Memories Part 1: The Gathering

Chapter 38

Starfleet Landing Pad, Des Moines International Airport:

Teri looked around her at the group waiting anxiously at the Des Moines Spaceport. Besides Dan and John, she had four parents waiting for their kids to come home. Robin and Kayla were still in shock at the sudden turn of events in their lives. Russ and Sara, on the other hand, were worried to the point of almost being sick about the injuries to the boys and whether they would accept the plans which had been made for their futures. Just then Teri's communicator went off.

"Enterprise to Director Short."

"Go ahead, Enterprise."

"Teri, the boys just transferred to San Francisco Control. Mattering on how much sightseeing they do, they should be there fairly soon."

"Thanks Nyota, we'll be watching for them. Short out."

"Enterprise out."

Teri turned to the group listening in. "Relax, everything will be fine. If there were problems, Nyota would have told me." She then added with a grin "Besides, they are in the capable hands of Starfleet's only thirteen-year-old qualified shuttle pilot; what is there to worry about?"


Shuttlecraft Mississippi:

Sean beamed with pride as he listened to Cory handle communications.

Cory switched to the San Francisco frequency, then began. "San Francisco Control, this is shuttlecraft Mississippi. Pilot Ensign Sean Short, co-pilot Ensign Cory Short. Request clearance and routing instructions for atmospheric re-entry."

"Mississippi, this is San Francisco Control. You are cleared for re-entry on lane five, you have a clear lane. Please inform your pilot that my nephew is nowhere near the bridge today, so I highly recommend he goes ABOVE it."

Cory was giggling as he replied. "Acknowledged, San Francisco Control! I think Captain Sulu is still reeling from the last bill! You have us cleared for re-entry on Lane Five."

"That is correct. Have a good day, Mississippi, and welcome back to Earth. San Francisco out."

"Thank you, and have a good day yourself. Mississippi out."

Cory looked over at Sean, who was still grinning. "You heard him Sean, no rooster tail contests today. Let's hit it, these guys need to get home to relax."

Sean yelled to the back. "Justy, is everyone ready for re-entry?"

Justy yelled back. "What do you think, Bozo? Of course they are, we're wanting some of Helen's treats!"

"You're goin' swimming for that comment, Angel Boy! Here we go y'all!"

Sean then turned back to Cory. "Cor, prepare for re-entry."

"Already done, Sean; awaiting your word."

"Begin re-entry!" Sean announced.


Starfleet Landing Pad, Des Moines International Airport:

As Sean did the final shutdown of the shuttle's systems after landing in Des Moines, Cory headed to the back. He stopped when he reached the row of seats with DJ, Tanner, Toby, and Beau in them, and surveyed the nervous faces on the four boys. "What's wrong, guys?"

DJ spoke for the group. "What's gonna happen with us now? What if Teri can't help us; or there's no family that wants all four of us? You're just a kid like us, you can't take us in if that happens. What about the cops; I know they want Tanner."

Cory crouched down. "DJ, you all can stop worrying. First thing is, Mom ain't gonna let anything happen to you. She went through a year of torture just to be there for me, and she'll do whatever she has to for you. Just because I'm fourteen doesn't mean anything; we'll all sit down later and talk about it, but for now just trust me. When I accepted these Ensign bars I legally became an adult, and some recent things that have happened make it so that I can take control over any Earth agency in regards to you guys. The cops can't touch you, just ask Eli and Benji; they got to watch the FBI get knocked down a few notches. Until Mom tells me that all four of you have a family that she approves of, you are under my custody. Does that make any sense?"

"Whatever." DJ stated, obviously not believing a word.

Justy joined them, and heard DJ's response. "Dude, watch out for Cory; he's a blond with a brain cell and he knows how to use it! Seriously, have you heard of Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan?"

"Yeah, whaddabout him? He ain't got nothing to do with us."

Justy gave DJ a stern look. "He's got EVERYTHING to do with you. This blond nut case next to me also happens to be Patriarch of Clan Short of the family of Sarek of Vulcan; he reports DIRECTLY to Ambassador Sarek. Clan Short is responsible for rescuing abused and homeless youth, no matter what planet they are from. Before y'all were even on that bus, the Federation had already made a formal request for Clan Short to ensure your welfare."

"So that's what all that stuff was about with Colin; I thought it was just something you had all cooked up to mess with his head. You mean that trial was for real?"

Justy nodded solemnly. "Serious as a heart attack, dude. Y'all ain't got to worry anymore; we've got your backs. Whadda you say we hit the deck; if I know Helen she's got some awesome munchies waiting for us."

DJ looked around and found that the little group he was sitting with were the only ones left in the shuttle. "I guess you're right."

Tanner finally spoke. "Deej, even though some screwed up stuff happened at that last bus station, it's like someone's watchin' us and helping. I don't think God would'a sent Toby and Beau if we wasn't going to make it. Let's see what Teri can do; I got a weird feeling that we're done running for real."

The boys exited the shuttle; Toby, Beau, DJ and Tanner were deep in a discussion reassuring each other they would all stay together, so they did not notice the adults standing and waiting for them. Tanner was the first to look up.

"Holy smoke! Russ, Sara; how'd you get here?" Tanner exclaimed.

Russ gave a small smile. "We heard about what happened at the bus station and had to see for ourselves that you guys were okay. Besides, I couldn't wait to hear about Ian's adventures in space!"

Teri took advantage of the pause as the boys were digesting the surprise welcoming committee and walked over. "Hey guys, I'm Teri Short. A couple of not-so-little birdies told me you need to see me. Hop in one of the Hummers; once we get home I've got some surprises for you. For now, just know that I know of four boys who are about to see the dawning of a new life - together."

Teri's technique worked; the boys heard the mention of the Hummers and all other thoughts exited their mind. Without a word they flew over to check out the custom vehicles. Russ and Sara watched in wonder as the boys disappeared into the vehicles.

Russ turned to Teri. "Why didn't you tell them?"

Teri grimaced. "You might not believe this, but Timmy told me to wait. He said DJ's still working out a couple of things in his head. I gave him enough info to settle the worries, now he's just got to sort it all out. By the time we get to the house, he should be ready for the surprise."

Russ looked at Sara. "I think I know what you mean, Teri. It seems that DJ is feeling responsible for everything that's happened."

Sara added "Russ and I've talked about it already; somehow he needs convinced he's not to blame."

"Don't worry about it." Teri replied as they headed to the other Hummer. "Knowing my crew, he'll be getting a reality check by the time they go to bed tonight."

As they left the spaceport, things began to get interesting in the Hummer carrying Cory's family and the new boys. Timmy looked up from his perch on Cory's lap. "Daddy, can you tell DJ 'bout the stuff ya' found? Ya' know, 'bout him and me?"

Cory glanced at DJ, and found that he had stopped investigating the interior and was staring in their direction. "I guess so, Gizmo. DJ, you might wanna have a seat for this one."

DJ plopped down. "You mean that you know why we can talk to each other?"

Cory nodded. "Yeah, but you ain't goin' to believe it. DJ, were you ever told about your Mom losing a baby before you were born?"

"Yeah, what's that got to do with it?"

"The baby was not 'lost' in the normal way. Timmy's birth dad did some experimental stuff for Starfleet with time-travel. Your mom and him got together during a party; things happened and she got pregnant. When he came back to his normal time, he brought the baby back with him. That baby was Timmy; he's your half-brother. We think you guys are developing the ability to communicate like a lot of twins do with your minds. You might say I've got a personal interest in you, DJ; since you're my son's brother I've got to make sure you're safe."

The pessimistic attitude that DJ had been using as a shield from the fast paced events of the last few hours evaporated. "M .. my .. my brother?" he whispered repeatedly. Ian and Toby sat back and watched, giving DJ the space he needed. Tanner cuddled against DJ's side, quietly giving him support as he digested the new information.

Timmy slid off of Cory and wiggled onto DJ's lap. He looked at DJ and said "I'm 'fused though. Are you the big brother or am I?"

DJ looked in wonder at the boy in his lap. "I've always prayed that I wished I'd met you. It'd be too weird to call you my big brother though; would you be okay with me calling you my little brother?"

Timmy stretched up and kissed DJ's chin. "Yeah, I was scared you wouldn't want me."

DJ had tears in his eyes as he pulled Timmy tightly against him with his free arm. "I've wanted all my life to know you; now I have got my wish and I'm not gonna lose you again."

Cory watched with a smile and cuddled against Sean. "DJ, don't worry; we won't let it happen either." Cory turned to look at Toby and Beau. "Guys, I've got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you don't have to worry about where you are going to be living at; we've already found a real family for all four of you. The bad news is about your Aunt Gloria; she passed away a few months ago. She died in her sleep, they think it was a heart attack."

"Where we gonna be livin' at?" Beau asked in a worried tone.

"I don't know for sure yet, but if Mom was able to convince them to do what I suggested it'll be somewhere near all the rest of us. We'll find out more when we get home."

Toby and Beau visibly relaxed at knowing their future was secure. Tanner looked up from watching DJ cuddling his long-lost brother and softly said "Thanks for helping us, guys. I know you had to; but still, thanks."

Sean slid from under Cory and sat next to Tanner. He put an arm over Tanner's shoulder, then replied "You're welcome, Tanner; but you have one thing wrong. We didn't help you guys 'cause we had to; we helped you because we wanted to. Every single one of the guys you met today did something to try to make sure you were safe. We could have picked you up from Russ and Sara's, but Timmy there said you still needed time to work out some things in your heads. I'm glad we listened; since you were able to help Toby and Beau by being on the bus."

Sean paused, looked over at Cory, then continued. "You guys might all want to listen to this. Cory had a meltdown shortly after we got Timmy. Timmy said something to Cory then which struck all of us. He told Cory 'Sometimes bad things gotta happen so that good things can happen'. You guys just went through a pretty bad spell, but you are not alone anymore. It's kinda becoming a tradition for all of us to sit down before bed whenever a new guy joins us to go over what all of us have went through. I know for sure that you guys will be the guests of honor tonight, and I suspect that Ian will be joining us too."

One hour later, Josh and Chip beamed into the foyer at Teri's house. They followed the noises of kids at play, and found themselves in the back yard looking out over a major barbecue. Josh couldn't resist the temptation, and yelled "Hey, Teri - who let the animals outta their cages?"

"I'm gonna shoot you!" Chip exclaimed to Josh just before the first wave of pounces hit them. It took a minute to dig themselves out of the pile of giggling boys, but Chip and Josh finally broke free and started towards a table. They were about halfway there when Eli yelled "Hey Uncle Josh; turn around!"

Josh turned, and was pounced once again - by Eli's prosthetic leg! Josh managed to catch it; but it wiggled free and rose to the top of his head. Even Chip was laughing as the leg began a victory dance on top of Josh's head; totally messing up his hair in the process. It then hopped down and jumped over to join the boys, who were rolling on the ground at Eli's latest prank. Josh was grinning as he watched the leg run off and yelled "Hey Eli, you really need to get a leash for that leg!"

The adults sat down and made sure all the preparations were taken care of, then Chip waved Aaron over. "Aaron, get the boys together, it's time to answer some of their questions."

"Got it, Chip." Aaron replied as he ran off and started rounding them up. A few minutes later, all of the boys were seated on the ground by the table, waiting to see what was going to happen.

"You're on, Teri." Chip announced.

Teri looked over 'her' growing tribe of boys. "Guys, all of you made me really proud today. DJ, Tanner, Toby, Beau; that includes you too. Today you were placed in a situation which would panic most adults; you worked together and made sure everyone made it through. Ian, you may not have known it, but you helped your family more than you know earlier; you're about to see how much. I know what you guys want answered, but there's a couple of other things you need to know first before I tell you that."

"I guess first thing you should know is that we have a couple of new neighbors at our new house in Orlando. Russ is going to be in charge of the studio on Southcrest, and Sara has accepted a position as Medical Liaison between Doc Austin and Camp Little Eagle. Robin just accepted the Head of Security job at Camp Little Eagle, and Kayla is now the coordinator between the various departments of Youth Services, including assisting Clan Short. Each family is getting five acres of land on the property line between Southcrest and our new place; the houses are going up right now. The Federation is providing modular houses for both families which are about three times as large as their old homes. DJ, Tanner, Toby, Beau; you guys need to come up here and have a seat for the next part."

The four boys nervously got up and joined the adults at the table. As they got closer, DJ and Tanner realized who was sitting next to Chip.

"WHOA! You're JC from N'Sync!" they exclaimed in unison. Tanner continued their thoughts, "Man, you're awesome! Why're you here?"

Josh chuckled at their reaction. "Chip and I had to come to make sure our sons were not torturing Teri too much. Besides, part of the surprises for today we have a hand in. Grab a seat over here; it's time to talk about your future."

The awestruck boys took the offered seats, DJ and Tanner both stealing quick touches to assure themselves Josh was really there.

Teri gave Russ and Sara a glance once the boys were seated, then sat down.

Russ and Sara came over and knelt down in front of the boys, then Russ spoke. "DJ, Tanner; we've got to be honest with you. We knew you needed time to sort things out, so we called ahead and talked to Teri long before you left. We would not have let you guys leave if Teri was not able to help you. Both of us felt sick when we were told about you guys getting hurt at the bus station; then Teri got through to us that if we had not let you go, Toby and Beau would not have got the help they needed. All four of you boys must have someone special looking out for you in Heaven; will all four of you let Sara and I be the ones watching out for you here on Earth? We want to have all four of you as our sons, forever."

Before they could reply, Sara added "Russ is speaking for me too, guys. It does not matter what has happened to you in the past; we both want to make sure all four of you have a happy and safe future. We heard that you swore to stick together; at the bus station you proved it was not just words. I've been watching Toby and Beau since I met them, and I honestly believe that they are just as sweet and caring as you are, DJ and Tanner. I want to see all four of you together as family, and I really hope you'll let it be our family."

Russ looked at the four stunned faces in front of him. "Guys, why don't you grab Ian and head to someplace private to talk it over? He's known us all of his life, and he can probably answer a lot of your questions. We'll wait for you, it's a big decision."

The four of them nodded silently, and stood to head off to talk. To everyones surprise, Timmy ran over to join them, William flying alongside; after a few whispered words, DJ picked Timmy up and carried him along as they met with Ian and headed into the house.

Teri waved Cory over. "What's your son up to this time?"

Cory smiled. "Relax, Mom; him and William are going to pass on any questions they have to us. Timmy's just trying to look out for his brother."

Teri shook her head. "He's getting more and more like his Daddy every day!"

Cory giggled as he turned to rejoin the rest of the boys. "Thanks Mom!"


Once the six boys were settled in the living room, DJ finally spoke. "They lied to us. I thought they were so kewl, but they lied to us. I'm tired of being lied to."

Ian shook his head. "I don't understand; I've never seen them do that before. Usually Russ will just say he can't tell me, he's never lied to me."

Timmy held up his hand to tell them to wait, then spoke after a couple of seconds. "Jamie checked their minds; they was scared you'd run if you knew they were tryin' to make sure Gran'ma was gonna help. They talked to Gran'ma, and she told them to just let you go with what you needed to do. They knewd you was scared and needed to work stuff out."

Tanner looked at Timmy warily. "How do you know that?"

Timmy turned his head and pointed to the talon embedded in his earlobe. "See that? It's onea William's claws. He's an Eagle Spirit, and he picked me as his helper. Me and him can talk in our heads like DJ and I talk when we're dreamin'. He asked Duke, Duke told Ricky, and Ricky asked Jamie. Jamie and Jacob can look at anyones brains."

Beau giggled. "He's not lyin', bro. They were able to tell me stuff about Toby that only I know."

Tanner gave a small smile. "Okay. Sorry Timmy, it's just kinda weird. I'm still getting used to DJ doing it."

DJ got back to the subject. "I guess I kinda understand why they did it. What's gonna keep them from doing it again?"

Toby chimed in. "Man, I think they only did it to help you. We might not have met if you had known the truth, what about that?"

"Yeah, maybe that was one of the bad things that needed to happen so we could meet you." Beau added.

A new voice from behind them startled the boys. "Very good, Beau. You hit it right on!"

Timmy turned around. "Uncle Mikey! Stop scaring us like that!"

Mikey giggled as he became visible. "Wazzup, rug-rat! Gentlemen, Saint Mikey of Urbandale, Protector of Gay and Abandoned Youth, at your service. Welcome to the family, guys. Oh - news flash - Colin is now sweating off his extra pounds Down There."

Tanner recovered first, and asked "Why did Timmy call you Uncle Mikey?"

"He can get away with it; when I was alive I was Sean and Cory's big brother. Kyle called me over in case you guys needed any help deciding what to do. I think you need a little more info than anyone here can give you."

DJ sat back in awe. "Dude, I can feel you here! What don't we know?"

Mikey settled in front of them. "The Book of Life had the two of you staying with Russ and Sara instead of getting on the bus; Colin was supposed to be captured trying to take you from there. By listening to their concerns for you instead of their hearts, Russ and Sara caused a minor rewrite which put you here today. Our Father was actually quite pleased; it's rare that anyone goes to the lengths they did for someone else. Then you performed a miracle; you caused a change in the Book that the results of are still a blur. When the four of you swore to be there and take care of each other, you altered the future. Toby, Beau; it was your time at the bus station. I'll leave it up to you to decide when and who to tell. Our Father gave your dad a waiver, he is watching from Heaven since his suicide was a humanitarian gesture to give you a chance. The four of you have a long future ahead of you; a future in which you are truly calling all of the shots. I'm going to be there to advise you, but only Our Father knows what your decisions will bring forth. Even the choice of staying with Russ and Sara is not decided yet, guys; but you should consider that their actions are the reason the four of you are here today. I understand your aversion to being lied to, DJ; but I can promise that lies are not going to be the norm if you say yes."

DJ thought for a minute. "You're right, Saint Mikey; knowing all of that does make a difference. I guess I need to stop judging people like they're my father, don't I?"

"That's a good way to put it, DJ. I think you can learn a lot from Russ about what a real father is like, but it's a decision all four of you have to agree on. By the way; you're Timmy's bro so it's Uncle Mikey for you. The rest of you can drop the Saint, I don't mind."

Tanner smiled. "Thanks, Mikey. I think we can all figure out the right thing to do now."

Mikey gave them all hugs, then faded away. The boys huddled together, and began seriously discussing what their choice would be.


Russ and Sara watched nervously as the boys filed out of the house and walked towards them. The yard fell silent as everyone awaited their decision.

Tanner led the group. When he reached the table, he spoke. "I drew the short straw, so I got stuck being the one to speak for all of us." Tanner paused as he watched Russ start to take a drink, then delivered the punch line. "It looks like at least one of your four new sons is gonna grow up to be hung like a horse!"

His timing was perfect, as about half of Russ's Dr. Pepper came flying out his nose. Sara laughed as she pulled the four boys into a hug. "Welcome to the family guys! You had us worried, it took so long."

DJ grinned. "We had to talk to Uncle Mikey, he's a Saint. He showed me that I'm gonna need a little help with trusting people after what my father did; can you do that?"

Russ had joined the hug, and both him and Sara answered "No problem. Did you say UNCLE Mikey?"

Teri saw the confused looks at DJ calling Mikey his uncle, and helped explain. "Mikey is, well was, my oldest son. He was killed by a drunk driver, He's the guardian angel for all of these boys, and carries the official rank of Saint Mikey of Urbandale. Get used to hearing his name, he pops in and out a lot around here."

Russ answered in shock. "Holy smoke! He helped me talk to my brother! You mean your SON was the subject of the Papal Proclamation that said there was a new Saint that is the protector of gay and abused children. Is this the same one?"

Teri nodded. "One and the same."

They were interrupted by Tanner turning and yelling "Hey everyone; we've got a new FAMILY!"

The yard broke into cheers from all of the boys. As the congratulations were winding down, Helen announced that the food was ready.

Once everyone finished eating, Teri got the boy's attention. "Hey guys; pools open - explain the rules to the new guys!"

Teri watched with amusement as the regular crew stripped to birthday suits in record time. As most of the boys ran towards the pool, Timmy and Ricky hopped on Eli's back as he flew Superman-style behind the rest of the group. DJ, Tanner, Toby, Beau, and Ian sat and watched the others strip and run off. Teri came over to the blushing boys and crouched in front of them. "What's wrong guys, don't you want to swim?"

Tanner looked at his companions, then answered for them. "Yeah, but it's too weird getting nude out here."

Teri stopped him. "Tanner, do the rest of these guys know what you and DJ had to go through; and what was done to you?"

"Toby and Beau do; we ain't told Ian about it."

"I'm pretty sure Sean is going to be doing something like this a little later tonight; would it be okay if I told him the short version so he understands what we're talking about?"

"I guess." Tanner and DJ replied.

Teri turned to Ian. "Ian, you have made friends with a group of very special boys today. Something you don't know about them is what they went through before they came here. Some of them simply lost their families, some others were abandoned or kicked out. Some of them went through various degrees of sexual, emotional, and even physical abuse. These guys have had to suffer through just about all of the above between the two of them. It's my guess that you, Beau, and Toby are just shy about people you just met seeing you nude; these two had to live with their privacy being violated every day."

Ian stood up, turned, and pulled DJ and Tanner into a three-way hug. "Dang guys; that's messed up. I KNOW Russ and Sara ain't gonna let that stuff happen to you again. It sounds like the rest of those guys had to get over some bad junk too; maybe this might start helpin' you guys get over it."

DJ leaned back a little and smiled at Ian. "You know something, you might be right Ian. My old father is dead; I gotta stop lettin' him control my life. What do you think, Tanner?"

Tanner nodded. "Makes sense to me. You in, Toby and Beau?"

Toby grinned. "If it's gonna help you guys, try to stop us!"

Teri stepped back to give them space as the five boys quickly stripped down and streaked off to join their new friends.

Chip chuckled as he watched the last one disappear. "You know Teri; you're teaching these boys, especially my boys, bad habits."

Teri grinned. "Just consider it payback for pouncing lessons!"

As they headed into the house to settle final details on the boy's placements, Robin got Teri's attention. "You know, I think Ian's smiled more today than he has the whole last couple of months."

"These guys have that effect sometimes. There's a good chance he's going to discover a lot of things about himself that he wouldn't normally have noticed; these guys as a group seem to give peer pressure to be the best you can be, and being able to do something that other kids consider weird is considered something to celebrate with them. That's why nobody even blinked when Eli flew into the pool with Timmy and Ricky on his back."

Robin grinned. "I think Ian's gonna fit right in ... "


The boys were surprised when they came inside. Teri had them get dressed then sit at the dining room table. When John and Matt came in dressed in full uniform, they fell silent, curious as to what was about to happen.

John stood at the head of the table. "Patriarch Short, may I have your assistance?"

Cory stood and joined John. "How may Clan Short be of assistance Commander Martin?"

"It has come to the attention of my superiors that the senior members of your Security detail have performed their duties above and beyond what was required of them. To ease the performance of their duties, and in appreciation of services rendered in the last twenty-four hours, the Federation is offering commissions for your two men. With your approval, they will be issued the rank of Ensign; upon completion of training on Federation laws and procedures they will receive automatic promotions to Lieutenant Junior Grade. Is this acceptable to you?"

Cory nodded once. "It is acceptable; you may proceed Commander."

John nodded to Matt, who stood and announced "Mr. James Jacob Richardson and Mr. Gabriel Mark Michaels; please join us in front."

Once the boys had joined them, John continued. "Mr. Richardson and Mr. Michaels; the Chief of Starfleet Security has authorized me to offer you both commissions in Starfleet Security. Are you willing to accept these commissions, and the responsibilities that accompany them?"

"Yes, Commander." both boys replied.

John nodded to Matt, who pinned their new rank emblems onto their shirts.

"Gentlemen," Chip announced as he rose from his seat, "I've been authorized to inform you that commendations have been inserted into your service records for your performance today aboard the Enterprise. In addition, Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Thompson both send their congratulations. On a personal note, I want to say great job, guys."

Before they could respond, John added. "The formal part is over; way to go guys, I'm proud of you."

JJ spoke first. "Thanks Uncle Chip, tell Uncle Jim and Mr. Thompson thanks too." He then turned back to John. "Thanks Pop, this is awesome!"

As JJ gave John a hug, Gabe took his turn. "Uncle Chip, thanks a bunch; please tell them thanks from me too." Once JJ broke the hug, Gabe held out his hand. "Thanks Uncle John, we won't let you guys down."

Once all of the congratulations were over, Chip and Josh rounded up the group to return to Southcrest. Just as they were all preparing to be beamed out, Beau ran up and pulled the twins into a three-way hug. When they saw the smile on Justy's face, they gave each other knowing looks, then finished preparations to depart. Once they had beamed out, Cory looked over the remaining group.

"Okay guys, let's hit the bedroom. It's been a long day; Sean still has to go through his indoctrination of you guys. See you tomorrow, Mom."

The boys headed up to the bedroom, and a couple of hours later Teri did her nightly check. She smiled as she looked at the boys all snuggled in their groups; their faces showing total contentment as they slept. She turned and closed the door, and shut off the lights as she called an end to one of the most eventful days she had ever experienced.