Southcrest Ranch, Orlando Florida, Late Afternoon:
Josh ran into the office and answered the terminal. "Southcrest; this is Josh."
"Hi Uncle Josh, this is Cory. Where are Justy, Jacob, Jamie, Aaron, David, and Mark?"
Josh was about to jump down Cory's throat for using the terminal for personal business, but then he noticed the icon in the corner signifying Cory was on an official Vulcan terminal. Alongside the icon was a family crest which Josh had never seen before. "They are out in Mark's house, Cory. Where are you calling from? That looks like the Rec room, but you don't have a terminal there!"
Cory smiled as he replied. "I do now! The Vulcan High Council has determined that I am the head of Clan Short, that is our Crest up in the corner. Could you please call them in; we have some important Clan business to discuss. If Zac is there, have him join them, if he's going to be Mark's partner he needs to be sworn in. I need Rusty, Robbie and Johnny to get over there as soon as possible too."
Josh thought back to the Vulcan protocol training he had received from Chip. 'If Cory's serious, I don't have much choice.' Josh thought to himself. 'From what Chip said, ignoring a request from a Clan leader is worse than him ignoring an order from Jim.'
Josh returned his attention to the viewscreen. "Give me just a minute, Cory. I'll get everyone on their way here."
"Thanks, Uncle Josh. Once they are all here, could you please stay out of the room until we are done?"
"I understand, Cory. I might not believe it, but I understand."
Josh turned to the intercom and selected 'All Page'. "Mark! Pick up on the intercom!"
A few seconds later Mark answered. "Yeah Josh, whazzup?"
"I need all of you guys in the office ASAP. That includes Zac, Airboy, and David. Cory is on the viewscreen on an official call."
"Okay, we'll be right up. Thanks, Josh."
Josh then turned to the phone and dialed Curly's cell phone. After the third ring, it was answered.
"Grand Central, it's your dime, make it quick!"
Josh had to chuckle. "Hey Curly, I need ya' to do something."
"The last time you said that, I ended up with a son! A son who just decided to see how loud my new sound system will go. I'm replacing the speakers now!"
"Well, you ain't gonna believe this, but the Tribe is now an official Vulcan Clan. Cory is on the viewer right now and is calling a meeting; he needs Rusty over here as fast as possible."
"If it was anyone but Cory, I'd agree. From him or Sean I'll believe anything! Let me guess, it was more of an order, and he wants Robbie there too."
"You got it. Would you believe Johnny too?"
"Oh shit; I don't think I want to know. Nicky is over at Bri's; I'll let them know and we'll be over shortly."
"Sounds good." Just then it hit Josh what was going on. "Sonuvabitch! Get those kids over here and get all of the guys who are in Orlando over here NOW! I just realized what is up; Cory's declaring war, and he has all of Vulcan backing him!"
Curly's gulp was audible even over the cell phone. "I'll be right there with the boys. I'll get Nick and B-Rok to round up everyone else. How serious is it?"
Josh shuddered as he responded. "Put it this way, from what I've been told by the twins, it's very possible that Cory has legal grounds to turn quite a few residents of Florida into eunuchs! Need I say more?"
"That was too much already! I'm rolling!" Curly didn't even bother saying goodbye as he flipped his phone shut and ran to Brian's house next door.
As Josh hung up his end, Justy came running into the office, followed by the rest of the crew. "Whazzup, Pop?" he asked as he skidded to a stop in front of Josh.
Josh couldn't help but grin as Jamie and Jacob skidded into the back of their brother, all three falling to the floor. "For some reason I bet you already know, but Cory is calling something he called a 'Clan meeting'." Josh was shocked when Justy got a confused look on his face and the twins suddenly went into deep concentration. A few seconds later all three faces went into shock as Kyle filled them in via Kylegram.
"Pop, I forgot all about this, but when I gave my oath saying the rest of the tribe were my bros, it made us a Clan. Kyle says the Vulcan Council put Cory in charge, and now we ... uhh ... "
Aaron saw the stress on Justy's face, and walked behind him, putting his arms around the boy's chest. "Go ahead Justy, we are all in this together."
Justy shivered as he said in a small voice "Grandpa Sarek told Cory that we have to make sure everyone who did that stuff to Jeffy and Sammy is properly punished to the satisfaction of Vulcan law."
Josh looked at the suddenly sober faces of everyone in the room. "Guys, in the last week you have proved that when all of you work together things are done right. Cory has already told me that I'm basically out of this as far as the meeting, but if you need help afterwards, as long as Cory approves, I'll do what I can. He is your Clan leader, so on Clan business his final word is law."
Cory spoke up from the forgotten viewscreen. "Thanks Uncle Josh, you explained it better than I could. In reality there is one person I still have to answer to, thats Sarek. Our exact legal status is unique, we are considered a sub-clan of Sarek and were granted that status due to all of us having Earth citizenship. Justy, Jamie and Jacob are what we would call 'associate members' of the Clan; since they are Sarek's family that takes precedence. All three of them are considered liaisons between the main family and my Clan, and according to Sarek have normal rights in both. I heard the worry in your voice, Justy; you can relax some. All of us here have been doing research all afternoon; I verified our conclusions with Sarek and all but one of the men involved will be handed over to John. The last one's fate will be determined today. Uncle Josh, I'll appreciate any help you can give the guys; please try to keep it the family though."
Josh nodded at the screen. "Will do, Cory. I'll probably set the rest of the guys loose giving John local assistance while I back these guys up."
"Thanks, that'll work. How much longer do you think it'll take for Brillo-head to get there?"
Josh looked at the camera monitor, and glimpsed a Tarheel Blue Mercedes M-Class convertible tearing up the driveway. "He just flew in, as soon as the boys recover from riding with him they will be in!"
Twenty seconds later, Rusty, Robbie and Johnny scrambled into the office and pounced Aaron.
"Hey Unca Airhead!" Johnny exclaimed joyfully.
Aaron giggled at his nephew. "You been listening to your Daddy again, kiddo? When you go home tell him I said he's goin' swimmin', okay?"
"O'tay, Unca' Aaron!" Johnny giggled as he snuggled up to Aaron.
Josh shook his head as he tried to resist laughing. "They're all yours, Cory! Tell your Mom that we're gonna call her from the bedroom terminal."
"Okay, thanks again Uncle Josh."
As Josh closed the door, he heard Cory say, "Okay guys, gather around, we've got work to do..."
Cory watched as the Orlando crew gathered around the video pickup. He took one last look around the group sitting with him, ensuring everyone was still there. 'Here we go, I hope I don't screw this up.' Cory thought to himself before beginning.
"This opens the meeting of the Clan Short of the family of Sarek. Our first order of business shall be introduction and approval of new members, followed by assignment of duties to bring to justice those responsible for the wrongs done to Jeffy and Sammy. Any other business will be handled after that is completed."
Cory made the introductions of everyone on both ends, then began. "We have five new members of the group: Alec and Travis Saiz, brothers of Kelly; Gabe Michaels, boyfriend of Travis; Ricky Williamson, brother of Gabe; and Zac Hanson, boyfriend of Mark. All of you are aware of what it means to join our family, are you willing to live under our rules? This is forever, guys; no matter what happens once you say yes, you are one of us for life."
Cory looked at Alec first. "I accept." Alec answered. As Cory looked around, the rest of the boys answered the same, until he finally got to Ricky.
"Does that mean ALL of you are gonna be my big brothers?" Ricky asked in awe.
Cory smiled. "Yes little buddy, ALL of us."
"YEAH! AWESOME!" Ricky exclaimed.
Cory giggled. "Does that mean yes, Ricky?"
Ricky bounced up and gave Cory a hug. "Uh-huh! This is the BESTEST day EVER!"
Cory returned the hug, then passed Ricky back to Gabe. "One more to go; Zac, has anyone explained to you what it means to be one of us?"
Zac nodded his head. "You might say that they have; the only thing thats talked about more over here is Mark and I's first day meeting each other! I accept, and just so you know, Aaron seems to think you and Sean walk on water!"
Both Cory and Sean blushed. "I don't know about that!" Cory stuttered, then he regained some composure and continued. "Everyone has accepted the nominations, does anyone have a reason they should not join us?" Cory scanned everyones faces, both locally and over the vidlink. Seeing no signs of doubt, he announced "That makes it official, all of you are approved! Welcome to the family!"
A cheer erupted on both sides of the link. Once everyone had settled down, Cory continued. "I really hate to do this, but I have to review what happened to Jeffy and Sammy so we all have the same information." He looked over to the twins, "Guys, you might wanna cuddle with JJ and Adam, some of these guys might have questions for you as we are doing this."
The two boys moved over onto JJ and Adam's laps. To Cory's surprise, Andrew moved behind the four boys, scooted between them, and placed an arm over each pair.
Seeing Cory's look, Andrew announced "Hey, someones gotta support these two!"
Cory shot a silent 'thanks' to Andrew, then began describing what had happened. It took forty-five minutes to complete the briefing, after everyones questions were answered.
"Are you guys okay?" Cory asked Jeffy and Sammy with concern.
Jeffy gave Cory a thin smile. "Yeah; it's kinda different when you are tellin' people about it who ain't gonna make fun of ya, they just wanna help. Its still kinda weird knowin' all of ya really care about us."
Cory relaxed slightly, then turned to Sean. "Babe, you worked all afternoon on figuring out what we need to do, you mind taking it from here?"
Sean gave Cory a hug and quick kiss. "Sure, hun, I got it."
The boys exchanged places, then Sean began. "I checked up on the laws, pretty much all of the people we are after will be turned over to the Federation for trial, so we need to get as much photographic evidence as we can. The one exception is Calvin Wilson; if we get the evidence I believe we will find, he is going to go in front of an Interplanetary Tribunal by request of Sarek. I have got approval for John to assist us. Kyle, could you get your Pop?"
"Sure, bro!" Kyle exclaimed as he hopped out of Tyler's lap and ran to the doorway.
A minute later, Kyle returned with John. "Have a seat, John." Sean offered.
"Thanks." John replied as he sat in the offered chair. "What do you need, Sean?"
"Well, I managed to get the okay to have you work with us to go slime-hunting. We need to figure out how to work things so we are not duplicating each others work. Calvin Wilson is ours to make retribution to, all of the rest are all yours for Federation prosecution. I figure you will have less trouble than us going the financial trace and phone records route, while we would have less trouble gathering evidence in the back alleys of the 'net."
John scanned the faces in the room, then the faces on the other end of the vidlink. Every one of them, youngest to oldest, had a serious, determined look that would make the Pope confess to sins he didn't commit. "Okay, that sounds fine. What are your plans?"
Sean pulled a crumpled note out of his pocket. "I figure you can deal with the FBI and find out what they know. We'll scour the Net for evidence, any names we get or identities we confirm we'll pass to you, and info you get that will make our job easier you will pass to us."
When Sean paused, Aaron interjected "We'll handle Usenet and the streets here. I'm sure there are some boys out here with info. I've got staff who can do wonders tracing posts, they do it all the time for me."
Justy jumped in. "I'm gonna get Pop to give up some more land, get ready to get some temporary barracks, John. I think it's time a bunch of boys had a home again, and we can use that as an incentive to talk."
Sean placed a couple of marks on his paper, then continued. "Great idea, Justy, go for it, if you need help with your Pop give me a yell. We are going to work the web on this end, any pictures we can find we'll run through the Federation computers for a facial ID match. The only question I have is do you want us to hack and crash the sites as we find them, or do you need them up?"
John started to chuckle, but then he remembered Cory cracking the Simulator software. "As long as you give me a snapshot of the ENTIRE site tree before you crash it, it's all yours. How do you plan to keep them from just installing a backup?"
Sean giggled. "Well, after we fill their disk with Vulcan encrypted text files and lock their boot records so they can't reformat, every one of their DNS records is going to be permanently redirected to a special site I just set up, which displays the person's trace information for them. Oh, it logs the info too! If they still manage to restart, I'll set Cory loose on them."
John shook his head. "Remind me not to cross you! What are you going to do about the sites that don't have pics of the boys on them?"
Sean got an evil grin. "I'll decide that on a case-by-case basis. I know the difference between art and abuse, you can see it it the subject's eyes. Let's just say there are a lot of abusers who are getting ready to lose some profits."
"I bet there are! Do me a favor, before any of you start tearing up the Net, give me a couple of days to alert the FBI, that way they don't waste time trying to hassle you. Aaron, I think you can go ahead on the street kid angle, just don't let word get out as to what you are looking for. Justy, I'll give you a hand with your Pop, if he says no we'll get some of the property across the street."
John headed back to the office, and the boys discussed the details of the plans for twenty minutes before they decided everything was in place. After a group hug on both ends of the link, Cory broke the connection. Just as they signed off, Helen knocked on the door then opened it.
"Hey guys, supper is almost ready, go get cleaned up." Helen announced.
"Yes Ma'am." the boys chorused, as they headed upstairs to wash up.
Southcrest Ranch: Orlando, Florida:
Just as Justy was closing the call on the viewscreen, Josh walked into the room.
"Hey munchkin, what's this I hear you are giving away property now?" Josh asked with a grin.
Justy's head snapped around. "POP! I was gonna ask, really ... besides ... umm ... well ... SOMEONES gotta do something for those kids!"
Josh walked over and pulled the stiff form of his eldest son into an embrace. "That they do, son. John told me all about your idea; I'm really proud of you for just thinking about it. I also know what you guys chose as your part of the job, before you do ANYTHING that requires any of you leaving the property I need to review it. It's not that I don't trust you, but I want to make sure we have a plan in place to protect all of you. Aaron, you are in charge of the crew over here and are to report directly to Cory, okay?"
Aaron nodded his head. "Okay, Josh."
Josh turned Justy so they were face-to-face. "I think I know of a little man who has a call to make. Call your Dad, kiddo; if you can get him to agree, I'll start working on setting up a group home over by Teri's property."
Justy fell against Josh and wrapped his arms tightly around his chest. "Thanks, Pop; you're the GREATEST!"
Josh changed some settings on the viewer, then pulled Justy in front of him. "Make the call, son."
USS Enterprise, Main Bridge:
Chip was just taking his station to begin the next watch rotation when Uhura turned to the Captain. "Sir, I have an incoming call for Mr. Dodds on the Vulcan Diplomatic channel from Clan Short."
Chip turned and glanced at Spock; the twin arched eyebrows on the Enterprise's First Officer showed he was as surprised as Chip. Chip nodded to the Captain.
"On screen, Commander." Kirk ordered with a smile.
The bridge went silent when Justy's face appeared. Justy had seen the changes Josh made, and decided to follow proper Vulcan protocol. "Good afternoon, Captain. With your permission, I have a request to make of my Father."
Kirk's smile disappeared. He knew the one thing even Justy would not joke about was Vulcan protocol, and it was obvious he was not starting now. "You have my permission, Justin."
Justy turned his head slightly towards Chip's station. "Father, as a result of the finding of some very disturbing information regarding Jeffery and Samuel's previous caregivers, our Clan has been tasked by Ambassador Sarek to seek retribution for those involved. I foresee a large number of street boys needing permanent shelter as a result of our efforts, and believe the logical location for such a shelter would be on property adjacent to the Youth Services Director's residence in Orlando. Naturally, your approval of the location is required."
Chip thought for a second, then had an idea. "Justin, I know you don't know this, but I have an option on fifty acres directly across the road from Teri's new home. Have your Pop get the property and then donate it to Youth Services for the shelter. Will that work for you?"
Justy nodded his head. "That would be acceptable. I will inform Cory to make arrangements for proper accommodations. Live long and prosper, father."
Chip returned the salutation. "Live long and prosper, my son."
After the connection closed, Kirk beat Chip to the punch when he turned to Spock. "Spock, by any chance would you be able to enlighten us as to how Justy got access to that channel, and what the hell was he talking about?"
Spock turned away from the Science console, both eyebrows still arched. "It would appear that my father has invoked an archaic statute in Vulcan law. The group of youths that you refer to as 'the tribe' have been given legal status as a Vulcan Clan. More specifically, Ensign Cory is Clan Patriarch of a sub-Clan to my own family. The information I have suggests that Justin, Jacob, and Jamie are the designated liaisons between the family and the sub-Clan. In regards to the reference to Jeffery and Samuel, due to the disturbing nature of the information it requires minimal distribution."
"Understood, Mr. Spock." Kirk replied. "Call for reliefs for yourself and Mr. Dodds; meet me in the Briefing Room on Deck Seven in ten minutes. Uhura, have Dr. McCoy join us. Mr. Chekov, you have the Conn."
Cory and Sean were sitting on the back steps, watching Timmy and Ricky as they learned to control Sean's remote control monster trucks. Gabe and Travis came through the door and joined them, giggling at the antics of the two young boys in the yard.
"You know something, Cory?" Gabe asked as he took a seat and Travis snuggled into his lap, "I think this is the first NORMAL thing I've seen today! I'm glad Timmy and Ricky are getting along, from what Dad said I think Timmy might be his first ever friend."
"I know what you mean, Gabe. Things went nuts today, we all needed to take a break."
Sean wiggled in Cory's lap, then added "You missed it though, it musta took Cor and I fifteen minutes to convince Ricky that they could really play with the trucks, and that we wouldn't be mad if they accidentally broke them! I think you are gonna have to be careful with Ricky, Gabe. He's petrified about having fun, his mother really did a job on him."
"Thanks, Sean. I'll watch him, I've had lots of practice with someone else who was hiding from trouble; a very cute someone else!" Gabe gave Trav a squeeze, which cause Trav to giggle softly.
"Watch it angel, you might start getting what you asked for!" Trav giggled. "I know Alec ain't gonna get hit for me talking, so all that whining about me bein' in a shell might backfire on ya'."
"Promise?" Gabe responded as he tickled Trav under the ribs.
Trav giggled as he grabbed Gabe's hands and held them around himself. "Yeah babe. Thanks for stickin' with my sorry butt, I love you."
Gabe leaned his head forward and nibbled on Trav's right ear. "I love you too, but I'm gonna toss you in the pool if you keep talking down about yourself. Your butt ain't sorry, in fact it's really cute!"
Sean couldn't resist the temptation. "Yeah, Gabe's right Trav, you do have a cute butt!"
Cory playfully slapped Sean's head. "Watch it, teddy bear! The only butt you are allowed to look at is mine!" He then looked over at the blushing boys next to him. "But as a disinterested third party, I would have to say that they both have cute butts!"
Sean giggled and returned the slap. "Hey babe, you better stop sightseeing too! You're gonna teach our son bad habits!"
As if on cue, Timmy and Ricky noticed the additional boys watching them, and ran up to the deck. Ricky squirmed onto Trav's lap and pulled one of Gabe's arms around himself. "Big Bro guess what! Sean's lettin' us play with his big trucks! They move by themselves and everything! They're awesome, I even gotta drive one all by myself, and I didn't break it or nuthin!"
Gabe looked over Trav's shoulder at the bubbling six-year old on Trav's lap. "I saw that lil' bro; you looked GREAT out there! Are you having fun with your new friend?"
Ricky giggled. "Yeah, but he says we get to play with toys ev'ry day. I think he's lyin'."
Trav wrapped an arm around Ricky. "He's not lying, Ricky. Welcome to the closest thing to Heaven on Earth. My old home was kinda like yours, I couldn't do nothing. You and I got a lot to learn; around here if you don't play and have fun one of the guys is gonna sit down with you and ask whats wrong."
"Wow!" Ricky said in awe. "Whaddabout if I mess up?"
Cory had been listening quietly, and decided to answer. "Ricky, it matters what you mess up. If you just goof up a little, someone will tell you what you did, why you shouldn't do it, and then ask you not to do it again. That would be something like you and Timmy leaving the trucks outside all night. If you break something on purpose or something else bad like that, then you will get in trouble. You only get punished around here AFTER you do something bad; I don't know about your new mom and dad, but our mom says the only way to learn sometimes is to get in trouble. If someone tells you it's okay to do something and you don't think so, ask another one of us. Anyone who tries to get you to do something that will get you in trouble will have to deal with Sean and me; Timmy can tell you what that means, can't you kiddo?"
Timmy giggled. "Yeah! Daddy and Poppa are BAD when they are mad at someone! They make Gran'ma look nice!"
"I heard that, squirt!" Teri giggled as she walked out and handed the phone to Cory. She ruffled Timmy's hair as she continued "I'm your Grandma, I'm supposed to be nicer than those mean old Daddies you have!"
"Thanks for the support, Mom!" Cory groaned as he took the phone. "This is Cory."
"Hey Cor, it's Justy."
"Hey, wazzup bro? Mark and Zac driving you nuts still?"
"Naw, they're down to getting mushy about once an hour now. I thought you might wanna know I talked to Dad."
"You talked to Uncle Chip? What about?"
"I called him about getting some property to set up a shelter for the street kids and any kids we rescue, goofball! DUHHH! Get that little blond brain cell working again!"
"Hey, give me a break, I'm spending quality time with my family! What did he say?"
"Him and Pop slipped one by me. They had an option to buy fifty acres across the road from you guy's new house. Pop just signed the papers on it, it's ours to use, the only thing is it's not temporary. Dad and Pop donated it to Youth Services, Pop says that means it's Starfleet property, so even the FBI can't touch kids once we have them there!"
"Awesome! What are we going to do about buildings, though?"
"I've got that handled too! Somehow Grandpa found out about our plans, and Starfleet received a 'request' from the Vulcan Embassy to provide modular housing for the new Youth Services campus. I'll put it this way; four cargo shuttles just flew by here heading that direction."
Cory giggled. "Yeah, it's amazing how fast Starfleet moves if Ambassador Sarek makes a request! May I ask how he found out?"
It was Justy's turn to giggle. "Well, since I'm one of the liaison's between the Clan and our family, I figured it was only right to inform Grandpa of our progress! He actually said your planning ahead was impressive!"
"Great! One thing though, shouldn't it be me reporting to him? I don't want him to think I'm slacking off."
"Yeah, I thought of that too. I asked Pop, he said that for normal stuff like this either me or my brothers are supposed to handle it; Vulcan protocol assumes you have better things to do. While I was talking to Grandpa I told him this wasn't covered in my training and asked him to clarify the proper procedures; he said the last time the statute which gave us Clan status was used was 247 Vulcan years ago. The accepted practice at that time was the liaison handled status reports and requests to the host family; the Clan patriarch only made contact for official functions or to report completion of a task assigned by the family patriarch. He wishes to follow those precedents unless he sees a logical reason to change them."
"The scary part is that makes total sense, in fact I would even say it's logical. Are you guys gonna have any problems with doing that?"
"Naw, no problems here. Uncle Spock taught me that whatever station you have in Vulcan society comes with responsibilities. Besides, I'm doing something no one's done in over 200 years, how kewl is that!"
"You gotta point there! Hey, I didn't get a chance to ask earlier, how's Jacob and Jamie doin'?"
Justy began giggling again. "Pretty good, Pop is threatening to put a lock on the 'fridge to keep them out; I think they're trying to make up for lost time! I think they are just starting to realize that Pop and Dad are serious about them becoming a full part of our family. They tried to sleep in their room for the first time last night, they made it a whole hour before they came in my room. Pop had to explain to them this morning that they were not in trouble for coming back in my room; he just wants them to try to get used to their beds. He told them not to worry, he knows it's gonna take some time."
"I'm glad they are eating! Keep it up, you are the best thing that has ever happened to those two, Justy. If you need any advice, remember we're all here for ya' bro. Don't forget Mark, he's learned some from Dan when we were back at the home. I'm sure he'll help you if you ask."
"Thanks, Cor, I'll remember that.Is Timmy doin' okay?"
"Yeppers, he's keepin' busy showing Ricky what it's like to be a kid! He kinda sat around after Johnny left, but as soon as Ricky walked in the door he's been all over the place!"
"Sweeet! We got a Kylegram about what Ricky had to live like, I think Timmy is just what he needs. Oh, Jamie said to warn you; he thinks Timmy and Ricky are gonna be like you and Sean, going by what he's read from your minds and what Kyle read from theirs! Kyle can't go as deep as my bros can, so he has no idea what you two were like at that age."
Cory chuckled. "Thanks for the warning! I better go, Mom is standing here looking impatient. Talk to ya' later bro; you've done a great job!"
"Yeah, I better go too; Aaron is sitting here shooting spit wads at me. He's SOOOO dead! Later!" Justy then hung up the phone.
Cory hung up his end, then turned his head towards Teri. "Hey mom, I got some news for you! You got somewhere besides here for rescued kids; the modular buildings are going up right now on the fifty acres across the road from our new house. Oh, Uncle Josh is threatening to put a lock on the 'fridge to keep the twins out too, I guess they've decided to eat now!"
Teri shook her head as she took the phone from Cory. "You guys are amazing. Every time I turn around you slip in something new! I'm just glad you're on MY side! While I'm out here, you guys got about forty-five minutes before time to come in. The rest of your tribe has started on their showers; the tutors that Dan arranged for are coming tomorrow morning so it's an early night for all of you. Helen is going to have a snack ready for all of you for after everyones cleaned up. The Rec room is going to be your classroom, so you all have to sleep upstairs tonight." Teri turned to Gabe, Trav, and Ricky. "Gabe, Ricky; your Dad decided to pull you out of school and have you join the rest of the boys here. Until we move to Orlando, him and your Mom are going to move into Tyler's old house down the street. It's up to you, but he said if you want you can stay here with the boys while they handle getting things moved."
Gabe was the first to answer. "Thanks Teri, if you don't mind I'd really like to stay here with Trav for a while, he needs me." He couldn't help but giggle when Trav responded by wiggling in closer and purring. "See! There ain't no way I'm gonna leave my cuddly kitty alone!"
Teri smiled at the pair. "Your Dad, Mom, Dan, Helen, and I talked it over and we agree with you. Right now the best thing for both of you is time together, and we're not going to force you apart. Ricky, what do you think? Would you like to visit over her for a few days while your Mom and Dad move into their new house?"
Ricky looked down at the ground and mumbled. As Teri was about to ask him to repeat himself, Kyle came running out the door, still wet from his shower and totally nude. He rushed in front of Ricky and knelt down.
Teri was about to scold Kyle and send him in for clothes when he looked up at her. "Mom ... sorry, I mean Teri ... Ty and I have been keepin' an eye on Ricky's head today. I gotta talk to him so he ain't scared."
Teri smiled at the budding psychic kneeling in front of the tribe's newest member. "If it was urgent enough for you to forget a towel, I'll let you slide this time. One condition though; if you really want to call me 'Mom' I expect you to do it. That goes for ALL of the boys!"
Kyle jumped up and gave Teri a tight hug. "Thanks ... Mom!" He then returned to his spot in front of Ricky.
"Hey little buddy, you wanna talk about what's scaring you?" Kyle asked in a small voice.
Ricky barely shook his head 'no' as silent tears began seeping from his eyes.
Since he already knew what the problems were, Kyle pushed on. "Did you know that sometimes I pee the bed at night? You can ask Cory and Sean, one night I pee'd all over both of them and my big brother JJ! They were really cool, nobody made fun of me at all."
Ricky raised his head slightly and whispered loudly "What about evr'one else, they'll laugh."
Gabe put two and two together, and responded quickly. "Little bro, if you pee the bed and someone makes fun of you they gotta deal with ME!"
"Me too! I'll kick their butts!" Travis added.
Sean ended the discussion of who was going to do what quickly. "Hold on guys, you know the rules. You get what's left after Cory and I get done with them. Trust me, there won't be anything left; in this house nobody is allowed to make fun of someone else for something they can't control."
Ricky took a quick glance at the faces around him. Satisfied that they were serious, he muttered "But I'm 'posed to be locked in a little room at night, there ain't no little rooms with locks here. My room's gotta have padlocks on it."
Steam began shooting out of Teri's ears as she digested the young boys' statement. "Ricky, you will NEVER, EVER, have to sleep in a room like that again! Good little boys like you don't sleep in little locked rooms, they sleep in beds in big rooms. If they get scared, they climb in bed with their Mommy and Daddy or their big brother! If that's the kind of CRAP your old mother taught you, I want you to forget EVERYTHING she ever said or did! If you are not sure about something, ask one of the grownups; your old mother lied to you a lot, and within the next fifteen minutes I PROMISE all of the adults will know what she did. NONE of us will think your questions are dumb, we all know you have to re-learn whats right." Teri spun around to Cory and Sean. "Boys; I expect you to brief everyone before bed tonight. That includes EVERYONE in Orlando, have Josh fill in anyone who is not there, including your Grandma." She turned and stormed into the house, yelling for all of the adults to meet in her office before the door was even closed.
"See! I made Teri mad!" Ricky whimpered.
Without a word being said, Trav scooted to one side so that Gabe could pull Ricky up to his chest. "Hey little brother, do you still trust me?" Gabe asked softly.
"Yeah." Ricky answered with a questioning look.
Gabe kissed his cheek, then continued. "I'm not gonna lie to you, ever. Yes Teri is mad, but it ain't at you. She's mad at your old mommy, 'cause your old mommy did a bunch of bad things. You remember telling Dad you wanted to be like a real kid?"
"Well, real kids don't get locked in little rooms to sleep. Real kids have their own bed; and they get to stay over at their friend's houses sometimes. Real kids mess up sometimes, real kids get in trouble sometimes, and real kids have fun most of the time. Some real kids are super lucky and they have a big brother who loves them. Do you still want to be a real kid?"
Ricky flipped around and hugged Gabe tightly. "YES! Do you still wanna be my brother?"
Gabe kissed both of Ricky's cheeks before answering. "Yes, I still wanna be your big brother, forever. Whadda you say we go in and ask if you can stay here too, since you didn't get a chance to answer earlier."
"Yeah! Thanks Bro!"
As they started to get up, Kyle stopped them for a second. "Ricky, I wanna save you getting embarrassed later. I can kinda read minds, that's how I knew what was making you worry earlier. I know you had to sleep naked, and I wanted you to know it's okay to sleep like that here too, as long as you put on shorts if you leave the bedroom. In fact, don't be surprised if a lot of the guys are doing the same thing, okay?"
"You mean I get to sleep with ALL of you!" Ricky exclaimed.
"Yeppers, lil' buddy. Just as soon as we are all cleaned up. Let's get going, I think Helen was baking some brownies for our snack!"
After the four boys disappeared through the doorway, Cory pulled Sean and Timmy back onto his chest. "Dang, I thought Mom was gonna rip Kyle's head off for coming out here naked! I guess she thought his reason was good though, from the sounds of it Ricky's old mom is gonna have a very rough night!"
"That's an understatement!" Sean giggled.
"Daddy?" Timmy asked meekly, "Can Ricky cuddle with me t'nite? I promise we'll be good!"
Sean nuzzled his son's head. "You know he might pee in his sleep, don't you buddy?"
"Yeah Pop, it's okay. That means we getta wash each other in the bath again!"
Cory couldn't hold back his giggles as he replied "It's fine by me, son! It looks like you two are gonna be great friends!"
"Thanks, Daddy!" Timmy then hopped up and began yelling as he ran through the house. "YIPEEEEEE! Ricky, GUESS WHAT! We get to cuddle together tonight!"
"Were we THAT bad?" Sean giggled as he stood up.
"Why you asking ME, goofball?" Cory replied with a grin. "Remember, I LOST my memory! DUHH! C'mon, let's grab the trucks for the boys, we better head upstairs before the tornado causes any damage!"
The two boys stopped by the office on their way through. As they walked in the door, they heard Teri on the phone.
"Thank-you, Sergeant. Please note on your report that he is in Federation custody under the Safe Haven Act. Have a good night."
"Whats up, Mom?" Sean asked.
Teri looked up at her sons. "That was the officer that raided Ricky's old house earlier today. They detained her on drug charges, but it looks like false imprisonment, child abuse, neglect, and child endangerment will be added. He had noticed that the boy's bedroom was locked, and it was too clean with only a couple of toys. The laundry room, on the other hand, had two padlocks on it and a crib mattress on the floor in the corner. The room has no windows, and was the only room in the house that smelled like pee. After Ricky's statement outside, we were able to put things together; she was locking Ricky in the laundry. The bedroom was just for show to keep CPS happy; I'll bet Ricky has never even been in that room. Since Ricky made those statements in front of me and two Starfleet officers, it's considered an open and shut case."
Both boys stared at Teri in shock for about thirty seconds before either could speak.
"Mom," Sean stated, "I want everything out of that bedroom, even the carpet if you can get it. Ricky may have never used the stuff before, but it's his and he is definitely going to get to use it now."
"We mean EVERYTHING, Mom!" Cory added. "Lights, furniture, toys, even down to the nails hanging pictures on the walls. If there's anything special done to the walls, I want them too. That room is to be stripped, and if anyone argues tell them you are under orders of the Patriarch of Clan Short. If they still argue, I'm sure a call from the Vulcan Embassy will change their mind. Ricky might not know it, but that room's contents belong to him, and he WILL have the chance to enjoy it."
"Oh shit." John muttered as he stood up and joined Teri. She was about to reply when he held up his hand. "Hold on, Teri. I hate to say it, but you were not being asked that by your son; that was an official request from a sub-Clan of the most powerful family on Vulcan. I'll take it from here, it's more in my field than yours."
John faced Cory and came to attention. "Cory, Federation Security has received your request. Arrangements have been made to provide additional space in the dwelling being constructed in Orlando for Ricky and his caregivers to reside in. Would the relocation of the articles in question to that location be suitable?"
Cory had came to attention when John did. "Commander Martin, the arrangements you suggest will be acceptable. The room is to be shared by Ricky and Timothy, ensure allowances are made for their habitation requirements."
"As you wish. Live long and prosper, Cory."
"Live long and prosper, Commander."
Once they both relaxed, John waved the boys to have a seat. "Guys, we just ironed this out today, so if you see any problems let us know. They hadn't started on the pool yet for the house, so it wasn't too big of a deal to change it from an outdoor pool to an indoor pool. We figured that most of the time if you guys want to swim outside you are either going to be at Chip and Josh's or across the street at the Shelter. What we did was change the pool so it added a wing to the house, then added a wing of bedrooms above the pool. After the teachers leave tomorrow, we need to all sit down and decide who is getting which room, that way Teri and Helen can begin placing furniture. Besides, with all the nudists around here, you can skinny-dip all you want with an indoor pool!"
Both boys giggled at his last comment. "Thanks, John." Sean replied. "I was kinda wondering how that was gonna work. We'll prepare the guys tonight; I know the couples will want to share a room, but our token straight brothers will still need to decide. Did you plan a room for Andy?"
"Of course, he's one of your tribe, isn't he?" John chuckled.
"You've got a point!" Cory chuckled. "We better get going, Timmy went upstairs with Ricky and Gabe; who knows WHAT he's getting into!"
"He's definitely YOUR son!" Teri grinned. "He's acting like his parents more and more every day!"
"Thanks a lot, MOM!" both boys chorused as they headed for the door.
Cory and Sean almost collapsed in laughter when they walked up to the bedroom door. Taped to the door was a note scrawled in red marker: "No Clothes Beyond This Point!".
"Well, I guess we better not break the rules!" Sean giggled as he began stripping.
"Yeah, I don't wanna get in trouble!" Cory replied as he dropped his shorts.
Once they were both suitable disrobed, Sean opened the door and they walked in. All of the boys in the room were nude, laying in various positions on the floor watching Peter Pan on the television. Cory looked around the room, then asked "Where's Timmy?"
JJ turned on his side and answered. "Hey Cor! Timmy decided to join Trav, Gabe and Ricky in the shower! None of us felt like warning them what they were getting into when they agreed, so this should be interesting."
As if on cue, Timmy and Ricky came running out of the bathroom hand in hand, still soaking wet. They were followed by Gabe and Trav, towels in hand. "Hey you two!" Gabe ordered, "Stand still until we get you dried off!"
"You heard Gabe!" Cory said, trying to keep a straight face. "I expect two DRY little boys when we get out of the shower!" He then grabbed Sean's hand and drug him into the bathroom. Once the door was closed, Cory released his giggles. "I see Timmy is already corrupting Ricky; those two are gonna be a handful!"
"If that's corruption, Timmy can keep it up!" Sean replied. "After what that boy has lived through, he deserves some silly time.
The two boys climbed into the shower, and after some very thorough washing of each other's bodies, they dried off and returned to the bedroom.
They walked out to find Helen setting a plate of brownies on the desk, Carrie having just sat down a pitcher of milk and a pile of plastic cups.
"Kelly, please call me in the office when you guys are done with these. There's no reason for any of you to get dressed just to bring the leftovers down."
"Sure Mom, thanks!" Kelly replied.
As they turned to leave the room, Carrie turned back around and scanned the boys sitting comfortably with each other. She smiled as she said "Ever since we realized that you were gay, Gabe, I've went to sleep worrying if you were going to be okay. Tonight I'm going to sleep in peace for the first time in a long time; I don't have to worry because I know you are with a group of boys who understand and will look out for you. Thank you, each and every one of you; you are truly very special boys, and I know that both of my sons are in good hands." She came back in the room and kissed Gabe and Ricky on their foreheads. "Pleasant dreams, guys."
Once they had left, the boys attacked the brownies, then sat down as Sean performed his duties as Clan historian, filling in the new members on everyone's history and updating them on the information about Ricky. The mood in the room brightened when Cory took over and discussed the arrangements being made in Orlando for the boys' rooms. He saved the arrangements they had made for Ricky for last.
Cory picked up Ricky and sat him on his lap. "Ricky, did you ever get to go in your bedroom at your old house?"
Ricky snuggled into Cory's chest. "I got to once, when some lady came over to ask my old mommy if I was okay. After the lady left, my old mommy locked it up again."
"Did you like the stuff that was in there?"
"Yeah, but I couldn't touch nuthin. She said I'd break it."
"I thought so. You know, even though she never let you have it, all of that stuff is yours. I talked to John, he's gonna get all of it for you, and put it in you and Timmy's bedroom in the new house in Orlando. You and Timmy can touch, play with, and do whatever with it and not get in any trouble. Is that okay with you?"
"Really! Wow, thanks Cory!" Ricky responded as he gave Cory a big hug. Suddenly, he realized what Cory had said. He leaned back and gave Cory a curious look. "You said TIMMY's and mine! Are you gonna let Timmy visit me?"
"I'm gonna do even better. If its okay with you, Timmy and you get to share the bedroom, both of you will live there."
Ricky looked over at Timmy, the huge grin on Timmy's face answered any questions he might have had. "AWESOME! Thanks Cory!" He bounced off of Cory's lap and ran to Timmy. "We get to share a REAL bedroom! Your Daddy is AWESOME!"
Cory watched as the two boys embraced in celebration. 'I hope Jacob and Jamie are right.' he thought. 'Both of them deserve to find what Sean and I have.'
After Helen left with the empty plate and pitcher, the boys cycled through the restroom one last time before bed. Cory and Sean were the last ones out. As they stood at the doorway looking over the expanse of boys laying sideways on the bed, Sean commented "You know, I really don't know how we became responsible for these guys, but I'd do it all again just to see this."
"I agree, Babe." Cory replied. "No matter how bad things get, we always have them to count on. Let's hit it, it looks like Timmy saved us a spot."
Austin had decided to stay over in case he was needed in a hurry, and accompanied Teri in her nightly rounds. He had to muffle his laughter when they reached the boy's bedroom and saw the sign on the door. "Should I ask, or do I even want to know?" he chuckled.
Teri smiled. "They are definitely an unique collection of boys. I kind of expected this when I saw JJ checking the setting on the thermostat, prepare yourself to see something that no artist could ever capture; the innocence and love of youth."
They quietly stepped in the room, and looked over the boys on the bed, their innocence accentuated by the moonlight streaming through the windows. Starting at the headboard, Alec, Kelly, and Andy had drifted into a three-way cuddle in their sleep; arms and legs tangled with each other. Next in line were JJ and Adam, Adam laying over JJ's chest. Tyler and Kyle were next, holding each other tightly. Teri was pleasantly surprised to see the next pair; Ricky was laying almost on top of Timmy, holding him like he was never going to let him go. Cory and Sean were next, Cory holding Sean protectively. Next in line was Gabe holding Travis, and the line was completed by the twins; Sammy and Jeffy in their normal tangle.
They stood for about ten minutes, just watching the boys, then quietly left the room. "No matter how bad my day has been, that makes it all worth it." Teri said with a smile.
"I agree." Austin replied as they separated and headed to bed.