Voyagers Book II

Chapter Sixteen: A Matter of Death and Life

A Collaboration of TrueFan, Zarek Dragon and Douglas DD

Aiden forewarned Admiral Crusoe about the situation with Commander B Hole...

A couple of Koji's classmates told their fathers about Koji teaching Christmas how to swim. Koji was so excited that he told his opsolai about it, as well.

Steve Boyer without glasses? Hmmm, can that really happen? I guess we shall see... or maybe not see without the glasses.

Danny and Kyle discussed plans for bigger quarters for their growing family. If Koji had his way, they would need even bigger quarters, maybe.

After their discussion, Danny planned a meeting with his flight crew, including the Shuttle Pilots. He had a surprise for Juju... little did he know, Hal had the same surprise for him.

Kyle had a little meltdown on the Bridge... somehow, he made a mistake. Could the Rogue Star have anything to do with it, or was it missing his little buddy on the Bridge finally catching up to him? Hal found Koji in class and had him remedy the situation.

Monday, 23 March 2122

SS Sooloo

Bridge ~ 1300

Missing Man FormationAs the SS Sooloo, SS Darastix and RDS Shouryou approached the planet, several fighters from the planet approached. It was not long until they were in a special formation; Hal asked Danny about it. "Notice how eight fighters form a diamond but it's obvious that a fighter is missing? That's one of many variations for the missing man formation. This is their way of honoring Prince Medici," Danny informed him.

"That's what I was thinking but hoped you would confirm." Sadness could be heard in Hal's voice.

Once in orbit, the shuttle with Medici's body left the Shouryou and joined formation. The formation waited for the shuttle to get in position. Then over the Sooloo's comms, the crew heard Endou's voice, "Commander Danny Robinson, would you and your pilots like to join our formation?" Danny had never seen his pilots scramble so fast to get in their fighters and join. Juju had a big smile on his face as they joined the formation.

The crews from the two Space Fleet ships waited until the shuttle had landed before disembarking to go down to the planet surface. The Shouryou went down to the planet once the Fighters joined the shuttle on the ground.

Children's Lounge ~ 1300

"Are you really going to get a shot?" Koji asked Jonas and Jason as they finished lunch.

"Yes, so we won't get sick," Jonas replied.

"Yeah. Remember how Kyle got really sick, and he got one."

"I don't have to get one, because I am a full-blooded Darastixian," Koji said proudly. "I am stronger than everybody." Koji flexed his right bicep and wrapped his left hand around it as a show of strength.

"Your daddies really told you that you don't have to have a shot?" Jay asked skeptically.

"Yes, they sorta did."

"What do you mean they sorta did?" Jonas inquired.

"Opsola Kyle said I need to get one because we lived in Earth's gravity, and I could get sick. Opsola Danny said that I should get my shot today, but I said I don't need it because I'm strong." This time Koji flexed both arms like he was a he-boy. "I am strong because I have all Darastixian blood."

"You really told your dads you're not getting a shot and they are okay with it?" Jay questioned. He was still quite skeptical.

"No, Opsola Danny made sure his pilots got their shots earlier and Opsola Kyle told me to see the doctors to get my shots. If I was supposed to have a shot, one of my opsolai would have come with me to make sure I got one, so I am not going to get mine. My opsolai know Koji is strong and won't get sick and doesn't need a shot, so that's how they sorta said I didn't have to have a shot. They left me alone, and I decided I won't get one. Shots hurt anyway."

"But we're getting them and know they hurt," Oliver stated. "Does that mean we're stronger than you."

Jason thought, just wait Oliver, you'll see these shots don't hurt. Little did he know, Jonas and Lars had already told him.

"No, it means I am stronger than you because you need a shot to keep from getting sick and Koji doesn't need a shot, so I don't have to hurt for no reason. I am even stronger than the pilots."

"We gotta go," Jay said. "I guess we'll see you later."

After leaving Koji, Oliver thought back to the night before...

Oliver, Drake, Lars and Jonas had scheduled some time to be alone for their last night before arriving at Darastix. The two couples decided to have the holodeck provide them with a calm lake, in early evening. Oliver had programmed the moon and stars to provide the only light.

They had just embarked on a boat that Oliver programmed. Once the boat was loaded with the four, it left the dock. Drake was surprised. "Nobody is driving the boat, aren't you worried we might hit something and drown?"

"Lars and I programmed the holodeck to move the boat around the lake by itself," Oliver chuckled, "so we could have more time to enjoy being with our partners. You agree that this is kinda romantic, don't you?"

"Leave it to you guys to think of everything," Drake replied, before leaning over and giving Oliver a very deep kiss.

Jonas spoke up with a grin, "Lars? That looks like fun... let's..."

Jonas was interrupted by Lars copying what his brother and his boyfriend were doing.

When the two couples had finished searching for their respective mate's tonsils, they sat back enjoying the evening on the lake.

At one point, Oliver asked, "You guys all got that shot we're supposed to get, right?"

"Me and Lars did, Drake wasn't with us yet. So, he didn't," Jonas replied.

Oliver blushed slightly, "I knew that. But... do they hurt? I don't like needles."

Lars' replied jokingly, "If somebody 'liked' getting a shot, I'd say they should get counseling, but no, they don't really hurt. Dr. Tom is really good, too. I think that even though we already got one, they're checking if we need another. I'm not really scared if I do."

"I never minded shots, but Jason was always afraid of them. You should have seen him last time. Dr. Tom gave it to him, and he didn't even notice," Jonas smiled. "Now, he doesn't mind them as long as Dr. Tom is giving them."

Drake and Oliver visibly relaxed. "Thanks, I feel better now."

The couples went back to enjoying the ride on the lake with the ones they cared most about.

Darastix

Royal Chambers ~ 1300

Baby Zarek Medici DragonAfter seeing Medici's body being handled by the royal guards, Zarek went to see his wife. When he left for Earth, Tonya was due in about four months. He was surprised when she showed no signs of being pregnant. To his knowledge, she was due any time. "I had our baby boy on the fifteenth of Sangatsu."

Zarek started to weep, "About what time?"

"Dr. Muskalla put down that he was born at aovbiuto klewnoric after fogah chimesaovbiuto klewnoric after fogah chimes (" Aovbiuto klewnoric means nineteen minutes and fogah means three, so this would translate as to 0319 in twenty-four-hour time. ")," Tonya replied. As Zarek cried harder, she questioned, "What's wrong?"

Zarek was shaking hard, "That's the exact time we calculated for Medici's death. Have you named him yet?"

"No," Tonya shook her head, "I know you wanted to name him Zarek Alexander Dragon, Jr., but I thought I should wait for you."

"Would you be upset if we named him Zarek Medici Dragon instead?"

"I think Medici would feel honored," Tonya smiled. "And I'm glad I waited to name him."

Sooloo

Medical Bay ~ 1300

Danny had spoken with Dr. Tom about his fighter pilots getting their shots prior to approaching Darastix. He explained that there was a chance they could be asked to join the procession taking Medici home, which they were. As the rest of the crew waited for the shuttle with Medici to land, those not on duty made their way to the Medical Lab. Connor was busy in Engineering, but Aiden made sure he was off duty, as were Juro, Tomo and Randy Kohl. In fact, the Science Department was not deemed as necessary for this part of the journey, so the entire Science staff was off duty to get their shots. Tom Kohl was busy helping Connor prepare the ship for orbit.

"Dad, I don't understand," Juro stated, "Why do Tomo and I need shots? We're from Darastix."

Aiden nodded, "Yes, you are, and there may be a chance that you don't need them, but you have been in an Earth-like environment since we adopted you, so we would rather not take chances. If you don't want to get one, we won't force you, but do you remember the first time we came to your planet?"

"I do," Juro admitted. "If I remember, Commander Robinson got really sick."

"And that was with getting a shot," Aiden declared.

"If there is any chance that we might get sick like that, I want the shot," Juro decided.

"Me, too," Tomo agreed.

Hallway to Medical Bay ~ 1345

Jay, Jonas, Lars, Oliver and Jason all loved Koji as a friend. They knew there was something special about him, but they also knew that sometimes he could get too full of himself, like with the shot business.

"I almost hope Koji gets sick," Jonas said as they headed to get their shots.

"No, you don't!" Jason snapped. It was obvious that even though Jason was with Jay, he still cared about Koji.

"I didn't say I hope he gets sick, just almost, and it would serve him right for lying to his dads."

"I don't think he's lying if he doesn't tell them that he had his shot when he didn't," Lars said. "He's just not telling them he didn't get it."

"Won't Dr. Tom or somebody tell his dads Koji didn't get it," Jason asked.

"Perhaps," Oliver replied, "but since there are three rooms in use, they may not know right away." Nobody knew the answer to that one for sure.

Medical Bay ~ 1400

"Come on, Jay," Jason urged, "we should be next to get our shots."

"Why do I need a shot?" Jay whined. "Is there something dangerous down on the planet?"

"Ali told you in class, Darastix' gravity is 1.3 times what we are used to. The shot helps your blood move oxygen through your body to help combat the fatigue."

"I don't like shots," Jay groaned.

"Me neither," Jason admitted, "but when Dr. Tom gave me my shot the first time we were here, I didn't even feel it."

Jay looked scared, "Promise?"

"If it hurts," Jason offered, "you can do whatever you want with me."

Kash looked at Jordon, "I thought you said that Jason was the autistic one."

"He is," Jordan stated, "but being with Jay has really brought him out. From the moment he first met Jay, Jason has totally changed. He loves Jay a lot."

"So," Kash seemed nervous, "is it true that these shots don't hurt?"

"You don't like shots either?" Jordan chuckled. "Let me put it this way, when Jason went to get his shot the first time, he didn't even notice when it was done."

Jordon, Jace, Kash, Jay, Jonas and Jason entered Examining Room Three. Jason asked, "Where's Dr. Tom?"

"He's giving shots in Room One," Christian replied. "The Howser is working in Room Two, and you have me in Room Three."

"Dr. Tom makes it so I don't even feel the shot," Jason pouted.

Christian smiled, "Did you feel it when I gave it to you?"

"You gave me my shot already?" Jason was surprised.

"Sure did, now, who is next?"

"Me, I guess," Jay winced. "Ouch."

"I haven't given it to you yet," Christian laughed.

Jay grinned, "I know, I was just practicing. Okay, I'm ready."

"Done," Christian declared.

"Jason, I never felt a thing. I guess I can't do whatever I want with you."

"I didn't say that if it didn't hurt, you couldn't," Jason whispered so only Jay could hear him. The remaining four received their shots, then went to the Shuttle Bay for a ride to the planet surface.

Darastix

Shuttle Pad ~ 1400

As the shuttle carrying Connor, Aiden and Juro landed, Juro asked his opsolai, "Dad, Papa, would it be alright if I went to visit the orphanage?"

Connor smiled, "Is there a boy there that maybe you befriended when you visited Tomo at the orphanage?"

"In a way," Juro confessed, "his name is Suorra Drot, which means baby boy in English. His mother was unwed and died during childbirth. Tomo was helping to take care of him, and then I started. Tomo and I discussed adopting him once we were old enough, that is..." Juro looked down, but continued, "before my opsola was killed and you adopted me."

"You really care about this boy, don't you?" Aiden inquired.

Juro nodded his head as a single tear rolled down his cheek. "I do, and so does Tomo."

"Would you be upset if we joined you? We would like to see this boy you care so much about," Connor flashed a smile as he spoke.

"SERIOUSLY!?!?" Juro got excited, "I think you two would love him. And you should have seen Tomo with him. Tomo and I were just friends until I saw him with the baby; my heart melted and that's what drew me to him in the first place."

"The baby, or Tomo?" Aiden teased.

"Both, actually. Seeing how Tomo was like a father to this baby, I knew I wanted someone with that kind of passion. Then I spoke to Tomo about my feelings, he confessed that he liked me more than just a friend but was afraid to say anything out of fear of ruining our friendship."

ArytissAt the orphanage, Juro asked to see Suorra Drot. The matron smiled at him, "He misses you and Tomo."

"I wish we could take him with us," Juro lamented.

"It might be possible," Connor suggested, "but we would need to talk it over with Hal and Dave before we agreed."

"What do you have in mind?" Juro was not understanding what Connor meant.

Aiden spoke up, "What Dad means is, instead of you and Tomo adopting him, what if you were his big brother?"

"You mean the two of you adopt him?" Juro was still processing what they said. "If you do, can Tomo and I help watch him? And seeing Koji with Christmas, I have a feeling he will want to help."

"As I said," Connor started, "we need to talk with Hal and Dave. Hal is the Captain, so we need his permission. We will also need to speak with King Zedrick. If we are allowed, we will need your help and anyone else that wants to assist in raising this child."

"One question," Aiden chuckled, "since he won't be a baby forever, do we need to keep calling him Suorra? I mean if that is his name, I get it."

"No," Juro laughed, "that's just what they call him until he has a permanent name. Tomo and I wanted to name him Arytiss. He had to fight for his life when he was born, and Arytiss means warrior."

"I like that," Aiden grinned.

"I hope you don't mind," the matron said as she carried the baby to Juro, "but we gave him the name you suggested. Juro, meet Arytiss." Aiden, Connor and Juro looked at each other and smiled.

Rafael ~ 1545

Tommy, Kyle and Koji boarded the Rafael for their shuttle trip down to Darastix. Koji had hold of his Opsola's hand, providing an endearing look at the love between father and son. After he and his son took their seats, Kyle checked his communicator one more time for a message from Dr. Tom. He knew the Doctor was busy, but he was always good about answering and sending messages.

He texted the doctor. "Checking one more time about Koji's shot."

"Are we lost?" Koji asked his dad.

"Why would you think that?"

"Because you keep sending messages."

"I'm trying to check why the Medical Bay hadn't confirmed your shot, yet."

Koji turned an instant deep red and at that moment Kyle knew he did not need a message from Dr. Tom to confirm what he suspected. "You did get your shot, right?"

"Koji doesn't need a shot," Koji replied meekly.

"Koji, we've already had this discussion."

"The weak boys get shots and the strong boys..."

"Koji, did you get a shot?"

"No," came the whispered answer. To Koji it was one thing to not follow directions, but an entirely different thing to outright lie to his opsolai.

"I trusted you to take care of the shot."

"You and Opsola Danny didn't go with Koji for his shot, so I thought you thought I was strong and didn't need it."

"Koji, like I just said, we talked about how you DID need it, and I gave you instructions about how to get the shot because your Daddy Danny and I could not go with you. It looks like I should have found somebody to hold your hand."

Koji started to sniffle. "I'm sorry. But it will be okay because Koji is strong and full-blood Darastixian, and they don't get gravity sick."

"Koji we..."

"Yes, you said because I live on Earth and on a ship with Earthlike gravity Koji needs the shot just in case, but Koji is strong and won't get sick."

"I do hope you're right, Son. I truly hope you're right."

Dr. Tom put an exclamation mark on the issue by sending a message that he checked with Christian and the Howser; Koji had not had his shot and somehow that had been lost in the shuffle of mass vaccinations.

Kyle looked at Tommy, "You DID get yours."

"Danny let me get mine with him and the pilots," Tommy replied.

Throne Room ~ 1600

Fleet Admiral William Mirah waited until he was sure the King was no longer busy dealing with preparations for Medici's funeral. While he was sad to hear Medici passed, he was interested in learning about their funeral rituals. He had other questions, too. "King Zedrick, might I have a word with you?" Fleet Admiral Mirah inquired.

With a quick nod, Zedrick expressed, "But of course, anything I can do to ease your mind."

"Well," Mirah began, "I'm not sure it will ease my mind, but I am curious. How is it that you believe that a thirteen-year-old child is mature enough to leave school and raise a family?"

"During our visits to Earth, many of your own cultures deemed that a boy became a man at the age of thirteen. I can name several, starting with the Hebrews."

"And they still have what is known as a bar mitzvah today, but it is more of a coming of age, or signifying that you can be held accountable for your own actions, rather than entering into adulthood. We have progressed since those days."

"Yet, you put these 'children' on a starship," Zedrick chuckled.

Bill Mirah grimaced, "Touché, Sire."

"Please, call me Zedrick," the King requested. "Seriously, you have met my oldest and youngest sons. Do you not believe they are mature enough to be on their own?"

"Zarek, definitely," Bill admitted. "Zifaa is another matter. He's a firecracker but does seem mature for his age."

"Yes," Zedrick smiled, "he has a few years yet. He turns eleven in Shigatsu. Did something happen while he was on Earth?"

"He did provoke a dimwitted admiral," Bill laughed, "but other than that, no."

"Provoke? How?" Bill noticed a tinge of red in the King's eyes.

"The admiral was questioning your right to permit Kyle Robinson to marry, and Prince Zifaa told him that if he didn't understand your authority, he was as stupid as he looked."

"Yes, that does sound like something he would do, I am sorry."

"Don't be. I admired his loyalty to his father and standing up for you when you were not there. And, if you ask me, that admiral was being an idiot."

"If you were not offended, I will still talk to my son, but won't scold him or anything. I am glad that you brought this to my attention."

"Just remember when you talk to him, he acted out of love for you."

"So, did I satisfy your curiosity about how we came to believe age thirteen is the right age for our children to become adults?"

Bill nodded, "Yes, I think I understand, and I can tell you, when the adopted boys tested for school, they ranked higher than boys their age on Earth, so I am sure your schools are teaching them appropriately for them to be ready."

"I appreciate your comment."

There was a knock at the door, and with King Zedrick sure that their conversation was over, he gave permission for the person to enter. "Father, Zarek told me that he brought back the body of Medici?" a beautiful young lady inquired as she entered the room.

"Father?" Bill seemed confused. He had only heard about the three sons until now.

"Tonya, I would like for you to meet Fleet Admiral William Mirah," Zedrick introduced them. "Bill, this is Tonya, Zarek's wife, my daughter-in-law."

"Wife?" Bill seemed even more confused. "I was of the impression that he is gay."

"Gay is an Earth term. We are not bound by gender. When I married Heather, my sons' mother, I also received her brother. He's a year younger than she. I love and have sex with both. I guess in your terms, we would be bisexual, but it's nothing for us to love both genders. Some of the boys, like Juro and Tomo, are more strictly interested in one gender, but that may change. We encourage everyone to just love whomever they will. It doesn't matter."

"And it shouldn't. I guess that makes you more enlightened than some of us," Bill admitted. "I wish everyone was as accepting, it would reduce some of the hate on Earth."

Zedrick added, "If three boys decide they love one another and want to have a three-way marriage, I don't see a problem with that provided all three boys are in agreement."

Guest Quarters ~ 1800

Connor, Aiden and Juro went to speak with Dave and Hal about Arytiss. Aiden knocked on their guest quarters' door. Hal opened the door and invited the trio in, "What brings the three of you here?"

"Well Sir," Aiden started, "we would like permission to adopt a brother for Juro."

Hal looked thoughtful, "I see, and how old will this brother be?"

Connor cringed, "Well Sir, he's almost a year old, ten months to be precise. Tomo and Juro had been helping to take care of him ever since he was born."

At first Hal was stunned by the request. "Do you understand how hard raising a baby on a starship would be? When you and Aiden are both on duty, and Tomo and Juro are in class, who will watch the baby?"

"Sir, we have thought about that," Aiden declared. "Several officers and crewmembers have already offered to help, schedules allowing. They are all aware that the Sooloo must come first, but the baby will be loved and taken care of."

"Still, a baby takes up a lot of time. You will barely get any sleep, and speaking of which, where will the baby sleep?"

"Until Arytiss gets bigger, we can put a crib in my room, Sir. And I normally sleep three hours a night," Juro explained. "Having the extra four hours of Earth time hasn't affected my sleep time. Tomo said that he'd be willing to look after Arytiss while I slept."

"I take it, Arytiss is the baby's name," Hal stated, more as a confirmation than a question.

"Yes Sir, Tomo and I kind of gave him that name before we were adopted. We were planning to get married and adopt him once we were old enough."

"I'm still a bit reluctant to say yes," Hal admitted, "but it does sound like you've planned this. Juro, you have been doing an excellent job of watching Kallie, so I believe you will do your best here. Your schoolwork and duties to the ship cannot suffer. And you must still make sure Kallie's needs are met. I sure hope I am not making a mistake, for Arytiss' sake... and the Sooloo's, but I will grant the adoption, provided King Zedrick doesn't have a problem with it."

"THANK YOU, CAPTAIN!!!" Juro screamed in excitement. He could not believe Arytiss was going to be coming with them. He was sure that Zedrick would not stop the adoption.

Hal smiled, "Hmm, I thought he'd be more excited than that."

Dave sat in the background, listening to how Hal handled this, and ready to give advice if he thought it was needed. He was pleased with Hal's reluctance, yet giving permission, and he thought he handled it perfectly.

Tuesday, 24 March 2122

Ka, 8 Shigatsu 2348 (Darastixian Date)

Guest Quarters ~ 0600

Kyle heard Koji calling from his room in their quarters in the early morning. He hurried to see what Koji wanted, although he suspected what the problem was. He quickly learned he was right when Koji complained of feeling hot with a headache and muscle aches, along with aches on top of aches. There was no doubt Koji had gravity fever. Kyle immediately called Dr. Tom on his communicator and then woke up Danny who had slept soundly through Koji's summons.

Dr. Tom confirmed the gravity fever and gave Koji his vaccination. "As you know, Kyle, even getting the shot late helps mitigate the symptoms. He is young and in good health and should be back to good health in the next ten to twelve hours."

At breakfast, Jonas asked Kyle where Koji was. "Koji is sick," Kyle replied matter-of-factly.

With a sad look, Jason questioned, "You mean with the gravity sickness?"

"That is exactly what I mean."

"That means he has to quit bragging about how tough he is," Jonas swore.

"Is that what he was doing?" Kyle asked. The twins nodded. "Dr. Tom gave him his vaccination this morning and said he should be at full strength by dinner time. You guys have my permission to give him a hard time about his bragging, but only for today." Jason and Jonas grinned.

Palace Courtyard ~ 0800

It was early morning when King Zedrick came out to honor his great uncle. He had been out for hours when the people started to come. Word of Medici returning had spread and several Darastixians wanted to pay tribute.

When the town bells rang eight times, Zedrick stood up on the platform where he always gave speeches. He spoke in Darastix but had Zarek interpret in English. "Shio sia Darastixians, edar fevekic, yth dryic tenpiswo naeck ekess tiichi vi jennu sthyr. Jaci itova Darastix zyak kiarf batobot jaci zulf ekess yarchonis mobi drekim tikil aryte. Jaci tepohaic gethrisja ekess qe mrith hesi opsolaic, vur jacida mamiss tepohaic coanwor confna spical tenpiswo. "Shio sia Darastixians, edar fevekic, yth dryic tenpiswo naeck ekess tiichi vi jennu sthyr. Jaci itova Darastix zyak kiarf batobot jaci zulf ekess yarchonis mobi drekim tikil aryte. Jaci tepohaic gethrisja ekess qe mrith hesi opsolaic, vur jacida mamiss tepohaic coanwor confna spical tenpiswo. (" Fellow Darastixians, Terran Guests, we gather here today to honor a great man. He loved Darastix so much that he left to avoid there being any conflict. He has gone to be with our ancestors, and his body has been returned here. ")

"Yth re tiichia ekess tepoha fogah di jacida autgabini tenpiswo mrith udoka, Meagear Kyle Robinson di edar ui|ulph oium fleet, Jonas Blackwell-Rivers, vur jacida diieson isthasy, Jason Blackwell-Rivers. persvek krel wux re jikair, axun, Blackwell ui vi deevdruic di wanotreyx kokuryuu. Jace Blackwell vur Jordan Rivers shinalta ekess clax persvek wer diieson isthasyi ghent wer marfedelom di wer odassi di wer droti. "Yth re tiichia ekess tepoha fogah di jacida autgabini tenpiswo mrith udoka, Meagear Kyle Robinson di edar ui|ulph oium fleet, Jonas Blackwell-Rivers, vur jacida diieson isthasy, Jason Blackwell-Rivers. persvek krel wux re jikair, axun, Blackwell ui vi deevdruic di wanotreyx kokuryuu. Jace Blackwell vur Jordan Rivers shinalta ekess clax persvek wer diieson isthasyi ghent wer marfedelom di wer odassi di wer droti. (" We are honored to have three of his grandsons here with us, Commander Kyle Robinson of Earth's Space Fleet, Jonas Blackwell-Rivers and his twin, Jason Blackwell-Rivers. In case you are wondering, yes, Blackwell is a descendant of Prince Kokuryuu. Jace Blackwell and Jordan Rivers happened to adopt the twins after the passing of the boys' parents. ")

"Vsist, wer naflopsola di wer diieson isthasyi, Jason Blackwell, deevdru di Jake Blackwell, deevdru di Kashé Blackwell, deevdru di Wanotreyx Kokuryuu tepohaic inglata ekess qe wer kashé ihk edar ekess Darastix." "Vsist, wer naflopsola di wer diieson isthasyi, Jason Blackwell, deevdru di Jake Blackwell, deevdru di Kashé Blackwell, deevdru di Wanotreyx Kokuryuu tepohaic inglata ekess qe wer kashé ihk edar ekess Darastix." (" Furthermore, the twins' adopted grandfather, Jason Blackwell, son of Jake Blackwell, son of Kashé Blackwell, son of Prince Kokuryuu has agreed to be the ambassador for Earth to Darastix. ")

Hearing Zedrick say kashé, Jordan whispered to Jace, "Does that mean our Chief Operations Officer is an ambassador?"

Jace chuckled, "No, he doesn't have the second syllable in his name, but I could see some people thinking he is money."

King Zedrick continued, "mamiss di medici geou qe shafaer ocuirtor halkvri Doyoubi, svadrav yth geou spol coi ekess hesi opsolaic." "mamiss di medici geou qe shafaer ocuirtor halkvri Doyoubi, svadrav yth geou spol coi ekess hesi opsolaic." (" Medici's body will be on display until Saturday, when we will commit it to our ancestors. ")

Prince Zarek stepped forward, holding his new son. This time, Zakku translated. "Xiekivi di Darastix, si jahus mrith Medici wer thurkear ghoros jacida marfedelom, vur jaci loreata sva ssifisv shafaer jacida kurjh siofmea. Jaci jahus petranasgarh ekess nymuer batobot hesi xiekivi re xiilekir tenamalo, vur wer jennu isk megrez nobiouna jacion jaci tepohada vi goawy mrith hesi opsolaic svadrav jaci jahus krathin. jaci nobiouna megrez batobot jaci jahus vur loreata while sva vi ssifisv vdri. Vsist, si huven ekess whais sia z'ar deevdru. Ghent confnir okarthel, si kartaha jaci jahus kitril agmasaon vi gatsu lireh, shar sva wer ilroe klewar di wer marfedelom di Medici. Coi ui mrith batobot irthir; si tepoha douhvya ekess ominak jacion Zarek Medici Darastrix. Si vsist ominak wanotreyx Zakku lae jacida sargt jalla tivol shinalt ekess ve vur Tonya... Dracora naushind." "Xiekivi di Darastix, si jahus mrith Medici wer thurkear ghoros jacida marfedelom, vur jaci loreata sva ssifisv shafaer jacida kurjh siofmea. Jaci jahus petranasgarh ekess nymuer batobot hesi xiekivi re xiilekir tenamalo, vur wer jennu isk megrez nobiouna jacion jaci tepohada vi goawy mrith hesi opsolaic svadrav jaci jahus krathin. jaci nobiouna megrez batobot jaci jahus vur loreata while sva vi ssifisv vdri. Vsist, si huven ekess whais sia z'ar deevdru. Ghent confnir okarthel, si kartaha jaci jahus kitril agmasaon vi gatsu lireh, shar sva wer ilroe klewar di wer marfedelom di Medici. Coi ui mrith batobot irthir; si tepoha douhvya ekess ominak jacion Zarek Medici Darastrix. Si vsist ominak wanotreyx Zakku lae jacida sargt jalla tivol shinalt ekess ve vur Tonya... Dracora naushind." (" People of Darastix, I was with Medici the night before his passing, and he passed peacefully on his own terms. He was pleased to hear that our people are prospering again, and the great star Megrez told him he had a place with our ancestors when he was ready. He told Megrez that he was and passed during a peaceful sleep. Also, I wish to present my new son. After returning home, I discovered he was born almost a month early, at about the exact moment of Medici's passing. It is with that knowledge; I have chosen to name him Zarek Medici Dragon. I also name Prince Zakku as his guardian should anything happen to me and Tonya... Dracora forbid. ")

Zarek gave a more serious appearance, "Yth shio siofme Medici gethrisjir ekess edar lae jacida majakir, shar Medici siofmea coi lae kiarf batobot di jacida isthasy, sia jennu naflopsola, majakir, ihk wer jiil isthasyi itova kiq lyrik kiarf. Si ocuir jacida montu. Yth tepoha shio woari vi moxt smunsoua ini Medici gethrisjir ekess edar. Svadrav wer tairais confnic, svabolen si charis ui vi drong idol de jaka, ihk ve ekess clax wer revnik, si charis sia opsola, hesi daar, ocuiric wer naam persvek ve vur sia isthasy tawurair ulnaus ekess kult Darastix. Si tir ti tuor toladaf ekess kiwieg vi rigluin ekess xurwk wer diieson majakir lae daar Ryoujin vur wanotreyx Medici xurwka." "Yth shio siofme Medici gethrisjir ekess edar lae jacida majakir, shar Medici siofmea coi lae kiarf batobot di jacida isthasy, sia jennu naflopsola, majakir, ihk wer jiil isthasyi itova kiq lyrik kiarf. Si ocuir jacida montu. Yth tepoha shio woari vi moxt smunsoua ini Medici gethrisjir ekess edar. Svadrav wer tairais confnic, svabolen si charis ui vi drong idol de jaka, ihk ve ekess clax wer revnik, si charis sia opsola, hesi daar, ocuiric wer naam persvek ve vur sia isthasy tawurair ulnaus ekess kult Darastix. Si tir ti tuor toladaf ekess kiwieg vi rigluin ekess xurwk wer diieson majakir lae daar Ryoujin vur wanotreyx Medici xurwka." (" We all consider Medici going to Earth as his sacrifice, but Medici considered it as much his brother's, my great grandfather’s, sacrifice, for the two brothers loved each other much. I see his point. We have all lost a little bit by Medici going to Earth. When the time comes, which I hope is a long way from now, for me to take the throne, I hope my father, our king, sees the wisdom in me and my brother working together to rule this planet. I don't want either to feel a need to make the same sacrifice as King Ryoujin and Prince Medici made. ")

Zedrick put an arm around Zarek, "Wux vucot, sia opsola vur jacida isthasy xurwka batobot diieson majakir. Si jahus vrinpict batobot si tira ti tepoha tikil isthasyi. Si tir ti tuor wux vur dout isthasyi ekess kiwieg vi rigluin ekess xurwk wer majakir, toladaf, shar mobi shilta ergriff qe ir daar. Mrith wer idol wux vur dout isthasyi itov ir voga, si tepoha eluithol persvek wux, mrith astahi lae dout fothisev rimemi, wer fogah di wux shilta kult Darastix mrith wer kornari di wer xiekivi lae dout soves. Wux jalyur vucot vur gewj svanoa si tir ekess nakta dout xiekivi lotoc mrith wux. Vucoti batobot sjek creolnali shinalta ekess ve, dracora naushind, wer xiekivi tuor wux lae asta daar. aurthon di nomeno ukris. yth re tenpiswo ekess tiichi wer drong tobor di tawura Medici tira ihk udoka svadrav jaci jahus shafaer edar. Jaci nurti huena scadua zahae gethrisjir sari lokria, lae coi jahen, vur jaci agantal vucata svabol jahus shinaltir spical okarthel." "Wux vucot, sia opsola vur jacida isthasy xurwka batobot diieson majakir. Si jahus vrinpict batobot si tira ti tepoha tikil isthasyi. Si tir ti tuor wux vur dout isthasyi ekess kiwieg vi rigluin ekess xurwk wer majakir, toladaf, shar mobi shilta ergriff qe ir daar. Mrith wer idol wux vur dout isthasyi itov ir voga, si tepoha eluithol persvek wux, mrith astahi lae dout fothisev rimemi, wer fogah di wux shilta kult Darastix mrith wer kornari di wer xiekivi lae dout soves. Wux jalyur vucot vur gewj svanoa si tir ekess nakta dout xiekivi lotoc mrith wux. Vucoti batobot sjek creolnali shinalta ekess ve, dracora naushind, wer xiekivi tuor wux lae asta daar. aurthon di nomeno ukris. yth re tenpiswo ekess tiichi wer drong tobor di tawura Medici tira ihk udoka svadrav jaci jahus shafaer edar. Jaci nurti huena scadua zahae gethrisjir sari lokria, lae coi jahen, vur jaci agantal vucata svabol jahus shinaltir spical okarthel." (" You know, my father and his brother made that same sacrifice. I was fortunate that I didn't have any siblings. I don't want you and your brothers to feel a need to make the sacrifice, either, but there can only be one king. With the way you and your brothers love one another, I have faith in you, with them as your top advisors, the three of you can rule this planet with the people's hearts as your guide. You already know and practice how I do to keep your people happy with you. I know that if something happened to me, Dracora forbid, the people want you as their king. Enough of this talk. We are here to honor the long life of service Medici did for us while he was on Earth. He never once complained about going into exile, as it were, and he always knew what was happening back home. ")

Royal Dining Hall ~ 1600

That night at dinner Jonas, Jason, Jay and Lars had Koji eating humble pie. The four boys admired their friend for getting healthy quickly, for not complaining about being sick, and especially for taking his medicine in good humor during dinner.

"Koji can only be strong if he does things the right way," Koji told his friends during dessert. "Doing it wrong is weak. Lars, Jay, Jonas and Jason are strong, and Koji will learn from his friends."

When Koji had given into his ego, he had upset some of his friends. But when he admitted the error of his ways as soon as he could, he received the admiration of them.

King Zedrick made his usual rounds before taking his seat. He loved visiting with those who come to eat in the Castle. He always believed, as long as there was space, everyone was welcome.

As Zedrick came to Aiden and Connor's table, he noticed a baby sitting beside Juro. "Who is this?"

"This is Arytiss," Juro spoke up. "Tomo and I were helping take care of him in the orphanage before we were adopted."

"I remember and you really care about him," Zedrick grinned, "I can tell."

"Actually, Sire―" Connor began before Zedrick held up his hand.

"Please, unless I am doing an official act, I prefer to leave formality at the door. Please, call me Zedrick, or even Zed."

"Very well," Connor acknowledged, "we were hoping to schedule a time to see you, Zed. With our Captain's permission, we would like to ask for permission to adopt Arytiss."

Zedrick joked, "I don't know if your ship is trying to legally abduct our orphans or if we should consider it a compliment. You have my permission, especially since I know Juro and Tomo really care about the boy."

Wednesday, 25 March 2122

Sui, 9 Shigatsu 2348 (Darastixian Date)

Hall of Records ~ 0800

After they finished breakfast, Connor, Aiden and Juro went to the Hall of Records to file the adoption of Arytiss. Juro was extremely excited that this baby would be his little brother. Miss Dewel was there to greet them.

"You're not bringing Juro back, I hope," Michi seemed concerned. "He's always been such a good boy."

"Juro is a great boy," Connor crowed; Juro started turning red. "No, we're here to adopt another boy."

"Michi, this is Arytiss," Miss Dewel stated. "Juro and Tomo were taking care of him when Tomo was in the orphanage, and they named him. Zedrick has already approved the adoption."

"Very well, since Arytiss is an infant, it's slightly different, but only in that he cannot say whether he wants to be adopted," Michi explained.

Connor and Aiden did their part of the adoption like pros, and once they were done, Juro inquired, "Can I take Arytiss to see Tomo?"

"I have a better idea," Aiden suggested, "why don't you let Dad and me take him to our guest quarters, and you go get Tomo. That will give us some time to bond with him."

Juro gave a quick nod and took off to find Tomo. He checked the quarters where the Kohls were staying first. When he wasn't there, he ran to the Dining Hall to see if maybe they were still eating. No, the Dining hall was almost completely empty. Juro pulled out his communicator and was about to call Tomo when he spotted him on a bench. He ran over to find Tomo crying.

"What's wrong?" Juro asked.

"I was just at the orphanage and Arytiss is gone," Tomo cried. "They said he was just adopted this morning."

Juro grinned, "I know something that will cheer you up, follow me."

"I doubt it," Tomo pouted. "You know how much I loved that boy. Why aren't you upset about it?"

Martin-Douglass Guest Quarters ~ 0900

"Just come into our quarters and you'll see why I'm in such a good mood," Juro urged. He opened the door and walked in. Tomo followed him.

"Someone has a stinky diaper," Connor groaned. "I guess someone should change it."

Tomo couldn't believe who he was seeing. This explained why Juro wasn't upset. "You adopted Arytiss?"

Aiden replied, "We did. Juro was telling us how important he was to the two of you, and since we have no way of knowing when we may be back, we figured that us adopting him was the next best thing."

"Can I change his diaper?" Tomo begged.

"You actually want to?" Connor wasn't sure he heard right.

"Well... yeah," Tomo assured, "Arytiss was always my boy. I love him almost as much as I love Juro."

"I told Dad and Papa that you would want to help," Juro informed Tomo.

"You have that right," Tomo grinned. Looking at Aiden and Connor, Tomo teased, "He may be your son, but he will always be my boy."

"You are welcome to help out as much as you are able, but as Hal told Juro, your schoolwork and your watches have priority."

"Understood."

Guest Quarters Hallway ~ 1215

Juro and Tomo were chatting; Tomo was holding Arytiss. "I can't believe we get to have this little guy with us on the ship. Leaving him was the only regret I had with being adopted. Now, that regret is gone."

"I know," Juro admitted. "I didn't regret being adopted at all, but I did feel bad for this little guy. I asked Dad and Papa if I could visit him, and they saw how much I love him. They asked if I would be upset about being his brother instead of his opsola."

"I am happy that you agreed," Tomo chuckled. "Hey look, there's Koji. I overheard that he was upset because he wants a little brother."

"Yeah, he really likes Christmas. I suggested to my opsolai that he might be a big help with Arytiss."

"You should take Arytiss over to him, and tell him," Tomo suggested.

"Hand him to me, and I will." Juro took Arytiss to meet Koji... "Hey, Koji, check out my new brother."

"You got a new brother?" Koji pouted, "I want a baby brother."

"Well..." Juro paused, "I told my opsolai that you might want to help with him, and they agreed to let you. You can be his big brother, too."

"You're going to share your brother with me?" Koji's whole demeanor changed. No longer pouting, Koji beamed with excitement, "What's his name? Can I hold him?"

"His name is Arytiss, and you need to sit in a chair first."

"I know, I had to when I held Christmas, too." As Koji sat down, he grinned, "Wait until I tell MY opsolai that I have a baby brother."

Danny and Kyle's Guest Quarters ~ 1230

"Daddies, Daddies, Daddies, Daddies! Guess what!" Koji yelled out as he bounced into the room.

Danny stood up and held his hands over his head. "You're up here, Koji." Koji knew what was coming next. With his hands palms down, Danny lowered them to his knee level, Koji mimicked the gesture. "And you need to be right down here," Danny told him, wigwagging his hands as he did so.

"Sorry, but you still gotta guess what."

"What's with the daddies instead of opsolai?" Kyle asked.

"Well, you are my daddies too, and you tell me I have to learn my English really good..."

"...really well..."

"Yes, Daddy, really well, but you still gotta guess what."

Kyle rubbed his chin with his thumb and forefinger, giving the impression of being deep in thought. "I know, you got the best grade on the biology test you took yesterday morning."

"Yes, I did," Koji grinned, "but that's not what I wanted you to guess."

"Well, congratulations anyway," Danny said, ruffling his son's hair.

"Yes, congratulations, and a good job of pausing and being calm when you were asked to," Kyle added.

"Koji tries hard to be good, and he wants you to take one more guess."

This time Danny took a guess. "You ate lunch with Tei."

"And with Juro and Tomo and then I talked to Connor and Aiden, and I learned what you were supposed to guess but now I will have to tell you the answer." Koji stopped when he saw Danny lower his hands. "Sorry, Koji will be calm, but I'm going to have a little baby brother and I was hoping my Daddy Opsolai would guess it."

"Koji, we've had quite a few discussions about you having a baby brother," Kyle said sternly.

"No, no, no, Koji knows what you said. Connor and Aiden, they adopted Arytiss this morning, and he's a little baby. Juro said I can be his big brother, too, like I was with Christmas."

Danny and Kyle had heard rumors, but they didn't connect Koji with that event. Kyle told Danny later he couldn't believe they didn't figure out right away what Koji wanted them to guess. "Maybe we need to know our son a bit better," Kyle told Danny.

"Did Connor and Aiden say anything about what being a big brother would mean?" Kyle asked Koji.

"Juro said I can do things I did with Christmas, and I get to change diapers and feed him and hold him and put him to bed and everything. Not every day but when I come to visit him then I'll be brother Koji and do big brother things."

"Did Connor and Aiden tell you all of that?" Danny asked.

"Almost everything." Koji nodded.

Danny and Kyle made mental notes to chat with Connor and Aiden about their baby's new big brother to make sure everybody was on the same page.

Before Danny and Kyle could say anything more, Tommy came into the guest quarters. "When do we eat?" he asked.

"Are you sure you're just ten, bro?" Danny asked.

"Everybody gets hungry, right Koji?"

"Koji is not hungry, Koji is starving."

Kyle informed them, "We are planning to eat at the beach. Randy was able to prepare us a special meal to take with us."

Beach of the Niedhousen Sea ~ 1400

Duskin VraktorAs Kyle, Danny and Koji were walking along the beach, a young boy came running up to them. "Koji, you're back. Are you here to stay?" The boy surprised Kyle and Danny by speaking passable English. He was learning English in his first year in school.

"No, my opsolai and I are just visiting, Duskin. Where are your opsola and dask?"

The boy looked sad, "They were... they were... they were..."

"It's alright," Kyle offered, "take your time. How did it happen?"

"They didn't tell me," Duskin sniffled. "I was staying with a friend while they were away, and Prince Zakku came to the house. He told me that my parents were gone, and I was to live in the orphanage until someone adopts me or I turn thirteen."

As Duskin broke out crying, Koji looked up at his Opsolai, almost begging them.

"How old are you, Duskin?" Kyle asked.

Wiping his tears, Duskin replied, "I will be jlatakjlatak ("Five") on the vrrarralvrrarral ("Fourth") of Kugatsu."

Kyle looked at Koji, "How many days away is that? What is it on our calendar?"

"That's 132 days away. On our calendar, it would be August third, your birthday!" Koji squealed, "And he's not a baby. We start school at four, so he can go to school with me."

Kyle placed his right arm around the shoulder of his excited son. "Calm down, Koji. You might want to introduce your friend to your Daddy Danny and me."

"I am sorry, Opsola. I was so excited to see my bestest of best friends I forgot my manners." Koji turned to his friend. "Duskin, that is my Opsola Kyle and the other one is my Opsola Danny. Opsolai, this is Duskin, and just like I told you he is the bestest of my best friends." Koji used the etiquette he had learned from Kyle and Danny as well as in school.

"Si mi zi lotoc ekess tafiaf wer opsolai di sia thurirl, Koji," Duskin said in proper Darastixian.

Koji quickly translated, "I am very happy to meet the Opsolai of my friend, Koji."

Duskin continued speaking Darastixian asking Koji, "Svabol tira wux jatil si tiliw gethrisj ekess chaswh mrith wux?""Svabol tira wux jatil si tiliw gethrisj ekess chaswh mrith wux?" ("\"What did you mean I could go to school with you?\" ")

Koji knew he had said too much and needed to be more careful when he talked. "I was just telling my opsolai that Koji's friends aren't babies but are grown up." Kyle's sternness was slowly having an effect on Koji's behavior.

"Oh," Duskin said in a disappointed voice. For a moment he had felt a glimmer of hope in his life. Hope was something he had felt little of since his opsola and dask had been killed.

Koji's heart broke when he saw the look on his friend's face. He needed to talk to his opsolai now and in private. "Who are you here with on the beach?" Koji asked Duskin.

"The orphanage is having a picnic on the other side of that hill. I was on the hill looking at the waves with MasaruMarasu when I saw you and your opsolai on the beach. I told Masaru I thought I knew you and I would be right back, and I ran down here, and you were you."

"Where is Masaru?"

"He didn't want to go too far from the food." Duskin gave Koji a long, sad look. "I am happy I saw you Koji, my bensveklilti thurirlbensveklilti thurirl (" Bensveklilti means best and  thurirl means friend. ")," he almost sobbed. He let go of Koji and ran to the hill and then up and over it.

"Why was he so sad?" Kyle asked.

"He thinks when I said we could go to school together I meant we would go to school together and Koji didn't mean that at all."

"Oh really? You never meant that in any way?"

Koji looked sheepishly at the ground. Like his friend, he was trying hard to fight back tears. "Opsola Kyle, did you hear when I said he had the same birthday as you?"

"I did indeed. That was an interesting coincidence."

"And do you remember when I said he is old enough to go to school."

"I did."

"I think he must go to school," Danny said. "Where else would he learn English. Besides what else would he be doing during the day at an orphanage."

Kyle gave his husband a look that said, "Whose side are you on, anyway?"

Koji decided to send a broadside Kyle's way. After all, he had nothing to lose. "Opsola Kyle and Daddy Danny, Duskin is not a baby, and he can be my brother. I can help him with everything because Koji is a good big brother. Please, can he be my brother?"

"Koji, our quarters are being remodeled so you and Tommy have your own private places. There is not enough space for another room." Kyle decided that being practical was the best way to turn down Koji's request. He wasn't sure the old arguments of Danny and him not having the time and energy for another child would work since Koji had made sure to point out that Duskin wasn't a baby. "And there certainly is no space for another bed in your room."

"What about a bunk bed?" Danny asked, which earned him another glare from Kyle. Danny wasn't intimidated; he knew that Kyle and Koji were very much alike. They were stubborn cusses who had to slowly be worn down and when they finally came to a decision, they recognized it for what it was: the right decision, which they had reached by themselves.

"A bunk bed would fit," said Koji. "That's what Jonas and Jason have, and it fits in their room. Plus, I am the oldest brother so I would go up to the top bunk." Koji described the situation as if it was about to become a reality.

"How did you meet Duskin if he wasn't an orphan when you were friends?" Kyle asked.

"My dask and Duskin's dask were friends before I was an orphan, and we became the bestest of best friends. And then my dask died and I was an orphan and now his opsola and dask died and he is an orphan and Koji wants to be his brother orphan. I want to be his bestest ever best friend and his bestest brother really, really, really bad. Please can he be my brother? Please, oh please."

Even though Kyle knew what his decision was, he understood that this was the wrong time to tell Koji. First, he would have to convince Danny, who obviously had doubts, that his way was the right way. Taking on yet a third boy would simply take too much away from their duties. Those duties had to be their primary priority.

This time Danny placed an arm on Koji's shoulder. "Calm down, son. We're not going to decide yet. Opsola Kyle and I need some time to think about it, talk about it, and be sure we're going to make the right decision."

"But Koji knows what the right decision is so you can make it right now then I can go tell Duskin."

Danny gave his son's shoulder a squeeze, pulled the boy against him, and gave him a smile. "Be calm—always be calm. You need to be calm and understand that important decisions take time," Danny told him in the calmest, most understanding tone he could muster with his changing voice.

"Yes, Daddy Danny, I promise to be calm." Koji understood that if he had any chance of getting Duskin to become his brother he needed Danny on his side and that, at least for now, he needed to back down. But Koji being Koji, he still needed to get a last word in.

"How long before I know the important decision?" he asked his young daddies. Danny looked over to Kyle for help.

Kyle knew they didn't have much time to decide since the schedules had things moving quickly. "How about we tell Koji in no more than three days, after Medici's service. Does that sound fair and doable to you, Danny?"

"It's very fair," Danny nodded. "What do you think, Koji?"

Koji was so full of conflicting emotions he thought he was going to explode. He wanted Duskin while at the same time he knew his fate was in the hands of his opsolai, which meant he had to do what Daddy Danny told him and that was to be calm. "Koji will be calm for three days," he said quietly, but at the same time all his youthful instincts were telling him to scream. "Can I go see Duskin now and tell him you're thinking?"

"It would be a good idea if you just stayed calm and waited," Danny said. "It's time for us to be getting back to our quarters."

Koji slumped his shoulders and wore a pouty look, but he said nothing.

Other Side of the Hill

LakinaeJohn Luke and Will couldn't believe they ran into kids from the orphanage as they walked along the beach. One of the older boys walked up to them, "Hi, my name is Lakinae. Are you looking for a boy to adopt? I'm really good about taking care of me and my younger brother, Marasu."

"Well, we weren't planning to adopt anyone anytime soon; we haven't been married for long, and we already adopted one son."

"I could help take care of him," Lakinae insisted.

"How old are you?" Will inquired.

"I'm nine years old. My brother is five."

John laughed, "Drake is ten, and I get the feeling you would want us to adopt both you and your brother."

"Eleven," Will corrected as he put an arm around Drake. "Drake just had a birthday six days ago."

"Well," Lakinae began, "yeah , I would, but I take good care of him, so it's not like he'd be an extra burden."

Drake piped up, "Dad, Papa, he seems like a decent boy, would you at least consider adopting them?"

John smiled, "Lakinae, as I said, we weren't planning to adopt anytime soon, but we will think about it."

Miss Dewel noticed Lakinae talking to John Luke and Will. She approached them and began to apologize, "I'm sorry if Lakinae is bothering you."

"Don't be," John insisted. "He seems like a good young man looking out for his brother."

"Yes, he's very attentive to Marasu, and he's been helping take care of Arytiss ever since Tomo left."

"Arytiss?" Will wondered out loud.

"He's a ten-month-old. All the boys have helped to take care of him, but none like Tomo and Lakinae."

"Will Lakinae want us to adopt him as well?" John started to be concerned. He was considering Lakinae and Marasu, but a ten-month-old? That would be a game changer.

"No, Arytiss was adopted this morning," Miss Dewel assured him.

Guest Quarters ~ 1530

When they returned to the quarters where many of the crew were staying, Danny told Koji they had to take care of some business while Kyle spoke to Jace. Jace immediately agreed to help Kyle. Koji was then dropped off with the twins. Everybody appeared happy. Danny and Kyle left to take care of business, which was essentially them chatting well out of range of Koji's hearing.

The young husbands walked to a park which was about a kilometer from their quarters. They found a vacant picnic table and sat at it. "I feel like I'm in a spy vid," Danny said. "Do you think I should look under the table for listening devices?"

"I think we're good," Kyle grinned. "Although our son does have an uncanny way of hearing what's going on, which is the reason we're here in the great outdoors."

"We don't seem to be seeing eye-to-eye, which isn't unusual when it comes to dealing with Koji."

"True, but we always seem to find a solution. You and I are good at talking and finding ways to agree, which I guess is what a compromise is all about."

"Why do I get the feeling you're not looking for a compromise this time?" Danny asked.

"Because there is really only one solution. You know just like I do that you and I can't handle having three boys to deal with. I don't care what kind of positions we have on the Sooloo and how everybody says we're doing a good job with Koji, but there is also Tommy to think about. We're still only twelve and we're starting to get over our heads. Like I said, we have our duties to think of."

"And how often have we not done our duty? For all his wildness, Koji does know right from wrong and, in his own way, works hard to do the right thing. I am proud of what Tommy is doing and not just because he's my brother. The kid's amazing and smarter than I realized."

"But we're still responsible for him," Kyle pointed out.

"Like that's been something hard. Kyle, I bet in a year he won't be living with us anymore because he'll be crewmember. He's going to be eleven soon, and that's old enough, he just has to learn some of the shit they teach at the Academy, and he'll be working somewhere on the ship. That's what Tommy wants and that's what he's working his ass off to do. So, let's not pretend we gotta raise him—we have the officers of the Sooloo hard at work teaching him, too, because they're seeing how good he is."

"You're right about that. He's amazed me, too. Smart, hardworking, ambitious, and he's setting goals for what he wants. He reminds me of his older brother."

Danny grinned at the compliment. He could sense Kyle's wall cracking a little. "Ask yourself this, my love: ask yourself if deep down you want Koji to have the brother he wants and needs. You want to be a ship's captain someday, Tommy wants to become a member of the crew, and Koji wants..."

"...Koji wants to be a big brother," Kyle said softly.

"Exactly." Danny reached over the table and placed both his hands on top of Kyle's. "Remember what we talked about after your meltdown. Don't let anything get in the way of doing what you know is right. Don't be afraid of making mistake if it means not doing the right thing."

"But not a mistake like my decimal error."

"Not like that—that kind you gotta work on. It would be like my crashing a fighter and shouldn't happen. I'm talking about the mistakes we talked about. Whatever we decide about Duskin, it won't be a perfect answer like having a decimal in the right place. But we both love Koji and want whatever we do to be the best for him, mistake or no mistake."

"When did you become all full of philosophy?" Kyle asked.

"Since I became a husband, a dad, and a squadron leader. Being a dad probably more than anything. Just like you, I'm twelve, but we're not only twelve like you said. We're twelve and we're still learning. Just like your dad is like a hundred and twelve and he's still learning."

"Sheesh, Danny, Dad is old, but not that old." Kyle looked Danny in the eye and giggled. "I love it when you make me laugh. I love you, even when we aren't on the same side of an argument."

"Is that where I am now?"

"You were right when you said that deep down, I want Koji to be a big brother, but I'm not sure I want that so bad I can't be a good dad."

"So, what are we going to do?"

"How about we go to the orphanage tomorrow and find out more about Duskin?"

"The little I saw he seemed like a nice kid who's been hurt and is lonely."

"Do you know what Duskin means?" Danny shook his head. "It means 'devious.'"

"How did you know that?" Danny was surprised.

"Because of my heritage," Kyle replied, "I asked Zarek to teach me how to speak Darastixian. Koji doesn't know it, but I understood him and Duskin chatting."

"Well, I didn't see Duskin as devious. Besides, as wild as Koji is, he expects a lot from his friends; Lars, the twins, Oliver and especially Tei. I think Koji would make a great big brother—just look how he was with Christmas."  

"But?"

"But we need to know what kind of kid Duskin is from somebody who really knows, and that would be a teacher or counselor or something at the orphanage. What else?" Danny asked.

"I want to talk to my father." "Talk to your father?" Kyle and Danny said simultaneously, causing both boys to laugh.

"What about Hal and David?"

"Only if we decide yes and have to get their permission."

"What do we tell Koji when we get back?"

"The truth," Kyle said. "We're still thinking, and we'll decide after the ceremony, just like we told him."

 

Separator

End Notes:

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