bland soup that you really won't enjoy."

I gave up. I was not really happy about it though. "Fine," was all I would say as I got up. I wasn't angry, but I was upset and embarrassed. I just figured it was better than where I had been.

"Kewl, buddy," Mario smiled, and he took my arm, helping me out of bed. Leading me and my IV rack to the toilet, Mario asked, "Waffles and sausage, or bacon and eggs, Neil?"

I thought about it, couldn't decide, and smirked, "Eggs, waffles, bacon and sausage sounds good." Tad burst into loud giggles.

"Another one," Mario grinned. "Let's make this easier on everyone, and just wheel your beds down to the cafeteria."

"No argument here!" Tad cheered.

Mario glanced at me. I chortled, "As long as my gown fits the dress code, why not?"

"I figured as much," Mario sniggered. Releasing my arm and putting my hand on the IV rack, Mario paused at the bathroom door and explained, "There's about six feet of tubing, and the gowns have snaps on the sleeves, so you can get it together without pulling the needle out."

Nodding, I assured, "No problem."

Saying, "I'll be back with the grub," Mario left me at the bathroom doorway. 

I rolled the IV rack in with me and closed the door. In no time, I had the gown off. Standing there before the throne peeing, I saw bright yellow pee. It had been years since my piss was this color. Considering that I felt like warmed over death the prior afternoon, but now I felt way better, I wondered what the heck was in the sacks that led to my IV. I tried reading the print, but didn't know what any of the ten syllable words meant. All that seemed to remain of my killer cold was some sinus and chest congestion.

It took Tad a week to get over the cold, but I was doing good in under day. At first I thought, okay, they said things would be better, and this was part of the proof. I also remembered spitting on the zoo-keepers, and wish I had puked, pissed and shit on them, because the IVs and one night's rest had me on the mend. I hadn't even had a real meal yet. As far as I was concerned, Tad was sicker longer because of the worthless meals and rotten sleeping condition at the home.

I took a nice long shower and emptied my sinuses, but not much came out of my lungs. There was still a little rattle and tickle in there, I could feel it. Drying off, I caught my own reflection in the mirror on the door. So that's what a malnourished fifteen-year-old looks like, I thought. In my opinion, the worst part was the patches of hair on my face, but I could also see that my legs and arms had less muscle than most kids at our school. All this needed to change today; I needed to shave and I wanted to see some average teenaged dudes to compare myself to. 

While taking off the old gown was easy, getting the clean one on was a struggle, because it kept slipping down and off me. While I snapped the sleeve on one side, the other side was practically down on the floor. After a couple of minutes of muttered obscenities, both sleeves were snapped, but tying the back closed was a pointless effort. I walked out of the bathroom telling Tad, "Dude, tie the back of this thing before I have a fit, tear it into pieces and say fuck it."

Beginning to giggle before I reached his bed, Tad softly shared, "Tying it for you will give me a fit, and both our things will be stiff."

Sadly shaking my head, and exposing my rear so he could tie the gown, I asked, "You really want to be boyfriends?"

"Yeah," Tad quickly admitted. "Looking at Catherine last night didn't make my dick hard, it made it shrivel and try to hide."

"She caused no response from me either." I pointed up at the TV asking, "What channel is that?"

Finished tying my gown, Tad groped my butt for a long couple o'moments, giggling, "It's not a regular channel. While you slept, me and a bunch of kids wanted to know who rescued us, and where we'd be living. That's the auditorium at Ewa Beach, Hawaii. If you look closer, you'll recognize Troy playing guitar up there. Our leaders have their own band, and that's them, playing for the level one orphanage kids and the rest of their Clan. This video and audio feed is what I've been watching for a couple o' hours now."

Drinking in the show, with lots of stage lights and active band members having fun, I muttered, "They're a good band." Then I faced Tad to ask, "Don't you want someone that wasn't an orphan; ya know, a little more normal?"

Tad sighed, "Yeah, that might be a good idea, but the truth is, it's already too late for me to choose anyone else. You and I have been best friends since day one... your first day there. Gerry and Jessie can finish me off, just like you, but when they're done, they don't look at me the same way you do. When it's only you and me making love, the real answer is in your eyes and in the way we talk right after we're done. We started messin' around because it was fun and simple. Now it's even more fun and far less simple, Neil. I patted your butt because I wanted to, dude. It wasn't just convenient, and it wasn't just me being silly, it was me touching you because I really wanted to. If Mario wasn't due back any moment, I'd be on my knees for you."

Nodding, I smiled, "All I can say is, let's try it for real, ya know, now that we're out of the home. I'm still wondering, will it be the same as the home, or better, or worse? If it's the same or better, for both of us, then yeah, our decision is made. That was clear to me when I ran home yesterday. Thinking the zoo-keepers would take you away scared the hell out of me."

"I know," Tad brightly smiled. "As soon as you told me that, I was thinking the same way; what if I went to school today, came back to the home, and found you weren't there. The answer was, I'd start crying and never really stop. For months and years, I'd cry every time I thought of you. We can be boyfriends here and there at Ewa Beach too, Neil. The entire leadership team are married gay couples. Mario showed me a photo of him with his boyfriend."

I smirked, "What else did I sleep through?"

Shrugging, Tad pointed at the screen, giggling, "I saw the first groups of orphans from last night's raids arriving at the cafeteria. Our school cafeteria was small compared to that place. Some kid named Alden introduced me to our leaders by name. They went to the auditorium, and I saw them walking there. What little I've seen is really nice." Tad paused and then loudly called, "Hey Alden!"

A new boy's voice came from the TV and speakers in the ceiling, answering, "Yes, Tad?"

"Introduce Neil to the leaders," Tad prompted. He then scooted over and patted the mattress, telling me, "Right here is where you belong."

I climbed up onto Tad's bed, watched the television, and Alden began introducing me to the dudes on stage. When he had gone through all six on stage, three in the audience, two younger dudes in an equipment room and two more that were elsewhere, I turned to Tad. "They're all cute, but you want me?"

Rapidly nodding, Tad giggled, "They're married couples already. Even if they weren't married, I'd want you. I've had time awake to imagine stuff that you haven't. Try this out, Neil; picture us, about six months from now, living there, healthier, heavier and taller. We're just like those kids. Nobody will mock us for being orphans, because they are too. Everything we had to deal with yesterday is gone, never to be dealt with again. As soon as we get out of this hospital, we'll be there with them, in the Republic Of Hawaii. Just thinking about it makes me shiver."

Walking into the room with two big covered trays, Mario wondered, "Who's cold and shivering?"

Tad laughed and pointed at the screen, admitting, "Us going there is making me shiver, dude."

Mario smiled, "First you get well. So far as I've heard, the doctors are thinking all you guys will be there early next week. If you get better faster, they'll adjust the schedule, so you've got some work to do." Tad pulled over the bed table and Mario put the trays he was carrying onto my bed table and rolled it over to us. 

Separating the trays onto the bedside tables before Tad and I, Mario asked, "Did Tad tell you what to expect?" Tad shook his head and giggled. Mario chuckled, "Your digestive system is going to freak out with good food to process. Expect bellyaches, constipation, gastritis and then diarrhea, but if you're feeling nausea, stop eating and tell me. The goal for these next few days is to eat as much as you can and as often as you can without feeling nauseous. I was kidding before, Neil. The more food you want, the happier I will be, and the happier all the doctors will be. Food is energy. Energy is strength to walk around and do the physical therapy we'd like all you kids to do before going to Ewa Beach."

Before me were three plates; one had scrambled eggs, another had a big waffle, and the last had slices of bacon and sausage patties. There was a glass of apple juice and a glass of milk. I hadn't seen this much food at once in so long, I had to giggle like a kid on Christmas. Tad cracked up. Mario smiled, "Dig in, guys."

There was a time when I wouldn't touch eggs, no matter how they were cooked, but this time, I ate all the eggs, and then picked on the bacon slices while buttering my waffle. Tad started giggling at me when I dumped all the maple syrup and all the boysenberry syrup on my waffle. I stole his corn muffin, righteously smirking, "The price for goofing on me."

Standing at the window, Mario looked over the city, with his shoulders bouncing, obviously from a held in laugh.

While I pigged out, the concert at Ewa Beach played on the TV. The music was okay, mostly stuff I'd never heard, or couldn't recall ever hearing before, but the band seemed to be having a really good time. The funniest part was Troy singing a song and getting really suggestive with his hands and body movements. Two songs later, the band members were gathered around the drums, and they all cracked up. Troy took off like a rabbit, down the stairs and into the audience. We saw him and Sean racing out of the auditorium like their shorts were on fire. I grinned at Tad. Tad bounced his blond eyebrows at me. 

I wasn't half way through my waffle and felt my stomach complaining. Slowing down, I said something about it to Tad. "The same thing happened to me," Tad admitted. "Just eat slower, maybe drink a little milk."

Turning to face us, Mario reminded, "Your bellies aren't used to it. Like Tad said, get used to eating slower. Next you'll get a milkshake, like Tad did three meals ago."

"Before I could even finish it, I jumped out of bed and flew into the bathroom," Tad sniggered. "All that effort to piss and fart."

Doctor Metzger came in the room, smiling, "A healthy appetite is a sure sign my bronchitis patient is feeling better."

I softly admitted, "Just a little congestion still, Doc."

"Take extra hot showers, as hot as you can stand it, and lean forward while coughing," Doctor Metzger advised. "The best place for what's in your lungs is down the drain." Waving his stethoscope, he then asked, "If you're taking a break from breakfast, I can have a listen the old fashioned way?"

I nodded and the doctor came closer. Oddly, I found myself feeling like I couldn't trust the man. He had examined me and Tad the night before, and I recognized him, so he wasn't a complete stranger, and he certainly hadn't harmed me or Tad in any way, but distrust is what I felt. Leaning forward some, I breathed in deep and exhaled slowly, like he told me. He even warned me that the stethoscope might feel a little cold, and it did, but only a little, yet I jumped when he placed it against my back. Stepping back, he muttered, "Almost clear again," and removed the ear pieces. He locked eyes with Mario and told him that when one of the sacks dripping into my IV tube was empty, it wouldn't need to be replaced. 

I couldn't spell what Doc Metzger said to Mario if my life depended on it. Let's call it Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious; some souped up stuff developed in Starfleet, no doubt. All that mattered is that it worked, clearing my lungs and turning my urine bright yellow.

Doc Metzger waved his box before Tad and proclaimed him "fit as a fiddle". All we needed was more rest, more IV vitamin and mineral supplements, and more food. Tad and I asked about the other kids from our home. Everyone was coming along nicely, so the plan was to send us to Ewa Beach on Monday. I returned to my waffle, sausage and juice. Waving and saying that he'd be back in a few hours, Doc Metzger left the room.

On the TV, the concert was over. The majority of the kids in the audience left the auditorium, but I'd guess close to a hundred remained. All the band members came down off the stage, and more leaders came out of the audience to stand with the band members. After a minute or two of chit-chatting, the entire group disappeared from the auditorium. The camera view now showed a big department store.

The cute blond drummer named Derrick explained, "This is just like any other department store. Everything is free, so don't be shy. Anyone that needs help choosing sizes, let one of us know. You'll all need at least a week's worth of clothes."

Another leader named Drew quickly emphasized, "A week's worth is not what those butt-heads at the orphanage gave you guys. There are seven days in a week, so a minimum of seven pair of boxers or underpants and seven pair of socks. A change of clothes for every day is normal." 

Corey nodded, "Everybody gets a pair of sandals and a pair of sneakers. Basically, concentrate on everyday clothes. Here in the ROH, that means T-shirts, shorts, boardies, swimwear, light blouses for you girls. Get jeans, sport shirts and jackets or ponchos too, cos the rainy season here can start in late November."

Prez nodded and instructed, "Big guys and gals, help the little tikes. And we'll help whoever needs it, whenever needed."

A small red-headed boy gushed, "We can help too!" then took a shocked little boy by the hand and pulled him to the shopping carts.

We noticed that the leadership team split in half, some went with the girls to one side of the store, and the remainder stayed with the boys.

Tad wondered, "Will that happen with us too?"

Before I could do more than shrug, Alden answered, "Yes it will, Tad. All the kids get to choose their own clothes. Everybody usually winds up with more than a week worth of clothes. For instance, guys like you will find that underwear usually comes in packs of three briefs or boxers, so automatically you'll have nine pair in three packages. Similarly with packages of socks; you'll have at least nine pair or as much as twelve pair. When they get to shorts and shirts, they'll choose colors and styles, but generally every guy winds up with at least seven pair of shorts and two pair of jeans. The same sort of thing happens with shirts. The Core Rimmers..."

Shocked at what the kid had said and laughing my ass off, I spit juice half-way across the room. Tad and Mario cracked up.

Alden giggled, "Sorry about that, Neil. This is Pacific Rim Division. Prez immediately named the division 'The Rimmers', and the leadership team are the 'Core Rimmers'. You can probably already tell, our kids have a sense of humor and healthy libidos. The word Rimmers won't seem so funny after a day or two." The blanket and sheet that I had just drenched vanished off the bed and replacements appeared in a neat stack at the foot of the bed.

Heading toward the door, Mario sniggered, "Neil's a spitting Rimmer. We might have to put a warning label on you, buddy." 

Alden continued telling us what our first shopping trip would be like. Finally finishing my first meal, I kicked back on the bed and watched the TV with Tad. Mario returned with an orderly to mop the floor. He gathered our empty trays and left the room again. When he returned, he had two big milkshake glasses. 

We got to watch the kids finish their shopping, and then go to the dormitory, where they chose roommates and rooms. Those dorm rooms looked huge. With two double sized beds, two big closets, two dressers, two desks, two chairs, a stereo, a television and even a game station, I guess that each room had to be at least twenty feet by twenty feet. Our bedroom at the home was about ten feet by ten feet. Our new rooms at Ewa Beach were four times larger than the room at the home, and there would only be me and Tad in there.

I told Tad that we needed to shave. We had needed to shave for about a year, but were never allowed to by the zoo-keepers. Mario agreed and left the room. He returned only two or three minutes later with two razors, a can of shaving cream, a tabletop mirror and a large tin bowl filled with warm water. Of course, Mario was there to guide and assist us, since neither of us had ever learned how to shave, and barely recalled watching our fathers shave. Amazingly, Tad and I managed to keep the nicks and scratches down to two each. Always prepared, Mario had a styptic pencil hidden in his shirt pocket.

The sun was going down in Las Vegas, but at Ewa Beach, the sun was still bright, and the new kids went to the pools. By this time, groups of new kids hung with their favorite leaders and their sons. More surprising, Tad and I watched as almost everyone shed their clothes and dove into the pools. My internal desire to learn how I compared to other dudes was answered from the television. It was easy to tell the Core Rimmers and some of the other kids were healthier and better fed than we were. They had muscle and height that many of the other kids didn't have.

I hadn't been allowed to participate in gym class for two of my three years at the home. Because of that, I hadn't seen the inside of a locker room those years. On the screen on the wall were hundreds of naked dudes. The most clear differences were in chests and thighs; healthier dudes had bigger chests and thighs, and some had awesome abs for teenagers. The backside views revealed teenaged dudes with great forms. 

We could clearly see who had how much of what hanging between their legs. Quite honestly, that was one way that Tad and I matched all those other healthier dudes we were watching. We asked Alden how old some of the kids were, and he began with the Core Rimmers. Most surprising was twelve-year-old Drew and eleven-year-old Corey. They were taller than almost every other kid their age and had pubes too, where most kids their age didn't. We eventually learned how tall Drew and Corey were too. The sad truth was that I was the same height as Drew. 

Extremely angry, I went into a major bitching fit. Tad was at the same place as me, and he was about an inch or two taller than me, but realizing how our growth was stunted by the zoo-keepers, I wanted to beat the crap out of both of them. Tad and Mario calmed me down, but the truth of my complaints were all over the television. 

Mario fed us dinner about six-thirty. I had been awake for three and a half hours and eaten three times. Awake for more than seven hours, Tad had eaten hourly. At last, Tad's belly was so full that he couldn't finish his meal, so he pushed it over to me to finish for him. While I finished his meal, Tad took a trip to the bathroom. Mario took our empty trays from the room, and Tad returned to the room, freshly showered.

Cuddling up to me, Tad pleasantly sighed, "It's really over, Neil. In a couple o' days, we're going to be in the ROH with those kids we're watching."

Nodding, I grinned, "You want to be boyfriends and roommates?"


"If you ever decide you want it to change, just tell me, dude. I'll understand."

"It won't change, Neil. We went through hell together, and survived. While you noticed Drew's height, all I noticed was how extremely cute he is, and how undeniably cute you are. Under the worst circumstances, you've been my best friend in the world. Don't you think sex together was better than with Gerry and Jessie?"

"It always has been, but they're younger. I'll bet they were doing stuff together and with us simply because they could, not because they really wanted to."

"Why do you think I'd be more interested in anyone else?"

I shrugged, "You're taller, and after watching all those sexy teenagers on the TV, I now know that you're about the sexiest dude around."

"You're plenty sexy too," Tad giggled. "I may be taller, but here I am, snuggled up to you with a stiffie. We've got to find a way to be alone soon, dude."

Nodding, I chuckled, "Come with me, into the bathroom." Looking up and seeing I was serious, Tad rolled off the other side of the bed. On the way to the bathroom, I told Tad, "I love you, ya know?"

"I know," Tad giggled. "You never think anything you do is special, but you are very special. I'm gonna prove that too."

Soon, we were behind a locked bathroom door, embracing, kissing, and going for it orally, and for the first time since Tad got sick, we had intercourse too. Leaning against a wall, I got some of him and then it was Tad's turn to lean over and give me some too. Sweaty and messy, we took a shower together, which led to our first time cleaning up one set of messes that caused additional orgasms to flow down the drain with the soapy water. The only bad part was the IV needles and tubes getting in our way. 

Getting dressed in the gowns was far easier with a boyfriend to help. We walked out of the bathroom and found that our beds had been remade. Mario wasn't there, but our food trays were waiting, and it was obvious that someone had been cleaning. Realizing our alone time wasn't quite alone, we both blushed and giggled. The television was now showing the dining room at Ewa Beach. We crawled back up onto Tad's bed to watch more from Ewa Beach. 

Soon thereafter, Aaron showed up. He was the one that cleaned our room and admitted that he heard us in the bathroom. That's when we learned that Aaron was gay, but his high school boyfriend couldn't deal with medical school. They parted friends. 

I started writing in my journal around eight o'clock. Snuggled up to me, Tad fell asleep around nine o'clock. When he rolled away and onto his back, I went back to my own bed, where I continued writing about this most awesome day. Yes, I have a light attached to my hospital bed that I can adjust and swing down, so it don't disturb Tad. At least it doesn't seem to be bothering him. 

Aaron's sitting between our beds again. Helping me keep all the facts organized, I talked with Aaron about the day and he even helped me spell some words now and then. It's almost midnight now. Even in Hawaii the sun has long since set. Since most of the kids at Ewa Beach are winding down for the day, and there really isn't much of anything interesting going on, Aaron just told Alden to return control of the television to us. Aaron flipped channels, and told me that the worldwide stock markets crashed, because of Zorro Communications, what their company had done to us orphans and because the Core Rimmers uncovered the horrible truth. 

According to the news, things were getting ugly all over; riots were going on in New York City and Los Angeles. Here in Las Vegas, everything seemed fine. Aaron said that he had no trouble getting from home to here. I just told him that it makes sense to me that people were angry about what was done to us orphans. When he turned to me rapidly blinking, I said, "We're level two and I watched level one kids half the day. I can only imagine what level three and level four kids might be like, and it's not a pretty picture."

Nodding, Aaron sighed and then smiled, "You're a remarkable young man. You've got a strong presence, some rough edges, but you're also amazingly sensitive." He gestured to Tad and reminded, "That's why he loves you."

I paused my writing, softly giggling, "He's so great too. I'm just a little worried." Noticing Aaron's curiosity, I sighed, "He's so cute, genuinely handsome, and I just feel like he can do better. I should feel something intense for him, I know that, and it bothers me that I don't."

Aaron smiled, "You're already intense, Neil. Every emotion you show is powerful. If you showed more, everyone that knows you would freak out and probably run in the opposite direction. Don't change a thing, and don't worry about what you do and don't feel. Just be yourself, with Tad and with all your new Clan family."

"Clan family?" I uncertainly repeated.

Aaron said, "A clan is an extended family. That's exactly what you'll be moving into, a community of friends that treat each other like close family. Did you know every kid in your orphanage looked up to you?" I shook my head wondering how that could be, since we barely ever saw each other. "It's true," Aaron continued, "you're the oldest, and the most vocal, and they all still ask 'What's Neil say we should do?' Our trips in and out of this room are always delayed by some other nurse, asking Mario and I to stop in and tell the kids what you're doing and saying, so they know it's okay for them to do it too."

"Great!" I sarcastically giggled. "Now you've got fourteen other kids hockin' goobers at nurses and spitting apple juice across the room."

Be myself, I mused. I'm not sure I know who I am anymore. I mean, I used to, but over the last three years, I think I have forgotten what it means to be myself. I mean... Oh... Never mind. Me a leader? Stupid, stupid, stupid! That was what my mind was saying. Instead, I said, "Well, you gotta have good aim to hock goobers in a way that bears imitating."

I'm not sure why everyone was asking what I thought. I mean, who am I? I don't even know the answer to that one. I don't know what I should be doing, so how can I tell someone else what they should do. The whole idea was just insane.

Aaron softly chortled, "The sign of a true leader is someone that marches to the beat of his own drummer. The next thing you know, he's got a parade of kids following him around."

Smirking, I warned, "Since nice guys finish last, you'll pay for this nightmare you're implanting, Aaron."

"Call it a night, Neil. Let's see if you can wake up in under ten hours."

Good idea. More tomorrow.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Friday, November 5, 2004

I woke about noon. Tad had been awake less than a half-an-hour. Mario was already on a breakfast run for us.

Between two in the morning yesterday and two in the afternoon today, I've had four showers. At the home it would've taken two weeks to have four showers, and each would've been timed. They're not timed any more, and the last two showers were with Tad, my super sexy, super horny boyfriend. He was getting too close to losing it too fast, so I asked him what the zoo-keepers might think if they knew about our relationship. 

Just that little bit set Tad off laughing. My intention was to plant images of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin in his mind so he would slow down or maybe lose his erection. That wasn't what happened. He got silly and only occasionally pumped into me, making me coo and squeal with each powerful thrust. I'll write here exactly what I told Tad. "Do me that way again, whenever you want." His response was a nod and a really deep kiss. I discovered that I can breathe through my nose again.

We came out of the bathroom to a cleaned room and breakfast trays waiting. Mario was glued to the television, watching the news reports of what was now being called the Battle Of Earth. While we slept, we missed Romulan attacks on San Francisco, Washington, DC, London and Beijing. Unbelievably, the Romulans had taken human form and had lots of humans on their side. The video from Los Angeles showed a city and a county that was on fire from rioting. Not everything everywhere was on fire, but November is the time of year where the Santa Ana winds blow, and fires get out of control. That seemed to be exactly what was happening; small fires were spreading throughout entire city blocks.

Mario just left to get us milkshakes. Tad reached a hand under my gown. More later...

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

It's almost three-thirty in the afternoon. The milkshakes are history and lunch is on it's way. Before he left the room, Mario told us that he's purposefully giving Tad and I extra time alone, to become a couple, to say what needs to be said and do what has to be done. As soon as Mario left, Tad hollered, "ALDEN?"

"Right here, Tad."

"Enough of this stupid war," Tad simply said. "Show us what's going on at Ewa Beach."

Taking over the television, Alden explained, "I'm kind of busy today, guys. There are refugees from the riots and battle zones. These kids in the basement store are mostly newbies." He zoomed in and introduced us to Reyes Taraschke, a new Core Rimmer, Ralphie Bonham, who arrived there yesterday, a really cute red-head named Pat O'Hara, a cuter blond teen named Chris Stokley, and a younger kid named Rafe Montigua.

Alden then instructed, "This is my voice from a virtual intelligence machine. You can talk to me and I'll interact with you, or execute instructions for you, but for the next few hours, I'll be busy helping with the refugees. So you know and can tell the difference, the real me shows emotion in my voice."

I thanked him and then asked, "Can you just show us what's going on everywhere there, and try to tell us who it is we're watching?"

"Sure, I can take you on virtual tours around the base. If you'd like to see something else, let me know."

For about ten minutes, we watched what was going on in the store. Tad softly asked if I was ready to see something more interesting than guys choosing and trying on clothes. When I nodded, he ordered Alden to show us something else.

"Most of the Clan is having lunch," Alden reported, and switched to the cafeteria cameras.

Entering the room with our food, Mario noticed the television and smiled, "Good, you're catching on. Now you can have lunch with your Clan, remotely of course." He then explained, "I got you cheeseburgers and fries. The doctors think it might be too much too soon, but I know you two dudes better. I figure the worst that might happen is you can't finish it all, and digesting the beef will make you tired."

+ + + + + + + + + + + + 

We managed to finish lunch. Tad and I ate together on his bed, watching all the stuff from Ewa Beach on TV. After watching kids at the cafeteria, Alden switched to the pools, and then the play ground, and then inside the recreation center. Another group of new kids was rescued and Alden introduced us to them from the basement store.

Proving that we could digest our cheeseburgers, I let a loud nasty one rip. Tad counter attacked with a silent but deadly one. Cracking up, Mario left the room and stood out in the hall where there was fresh air. Laughing hysterically, Tad told me to return to my own bed, as if he's got a rose garden blooming over there! Doc Metzger came by, but Mario told him that now wasn't the best time. Down wind of us, the red onions on our cheeseburgers were creating more Battle Of Earth casualties. Tad and I were out of control. It's hard to believe what real food was doing to us, but the proof is the poisonous cloud lingering in our room.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + 

The sun is setting here in Vegas. We've had dinner, and the gas attacks have subsided for the time being. 

Okay, I had to pause for a few minutes. On the television, we were watching teenagers like us at the diving well, when suddenly my jaw dropped, and Tad hollered, "THAT CANNOT BE REAL!" Mario roared laughing and almost slid out of the chair.

Giggling hysterically, Alden introduced, "That's Darren DeVault, and yes it is real; nine-and-a-half inches long and six inches in circumference, limp and erect. He's fifteen-years-old, an ex-prostitute, and a really nice guy. I can tell you that Darren's roommate is this guy, Lance Elling, who is also fifteen, also an ex-prostitute, and very cute but completely average between his legs. Darren and Lance are straight, even though they had to act homosexual for money to survive. Lance and Darren help each other out sexually at night, and they're really good friends, but that's where they choose to keep it. These two guys and all the other ex-prostitutes here are off the streets thanks to King Aalona and Prez teaming up last Monday night."

Tad gasped then muttered, "Lance and Darren... but they don't want to be together?"

Alden seriously said, "Everyone is a little bisexual, and they had to do stuff on the streets. Alone in their room, they understand that, and that they want girlfriends and kids of their own. I've seen so many examples of really good friends, gay and straight, that to me these two guys are variations on a theme. Try to imagine what it might be like to have to sell your body to eat, and then not having to do that. They were sexually active before arriving, and they treat each other like best friends all the time. The main difference between them and gay guys is when they finish and kiss each other goodnight, each goes to his own bed. 

"They arrived late Tuesday night," Alden continued. "For the last few days, they're adjusting to their new home, and getting to know other kids. I know that they talk about guys who are good friends, and girls who they'd like to know better and maybe hook up with. The best part is how they each have helped the other adjust. The street prostitute show is long gone. Now they can privately tell each other what they perceive happening when they're talking to girls. It's really very kewl, I think."

Grinning at me, Tad evilly snickered, "I couldn't imagine being a prostitute or being like either of them."

"You're cuter than Lance," I honestly shared. Since Mario was in the room, Tad blushed bright red.

Chuckling, Mario told Tad, "When your boyfriend says romantic stuff, you're supposed to go kiss him." I blushed and went into a giggling fit.

Nodding, Tad slid off his bed and into mine. Grinning, I cackled, "It's true!" and was abruptly silenced. Of course I kissed Tad back, but watched Mario slink out of the room and close the door behind him. That was the kewlest thing anyone's ever done. Hearing the door click closed, Tad went berserk, giggling into our mouths, grinding and humping away. The last time he did something like this was just to annoy Gerry and Jessie, but this time his motive was me.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

I can't even begin to explain how awesome he's been making me feel since we were rescued. Once we were stiff and puffing away through our noses, Tad pulled back to warmly remind, "I want you, not Darren, or Drew or Lance. In a couple o' days, I want to walk around hand-in-hand with you. I want them all to see me with you."

Smiling widely, I whispered, "You make me feel fantastic. I just don't get it, dude." Tad tilted his head, so I tried to explain, "Not only are you making me feel fantastic, telling me all your awesome ideas for us together, there at Ewa Beach, but Aaron and Mario have been telling me stuff too."


"The other kids want to know what I'm doing, so they know what to do. What the heck do I know, Tad? I'm just as messed up as every one else from that place. I'm going with the flow. It just so happens that the flow is pretty mellow, compared to being mocked at school, mocked by the zoo-keepers and locked away in a tiny room with three other dudes. What's so difficult about sitting in a bed watching TV? Is letting a doctor pass his little tricorder box over us hard to do?" Pointing at the TV, I shared, "As fun as everything looks there, it scares the hell out of me too. I want to skinny dip with those dudes, and at the same time, I don't want them to see my skinny ass. What's kewl and what's not, ya know? I'm relearning everything, just like everyone else."

"I know what to do," Tad offered. "Let's go for a walk and see the kids."

"Kewl," I smiled. "Lead me, dude. Show them you leading me."

"That's my intention," Tad said, and slid off me and off the bed. He reached for my hand and soon we were walking out of the room, pulling our IV stands along with us. Just outside our room, Mario and Aaron were standing out there. They were obviously chatting and surprised to see us.

Aaron smirked, "I could swear I told you to press the nurse call button for help getting out of bed."

"We've got two days of food, vitamins and minerals stored up," I smirked.

Tad added, "We're not even bruised, so chill out. We just want to see the other kids from our home."

"So you can stop speaking for me," I finished.

"Independence is a good thing," Mario chuckled.

Aaron nodded, "I guess they've been making leaps in their recovery today, like you said. The only problem I can foresee is all sixteen of them wandering around the halls tomorrow."

Mario grinned, "Therapy is planned, as well as a few other things." He glanced at Tad and I, saying, "Have a good night, dudes. I'll see you bright and early in the morning, well before either of you wake to see me." Aaron, Tad and I said goodnight to Mario. He walked down the hall. Aaron led us across the hall to see Gerry and Jessie.

The first thing that struck me was the curtain between the beds was partially pulled, so they couldn't see each other. Gerry had been watching the television and what was going on in Ewa Beach until he saw us coming in the room. "Hey!" Gerry brightly beamed, "How're you dudes doin'?"

Tad giggled, "We're really good, Gerry."

Pointing at the curtain, I asked, "What's up with that?"

Gerry shrugged, "Too many years in a tiny room."

"We're gonna try splitting up at Ewa Beach," Jessie offered from the other side of the curtain.

Gerry nodded and smirked, "We've got questions to answer that you two obviously already have. The best way to find the answers is to do it separately. It's not like we won't ever see each other there, but are we friends or are we boyfriends?"

Jessie giggled, "After two days of good food, the stench from the other side of the room almost killed me."

Gerry countered, "The bathroom's on my side of room, stinky!"

Tad and I glanced at each other and cracked up. Almost simultaneously, Gerry and Jessie squealed, "WHAT?"

Tad looked up at Aaron, giggling, "They're fine."

"Still two bitchy queens, whining, griping and complaining," I teased.

Pointing at the television, Tad asked, "What're you gonna whine about there? Too much sun, not enough fun? It's probably a good idea that you get separate rooms and new roommates. You'll learn soon enough that all your old reasons for bitching are gone, especially when no one wants to hear your complaints."

"They're orphans too," I reminded. "Some of them were made orphans today. I swear to you both, if your bitching makes some newly orphaned little kid cry, and I'm around to witness it, you'd better pray and start running. Do you think I don't remember my parents, or Tad doesn't? Every Clan kid has some memories, some good and some bad. Get over it already."

Tad and I glanced at each other and nodded, knowing we had said enough, and that we didn't want to hear their excuses. We turned around and left the room. Aaron led us, sarcastically sniggering, "I can't understand why they look up to you, Neil. It turns out your other half is the opposite end of the same sledgehammer."

Sadly shaking my head, I smirked, "Those two need deep enemas to get the shit out of their brains. It's probably best that they're not roommates when we leave here; guaranteed nobody else would put up with their attitudes."

In the next room, twelve-year-old Alton Santos and eleven-year-old Mack Roberts had milkshakes, and were tossing soft rubber balls around the room with their male nurse. The TV was on and showing them the Ewa Beach cafeteria, where kids were still eating. Tad and I greeted Alton and Mack. Aaron introduced their nurse, Fletcher. We had just started chatting about what Alton and Mack were planning for Ewa Beach when ten-year-olds Jimmy Lynch and Dallas Clark came across the hall and into the room. The nurse caring for Jimmy and Dallas was named Dewayne. 

There were six kids and three men in the room. Tad and I learned that Mack and Jimmy were planning on becoming roommates. Alton and Dallas were hoping to start mixing in right away and would find other new kids to share rooms with. Most amazing to me were the changes in these younger dudes. The last time I saw them Wednesday morning, they dragged their tiny butts out to the school bus. Now though, they had energy to spare. The six of us dudes were chit-chatting away and the three adult nurses stepped out into the hall.

Realizing that all six of us were looking forward to going to our new home in the Republic Of Hawaii, but twiddle-dumb and twiddle-dumber were in a different state of mind, all six of us invaded Gerry's and Jessie's room. Tad and I hung back with the nurses, and watched four enthusiastic younger dudes slide open the curtain and climb up onto the two beds.

Finished with the queens, all six of us went further down the hall to the rooms where the youngest four boys were recuperating. Even though they were obviously tired, Colin, Christian, Dwight and Les were looking forward to getting out of the hospital too. None of the four youngest dudes had given much thought to roommates, but we had successfully implanted ideas and options available.

Tad told the gathered group, "We're gonna go see our sisters." All chatter stopped for a few moments. Eight younger dudes blinked at Tad and I, and then looked down at our clasped hands. Giggling and laughter erupted, with comments about us trying to switch sides. Aaron sputtered and began laughing. 

Knowing that Aaron had to have heard Tad and I behind a locked bathroom door, I shot a warning smirk at Aaron. Intensely blushing, Tad giggled at our nurse, "No dude; not a word."

"Course not," Aaron chuckled. All the little guys cracked up, proving that enough had already been said. Before Tad and I caught fire, Aaron led us from the room and down the hall. After passing the nurses station and turning left, we saw a huge game room. It was filled with tables and chairs of assorted sized for all us kids. There were games of every sort in there, including arcade video games, a jukebox and a giant television. I flashed Aaron a suspicious glare, wondering why we hadn't been told or brought to this room. "Tomorrow," Aaron smiled. "All you kids, and especially you two, are ahead of where we thought you'd be by now. Doctors are already discussing the possibility of getting all of you to Ewa Beach on Sunday. It's a split decision right now, but depending on what we observe tomorrow, you could make the decision clearer."

We went through a set of doors with Tad saying, "As long as we can all get to spend some time together in there."

"Our room is starting to feel small," I added. "Before we can go to Hawaii, where we're gonna meet lots of other kids, we need to know each other better."

Widely grinning, Aaron chanted, "Nope, not a leader, can't tie his own shoelaces, but takes the first opportunities to be alone with his boyfriend, and now has half the other boys wandering around in gowns, showing off their backsides."

Knowing I was being goofed on again, I sniggered, "You nurses and doctors had to have thought of that."

Nodding, Aaron assured, "The night you arrived. Like I said, certain things were planned, but others depended completely on you kids. Tonight you're doing what we had hoped would happen tomorrow night or Sunday." He slowed down and stopped completely, softly chortling, "If I could, I'd call Prez and tell him about you two. I don't have a comm-badge, but I know Doc Metzger does. He's spoken with Sean and Troy, so maybe your secret is already out."

Tad digressed into a giggling fit. Grinning widely, I joked, "You'll miss us. I wonder who will nurse the emotional nurse when we leave."

Obviously shocked, Aaron asked, "Did Mario tell you about that?" Tad and I blinked, not knowing what he was asking. Aaron grinned, "I'm already checking into a possible transfer to Hawaii. When I know more, I'll let you know, future Core Rimmers."

We walked into the first room, where Catherine and Jeanette were lounging on their beds. Immediately squealing, they pulled the sheets and blankets up. What the fuck that was all about, I had no idea. They had hospital gowns on, just like the rest of us. The last time I saw them, they were nude and so were all us dudes. The lady nurse in the room began giggling. Tad cracked up. Before I could say a word, Catherine giggled, "Boys are supposed to knock before coming into a girls' room!"

Tad cackled, "No one told us that! The door was wide open too!"

Sadly shaking my head and rubbing my eyes with one hand, I reminded Catherine and Jeanette of early Thursday, and then admitted, "We checked you out then and nothing even shifted. Tad and I are boyfriends, so nothing in here will get a rise out of either of us. We're only visiting to see how you're doing."

"We're fine," Jeanette practically screamed.

Catherine smirked, "And thanks so much for the offhanded compliments!"

"It's so good to know we can't get boys excited," Jeanette grumbled.

"It proves that you're definitely normal females!" Tad replied. "All your parts are there, and you ain't nothing like those pictures in magazines, of girls that are so bad they look like boys! The reason we checked you out was because you're really hot, for being female that is."

Barely controlling himself, Aaron faked tapping the comm-link on the wall. He sniggered, "We need a podiatrist to West Hall."

"A what?" I muttered in reply.

"Someone to remove you two's feet from your mouths!" Aaron responded with a chuckle.

The lady nurse giggled, "Thanks for visiting, but I think it would be wise if you three left."

"NOW!" Catherine and Jeanette screamed. 

We left in a hurry and Aaron pulled the door closed. The three of us cracked up. Before we could get our act together, Alden giggled from the speakers, "Prez just took his after dinner meds. First he saw a crazy adoption from Des Moines, and then I showed him what just happened to you guys. Even with burned buns, he's rolling around the couch still."

Aaron snorted, "Now you're in big trouble. You made the crazy Irishman hysterical."

Turning to Tad, I grinned, "How about we hide out in our room the first week at Ewa Beach?"

Rapidly nodding, Tad giggled, "That works for me. We'll need wheelchairs though."

Aaron snorted, "At the rate you two are going, you'll leave here and arrive there in wheelchairs." Gasping, Tad and I flushed scarlet red.

We finished our visits with Kim Brock and Tracy Carpenter, the two younger girls from our home. Since our visits lasted more than two hours, Aaron insisted that we get back to our room and beds. Actually it was bed, singular. While I finished writing about the happenings of our second day of freedom, my sexy blond boyfriend fell asleep, snuggled up to me.

Which leads me right back to where I started this section. I don't think that I'm anywhere cute enough for such a handsome boyfriend. I can only assume that Tad doesn't realize how incredibly awesome he is. I'm afraid to ask him that question. Without him, my life at the home would've been even more miserable. With him, so much kewl stuff has happened between us; there at the home, and here at the hospital too.

Aaron's still goofing on me too; calling me leader, and Core Rimmer, which still cracks me up, by the way. There's only one core I'm gonna be rimming for a long while, and he's still passed out at my side. I've been trying to get Aaron to quit his teasing by calling him our personal nurse, and Rimmer nurse. What worked was calling him dad. He's only about ten or so years older than Tad and I, but now that I think of it, Aaron's been more than a nurse, more than a friend, and more than a brother. Since I've obviously blown his mind clear out of the solar system, we'll have to save that topic for tomorrow. 

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Saturday, November 6, 2013

Do you know what these evil, twisted hospital people did to us? Right after breakfast, Tad and I were taken to a room that turned out to be the dental office! I can't feel my face! Talking sounds like we're drunk! I can't even drink the damned milkshake through a straw, it's dribbling down my chin! I got four fillings and Tad got three! If I had snot to blow, Mario would be dripping by now!

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

We found out that Alden, Kerry, George and Jack are some sort of artificial intelligence machines that will be real boys someday soon. Along with this new information, we learned what they're capable of. Since all sixteen of us were annoyed about the dentist visits, our new AI friends got our day nurses back for us. Mario was between our beds, replacing clear sacks of IV vitamins. With the task finished, suddenly he was naked. His clothes were scattered around the room, on our beds, the chair, and his boxers were hanging off the TV on the wall. Damn, the dude is way hairy! Before Mario could complain, he vanished from our room, and returned five-seconds later, dripping wet and with major shrinkage! He smirked at us, calmly grabbed his clothes and went into the bathroom. Tad and I are still giggling.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Compared to yesterday and Thursday, the rest of this day has been easy, almost serene. We all gathered in that awesome game room during the afternoon. Catherine and Jeanette were the only two there with terrycloth robes on over their hospital gowns. All of us played games, chatted and shared our hopes for our new Pacific Rim Division lives. 

One of the highlights was a chat Tad and I had with Catherine and Jeanette. Over a game of hearts, we learned that their nurse had advised them to talk with us. Yeah, we were gay and their was no chance of anything happening, but we were dudes that could advise them best about other straight teen dudes. They wanted to fit in and be liked, and had a crash course on how to be nice young ladies from their nurse, but at the same time, they wanted to find suitable boyfriends.

Tad and I told them the truth - from the first sprouted pubes, dudes are horny and only get more horny with age. Nice guys will take their time, getting to know them, and maybe get goofy by making sexual remarks and jokes, but the straight Clan dudes would most likely be willing to bide their time. When they asked how we could know that, Tad and I shared what we had overheard from straight dudes at Elk Grove High. A nice straight guy won't ever brag about what and when they scored. The dumber straight guys would brag and probably exaggerate. Dudes like that were only trying to prove how straight they are, like it's a race to be won, and not a real person they're talking shit about. Our sisters needed to ignore and walk away from dudes like that.

After the card game and conversation was finished, the four of us older kids hung out with the younger kids for a while. The big television was showing us more from Ewa Beach. Our Core Rimmers were talking time off and weren't around most of the day, but there was plenty of other stuff going on, like soccer lessons, basketball games, volleyball games and bowling from the indoor rec center. Our AI friends just kept the cameras moving around the base, from place to place, and from one group of kids to the next.

Tad and I were getting the itch to be alone for a while when Colin came over to me and squirmed onto my lap. The little dude still had his doll in the evening dress, and treated it carefully, so it wouldn't break or get dirty. After that, Colin whispered in my ear, "Do you get bad dreams, Neil?"

I honestly told him, "Not yet, but ya know, it won't surprise me too much if I do." Then I carefully instructed, "We had it pretty bad at the home, Colin. That was the real life nightmare we all shared. Dreams are fake. Don't worry about them."

Nodding agreement, Colin asked, "Ain't you scared of Hawaii?"

Shaking my head, I replied, "It's not fear, dude. I'm eager to get there; like a Christmas or birthday that's real close. I can barely wait."

"What about the other kids, and 'specially older kids?"

"You came to me, Colin. All those other kids you'll get to know too, and soon you'll have no reason to be afraid of any of 'em, no matter how old they are." I pointed out Christian Cole and reminded, "Christian's older than you, and now you and him are buddies, right?" Colin nodded and giggled. I advised, "Getting to know people takes some time, that's all. You don't need to worry. If a big kids scares you, all you have to do is tell me and Tad, or Catherine and Jeanette. Kewl?"

"Kewl, Neil," Colin giggled. He slid off my lap and hurried over to tell Christian, Dwight and Lester. Tad and I watched all four of our youngest boys go over to Catherine and Jeanette, obviously to confirm what I had said.

Ready to slink away for some private time, Tad and I paused because Doc Metzger and all our nurses came into the room. Doc Metzger announced, "Tomorrow is going to be another big day. After you all eat breakfast, the IVs running into your arms will be removed. Then we're all going down to the basement, where we have therapeutic tubs and a big pool, so you can all learn to swim. We're making arrangements now, but your dinner tomorrow will be in Hawaii." Sixteen normally quiet kids gasped and then exploded with cheers.

Once our cheers had dwindled, Doc Metzger said, "The only major thing remaining that we need to be aware of is the three hour time difference between here and Ewa Beach. To make sure you're all ready, I'd like you all to take three hour naps this afternoon. Then you'll all be able to stay awake later tonight, sleep in later tomorrow, and you'll be more adjusted to the time change. The last thing I'd like to announce is that my transfer request has been approved, so I will be joining you in Hawaii. I know several nurses here have also applied for positions with Pacific Rim Division too, so you'll soon have plenty of familiar faces around." 

Mario brought us back to our room. I had to write this before I could even try to sleep. I'm starting to feel hyper already. I just know this last day at the hospital is going to be awesome, but at the same time, I'm ready to move on. What's really freaky is the feeling that I'm going to miss this hospital. 

How fucked up is that? A hospital and having an IV needle in my arm is better than the home I lived in for three years! It's true though. 

Another huge shiver just raced through Tad and he's snuggled up to me again. OMIGOD! He only smiled at me and now John Henry is poking out of my gown. Tad's evilly snickering, and just asked Mario to step out of the room and close the door. He threatened a dunk in the North Atlantic, but did as Tad asked. More later.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

All I'm gonna say is, DAMN, THAT WAS GREAT ON A BED!

We took our nap, had pot roast for dinner, and now us dudes are heading to the game room. 

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

It's hard to believe, but I can't seem to last three hours without feeling like I'm starving. I mean, dinner was huge, and then we had milkshakes in the game room, and now I'm back in our room and pigging out on hot dogs. On the television, we're watching the new dudes hanging out in their common room. 

There was a bit of a pause while Tad and I rated hotties on the screen. All of 'em are in their underwear. The top five are Chris Stokley, Jay Montigua, Craig Nash, Scott Shetley and Lance Kinchen. Tad says the first two need to be swapped; he thinks Jay's hotter than his boyfriend, Chris. He's boning up over Jay's abs. Chris is a blond and perfectly proportioned, in my opinion. Aaron refuses to get involved in this argument.

Speaking of arguing, the dudes on TV were discussing their leadership team; specifically the oldest six - Prez, Keith, Derrick, Mike, Sean and Troy. The common thoughts were that they were all sweethearts; as nice as could be, but not one of the twelve dudes would ever test their leaders' abilities, nor their resolve to do what needs to be done.

Some of the dudes in the room are level one orphans. They're saying that all their zoo-keepers were sent to off-planet penal facilities, and they're implying that some other zoo-keepers were executed on the spot. I'm not surprised, neither is Aaron, but it took Tad a few extra moments to realize we were right; whatever they got was justified. Mr. and Mrs. Franklin were more like prison wardens than caregivers. They timed us for meals, bathroom trips and showers. I'll never forget my first shower there, when I said I wasn't done, Mr. Franklin grabbed me and lifted me out of the tub and tossed me back in the room without giving me a chance to rinse or dry off.

There was another pause while Tad and I talked about Sean and Troy with Aaron. Maybe us kids from that home were in the same room as the two Core Rimmers ten or fifteen minutes, tops. What Tad and I saw were two dudes that were very much in love. All they showed us and each other was how much they cared. Once we were out of the house, I could only just barely imagine Sean and Troy dealing with the Franklins. 

Because Tad and I were getting quiet, our big brother Aaron abruptly changed the subject, to tell us what was planned for Sunday. All the dudes ten and older would be shown how to exercise, and how much to exercise by letting our bodies tell when we'd had enough. Calisthenics were planned, and short jogs around a track. Tad, Gerry, Jessie and I would then be shown how to lift weights; both free weights and on Nautilus machines. The last part of the planned routine was swimming in the pool and then some time in therapeutic whirlpool tubs. 

Locking eyes with me, Aaron said, "Assuming you wake around ten, once you're showered, fed, the IVs are removed and you're dressed, the next couple of hours are booked. You won't have time to write in your journal until after you arrive at Ewa Beach. There will be plenty to keep you busy there for a few hours. You probably won't get to write at all until bedtime tomorrow night."

"No problem," I cheerfully smiled. "When I get the chance, I'll have a lot to write about. I'll have Tad to help. And in a week, you'll have a bunch to hear and read about. We're glad you're moving there, dude."

Tad sighed, "I wish Mario could move there too. I understand he's got his partner and family here, but I still wish he could be there."

Nodding understandingly, Aaron reminded, "Mario will be hearing from me often enough. He'll know about every inch you grow, every pound you gain, and every achievement you make. And then I'll bother him to get his ass on a plane and take a vacation in the ROH next summer."

"It's good to know we'll see him again after tomorrow," Tad smiled.

Kicking his legs out, crossing them slightly at the ankles, and relaxing in his chair, Aaron chuckled, "You two aren't going to be able to sleep tonight. I can tell, you're unhappy about leaving some good people behind, but at the same time, you can't wait to live lives like what you've been watching for three days. I've heard enough from both of you to realize that you can't believe your punishment is over, that a hospital was easier and more enjoyable than your orphanage home, and that something even better than this is what's in store for you. I'm no Clan Short expert, but this hospital does interface with Starfleet Medical, which means I've heard some stories and have some facts that you don't."

Almost simultaneously, Tad and I wondered, "Like what?"

"Like those milkshakes we've been giving you, for instance," Aaron widely grinned. "They were developed by Doctor Leonard McCoy, and are packed with nutrients. They'll continue after you leave here. You could survive very nicely on just those milkshakes, but since you haven't done that here, I wouldn't dare expect it to change there." Noticing Tad and I smirking at each other and at him, Aaron chortled, "What's good for you can be very enjoyable too. I hear the Clan school system is much the same; instead of boring facts and figures, you'll get projects you enjoy that will be geared towards a career that you'll naturally excel at."

Aaron's laughing at me for writing all this down, like notes for a test.

Tad giggled, "You know what I saw that I'm really looking forward to?"

I softly teased, "Darren Devault?" and was sharply nudged in the side.

Shaking his head, Tad smiled, "The class structure here in the United States sucks. At our school, everybody dumped on us. Only the wealthiest seemed to be immune from that crap. There at Ewa Beach, everybody's the same. That's what I'm looking forward to the most. Only one example of that are mixed race couples, like Horacio is a dark skinned Mexican dude, and his girlfriend Sonia is a fair skinned girl. Kaleo and Tory are another couple, completely in love and neither cares about skin color. It's what's inside that matters."

"As it should be," Aaron softly agreed. "Another little something that made these few days special were you two treating Mario and I like big brothers. Hawaii is as much a melting pot as America is; they've got native Hawaiians, Japanese, Chinese, Americans, and more living on those little islands. Another thing that makes all you kids from that orphanage very unique is your faith in something becoming better than it was. That is very rare. Regardless of what your schoolmates or your care givers tried to tell you, there's still a glimmer of hope alive in each of you. That's important, and something you can share with other kids in the Clan."

"They seem to be fine already," Tad offered.

Aaron shrugged, "Maybe they are, or maybe they aren't. Maybe the kids you've seen are fine, but others are bound to show up there that need to be shown the glimmer of hope. I think it's something we have in common."

"We?" Tad and I uncertainly repeated.

"I came out of Watts, Los Angeles," Aaron admitted. "A tough street kid made it of the hood, went to college, medical school and became a registered nurse. This is the career I've always wanted. I'm looking forward to making the switch from American to Hawaiian too."

I paused to softly ask, "Your home town was burning yesterday but you didn't say anything?"

"Most of my closest family and friends have moved out," Aaron simply explained. "Like you, good memories are few and far between there. I could drive there in less than four hours, but it's been almost two years since I've made the trip. Both my parents have passed, my brother and two sisters have scattered to other States. What happened in LA yesterday proves that there's no connection left for me. My connections are here, specifically they're here in this room and up and down the hall." Tad and I broke into giggles.

Aaron chuckled, "I've already interviewed for Pacific Rim Division and have a job waiting. By next weekend, I'll be with Doc Metzger at Oneula Beach with all of you level two kids. I was amazed and disgusted to learn that there are ninety-six kids just like you."

Tad interrupted, "We won't be going to Ewa Beach?"

Aaron answered, "Yes, you will arrive there, and likely spend most of your first day there, but you'll be living at Oneula Beach, which is about a mile further west of Ewa Beach on Oahu. Pacific Rim Division has been active only a week. They've almost filled their headquarters at Ewa Beach. Rather than split kids up, they're opening their second base for you. And the hope is that around the time I arrive, the eighty level three orphans will be there too. Between just your two groups, the second base will be almost half full with a hundred and seventy-five of you. Almost everything we've seen on TV from Ewa Beach is duplicated at Oneula Beach. The main difference is the CIC building is only at headquarters. We'll have our own cafeteria, kitchen and auditorium at Oneula Beach. Everything else at Oneula Beach - the dormitories, the townhouses, the large single family homes, the pools and recreation facilities are the same as at Ewa Beach. There are three more bases, on three other islands, and all are similar to Oneula Beach and Ewa Beach."

Watching me scribble down everything Aaron said, Tad softly chortled. Neither said anything more until I looked up and asked, "How do you think things will really be for us?"

Aaron smiled, "I think it's going to be exactly like what you've seen and told me about. When you arrive, you'll be introduced to the leadership team, which is pointless since you already know and can recognize them. The next stop will be clothes shopping. Just like the kids you've seen on TV, you'll be able to pick out your own clothes. From there, I'd expect you to go to the dormitory, probably as smaller groups. Once you're assigned to rooms and get some unpacking done, you'll get shown around a little bit. You'll be there for dinner, so that's next on the agenda. What happens after that is a little less clear. Some kids were allowed to do as they pleased, but the level one kids went to the auditorium for a concert. What I want you two to remember is your allowed to do as you please. If you get hungry or thirsty late at night, go to the cafeteria and get something. Nobody's going to tell you, no, and get back to your room. Here, you've been lounging most of the time, but there you'll be able to walk around, swim, play and burn calories. That means you need to recognize when it's time to eat. I know what you weighed and how tall you were upon arrival. By the time you leave here tomorrow, I'll know how much weight you've gained. When I arrive next week, I'll want to see all of you going into the cafeteria often for snacks and meals."

Tad added, "We've got to remember what life used to be like before the home, when we had parents and could do what ever we wanted."

"Precisely," Aaron smiled. "That's your new home. If you're out at the pools swimming and begin to feel tired, then by all means, find a lounge chair and rest for a while. Since Neil's been writing more each and every day, maybe you'll prefer to return to the dorm now and then, or maybe you'll learn to live life and not just write about it. Those first few days you'll be meeting almost three hundred other kids. Who'll become your new friends? Will they want to chill out with you in your room, or will you be chillin' with them in their rooms? Hang out in the dorm common rooms at night too, so you can be social while watching TV. You're lives are about to expand again. Take advantage of new learning experiences. Recall old hobbies and pick them up again, or become interested in something new and give it your best shot. 

"It's simply not possible for you two to become reclusive. Some of the kids took more than a day to warm up and speak to doctors and nurses, but not you two. Immediately upon arrival, you had questions and asked them. When you woke the next day, there were more questions, more conversation with Mario, with Doc Metzger and with me. Although you two lived together, and were intimate for a long time, I witnessed you falling in love. Consider that with all the other new experiences ahead of you. This is only the beginning."