Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Chapter 16


Ewa Beach, CIC Dining Room

Sunday, November 7, 2004 1:01PM HTZ

With a warning from Alden over the ceiling speakers, California Level Two orphanage kids began transporting into the dining room. In rapid succession, kids from Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara arrived; each carrying folders of medical records that were gathered by the three doctors. This time, all the kids were wearing either black or green Clan Short polo shirts. All the boys and the younger girls had boardies or shorts on, but a bunch of older girls were wearing skirts. All the kids were short and thin for their ages, but generally looking pretty good, compared to how they were last seen. Prez began introductions, and some of the newbie kids started giggling. Needless to say, all the Core Rimmers and their boys were stunned silent and grinned at the newbies.

An older boy that was holding three spiral bound notebooks, fifteen-year-old Neil Green from Sacramento, smirked, "We've been in hospitals for three-and-a-half days, with IVs running into our arms, and doctors and nurses fussing over us."

A teenage girl, Maggie Rogers from San Francisco, softly explained, "By the middle of Thursday, we were all wondering about you dudes, and where we would be eventually living."

Thirteen-year-old Conrad Bowers from Los Angeles, grinned, "We've been watching all of you on TV's. Kids named Alden, Kerry and George told us which were leaders, and showed us kids at playgrounds, pools, rec rooms, even this dining room, and what the dorms look like, inside and out."

Dennis Mitchell, a twelve-year-old from Santa Barbara, pointed at Core Rimmers, rattling off, "You're John Hundser, and you're Stephen Marr, and you're Drew Hundser, and Corey Seaver, you two are new leaders since Friday night, Arnold James, or AJ Smithson and Jerry Hebda."

Picking up where Dennis left off, fifteen-year-old Catherine Montgomery, listed, "Kaleo and Tory, Sean and Troy, Derrick, Mike and Reyes, Prez and Keith." Pausing and blushing, she giggled, "The only bummer out of this whole thing is that you're all gay." All the other teen girls began nodding and giggling.

"That's not too terrible a thing," Carter Rackham, a fourteen-year-old from Sacramento admitted. "I'm gay, and never could've admitted it before, but thanks to you dudes getting us out of the shit-holes, I've now got a kewl boyfriend." Standing beside Carter, Douglas Zimmerman reached for his new partner's hand. 

Twelve-year-old Lynn Goodwyn, from San Francisco, glanced at the group of adults, saying, "We even know you. Aunt Lanna's the group mom, at pools and playgrounds most of the days. Aunt Jen is the head of Federation Youth Services, and Aunt Anna is the assistant. We even got to see inside the FYS building. We sort of know where things are, but just haven't done it ourselves."

Also from San Francisco, thirteen-year-old Dale Barrett said, "We're all set, dudes. I'm pretty sure most of us want to get to our new dorm rooms. Compared to where we were, those rooms look awesome. Now that we've got those damn IV needles out of our arms, we're ready for everything, starting new, better lives here. For us, being here at last, puts everything else in the past."

Since the newbies were done, Drew and Corey shouted at the ceiling; "Alden!"

"Yes?" Alden playfully sang.

Drew sniggered, "Four days of morning status reports and you never mentioned what you were doing?"

Alden giggled, "Um... I forgot?"

Corey laughed, "Is there anything else that slipped your mind?"

"Ask the newbies," Alden prompted.

A couple of kids chorused, "First we get clothes and stuff."

"Then we have a big meeting," another few chimed.

"And Platinum Habits puts on a concert for us," eleven-year-old Paul Brooks said, "like they did Thursday night."

Mike warned, "As soon as you get your body and can stand, start running, Alden. You're going swimming!"

Alden giggled, "But, why?"

Prez sniggered, "Why do I bother with morning status reports?"

"Or having PADDs, for that matter?" Keith added.

After a few seconds, Nathan giggled, "They're fishing for excuses."

Knowing Nathan could hear his brothers and all the Clan's AIs, John smirked, "And your excuse is?"

Shrugging, Nathan giggled, "I knew what they were doing, but not the extent. Obviously, these kids have been watching us from the security systems since they arrived at the hospitals."

"The next morning, just before lunch," giggled Shane Swanson, an eight-year-old from Los Angeles.

Pedro Fernandez, a nine-year-old from Sacramento, cheekily grinned, "The choice was between talk shows, news and game shows, or seeing who saved you and where you'd be living, so which would you choose? We only watched you on the TV's the last few days."

Widely smiling, Derrick glanced around the newbies, saying, "The first group of orphanage kids weren't like you. They stayed at hospitals over night and were here the next day."

Many kids nodded, "We saw that too."

Abruptly and uncharacteristically, Frankie squealed, "Not one of you want to nest? Why not?"

Since none of the older kids were answering, six-year-old Victor Dixon softly replied, "We was packed four to a tiny room. Some of us would nest, if you really want, but we'd rather have nice big rooms an' our own stuff, for the first time ever."

Nodding and grinning, John wandered around the group, telepathically checking the kids thoughts and empathically checking emotions. As surprised as anyone else, John told his core teammates, "It's true; each of them knows all of us already. Primarily, I'm feeling mostly anxiety; they've been looking forward to this day since they went to sleep Thursday night. They want to do what they've seen being done from our surveillance cameras." He faced the kids, reminding, "We're here for you. Say hello or something to Prez once in a while, or he'll only..."

"Play Pissed Off Chickens," many of the kids disjointedly giggled.

A few of the teenage girls laughed. Maggie teased, "You might be our leader, but stay out of the girls' changing room!"

"Okay," Prez chuckled, "you guys run the show. Whatever you really want is kewl with us." Gesturing at the mothers, Doc Howard and Lindsay, Prez prompted, "Girls gather around the ladies. They'll help you through the store." Twenty-four newbie girls crossed the room. Prez then said, "Guys, you're with us and our sons." Going to Paul and Ryan, Prez wrapped his arms over their shoulders, and smiled, "We've got two additional helpers today," and introduced the brothers from AI Division to the assembling group.

Dale Barrett smiled at Drew and shared, "We saw all you dudes in the store too, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We heard the same thing at least three times; a week's worth of the basics."

Realizing that he had been watched while he tried on clothes Friday night, Leo slouched, covered his blushing face with both hands and softly giggled, "Omigod!" Quickly, Leo was embraced by his brothers. He also got a shoulder massage from Drew, and Corey joined his eldest son giggling.

The girls and ladies vanished from the dining room. With the remaining seventy-one boys gathered around the Core Rimmers, their sons and two helpers, Keith ordered, "Take us to the store, Alden," and the entire group relocated to the front of the basement store. Giggling level two boys scattered to get carts. That should've been a clue, but the Core Rimmers only laughed at the enthusiasm.

The five mothers, Doc Howard and Lindsay had a comparatively calm and easy time getting twenty-four girls through the store. On the other half of the store, pandemonium reigned as seventy-one boys tried to work their way through the various departments. They all tried to get at the shelves of underwear at once. And the same thing happened with socks. Loud laughter and giggling echoed through the store as boys tried to hurry, grabbing the things they needed and wanted, tossing them in carts, forgetting which cart belonged to who, and getting stuck in the traffic jam moving to the next department. The youngest got pajamas while some teens and tweens got bathrobes. Having seen Prez in his shower wrap, many teen boys asked for them and a pile was delivered by Alden.

Only to try and restore order, the Core Rimmers told the gathered mass of boys that little dudes had the right-of-way, then the tweens, and then the teens. For the most part it worked, but the sheer number of boys still kept the noise level high compared to the girls' side of the store. Already teaching some newbie girls, Lindsay pointed across the center aisle at the disorganized boys. John squinted and smirked at his life-long friend.

In the boys' side of the store, there were twenty-three teens, eighteen tweens, and thirty little guys nine-years-old and younger. Pouncing lessons began in the boys shoe department, when a few teens and tweens attempted to weasel their way in before all the little guys were finished. Little boys shouting, "BONZAI!" and grunting teens could be heard by the girls on the opposite side of the store. Teens learned quickly that their family jewels were at risk from pouncing little tikes. Many teen and tween boys decided to go back to the underwear department, looking for jocks and cups.

Giggling at the worried teens and tweens who found many jocks of assorted waist sizes, but no hard cups, Troy grabbed an empty cart and put his son, Jason, inside the cart. Sean watched his future husband start running and pushing the cart down the aisle. Then Troy jumped up on the cart's cross rail. Jason laughed, as much for his new pop's wicked snickering as for the expressions he was seeing on his dad and many of the other teen and tween boys watching from the boys underwear department.

Sean followed his Lover's lead, lifting and putting another of their sons, Scott, into another empty cart. In moments, teen and tweens were buddying-up to participate in the new sport of shopping cart aisle racing. Four carts could race down the center aisle at once, relatively safely, but there were a few cart bumps now and then. It was something that some of the kids hadn't done in years, since they were small enough to ride in the cart. For other boys, they had never done it at all. And it occupied a good half hour, to allow the youngest boys to move through the store.

Prez and Keith gathered Neil Green and Thaddeus Markell, and some little tikes to race down the aisle together. At the start line near the front of the store, Prez glanced over at Neil, smiling, "We know a little about you, Spitting Rimmer." Neil blushed and giggled. Tad roared laughing. Prez chuckled, "Your day will come, dudes. Know that you're being watched."

Keith chuckled, "Alden, you've got their tags ready?"

Alden giggled, "Of course," and two paper labels appeared on the front and back of Neil's and Tad's shirts. The patches read, "WARNING! Spitting Rimmer! Llamas can't aim!"

"I didn't spit on anyone," Tad giggled.

Shrugging, Keith grinned, "But you laughed your ass off when the nurse got goobered."

Prez told Neil, "You watched us, but we've heard plenty about you too, so it's all even." Abruptly, Prez gushed, "Ready, set, go!" and started the race before anyone was ready. 

"CHEATER!" Neil laughed.

Keith sniggered, "Of course!"

"Of course," Tad giggled.

In an hour-and-a-half, the girls made it through the entire store first. At the checkout aisles, all twenty-four were issued comm-badges and soon transported out of the store with their suitcases. It took the girls a total of two hours. Since the boys simply couldn't be helped, Lindsay and the five women took the girls to the Oneula Beach base, to begin moving into dormitory one's second floor.

Across the store, little tikes were choosing jeans and sport shirts, tweens were gathering boardies, shorts, swimwear and T-shirts. The teens were finishing in the shoe department and waiting their turn to move forward. All the Core Rimmers and their sons were having fun, racing shopping carts up and down the aisle, meeting the new boys, but at the rate they were progressing, they'd never get to the meeting or concert; they'd be lucky to finish in the store by dinner time. Making matters worse, the departments the boys had already been in were a shambles. If Core Rimmers spent time reorganizing then they couldn't assist kids and they might be down there until bed time. Keith had to ask Alden to straighten up the mess.

The only thing the Core Rimmers could do was be proactive and assign dorm rooms to the boys. Getting out PADDs and working feverishly to discover who wanted to be roommates with whom, Rimmers assigned little guys closest to the lavatories, and then moving to tweens further out, and lastly the teens by entryways and the common rooms. All the boys had chosen their roommates at the hospitals based on existing friendships and sexual preferences. Only three of the youngest boys wanted to share a single room. Once dorm room assignments were near complete, the usual brotherhood and teamwork chats started. At the various hospitals, the boys had already heard much of the biological and sexuality chats. Again, this group was much more tuned in prior to arrival than their level one orphanage counterparts.

Boys began packing suitcases at the checkout aisles. Troy and Sean ordered the new comm-badges and passed them out. In pairs, boys and packed suitcases were transported directly to dorm rooms. John, Stephen and their two boys were the first Core Rimmer escorts for the newbies at the Oneula Beach dorm. Each pair of newbies transported to their dorm rooms with Rimmer sons. With the first group of tweens, Corey, Drew and their sons joined the Oneula Beach group. Minutes later, with the last of the tweens, AJ, Jerry and their three sons were there at Oneula's dormitory one.

Once alone with only teens, the remaining teenaged Core Rimmers went off on silly rants, wondering whose bright idea it was to try getting seventy-one boys through the store at once. They blamed the girls, Alden, the other AIs and each other. Threats of drum stick and electric guitar enemas at the first convenient opportunity were passed. Mike ordered a stock of various sized dildos for the boys' toiletries department, so the next time they could at least get their rocks off after four frigging hours; all of which drove the twenty-three newbie teen boys, and Paul and Ryan into hysterics.

At five-thirty in the afternoon, after the last of the teens had been shown their new rooms, the newbie boys were given a quick tour around the Oneula Beach base. The tour ended at the Oneula cafeteria. Everyone was led through the dimensional doors and back to the Ewa Beach dining room. Immediately upon arrival, the level two orphanage girls, who were already sitting at tables eating dinner, helplessly giggled at their orphanage brothers and mercilessly teased them. The girls had toured both Ewa Beach and Oneula Beach. They had played at playgrounds and gone swimming. They had started to meet the other boys and girls.

Nodding and smiling, Keith playfully countered, "There are three times more boys than girls. Since it took you two hours and it took us only four hours, either it should've taken us two more hours, or the girls still took too long."

John smirked, "Plus, each of the dudes got to spend that time with fifteen of us, and all twenty-four of our sons, and Paul and Ryan too. They know us and we know all seventy-one of them. We had almost as many helpers as there were girls to start with. Doing the math, that's a hundred-and-eighteen compared to thirty."

Derrick joked, "We're doing a panty-raid on an all girls orphanage soon. When there are a hundred girls on one side of the store, we'll let our moms deal and take a nap during those hours."

Anna Seibert and Laura Gibbons sang, "Sour grapes!"

Mike snarled, "Is that what's for dinner?" and then cheekily grinned, bouncing his eyebrows at his mom and mother-in-law.

Prez didn't participate in the banter, because he had noticed that every newbie girl had McCoy milkshakes before them. Some newbie teen girls had small plates of salad, or veggies, or bread too. It reminded Prez where these kids came from. As fresh, fun and normal as they were, it was all because of the days spent at the hospitals, and because they were happier. John's and Drew's families, and the Rimmer sons, led the newbie boys through the chow line. Near the CIC entrance doors, Prez purposefully held the other Core Rimmers back in a huddle to share his thoughts. They all noticed that the chefs had obviously been briefed by the doctors, because each newbie boy shuffling through the line got a McCoy milkshake and was then asked if he wanted something additional.

Kaleo softly reminded Prez, "Remember where we were a little over a week ago, at the luau and Anahola Bay?"

Nodding, Prez said, "Sure, almost every minute of it."

Realizing where his husband was going, Tory smiled, "Dinner at the luau, you got just as sad as you are now."

Sean shared, "If you ask me, that's the kind of stuff that made you our leader, Prez. You didn't know much about any of us, but you cared, very deeply."

"I wasn't at that table, but heard about it," Jerry grinned, "I have to agree with Kaleo, Sean and Tory. We can see it in your expression and eyes, Prez. You're losing your appetite just thinking about what they went through."

"Don't go there," AJ instructed. "Instead, consider how much you mean to this entire division. I'm standing here with you for only two reasons – Jerry was willing and you asked us to be Core Rimmers. It wasn't Keith, Kaleo, or any one else's request that mattered; it was yours."

Kaleo nodded and shared, "You made me a member of your team first; me, a boy-toy only a day earlier. Any kid here would gladly do almost anything you asked of them. You don't even realize that, do you?" When Prez shook his head, Kaleo chuckled, "All of the original eight Core Rimmers were almost unreal to us. Joel rescued us and he made you our leaders. After a week with you, and the week at Archnania, I still wonder what makes you dudes tick. Anytime I ask myself why you aren't stuck-up and superior, I only have to watch you to realize that you couldn't be that way if you tried. It would come off as a joke. Remember that stuff and eat dinner. These newbies are here and eating because of you, more than any of us."

Prez sighed, "I get it, but I can't help feeling what I do."

Reyes suggested, "Then eat at a table with some of them, Prez. Show them how much you care, by asking them what their medical instructions are. If you'll do that, we'll do it too." Paul and Ryan were stunned silent with Reyes, and with the Core Rimmers' interaction. Reyes held up both his hands for Paul and Ryan to take, clearly signaling that they would find a table to be together with some of the newbie kids.

Each of the other Core Rimmers chimed, "Me too." With a small grin and Prez's thanks, the huddle broke and they went to the kitchen for their dinners. A few minutes later, Prez was sitting at a table of newbie teen boys, and the rest of the team followed his lead, choosing tables where newbie boys and girls were sitting.

The Core Rimmers knew that the original eighty-seven and the level one orphanage kids would get their height and weight checked by doctors once a month. The same group would get their blood checked twice a year. They learned that the level two orphanage kids were going to get their height, weight and blood checked every two weeks. Other than malnourishment, they were all relatively healthy. A few had been sick, with respiratory or sinus infections when they were rescued, but those conditions were treated while they were at the hospitals. One teenaged girl and one tween boy now wore prescription glasses. According to the kids, the hospitals they had been at went far beyond normal care. Doctors visited each kid every morning, afternoon and evening. Nurses checked on them constantly, and gave them decks of cards and games to play. Most importantly, each kid had a clean, warm bed to sleep in and plenty to eat anytime they were hungry.

Since the level two kids had just arrived, each Core Rimmer suggested that they take the next week off to adjust, like all the other rescued kids had the prior week off. While that sounded great to the kids, they also admitted that they wanted to attend Clan schools, where they were told they would get a better education, and that's where the majority of other kids would be anyway. They were told to sleep on the decision. Those that wanted to go to school the next morning for placement tests could do so, or they could choose to take the week off.

Noticing Keith had finished eating and was only chatting at a table of level two girls, Kekoa went over to report his findings from Los Angeles. Seeing Kekoa approaching, Keith excused himself from the table. Crossing the dining room and meeting up with the detachment's commander, Keith asked, "Is there anything disturbing about your report?"

Kekoa shrugged, "You're concerned about Leo hearing it?"

Keith slowly nodded, "Yeah, and even if Drew and Corey should hear it."

"I think at least one of Leo's new parents needs to know," Kekoa suggested.

Keith led Kekoa to the table where Corey's and Drew's family were sitting. By the time Keith had invited his brother and brother-in-law to come with them, John was also standing there too, innocently blinking and cheekily smiling. John shared, 'It's just easier if I pass this along to the other Core Rimmers. We've got almost thirty B.O.E. kids here who are just like Leo. All of us need to know.' Begrudgingly, Keith nodded agreement. Keith, Corey, Drew, John and Kekoa left the dining room and went into the Command Center's conference room. As soon as the door was closed, John looked up at Kekoa, saying, "We're doing similar investigations for all the other B.O.E. kids we've rescued. If any kid, or any of the adopted parents, or Doc Wiener need the information, we should have it as soon as possible."

Nodding, Kekoa grinned, "I figured as much," and then took the chair at the end of the table. Once everyone was seated, Kekoa said, "Let me preface everything by telling you that we have standard video and audio recordings of the entire operation.

"Los Angeles is still cleaning up the mess," Kekoa continued. "They have the National Guard protecting the county. There's a city-wide dusk curfew imposed for all citizens to get off the street. When my team arrived at 2765 Francis Avenue, the Scotts' residence, the entire street was cordoned off by police. We identified ourselves and the purpose of our presence there. Francis Avenue is only about a kilometer long; it spans from Hoover Street to South Vermont Avenue.

"The police told us that this particular neighborhood was claimed by four gangs. The Crips were done arguing and fighting. If you weren't friend then you were foe. On Francis Avenue alone, twenty-three were killed and another sixty-seven wounded." Locking eyes with Drew, Kekoa softly said, "Leo's the only person under the age of eighteen alive, and he's the only one that got out of there physically unharmed."

Corey gasped. Drew closed his eyes and deeply sighed, then reopened his eyes and prompted, "Go on, Kekoa."

Kekoa pulled out his PADD to read from his notes. He shared, "The house was heavily damaged, inside and out. From the sidewalk, my team counted and verified fifty-six bullet holes on the front wall of the house, facing the street. All the front windows were shattered, so obviously there were no holes to count in those spaces. Inside the home, we found fourteen bullet holes in the ceiling, and that it had very definitely been looted. On the first level, furniture and all personal belongings were awry. We found two puddles of urine, one in the dining room and one in the kitchen, and both were in the middle of the floor, away from any vandalism target."

"That seems odd," Keith scowled. "When a dude needs to piss, it's usually against, in or on something."

"We came to the same conclusion," Kekoa said. "Whatever the purpose was, somebody was in a hurry. We took samples from both puddles, kept one set and gave a duplicate set to the police."

Corey asked, "Was the furniture near the doorways tipped over, Kekoa?"

"Yes, it was," Kekoa answered. "That's another weird thing about this case. It seemed as if the looters got in through the living room picture window easily enough, but when it was time to leave, they spent time pulling furniture away from doorways. The only reason we could come up with, for something that illogical, was flight-or-fight reflex; they were under duress. How they left wasn't as important as leaving... quickly."

After checking the four faces, Kekoa continued. "There was nothing salvageable downstairs that I thought Leo might want to have. The family portrait was tattered and torn, so I didn't bother with it. We climbed the steps to find that the top landing was barricaded with furniture; a twin sized bed and a chest of drawers. There was a small space on the right side, that a boy might've gotten past. Our tunnel rat and one other team member got past it easily. It had to be moved for me and the rest of our team to get past it."

Drew nodded, "Leo said he pushed the stuff aside when he was ready to leave." He then asked, "Did the bathroom tub look like it was slept in?"

"There was a blanket, pillows and six emergency lights in the bathroom," Kekoa replied. "Only one of the emergency lights had discharged. The remaining five were near fully charged." Pausing to clear his throat, Kekoa said, "The bodies of an adult male and an adult female were found in one bedroom, on the floor, near the opposite ends of a dresser."

"They were still there?" Corey excitedly hollered. "Two days later, they were still there?"

Nodding, Kekoa softly reminded, "The City and most of the county are riot zones. There's a lot more to be cleaned up, beyond this one neighborhood."

Corey cried, "Omigod! Leo's nightmare was real! He relived the entire night in his dream!"

Taking Corey's hand, Drew nodded, "It seems that way." Fuming with anger and saddened beyond rational thought, Corey wiped tears from his eyes. Looking at Kekoa, Drew prompted, "Continue, please?"

Kekoa sighed, "Both adults had received shots to the head, and each had other gunshot wounds; the woman was hit in the shoulder and the man was hit through an arm and into his torso. The LA County Coroner was dispatched and both bodies were taken to the morgue. Half my team remained at the Scott residence until the coroner was finished there. The other half of the team and I went to Police Headquarters and the LA County Sheriff's Department.

"Police and Sheriffs had arrested sixteen members of the Crips. From telepathic investigations, we've taken custody of four of them, who were directly responsible for the Scotts' deaths, and many others on Francis Avenue."

Abruptly, John yelled, "COREY!" When Corey jumped and locked eyes with him, John firmly said, "Care for the living first. That's logical, bro. Leo's more important than the men who are already as good as dead."

"They know that too," Kekoa evilly grinned. "They actually offered confessions to the police if they'd refuse the custody change. California still hasn't recovered from the ZCC orphanages, so the police weren't willing to argue with us. Needless to say, the murderers struck out."

Squeezing his husband's hand and getting his attention, Drew gently instructed, "Let 'em stew and suffer, Cor. We'll take care of them, in a few days, after we tell Leo most of this and make sure he's okay."

Keith nodded, "I agree. Let them fret and fuss another day, at least. When it comes time to deliver justice, I want to take one out."

"And I'll take the last of the four," John said.

Turning to Kekoa, Corey instructed, "Keep them miserable, around the clock, dude. Leo's suffering and will always remember the way his parents were taken from him. Those scum get minimal food and drink, and constant annoyance until we put them out of our misery."

"Believe me, they're not comfortable, Corey," Kekoa smiled. "With your order, they'll look forward to death."

Keith asked, "Is there anything else on this case, Kekoa?"

"That's the majority of it," Kekoa responded. "While I was there, my team investigated Jimmy Matos, and the Nash brothers. We didn't get to Tony Lanning or Travis McAuley, so we'll let Ark and Founder Intel do their thing. The rest is normal Clan policy. We're paying for the Scott's last wishes and final resting places. If no documentation can be located, they'll be cremated and the remains sent here. As Leo's guardians, we'll be notified if need be."

Drew smiled, "Thanks for taking care of this for us, Kekoa."

"It's part of the job and kept you guys safe," Kekoa simply stated.

"Let's get back to the dining room then," Keith prompted. All five stood and pushed their chairs under the table.

Suddenly, Corey jumped, twisted and began laughing. Drew, Keith and Kekoa glanced around for some explanation.

Over Corey's laughter, John grinned, "I warned him to chill out. Leo needs his dad and stubborn pop too. Until Corey chills, he'll feel like he's being tickled, by Drew, in all those same naughty places."

Drew gleamed, "And I'll get to reap the benefits." Softly chortling, John, Keith and Kekoa left the conference room. Drew remained with Corey. After a while, Corey laughed himself nearly to exhaustion and left the room with Drew. They got as far as the Command Center before another exasperating thought caused another burst of laughter from Corey. Bouncing his eyebrows at the boys in the room, Drew smiled, "This is gonna be an interesting night!"

Out in the dining room, Keith went to Prez. Through his sub-vocal, Keith heard Alden groaning, "Prez is highly perturbed. He's ordered me to drop the corpses of the four gang members on the doorsteps of their families, with notes that are to read 'Either you're friend or foe; if you're not with us, then you're against us. Sincerely, Family Clan Short Pacific Rim Division.'"

"Understandable," Keith softly said. "Prez is hitting them with their own ultimatum."

"There usually aren't identifiable remains after phaser blasts, Keith."

"At the highest setting," Keith reminded. "At the next lower setting and a wider beam, internal injuries would be massive and deadly."

Instantly processing the potential broken bones and organ damage likely, Alden droned, "Oh my... you're pissed too."

Stopping and standing behind Prez's chair, Keith softly explained, "This was no accident, Alden. All our families would help almost anyone, anytime, and every way we could, before we were Clan. Alternatively, you don't fuck with our families. Leo is now family. From what I've heard, those men didn't care who they were shooting at. They got their rocks off with automatic weapons, when resources to stop them were at their lowest. It was violence for violence's sake. If the Crips want a war, they'll be overwhelmed with a show of strength that they won't soon forget. Put our heavily armored two hundred guys and only our Hind gunship up against a thousand of them. We'd have minimal, minor casualties, and they'd be decimated."

Still at a table with Neil, Tad, Carter, Doug and three other teen boys, Prez firmly said, "Kids from Los Angeles to Beijing are mine to protect. Kids are here, in the situations they're in, because we didn't know if it was logical to intervene in civil unrest. That mistake won't be made twice. Work with me, like the Latin Kings, or suffer the consequences. I've already notified Brent and Lance in Vegas, and Hector in Los Angeles. They're listening to their cities' grapevines. At the first threatening move by any gang, we're there to take back the city."

From the Command Center doors, Corey bounced into the dining room, laughing hysterically. Drew followed and held his arms up, loudly giggling, "Look, no hands!" Grinning insanely, John sadly shook his head. Everyone else cracked up, but the loudest laughter came from Leo, Lenny, Geoff and the quadruple R's. Corey rested at the table where his sons were sitting. It was Leo's peaceful expression and caring manner with Lenny and Geoff that calmed Corey down.

Leo's face radiated innocence and trust, Corey noticed. There was a deep desire to be part of the family, made apparent by the way Leo interacted with his new little brothers. Underneath all that, Corey knew there was a deep pain in his eldest son. Too occupied with Geoff and Lenny, Leo didn't ask about the meeting his dad and pop were at. Alone together in the near future, Corey and Drew would have to consider how much Leo would need to know, or want to know. 

Noticing that most of the kids were done with dinner, Prez stood and had Alden connect him to the base PA so he could announce a meeting, which all kids and available adults could attend. Those who had already taken their trays to the dishwasher got up and started for the exits. Drew and Corey had been expecting the announcement since before the trip to the basement store. They gathered their sons and transported into the auditorium to get the place powered up.

Ready for their first division meeting and concert, Chris, Jay, Craig, Phil, Erik, Travis, Lance, Scott, Tony and Ray stood and joined the mass of kids leaving the dining room. All eight spent most of the afternoon together. Of the eight, only Erik and Travis weren't in the auditorium the prior afternoon. The other six told them about the concert video they had watched.

Wishing he could participate in the conversation, Kassidy Oldcambus followed the pack with his brothers, Kade and Karey, but tried to ignore the telepathic conversation.

Evilly grinning, Karey silently shared, 'Kass has the hots for Jay and Travis.'

'What I'm wonderin' is why Kass is thinkin' about the amount of pubes each has?' Kade privately replied. 

Karey shrugged and reminded, 'It ain't like Kass is hairless. Compared to us, he's got plenty of pubes.'

Receiving another thought from his big bro, Kade sent, 'Oh, it's the bigger, buffer guys that Kass likes most. He was only comparing Jay to Travis.'

Looking up at his older brother, Karey smiled, 'Stop worryin' about us, Kass. It ain't like we never knew you liked girls and guys. It don't matter to us at all.'

Kassidy squinted and glared at both his younger brothers, warning them that they would eventually be back in their dorm room. Kade and Karey giggled, making it clear they were looking forward to it.

During the walk, Lance raved about Mike and Troy. Erik told Lance, "I started guitar lessons two years ago, but my school grades took a nose dive. My folks made me quit, but I never really lost interest; I just hadn't learned enough to really try learning on my own. I figured someday, ya know?"

Lance grinned, "You never said anything all day about that?"

Shrugging, Erik giggled, "I didn't tell Trav either. There were too many other dreams to share."

"Since way before I got here, being a musician has been my biggest, most important dream," Lance admitted.

Raising and displaying Travis' hand in his, Erik giggled, "Here's my dream."

Lance giggled, "It's all in the priorities, I guess. I wasn't even ready for my Panda's return."

Paused at the mass of kids entering the auditorium, behind Scott, Lance, Erik and Travis, were Tony and Ray. Tony teased, "I dunno, Lance. If I were in Trav's place, I think I'd be getting a little jealous of you and Erik."

Spinning around, Lance giggled, "I'm not putting any moves on Erik. Look at Trav compared to me. I'm not feeling especially suicidal tonight." Ray and Phil cracked up.

Craig sniggered, "Most of the afternoon, and through dinner, you have been chatting up a storm with Erik though, Lance. Trav's barely gotten a few words in compared to you."

Quickly moving around to Scott's other side, Lance admitted, "Scott's heard all this before, most of last night." He then locked eyes with Travis, giggling, "No boyfriends, no girlfriends, no Panda bears, but only a Les Paul hanging off my shoulder." He whined through giggles, "Please don't hit me! I'll just fall down and bleed!" Everyone in the group of eight roared. Kassidy helplessly sputtered and sniggered.

When the laughter began to subside, Erik pulled Travis close, planted a tender kiss on his mouth, and then whispered, "Only friends, Champ. It's you I want. Kewl?" Nodding, Travis landed a deeper kiss, causing all their other friends to chuckle and applaud. Shuffling into the auditorium, all eight remained together and found seats in the auditorium.

Another group that remained close together were the Combs and Diaz families. The four adults sat close together with their kids separated. Angelo slyly glanced down the row at Reggie, wondering if he would ever get to know the older Combs boy. All weekend long they had seen one another carrying stuff into their new townhomes, but other than casual greetings, neither Angelo nor Reggie had made other moves. Separated by six seats, both teenagers were silently considering what might happen if they ever got the chance to say more than "hey". 

Since the eldest Core Rimmers were the last to be served dinner, they were the last to arrive at the auditorium. As they walked in the theater and down the aisle, the audience started applauding, and it only got louder, with cheers, names being called, and whistling. More curious than anything, Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick led the way down to the stage. 

Reyes waved at the newbies he had brought to Ewa Beach that were calling his name. Walking with their friend down the aisle, Ryan and Paul silently wondered if this sort of reception was common. Reyes introduced Lance Elling and Alton Teele to Paul and Ryan, and asked if they would mind sitting with his friends. Seats were shifted and soon Ryan and Paul were being introduced to other nearby teenage boys. 

Blushing intensely, Sean and Troy giggled the entire way down the aisle. Kaleo and Tory knocked so many knuckles with ex-orphanage brothers and new friends that their fists were a little sore. The majority of the Core Rimmer team walked up onto the stage, where John's and Drew's families were already sitting. Scattered around and loudly chanting "We are The Rimmers!" were many of the UNIT base and personal security personnel.

Most of the team sat on the edge of the stage, but Prez, Keith, Mike and Derrick remained standing on the auditorium floor. Prez asked Drew to pass him the microphone. Facing the audience and raising the mic to his mouth, Prez chuckled, "What's goin' on, you guys? None of us have said a word or played a song yet."

Earlene Maygar yelled, "We love you guys, Prez." The applause seemed to swell with giggling from the crowd.

When the sound started to dwindle, Hugh Gartrell hollered, "The next time you run into a burning tower, keep that bubble butt kewl, dude." Again, the applause and laughter swelled.

Fanning her face with one hand, Cassie Cornwall loudly laughed, "Lord knows your butt makes plenty of us hot enough." The almost seven-hundred strong crowd cracked up, including the Core Rimmers and Prez.

Catching his breath, Prez raised the microphone, joking, "Meeting adjourned."

Prez's personal security, Matthew and Chris yelled, "Not until you play the new Rimmer theme song!" 

Horacio laughed, "We heard about that. It's a must, dudes."

Madly chuckling, Prez handed Keith the microphone. Remembering that he had adoptions to do, Prez tapped his sub-vocal to have Alden deliver his tricorder. While Prez got situated, Keith sniggered, "We had this crazy notion this might be a semi-serious welcome home meeting for our newbies, kids and families alike."

Mike asked Keith for the microphone, and then prompted, "Would the Combs family, the Diaz Family, the Taylor family, the Praefectus family, Rad Conklin and Gil Hoover please stand?" Scattered around the center seating in the auditorium, the named families and individuals stood. Mike said, "Please welcome Mr. Roy Combs, our new Facilities Coordinator, and his wife, Mrs. Monica Combs, our new breads and pastries chef. Mrs. Combs is now our top most favorite person in the world, right guys?" The kids loudly agreed.

Taking the microphone again, Keith introduced, "Joining us from the frozen tundra of Chicago, we have Mr. Doyle Praefectus joining our chefs. Mrs. Essie Praefectus is finishing her teaching degree. She'll be a teachers' assistant first and then a teacher. Their sons, Daemon and Ian, have already joined John's Intel team."

While the crowd was still applauding, Derrick took the mic and introduced, "Mrs. Diaz is our new math and music teacher. After the New Year, Mr. Diaz will become Doctor Diaz. Mr. Jason Taylor is our social studies teacher and football coach, and Mrs. Trinity Taylor is our new math and algebra teacher. Gil Hoover and Rad Conklin are our resident heroes. Both men were stationed aboard one of the destroyers that fought to save San Francisco." The audience continued applauding the newest arrivals. Turning to Prez, Derrick asked, "Do they have jobs yet?"

Leaning closer to the microphone, Prez grinned, "Gil's a Mouth Rimmer; he was into communications on his ship and will continue in that role, for as long as he's happy there."

"And Rad?" Derrick wondered.

Prez chuckled, "I don't know really, but thought he'd start a fruits and veggies garden for us."

Returning to his seat, Gil softly chortled. Rad grinned and loudly wondered, "Will I ever live it down, Prez?"

Holding up an index finger to signal a pause, Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike huddled together. After a brief whispered consultation, all four circled the one microphone and began sweetly singing as a barber shop quartet; "Down at an English fair one evening I was there, When I heard a showman shouting underneath the flair. I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts, There they are all standing in a row. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. Give them a twist, a flick of the wrist. That's what the showman said." While they were singing, they were making hand gestures in front of their crotches, showing everyone the size of their 'coconuts'. 

Recalling the first time he'd heard that song at the luau and laughing himself silly, Kaleo slipped off the stage. All the other Core Rimmers and most of the audience cracked up. Tory and Jerry offered hands, and Mike cupped his hands to help Kaleo climb back onstage. Rad laughed, "I'll take that as my answer then," and sat down beside his partner.

When the applause dwindled, Derrick said, "Before I pass the mic back to Prez, I'd like to announce that Family Clan Short Pacific Rim Division now has three-hundred-ninety-two rescued kids. Including our parents, employees and their kids, we've broken five-hundred. Add in our base security here and at Oneula Beach, and our personal security, puts us over six-hundred-seventy in only eight days." During the applause, Derrick passed the microphone back to Prez.

Further back in the audience, near Fred and Chauncey Eckhart, Ricco barked, "Plus one canine."

The Scooby Gang yelled, "Plus four ferrets!"

The chimps hollered, "And a dozen chimpanzees."

Appearing on the stage and climbing into the Rimmers' laps, six kittens purred, "Plus six felines."

Rolling his eyes, Reyes softly warned, "Charles, the music here is going to be the loudest you've ever heard." Without further commentary, all six kittens arched their backs, puffed up and disappeared from the auditorium stage.

The Rimmers on and standing before the stage sang, "Four calling birds, three French Hens, two turtle doves and Shirley in a pear tree!"

Displaying his tricorder and lifting the mic, Prez asked, "If the Gibbons family and Seibert family are ready for their additions, please come down to the stage?"

The Steib quadruplets and the McPhearson brothers raced down the aisle, with Paulie the Panda in pursuit. Prez, Derrick and Mike squatted down to catch the six little dudes. All four Steib brothers slammed into Derrick and knocked him over, starting the audience's laughter. The McPhearsons went directly to Prez, and Paulie embraced Keith, leaving Mike there without any kids at all. The audience roared laughing; the loudest laughter coming from the other Core Rimmers and Lindsay Gibbons.

Standing, Mike sniffed one of his armpits, loudly joking, "Yeah, I did use deodorant today. What am I? Only their big brother, but do I matter?" Prez helplessly laughed, kissed Albert, and then lifted Charles, planted a smooch on his cheek, and took them over to Mike.

Albert giggled, "Momma and Lindsay told us to go to Prez first, cos he matters more, since he burned his butt." From the front rows, where they could hear Albert's confession, to the back rows, the audience exploded. Derrick and Prez only glanced at each other then howled laughing.

The Scoobies loudly assured, "We's loves you, Shiny Daddy!" causing more applause and laughter to last longer.

"Come on down here guys," Mike prompted the Scooby Gang. All four disappeared under the chairs and scampered down to the stage. Faith and Willow climbed up Mike and stopped at his shoulders. Spike and Xander landed on Mike's feet. Mike reminded, "We've got over a hundred newbies to take the pledge, guys. Can you get them ready, quietly, while Prez handles these adoptions?"

"We's can do that," all four ferrets squeaked. They gave Mike hugs then scampered back up aisles. With some help from previous pledge takers sitting nearby, the newbies learned about the Great Shiny, Shiny Lovers, Dull Ones, and the evil Dull Lovers and Shiny Haters.

Simultaneously, while Shiny lessons were in progress, Prez got the McPhearson brothers adopted into the Gibbons family, despite Mike's attempts to talk Albert and Charles out of it, and add them to his and Derrick's family. Only six rows back, Dillon, Randy and Jonah were hysterical. The Steib quadruplets were adopted into the Seibert family. Prez announced the adoptions official. The audience applauded and cheered.

Lowering the microphone, Prez turned to John, asking, "Has Vaziik been introduced to Lieutenant Vorik?"

"First thing," John answered. "I asked Vorik to join us in the store, while Vaziik was getting clothes. Vaziik now understands the Clan as a whole, our Clan and leadership style, and has a good example to look up to locally. Vaziik was with the rest of the B.O.E. kids and Doc Wiener this morning. I had a telepathic conversation with him, only cos it's quicker and easier that way. He's kewl, bro."

While Prez was occupied with John, Mike went back to the Scoobies and near the newbie kids. Spike reminded his Shiny Daddy to put his Shiny Priest robe on for the occasion. After getting the robe from Alden, Mike made a show of putting it on, as if he were Moses about to part the Red Sea. Just as John and Prez were finishing up, about two-hundred kids rescued since Thursday, including Vaziik, and the new families stood to proudly recite the Shiny Pledge. The rest of the kids applauded, cheered and whistled.

Raising the microphone, Prez said, "It's almost seven-thirty, and our newest arrivals came from the United States, so it feels much later to them. We're going to get on with the show, but first, I do want to say that what happened Thursday night at the Hyatt will not happen again. Keith's talked to me about it, and so have all four of my sons, both my parents, all the other Core Rimmers and Kekoa Casey. Our biggest, most important job is to be brothers for all of you, and fathers for some of you. I won't endanger that primary mission by putting the command team of this division in harms' way again. In the future, dangerous rescues like the Hyatt will rely solely upon the UNIT Pacific Rim Detachment." The audience applauded, but Prez didn't think it worthy of applause and reminded, "Old timers need to remember school tomorrow at nine in the morning, for our first placement test, so set your alarm clocks." Drew and Corey jumped down off the stage. Leo, Lenny and Geoff stood on the stage. With Drew's sub-vocal tap, all five disappeared from the auditorium and reappeared up in the PA room. Prez continued, "We're going to play some new tunes and some that y'all will definitely recognize."

The audience lights started to dim. Prez chuckled, "That's my queue that I've yapped long enough." Kids in the audience giggled. John levitated his family off the stage and up the aisle. AJ, Jerry, Kaleo and Tory hopped down off the stage. With a tender kiss, Sean wished Troy good luck. Sean then jumped down and joined the audience with the other Core Rimmers and their sons. Following Derrick, Mike and Keith up the stage steps, Prez turned off the microphone and took it up onto the stage with him. He slid the mic back into its holder on the stand and then turned it on before going to pick up his bass guitar.

Mrs. Diaz softly told her husband, daughter and son, "The four boys from my old band class are virtuosos. I've watched them sight read music and perform expertly the first time through. I have no idea what they'll be playing, but guaranteed it'll be far better than most fourteen-year-olds could accomplish."

Gathering around the drum risers, the band started putting together the set list, which was passed along via their comm-badges, as it developed, to Drew and Corey. Out in the audience, many kids noticed various changes on the stage, like additional guitars, two of which were where Keith normally stood on stage left; two additional bass guitars and one acoustic guitar was at Prez's position, just slightly left of center stage; and on stage right, Mike's and Troy's selection of guitars were up to five each. Old timers told the newbies which instruments each band member played and shared stories about the luau, the Shiny Concert, the Wedding Concert, and the Welcome Home Concert for the level one orphans. Up in the PA booth, Corey and Drew were teaching Leo about the mixer, lighting console and outboard sound gear. The stage lighting dimmed such that even the littlest kids in the front rows could barely see their dads moving into position. Wearing his white Shiny Priest robe still, Mike was the most visible band member.

Pin-point spotlights shone onto the spinning mirrored disco ball high above the audience. Yellow lights beamed behind and over the drum risers, and at the extreme left and right of the stage came on. Reyes shook a tambourine over Derrick's head, moving from the left overhead mic to the right and back again. At stage left, Keith played the opening synthesizer arpeggios to Karn Evil 9. The audience enthusiastically applauded and cheered before Prez stepped forward to sing lead vocals. 

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We're so glad you could attend
Come inside! Come inside!
There behind the glass is a real blade of grass
be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!

Then, at stage right, Troy added the Hammond organ part at the second verse. Pounding his drums, Derrick came in with Mike strumming power chords. Reyes moved over to his electronic drum kit, put the tambourine down and picked up drums sticks. Watching his dad, Reyes came in playing the same part in perfect synchronization. 

All the newbie kids were stunned seeing their leaders transform from regular teenage boys to professional musicians, commanding the stage and their instruments. Shivering excitedly, Lance and Scott were more awestruck than they had been during the concert video they saw Saturday afternoon. Keyboard and guitar solos made some kids get on their feet. Watching Derrick's and Reyes' drum solo and Prez begin singing again, with strobe lights flashing and only drums backing him up, drove the rest of the kids to stand. Hearing the verse about 'seven virgins and mule,' almost every boy twelve years old and over uncontrollably cracked up. The security guys and the Rimmers' sons, all of whom had heard the song the prior day, applauded through the entire song.

Mrs. Diaz was completely captivated. Somehow her four virtuoso musicians had managed to find two other teen boys every bit as talented as they were. Of course, she didn't realize that Reyes only appeared to be thirteen, but was in fact a fifty-six-year-old android. Paul and Ryan were sitting together at the left end of a row, surrounded on three sides by many of the ex-street kids. The brothers had seen Reyes playing percussion and drums very briefly when they first met, and again at the beach house, but it was nothing like seeing Reyes play on stage with all the lights. At the end of the song, the spotlights on the disco ball went out, and so did many of the stage lights, leaving the applauding audience in virtual darkness.

For the next song, Troy moved away from the Hammond organ and went to pick up a Les Paul electric guitar. While kids cheered and Troy got situated to play and sing, Keith had synthesized sounds of a thumping heartbeat, electronic squeals and a helicopter traveling around the auditorium, introducing the Aldo Nova song Fantasy. With explosions of sound and light, Mike and Troy started playing the primary guitar power chords and the band joined together. Troy stepped forward to sing lead vocals.

Out in the audience, Judy Faris proudly smiled at her once shy son, who now had the attention of hundreds. Even she was somewhat surprised, in the middle of the song, when Troy grunted and jumped back from the microphone to play the dueling guitar solos with Mike. Prez joined them at center stage. In a semi-circle, the three guitarists bounced, swayed and shimmied to the delight of the crowd. The adults in the back rows couldn't tell who was having more fun, the six boys on stage or the rest of the kids who were on their feet, dancing in place or clapping their hands in time to the music.

When the second song ended, the band barely paused for the applause and cheering. They went right into the song Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride), with Mike singing lead vocals. Scott Shetley and Lance Kinchen had their jaws hanging on the floor while watching Mike sing and play lead slide guitar at the same time. Only the band members knew the goal was to rock this audience, so they could sleep and be ready for school the next morning. Kids began moving away from their seats to dance in aisles. Since none of the band members needed to change instruments, they went directly to the next song. A Capella, Derrick, Keith, Mike and Troy sang, "Carry On My Wayward Son, there'll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don't you cry no more." And the band seemed to explode at once with two guitarists, two drummers, bass guitar and keyboards. Keith sang lead vocals, with primarily Derrick and Troy backing him up during the choruses. 

During this song, Troy, Prez and Mike moved forward to play the guitar solos and instrumental breaks at the middle and end of the song. Up in the PA booth, Corey had an electronic tempo detector, so he could set the digitally controlled strobe lights to perfectly sync with the music and musicians. Corey activated the strobe lights during the final guitar solo and instrumental break. Almost all the stage lights went off with the final chord. The kids roared their approval.

Corey turned up the center blue and red lights, so Derrick could safely move down off the drum risers to take center stage. After putting his guitar down, Troy moved back to the Hammond organ. Mike switched guitars to his Stratocaster. Reyes quickly reprogrammed his electronic drums, tapped his sticks together to count off and began playing In The Air Tonight. Mike played a single heavily distorted power chord. Keyboards came in from Keith and Troy. Still wearing his wireless microphone wrapped over his head, Derrick strolled near the edge of the stage, singing directly to the kids. Suddenly, rows of seats emptied and kids stormed the stage. About half way through the song, Derrick turned to slowly walk back stage, winking at Mike and Prez on the way. Returning to his drum set and joining Reyes, they played the thundering drum part. The song ended with booming drums and crashing cymbals. Hollering and screaming, kids enthusiastically endorsed the dramatic performance.

Troy went to get his Stratocaster. Keith hurried across to stage right to play the Hammond organ and synthesizers there. Keith started playing low bass tones and synthesized strings. Glancing around the kids closest to the stage, Prez chuckled, "Big kids help the little ones, so they can see too. This next song is the one Horacio and our security teams asked us to play, it's our division's theme song. It's called, Knocking At Your Back Door." Stepping back, Prez started pounding on his bass. From stage right, Keith sang the lead vocals.

Not believing the teenagers on stage could be so suggestive, Angelo Diaz cracked up. Six seats away, Reggie Combs blushed and softly chortled. Led by most of the original eighty-seven, more and more kids left their seats and hurried down to the stage.

Up in the PA booth, Leo giggled, "What's goin' on down there, pop?"

"Got me!" Corey laughed, "It's the first time that's ever happened."

Holding a pair of binoculars to his eyes to see, Drew smiled, "It's been a few days since the kids have gotten a concert. At the front of the stage, I see Chris, Jay, Craig, Phil, Lance, Scott, Tony and Ray, the Steibs and the quadruple R's. Kaleo, Tory, Sean, Billy, Horacio and Sonia are there too. It looks like there's a mix of newbies and old timers at the stage." One thing Drew didn't comment on was Robbie Taylor carefully watching Billy Whitmore. Billy was too busy dancing with Sean to notice Robbie.

During the song, more kids gathered at the stage in front of their leaders. Driving the kids and adults crazy, every time Keith sang 'knocking at your back door', Troy, Prez and Mike spun around to wiggle their butts around. Mrs. Diaz and her husband cracked up every time the boys shook their tushes at the audience. Sitting beside his blushing older brother, Reggie, Cameron Combs laughed more than he ever had, at his embarrassed brother, and the bottom jiggling band members. As much as he really wanted to appear innocent sitting beside his parents, Angelo Diaz, was pushed into a giggling fit by his seemingly disinterested younger sister. If the truth be told, the younger Diaz child was most fascinated by anything that she shouldn't be interested in. Teenage boys shaking their bums were just showing off, and therefore nothing was the slightest bit intriguing.

Vaziik was led down near the stage by Stu, the Oldcambus brothers, and their cousin, Taron. Vaziik was shown how to keep time and dance. Although a foreign activity, Vaziik was encouraged by his roommate, Stu Sutliff, to follow his friends' leads and do what they were doing.

At the end of the song, it seemed like about a hundred kids were swamping the stage. While Keith returned to stage left, Mike chuckled, "Guys, we really love to see you having fun, but please be careful. We don't want anybody getting hurt, so spread out a little. Please don't make any adults come down and break up the fun, all right?" To give the younger and smaller kids space, most of the older and bigger teens wandered away from center stage and toward the aisles.

Pointing at stage left, all four of the quadruple 'R's' shouted, "Keith's picked up a guitar."

Stepping up to a microphone, Keith grinned, "Yeah, I'm not sure how this thing works. Where are the white and black keys, Mike?" Giggling and laughter traveled around the audience.

"I glued little labels on the fretboard for ya, bro," Mike sniggered.

"Oh, kewl," Keith cheered, and then rapidly blinked at the supposedly alien instrument, softly muttering, "What's a fretboard?"

Fully realizing what he was about to say, Troy chuckled, "Where your left hand is resting, Keith; the long, hard, wood thing." Pulling his bass guitar out of the way, Prez looked down for Keith's hand. The audience howled laughing. Evilly grinning, Keith bounced his eyebrows at Prez, Troy and the audience. Sniggering insanely, Derrick counted off the next song. All at once, three electric guitars, two drummers and bass guitar began playing Go All The Way. Keith sang lead vocals and the rest of the band sang the backup vocals.

At the luau concert a week earlier, Keith didn't play guitar, many of the original eighty-seven realized, and told the newbies about it. With two additional band members, the song sounded even better, as far as they were concerned. The song ended to loud applause. Keith put the electric guitar down and returned to his keyboards at stage left. Troy put his guitar down too and picked up his tenor sax. With Derrick's count, the band started playing Urgent. Again, Keith handled lead vocals with Reyes, Mike and Derrick backing him up. Mrs. Diaz was thrilled with Troy, easily moving from strings to keys and to reed instruments.

Still seated four rows back, Jonah went into a giggling fit. Smiling over at his boyfriend, Gage wondered, "What?"

Jonah sniggered, "Knocking on your back door, go all the way, it's urgent. Get the message?"

Cracking up, Gage laughed, "I think they're trying to wear everybody down. What's left is for lovers to finish off."

Leaning closer to Gage and gesturing for him to move closer, Jonah asked, "Ya wanna try stuff tonight?"

Gage giggled, "I told you that I'd wait for when you're ready. If you're ready, I will be."

Jonah admitted, "You're awesome. I want it to be way better than anything else that was done to me. I'm really scared too, Gage."

Gage begged, "Don't rush it, okay? Just sleeping with you last night was awesome, even though we didn't do nothin'. I was holding you, and that was plenty. I'm with you, and you've got me at your side. That's all I want."

For the remainder of the song, Jonah's thoughts spun wildly. There were few other boys as cute as Gage, and probably fewer still anywhere near as compassionate. Not wanting to rush anything, Jonah wasn't sure what to do. On a whim, while the audience was cheering at the end of the song, Jonah tapped his comm-badge, ordering, "Alden, take me and Gage to my bedroom in the townhouse."

Clapping his hands with Sammy, Ben and everyone else, Gage hadn't even seen Jonah tap his comm-badge. Still applauding, Gage suddenly found himself alone with Jonah, sitting on a soft bed, in a dark bedroom. Gage giggled, "Jonah, did you..."

Silencing his boyfriend with his deepest, most passionate kiss, Jonah pushed Gage flat on the bed. Falling back, Gage helplessly giggled, and then he slid his hands into Jonah's back pockets and got into the kiss.

Realizing his brother and Jonah were gone, Sammy nudged Ben and pointed to the two empty seats. Ben giggled, "Where'd they go?"

"I have no idea!" Sammy laughed.

"Betchya I know," Ben evilly cackled.

Opening his eyes wide, Sammy wondered, "Ya think?"

Ben nodded and mischievously leered, "If Gage comes back here lookin' like both his heads are in the clouds, you and me are so outta here."

While Sammy was searching Ben's eyes, Platinum Habits started performing Shakin'. Up on stage, playing the rhythm guitar part, Mike sang; "Rosanna's daddy had a car she loved to drive. Stole the keys one night and took me for a ride. Turned up the music just as loud as it could go. Blew out the speakers in her daddy's radio.

"She was shakin' (oh oh ooo oh), Snappin' her fingers (oh oh ooo oh), She was movin' round and round (oh oh ooo oh), That girl was shakin' (oh oh ooo oh).

"We started drinkin' wasn't thinkin' too straight. She was doin' eighty and she slammed on the brakes. Got so high we had to pull to the side. We did some shakin' 'til the middle of the night."

That was as much as Ben and Sammy could take. Almost at the same instant, they glanced at each other and reached for their comm-badges. Stopping Ben's hand from completing the emergency call, Sammy ordered, "Alden, take me and Ben to my bed at the townhouse."

Left there in the auditorium, with four empty seats to his left, Dee only had to think a few moments to realize where his brothers and their boyfriends had gone so suddenly. Gage and Sammy were never sexually abused and therefore were virgins – very likely past tense. Helplessly, Dee cracked up. Sitting to Dee's right side, Jason Mullins, Sean's and Troy's new nine-year-old son, smiled, "What's so funny?"

Pointing over at the empty seats, all Dee could manage was the brief giggle, "Boyfriends!"

Jason nodded and smiled, "Has anyone ever told you that you've got a real cute laugh?"

Blushing, Dee shook his head and giggled, "Never."

Jason assured, "It really is," and faced forward as the song ended. Standing up, Jason and the rest of the crowd burst into applause and cheers.

Rapidly blinking and slowly clapping his hands, Dee tried to understand what Jason was saying. Jason had been around since Thursday, and Dee knew that he was another sexually abused kid. Drawing a blank, Dee tapped Jason's shoulder. At center stage, Keith started singing, the words bouncing from side-to-side and around the auditoriums' loudspeakers. The band began playing Pour Some Sugar On Me. Dee gestured for Jason to follow him. Dee led the way down the almost empty side of the row of seats and waited for Jason. Prez noticed his eldest son leaving the auditorium, and only thought that maybe he needed to leak. They did come directly to the auditorium after dinner, so there was no big surprise. Walking up the aisle, Dee noticed he was being watched by his grandparents. He waved to them all and mouthed, "Be right back."

Out in the lobby, where it was much quieter, Dee turned to Jason, softly asking, "You like my laugh?"

Nodding, Jason explained, "I love it, and being here. I've laughed more here in three days than I have in nine years. Compared to my old life, this place is like a dream." He then asked, "Did I freak you out saying that?"

"A little," Dee reluctantly admitted.

Jason smiled, "Don't worry about it, Dee. I know I'm gay. Here, there are so many cute guys our age, I sometimes say exactly what I'm thinking. I didn't think it would freak you out. I guess I just didn't think." Losing his smile, he sighed, "I made the same stupid mistake with Leo. He wants a boyfriend, someday, just like, not now or soon. After what he told us this morning... I didn't think of that either, I guess. For the first time, I can have friends. I can have a boyfriend too, and I want one, but... I guess I'm screwing up bad, scaring guys that I really like. I don't mean to scare anyone." He reached a hand up to wipe forming tears away.

Reassuringly taking hold of the slightly taller yet younger newbie, Dee grinned, "We was all like that last week, when we were new too. It's like, before we weren't allowed friends. Now we are allowed. Before, we wouldn't even try to bring a kid home. Now, we all live together, so it's better than havin' a friend visit. He's right next door.

"After what all of us from the original group did, just trying to get to know each other, I can easily guess how four times as many must seem to you," Dee continued. "Being one of four hundred, not one of a hundred kids, must seem like too much. You and your bros did fine yesterday at the beach house. Think of it, you went to Kaho'olawe with your bros, all orphans, and came back adopted with two dads! Are you happy with Sean and Troy?"

Rapidly nodding, Jason giggled, "Yeah, they're awesome."

"Sean was rescued the same day as me, which makes him a brother," Dee revealed. He watched Jason's jaw drop, and giggled, "Now you're getting it. Your dad was my bro. Now my ex-brother has an awesome boyfriend, four sons that they obviously love, and would do anything for, and they're brothers to my daddy and poppa, which makes my ex-brother my new uncle!" Jason cracked up. Dee giggled, "It's crazy. My daddy and poppa are your uncles. Think of the level two kids and where some of them might be next week. Who'll be adopted? Who'll have a boyfriend? Who'll be a Core Rimmer, and who'll be a dorm leader? The idea of being a really big family is all we've been running with for a week. Look how it's working out.

"My dad and pop really like seeing the kids are hookin' up too. All it takes is one kid being happier than the day before, and they're happy too. You want friends, so you got 'em, by the dozens, just for bein' kewl, dude. All the guys sittin' around the kitchen table last night are already your friend. Nothin's hard about it at all."

Jason asked, "I'm tryin' too hard, huh?"

Dee smiled, "Yeah, I think so. My past is like yours, just from an orphanage. Your dad, Sean, was at the same place as my little bro, Richie. Sean thinks Richie has changed. Richie is sure Sean is different too. I'm just saying, it's all different here. Now we can be real people, not some jerk's toy. We don't always see it, but other people see us changing. You're not like you were Thursday. I'm not the same as I was before either. Let the changes happen, Jase. It don't take trying at all, stuff just happens."

"Thanks, Dee," Jason warmly smiled.

"Anytime!" Dee giggled. "Speaking of time, it's time to leak, before we go back inside." Rapidly nodding, Jason agreed. In moments, they were standing at urinals. Beginning to relieve himself, Dee grinned and huffed, "Oh boy, I think I waited too long."

"I didn't have to go when we got here," Jason giggled. His eyes widened and he loudly warned, "FOG ALERT! Watch out!" barely a second before he let one rip that was at least as loud.

Dee cackled, "OMIGOD, JASON! That was like an adult fart coming out of your little butt! Did it hurt, or what?"

Jason giggled, "I feel much better now."

"Yeah, and I'm dyin' here!" Dee squealed.

"Four nights in a row I've had real food," Jason smiled. "I used to eat frozen dinners seven nights a week."

"The next time Cory Short visits, you're our counter-attack," Dee coughed.

Stuffing his wiener back in his shorts and zipping up, Jason rapidly blinked and tilted his head, checking, "The Cory Short, the one that started it all?"

Also finished, Dee redid the Velcro fastener on his boardies, nodding, "Yeah, he was here Monday, to make my pop the director officially." He paused then sniggered, "And pollute the air."

Heading to a sink, Jason giggled, "I hope I get to meet him too." Noticing Dee was heading for the door, he asked, "You're not washing your hands?"

Dee gasped, "Need... fresh... air." Jason howled laughing, and hurried to finish at the sink.

Soon, both boys were walking into the auditorium and hurrying down the aisle. Platinum Habits was now playing Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress. Although he liked what he heard, Jason didn't know the song. Dee had heard the band rehearsing it at Archnania. Keith was again playing rhythm guitar, and Troy was singing lead vocals. Dee was about to shuffle down the aisle and return to his seat when Jason tapped his shoulder and gestured to the floor in front of the stage, yelling, "Do you like to dance?"

Nodding, Dee reached for Jason's hand and they hurried to the floor where many dozens of kids were dancing. They had only begun when the song ended and both boys cracked up. Applauding, Dee watched his dad put the electric guitar down and return to the keyboards at stage left. Keith gave his band mates a thumbs up gesture, and the band started playing Something's Missing. Dee pointed at his dad and pulled Jason over to that side of the stage where they danced through the whole song. Playing lead guitar, Mike sang lead vocals.

When the tune ended, Reyes stood and walked off to extreme stage left. Troy took his guitar off and told the audience, "This next song me and Reyes learned and have played, but ya know, it didn't add anything, so we're gonna take a break. For those that don't know, Reyes and I are the new members of the band. Check out what these four can do." Reyes got a towel and a bottle of water, and watched from the left side wing. Troy went over to the far right side.

"We know!" Sean, AJ, Jerry, Kaleo and Tory laughed.

With his index finger, Troy gestured for Sean to come up and keep him company. Already blushing, Sean hurried over to the stairs at stage right and flew up two steps at a time. He disappeared behind the curtain at the same moment that Derrick began counting off. The remaining four members of the band started playing Here Comes The Feeling, with Prez singing powerful lead vocals. For many of the kids that hadn't been to the luau, or ever seen less than five Core Rimmers on stage at once, the performance and sheer energy displayed was amazing. During the chorus' strick beat, Mike and Prez marched in place before their microphone stands. At the end of the song, the auditorium exploded in applause and cheers. The adults in the back rows stood and gave the boys an ovation.

From stage left, Reyes returned to his electronic drums. Troy returned to pick up a guitar from stage right. Mike switched guitars for the next song. Moving his mic aside, and wiping sweat off his face with the lower edge of his T-shirt, Derrick instructed Reyes, "You and Prez start us off anyway. Go ahead and count it off. I'll be ready." Troy nodded to Reyes, assuring he was ready. Prez moved closer to Reyes and they counted off together. Bass guitar and electronic drums kicked off Get It On (Bang A Gong). Strobe lights flashed over the stage and the band through most of the entire song. Troy sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar.

The funny thing was, Sean had never emerged from behind the curtains at stage right. Nudging his husband to go check, Tory cracked up. Reluctantly, Kaleo giggled his way up the stage right steps and went behind the curtains. Thankfully, the music was loud enough that they couldn't be heard. Tapping Sean on the back, Kaleo giggled, "What's wrong, bro?"

Turning to face his friend, Sean cackled, "Absolutely nothing!" and pointed down at his tented shorts. Already well aware of Sean's endowment, Kaleo roared laughing. Sean blushed, "Troy practically climbed all over me the second we were alone. He plays provocative songs, I get the profits and the bone. Now he's out there singing about banging and getting it on, and I stand here waiting for my cock to deflate!"

Hysterical, Kaleo searched for the curtain edge and then staggered out to the floor and Tory. Seconds later, AJ, Jerry and Horacio knew about Sean's predicament. At the end of the song, Troy went to switch from electric to his acoustic guitar. Turning around and returning to his microphone, Troy noticed his friends on the floor before the stage, brushing one index finger over the other and giggling, "Shame on you!" Troy helplessly sputtered and quickly turned around before covering his mouth and cracking up.

Pushing his mic up and out of the way, Derrick grinned, "You left Sean sweating?"

Nodding, Troy sniggered, "We're alone in our townhouse tonight. If that song didn't make my purpose clear, this one will. Go ahead and count it off."

Pulling his mic down again, Derrick counted off the tempo for The Story In Your Eyes, and the band started playing. Hiding behind the curtain, Sean rolled his eyes, muttering, "My wicked Lover. He'll get what he wants the way he wants it all right. Maybe twice!" Troy stepped up to the microphone and sang the lead vocals.

Gage and Jonah returned to the auditorium. They went to dance at the front of the stage. Barely a minute later, Ben and Sammy returned to their seats, thinking that Jonah and Gage hadn't yet returned. At the end of the song, Sammy found them applauding and pointed them out to Ben. They hurried down to the stage, noticing that Reyes was moving over to his congas and hand percussion. Troy moved over to the keyboards at the right side of the stage. Seeing Sean peeking from behind the curtains, Troy seductively smiled, "Got the message?"

"Loud and clear," Sean beamed, and held two fingers up to make his intentions known.

The stage lights dimmed and Reyes counted off the tempo to That's The Way Of The World. Many of those that hadn't been dancing before, including some of the parents, got up and danced in the aisle. Reyes sang the lead vocals, with primarily Keith and Troy singing backup and harmony vocals, but all of them sang various parts. Moving nearer to the stage, Paul and Ryan watched their friend and danced in place. Reyes noticed his two friends dancing in perfect synchronization without watching each other. Keith played the electric piano and synthesized strings parts. Troy played synthesized horn parts. Since Keith and Troy were only playing through parts of the song, they raised their arms over their heads and clapped their hands to the beat. Soon, dancers were clapping their hands and so were those still seated.

Without really intending to start anything, Sammy, Dee, Gage and Richie were lined up across from their boyfriends and dancing partners, Ben, Jason, Jonah and Jimmy. The next thing they knew, Kaleo and Tory had joined the two lines. Then AJ and Jerry joined at the opposite end. Soon, the lines were expanding with couples dancing before the entire length of the stage; Horacio and Sonia, Ipo and Lani, Aki and Hajami, Stephen Wickes and Aaron Farris, John and Stephen, Wade and Frankie, Keanu and Liki, Roy and Mollie, Nell and Pete, newbies Carter Rackham and Douglas Zimmerman, and many others overflowing into the aisles.

With the applause at the end of the song, Troy went to get his Stratocaster. Reyes returned to his electronic drum kit. Bass and drums introduced the next song. Playing rhythm guitar on his Strat, Troy sang the lead vocals for Love Will Find A Way, which kept the lines of dancers before the stage happily shaking their butts around.

At the end of the song, Kaleo and Tory hollered, "Rescue Me!"

Prez chuckled, "Did you not realize that's your job now?"

AJ, Jerry, Kaleo and Tory hollered, "Play Rescue Me!"

Keith giggled, "Only if you guys sing too."

A bunch of kids yelled, "We will!" Guitarists and drummers, Mike, Troy, Derrick and Reyes started the song. Prez and Keith joined in. Singing lead vocals, Mike watched the audience. Kaleo had learned most of the lyrics. With prompting from Prez, Keith and Troy, almost the entire audience sang the choruses along with the band. Powering up, John levitated both lines of dancers at the front of the stage. Encouraged by the floating and singing kids, the band repeated the end chorus a few more times. When they ended the song, the audience exploded in applause, cheers and yells. Laughing hysterically at the enthused kids, John lowered them all down to the floor.

Bass, drums and keyboards started off the next song, Roll With The Changes. Standing at the Steinway, Keith sang lead vocals. For the middle guitar solo, Mike and Troy swapped off four bars each, then finished with both of them playing. Dancing kids screamed with delight. At the hospitals and since arriving at Ewa Beach, the ninety-five newbies had been told that the leaders of this division had their own band, and they had seen them Thursday evening on televisions, but none of them expected anything like what they were now experiencing. Nearing the end of the song, Troy hurried over to the Hammond and swung his guitar around his back to play the organ part. 

At the end of the song, Mike asked the cheering kids, "You're not tired yet?"

"NO!" was the overwhelming response. Stepping back from the microphone, Mike cracked up. Crossing the stage, Keith went to the Hammond organ. Troy put down his guitar and Reyes stepped out from behind the electronic drum kit. Picking up two tambourines, Reyes tossed one Troy.

Prez playfully prompted, "You will be tired and sleep. This song's for any of you that are the slightest bit worried about school." The stage lighting dimmed. Keith played low bass notes and some much higher arpeggio trills on the Hammond. Derrick began pounding a simple beat with his bass drum. Reyes and Troy tossed tambourines to each other and briefly shook them before tossing them again. Adding his bass part, Prez instructed, "Your old lives are past, over and done. Clan schools are not like your old schools; it's gonna be as fun as any school can be. All you have to do is try, give it your best shot, and Hold Your Head Up." Mike came in with the guitar part and the band joined together, with Derrick singing the lead vocals. All six sang the choruses. The song soon became an anthem, with all the Core Rimmers and dorm leaders prompting kids to "hold your head up high".

At the end of the song, while the newly empowered audience and proud parents applauded, Troy went to pick up his Stratocaster. Reyes returned to the drum risers, stopping at the congas. Mike started playing before Troy reached his microphone. It was a necessary trick to get Troy into the groove for the song he was about to play rhythm guitar and sing lead vocals to – Play That Funky Music. Troy screamed, "Hey! Do it, now!" and the band joined together. Kids that had been resting quickly got back up and started dancing. Down on his knees at the edge of the stage, Mike wailed the guitar solo directly to the dancing kids. He bounded up at the end and quickly returned to his microphone to sing backing vocals with the rest of the band. At the end of the song, Troy kept his guitar on, but swung it around to his back, so he could play keyboards for As Long As You Love Me.

Up in the PA booth, Leo could barely believe what he was hearing and seeing. Way down on the stage, Uncle Keith roamed around singing the lead vocals directly to groups of kids. Leo had seen Backstreet perform the song on television, but they weren't playing instruments. All the band members were dancing, singing and playing their instruments. "HOLY CRAP!" Leo excitedly shouted. Corey cracked up.

Drew sniggered, "Pretty good, huh?"

Unable to tear his eyes away from the window where he was watching, Leo laughed, "They're awesome! I thought they could only play oldies!"

Corey giggled, "The really kewl thing is, they learned that song in one afternoon. They first heard it at school, came home and started working on it. By dinner time, it was this good, with them dancing too, like they are now."

Watching his eldest son dance alone, Drew took a moment and tapped his comm-badge, ordering, "Alden, get Leo down to the rest of the dancing kids." In a blink, Leo was with the rest of the kids, before the stage. Noticing his newest nephew, Keith knelt on one knee, singing directly to him for a few moments.

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

Just as he might have if any of the real Backstreet members had sung to him, Leo stopped dancing. He smiled up at his Uncle and turned pale, not recognizing that he had stopped breathing. Standing up, Keith moved over to sing to Earlene and Noreen Magyar, causing them to screech at the top of their lungs. Giggling his ass off, John came over just in time to support Leo before he crumbled to the floor. John floated his faint nephew to the first available seat in the front row, sat him down and pushed Leo's head down between his knees.

John giggled, 'I keep warning Keith, one of these days he's gonna pull that stunt and somebody's gonna crash to the floor. He didn't believe me.' Leo only groaned. John shared, 'Sorry, only me and your dad are likely to grow up looking a little like Keith, and we're already spoken for. You can do pretty well with any of the other dudes your age, Leo.'

Up in the PA booth, Corey and Drew heard John telepathically telling them what had happened. Drew giggled, "Well, that trip lasted about a minute!"

Corey laughed, "Alden, get an extra chair up here, then transport Leo into it, before he has an embarrassment embolism, or some such shit." A moment later, the chair appeared and so did Leo, with his head still hanging between his knees.

Geoff and Lenny came over to help their big brother. Leo whimpered, "I can't believe I almost fainted. He's my uncle now! What's wrong with me?"

"Absolutely nothing!" Corey, Drew, Geoff and Lenny chorused.

Corey reminded, "I was where you are at age nine, Leo."

Rubbing his big bro's back, Lenny nodded, "Keith's great as an uncle, but when he's on stage, I forget all about that."

"It's all of 'em, really," Geoff giggled. "Like one minute, they're uncahs, and then they're Core Rimmers, our leaders, and then they're a band. It's weird when I reme'ber they're all three."

Drew wondered, "What about me and pop, Geoff?"

"You're daddies and Core Rimmers, only two," Geoff giggled.

Down at the stage, the band began playing The Voice. Keith handled the keyboard introduction. Strumming his acoustic twelve string guitar, Troy sang lead vocals.

Won't you take me back to school?
I need to learn the golden rule.
Won't you lay it on the line?
I need to hear it just one more time.

Oh, won't you tell me again?
Oh, can you feel it?
Oh, won't you tell me again tonight?

Each and every heart it seems,
Is bounded by a world of dreams.
Each and every rising sun,
Is greeted by a lonely one.

Oh, won't you tell me again?
Oh, can you feel it?
Oh, won't you tell me again tonight? Tonight?

Cause out on the ocean of life my love.
There's so many storms we must rise above.
Can you hear the spirit calling, as it's carried across the waves?
You're already falling, it's calling you back to face the music.
And the song that is coming through.
You're already falling, the one that it's calling is you.

Make a promise, take a vow.
And trust your feelings it easy now.
Understand The Voice within.
And feel a change already beginning.

Oh, won't you tell me again?
Oh, can you feel it?
Oh, won't you tell me again tonight?

Oh, won't you tell me again?
Oh, can you feel it?
Oh, won't you tell me again tonight? Tonight?

And how many words have I got to say?
And how many times will it be this way?
With your arms around the future and your back up against the past.
You're already falling, it's calling you on to face the music.
And the song that is coming through.
You're already falling, the one that it's calling is you.

Each and every heart it seems,
Is bounded by a world of dreams.
Each and every rising sun,
Is greeted by a lonely, lonely one.

Won't you tell me again?
Oh, can you feel it?
Oh, won't you tell me again tonight?

Tired newbie kids returned to their seats and enjoyed the remainder of the show. There were only four more songs. For the first, Stone In Love, Keith took center stage singing lead vocals. The second was the ballad Truly, Madly, Deeply, sung by Keith and Troy from opposite sides of the stage and behind racks of keyboards. Mrs. Diaz was as proud as any of the parents. Boys that were her students had performed flawlessly for two hours. All six of the boys loved what they were doing. Their stage presence was felt and audience interaction was appreciated as part of the show. Even the lighting and sound quality was something to be experienced. She and her husband had paid to see other artists and shows that weren't this good.

The already dark stage went black at the end of the song. The audience was still applauding when lights shone down onto Prez, and Keith at the stage left keyboard rack, and Troy standing at stage right, playing the harmonica introduction to He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother. Once again, Keith and Troy shared the lead vocals. Before the stage and out in the audience, kids and adults slow danced. The lyrics brought tears to the eyes of many level two orphans.

At the end of the song, the stage lights all went out, and the audience remained on their feet to give the band an ovation. They were still applauding and cheering when a single spotlight turned on, that Mike walked into while strumming his acoustic guitar and humming. Stopping before his microphone, Mike sang;

Seagull, you fly across the horizon
Into the misty morning sun.
Nobody asks you where you are going,
Nobody knows where you're from.

Here is a man asking the question
Is this really the end of the world?
Seagull, you must have known for a long time
The shape of things to come.

Another spotlight shone brightly to Mike's left. Playing his twelve-string acoustic, from out of the darkness, Troy stepped forward. Mike continued singing;

Now you fly, through the sky, never asking why,
And you fly all around 'til somebody, Shoots you down.

Da da da da da da da down.
Mm mm mm mm, mm mm.

Two more spotlights shone brightly. Strumming acoustic guitars, Prez and Keith stepped from out of the darkness and into the lights. Mike sang;

Seagull, you fly, across the horizon,
Into the misty morning sun.
Nobody asks you where you are going,
Nobody knows where you're from,

Behind the drum risers, beams of yellow light brightly shone like a sunrise. Standing in silhouette, Reyes shook maracas and Derrick beat a tambourine.

Now you fly through the sky, never asking why,
And you fly all around 'til somebody, yeah,
Shoots you down. Mm mm, yeah.
Seagull you fly, seagull you fly away.

All six boys sang the final sections.

And you fly away today
And you fly away tomorrow
And you fly away,
leave me to my sorrow.
Mm, mm, mm.

Seagull, go on and fly, mm, mm, mm,
Fly to your tomorrow, leave me to my sorrow, fly.

The final guitar chords rang out to silence. Minimal lighting on the band members flickered off in the reverse order. Applause, cheers and whistles from the audience cut through the darkness. All the stage and auditorium lights were turned up. The band members put their instruments down or back on the guitar stands. Lining up across center stage, the band members held hands and bowed for the applauding and cheering kids. For quite a long while, Sean had been able to leave the stage; he simply liked the new vantage point and hearing what the band was hearing from the stage monitors. Now that the show was over, he stepped out from stage right, clapping and proudly cheering his boyfriend and teammates. Troy went over to Sean and stole a deep, wet kiss.

Stepping up to a microphone, Prez smiled, "Okay, you've been a great audience. I guess we needed the extra hundred to make it a real party. Dorm leaders and Core Rimmers, hang back to let everyone else leave and get back to their dorm rooms. Just this one night, we're going to walk around and make sure everybody hits the sack."

From the back rows of the auditorium where most of the adults were sitting, Bill Seaver hollered, "All the parents will be joining you too. Judy and Kathy will get the girls at Oneula Beach settled for the night."

Watching the majority of their audience head for the exits, Prez, Keith, Troy, Derrick and Mike helplessly giggled. Yes, it was definitely a school night and the parents were happily returning to their normal routines. Focused on his mom conversing with the other adults, Troy read her lips when she turned toward the stage. Judy teased her son by silently mouthing, "I can't do it, ma. They're way better than me."

Cracking up, Troy shared what his mom had said with Sean, and then the rest of the band, admitting, "That's almost exactly what I said last Monday afternoon, before coming up on stage."

"Please tell me that you didn't really believe that?" Reyes quickly asked. When Troy blushed and nodded, Reyes sighed, "I was up here that day and watched everything, Troy. You fit in from the start. At Archnania, you added at least as many songs to the set list as I did."

Glancing at Troy and Reyes, Keith grinned, "Both of you add important voices, tunes and experiences to this band. Most of what we played tonight couldn't have been done correctly without both of you."

Prez prompted, "Sean, you were at the luau. How does the band sound now compared to then?"

Sean giggled, "You dudes were awesome then, and it's more awesome now." Since everyone was anxiously awaiting more, Sean smiled, "Take 'Hold Your Head Up', for example. What made the song great was not only what was said, but watching Troy and Reyes toss tambourines around. You always look like you're having a blast. Another example is the guitar duels between Mike and Troy. Even from opposite sides of the stage, Keith and Troy are dueling keyboards. As a whole, it's the same showmanship as the luau and more, because there are two more of you. I was there at Archnania, so I saw rehearsals that almost everyone else never did. Not one of you argued once. I saw the original four bringing the two new dudes up to speed on songs they already knew. I saw the two new guys work together with the rest of the band, adding new songs to the list. Two songs I wish you'd played tonight are 'Just My Imagination', and 'Ooo Baby Baby', with Reyes singing. Those are dreamy, slow dance tunes that I really like."

Bouncing his eyebrows, Troy widely smiled. Sean smirked and giggled, "You're just evil, Lover. We may be the only two falling asleep at our school desks tomorrow." The remaining Core Rimmers and the dorm leaders waiting near the edge of the stage cracked up.

Drew and Corey returned to the auditorium, appearing beside the other Core Rimmers and dorm leaders. Prez and Keith started off the stage and were followed by Sean, Troy, Derrick, Mike and Reyes. Going directly to Paul and Ryan, Reyes had a whispered conversation with them. Seeing Roy and Pete with the group, Prez asked them, "Did you dudes need anything?"

Reaching for Mollie's hand, Roy grinned, "Our girlfriends."

"Who weren't our girlfriends this morning," Pete smiled.

Nell giggled, "Some dudes need a written invitation."

Nodding agreement, Mollie smiled, "A day at the beach house was invitation enough."

All the Core Rimmers cheered, "Excellent!"

Keith asked Drew, "How's Leo?"

"Better," Drew chuckled. "You surprised him, bro. He's a shy nine-year-old realizing that he likes boys. You drove it all home in one verse of one song."

Corey nodded, "He wanted to be with us, while we walk around checking dorms, but Geoff and Lenny need their big brother. We transported with them to the townhouse, got them settled, and told them we'd be back in about an hour."

Drew assured, "I'll bet Geoff will be asleep when we get home. Lenny might be, or he might be keeping Leo company."

Mike asked Lindsay, "Mom and dad are kewl with you doing this?"

"Yep," Lindsay grinned, "this is my job, no thanks to you." Impatiently, Mike huffed.

Grinning, Prez instructed, "This little exercise is mostly for kids who might be anxious about school tomorrow. If the kids are already in bed, leave well enough alone. It's the stragglers we need to check on. Ease their minds so they can be rested. If you run across a really troubled kid, tap your comm-badge and have Alden call us via our sub-vocals. At least two of us will come to help."

Keith asked, "I guess it would be good to know if any of you are stressed about school?"

Mostly, heads shook. Nell sighed, "It's been over a year since I've seen the inside of a school."

"Almost two years for me," Mollie admitted. "There's a lot of catching up to do."

Derrick confirmed, "You're fine otherwise?"

Corbin grinned, "I'm actually looking forward to it." Adrienne, Bianca, Dominic, AJ, Jerry and Sean agreed.

Prez confirmed, "Is everyone set and ready?"

Troy nodded, "We told our boys the plan while we moved. Billy and Jason will show the newbies how to use the dimensional doors."

"Same here," AJ, replied. "Kenny's our oldest."

"Stan's our oldest and familiar with the dimensional doors," Kaleo answered. "We've used 'em three times."

Saying goodbye and goodnight to everyone, Paul and Ryan then gave Reyes hugs and kisses, and then transported back to Sullivan's Island. Glancing around, Reyes asked, "Do you need me at the dorms?"

Shaking his head, Derrick answered, "Let the boys in all three townhomes know you're home and available if needed, and then kick back, Reyes."

"We'll be home as quick as we can," Mike added.

"Let's get to it and get home to our kids," Prez encouraged. The Core Rimmers and dorm leaders started up the aisle. Most left the auditorium, except Drew and Corey who first powered down the facilities before heading off for dorm three.

Prez and Keith walked into dorm one. Coming out of room seven, Doc Wiener closed the door, started down the hall and then smiled, "Tonight's performances were truly memorable, boys."

Keith chuckled, "It was the kids making everything more fun."

"I really think that the extra hundred-and-thirty turned everything around," Prez shared.

Doc Wiener told them, "The three Ka'aukai brothers are patients of mine. Friday, they learned the truth about how their mother died. I destroyed all the lies CPS told them, but had to reopen old wounds. I've been giving them sedatives that will block most dreams, so the truth isn't clouded by their imaginations. All three are asleep. Their alarm clock is set for seven-thirty, so they have plenty of time to shower, eat and get to school."

"Kewl," Prez and Keith chorused.

Doc Wiener said, "I've only got one more patient to check on, but I'll be around the dorms if you need me for anything."

"Thanks again, Doc," Prez warmly smiled.

Just inside the first set of doors at dorm three, at the staircase landing, Pat and Ralphie had obviously discovered the magic of deep French kissing. Obliviously, they held one another tight and swapped spit. Following Drew through the second set of doors into the first floor hallway, Corey giggled, "Breathe, dudes." Affirmatively and enthusiastically, Pat and Ralphie hummed into their kiss.

A few steps down the hall, when the door closed, Drew grinned, "They seem very disturbed about school."

"More like about being separated for eight hours," Corey giggled.

"It's Ralphie, the aggressor, in the corner though," Drew noticed.

Rapidly nodding, Corey giggled, "Pat's figured stuff out, obviously."

John's voice drifted through Corey's and Drew's minds, telling them, 'It basically happened during the meeting with Doc Wiener this morning. Pat, Rafe and Chris shared their story, and Ralphie cried as hard as the three of them. Now Pat believes that Ralphie's his angel. Rafe and Jay are happy that they survived and are together. Chris is happy with Jay, Rafe and Pat here. This morning was what our moms call a necessary evil. It put everything into perspective for all the B.O.E. kids.'

Corey and Drew didn't stop walking until reaching an open door. Looking inside room six, Victor Singh and Harry Cohen, who were ex-level one orphanage boys, were roaming their room in their underwear, getting stuff ready for the next day. Both were ten year old boys from Anaheim and rescued by Drew and Corey. Drew wondered, "How's it goin', dudes?"

Smiling at the two leaders, Harry said, "We're good, mostly."

Vic asked, "Will we need to bring our laptops to school tomorrow?"

Corey answered, "No, tomorrow's tests only. You don't even have to worry about pencils, just be there," he paused and giggled, "wearing more than briefs."

Knowing the sort of responses he might receive, Harry grinned, "We were hoping for a poolside dress code."

"Speak for yourself!" Vic giggled. "We're almost the same age, but you're almost three inches taller than me! I've got a lot more growing to do, before sitting in school with my willie hangin' out!"

Thoughtfully, Drew muttered, "The topic of laptops going to school is an important one." Tapping his sub-vocal, Drew ordered, "Alden, get laptop backpacks for all the kids at both bases. We'll need them either Tuesday or Wednesday. Actually, you might as well get backpacks for every computer, whether a kid owns it already or not."

"On the way," Alden replied.

Corey asked the two boys in the room, "Everything else is kewl, dudes?"

"Yeah," Harry and Vic chorused.

Waving, Drew smiled, "Sleep tight. We'll see you in the morning." He and Corey walked further down the hall. Three more room doors were closed. The fourth door was open, with sounds of Chris and Jay chuckling up a storm drifting out to the hall. Grinning at Corey, Drew knocked on the door frame.

Turning and seeing the two young leaders, Jay went off, waving his right arm with the cast, and ranting, "I can't do shit with this friggin' thing! I can't beat off, or do half of what I want with Chris, without beaning him and knocking him out cold. Necrophilia was never my favorite thing, ya know?" Corey and Drew cracked up. Jay pointed at the laptop PC, bitching, "I can't even type on the damned computer without making errors all over the place. Simply hitting enter without hitting four other keys is damned near impossible. And I'm supposed write on a test page tomorrow? How? With my toes?"

Chris, Corey and Drew howled laughing. Slowly nodding, Jay smirked, "Just my luck, the Romulan asshole that blew up my apartment and broke my right wrist is already dead. Why couldn't it be my left wrist? My whole life is screwed for the next six weeks!" Corey started hiccuping. Drew led his hysterical hubby down the hall. "I want some payback, dammit!" Jay yelled after them.

Over Drew's comm-badge, Alden softly giggled, "Speaking of payback; I kinda forgot to tell him that with Clan medical capabilities, his recovery time is measured in days, not weeks. I'll bet you that next time he won't accuse me of being programmed by Microsoft!"

Done swapping spit with Ralphie, Pat giggled into Chris' and Jay's room, "Quit yer bitchin'! Your boyfriend is in your room. Mine is going back home, a fact neither of us is happy about." Before Pat could get to his dorm room door, Chris and Jay hurried out to the hall after him, tickling him mercilessly and giving him no end of shit for giving them shit.

Passing the last closed room doors in that hall, Corey and Drew heard music from Lance's and Scott's room. Drew knocked on the door. A moment later, the door swung open. Shirtless and with his Les Paul hanging from his shoulder, Lance grinned, "What's up, guys?" Beyond Lance, Corey and Drew could see Scott, also shirtless and with his Stratocaster hanging off his shoulder.

Corey giggled, "Revved up from the concert, dudes?"

Lance cheered, "They were SO AWESOME! Keith can sing exactly like the guy in Journey and the guy in REO Speedwagon. Mike completely blew my doors off during almost every song. I've been playing for three years, but he made me feel like a beginner."

Coming to the door and standing about a meter behind his roommate, Scott chuckled, "Sometimes I closed my eyes and listened. The scary thing is, I could barely tell it wasn't the original band's live recording I was listening to." 

"So we're trying figure out a few songs they played," Lance grinned.

Drew chuckled, "Keith's been playing keys as far back as I can remember, about nine years. It's the same for Mike, Derrick and Prez."

Nudging Lance and getting his attention, Scott smirked, "No wonder we're so far behind them."

Corey shared, "Troy told us that he was messin' around with piano and guitar at a young age too. Then, around fifth grade, he started with the wind instruments too."

Drew wondered, "Are you dudes considering school tomorrow?"

Lance checked with Scott, who shrugged, "We're on the fence about it, but leaning toward not. We've got a new home and new people to get used to."

"Not to mention a hundred songs to learn or relearn," Lance grinned.

Corey giggled, "If we don't see you at breakfast, we'll know why."

"Have a good night," Drew offered. Scott and Lance said goodnight. Seeing the two young leaders walk toward the common room, Lance closed the door. Almost everyone from the other hall was in the common room watching TV, and most of them were directly responsible for dunking Corey and Drew earlier in the day. Evil snickering erupted in the room. As soon as Craig, Phil, Erik, Travis, Tony and Vaziik stood, Corey and Drew ran back down the hall, laughing their butts off. Before being chased out into the night, Drew giggled, "Goodnight, dudes!"

At the second dormitory Derrick and Mike found much the same as Drew and Corey had; all the youngest boys were in closed dorm rooms already asleep. All the older ex-prostitute boys were still awake though, and loose talk about who wanted to sleep with whom flowed freely. Walking down the hall, Derrick and Mike were confronted by Kelly Littlepage and his roomie, Hugh Gartrell. Kelly was down to only his boxers. Hugh was shirtless and wearing boardies, commando style, sagging low with the top of his pubes showing.

Kelly devilishly grinned, "Have I mentioned that all the Core Rimmers are hot?"

"Hot enough to give straight dudes reason to switch sides," Hugh evilly snickered.

Derrick blushed and chuckled. Mike chortled, "Comin' from you dudes, with all your experiences, that's a compliment."

Kelly asked, "Is it true that you two, Prez and Keith learned everything together?"

Nodding, Derrick admitted, "Yep, it's true."

Hungrily growling, Hugh suggested, "We should take over the common room some night; you two, plus Prez and Keith, and Kaleo and Tory too."

From the lavatory where he was shaving, Darryl Don loudly cheered, "Count me in on some of that action! I'd show that sexy red-Head Rimmer a few new tricks." Derrick and Mike cracked up.

"We're serious!" Kelly laughed.

Hugh sniggered, "Curiosity killed the cat, but the bi-boy has to ask; what are you dudes packin'?"

Mike giggled, "Come on, dudes! Any of us Core Rimmers doing stuff like that would be wrong on so many levels."

Nodding, Derrick laughed, "First off, we're married. Secondly, we're Clan leaders. Both are reason for us to not even go there."

Darryl sniggered, "Just answer Hugh's question, and include any of the other Core Rimmers you know intimately."

Glancing at each other, Derrick and Mike shrugged. Derrick began, "Mike's seven-and-a-half by five; Keith's seven by six."

Hugh, Kelly, Darryl and several others who had been listening in loudly cheered, "AWESOME!"

Mike giggled, "Derrick's about seven by five-and-a-quarter. Troy, Prez and Kaleo are about six-and-a-half by five-and-a-half."

Done shaving, Darryl walked out of the lavatory, grinning, "Are all of you guys above average?"

"We can't really say all of us are," Derrick sniggered. "We haven't seen the youngest four."

Kelly smiled, "But Drew and John are Keith's brothers. Maybe they're not fully grown yet, but in three or four more years, all of 'em will be."

Hugh longingly sighed, "If only some of our paying customers were as kewl and endowed."

Walking out of his room, Christian Beresford chuckled, "Let's make this like show and tell. You told, now show the goods!"

"Uh, we'd better go," Derrick chortled.

Kelly chuckled, "What if we promise to be good and keep our hands off of you?"

Stepping out of their room with wide smiles and sparkling eyes, Darren and Lance Elling made it six ex-prostitutes surrounding Mike and Derrick. Derrick locked eyes with Darren DeVault laughing, "DUDE! You're straight and hung like a horse!"

Darren smirked, "Nine-and-a-half inches, limp and erect, but I ain't stupid. If you two are gonna show, I wanna see too."

Mike shrugged and checked with Derrick; "It's not like no one's ever seen us. All the Core Rimmers have."

Taking Mike's hand, Derrick giggled, "Okay, but this circle becomes a line, and no fair touching!" Rapidly nodding, Mike pointed at the hallway wall. Chattering, chuckling and passing silly remarks, six boys lined up and leaned against the wall. Coming out of their room, Cody Padro and Dominic Slager also leaned against the wall. Without further hesitation, Derrick and Mike embraced, looking deep into each other's eyes, confirming that this was kewl, not only for both of them, but for the dudes in this hall who were waiting expectantly. Each came to the conclusion that they were all Clan brothers anyway, and that none of these dudes had ever nested in the Hundsers' basement, and therefore hadn't seen morning wood or chubbies that most kids had. Derrick and Mike deeply kissed. Replaying their favorite song in their minds, The Scorpions 'Still Loving You', the kiss became more urgent and they started swaying.

"Whoa!" Hugh softly commented, "That's one fucking hot kiss!" Even the straight boys had to admit it was true.

Finished walking through dorm one, Prez and Keith walked into the dorm two hallway. Keith wondered, "What's goin' on?"

Kelly gestured to the two human vacuums, saying, "Show and tell time."

Prez sniggered, "If you dudes had joined the nest, you would've seen something any given morning."

Pointing like a teacher, Keith playfully instructed, "Don't bother looking at their arms; they're just feelin' each other up. Watch their legs and their butts. Right after the grind begins, they'll be ready to show." Everyone, including Mike and Derrick, nodded and softly chuckled.

Raising his eyebrows with an evil thought, Prez seductively purred, "Keith, just hearing your voice gets me all kinds o' randy."

A little stunned, Keith locked eyes with Prez. Always losing himself in Prez's blue eyes, Keith started to melt. Before his lover completely withered, Prez pulled Keith close. Keith landed an extremely passionate kiss. Wholeheartedly, Keith and Prez displayed their love with roaming hands and soft groans.

Darren grinned and proclaimed, "Four for the price of two!"

Swooning, Derrick and Mike hesitantly separated, each grabbing tender little kisses as they took the first steps back. Letting go of each other, Mike and Derrick reached down and tore open the Velcro on their boardies then pushed their shorts and boxers down. All eyes focused on two erections for a long while. Prez and Keith separated then followed their friends examples', proudly displaying their goods for inspection.

Darren grinned, "When I had to make money, I only took johns that were growers, like you dudes. For me, that was my only condition making deals with other dudes."

Kelly nodded, "I would've taken any or all four, at a substantially reduce rate; like for a nice dinner at a nice place."

Pointing across a row of four teen packages, Hugh smiled, "That's why they're leaders. Two cut with low hangin' sacks, two uncut of highly respectable length, and all four are much thicker than a lot of men I was with. They've got the confidence to be leaders, and on stage for two-hours at a shot, right there. What gets me is how high Derrick and Keith can sing without very tight cock rings. That's what I expected to find."

Sniggering, the Core Rimmers began pulling up their drawers. Mike explained, "This is what most kids in the nest eventually see. The facts are, we're the same as you."

"And you're the same as us," Prez added. "Believe you can do something and the battle is won."

Keith nodded, "Think of what you'd most like to be and then be that person. Think about what kind of careers you'd like."

"You dudes are older and only get a few years of Clan care," Derrick reminded. "Get as much as you can out of each and every day. Make your lifetimes plans here, so when you're ready, you can move on to Starfleet or higher education at universities, or whichever career you choose."

Darren wondered, "Why do you guys care so much?"

Prez smiled, "Don't you feel it, Darren? I think you must, and that's what's really blowing you away."

Keith answered, "We're brothers, now and forever. It's a kind of magic that started back in the States only about ten weeks ago. We don't know how or why the magic started, and I personally don't really care."

Derrick emphasized, "In the States, two brothers grew to four and then six, and kept on growing. Right here, four friends became brothers, and then lovers and musicians, and are now two sets of two couples. We figured it out yesterday, when all four of us were on the same bed together for the first time in over a week. It wasn't the time since we'd last done it that made it outstanding; it was something way more than anything we could logically define."

"It's within all of us in the Clan," Mike confided. "It's brotherhood, sisterhood, parenthood, family, love and respect, caring and consideration."

"If we could do nothing else except spend time with each and every kid, we'd love it," Prez explained. "The reality is there's enough day-to-day planning and resource reallocation necessary. For instance; ninety-five newbies kept us busy all afternoon. To provide them leadership at Oneula Beach, AJ, Jerry, Kaleo, Tory, Sean and Troy are moving there with their kids. Almost all of them will be here again tomorrow; some going to school with us, but hopefully the majority will want to take the week off, so they'll do what they want, just like everybody else has this last week."

"For the next day or two, I fully expect that most will eat their meals here," Keith offered, "but over time, more and more may choose to eat meals there. Some of the kids here may decide to eat over there, just for a change of scenery or to be with friends." He paused and chuckled, "The dimensional doors to get us base-to-base are right there in the dining room. Are the chefs going to make coordinated meals at both bases? I haven't asked, and really would rather be surprised when we're given that many more choices for meals. If ya don't like what's here, maybe they'll have something different offered there. Imagine having five choices at five bases three times a day."

Moans, moos and evil snickering erupted. Derrick chuckled, "It's near eleven, dudes. Try to get a good eight hours sleep."

"We'll see you in the morning," Mike, Prez and Keith chorused. Everyone said goodnight, and the four Core Rimmers walked down the hall as couples, hand-in-hand. Now that the rounds were made, they believed that all the rescued boys still awake seemed to be in good spirits. They went home to their kids waiting at the townhomes for the first time. They goofed around at the steps up to their front doors, calling, "Goodnight neighbor!" far more than necessary before going inside.

Inside their townhouse, Prez and Keith climbed the stairs. The television was on in Dee's and Sammy's room. Keith and Prez looked in and smiled at Sammy and Ben, lying on top of the covers on one of the beds in their underwear. Sammy blushed, "We didn't want to sleep apart."

"I checked with my folks," Ben offered. "It's kewl."

Prez chuckled, "Where are Dee and Gage?"

"Dee's in the next room with Richie," Sammy sniggered. "I told him he could stay in here."

Ben giggled, "Gage is next door with Jonah. Reyes feels like he should've just gone home with Paul and Ryan."

Keith smiled, "Set the TV timer and get some rest. There's school in the morning." Prez and Keith then said goodnight and went into their bedroom.

Oneula Beach

Sunday, November 7, 2004, 10:33 PM HTZ

The majority of level two orphans were very tired upon arrival at their dorms. As expected, ten o'clock at night felt more like one or two in the morning to them. Little kids immediately hit the bathrooms and bed. Kaleo and Tory had the youngest sons, and were told to go home, for all their sons to have nearby Core Rimmers and dads.

Walking from the Oneula Beach dining room and into the quad of dorms, AJ, Jerry, Sean and Troy were called by an unknown teen boy's voice. All four stopped and turned to find a teen of similar age, wearing khaki cargo shorts, and a white polo shirt with a Clan Short Security logo over the left breast area. Jogging from the housing area check point, the guy loudly said, "I'm Emerson Bannister, this base's chief of security."

When Emerson was nearer, Troy introduced himself and Sean, and then Jerry introduced himself and AJ. Shaking hands with each Core Rimmer, Emerson smiled, "Call me Em, dudes. My team and I aren't military, we're like civilian police. Since this isn't the division headquarters, I assume Director O'Brian will be living there and you four are living here?"

"That's right," AJ replied, "but there are two more Core Rimmers living here. You just missed Kaleo and Tory. They went home with their kids and all of ours."

When all the Rimmers nodded, Em asked, "Is there anyone in charge here?"

Sean answered, "We're not working it that way. Prez decided against that idea."

Troy nodded at his partner and then turned to Em, grinning, "One Head Rimmer playing Pissed of Chickens is plenty."

"Sweet," Emerson chortled, "I love that game." The Core Rimmers cracked up. Emerson laughed, "Don't knock it until you've played it. You've gotta keep the weasels from stealing your exploding eggs. One less egg means one more wolf."

Jerry sniggered, "I've never even watched Prez play, but it sounds bizarre enough."

Em smiled and wondered, "Where are you guys living?"

"All of us are living in the townhomes," Troy responded, and then pointed in that direction, adding, "Kaleo and Tory are in the first unit, me, Sean and our sons are in the next one, and then AJ and Jerry and their sons in the third unit."

"All the kids on this base, including our own kids, are pretty new to the Clan," Sean softly explained.

"Not a problem," Em smiled. "Our guys will be making rounds through all the dorms and every shared building. We'll even be roamin' around outside your townhouses, and the single family homes too. We've got this base covered, everything inside the fence is secured."

Jerry told Em, "We're gonna check the newbie kids ourselves tonight. You can join us too, if you want."

Em chuckled, "That's kewl, dudes. Tonight's a special night for these kids. They need to see you guys. Tomorrow we'll start getting to know the kids. I just wanted to say hello." The five of them said goodnight, and went off in opposite directions.

Eighteen of the older boys from dorms one and two were relaxing before dorm one's common room television when Troy, Sean, AJ and Jerry made the rounds. Troy asked the teenage boys, "Can't sleep?" All eighteen happily gushed on and on about the concert, their rooms, both bases, and that they were simply too over-joyed to even try sleeping. Sean and Troy recognized Neil Green and Tad Markell on one of the sofas. Scribbling in a notebook, and using Tad's chest as a desk, Neil put his pet project aside. At the end of the rambling, Troy sniggered, "Well, that might just force your school decisions, guys. If you can't sleep and can't wake..."

"Or function very well when you do wake..." Jerry softly chortled.

"Then take the day and the week off," Sean grinned.

"We all had a week, so don't think of it as missing something," AJ smiled. "It's school, and this is a new place with new rules. Get used to it all first, and don't worry about school. You've got all sorts of stuff to keep you occupied between both bases."

Troy nodded, "Don't forget to start up your laptop computers and check out the division's web site."

Dale Barrett softly sighed, "None of us are too good with computers."

Almost simultaneously, AJ, Jerry and Sean called, "Alden?"

"Yes?" the Rimmer AI giggled. Wide smiles spread across the boys' faces.

Troy asked, "Can you guide and assist willing students learn the joys of computing?"

"As long as they understand that I'm not responsible for Windows crashes," Alden giggled. He then played an audio file of Keith's last rant over that same issue. Needless to say, Alden bleeped out quite a bit of vulgarity, but left Prez's soft sniggering in the background, which made the rant even funnier.

The recorded Keith finally bitched, "If I had to spend this much friggin' time programming my synthesizers, we'd all be royally screwed!" Lowering the pitch of his voice, he droned, "Uh... duh... huhu... umm... What's a scroll wheel? Which memory location? How do I pull it up to use it? That question always makes me snigger, by the way. Press which button how many times? Do I need hamsters and lube for this exercise? Duh-huhu..." Prez roared laughing. All eighteen newbies cracked up.

"So yeah," Alden giggled. "I can replay that whenever a system crashes. That ought to work."

Sean giggled, "Just ask Alden, guys, he'll help."

"And talk about dicks until you're laughing so hard, you're crying," AJ softly chortled.

"That's mostly taken care of, at least for me," Alden happily gushed. "Polynesian, thirteen in appearance, but just starting puberty, like Reyes, Drew and Corey; about their height too, one-hundred-sixty-three centimeters or five-feet-four-inches tall. My dick will be like theirs too; a grower, Polynesian dark and uncut. I'm still deciding about my voice. I like my voice, but maybe a little deeper, as if it's changed." Dialing in new timbre on his voice synthesis controls, a much deeper and sultrier sounding Alden asked, "Is this one okay? What do guys think? It's a little deeper than Prez's voice."

"Yeah, like Isaac Hayes," Troy giggled.

Sean prompted "A little higher, like Troy's, Mike's or Derrick's voice."

"Or yours," AJ and Jerry disjointedly offered.

Humming for a few moments while he sampled all three voices, Alden then dialed in a new teenaged boy voice and tried it out, asking, "Like this? Maybe with an accent? I've been sticking pretty close to English speaking Native Hawaiians, but that can change too."

Around the room, the boys shrugged. Jerry recommended, "That tone is kewl, Alden. Try it out on others tonight and tomorrow. If the general agreement is yes, then keep it. We need to know what to expect to hear, so don't make too many changes. Find one that you like. What others think is nice to know, but it's more important that you like it."

Alden giggled, "Thanks, Jerry. Thanks guys, I'll check in with the other Core Rimmers and the few other kids that are still awake." Alden touched base with all the Core Rimmers first. They were briefly confused, but everyone liked the sound of Alden's new voice. He shared all his thoughts for his as yet to be created body, just to speak and give everyone enough to offer opinions.

Troy wondered, "Is there anyone awake at dorm two?"

Dale, Trent, Darrell, Ellis, Owen and Virgil each confirmed that they were the only ones still roaming that dormitory, the last they saw.

Jerry reminded, "You know where we live. If you need anything, let Alden know so he can let us know."

The eighteen newbie boys assured everything was kewl. Saying goodnight, the four Core Rimmers returned to their townhomes and sons.

Inside townhouse number one, Kaleo and Tory were upstairs in the master bed with all five of their sons. Only Stan was still awake with his dad and pop; his other four brothers were peacefully sleeping. Kaleo had the room's television on, but the sound level very low and without the surround sound system. When the doorbell rang, Kaleo softly asked Alden who was there, and then mouthed, "Let the guys know we're up here and unlock the door to let them in. We don't want to risk waking anyone."

Hearing Alden's explanation and the front door unlock, AJ, Jerry, Sean and Troy let themselves in. Only a soft kitchen light in the rear of the house provided illumination for them to get to the stairs. Rounding the turn halfway up the steps, they got a little more light from the hallway bathroom.

Entering the master bedroom, AJ smiled at the sight of two young fathers surrounded by five sons. Troy whispered, "Nothing from our boys next door?"

"Or our sons?" Jerry softly added.

Kaleo shook his head. Tory whispered, "Not a peep."

Holding up his arm and hand, Sean quietly said, "Goodnight, guys. We'll set our alarm for seven." Troy nodded and waved, and then so did Jerry and AJ.

Heading for their respective homes; Troy and Sean climbed the steps to the second townhouse, saying goodnight to AJ and Jerry, still heading toward the third townhouse. The latter two found a TV on entertaining an empty living room. The three Hunnicutt brothers had obviously crashed, but wanted normal sounds in their environment. Picking up the remote control, AJ turned off the TV. Leading the way with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, Jerry guided AJ upstairs. They checked on their sons. Not so surprisingly, Kenny's room was empty. Obviously, Mike and Shaun wanted company in their room. One of the two windows was open, only about six centimeters. All three boys were shirtless and wearing briefs. The two youngest were breathing deeply from one bed and Kenny was in the other. All three were intertwined with sheets and blankets, making any chance of adjusting anything futile. Softly sniggering, AJ and Jerry went to their new master bedroom.

Next door, Troy and Sean found Billy awake, reclining on the living room sofa, snacking on potato chips and watching television. Widely smiling because his dads were home earlier than expected, Billy sat up and told them, "Jase crashed right after Jimmy and Scott, maybe fifteen minutes after you left. When I couldn't sleep, I came down here."

Troy asked, "Are you worried about anything?" and parked his butt on the sofa to the left of his eldest son.

Shrugging, Billy hummed then reluctantly replied, "I was never too great at school. I work my ass off to get C's."

Taking a seat on Billy's other side, Sean nodded, "Me too. Ya know what though?"

Billy wondered, "What?"

"Clan schools are organized differently," Sean reminded. "Everything is different from what it was. No one cared if I passed or failed before. Plenty of people care now, most importantly me. I want to make all my brothers, sisters, sons and T'hy'la proud."

"Encouragement is primarily what you need," Troy smiled. "All four of you got here Thursday. Next Monday works for placement tests just as easily as tomorrow. In the meantime, you'll get encouraged, by me and dad. Right off the top of my head, I can see you tomorrow, a Core Rimmer son, the oldest at this base, with a bunch of other kids who decide to take the week off. They'll look to you for answers about me, and dad, and all the other Core Rimmers. You spent the day with us yesterday and today, so no problem, right?"

Rapidly nodding, Billy grinned, "Right."

Picking up what Troy was saying, Sean admitted, "Last Sunday and Monday, I never believed I would find a boyfriend. By the time I had lunch Tuesday, I had met and fallen for your pop. Wednesday, we were Core Rimmers, leaders. I couldn't really imagine myself as a leader. By watching all the other Core Rimmers, including your pop, I started actually feeling like a leader. By Thursday, I was thinking like a leader, with a shit-load more to learn. Most importantly, I want to learn how Prez keeps us organized; I want to learn what Keith does backing up Prez. I can pay attention to any of these dudes and learn something from each of them."

Troy nodded, "So this week, you and your brothers chill, and me and your dad will encourage a little something new everyday. There's passing and failing, without trying or caring. Try a little and care a lot, and watch it all turn around, Billy."

Billy cheered, "You two are awesome! I expected... I don't know... the other creeps would've blasted me with both barrels, making me feel even worse."

Troy asked, "Do you know what that is?"

Curiously tilting his head, Billy wondered, "What what is?"

Troy explained, "Person A feels bad; worried, sad, anything negative like that. Person A tells person B, who then adds misery, who tells persons C, D, E, and F, and now they're all unhappy. It's called a vicious spiral, a never-ending loop down the toilet and through the sewer. Your old parents kept your entire family on the downward spiral. My father was like that. It got him divorced and alienated from his wife and only son. We're not going there, Billy. Every hour of every day can be something important, if you'll only treat them that way. In this family, everybody's allowed to have a bad time. The thing is, we're going to help one another, not make matters worse. I know your dad will keep an eye on me as well as all four sons. I'll watch out for Sean and all four sons. All four sons watch each other and both dads. We can choose to keep each other happy, or make one another miserable."

Uncontrollably, Billy rapidly nodded and giggled.

Sean asked, "It sounds like a good idea, huh?"

"Very good," Billy giggled.

"Share it," Sean simply instructed. "Share it with your brothers, your friends and all the kids. We choose to be happy or sad. We choose to make others happier or sadder. Vulcans have complete control over their emotions. We're humans trying to think logically like Vulcans. That means thinking through some instinctual gut reactions. The simple answer to the simple question; 'Will this action help or hurt?' interrupts the gut reaction. Helping is always better than hurting. Avoid those nasty downward spirals as much as you can. Just trying landed me the partner and future husband of my dreams."

Troy provocatively chuckled, "Ooo! Keep it up, Tiger." Sean and Billy helplessly giggled. Unintentionally, a yawn escaped from Billy. Rubbing Billy's shoulder, Troy prompted, "Come on, let's call it a night."

Nodding and turning the TV off, Billy shyly smirked, "I guess I was more worried than I wanted to admit."

Standing, Troy suggested, "There's no reason to stew in worries. Think about them a little on your own, but if you're getting nowhere, say something. Get it off your chest."

Talking Billy's hand, Sean also stood, guiding his eldest son up. Starting for the stairs, Billy smiled, "We knew you guys were kewl. Things are gonna be so much better."

Climbing the steps behind his son, Sean instructed, "Turn off the alarm in your room. I'll turn off the alarm in Jimmy's and Scott's room. Adding school on top of everything else is too much."

"We'll need to reiterate that with all the other newbies tomorrow morning," Troy softly said. He tapped his sub-vocal to make sure Alden was listening and all the other Core Rimmers could hear him saying, "All the kids that arrived since Wednesday night, Latin Kings and everyone afterward, need to take time to acclimate. What we've been treating loosely, so that everyone can choose for themselves, needs to be made a little more important."

At the top of the steps, Billy waited for his dad and pop. He hugged both of his new parents and got kisses on the cheek with soft wishes for him to sleep well. Billy went into the room he shared with Jason. Sean turned off the alarm clock in the next room, and then went with Troy to their new master bedroom. Closing and locking the door behind him, Sean leered, "I'll reopen it before we crash. You're ass is mine, Lover."

Loving the determined tone, Troy giggled, "I've ridden your cock a couple of times. I'm sure that I'm used to it now. I want bottom, with you in control, hovering over me, Tiger."

Going to take Troy's clothes off, Sean smiled, "You guys played five songs in a row that basically told every kid here, get yourself a partner and go bang your brains out."

With his polo shirt being pulled up and over his head, Troy sniggered, "Older kids that wanted to hear that message got it, but for the little kids, it was just rock and roll good times."

Dropping the shirt and then reaching for Troy's shorts, Sean realized his Lover was already raging. He locked eyes with Troy and softly asked, "From thinking of us?"

Nodding, Troy whispered, "I told you almost a week ago, we're gonna play by the same rules. You threatened twice, Tiger. Now I want it twice; the first time my way and the second time in whichever position you want." Sean let Troy's shorts drop to the floor. Holding up an index finger, Troy giggled, "A little music to mask any noises from waking our boys." Kicking his shorts away from his feet, Troy hurried to the never before used stereo, powered it up and found an oldies radio station playing The Temptations 'Get Ready'. Turning to face Sean, who had taken his own shirt off, Troy danced over to him, making his cock crazily bounce, and sang; "And I'm bringing you a love that's true. So get ready, so get ready. I'm gonna try to make you love me too. So get ready, so get ready, 'cause here I come. I'm on my way." Helplessly, Sean evilly snickered, dropped his drawers and joined Troy's dance. Soon, they were embracing and slowing their dance, bare body against warm bare body.

Ewa Beach

Sunday, November 7, 2004, 10:50PM HTZ

Listening to Alden's new voice on the way home, Drew and Corey returned to their townhouse. In the living room, with his ear-buds in his ears, Leo danced to his music. Their nine-year-old son happened to be facing away from the door, toward the dining room and kitchen. He didn't even realize Drew and Corey were dancing with him until he turned around and jumped, startled by their sudden appearance. All three helplessly giggled.

Pulling an ear-bud out, Leo beamed, "More proof that you two are right for me. My mom and dad would've pulled that same trick, starting to dance with me, one or the other or both at once."

Corey giggled, "Your brothers are asleep?"

Leo nodded, "Lenny gave it up right after you left."

Drew confirmed, "You're doing okay?"

Nodding and swinging an arm around the room, Leo smiled, "This is part of what I needed too; a home to be with my family. The nests are nice, a good beginning, but this is nicer. I went up with Lenny and got him tucked in next to Geoff. That was so awesome! I never did it before. They're feeling more like little brothers every day. It turns out that Grandma Morrison was right; you two are my dads, you're friends too, but I definitely see you as fathers. Which reminds me, I'd like to spend more time with my new Grandmas and Grandpas. My old ones were back east, in Vermont. They died years ago, before I started school."

"We wanted to talk with you about that," Corey began.

Drew explained, "We're hearing through Alden that other Core Rimmers are seeing newbies needing time to adjust. You're one of them, Leo."

"I don't want to be separated from you and my brothers," Leo whined, "not for two hours, and definitely not for most of the school days after tomorrow. We talked about this already. I was scared enough just this last hour. What am I adjusting to that can't be done where my new family is; G-Cats and gorillas? No, what I'll be doing is wanting to be with either family, the ones that are gone and I can't be with, or with the new family at school. It's not even an option for me. School ain't a biggie. And it's placement tests, to see where I'm at, like any school change would be. I'd be better off there with my new family than anywhere else."

Corey smiled, "Done. We had to check, Leo."

Nodding, Leo sighed, "My folks always used to wonder about people that... uh... dwell, yeah that's the word... people that dwell on stuff. I'm not gonna dwell, I'm gonna remember them just as they were and we were. I can see parts of them already in both of you. In this family is where I belong and want to be. This is where I'll be, surrounded by a huge new family, with uncles and cousins around every corner. I barely got to say anything to Bruce yesterday or today. Him and I need to talk soon."

"That would be good," Drew assured. "I know that you're a lot alike. You both need and want your family around. Bruce is at the exact same place you are, Leo; building family bonds with parents, and with brothers and sisters. He'll be at school tomorrow, so you can talk with him any time ya want."

Forcing a disapproving frown, Corey crossed his arms, huffing, "If you're waking for school, it's bed time, young man."

Breaking into a giggling fit, Leo teased, "Close, pop, but no cigar." Dropping his arms and rapidly blinking, Corey faked confusion, appearing to try to understand where he screwed up, but helplessly sputtered and giggled.

"We're all going to bed," Drew sniggered. He turned Leo toward the steps, prompting, "Move your cute blond butt, mister."

Slumping and dragging his feet, Leo giggled, "It ain't blond yet, dad, another three or four years, I guess. For now, it's just white." He then sped up the stairs.

"What I'm trying to figure out is why it always works when Drew says it's bedtime," Corey giggled. "No one takes me seriously when I say it."

Climbing steps and bringing up the rear, Drew teased, "I do, angel, at least twice a day."

At the top of the steps, Leo blushed and giggled, "So are you two gonna mess around?"

Drew chuckled, "Not in bed tonight. In the shower, steaming up the bathroom before bed."

"And after we wake too, more than likely," Corey giggled.

"It's the best part of being so young," Drew instructed his son. "We can go for it quick, but over-and-over again faster than even fourteen-year-olds. They're trying to make it last. We've tried going slower to make it last, and usually fail, so oh well, try again later."

"Leo's exactly where we were at nine," Corey told Drew, "knowing what he wants, but a little scared of actually going there. Those first hugs and kisses seem like such a big step."

"I remember," Drew smiled. "We were friends for years first. Leo needs to find the friend that makes him want to overcome the fear."

"I have no idea who that might be or when," Leo softly sighed, and then giggled, "Wouldn't it be funny if your son turned out to be a breeder?" Stopping at the staircase landing, Leo spun around to see the expressions on his dad's and pop's faces.

Walking into the master bedroom, Corey giggled, "That's allowed too, Leo. It's the person, the whole personality, not the attached parts, not anywhere near as much as you think."

Pointing at the bed, Drew reminded Leo, "You're in the center of the bed." He then took Corey's hand and grinned, "Get comfy. We'll be back in fifteen minutes."

Widely smiling, Leo whispered, "Have fun," and then took his comm-badge off his polo shirt. Corey and Drew went into the master bathroom, and closed the door. He put the comm-badge on the dresser, before the framed photo taken of his adoption. Nodding at his new family's smiling faces, Leo was more certain everything was right. The toilet flushed and the shower water turned on.

For that one horrible night, he and his parents were victims. As soon as he woke Friday afternoon, he was a survivor. Leo took his new wallet out of his back pocket and looked at the only remaining Scott family portrait. If only all three had Clan style protection that crazy Thursday night. How wonderful everything might have been if the entire Scott family survived. He put his wallet on the dresser and his comm-badge on top of it, then he took his shirt off and dropped it on the growing pile with his brothers' dirty clothes.

Taking his shorts off, Leo watched his brothers sleeping. Both boys had brown hair, like Drew's hair. Leo had blond hair, almost the exact same shade as Corey's hair. The five of them actually could all pass for brothers, or cousins at least. Little would most people ever guess that the two oldest boys were really fathers of the younger three. It would be a trip to call Drew 'dad' and Corey 'pop' in some public place, just to watch reactions. Before dropping his shorts on the pile of dirty clothes, Leo took his iPod out of the pocket and placed it on the dresser.

Pausing in boxer-briefs, Leo wondered if he should keep them on or take them off. He hadn't yet been able to sleep nude, like his dads and brothers. During summer months in LA, he would sleep naked, without even thinking about it, and the climate at Ewa Beach was much like summer in Southern California. Now was the perfect night to give it a try, he reasoned. Pushing his boxer-briefs to the floor, Leo walked around the king-sized bed and climbed up, crawling over beside Lenny.

In the dimly lit room, Leo positioned a pillow behind his back. He sat up near the headboard, which was fashioned with a top section, about a foot above the mattress, as shelving for stuff, like the digital clock-radio already sitting there. He suddenly realized that he might actually be able to sleep with his trusty iPod, simply by putting it up on the shelf. That would remind him too much of Thursday night though, so he decided not to try it.

From beyond the closed master bathroom door, Leo heard his dad and pop giggling up a storm. They sent Leo's thoughts down a different tangent. He looked down at his limp package, and then at Lenny's similar uncut goods, and even Geoff's little turtled unit. Dicks are funny things, Leo grinned, and really thought about being gay, and what his new pop had told him. Yep, dicks are strange and nut sacks are weirder. Here's some leftover elbow skin, just to cover the jewels. That's not kewl! Dicks alone are bizarre, so let's make 'em look more odd with some crinkled up elbow skin. 

Having seen his pop, with no visible hair on his sack, and his dad, with only a few hairs on his balls, and his teenage uncles with bushes of hair, Leo helplessly giggled and quickly covered his mouth. He tried to recall what his friends' packages looked like, other than the freaky sacks that all had the same elbow skin. Generally, among the boys his age, Leo thought most were about the same. Dee, Ben, Gage, Jason, Jonah and Sammy all had uncut dicks. Kenny, Billy and Scott all had cut dicks, which made their units more unique and somewhat more attractive. Sputtering and quickly covering his mouth, Leo giggled with the realization that he had spent many minutes with over a dozen different dicks flashing through his mind. He told himself, "Nope, not gay... MUCH!"

Shifting in his sleep, Lenny snuggled up to Leo's right leg. Lenny's eyes briefly opened and he softly sighed, "My big bro," and then seemed to fall right back to sleep.

Finger combing hair off Lenny's brow, Leo whispered, "You're an awesome little bro, Lenny." A wide smile spread across Lenny's face, but otherwise he didn't flinch.

This place felt like home more and more with every passing hour, Leo realized. The shower water turned off. Only moments later, the bathroom door opened a crack, letting light flow and steam billow into the room. Wondering how much of that steam was from hot water and how much was from his new dads, again Leo burst into a giggling fit. He pulled one of the other two pillows to his face and tried to stop laughing, but remembering what Corey had said about sex between boys, Leo only laughed harder.

At his age, playing with his dick to make it hard was just something fun to do when no one was around to see. Until he was told what masturbation was, Leo had no idea that the afternoons spent at home, studying at the kitchen table, with one hand turning pages and the other hand rubbing his crotch actually had a name. Corey had also said that it was common; every boy played with their dick to some extent, and it was likely to continue into adulthood. Leo had no clue what an orgasm felt like, or what it might be like to have another boy fondle his dick. He could only just barely imagine hugging and kissing any of his friends, new or old, and what that might feel like. As curious as he really was, Leo knew it wasn't kewl to ask if his dad and pop had gone for oral or anal sex. He wasn't ready for either and didn't want to know any more than he already did. The whole idea of friendships becoming sexual relationships was brand new to Leo.

The bathroom light went out. A moment later, Corey and Drew stepped out of the bathroom and toward the bed. They smiled widely at Leo, clutching onto a pillow and laughing as quietly as he possibly could.

Drew crawled onto the bed beside his son, whispering, "Fifteen minutes, right?"

Glancing at the clock, Leo turned back to his dad, laughing harder and shaking his pillow covered face. Corey glanced at the clock, gasping "About twenty-five minutes, Drew." Feverishly nodding his head, Leo almost lost it and tried to eat the pillow, so he wouldn't wake Geoff or Lenny.

Grinning at his hysterical son, Drew softly smiled, "Well, we had to leak first and towel off too."

"Or you're getting old," Leo cackled, and quickly covered his face with the pillow again.

Suspiciously squinting, Corey climbed onto the bed, giggling, "For that remark, Leo gets tickled first thing in the morning." Evilly grinning at Leo, Drew slowly and deliberately nodded his head. Reaching over to turn off the bedside lamp, Corey yawned, "We'd better call it a night." When the light went off, a night light across the bedroom, near the master bathroom door, flickered on. Another night light in the master bathroom reflected off the vanity mirror, providing sufficient illumination for anyone that needed the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Patting the mattress, Drew softly prompted, "Slide down, Leo."

"And give me my pillow back," Corey quietly giggled.

Handing over the pillow, Leo shifted to lay down, giggling, "I love you, pop. You too, dad."

"We love you too," Corey and Drew softly chorused. The three boys settled down in bed. One after another, they sighed and relaxed. Leo remained on his back. Drew moved onto his side, facing Leo. Corey maneuvered onto his side, snuggled up close to Drew.

After a little more than a minute, Leo whispered, "Dad?"


"What's it really like to love a boyfriend?"

"When it's right, it's like being reunited with another half of you. You can talk about anything and everything together. There's no one else you'd rather be with."

"What's it like to make love?"

"The same; two halves become whole. The feeling lingers on too. All day long, I can see it in your pop's eyes. I can feel it when we hold hands."

"I want that."

"You'll have it too, as soon as you find that very special other half of you."

Leo thought about that. After a few moments, Leo admitted, "I'm confused. You, pop, Lenny and Geoff feel like parts of me."

Corey interjected, "We're family."

"Our ages have something to do with it too," Drew softly considered. "Keith and John are my blood, my brothers and my friends. My dad is so much older that the friendship part is different. Dad's more like a mentor, someone I look up to."

Leo sighed and smiled, "I feel that way about both of you too. You mean so much in only two days."

Corey patiently reminded, "You need and we can easily give you what you need. What we need from you, you're already giving, just by being who you are."

Reaching a hand over to firmly grip Leo's shoulder, Drew explained, "There's only two or three years difference between us. We all have good parents who love us. I purposefully didn't use past tense, Leo. That kind of love never dies."

Feeling more calm and content than he imagined he might Friday afternoon, Leo giggled, "This feels so right. It's like I can feel my real parents here too. It's definitely them plus this family I feel, all at once."

Corey brightly smiled, "Grandma Morrison's got a sixth sense. We feel it too, Leo."

Leo nervously asked, "Can I lay between you?"

Drew nodded and Corey giggled, "We figured you'd prefer that." Drew and Leo swapped places. Lenny flipped over and cuddled Geoff. Laying on their sides, Drew and Corey faced each other and Leo.

Drew checked, "Better?"

Leo nodded and shivered, "The best."

"Always tell us what you need or want," Corey encouraged.

"The worst thing we can say is no," Drew smiled.

"I need a dozen peanut butter chocolate chip cookies!" Leo giggled.

"No!" Corey and Drew firmly chorused.

Mulling over a question in his mind, Leo soon anxiously asked, "Show me what it's like to be loved, please?"

Corey and Drew knew this question would be asked, but thought it would take Leo longer. Drew softly smiled, "We will, but I want you to know that Corey's my other half."

Corey grinned, "Drew's my other half. You need what we can easily give you; a little experience so it doesn't seem so scary." He leaned over and kissed Leo on the mouth, gently and softly gliding his tongue over Leo's lips. Corey pulled back when Leo started giggling.

Reaching over, Drew picked up where Corey left off, kissing Leo the same way. Leo's mouth opened and Drew's tongue darted out only a little, to glide around Leo's front teeth and inner lips. He then pulled back, instructing, "Now it's your turn. Show Corey what a good student you are." Nodding and giggling, Leo turned to his pop.

Corey leaned over and kissed Leo. For the first time, Leo let his tongue dart out and caress the inside of another mouth. After a few moments, Corey smiled, "Very nice. Kissing is an art, and you get an 'A' plus. Now prove to Drew that you learned the lesson." Happily giggling, Leo turned his head to his dad.

Drew instructed, "Tongues are ticklish. Soon after your tongue explores my mouth, my tongue will touch yours. Let your tongue explore mine. Your tongue can retract and mine will go find it. Then my tongue pulls back and your tongue goes to find it." Enthusiastically nodding, Leo reached up for a kiss with his dad. Corey helplessly giggled at Leo's expression. Drew was the ultimate kisser and Leo was learning from the expert.

When the kiss broke, Leo giggled, "This is French kissing?"

Drew nodded and chuckled, "The advanced course requires a partner. It's held a lot longer, so you both have to breathe through your noses."

Leo confirmed, "Swappin' spit?"

Slowly nodding, Corey giggled, "Are you ready for the next lesson?"

"I think so," Leo nervously cackled.

At once, Leo felt his dad and pop reach hands over onto his shoulders. The two hands slid down over Leo's chest and back up to his neck. Cringing, Leo uncontrollably laughed. Both hands quickly moved down to Leo's chest again. To mute the sound before Lenny or Geoff woke, Drew leaned down for another tender kiss. Corey whispered, "Your boyfriend is the one you want to kiss tenderly, and he wants to kiss you tenderly. He's got the body that you absolutely have to touch. You've got the body that he can't stop touching, like me and Drew are showing you now."

Pulling back and widely smiling, Drew quietly explained, "You're giggling for two reasons. First, this is your first time experiencing any of this. Secondly, it's because we're your fathers. The slight differences in our ages make all this possible. When you and your boyfriend get this far, you won't be giggling, you'll be smiling, but too anxious to giggle."

Rapidly nodding, Leo giggled, "It feels great." Locking eyes, Corey and Drew took the next step. Each of their hands traveled down to Leo's belly and abdomen. Purposefully, Corey and Drew caressed Leo's torso, allowing their hands to explore their son's body. Leo nervously wondered, "When will you touch my dick?"

"That's actually the last thing touched," Drew smiled.

Corey nodded, "Me and Drew touched everything, from our hair to our toes."

"Your boyfriend is the one you'll want to touch everywhere," Drew instructed.

Leo giggled, "Omigod, I'll want him to touch me like this too." Two hands traveled down over Leo's hips and down to his legs, causing Leo to gasp and lurch. More giggling erupted and two hands traveled up the inside of Leo's legs and thighs. Drew winked at Corey. Corey sent his index finger out to gently trace Leo's scrotum, earning another gasp. Drew then repeated the process, but traced all the way up and around Leo's erection. Shaking and shivering, Leo gasped and then groaned.

Drew softly sniggered, "Do you want to practice?"

Shaking his head, Leo giggled, "That was amazing! Nothing ever felt like that! It was like a rollercoaster dive!"

"That's an orgasm," Corey giggled.


Corey giggled, "Did it feel like you couldn't stop it if you tried, and willingly tossed yourself over a cliff?"

"Yeah, exactly like that."

Drew helplessly chuckled, "It wasn't my intention, but that's the way it happens. All the kisses and touches make us all extremely sensitive. Eventually, it will last longer than a few seconds."

Taking hold of Leo's cock, Corey locked eyes with his wide-eyed son, and softly smiled, "The best part is, until you hit puberty, you can do it again and again, really quick." Corey gave Leo many firm, slow strokes, pulling Leo's foreskin over and back off the head of his cock. Contracting every muscle in his body at once, Leo shook, shivered and groaned through a second orgasm. Corey and Drew helplessly giggled.

"Omigod!" Leo huffed, "Amazing! I wonder how I never discovered this before."

Corey giggled, "How do you really feel?"

"Like saying thank you is no where near enough," Leo gushed. 

Drew smiled, "You want to return the favor."

"Yeah, definitely."

"For your boyfriend, you will," Corey taught. "Everything he does for you, you'll have to do at least as much for him. Love is giving and receiving abundantly. Love is listening, sharing thoughts, and feelings, and then it's the physical part."

Leo asked, "How come I feel a little sad?"

Drew explained, "It's a guilty side effect from feeling so good, and wondering how anyone could be allowed to feel so good. It's normal and natural too."

"Don't even let yourself think it's because of me or Drew being your dads," Corey softly insisted. "Legally and logically, you're our son. At the same time, your our friend, Leo. This was the first lesson. If you want another lesson from us, and not from a boyfriend, you have to tell us when you're ready."

Drew emphasized, "Both of us, Leo. I won't without Corey and he won't without me there too. You know enough now to choose a boyfriend. All you need is a few more days, to discover who you enjoy being with most."

Leo checked, "Anybody I want?"

Corey nodded, "It's usually someone you can talk with about everything. A test hug and holding hands works too. If all that feels good, to you and him, then make sure he knows how you feel and maybe try a soft kiss."

Nodding understandingly, Leo whispered, "Hold me?"

Snuggling up to either side of Leo, Corey and Drew wrapped their arms over their boy. In mere minutes, Leo was sound asleep. Corey purred, "I love you, Drew," and closed his eyes.

"I love you too, angel," Drew whispered, closed his eyes and nodded off into a deep sleep.