Clan Short Pacific Rim Division

Personal Log - Reyes Taraschke, Part 2

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Sunday morning Jonah woke me up. Most of us kids played video games until our dads and leaders woke up and then went upstairs. After saying good morning to the Hundsers, most of us rescued kids went outside to our suitcases to get clean clothes to prepare for our showers. Of course, us adopted kids waited for our new fathers to come outside before going to the dorm. Mike and Derrick came out first, but we still waited for Prez, Keith, Drew, Corey, John and Bruce. When they came outside chuckling and laughing, we started for the dormitories.

During the walk, Prez immediately went to work as our new Clan director. He asked Daileass to patch in all the Core Rimmers and then found out who of our visitors were still around. After that topic, Prez got help wanted ads placed in the local newspaper for additional employees then arranged for signs to be made for the three condominium buildings. Once all that was done, all our dads began joking about Daileass spying on everyone. At that time, we learned that Daileass was the A.I. at the UNIT base in Utah. The jokes continued during our shower as our dads began renaming the staff. We had House Rimmers, Tree and Lawn Rimmers and Hot Rimmers.

While we were toweling off, Mike looked up at the security camera. Its little red light flashed off, on, off and on again, making us fully aware that Daileass was watching and causing another bout of silliness. For some reason, Drew tried to hide from the camera. I think he was only playing, but maybe he was bashful and shy. In my opinion, Drew had no reason to be shy. For a twelve year old, he's exceptionally cute. Since he's already reached puberty, Drew's shoulders were wider than Corey's and overall, he was perfectly proportioned.

On our way to the C.I.C. dining room, all our leaders wanted to check out the bedrooms in the dorms. They were big rooms and very similar to one another; only the dimensions were slightly different. Each room had two full sized beds, two night stands, two dressers, two closets, two personal computers, a television and a stereo. Corey checked out the TV in one room. He discovered that they had satellite broadcasting from the United States, Japan and Hawaii. The kids that had not been adopted would have very nice living arrangements.

We had great breakfasts at the C.I.C. Derrick said that it was like a buffet restaurant, with everything we could ever want available for the asking. Prez introduced himself, Keith, Dee and Richie to the servers. For our family, Mike performed the introductions. The chefs serving that morning were named Miguel, Charles, Jessica and Randy. Our new families sat at separate tables; Prez, Keith, Richie, Dee, Drew, Corey and Geoff at one table while Derrick, Mike, Dillon, Jonah and I were not far away at another table. We had pancakes and sausages. Dillon and Jonah couldn't decide which kind of syrup to have with their pancakes so they tried them all. Watching them dip their pancakes in little bowls had Derrick and Mike grinning through the meal.

While we ate, we chatted about plans for the day. Our dads would be in the Command Center getting trained for at least two hours. All us kids could do what ever we wanted while our dads were busy. We decided we would likely split the time between video games in the Hundsers' basement or at the pool with the other kids. The last hour of the morning and early part of the afternoon were spent playing video games. Since there were only a few kids in the basement and it was obvious that I had some rare ability to play 'Sonic The Hedgehog' better than the rest, I shared my secret with Carmella, Richie, Dee, Kokaku, Bruce, Geoff, Cesar and Felipe. Having never met an android before, Carmella and Kokaku came to me and inspected me for signs of machinery. They even looked in my ears expecting to find flashing lights. Dillon, Jonah and I asked that they keep the secret, at least for another few days. A little at a time, I would tell the other rescued kids.

Unbelievably, to us anyway, Keith's and Corey's mothers came downstairs with trays of sandwiches and chips. It had only been about two hours since we ate a huge breakfast, but they were serving us. Shocked, we all thanked them. Cesar and Felipe sat on either side of Corey's mom to eat their lunches. While we ate, we learned that the adult men were keeping an eye on the kids that were out by the pool, diving well and indoor recreation center. One of the housekeepers, a lady named Madeline, came down stairs to organize and clean up the basement. After we ate, we all went outside and joined the rest of the Clan so the basement could be cleaned.

At the diving well, while Dillon and Jonah played at the pool with the other kids, I went to Tory. I explained that I had begun sharing my secret with some of the younger kids. Then I asked, "Are there any older kids that you think would be kewl knowing?"

Tory nodded and answered by calling over a bunch of kids. I already knew Sean, Horacio and Hank, but was introduced to about a dozen other thirteen and fourteen year old boys and girls. With the introductions complete, Tory offered, "Reyes has been a brother to me and Kaleo for years. He's got a little something to tell you guys."

Watching all of them carefully, I easily said, "I'm an android."

Horacio prompted, "Yeah? And?"

Uncertainly, I answered, "That's it."

Horacio turned to Sean. Sean rolled his eyes and giggled, "I thought maybe you were sick or in trouble. Jeez!"

"Get us all worked up for nothin'!" Horacio softly laughed.

One of the girls, Trish Vesley asked, "So, can you do anything kewl, like math or sciences?"

"I don't think so," I smirked. "The assholes at the orphanage screwed up my memory, so I don't really know."

Sean realized, "So you are actually sick and in trouble?"

"To a certain degree, I guess so," I replied, "but Derrick and Mike know. They're gonna get me help."

Glancing around the group then finally looking at me, Tory assured, "There's nothing to worry about, Reyes. You're set, bro."

For the first time, I decided to not ask that my secret be kept. About twenty of the eighty-seven kids now knew. I figured it wasn't really a secret to be kept any longer. Since they were being kewl, I decided to hang out with the older kids by the diving well. All the boys were naked so I stripped off my boardies too. I tried out the one-meter board a few times, then moved up to the three-meter board. After five totally wicked dives where I felt like I was briefly weightless in a pocket of air, I thought it was time to try out the five-meter board. That was too high for my pleasure and backed off to the three-meter board again.

Bruce, Dillon, Jonah, Geoff, Dee and Richie came over to the diving well and began getting dressed. I dove once more from the three-meter board then swam over to the ladder. Jonah prompted, "Let's go back to the video games, bro."

Climbing out of the well, I wondered, "Where's Carmella, Kokaku, Cesar and Felipe?"

Bruce answered, "Cesar and Felipe went with Corey's mom."

As I pulled up my boardies, Dee added, "Carmella and Kokaku went home with our grandma."

The group of us began walking to Hundsers' house. Jonah told me, "You and Bruce are kickin' our butts every game! You gotta teach us how to play better, bro."

I nodded and smiled, "I'll try."

Bruce challenged, "I'll take ya on, Reyes. While we play, we can try and describe what we're doin'." Jonah and the other boys thought that was a great idea.

At the front door, Dee placed his hand on the security plate and stated his full name. The red light changed to green and the door unlocked. Dee opened the door and the rest of us followed him inside. To our left, in the living room were Keith's mom and dad with Carmella and Kokaku. Dee and Richie hurried into the room and sat on the sofa with their grandparents.

Uncle Jim asked, "Tired of the pools already, boys?"

Jonah grinned, "Bruce and Reyes is gettin' good at Sonic. The rest of us need more practice."

"You know the way," Aunt Jen smiled, but warned, "Dinner time in about three hours. Don't fill up on popcorn and sodas."

Bruce nodded, "I'm only thirsty now," then led us to the basement. When we got down there, Bruce noticed Dee and Richie hadn't followed. He said, "I guess Dee and Richie aren't comin'." He then turned on TV's and game stations.

I went to the refrigerator and asked, "Who else is thirsty?" Soon, cans of drinks were passed out then we sat down to play. Bruce and I took one game and began showing the others the tricks of the game. Dillon, Jonah and Geoff hooted and hollered because my score was higher than Bruce's from the very beginning. I began explaining what I was doing as I was about to do it. Minutes later, Bruce lost his final hedgehog and I had won.

"What was I thinking?" Bruce giggled, "Like I ever had a chance."

Jonah tapped my shoulder and suggested, "Lemme play with Bruce?" I nodded and rolled away then helped get Dillon and Geoff started. For at least an hour, I sat behind the other four and offered suggestions while they played.

The basement door opened and we heard footsteps on the stairs. I turned and saw John with Nathan. "Hey, guys," John cheerfully said.

"Hey," Bruce smiled, "Reyes has been teaching us to play Sonic better."

"You guys wanna play too?" Jonah asked.

John shook his head and asked, "Bruce, could you come upstairs with me for a little while? There's something we need to talk about with my dad. Your Teddy and mine can come too."

"Okay, pal," Bruce replied. "Someone take over for me here." Nathan quickly moved into position, sitting between Bruce and Jonah. Then Bruce passed off the controller and rolled away, then stood up. "How was your orientation?" Bruce asked John.

"Pretty cool," John grinned, "lots o' computers that can do lots o' different stuff. They make the Internet look lame in comparison." They started up the stairs with their Teddy Bears in tow. John told Bruce about the Core Rimmers' orientation. Since John and Nathan were back, I figured it would only be a matter of time before Derrick and Mike showed up. But Nathan was kicking Jonah's butt while he told us that Bruce's parents had been found, but were dead. Nathan explained that Bruce was going to need all of us to help him through the loss. Easily and quickly, we agreed that Bruce would hardly ever have any chance to feel alone or sad.

After Jonah lost the game, I got to play against Nathan for a long while. It was a really long match and I completely lost track of time. I'd get my points past Nathan's, then he'd pull off an amazing move and pass me again. Back and forth we went like that. At first, Jonah was excitedly commenting, but then Dillon and Geoff ended their game and watched us play too.

The basement door opened again and heavier footsteps came down the stairs. Dillon said, "Hi, Daddy." I glanced over my shoulder briefly and saw Mike standing there.

"Whoa!" Mike chuckled. "Look at those scores! You guys have set record high scores."

Jonah giggled, "They've been playing this one match for at least an hour."

Mike said, "I hate to break this up, but it's getting near dinner time. Our parents want to know what's been going on, so we're gonna have supper at home tonight. Just so you guys know, I've got a new brother and sister."

Jonah asked, "Who?" Nathan and I began purposefully killing our hedgehogs to quickly end the game, causing Dillon and Geoff to squeal in hysterical laughter.

Mike answered, "Ben Hatcher and Christel Robusto." He quickly added, "Derrick's got new brothers and sisters too; Sung Henjes, Kawazoe Yoshitoki, Latoya Tran and Brandi Soriano."

We turned off the TVs and game stations then stood. Jonah told Mike, "Richie and Dee never came down to play."

Starting up the steps, Mike nodded, "Carmella Socia and Kokaku Kidotai were adopted by the Hundsers. Cesar and Felipe Laurito are now part of the Seaver family."

Dillon giggled, "I guessed that would happen," and Geoff nodded agreement.

Mike explained, "For tonight, we're gonna split up and have dinner with our families. Reyes, Jonah and Dillon, you'll have dinner with Derrick's family this time. I'll go find the Scooby Gang and they'll have dinner with my family. Next time, we'll switch it around, the Scoobies with Derrick and you guys with me."

Opening the basement door, we turned into the kitchen. Geoff saw Drew and took off like a miniature bolt of lightning. Drew squatted down and caught his little fireball, then picked him up. Mike laughed, "I guess that answers where Geoff is having dinner." I couldn't help but notice how much happier Geoff seemed with Drew. I also noticed the wall clock read twenty-of-five.

Turning to Mike, I asked, "You guys were busy for almost six hours with the orientation?"

Shaking his head, Mike answered, "A little over three hours with that then with the various adoptions." He then faced Prez and Keith saying, "We'll see you dudes later tonight."

Prez was chomping on a piece of bread he had dunked in the pot of sauce and nodded. Keith answered, "After dinner, at the pools, bro."

Leading our little group to the sliding doors, Mike said, "See ya." When we got outside, Mike noticed Nathan with us and groaned, "Dude! I'm sorry, we completely forgot to include you in our dinner plans."

Nathan grunted then joked, "Just like my brothers. When they've swallowed the table, they look at me and ask if I might be a little hungry."

Mike chuckled, "Vocalize, dude!" A few seconds later, Mike laughed, "You and Daileass are definitely related. One talking in my ear and the other in my mind, at the same time."

Nathan assured, "It's kewl, Mike. You guys need family time too. I'll eat at the C.I.C. dining room with Kaleo and the rest of the Clan. I'll catch up with you guys later at the pool."

Mike nodded, "Kewl dude," then led us to the Seiberts' house.

Before we arrived at the kitchen doorway, Derrick stepped outside with Sung and Kawazoe. Upon seeing the two small boys with my dad, I realized that they were now my eight-year-old uncles. Derrick confirmed, "You guys know each other?"

Shouting, "Yup!" Dillon and Jonah hurried to Sung and Kawazoe.

While my brothers and uncles greeted each other, Derrick came to me and asked, "Do you like pork chops, Reyes?"

I nodded and smiled, "I haven't found anything yet that I don't like."

Mike slid in close to Derrick and planted a kiss then softly said, "I'm gonna go find the Scoobies."

Derrick smiled, "See ya in about an hour."

Mike nodded and hurried off past the homes toward the trees shouting, "Spike! Willow! Xander! Faith!"

Derrick slid open the kitchen door. Dillon, Jonah, Sung and Kawazoe went inside, but I hung back with Derrick. I asked, "Do your parents know about me?"

Shaking his head, Derrick answered, "No," then planted a kiss on my forehead and smiled, "It won't matter to my folks. I went over by the pool after the orientation looking for you guys. Tory told me that you shared your secret with lots of kids." Wrapping an arm around me and pulling me inside, Derrick instructed, "Be proud of who you are, Reyes. I'm proud of you and so is Mike."

With that said, I felt incredible shivers race up and down my spine. I closed the door behind me and grinned, "I need to use the bathroom."

Squeezing me firmly, Derrick teased, "You remember how that works?"

I laughed, "I think so," then went to the bathroom, just beyond the kitchen and dinette, near the basement door. The first floor bathrooms were split in half, with a utility room beyond the inner wall. In the utility room were water heaters and the largest washing machines and dryers I had ever seen. For curiosity's sake, I made a mental note to sneak a peak at the housekeepers' closets in the rec center and the pool house some time in the future.

When I finished in the bathroom and opened the door, Grandpa Carl had just closed the basement door. He was dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt with a carpenter's tool belt around his waist. There was a ladder leaning against a nearby wall. He smiled, "How're you doing, Reyes?"

"Good," I answered, and then asked, "What're you doin'?"

Gesturing at the many framed pictures along the wall on the floor, he answered, "Hanging pictures. Would you like to help?"

I shrugged, "I've never done it before."

Picking up a metal bar, Grandpa Carl explained, "This is a level," and pointed to little glass encased bubbles saying, "You just need to watch the bubbles. When they're centered between the lines, we'll have a true level line to mark the wall."

I replied, "It sounds easy," and Derrick came around the corner.

Grandpa Carl pulled something off his belt and said, "This is a tape measure. I'll mark a distance from the ceiling. You can use the level to make sure we don't have drunken, crooked pictures hanging." Derrick began chuckling and I grinned.

Derrick smiled, "That was a shot at me and Mike."

While we waited for dinner to finish cooking, Grandpa Carl, my dad and I got some paintings and photos hung in the hall, the living room and dining room. Grandpa Carl told me that I had used the level correctly and congratulated me each time. I asked about some of the people in the various photos we hung. They were Derrick's aunts, uncles and grandparents that still lived in the United States. I learned that my dad was born in California, where many of Grandpa Carl's and Grandma Anna's family were from. Derrick and his parents moved from California to Hawaii in 1992 when Derrick was two. In 1994, the Hundsers and Gibbons also moved from the States to Hawaii. The O'Brians were the last to move here in 1997. Derrick pointed out a photo taken in 1999 of all the families together. In the foreground of the photo sat Drew, Corey, John and Lindsay. Behind them were nine-year-old versions of Derrick, Mike, Keith and Prez. In the back rows were the mothers and then the fathers. Back then, Prez looked a lot like his mother. While we were in the dining room hanging the last of the large oil paintings, Grandma Anna said, "Perfect; dinner in five minutes, men."

Grandpa Carl nodded then told Derrick and me to "get washed up."

My dad and I went back into the bathroom, quickly washed our hands then hurried back to the dining room. All the little kids were already seated along the sides of the huge table. I sat down and Derrick asked for plates adding, "little ladies first." All us boys griped and groaned in frustration. Derrick cracked up before serving us. Thankfully, Grandma Anna and Grandpa Carl helped get all of us served.

Grandma Anna was a great cook. She made the moistest, tenderest pork chops I had ever eaten. There was also seasoned corn, green beans and what she called 'twice baked potatoes'. Latoya and Brandi helped her make them. The baked potatoes were allowed to cool then cut in half. The potato was scraped out of each skin then mashed and returned to the skins. Cheese and bacon bits were added on top then put back in the oven again. All of us adopted kids had never had such a fantastic meal in our lives. There were ten people around the table and everybody ate their fill, but there were still leftovers. Never again would we be limited to what we wanted to eat. As if we could lift ourselves from our chairs after we finished, Grandma Anna began clearing the table and asked, "Who wants apple pie?"

I loudly groaned over the cheers of Dillon, Jonah, Sung and Kawazoe.

My grandparents smiled at me and Derrick chuckled, "Stuffed yourself, huh Reyes?"

I honestly said, "Apple pie sounds great, but I couldn't eat another bite."

"I'll save you a piece for later or tomorrow," Grandma Anna promised, then turned and left the room with a stack of plates. Grandpa Carl followed her out of the room with a few serving bowls.

The moment they were gone, Jonah teased, "I'm here for breakfast tomorrow!"

Not too long after dinner and dessert, we went back to Mike's house. His family were still finishing up dinner. Mike seemed somewhat distracted, I noticed. Derrick led Dillon, Jonah and I down to their basement where the drums were set up. Derrick gave me another drum lesson, then let me practice on his kit.

Mike and Ben came downstairs both carrying acoustic guitars. Jonah went to them and asked, "When did Ben get a guitar?"

"Just a few minutes ago," Mike answered. "He told me that he wanted to learn how to play during dinner."

Jonah practically begged, "Can I have one too? I wanna learn to play."

Mike smiled, "Sure ya can. You never told me you were interested before." He then tapped his sub-vocal saying, "Daileass, another Taylor GS Mini acoustic guitar for my son, please."

A second later, a guitar was hanging off Jonah's shoulder, exactly like the one Ben had.

"Before we get into lessons," Mike began, "here's a goal for you guys to shoot for. It's pretty easy to play and given the situation with Bruce, I think it's appropriate. Mike began playing then sang:

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven
Will it be the same
If I saw you in heaven
I must be strong, and carry on
Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven
Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven
I'll find my way, through night and day
Cause I know I just can't stay
Here in heaven

Time can bring you down
Time can bend your knee
Time can break your heart
Have you begging please
Begging please

Beyond the door
There's peace I'm sure.
And I know there'll be no more...
Tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven
Will it be the same
If I saw you in heaven
I must be strong, and carry on
Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven
Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven

While everyone else in the room clapped, I sat there fighting back my tears. Derrick noticed though and came to me, then held me tight. Instead of mourning, Mike went directly back to Ben and Jonah, beginning their guitar lessons. I buried my face on Derrick's shoulder and let quiet tears flow from my eyes onto his T-shirt. After about a minute, Derrick led me upstairs and into the bathroom. He went in there with me and I offered, "I'm sorry, dad."

He shushed me and said, "Don't be. It's plain ol' wrong for something like this to happen; now is worse because all you guys are settling into new lives. It proves that the cycle of life continues on, no matter what else might be happening. For Bruce, this is gonna be a day he'll always remember. What we can do is make it an easy transition from one life to another. From now on, we're gonna be his friends, brothers and sisters."

Understanding, I nodded and then sighed, "I might not have cried until later, if at all, but Mike singing that song wrecked me."

Derrick smirked, "That's part of why I love him. As whacky and fun as he can be, his heart shows in the music he plays." Gesturing to the sink, he gently instructed, "Clean up and join us when you're ready." Finally, he kissed my forehead then left me to wash my face and pull myself back together. The only question I had running through my mind was, why after so much good stuff did something bad have to happen. There was no valid reason for it.

I went back downstairs. Ben and Jonah were practicing their guitars. Just as I sat down behind the drums, Mike's comm-badge chirped. Mike tapped the little badge on his T-shirt and replied. Keith's voice announced, "Dudes, we just learned there are kids to pick up from our Maui base. It's time to go do our stuff."

Derrick nodded and Mike said, "We'll meet you outside, bro."

Derrick locked eyes with me. I smiled, "It's kewl now, dad. I'll try to keep a tempo for Jonah and Ben." After about half an hour, Dillon was bored and Ben and Jonah's fingers were burning.

Since Dillon and Jonah hadn't seen the second floor, we went to investigate the upstairs. At the top of the stairs, the first thing we saw were bathrooms; three of them, lined up directly across from the stairs and to the left. To the right of the staircase was a single doorway leading to a massive master bedroom suite. The master bedroom and attached master bath occupied the entire right side of the upstairs. Beyond all the bathrooms, to the left of the stairs, was the first and smallest bedroom; though, even this room was pretty large and had a full size bed. Further around the left of the staircase down the hallway were three more bedrooms. Each of these other three bedrooms were large enough for two full size beds, two night tables, two desks, two dressers and a complete entertainment center. It was obvious which bedroom was Mike's, the fourth of five bedrooms, by the musical paraphernalia in the room. Dillon and Ben hunkered down on the floor and played video games. Jonah and I were listening to compact disks on the stereo. Mike had a lot of music by guitarists but many were by a man named Eric Clapton. The Scooby gang wandered in, but weren't interested in video games or music so they turned around and left.

We weren't up there alone for very long when Derrick and Mike walked in. After checking with us to see if everything was kewl, Mike went to his desk and unlocked the computer. Soon, Derrick was softly chuckling. Mike grumbled, "This is not funny!"

I turned to see Mike with his head sagging in his hands and Derrick turning red, holding back laughs to mere chortles and snickering. Soon, Ben, Dillon, Jonah and I were beside Derrick and Mike watching a video of Mike showering with the Scoobies.

At the end of the flick, Jonah giggled, "What were ya thinkin', pop?"

Shaking his head pitifully, Mike smirked, "They were dirty so..."

Ben teased, "Ya got a hairy butt!" then swiftly hid behind Derrick. Dillon, Jonah and I howled laughing as Ben tore out of the room and raced downstairs. Dillon tried to get away with passing the same remark, but Mike caught Dillon before he could escape and began tickling him.

A couple of minutes later, our little family was gathered with the Scoobies in the living room. We had our first family chat. The greatest part for Dillon, Jonah and me was that our dads didn't expect or desire anything from us except our best and our caring for each other. They didn't care if I became a drummer or if Jonah became a guitarist; our interests would be allowed to change and develop over time. Mike apologized to the Scoobies for the shower and then we went out back where a nice big aluminum tub was sitting, ready for the ferrets to use whenever they wanted a bath.

With our family meeting over, we went to join the rest of the Clan by the pool and diving well. Almost everyone was there, including the new kids picked up at Maui earlier that night. One of the kids, Randy Beale, got along famously with Jonah and Dillon. Randy was seven years old; two years older than Dillon and two years younger than Jonah. The last two Core Rimmers to arrive at the pool were Prez and Keith. After they made the rounds checking on the new kids, they called together the Core Rimmer team. First, everyone was introduced to the doctor and child psychologist, then the Core Rimmers went for a private chat. That didn't last very long though. They returned to the pool and diving well to hang out with the rest of us.

At nine-thirty, by the clock in the rec center, adults began gathering the four and five-year-old kids to get them ready for bed. The Hundsers and the Seavers led the troop of midgets back to the nest for the night. That left our four grandparents, the two doctors, a small group of housekeepers and landscapers by the pool to watch over the remaining seventy or so kids. Mike was playing "Jaws" in the pool, pretending to be a Great White Shark and sending kids screeching away from his stealthy attacks. It was a great game and Mike was an awesome swimmer. To try and make things more even, Derrick began playing "Orca". The Great White seemed to like getting chased away by the killer whale, for some strange reason.

At some point, Prez, Keith, Tory and Kaleo vanished along with most of the older teenagers. About an hour later, around eleven o'clock, many of the younger kids left the pool to call it a night. When Randy began getting tired, Jonah led him to the Hundsers' house to join the nest. Prez, Keith, Tory and Kaleo returned and saw that only about twenty of the eldest rescued kids were still at the pool with Derrick, Mike and me.

After telling us that they were moving to the dorms, Kaleo and Tory said goodnight then departed. By eleven-thirty, everyone was walking to the Hundsers' house to chill out and call an end to a busy day. This night, I didn't have to sit in a quiet bedroom alone typing my story. Derrick called Daileass and got me my own laptop computer. Keith's mom came downstairs a while ago. Two kids were picked up by Corey and Drew at our North Road gate about midnight. The newbies decided they wanted to sleep at the dorm so Prez, Keith, Derrick, Mike, Corey and Drew just left to walk them over there. Since I'm done for today and my dads still aren't back, I guess I'll join the nest.

Monday, November 1, 2004

Once again, Monday morning we woke in the Hundsers' basement. Dillon, Jonah and I were with our dads almost the whole day. After showers at the Seiberts' home, we had a home cooked breakfast. Derrick's mom made us hash browns and breakfast sandwiches on biscuits with egg, cheese and bacon. What made it really strange was that we all began speaking in tongues. Jonah bean speaking in Yiddish. I was speaking Russian. Dillon was speaking Gaelic. Derrick's mom was speaking in German, and we could all understand each other perfectly. Clan magic was happening again and we weren't awake an hour.

Ben and Jonah were having a rough time with what Mike had showed them the prior evening so Mike showed them the 'spider chromatics' again. Mike played very slowly at first, with Ben and Jonah closely watching Mike's fingers. Christel and Lindsay excused themselves, then went upstairs. Us boys were sitting around the kitchen table, enjoying our time together when I noticed Prez, Keith, Bruce, John and a bunch of other kids outside. Also noticing the activity outside, Derrick softly chuckled, "Here we go."

Quickly, guitars were put aside and we went out the sliding glass doors. One of the kids had wings! He picked up Bruce and flapped his wings then took off like a shot, with Bruce laughing loudly at the top of his lungs. Our group approached the others and three kids about Jonah's age met us. First they went to Derrick, already knowing his name, and introduced themselves. Their names were Jacob, Jamie and Beau. They went around hugging each of us in turn; Mike, Jonah, Ben, Dillon and finally me. We were just saying hello to the other three, Jason, Nathan and Viccy Evans, when Bruce and the bird-boy returned from their flight. The best part of this magical Clan insanity was that Bruce was a giggling mass of naked eight-year-old in the grass. After learning of his parent's passing, this was exactly what Bruce needed.

Little kids came from everywhere wanting a flight around the island. John was next in line though and quickly stripped. Some of us shook our heads sadly while other kids giggled insanely because John had a boner. This time Riti wanted to take John to the big island of Hawaii. They would be gone at least an hour, I figured. Anyway, I was too big to have a chance to fly with Riti so I turned to Derrick and asked, "Dad, can I go play the drums for a while?"

"Sure, Reyes," Derrick nodded. "Let Mike's mom know you're there though."

Mike chimed in, "She might be at the pool now. Check there first, okay?"

I agreed, thanked my dads and told my brothers where I was going then hurried to the pool. Mrs. Seaver was there and so was grandma Anna, but grandma Laura hadn't been there yet, I learned. I ran around the rec center and went in the front door. Sitting in the living room and watching the morning news, Grandma Laura asked, "Not interested in playing at the pool today, Reyes?"

"Nope," I giggled. "The little kids are getting flown around. Dad said I could play his drums."

She closed her eyes, then opened them and slowly repeated, "Little kids are getting flown around?"

I nodded and tried to explain, "One of our visitors has wings. I can only guess where he's from, but it sure isn't Hawaii."

She groaned and seemed to gag, "Where?" I led her through the dining room to the kitchen's sliding glass doors and pointed to the large group of kids standing in the center lawns of the four homes. She turned to me and remarked, "I don't see anyone flying."

I grinned, "He just left with John for the big island."

"John?" She gasped, and then clarified, "John Hundser?" I nodded and watched as she hurried outside muttering something about boys, Valium and how "Jennifer is going to have a heart attack!"

So I went downstairs to the basement and played drums. Remembering what my dad had taught me thus far, I set a tempo then pressed the bass drum pedal on every beat. I began tapping the hi-hat twice for every beat, and hit the snare on every second and fourth beat. Okay, this was easy and it sounded like some of what Derrick had done on stage Friday at the luau, and Saturday night in the auditorium.

After about a minute of holding that tempo, I began thinking of what my dad would do and had done. I tried to play what dad had called a 'fill' on the tom-tom. Bleh! That was awful. So I started over and thought of exactly how Derrick played a fill. Realizing that they almost always started on the third or fourth beat, I tried a simple fill, hitting the smaller tom twice then the next larger tom twice. It was simple, but at least it was progress. I decided to try it again. This time I would wait until the fourth beat and play both toms twice, but faster so they would fit in that one beat. I must've tried that at least ten times before it sound anywhere near good. Taking a short break, I thought of trying the fill on beats three and four, but using the two rack-mounted toms and the two floor toms. I tried just that with my bass drum keeping the tempo. I made small amounts of progress, a little at a time, and kept trying different fills.

Derrick came down the stairs and smiled as I played, showing him the several different fill patterns I had managed to learn. On the next downbeat, I hit the crash cymbal and stopped playing. I stood and went to him feeling like I hadn't accomplished much, but at least it was something. Derrick wrapped me in his arms and hugged me tight saying, "That was really very good."

Looking up into his eyes, I asked, "Was it really?"

He nodded, "You kept the tempo through each of the different fills perfectly." Leading me upstairs, he instructed, "Next time, try keeping your main tempo with the hi-hat or ride cymbal, but hit the bass drum only on the up-beats." My dad counted it out for me and used his hands to demonstrate the bass drum hits.

We walked outside together and I giggled, "That sounds rough. I'm gonna wind up hitting the snare on the upbeats too."

Derrick shrugged, "Maybe, but I think you'll get it. You accomplished a lot in only two hours."

Stunned, I gasped, "I was down there two hours?"

Derrick cracked up and laughed, "It's lunch time! And guess what?"

"What?" I cautiously asked.

He pointed ahead of us and said, "That blond dude there next to Prez is Clan Short Patriarch Cory Short. Mike and I are planning on pulling him aside some time today so we can make good on our promise. We're gonna get you fixed up, as soon as possible, Reyes."

Completely shocked, I didn't know what to say and my mouth hung open. I was happy and frightened of the prospect. Then I remembered what the boy named Peter had said. "Tonight and two days." That was Saturday afternoon. Saturday night I became Derrick's and Mike's son. Now it was Monday, two days had passed and I could have all my memories back again before I went to bed.

"Well," Derrick smiled, breaking me out of my trance. "Aren't you happy?"

I nodded and admitted, "A little scared too."

"Ya know what?"


"I think you're more anxious than scared. Do you want to know why?"


Derrick explained, "Two reasons. First, what you thought was far away is now around the corner, and secondly, no matter what happens, you've still got a family that loves you. Jonah, Dillon, Mike and me love you just the way you are. The only thing this is going to do is add to what you already have." Realizing that he was right, I smiled up at him. He nodded and prompted, "Come on, let's catch up with them."

Together, we ran to the C.I.C., catching up with Prez, Keith, Mike, Cory Short and some other guys they were with. They were in the middle of a conversation.

Keith nodded, "If it's no problem for you, I'd love for you guys to be there."

Prez warned, "Mrs. Diaz, our teacher, is really our only concern. She's gonna have to get used to us bringing security along, or we've got an issue to resolve."

Mike sighed, "We can only hope she doesn't have an issue."

Derrick said, "We've worked for our places in the school jazz band. As long as they're kewl, we are. Otherwise..."

Prez finished, "If Mrs. Diaz, the school or other students have a problem, it's their problem, not ours."

"Let's not stress it for now," Keith suggested.

Mike offered, "We're not gonna quit, but if they force our hand, Clan Short takes priority." Almost simultaneously, Prez, Keith and Derrick agreed.

Cory said, "Don't worry about it, guys. Even if school turns out to be a problem, we'll put you on Clan concert tours once in a while."

Derrick leaned closer to me and whispered, "Catch up with your brothers. As soon as I know something, I'll let you know." I nodded and hurried into the dining room.

Dillon needed help carrying his soda so I put his cup on my tray and carried it to a table where Jonah was already sitting with Ben, Sung, Kawazoe and Randy Beale. Our fathers and the other Clan leaders were sitting at a nearby table. Every time Derrick looked our way and grinned at me, I all but burst at the seams, ready to scream "I'm finally getting my memories back!" All during lunch, I listened to my brothers ramble on about their flights around the island with the bird-boy, who I finally learned was named Riti Evans.

Derrick and Mike came to our table. Mike explained, "We've gotta go to school, but should be back in about an hour-and-a-half." Our dads then kissed each of us on the head and we each said goodbye. Even their new brothers and Randy got a kiss before they hurried out of the C.I.C. dining room.

Blushing from his unexpected kisses, Randy giggled, "They're really nice."

Jonah nodded and smiled, "They're our dads."

Ben added, "Mike's my big brother."

Gesturing to himself and Kawazoe, Sung proudly cheered, "Derrick's our big bro."

"Wow!" Randy reverently cheered, "Dads and brothers, huh?"

For the next few minutes, we told Randy about Derrick and Mike and a little about the other Core Rimmers. He was surprised to learn that they could adopt kids. Finished with our lunches, we dumped our trash, left our trays and glasses by the dishwasher, then went out to the pool.

Since I was being a drum geek most of the morning, my brothers had to introduce me to Riti and a Native American man named Mr. T. It turned out that Mr. T was the Clan Education adviser. He led all us kids over to the school buildings that were beyond the trees south of the outdoor recreation area. He led a tour of the three buildings and explained about Clan Short education. It would be nothing like any other schools we had ever attended. That meant nothing to me because I couldn't recall having ever attended school. Some of the other kids, including my brothers, that had been to school seemed very enthused about the opportunities Mr. T talked about.

Kaleo was there and asked questions to make sure we all understood. We would all be tested on the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Depending upon the results of those tests, we might then either be immediately placed in classes or given another test to determine areas of aptitude; in other words, what we were best suited for. Those of us that were on that path would then have to choose between education in an area we were already suited for or another area we were more interested in pursuing.

Finished with our tour, our large group started back to the pool. Noticing that Drew, Corey and John weren't with us, I asked Jonah where they were. Jonah softly answered, "John and Riti rescued a little Welsh boy this morning. His name's Dewi Jones. Corey, Drew and John took him to the doctors."

"Was he hurt bad?"

Shaking his head, Jonah said, "He didn't seem too bad, but his own real parents were abusing and beating him. He's only four years old, bro."

I groaned then wondered, "Did I miss anything else?"

Jonah nodded and giggled, "Did you have fun?"

"Yeah," I smiled, "It wasn't too hard until I tried doin' fills and stuff that dad does. Time just flew, but dad said I was doing really good."

Before making it to the pool or asking Jonah again what I had missed, we heard Prez over the P.A. system. "Attention all Rimmers. Jam time in the auditorium. Drew and Corey, we'll need you, so bring our kids. Anyone else not occupied is welcome to attend. That is all."

"Sweet!" Jonah and I chirped.

Dillon laughed, "They're back!"

I picked up Dillon then Jonah and I ran to the auditorium. Kaleo picked up Richie and raced us there, with Tory, Dee and the rest of the kids not far behind.

Inside the auditorium, I was surprised to find two eagles flying around up by the ceiling. Derrick gestured for me to follow him. Leaving Jonah and Dillon with Mike and the Scoobies, I followed my dad up onto the stage. He said, "From up here, you can watch everything I do and then try to copy it. Whatever you need help with, just ask."

Thrilled, I giggled, "Awesome!"

Derrick tapped his sub-vocal saying, "Daileass, get a padded folding chair for Reyes. Put it about three feet off to the side of my drum kit please." A second later, the chair appeared. Derrick thanked Daileass then gestured for me to have a seat. From where I was sitting, I could see both of my dad's legs and watch everything he did from the best vantage point.

Out in the audience by Mike, a little red haired boy screamed "Daileass! Get my guitar an amp on stage too!" An instant later, a child-sized electric guitar and amp appeared on stage over by Mike's amps.

I asked my dad, "Who are these kids?"

Derrick grinned, "Timmy and his boyfriend Ricky. Timmy is Cory's son."

Prez and Keith came up on stage with Richie and Dee. Moments later, two more chairs appeared beside mine. Dee and Richie came over and sat beside me while Keith and Prez got their gear powered up. Mike was still in the audience talking to Cory Short so Derrick began copying exactly what I had been working so hard to do earlier that day. Derrick then changed the bass drum pattern to what he had asked me to try and do. Ben, Dillon and Jonah came up on stage with Mike. He stood before the drum set saying "Timmy's gonna play with us, but he plays by ear. Let's start with some easy blues." Hearing the two little boys behind the curtain, Mike smirked and walked over loudly asking, "Hey you two, did you get lost finding the outlets?"

One of the boys loudly laughed, "Jus' playin' with our plugs!"

"We're gettin' our act together and there's an audience waiting," Mike grinned, and then went to get his guitar. Prez went over and started chatting with Mike. Within a minute, Prez was loudly laughing.

Keith looked back at Derrick. They began shaking their heads and smirking. "Hey you two!" Derrick and Keith hollered.

"We're ready already!" Mike loudly laughed, and then announced, "Hoochie Coochie Man."

Derrick looked back at me saying, "Slow blues shuffle," and then counted off the tempo while tapping his sticks together. Simultaneously, bass, drums, guitar and keyboards began playing the instrumental introduction. Derrick sang the first line of the song, and then Prez sang the next line. Mike sang the third line and Keith sang the fourth line. Kaleo came dancing up the stage stairs then all four band members sang the chorus. From the audience, I could hear catcalls, laughter and whistles. Richie, Dillon, Jonah and Dee got up to dance with Kaleo. I cracked up because Kaleo was being extremely provocative with his dance, but Richie and Dillon just looked silly trying to keep up with him.

Returning my concentration to what my dad was playing on his drums, I began trying to copy his feet and hand motions. I think I managed to last through the second verse and chorus before I felt my leg muscles begin to cramp up. This was a relatively slow tune, but Derrick's bass drum foot was moving pretty fast most of the time. At the start of the song, Derrick had counted out to four, however that didn't seem to be what he was playing. At the end of the song, I called over, "Dad, was that four-four time like you showed me?"

He shook his head and answered, "Twelve-eight time, three eighth notes to every beat. Most blues shuffles are played like that."

It took me a few moments to grasp what he described. Three times four equals twelve, but instead of counting out each eighth note, he had only counted to four. That meant the entire band had to know how he was counting and what they were expected to play. It was fun learning this stuff, but it was not easy yet the band made it look so simple. I had to grin because Ben and Jonah were just beginning to get their fingers moving on their guitars. Ben and Jonah likely had so much more to learn and they probably didn't realize it. But the little red-haired boy playing guitar was pretty good and obviously younger than Jonah and Ben. I reasoned, that must be what it means to play by ear; you hear and copy without much understanding of how or why to play something. I needed to ask my dads what they understood 'playing by ear' to mean. Since Mike was on his knees showing the little red-haired boy something and Keith was talking with Prez, I posed my question to Derrick.

Smiling widely, he answered, "That's a tough one. Think of it like learning the alphabet, then how to spell words and then forming sentences. Now consider a blind person. They still speak with words and sentences, but maybe haven't learned to spell. In music, if you have a naturally good ear, you can still play songs. There's theory and ear training involved in music."

"What do you guys do, theory or by ear?"

"Both," Derrick chuckled. "Keith, Mike and Prez know theory better than I do because they deal with notes and notation on a level that I don't need to know. I still know some theory, but they've all got me beat."

"What're you teaching me?"

"Right now, just rhythm and timing. Eventually, you'll be able to listen to a song and know which drums or cymbals are being hit by the tone. When you get there, we can move into more advanced theory and harmony."

Rather than ask what harmony meant, I said, "Thanks, dad," and tried to absorb what he had already explained. Keith and Mike went off stage. Prez and the little boy played an introduction with Derrick. They then put their guitars down and went off to the other side of the stage while Derrick played a drum solo. Oh, man! What an amazing solo it was too! At first it was only his feet playing the hi-hat and bass drum. Occasionally he threw in a few snare and tom-tom bits. Then his hands and feet were just a blur moving all over the kit. For a few minutes, he played with his hands only and no drums sticks at all then went back to playing only the bass drum and hi-hat again. He took his shirt off and wiped the sweat off his face then tossed the shirt aside. Prez and the little boy went back to their guitars and together, watching my dad for signals, they finished the song. While the audience cheered, I went to get my dad's T-shirt so he could wipe his face off again. Prez announced, "Timmy Short on guitar everybody."

After watching that drum solo, I had a hundred questions running through my mind at once, but all I could manage to say to my dad was "Wow!"

Timmy went out to the audience and almost flew into Cory Short's lap.

The band gathered in front of the drums and listed songs they wanted to practice. I went back to my chair then they began rehearsing. Richie, Dee and Dillon began chatting. Soon, they pulled Ben, Jonah and I into their conversation. Without intending to, it seems that we had all been selfish. Our fathers were spending time doing their Clan jobs and they were spending time with us, but none of us had seen our dads spend time alone, as couples. This was bad news. Before Keith walked off stage with Mike, Keith and Prez kissed deeply, but Mike only smiled at Derrick. Us kids had to remind our dads to spend time alone together. Here they were performing for us, all the rescued kids and our Orlando Clan Short guests. Dillon and Jonah were afraid that Derrick and Mike didn't want to get too close to each other. Dee and Richie were afraid that Prez and Keith didn't love each other anymore. We loved our dads the way they were Friday and Saturday. The last thing we wanted was for them to change.

As soon as the band took a break and Prez called Timmy back on stage, I went to Derrick, leaned close and whispered, "You and Mike need to spend time alone tonight."

Derrick chuckled, "We're fine, Reyes."

Mike went to a microphone and asked, "Drew, have ya got a digital flanger up there in your rack?"

Through the stage monitors, Drew hummed then said, "Yep, we got a good one too. What's the tune?"

"Zeppelin's In The Evening," Mike answered.

"And you're going to stay fine too," I insisted. "The last time I know you made love was Friday night. Have you since then?" Derrick shook his head. I kissed his cheek then assured, "I'll watch over the kids for as long as you need." Without waiting for him to say anything, I went back to my chair and sat down. My dad smiled at me then nodded.

I told my brothers, "It's settled. After we're done here, we leave our dads. We go to the pool with the rest of the Clan, they go home for private time."

Derrick tapped his sub-vocal and called, "Daileass, I need timpani, dude. At least one, preferably two. Put them to my left side, near the hi-hat. While we're at it, get me two gongs: an eighteen inch and a thirty-six inch. Put them behind me, within reach, but leave me a path on my right to get out of here. I'll also need microphones for each hooked up to the P.A. system, so contact Drew and get me whatever he recommends."

Keith, Prez, Mike and Timmy went to the grand piano to work on the song. Softly, so only those of us on the stage could hear, Mike played a little bit then Keith copied it. Timmy played a short part and Keith copied it. They went back and forth like that, pulling together the sections of the song. Off to the side of Derrick, two large timpani drums appeared. Next, behind Derrick, the two gongs he ordered appeared.

Jacob and Jamie hurried up on stage and joined the band around the piano. I still couldn't tell the twins apart and complained to Jonah. "There's only one way ya can tell 'em apart!" Jonah giggled. He leaned closer to me and explained, "One's cirumscribed and the other isn't."

"Great!" I softly chuckled. "I have to see them naked to know which is which?" Jonah nodded and cracked up.

Everyone around the piano suddenly burst into laughter. For a moment, we thought they had overheard us. Prez loudly asked, "What the hell's going on lately? Why am I suddenly the object of everyone's affection?"

Mike howled, "Direct me! Ple-e-ease direct me soon!" and Prez shoved him.

Jacob and Jamie both leaned back, plainly looking at Prez's ass and giggled, "It is..." "a really..." "cute butt!"

Amidst much laughing and teasing, Keith stood and joked, "I've been saying the very same thing for two years! I gotta meet this dude!"

"Keith?" Prez softly pleaded, "Don't tease or scare him, babe, please?"

"You know I won't," Keith assured, and then paused to add, "He knows this song, according to the double J's. He'll play keys, I'll sing and we're ready to jam."

Out in the audience, Beau was leading an older teen boy down the aisle. He seemed pretty tall, had brown hair with blond highlights and the most intense light blue eyes. All-in-all, he was extremely cute. Keith, Mike and Prez went over to the stage stairs to greet the new kid. Beau said, "Bros, this is Troy."

Keith was the first to offer his hand to Troy, saying, "Hey dude, you ready to jam?"

Shaking Keith's hand and then knocking knuckles, Troy admitted, "Zeppelin's one of my favorite bands."

"Finally, a keyboard player with taste!" Mike teased as he knocked knuckles with Troy.

Keith complained to Mike, "I just don't know all the changes, bitch! How about we play some Chick Corea next so I can watch you squirm?"

"No problem, bro," Mike giggled. "I can shred like Di Meola."

"In key?" Keith smirked. Mike playfully cranked up the middle finger of his right hand.

"You guys are really good musicians," Troy smiled at the playful banter, then shook hands with Prez.

Pointing at the stack of electronic keyboards, Prez told Troy, "Show us your chops, dude."

Giggling, Troy moved behind the keys and adjusted a few settings, then began playing the main themes. Timmy and Mike both joined in for a few short bars. Prez chirped, "Sweet!"

Keith nodded and instructed, "You play the keys Troy, and I'll sing, kewl?"

"No problem, Keith," Troy replied. Keith went to center stage. Prez, Mike and Timmy moved over to the other side of the stage.

Derrick gave one final instruction, "Drew, add a fairly fast flanger to the timpani, bro."

A few seconds later, Drew said over the stage monitors, "Give it a try."

On the timpani, Derrick played a drum roll and said, "Just a little deeper flange," and continued playing. When it was correct, Derrick said, "Right there, that's good, Drew."

Mike turned around and teased, "So good, a little deeper, right there, like that, yeah!"

"You're very bad," Derrick smirked. "Go to my room immediately." I helplessly laughed, knowing I had put ideas into my dad's mind.

"Ah jeez," Keith groaned.

Shaking his head sadly, Prez playfully reminded, "We used to get randy after jammin'. Now it's before, during and after!"

Mike snickered, "It started Friday night. Blame Joel."

Derrick shook his head and playfully disagreed, "Bet ya it was the Mikyvis trio."

Keith turned to Troy and smiled, "Lead the way, dude." Troy began playing and Derrick started pounding the timpani. After about a minute of spacey introduction, Keith began singing. The sound was something out of this world. Prez, Mike and Timmy were bouncing around and having fun. During the middle instrumental break, the timpani drums broke through the wash of sounds from the keys, bass and guitars like an explosion. It was obviously the first time that the band played the song. Even with two temporary musicians added, it sounded great. The audience agreed and jumped to their feet, cheering, clapping and whistling.

Keith immediately went to Troy and patted his back. They shook hands and Keith congratulated him. Picking up his shirt, Derrick came out from behind his drums and I hugged him firmly. Derrick wrapped an arm around me and we went to meet Troy. Jonah and Dillon went to Mike while Richie and Dee went to Prez. When we were all gathered, Keith asked Troy, "How long've you been playin', dude?"

"Nine years," Troy answered. "I started with guitar, moved on to piano then, in second grade, began clarinet lessons. I started messing around with harmonicas and the recorder too. In fifth grade I switched to tenor sax. Last year, I discovered that baritone sax and tenor sax weren't too different."

Cory Short came over to the edge of the stage and called, "Prez?"

Prez answered, "What's up, Cory?"

In Italian, Cory said, "Recitare per me articolo tredici del rifugio sicuro agire in inglese."

Prez said, "Sexual Abuse. All provisions under this article are grounds for immediate removal of said minor children upon presentation of physical evidence, Vulcan Mind Meld Report or Clan Short Telepathic Scan Report. Subsequent or in conjunction with said removal, legal proceedings to revoke parental rights shall commence immediately and without fail."

Keith then recited, "Section 13.1: Use of minor children to provide sexual gratification. Section 13.2: Prostituting own children to provide sexual gratification for self or others."

Mike added, "Section 13.3: Forcing children to perform sexual acts on themselves or siblings or other minor children."

Derrick then said, "Section 13.4: Acquiring and or distributing nude and indecent photos or holographs of nude minor children for financial or other gain."

And Prez finished, "Section 13.5: Forced sex with non sentient species."

"Excellent!" Cory proudly smiled.

Troy innocently asked, "You guys learned that stuff in high school?"

"Umm no," Mike answered, then wondered, "How did we know that stuff?"

Jamie, Jacob, Beau, and Timmy giggled.

From up in the balcony, Kaleo peeked over the edge then hollered, "What happened to the music?"

Prez immediately cracked up laughing. Keith shouted, "Jam time's over, dude. Everybody's leavin'."

Mike tapped his sub-vocal and said, "Hey Mister see all, what's been goin' on in the balcony?" A moment later, Mike grunted and bitched, "Sure, except when it's me!"

Cory grinned, "I've got one more thing for you guys to do."

"What's that?" Prez and Keith simultaneously asked. They smiled at each other, then reached for each other's hands.

Cory smiled, "All Core Rimmers are on unconditional stand-down for the next two hours." Prez opened his mouth to object. Cory cut him short, "It's non-negotiable, Prez. Spend time with your partners and with your kids; not a word about Clan business of any type." Cory checked his watch and said, "It's about quarter after three now. See ya around five-fifteen." Cory turned and started up the aisle, following the other hundred-plus kids and adults.

"I have absolutely no problem with that," Derrick said. Releasing me, he then grabbed Mike around the waist and devilishly grinned, "See you dudes later." Dillon, Jonah and I followed our dads off stage. Beginning to walk up the aisle, Derrick tickled Mike's waist.

Mike incredulously laughed, "Derrick! Not in front of our kids!"

Derrick smirked, "Who do you think gave me the idea in the first place?"

Mike swung around to face us. Dillon giggled, but Jonah and I put on our best angelic expressions. Mike chuckled, "Don't pull that innocent crap on me. What will you dudes do while we're busy?"

Dillon easily answered, "Play at the pool."

"Practice guitar with Ben," Jonah replied.

I said, "I've got about thirty or so drum patterns to try and imitate."

Derrick smiled at Mike, "Give it up, our boys will be fine."

Mike nodded and softly told Derrick, "I need you so bad."

Dillon's hands shot to his ears and he shouted, "I'm not hearing this!" With that, Dillon and Jonah ran up the aisle, laughing their little butts off.

I told my dads, "Have fun," then followed my brothers up the aisle and out of the auditorium. Jonah caught up with Ben. They peeled off together towards the Gibbons' home. I followed Dillon most of the way to the pools, but noticed Grandma Anna seemed to be heading home. Dillon and I hijacked her and took her to the pools with us. Checking around the pool for adults, I found Grandma Laura and Mrs. Seaver. All the adult men and Mrs. Hundser had gone to work that day. Some landscapers and a few housekeepers were working near the pools too. Kaleo and almost all the older teens were at the diving well. Since everybody was accounted for, I went to the Gibbons' basement and began trying to imitate my dad's drumming.

I was only alone down there for about forty minutes when Dillon, Jonah, Mike and Derrick came down stairs. Jonah loudly laughed, "This is so not fair! In two days, Reyes is playing kewl stuff, but Ben and me are struggling to make our fingers move!"

Mike smiled down at Jonah saying, "You're all just beginning to learn. Have you ever heard of the learning curve?" Jonah and I shook our heads. I put the sticks down and stood up as Mike explained, "It's like climbing a hill as you learn. It's slow and steady progress then you reach a plateau, where you feel like there's nothing more to learn. But there's always more to learn so you climb the hill some more until you reach another plateau. Don't be discouraged. It goes like that all through life with every thing there is to learn."

Derrick took my hands and looked at them closely then said, "That's enough for today, son. You've got blisters. Do they hurt?"

I shrugged, "Not too bad."

Derrick firmly said, "No more until tomorrow. We don't want the blisters breaking open and bleeding. You want them to turn into callouses."

Frowning, I started to complain, "But..."

"No buts," Derrick cut me off. He then tapped his sub-vocal saying, "Daileass, a pair of congas, ten inch and eleven inch, on stands." Instantaneously, two very kewl congas were beside the drum kit in the basement. Derrick smiled, "I'll show you how to play those tomorrow." We started up the stairs and Derrick softly instructed, "Keep an eye on those blisters tonight. If they start to break open, as I expect they will from the pool water, we'll have to bandage 'em up."

Arriving in the kitchen we found all four Scoobies sitting at the table and scratching themselves raw. "Okay men," Mike announced, "we have four little brothers and sisters here that reacted badly to pool water. Doctor Janet says the chlorine dried out their skin. We've gotta bathe them with medicated shampoo then dowse 'em in special lotion." Mike leaned forward, allowing Faith and Willow to climb up onto Mike's shoulders. Derrick picked up two bottles from the table and we all went outside to the aluminum tub where we spent the next half hour bathing our ferret brothers and sisters. Actually, Mike and Derrick did the bathing while Jonah and I toweled them dry. They were obviously feeling better after their baths and began scampering around the lawn chasing and playing with each other. Dillon had fun playing with them and they had fun running up and over Dillon.

Once we were done with the Scoobies, they went back to working on their vault and the rest of our family went to the pool. We found Prez and Keith with their sons at the diving well with Cory and Adam Short standing nearby. Mike wondered, "What's going on here?"

"We're makin' babies!" Keith joked.

Prez giggled, "We're up to four. What've you guys been doing all this time?"

"What we do best!" Mike joked.

Derrick nudged Mike and grinned, "In the auditorium, we noticed that the Scoobies were scratching themselves like crazy."

Mike nodded, "No more swimming in the pool for our ferrets. Their skin can't take the chlorine." I overheard Cory ordering that the pool water be changed immediately at all Clan bases.

"Doctor Janet sent us some special shampoo and ointment to help them out," Derrick added.

I laughed, "We got to bathe them again!"

Jonah smirked, "They weren't too happy about it at first."

"But now they feels less itchy and way more better," Dillon giggled.

"Where are they now?" Prez wondered.

"Workin' on their Shiny Vault," Mike replied.

"Heaven help Hawaii," Cory softly muttered, shaking his head.

Keith looked at Gage and asked, "Ready for your first piano lesson, son?"

"Yeah!" Gage loudly chuckled.

Prez glanced at Keith and said, "While you’re doing that, I'll take our other three boys over to the townhouses and check them out."

"Good idea," Keith smiled, "We'll be moving there sooner or later. Let's all go together then. I'll want a piano of some sort there."

Derrick and Mike checked with each other. Wordlessly agreeing, Derrick said, "We'll join you."

"Might as well invite Drew and Corey," Prez suggested.

Without another word, my brothers, Sammy, Gage, Richie and Dee ran to the pool to get Corey and Drew.

Following the kids to the pool, Mike asked, "What do you think about moving into a townhouse, Reyes?"

I thought for a moment then answered, "I don't think it will matter where we live. Dillon, Jonah and I only want to be with you." Seeing both my grandmothers in chaise lounges floating about four feet above the pool, I turned to each of my dads with wide eyes.

Between his mom's nervous expression and my confusion, Mike cracked up laughing. Derrick chuckled, "John's an N-Gen. He and the Evans' are just practicing telekinesis; lifting stuff with their minds."

I nervously chuckled, "It took me two days to get used to transporting from place to place and seeing stuff just appear. I'll be fine, in a day or two."

With our families gathered, we started the short walk to the townhouses. Geoff was not at all happy about having any of us move away, even though it was only a short walk away. All us kids tried to reassure him, but it simply didn't work. He didn't want Corey and Drew to move into a townhouse of their own, nor did he want to follow our family or Prez and Keith into our townhomes. I guess Geoff finally had a large family, grandparents, cousins and friends so the thought of being separated was more than the little guy could handle.

Dillon was about the same age as Geoff, but had no problem checking out our townhouse. The kitchen was perfect for our family. The dining room table could accommodate eight. The living room had entertainment and plenty of seating. We went upstairs and checked out the three bedrooms. The master bedroom had a king size bed and it's own private bathroom. Basically, everything was similar to what the full size homes had, just scaled down slightly. Finally, we went to the basement. My dads saw it as a perfect practice and rehearsal space. We weren't planning on moving there that night or even that week, but depending upon future rescues and those kids, it might happen by the end of November.

Back outside again, we told Corey and Drew what the inside of the townhome was like then set about trying to reassure Geoff again. It was Prez that figured it out though. Change is what scared Geoff the most. So Prez showed his little nephew how easy change was by having Geoff go to each of us for a hug.

"That's my big guy!" Drew proudly cheered.

Corey smiled and nodded at Prez, then turned to Geoff and suggested, "To show you how close we'll all be, let's walk back to the houses and then over to the pool."

Our families started the walk, but to prove the point, Jonah challenged me to run to our house and back again to our families. We started our race at the edge of the dorm where the older kids had moved and made it back again before our families made it beyond the second dorm where the UNIT kids were living. Geoff seemed very happy with how quick it was and wanted to try it for himself. This time, Dillon, Jonah, Dee, Richie, Gage, Sammy, Geoff and I ran all the way to the Seavers' house and back to our dads. I was pretty hot and sweaty by the time we made it to the pools.

Our large group split in half, the younger guys going with Corey and Drew to the pool while the bigger kids went to the diving well. I couldn't help glance around the kids at the diving well. My dads, Prez and Kaleo were naked and having fun with the rest of us. After a dive and listening to Prez, Mike and Derrick singing their way from boards into the water, I glanced over at the pool. I don't know what happened, but a chaise lounge was in the pool, Grandma Anna was soaked and lots of kids were laughing hysterically. Sammy and Gage came running over to the diving well. They told Prez something that set Prez off in another fit of laughter. Prez has the most infectious laugh I've ever heard. In minutes, everyone knew that John had gotten distracted and accidentally dumped Grandma Anna in the pool.

At the diving well, Prez, Derrick and Mike were the center of attention. Kaleo was going from group to group at the diving well, sharing the news that Cory Short had made Prez the official director of our new division. If anyone thought that Prez wasn't the best choice, they weren't saying it. Instead, Prez was surrounded by a group of older kids. At first it seemed they were all congratulating him. Then Prez's arms and legs were grabbed by Derrick, Mike, Kaleo and Horacio. Prez was thrown, laughing his butt off, into the diving well.

We all heard chirping. Derrick, Mike and Kaleo found their shirts then checked their comm-badges. It was Prez's T-shirt that was tossed to him.

Prez answered, "Yeah babe, what's up?"

"Mom and Dad are home now," Keith explained. "It's time to fill them in on today's trivia."

"Is Gage with you?" Prez asked.

"Yep," Keith replied, "bring all our kids and Geoff too."

Prez replied, "Okay, we'll be there in a few minutes."

"Okay, baby," Keith replied.

Prez announced, "Time to handle family matters, dudes." Prez slipped into his T-shirt then found and pulled up his boardies. He went to the pool to gather his kids.

Celebrations weren't quite over yet though. Kaleo, Horacio, Liki and Keanu took hold of Derrick then sent him flailing into the diving well. Mike was still laughing at his partner and so, didn't notice when Sean, Hank, Roy and Tory had surrounded him. Within moments, Mike was sent flying into the diving well. Finally, we chased Kaleo, got hold of him and swung our rescued brother, Core Rimmer and Starfleet Ensign into the well.

Then my dads came to me. I fully expected to be tossed into the diving well. Instead, Mike said, "Let's see what we can do about getting you fixed up." We walked over to the pool and had a chat with Cory, Sean, Adam and J.J. I explained as much as I could, that the adults at the orphanage periodically wiped my short term memories and that I couldn't access any long term archives without "zoning out". Jonah saw us together, added his part of the story then hurried over to the diving well to get Kaleo, Tory and Liki.

While Jonah was gone, Cory stood and walked behind me. He brushed my hair aside and found the Matrix Uplink Port at the base of my skull. He grunted then said, "No identification." Jonah ran back with Kaleo and Tory. After they told their version of the same story, Cory asked, "This thing they used on Reyes, did it say Cynthetilife on it?"

Kaleo answered, "We never got a good look at it," and then described the little unit that caused me all this trouble.

Adam said, "He looks a lot like Austin. His hair and eye color's different, but generally, about the same height and build. Even what's hangin' between his legs is similar." J.J. slugged Adam hard on the shoulder. "What?" Adam squealed. "He's naked, we're naked. Should I have not mentioned it?" We all began laughing.

I giggled, "Who is Austin?"

Sean grinned, "We think he's your android brother." Wow! I really had android brothers?

Cory nodded and added, "We can get you fully functional again, Reyes."

I asked, "Will I get all my memories back too?" While my dads and the other Clan leaders glanced at each other, I added, "I just don't want to forget anything and, if possible, I'd like to know more of who I am. All I know is what my orphanage brothers have told me."

Pulling me closer and hugging me, Cory carefully explained, "I don't know if we can restore all your memories, Reyes. What I can tell you is that you'll be able to access your long term archives again. And we'll get you upgraded to the latest software. You'll be everything your dads and brothers love plus more than you are now."

Derrick asked, "What do you mean by more, Cory?"

Cory shrugged, "It depends; I know one android that's a hundred years old and another that's about seventy years old. Austin is about forty-eight years old but looks thirteen, like Reyes. All I'm saying is, if we can get full access to his memory archives, Reyes will know everything he once knew. For example, if Reyes knew auto-mechanics once upon a time, he'll have all that knowledge restored. In addition to what he previously knew, he'll have a few new databases to access too. So he'll be the same guy and more."

Mike asked, "Will he remember us, his family and friends now?"

"Course!" Cory smiled. He then focused on me and assured, "We are not going to let you be hurt again, Reyes. What you know now, you'll still know tomorrow. We're just going to identify and correct the memory access problem then upgrade your software to current versions."

More chirping from a comm-badge was heard. Tory said, "I'll find the shirt and bring it back here," and then ran over to the diving well.

Derrick smiled, "I guess the only questions left are, how long will it take and when can we get it done?"

Cory answered, "When is up to Reyes. How long, twenty or thirty minutes, I guess. Austin's the expert, not me."

All eyes turned to me. It could happen whenever I wanted it to happen. I wouldn't lose my current memories and would gain everything I'd forgotten plus more. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I answered, "How about after supper?"

Cory nodded and smiled, "No problem."

Running with a T-shirt in his hand, Tory returned loudly asking, "Who's shirt is this?"

Mike said, "It's mine." Tory tossed Mike his shirt and Mike tapped his comm-badge.

Prez asked, "Where are you, bud?"

"At the pool still," Mike answered.

Prez wondered, "Is your dad home yet?"

"Haven't seen him yet," Mike replied. "He's probably getting changed out of his uniform though."

Prez said, "Let's get all our families together for dinner over at the C.I.C." He then asked, "Are Cory and Sean Short nearby?"

Mike nodded, "Yep, only a few yards away."

"Let's lead by example and make it happen, dude," Prez instructed. "We'll meet you at the dining hall in a few minutes." Having heard Prez mention food, kids began cheering and getting dressed. Prez chuckled, "I hear a few hungry kids."

"Can't say that I blame them," Mike grinned. Partially dressed kids ran past on their way to the C.I.C. "Oh shit!" Mike laughed, "The dinner bell has rung! There they go! Last one to the dining hall misses out!"

Taking me by the hand, Derrick led me back to the diving well. He asked, "How're you feeling, son?"

He handed me my shorts and, as we started to dress, I giggled, "Mixed up; a little scared, a little nervous, but mostly happy."

After we had pulled our shirts over our heads, Derrick smiled, "Understandable. I probably would feel the same way if someone was messin' around in my head." My dad then pulled me into a firm hug and assured, "We're gonna be there with you; me, Mike, Jonah and Dillon will be right there, before, during and after."

I shivered, "That's why I'm scared, dad. I have no idea what I might remember."

"Memories are good and bad," Derrick shared. "I had an older brother that died when I was two from complications of pneumonia. I barely remember him. That's why we moved to Hawaii, to start life over again, far from the bad memories."

"Grandma and grandpa didn't say anything about that."

"They wouldn't because it hurts too much," Derrick whispered. "For you, I'm feeling happy, anxious and frightened too. I don't even want to consider what I might do if this fix fails or makes matters worse. I'm not thinking of that though. I'm thinking of you, the whole you; all your memories and dreams for the future with us."

Shedding happy tears, I hugged my dad tight and admitted, "I love you, dad. I love our entire family. I don't want to forget a thing that's happened since Friday." What I had realized while writing the prior evening was that I could go into detail about everything I experienced; from the appearance of Uncle Iokii's house to the length of the grass and the shape of the tree Jonah and I napped beneath. Those things that weren't written in detail is what I was afraid of losing.

"I love you too," Derrick said, and then kissed my forehead. He stepped back from me and we smiled at each other. Mike, Jonah and Dillon were dressed and waiting for us. Our family started for the C.I.C. dining hall. Dillon hopped in front of me and held his arms up, wanting to be carried. I lifted my little brother up and parked him up on my shoulders.

At the chow line, I loaded up my tray and helped Dillon by carrying his glass of milk. Dillon, Jonah and I shared a table with Richie, Dee, Gage and Sammy. The main topic of conversation was me and my upgrade. At the next table over, I could hear my dads talking with Keith and Prez about it. Not far away, I overheard a little bit said at the table where Cory, Sean, Adam and J.J. were eating.

When we were finished eating, my dads went over to Cory's table. While I watched, a Caucasian teen boy with bright red hair and gray eyes appeared. He pulled a chair closer to Cory and sat down. Jonah began looking between that new boy and me. "Damn!" he giggled, "He looks a lot like you, bro!"

I giggled, "A little bit, but not a lot like me. I have auburn hair, blue eyes and darker skin. His nose is shaped different too."

When I looked over again, Austin was coming over to our table. With huge butterflies flapping around my gut, Austin patted my back and said, "How're ya doing, Reyes?"

Austin pulled a chair beside me and sat down. I smiled, "Really nervous."

"Don't be," Austin confidently said. He then reached his hand into his shorts pocket and pulled a palm-sized device out. Austin asked, "Is this..."

"Get that away from him!" Jonah loudly interrupted. My little brother appeared ready to jump over the table and attack Austin.

Wide-eyed, Austin giggled, "Okay! That answers the question." He pocketed the device again explaining, "Those were meant for Cynthetilife androids, not for you, bro. Here's what I'm thinking; those things generally wipe the slate clean and restart Cynthetilife androids. The results on androids like us are pretty unstable though. I was told they used to use it on you every year or two. Is that correct?"

I shrugged and turned to Jonah. Jonah nodded then called Kaleo over. Jonah asked Kaleo, "About how often did they screw with Reyes' memories?"

Kaleo tilted his head and answered, "It wasn't something they did like clockwork, ya know? It was like, when Reyes seemed out of it, distracted or depressed, then they'd pull him aside and zap him again. Sometimes it was a year or so. I remember it being as long as three years too."

Austin nodded and smiled, "I don't think they messed you up majorly, Reyes. What I'm hearing is that whenever you started remembering old stuff, they'd wipe your memories again. I think all we'll have to do is recover your self-diagnostics, do the software upgrades and then tell you to reinitialize."

I asked, "Then I'll remember everything?"

Austin nodded, "Everything prior to the first time they wiped your memories. What I've learned is that they were wiping your memories as far back as Kaleo can recall. That means about fourteen years of your orphanage life is likely gone because it was never stored."

Kaleo grinned, "That's no biggie. I wish someone could wipe most of the last fourteen years from my memory." Jonah agreed and so did I.

"Okay," Austin cheered. "Here's a little something you need to know first. My name, Austin stands for Android Upgrade - Second generation Teen Interactive Neurosystem. We found your name in the old records. Reyes stands for Research Engineering - Youth – Expanded Senses. Your systems and programming were the stepping stone to mine. That means you're my older brother and Marc's son. As far as we know, you were developed in the late 1940's. Once we get you fixed up, your archives will confirm your activation date. Do you understand what I'm driving at?"

I thought for a few minutes then uncertainly said, "I'm probably about fifty years old."

Austin nodded, "That implies that you had a life and family before the orphanage. Although the memory wipes may seem bad to you, we were designed as companions. When our family dies or abandons us, for whatever reason, accidental or otherwise, we tend to feel worthless... suicidal. I'm sure they started wiping your memories to overcome that problem."

I nodded, "So there's gonna be some bad memories recovered as well as good memories."

Austin softly said, "Yeah."

"All I care about now is what I currently have," I shared, and pointed at the table where my fathers sat. "They're my dads. Jonah and Dillon are my brothers. Kaleo and Liki have been my friends for longer than I can remember. Will I remember everything about my life now?"

Austin rapidly nodded, "We're erasing nothing, bro. Everything you know now, you'll know after we're finished. Worst case scenario, it's only the stuff between your first memory wipe to the last memory wipe that's probably lost forever. There may be little blocks of memory between the memory wipes you will recall. Like I said, those devices weren't designed for us so the results are unpredictable."

Kaleo huffed, "Count your blessings, bro."

Jonah agreed, "Yeah, there wasn't anything there worth remembering anyway."

Austin asked, "Are you ready, Reyes?"

Gathering all my courage, I sighed, "Yeah, let's get it done." Austin and I stood. Glancing at Jonah and Dillon, I said, "Come on, I want you guys there too." At the other table, my dads, Cory and Sean stood. Our group followed them towards the Command Center. On the way, I turned to Austin and smiled, "In case I don't get the chance after, thanks for helping me, Austin."

Austin giggled, "It's no problem at all, Reyes. Until today, you were a model type in a ledger. Now, I've almost got my big brother back. I hope to visit you here often. Maybe you would like to come to South Carolina some time to meet our other brothers. Who knows, you might even have buried memories of Marc already."

For the first time, I walked into the Command Center. The room seemed filled with computer monitors, keyboards and had a few kids sitting on each side of the rectangular room. My dads, Austin, Cory and Sean led us through the room, a few steps down a hall and then into an attached room with a big table and many chairs. Derrick invited me to sit at a chair at the head of the table. Derrick took the chair to my right and Mike sat to my left. They each took hold of my hands. Jonah, Dillon and Cory sat down too.

Moving close to me, Austin pulled from his pocket a couple of small plastic modules and a meter long cable then put them on the table. Picking up one of the modules, he explained, "First thing we're gonna do is determine what software version you're at, Reyes."

I nodded and asked, "Will any of this hurt?"

"Not at all," Austin confirmed, and began pushing my hair aside to access my uplink port. Before I felt a thing, Austin said, "There; read from the chip and tell us your controller software version."

In a few seconds, I answered, "Five-seven-e-s point two one."

Austin laughed, "1957! At least it was a stable version; if you can call dad's programming stable." He put the chip down then picked up another one and said, "We've got four upgrades to do, bro. Each will take about five minutes but will build on the previous one. If there's any kind of hardware malfunction, we'll know it before the first upgrade completes. Go ahead and read only the first file and tell us if anything happens."

"Okay," I shuddered, wondering what sort of 'anything' might happen. Everything seemed to be fine for about two and a half minutes but then the room went dark. "Hey!" I hollered, "I can't see! I'm blind!"

"Relax, Reyes," Austin confidently said, "Memories are sensory; sight, sound and smells. Keep reading the file." My heart was beating through my rib cage, I was so nervous.

Jonah said, "He's twitching..." and then I heard nothing else until the file was completed. Suddenly, I could see and hear again.

I smirked, "That was scarey! Will that happen with each upgrade?"

Mike chuckled, "You almost crushed my hand, dude!" Jonah and Dillon began giggling.

Austin said, "From here on, it'll be only a few seconds of dark and quiet. This is good, Reyes. It means nobody opened you up and physically messed with your positronics. Go ahead and read the second file, bro." I did as I was told. This time the room didn't go dark and quiet for more than two seconds. They were the longest two seconds I had ever experienced though, and I told them all so.

"Okay," I sighed, "the second file is complete."

"Good," Austin encouraged, "read the third file, and as soon as that's complete, read the fourth file."

Twice more during the next ten minutes, my vision and hearing blinked off then back on again. When I said, "Both files are finished," Austin removed the chip from my uplink port.

Putting the chip down on the table and picking up the cable, Austin explained, "This is the last part of the upgrade, Reyes. We'll connect to each other, I'll make the file available to you and you'll read it just like the others." Austin reached behind his head and connected the cable to himself then connected it to me. This transfer happened much more quickly. The weird thing was, when I blinked or closed my eyes, it seemed I was in a dark room alone with Austin. Assuring me in my mind that this was normal, Austin hugged me tight. When the upload was complete, I knew in my heart that Austin was my brother. What Adam had said was true; Austin and I were very similar.

Austin said, "We're almost done, Reyes. About another ten minutes of databases to read in. Take everything on this chip, bro." He attached the chip to my uplink port then said, "Go for it." While I was reading in the files, Austin and Sean stepped out from behind me then sat at the table.

Since this was taking no effort on my part and everybody was staring at me, I wondered, "What sort of databases am I uploading?"

Sean giggled, "It would be easier to list what we're not uploading."

Austin smirked, "Anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, horticulture, mechanics, medicine, philosophy, physics, theology, to name a few. I don't want you accessing them all at once though, Reyes. We've got one more hurdle to pass first, remember?"

I nodded, "Reinitialize."

"Exactly," Austin confirmed. "You're a person not a library, bro. What's most important to you are your memories. Just sorting through that will take a good night's sleep and at least another day. For the next week, I want you to take it slow and easy, okay?"

I nodded and so did both of my dads and both brothers. While we waited for the file uploads to complete, Derrick got up and went to the First Aid chest mounted on the wall. He returned to the table with gauze, tape and a tube of antibiotic ointment. For the next few minutes, Derrick and Mike bandaged the blisters on my hands. I had completed the file uploads before they finished with the bandages. When my hands and fingers were bandaged, I reached behind my head to pull the chip from my uplink port and placed it on the table.

Austin locked his eyes with mine and softly said, "Reyes, when you initialize, everything you had forgotten is going to come rushing back. We're not talking a few years here, bro. For you, it could be thirty, forty, fifty or more years of previously lived life. It's going to be an emotional rollercoaster ride of ups, downs, highs and lows. I want you to take it slow and I want someone with you for the next two days. I mean it, Reyes. If you have to piss in the middle of the night, take one of your brothers or fathers with you. Anything you see, hear, taste or touch could bring back another rush of memories."

Both of my dads and both of my brothers assured that I would not be alone a single minute during the next forty-eight hours.

Nervously, I smirked, "I know what I need to do but haven't had to do it in so long. I can't even remember having ever done it before. It's almost like jumping off a cliff."

Mike softly said, "Take your time, Reyes."

Derrick nodded, "We're all here, son. Once you start, everything you know now will still be here. Everything you once knew will be restored too. For us, nothing has changed."

"That's part of why I'm afraid," I sniffled. "I don't want anything to seem different to me."

Jonah challenged, "How different could it be? I won't treat you any differently."

"Me neither," Dillon assured.

Mike lifted his hand and mine. Derrick did the same, insuring me that no matter what, I had a family that cared. Derrick softly asked, "Ready?"

I nodded then closed my eyes and executed the reboot. My eyes opened and nothing seemed to have changed. I looked around the table and recognized my brothers and fathers. Seeing Derrick's concerned expression, I cried, "Of course it was you! How do you spell your first name?"

He answered, "D-E-R-R-I-C-K."

I sobbed, "My first father's name was Derek Taraschke; D-E-R-E-K. He was a musician too, a drummer, just like you. No wonder I've attached myself to you. Even though I couldn't remember..." I couldn't even finish the sentence because I was crying too hard. I recalled my first father and his death then stopped reading my memories because it was already too overwhelming.

Mike said, "Positronic subconscious recall? Stranger things have happened."

Smirking, Cory turned to Austin and teased, "Like certain androids developing telepathy."

Austin grinned, "You're just jealous because Timmy and I can plot without you knowing about it."

Softly shushing me, Derrick smiled, "A little at a time, Reyes. Don't over-do it."

Leaning back in my chair, I groaned, "Oh, I feel so dizzy."

"We've got no place to be any time soon," Mike assured. Cory, Sean and Austin stood and left the room.

"Do you remember me?" Jonah asked.

"Course I remember you," I laughed through my tears. "You too, Dillon. I met you Friday afternoon, after the rescues, at Uncle Iokii's house. Everywhere Jonah went, you followed."

"Yep!" Dillon cheered. "That's exactly right!"

"Aw shit!" I grunted.

Derrick incredulously giggled, "What?"

"I have to pee!" I grinned.

"But you've never swore before," Mike chuckled.

Jonah cracked up laughing, "He just hasn't needed to, but he used to cuss at the orphanage."

I started to stand, but was uncontrollably shaking all over. "Whoa!" Derrick giggled, and wrapped an arm around me.

When we stood together, I looked up at him and smiled, "Thank goodness my other dad wasn't blond too. He had auburn hair, like mine. I'd hate to break down crying every time I look at you."

Wrapping my other arm over his shoulder, Mike snickered, "The men's room is across the hall."

Jonah hurried to the conference room door and opened it. Dillon raced across the hall and body slammed the men's room door to open it. After we passed Dillon, he hurried to one of the toilets. My dad's supported me the entire way to the men's room urinal. Derrick didn't let go of me while I relieved myself. Mike stood at the next urinal, but didn't even hold his dick. He kept his right hand on my back, just in case I got wobbly and he needed to catch me. When Mike and I finished, Mike took hold of me at the sink so Derrick could take care of business and I could wash my hands. Seeing my own face in the mirror though caused another rush of old memories and I started crying again. There were so many other public men's rooms I had been in before, I had to concentrate to stop the flood of memories and tears.

Jonah stepped up to the sink beside me. I asked him, "Why did Piglet look in the toilet?"

Jonah frowned, "Piglet?" and then smirked, "I dunno, why?"

I giggled, "He wanted to see Pooh!" Jonah groaned, but Dillon thought that was the funniest thing he had ever heard and cracked up.

Shaking his head, Mike smirked, "Oh, God help us, he's remembering bathroom jokes."

Turning to him, I asked, "What do toilet paper and the Starship Enterprise have in common?"

Mike chuckled, "They both fly around Uranus looking for Klingons."

Derrick laughed, "Don't let Juan or Korris hear that shit."

"Speaking of shit," I giggled, "What do you call a twelve-inch turd?"

"A foot stool!" Derrick and Mike answered. Jonah and Dillon howled laughing.

We were all finished in the bathroom and went out to the Command Center. I looked around again and wondered, "What happened to the old C.R.T. type televisions?"

Derrick groaned, "Oh man, they stopped making those years ago."

"We had one a long time ago, when I was a little kid," Mike added.

I searched my memory for when I had last seen one of the old tube televisions. I couldn't remember that, but I did remember other things that brought me to tears again. Derrick softly asked, "What's wrong?"

All choked up, I shared, "I was first activated July thirty-first, 1948. Derek Taraschke died of natural causes in 1971. I lived with my cousin and his wife after that, but they died in a car accident in November of 1983. They first wiped my memory November twenty-second, 1983." Breaking down in tears, I sobbed, "That's the last thing I remember. Twenty-one years of my life were spent in that friggin' orphanage." My brothers and fathers wrapped me in their arms. I think we all cried for a long couple of minutes.

The door from the Command Center to the dining room opened. Prez and Keith walked inside and, seeing my family surrounding me, they came to an abrupt halt. Concerned, Prez frowned and asked, "Are you guys all right?"

Safe and warm in the arms of my new family, I nodded and smiled, "Definitely."

Mike explained, "Reboot caused a rush of old memories."

Derrick grinned, "Reyes is thirteen going on fifty-seven."

"Jeez," Keith softly said, "You're older than any of our parents. No wonder the memories were overwhelming."

"It's great!" Dillon cheered, "He's our big bro now and always will be!"

Prez explained, "I need to call the King before it gets any later. Can I do it here or should I go home?"

Derrick asked, "Do you need us around, Prez?"

Shaking his head, Prez said, "Reyes takes priority. Family always takes priority."

"We'll take our kids over to the pool then," Mike suggested.

Derrick remembered, "The Scoobies probably need another ointment treatment anyhow."

Our family walked out of the Command Center. Again, I looked around the dining room. Kaleo and Tory quickly came over to us, looking like they might cry. Kaleo complained, "You were in there so long. Is everything okay?"

I nodded, "It's weird, crying my eyes out one minute then cracking bad bathroom jokes the next."

Tory giggled, "That doesn't sound very normal."

Derrick offered, "It's basically what Austin said would happen though; ups and downs, highs and lows."

Glancing around the dining room as we slowly walked through, I listed off every person I knew, proving I had lost nothing. Kaleo and Tory followed us outside. Smelling the fresh salt air blowing from South to North, from the beach, I stopped walking. My dads, brothers and friends stopped and waited for me. "Ya know what? I've always lived near the ocean. My first family lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina until 1958. Ten years we lived there; the 'low country', it was called. Oh man, I remember riding bumper cars, with my dad, at the boardwalk. Myrtle Beach was a great place to grow up. I remember learning to surf, catchin' crawdads and frogs in the lagoon, sunset strolls along the beach. We moved here because my dad's wife was Hawaiian and she wanted to be near her family. Her name was Lokelani, which means heavenly rose. She was so pretty and so nice." Pausing, I sighed and enjoyed remembering stuff that had been forgotten for so long.

Mike softly reminded, "A little at a time, Reyes."

Squeezing him tight, I smiled, "I'm good, Pop. Ya know why?" Mike shrugged and I explained, "Things that I took for granted matter more now. I have family again. I know what that means and I also remember how bad things can get. An hour or so ago, I still smelled that salt air, but it had no meaning. Now it does." Turning to Kaleo and Tory, I smiled, "I have friends that cared about me when I wasn't all there to show how much I cared about them."

"Aww man," Kaleo groaned. "You showed it the best ways you could, Reyes."

Tory nodded, "You were there for us when we were kids; younger than Jonah and Dillon."

Derrick gently prodded, "Tell them how long you were at the orphanage, son."

"Since November 1983, twenty-one years." Kaleo's and Tory's mouths fell open. I smirked, "You know stuff I don't though."

"Like what?" Tory challenged.

I told them the truth. "From November 1983 until this past June, I have no memories. When did the sexual abuses start?"

Kaleo grumbled, "Before I had hair on my dick." He faced Tory and asked, "1998?"

Tory frowned, "I'm not sure either. I was about eight the first time an adult messed with me so either 98 or 99."

Liki Kealoha, Hank Leve, Sean Moorhead and Horacio Sulin came outside. Without stopping, they walked down the path towards the dorm and Horacio pleasantly said, "How's it goin' guys?"

"Really good," I smiled.

Not knowing any better, Dillon gushed, "Reyes is all better now! He remembers stuff he didn't used to. He's fifty-six years old!" All four of them stopped and turned around. Mutely, they seemed to glance at Kaleo, Mike and Derrick for confirmation.

Derrick, Mike and I cracked up. Jonah giggled, "We ain't keepin' any secrets in this family!"

"What?" Dillon squealed. "Was it a secret? Nobody told me that!"

Picking up my little brother and planting him on my hip, I chuckled, "It's not a secret. I have no secrets anymore."

Hugging me as tight as he could, Dillon giggled, "Good!" Resting my head against Dillon's, I breathed in deeply and sighed, thankful that I had a life that mattered once again.

Derrick whispered in my ear, "You need to rest." I nodded agreement and passed Dillon to Derrick.

Mike wrapped an arm around my waist. He suggested, "Let's check on the Scoobies?"

I assured, "I can stand and walk, Pop."

"Give it up, Reyes," Mike smirked. "Enjoy it while ya can."

We began walking towards the family housing complex. I smiled up at Mike and said, "I love you, Pop."

Mike giggled, "I love all you guys too. And I like being called 'Pop'."

Derrick softly chanted, "I'm not goin' there. I am not goin' there," causing Mike to heartily chuckle.

Glancing at my dad and then my pop, I couldn't help smiling. They were so obviously in love with each other. Unfortunately, I remembered my first dad, Derek crying when his wife, Lokelani died peacefully in her sleep. He passed only three months later. My cousin, Akamu took me home with him that day. When we met in 1958, after arriving in Hawaii, Akamu was seven years old. He became my best friend. In 1971, after my parents died, he was a twenty year old man with a fiancée named Hakumele. They married the following June and I was his best man. At the reception luau, I played various native Hawaiian drums like the Pahu drum, Ipu and Pu'ili.

At the south side of the compound, Mike began calling for the ferrets. In under a minute, all four came scampering out from the trees. "How're you guys feeling?" Mike asked, "Still itchy?"

Bouncing on his back legs, Spike answered, "Better now, Shinny Daddy."

Mike nodded, "Doctor Janet said we should apply the ointment at least twice..."

"Do we's got to?" All four ferrets whined.

"That's what the doc said," Mike smiled. "After this, it's up to you guys; you tell me if you're feelin' itchy."

Willow griped, "We's don't gots to have another bath, do we's?"

Mike shook his head, "Nope. Just a little ointment on the red spots."

Satisfied, the Scoobies hurried towards the Gibbons' house. We sat in the grass and applied the ointment on their bellies, backs and legs. It was relatively easy to tell the four ferrets apart. Spike had the fur that stood upright from his head and down his back. Xander had the dark patches over his eyes and on his chin. Willow had a brown streak of fur down her back and belly. Faith had the lightest colored hair with dark patches only on her feet. Dillon told the ferrets all about my fixes and even had me tell them some bathroom jokes. With the task completed, each of the four thanked their "Shinny Daddy" then hurried back to the trees surrounding the compound.

Derrick asked me, "How do you feel? Do you want to lay down?"

Shaking my head, I grinned, "It's too early for bed. I just want to be with you guys."

Mike suggested, "Pools?"

Derrick reminded, "We need to keep Reyes' hands dry so the blisters can heal."

I said, "Why don't we hang out at the C.I.C.? All the houses are dark. It looks like almost everyone is still there."

Dillon and Jonah agreed. They wanted to find Dee, Richie and Geoff. We started walking back to the C.I.C. On the way, I shared more memories. "Derek was one of the engineers at Vision Industries and a weekend musician that played drums and percussion in jazz bands. Not too long after I moved in, Derek began teaching me to play congas and bongos. I remember playing with his band. At the time, in the early 1950's big jazz bands were becoming less popular. Bebop and Latin rhythms were becoming more popular. Dad's band changed with the times; the big horn section was whittled down to two sax players and a flugelhorn. By the late 1950's, I was playing every weekend with my dad's band at clubs along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach." I paused and chuckled, "It caused my dad some trouble every now and then. I looked thirteen but was really under ten years old. In either case, my being at clubs where alcohol was served was a problem. My dad's band found a different place to play, a restaurant where only beer and wine were served. By that time, Latin rhythms were being replaced by early rock and roll."

Stepping inside the dining room, we found most of our Clan still there. Kids were hanging out together there and in the attached rec room. Derrick wrapped an arm around me and chuckled, "Reyes, you lived music history that Mike and I have only read about."

Mike nodded, "You'll have to tell us more about that sometime."

I was just about to start naming songs when Keith came out of the Command Center wearing a Clan Short robe. He hollered, "Prez is gonna be on TV!" and ordered, "Daileass, turn the TVs on to local channels in here and the rec room too, dude."

All the televisions turned on. Mike's head sagged and he chuckled, "Mister laid back, chillin' out, playing his bass. What a ham!"

Derrick shook his head sadly and commented, "For someone that wasn't sure he could be a Clan leader, Prez sure is pullin' out all the stops."

Glancing at my dad and pop, I wondered, "I thought he was talking to the King? That was a long while ago though."

On the televisions in the C.I.C., regular programming was interrupted. King Aalona said, "Aloha. Good evening, citizens of the Republic of Hawaii. This evening, I was contacted by Clan Short Pacific Rim Division Director Preston O'Brian." Kids in the dining room began chattering while the King continued. "After a very productive conversation with Director O'Brian, I have two announcements. Effective immediately, all R.O.H. branches of Child Protection Services are closed." In the dining room and rec room, cheers began." All future needs for Child Protection are to be directed to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division Headquarters. Employees of Child Protection Services are also directed to report to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division headquarters for possible re-employment.

"My second announcement concerns cleaning up the streets of our cities. There are far too many young prostitutes on the streets. I am certain that many do not wish to be prostitutes, but are working to survive in very difficult times. If you are among the many that do not wish to sell your bodies, I urge you, I beg you, to find your way to the nearest Clan Short base. At this time, I would like to introduce you to Clan Short Pacific Rim Division's Director, Preston O'Brian."

The television screen split in half with the King on the right and Prez on the left. "Thank you, Your Majesty," Prez smiled. "Clan Short exists for the benefit of abandoned and abused children. We value family, but not at the expense of our children. If you are abused or abandoned, you are welcome in the Clan. Federation Youth Services will work with children and families for everyone's mutual benefit, but emotional and physical abuse of children must not be allowed to continue in our society."

Prez paused for a moment, then said, "I am an orphan that was adopted by a caring family. I've always known I was lucky, but these last few days have proven to me how fortunate I am. My own parents never beat me or emotionally abused me. My adopted parents have never abused me either. Under no circumstances should a child be beat or abused to fit some predetermined mold. It's been proven over and over again that violence begets violence. There are other alternatives. If you are an abused or abandoned child; if you are walking the streets trying to earn money to survive; if you are a pregnant teen shunned by your family, then come to us for help. We can help and will help you. If you are a doctor or lawyer, or housekeeper or landscaper, or teacher or chef that has a deep caring for children, but are having trouble finding employment, come to us for help. Don't continue down the rough and rocky road alone. Clan Short is part of your community and we can help."

Prez then smiled, "Thank you for your time and thank you, Your Majesty."

King Aalona said, "Director O'Brian and I share the same dreams and goals for a better world; one filled with caring and hope for the future; a world where we all help one another; where separations are eliminated. We will begin working on the future progress of mankind here and now with our Island Nation. It may take a lifetime, but we will succeed with your help. Aloha."

Cheers and laughter erupted in the dining room. A few seconds later, normal television programming resumed. Derrick grinned, "It seems R.O.H. C.P.S. is closed and we're taking over."

"That's great!" Jonah and I hollered.

Uncertain what had just happened, Dillon glanced around then asked Mike, "What's goin' on, poppa?"

Sitting Dillon on his lap, Mike answered, "Uncle Prez has invited all the kids that need our help to come live with us."

Dillon squealed, "He has?"

All Mike did was nod before Keith and Prez came out of the Command Center. Proud of our leader, we all stood and clapped, whistled and shouted. From John's table, baby carrots were launched high in the air that exploded into carrot confetti. Sammy, Gage, Dee and Richie hurried to their dads.

Prez stood on a chair and announced, "King Aalona and I have opened up the flood gates. We're going to have street kids showing up soon. Think about that for a second, please. The people those kids work for are not going to be happy about this. Extra base security needs to be on alert through the next few nights."

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

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

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

Drew and Corey simultaneously responded, "No problem, bro!"

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

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

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

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

Derrick gathered us together saying, "We're gonna need to go to work soon. There's a bunch of new kids to get oriented. Jonah and Dillon, it's your job to watch out for Reyes while we're gone. Make sure he doesn't get quiet or spend too much time reviewing memories."

Both my little brothers nodded. Jonah assured, "No problem, dad."

Locking eyes with mine, Derrick smiled, "No drums tonight, son; congas only."

Mike added, "And no writing either. Let the memories settle down for two days."

I nodded, "I think I'd rather hang around here with everyone for a while."

Derrick kissed each of us and then so did Mike. Holding hands, they walked across the dining room to where Prez and Keith were now standing near the table of new kids. From various areas of the dining room, Dewi, Cesar, Felipe, Bruce, Ben, Sung, Kawazoe and Kokaku converged and came over to our table. Dillon shared the news about my restored memories with everyone. I suggested that we all go over to the rec room and try out some of the arcade video games. When our grandfathers brought us in there Saturday night, I didn't notice the pinball game, but there it stood. It brought back more happy memories so I went there with Jonah and Dillon, sharing my tales of times gone by. My first two pinballs were wasted before I got the feel of the game again. Then I took off, just like old times. I got an extra pinball and then broke the previous high score, earning another pinball. The next thing I knew, the table was surrounded by a large group of kids, shouting and squealing, encouraging me on.

I noticed that Bruce was not with the others around the pinball table and wondered where he went. It was obvious to me that Bruce had to be feeling painful pangs of loss over his parents. That train of thought caused me to lose a pinball. Since I couldn't decide if I should say anything to Bruce or not, I pulled myself together, pulled the pin back and let another ball rip. My concentration was completely shattered though. All I could think about was how Bruce must feel and how I felt when my first dad and mom died. Although that was very bad, I still had Akamu, my cousin, best friend and father figure. Within a year, I had a surrogate mom in Hakumele too. Losing them in a car accident left me without family and no one to turn to. Another pinball went into the gutter. My hands were shaking with everyone watching. I already had quadrupled the previous high score and didn't see any reason to continue the game; much the same way I didn't see any reason to continue living back in 1983. I let the final ball fall into the gutter. While everyone around me was ecstatic, I pulled Jonah along and picked up Dillon as I left the pinball table.

While others clamored to play the game, Jonah looked up at me asking, "Reyes? What's wrong, bro?"

Shaking my head, I explained how my thoughts went from Bruce's parents to my first parents and finally to my cousin and his wife. Alone in the dining room and sitting at a table away from others, I told my brothers, "They were only in their thirties when they died. I had nowhere to go and no reason to live. It shouldn't have been that way." Falling apart again, I sobbed, "They never had a chance to have kids of their own. I tried to end it all by running into traffic, in front of a bus. All I caused was an accident where other people were hurt. I was arrested, then put in a hospital as suicidal."

"Reyes?" Jonah said. I wiped my eyes and he said, "That was a long time ago; it's over now, bro. I love you. Dillon loves you." Dillon nodded and climbed into my lap. Jonah finished, "Dad and Pop love you too."

I sighed, "I wanted to say something to Bruce."

Shaking his head, Jonah reminded, "How can ya make Bruce feel better? You're just now getting your memories back. Now's not the time for Bruce. It's time for you, Reyes."

I sniffled and admitted, "It's been more than twenty years, but it feels like just last week."

"Last week you were saving my ass from pervs!" Jonah loudly said. He looked around to determine if anyone heard his outburst. The adults were still seated where they had eaten dinner. They were now watching us. Bruce was there with the Hundsers.

I told my brothers, "I'm not gonna try and off myself. I've got a family that I love again. It just hurts."

John Hundser appeared in the dining room. Not even looking our way, John went over to his parents and Bruce when I heard his voice in my mind. 'It's past now, Reyes. I'll make a deal with you. I'll help you focus on good memories if you'll help me learn to concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Deal?' Arriving at his parents' table and standing between them talking, John's voice in my mind asked, 'Well? Have we got a deal?'

Focusing on John and wondering how I had heard him, I nodded, "Yeah, I'll try."

Dillon asked, "What're ya tryin'?"

Crossing the dining room with Bruce and Dewi, John sent, 'Kewl, bro.'

Jonah scowled, "Reyes? Hello? Don't you freak out on me!"

Glancing at Jonah and then Dillon, I promised, "I'll try to focus on good memories."

Heading our way, John began giggling and sent, 'Good recovery!'

"Oh!" Jonah grunted. "That's better." Dillon hugged me tighter, obviously happier. I silently wondered how I heard John in my mind.

He answered, 'N-Gen now, remember?'

Since he was hearing my thoughts and he was now close enough to hear my voice, I grinned, "I thought that was telekinesis only."

'Empathy and telepathy too,' John replied. 'I felt you, Jonah and Dillon.'

Jonah spun around and laughed, "Stop talkin' in my head!"

I helplessly giggled, "What did he say, bro?"

Spinning around to face me again, Jonah was blushing bright pink. He growled but didn't say a word. Dillon scrambled off my lap. First he hugged John, then Bruce and finally Dewi.

John enthusiastically said, "Let's go suit shoppin'!"

Bruce wondered, "Are Geoff, Ben, Sung and Bane still in the rec room?"

Standing up, I nodded, "As far as I know."

Dillon chattered, "Ya shoulda stayed, Bruce. Reyes got a new high score! Ev'rybody was watchin' and yellin'. It was kewl!"

Bruce giggled, "Wow! I'll bet your proud of him."

Dillon hurried back to me and hugged me.

John tapped his sub-vocal. "Daileass, are Bane, Ben, Geoff and Sung busy in the rec room?" After a short pause, John said, "Transport the four of them and all six of us to the store, by the swimsuits, please."

A split second later, we were all in a department store. Grunts and yells erupted from the four that had been playing in the rec room. John cracked up laughing and they all tackled him.

Shaking his head and helplessly giggling, Bruce told John, "We can't wear swimsuits to a funeral, you know."

"Yeah," John loudly laughed at his pint sized attackers, "but look how kewl the Speedos are!"

We all went to the nearby table where Speedos with the Clan Short emblem were displayed. The last to arrive, John stripped off his T-shirt, boardies and underwear. "Come on, you guys!" John encouraged, "Is there somebody here that doesn't have a dick?" Shaking his head, Bruce giggled at John, and most of the boys in our group began laughing too. Wiggling his hips and making his dick flop around, John sent to me, 'This needs to be fun for Bruce. I know you want to help him as much as I do. Let's make this fun.'

Without delay, I stripped my clothes off. Dewi and Dillon were next to unashamedly lose their clothes. I nudged Jonah and teased, "Now you're shy?" Soon, Jonah, Bruce and the rest of the boys were naked. Suddenly, Jonah turned to John and ran at him. Laughing hysterically, John raced down the center aisle of the store with Jonah in pursuit. Shocked but grinning widely, I hurried after them. Bruce and all the other boys with us started chasing John around the store.

It was then I realized that Jonah thought the world of John and had shared his feelings with me. If John was N-Gen and telepathic, then he must know how Jonah feels too. At some point, I had to get Jonah alone to find out what John had telepathically sent. The first time, John made Jonah blush and now, John's telepathic remarks caused Jonah to chase after John. I was laughing my butt off wondering if John liked Jonah or if John was simply teasing Jonah. To make matters more funny, John raced through the girls' and ladies' underwear, making all kinds of panties and bras fly at Jonah. I was practically in tears laughing and could barely keep up. When Dillon, Geoff and little Dewi passed me, I knew I had to try and stop laughing. After the third trip, Dee, Sammy and Gage were running around the store naked too. We ran the length of the store six times before stopping to get Speedos then finally arriving at the boys' dress clothes.

Jonah and John grinned at each other. I could only wonder what was truly going on between them. John focused on Dee, Gage and Sammy. The three boys shook their heads, then wandered off. When Bruce arrived, he giggled, "That was great." John focused on Bruce. Bruce caught his breath and said, "White is more normal for Buddhist funerals."

Surprised, John said, "Really?" and Bruce nodded. "Okay. Since you're family and Buddhist then you should wear a white suit. The rest of us will wear dark suits. That way they'll know who's who."

Bruce smiled, "Sounds good to me."

Glancing around the remaining seven of us, John asked, "Who knows what size suit, shirt or pants they should get?" Not one of us said a word. "It's kewl," John said, "I dunno what sizes I need either. Everybody line up between Dewi and Reyes, shortest to tallest. We're gonna do this quick and easy." John walked down the line and checked to make sure we were sorted. Soon we stood in order; Dewi, Dillon, Sung, Jonah, Bane, Bruce and I. John instructed, "Dewi and Dillon, go get boy's size small white dress shirts. Sung, Jonah and Bane, boy's size medium white dress shirts. Bruce, get a dark blue or black shirt. I think medium might work for you, but if it feels tight, get a boy's large." John stood before me and said, "I think you're too big for boy's size shirts, Reyes. I'm gonna have to measure your neck and arms, bro." John telekinetically pulled a measuring tape over then had me stand like a scarecrow. He measured my neck and arms, then sent me off to the men's shirts. John hurried over to help Bruce and get his own shirt. In a few minutes, we were all standing in our green Clan Short Speedos with dress shirts on. "Okay dudes, buddy up," John announced. "We're gonna get waist and inseam sizes for pants." Using Bruce as his buddy, John showed us how to measure each other. In another few minutes, we all had pants selected, but hadn't put them on. Finally, we measured chest sizes to get suit jackets. Then we went into the dressing room to dress, where we had mirrors to check ourselves out.

In a couple of minutes, we were all dressed in new suits. John did a great job keeping us organized and getting the task done quickly. The only one dressed in a white suit, Bruce looked awesome. John smiled, "Good work, dudes. Hang up your jackets and slacks, take off your shirts, then go back to the swimsuits. Change out of your Speedos and put your clothes back on. Once that's done, all you guys still need are shoes, socks and ties. Help each other out, okay? I'll be right back." John then raced out of the dressing room. He returned barely a minute later and started getting undressed. He hung his jacket and pants, then began unbuttoning his shirt. John's comm-badge chirped. He tapped it and said, "Hey, bro. How's Stephen?"

Sounding frustrated, Keith said, "Why do you even bother asking?"

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

Keith pleasantly said, "Kewl, bro."

John instructed, "Turn around, Keith." After a brief pause, John sang, "Kaleo and Tory sittin' in a tree..." and then cracked up.

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

John howled laughing.

I grinned and wondered, "What was Kaleo doin'?"

John giggled, "Boyfriend stuff with Tory."

Jonah squealed, "Yeah? That's awesome!"

John teased, "Betchya you're next, Jonah!" and then raced out of the dressing room, carrying his new clothes.

Shaking his head, Jonah grumbled and concentrated on hanging his clothes.

Sung grinned, "You got a boyfriend, Jonah?"

"No." Jonah flatly said.

Bane asked, "A girlfriend?"

"NO!" Jonah hollered. He pointed at me and then Dillon, loudly proclaiming, "I got brothers and fathers. That's all I want!" The other guys were all grinning, but Jonah's face was as red as I've ever seen. I couldn't tell if he was angry or blushing. When the others had left the dressing room a minute or so later, I asked Jonah, "What's up, bro?"

Jonah huffed, "Nothin'," but didn't even look at me.

For the first time, Jonah was hiding something from me and I didn't like the feeling. I carefully asked, "Are you angry or what?"

Looking up and around the empty dressing room, Jonah sighed, "I'm not angry. I don't know what I feel, really."

"I'm listening," I prompted.

Jonah whined, "I don't know, Reyes. It's weird, ya know?" He huffed, then rambled, "I hated anybody messin' with me at the orphanage. I wanna be nine years old and not worry about boyfriends or girlfriends. But then I watch dad and pop, or Keith and Prez, or Drew and Corey and say, yeah, that's what I'd like too. Somebody to talk with, somebody to just be with that wants to be with me too. But I don't want sex as much as the other stuff. I don't know if I want a boyfriend or a girlfriend either. I'm happier than ever now, with you and Dillon, and Mike and Derrick. I want everything to stay like it is now."

I went to my brother and patted his back, saying, "I know now what I didn't know just a few hours ago. What they did to us at the orphanage was very wrong. It was wrong for me, for you and for all of us. Love is what dad and pop have. It's what all the Core Rimmers have and what their parents have too. Love is just what you said that you do want. It's not somebody grabbin' your dick first and then hoping for the best. It's the exact opposite, someone to talk with and be with and then maybe wanting to have sex. When you reach puberty, you'll definitely be more willing to have a sexual relationship. There's no rush, Jonah. Take your time."

We left the dressing room together. Jonah said, "I feel so different now, watching these people that really love each other." We helped each other choose ties to go with our suits.

I admitted, "I feel it too. Now I have my old memories to prove that those around me are really caring, loving people. I didn't have that this afternoon. I was just like you, dealing with only orphanage memories of adults wanting mainly sex from the kids. Watch them and learn, that's all I can recommend."

Jonah looked up and smiled, "You're still the best big brother I could ever want."

We went to get ourselves socks then went to get dress shoes. While we were alone together, Jonah asked me if I had ever had a boyfriend or girlfriend. The truth was, I hadn't. However, my first parents were excellent examples. Almost as good were my cousin and his wife. Maybe, if I had more time with them, I would've grown to love them as much as my first parents. And what I had witnessed since Friday morning were lots of people that had huge, caring hearts. I told Jonah, "We have a lot of abuses to get over while we learn from these guys how to have a successful relationship. Put it side-by-side in your mind, bro. Compare the old to the new, the bad to the good. If I need help, you know I'll go to you. If you need help, I hope you'll come to me."

Jonah nodded then wondered, "What about dad and pop?"

I shrugged, "It depends on the situation. For some stuff, it'll be easier to talk to you. On the other hand, if I can't help you out, then I'll point you to them. I expect you'd do the same for me."

Finished with shoes we liked that fit well, we went to the checkout counter where we caught up with Ben, Dillon, and our dad and pop. Our stuff was checked out, then Derrick whispered something to Mike. They nodded then turned to us. Derrick said, "It's after ten, dudes. Time to wind down and call it a day."

Mike said, "I'll have Daileass transport you to my folks' house. Have grandma or grandpa help you get your clothes hung up."

Derrick added, "We'll be at the Hundsers' joining the nest as soon as we can." Our dad and pop kissed each of us on the forehead and we hugged them in return.

Once we had our stuff gathered, Mike called Daileass and had us transported to the Gibbons' home. Grandpa Rob was home, sitting in the living room watching TV. We said hello as we walked inside. I told grandpa Rob that we needed to get our stuff for the funeral hung up and put away. He showed us upstairs to what was planned on becoming our room. Once again, Dillon opened his mouth and told grandpa Rob that we had looked at one of the townhouses earlier that day. We were sure he was going to be shocked, but if he was, he didn't show it.

Christel and Lindsay were in their room doing whatever it is girls do between chattering. Grandpa Rob knocked on the door. Lindsay answered the door. Grandpa Rob said, "The boys are heading over to join the nest. Have you girls decided if you're staying here or going there?"

Lindsay turned around to check with Christel. Christel said, "Let's stay here."

Grandpa Rob nodded, "All right then. Don't stay awake too late, ladies."

Lindsay giggled, "We won't, dad." We followed Grandpa Rob down the hall and downstairs. Us four boys said goodnight and hugged grandpa Rob, then went out the front door.

Once the front door closed, I giggled, "All right, you guys, this is just wrong." Coming to a halt, Ben, Dillon and Jonah smiled up at me. "Christel is six and breaking away from the nest. The older teenagers have already moved into the dorm."

Ben said, "Some of the other teenagers were planning on moving to the dorms too."

Jonah incredulously squealed, "What?"

Dillon whined, "But we have fun playing and then get to sleep with our daddies."

I told Dillon, "We can do that at the Gibbons' or the Seiberts'. Don't you think it's time to consider breaking into family units?"

Ben shrugged, "I guess."

Jonah told Dillon, "Wherever our dad's are is kewl with me."

Dillon asked, "Can we get some video games and build a nest of our own?"

I answered, "We can do that in a real bedroom, bro." Dillon whined indecisively. I offered, "Let's get all the Gibbons and Seibert kids together tomorrow and start talking about it. Our dads need time alone. If we can let them sleep together at night, we won't have to do what we did today."

Jonah nodded, "That makes sense."

We started walking to the Hundsers' house again. Ben began giggling. We turned to him and he laughed, "Mike's only been my brother a day. I just don't want to think of him having sex with Derrick."

I grinned, "Get over it. He's a teenage boy in love. The sex they have is nothin' like what we were forced to do."

"I guess," Ben giggled. "I wonder what they do together?" Dillon and Jonah loudly groaned, then attacked Ben for even mentioning it. I cracked up laughing at the three of them.

The light was on in the Hundsers' living room. I knocked on the front door. Uncle Jim opened the door and smiled, "Hello, boys," then stepped aside to let us inside, asking, "Ready to join the nest?"

I said hello and answered, "Yeah, is anyone down there yet?"

"All the little ones are already asleep," Uncle Jim answered. "Bruce, Gage, Sam and Dee are probably still awake."

Dillon said, "Thanks, Unca Jim."

Closing the door behind us, Uncle Jim led us through the house. He offered, "Sleep well, boys," then went past the basement door.

We each said, "Goodnight," to Uncle Jim and then went downstairs. A lot of the youngest kids were already asleep in the nest. Missing from the basement were all the thirteen year old kids and a bunch of twelve year old kids. Playing video games and watching television, were most of the kids between eight and eleven years old. Jonah joined the crew playing video games. I decided to get my laptop PC and began writing, even though my dads warned me not to.

Dillon fell asleep on the couch beside me. I picked him up and gently put him in the nest near Richie and Geoff. A few at a time, kids stopped playing video games and went to sleep. John came downstairs about eleven-thirty with one of the boys picked up at Hawaii. John and Stephen were definitely falling in love. After teasing John but getting nowhere, Jonah gave up and went to the nest. Writing about my restored memories took a lot out of me. I know that's just the tip of the iceberg; however, I'm not going there now.

It's time for bed. I wonder what I'll dream about.