Dan smiled as he looked around the pool. Sammy and Jeffy were fitting right in, pouncing unsuspecting adults without warning. Timmy, Robbie and Johnny were becoming inseparable; as the three youngest boys in the group they had found security in numbers. For the first time in days, Sean and Cory were just being kids. It had taken threats of bodily harm to do it, but they finally relented and allowed John and Dan to watch Timmy so they could play.
Teri came walking out of the house carrying the phone. "Sean, its Coach Simmons. He wants to talk to you!"
Sean grabbed a towel and retrieved the phone from Teri. "Thanks mom."
"This is Sean. Whazzup, Coach?"
"Ahhh, so you are still alive after all! We missed you at practice, but the final game is today at 4:00 and I was wondering if you would bless us with your presence!"
Sean giggled, knowing the Coach was engaged in his usual ribbing. "Sorry about that, Coach; things went from bad to nuts this week. I'm sure I can get a ride from one of these bozos here, so yeah, that'll be no problem."
"Thanks, Sean. How's Cory doing, is his memory getting better?"
"Actually, he's doing great. If I told you everything that's happened this week you'd never believe me; but he's got back to his old self pretty much now."
"Great! I'll see you at the game. Bye Sean."
Sean handed the phone back to Teri. "Mom, I got a game at four; you think I can get a ride?"
Teri smiled. "That's the first normal thing I've been asked in a week; I'll carry you myself if I need to!"
"MOM! That'd be EMBARRASSING!" Sean groaned.
"Don't worry! Head on up and get your gear ready; I'll take care of the ride."
Sean grinned, and then headed inside to get ready. Teri walked over to Kevin to make arrangements.
Coach Simmons was walking the soccer field making sure there was no debris on it when the caravan pulling into the lot caught his eye. 'Who would be coming here in four limos?' he thought to himself. He walked off the field, and went to greet his unexpected guests.
His jaw dropped to the ground when the first limo came to a stop and Sean climbed out the back door. When a small boy followed him and all but jumped onto his side, the coach shook his head and walked over.
"Well, Sean, what happened? Your helicopter break down? The jet tied up?" he asked with a chuckle.
Sean flushed red with embarrassment. "Well ... actually, Coach, some of my family decided they wanted to watch."
Timmy interrupted. "Pappa, who's dat? Why'd he make you go pink?"
Sean ruffled Timmy's hair. "Hold on, munchkin. You'll find out in a second, okay?"
Cory had exited the limo and was now standing by Sean. "Hi Coach, sorry I missed the season, but I kinda forgot it."
Coach Simmons was about to reply when Timmy interrupted again. "Daddy, you were a bad boy. Why'd you forget?"
"Hold on, kiddo!" Coach said. "It's okay, he had a good reason. Now Cory and Sean; if you were not almost out before, you are now. You mind introducing me to the munchkin? Also, whats this 'daddy' and 'pappa' all about?"
Sean looked at his coach in shock. "Almost out already??? Whadda' you mean, Coach? Oh, yeah, the little gremlin on my hip is our son, Timmy."
"I ain't no greml'n, I'm a Mogwi! Daddy, pappa called me a greml'n!" Timmy exclaimed.
Coach Simmons chuckled. "Glad to meet you, Timmy. Sean, the reason I said 'almost out' is that the relationship between you two has been obvious for some time."
The two boys looked at each other in confusion. "How's that?" Cory asked.
"Things like what you did just now, the way you look at each other and seem to connect on a different level. Now what's this about Timmy being y'all's son?"
Timmy answered proudly. "Daddy saved me when my old Daddy got in a acc'dent. Before my old Daddy died, he made him my new Daddy."
Coach Simmons shook his head. "NOW I've seen it all, but for some reason it don't surprise me. Congratulations, guys. Sean, you better get ready." He then looked around at the rest of the people who had exited the vehicles. "HOLY SH...! I don't believe this! Cory, I thought Sean said your FAMILY wanted to watch?"
Cory giggled as he took Timmy from Sean. "Well, Coach, they ARE our family." Cory then introduced everyone to the coach and showed them to the best seats in the stands.
The game was close right up to the end, when Sean stole the ball with five seconds to go and gave a desperate kick from mid-field. The sun was in the goalies eyes, so he did not get a line on the ball until it was too late, which allowed the ball to just enter the goal in the upper right corner.
Timmy led the crowd out to the celebrating team. "PAPPA! You DID IT! You WON!"
The team had lifted Sean on top of them, and suddenly Timmy found himself being hoisted up to be with Sean. The boys settled, and went through the congratulations line before meeting by the Coach on the sideline.
Timmy had ran off to find Cory. He came back dragging Cory to join Sean, still talking constantly about the game. "Daddy, did you see Pappa's kick? He kicked it to the MOON! Dat was AWESOME!"
The entire team had heard Timmy's last comments, and combined with hearing Timmy when he ran out they were able to put two and two together. Cory stood nervously next to Sean, surrounded by a suddenly quiet group of teammates.
"I guess we were right." Kelly, who was Sean's best friend on the team, said. "Are you two gonna hug already? The suspense is killing us!"
Cory shyly brought Sean into a hug, and the team broke into a quiet applause. "It's about friggin' time; we thought you two would never figure it out!" Kelly announced.
Kelly turned as he felt someone tapping on his shoulder. "Yeah ... Holy SMOKE!"
Standing behind him were both bands, their families, Mark, David, John and Dan with their boys, and Teri with her other boys. Aaron was the one tapping him on the shoulder. "Are you trying to hint at something about my little brothers?"
"Oh Sh...! You're Aaron Carter! They're your brothers?"
Aaron laughed. "Yeppers! All their Uncles and their Aunt are behind me! Now, as you were saying ..."
Kelly blushed. "Well, all us guys kinda had a pool going as to when these two would realize they were in love. We all know they are adopted brothers, so it's not like incest or anything."
Aaron shook his head as he looked at the boy. "Who won the pool?"
"I did, I guessed it would be at the last game. What's the deal with the kid calling them dad and pop though?"
Aaron looked around and saw the rest of the team was listening intently. "Well, Cory saved this young guy's life. Just before his father died, he gave Cory and Sean custody of Timmy, so now Timmy is their son."
Kelly looked at Aaron skeptically. "But they are kids like us, they can't be parents."
"Actually they can; they are also Starfleet officers." Aaron replied with a grin.
The entire team turned to stare at Cory and Sean. One of the boys in back yelled to the pair "Are you guys REALLY in Starfleet?"
Cory replied. "You can bet on it, Julio. We're the youngest officers EVER!"
For the next half-hour, the team circulated through the family, asking questions and making comments. To all of Sean's teammate's surprise, when the topic finally got around to autographs not only did the band members freely give theirs to everyone, but they insisted on getting the autograph of each member of the team.
Just as they were about to break up for the night, Kevin walked up and got their attention. "I've talked to your parents, and all of you are coming back with us for a victory party. They will pick you up from Sean's house later on."
Aaron was standing next to Kelly when the announcement was made, and saw the boy's head droop. "What's wrong, dude? Don't you like parties?"
"I live in a shelter." Kelly replied in an ashamed voice. "My worker will be here shortly to pick me up, and we are not allowed to be out past dark."
Aaron looked at Kelly and felt a tug at his heart. "How'd you end up in a shelter?"
"A couple years ago I started breakin' into places and bustin' up stuff inside. I got caught, and the judge decided I was uncontrollable. He took me away from my mom and put me in the shelter." Kelly's jaw was now on his chest as he mumbled the last part.
"Why'd ya' do all that?" Aaron asked softly.
"I guess I was bored. Mom was workin' two jobs, so I never saw her till late. We had fun when she was home, but she couldn't pay the bills if she didn't work."
"Do you get to see her?"
"Naw. The home says I'm not being good enough. My shrink had to force them to let me play soccer."
"What kind of work does she do?" Aaron asked, an idea brewing in his head.
"She cleans houses. She cooks good too, but nobody pays for that. I really miss her." Kelly replied, now softly weeping.
Aaron sat Kelly on the bench, and kneeled in front of him. "Kel, if I can fix it so you are able to be with your mom, would you pinky swear never to get in trouble like that again?"
"Don't tease me." Kelly replied harshly. "The judge said I'm stuck there till I'm eighteen."
Aaron looked straight into Kelly's eyes. "You swear you won't do it again, and then watch while I work miracles. I know it's hard to trust people after what you've been through; but sometimes you need to take chances for good things to happen." Aaron then held out his right hand, pinky extended.
Kelly examined Aaron's face closely, and then slowly hooked his finger around Aaron's finger. "I pinky swear that if you can get me back with my mom I will stay out of trouble."
Aaron gave Kelly a quick hug. "Thank you. Now watch, this is something special."
Aaron turned towards the limos and whistled. "MOM! GRAB YOUR TRICORDER AND COME OVER HERE!"
Teri arrived a minute later. "Hello, Kelly. How you been?"
"Fine, Mrs. Short."
"Great. What's up, Aaron?"
Aaron got a scheming grin on his face. "Well mom, it seems that Kelly has a little problem which we are gonna solve. Pull up his case; I wanna see who the judge was."
Teri accessed the records. "Judge Williamson, why?"
"Because, mom, he sentenced this young man to a youth shelter until he is eighteen for vandalism. Kelly can not even see his mother. I plan to change that right now."
"Something tells me you have more than that in mind, Aaron. What else are you planning?"
"Well, it seems his mom does house cleaning and can cook. I think I have a job for her that will give her more time with her son plus give him a chance to prove himself."
"Oh, really? And what would that job be, Airboy?"
"MOM! Actually, you need a hand around the house, and that way Dan can help Kelly work through any problems he has. Let's get to work."
Teri grinned. "I don't know who is worse, you or your brothers. I'll call Joe; if he can't do it then I'll step in. Here's Kelly's mom's number, have her meet us at the house."
Kelly watched in awe as Teri contacted Judge Lewis.
"Joe, this is Teri. Could you pull up case number 78-63902-AQ?"
"Got it Teri. What's up?"
"In your opinion, is the punishment to harsh for the crime?"
"Just a second, Teri. I'm still reviewing it." A minute later he continued. "I agree the punishment is extreme, but unfortunately it is not far enough out of line to allow a retrial. There's not much I can do about it."
"That's what I thought, Joe. Go ahead and close it out, I'm taking it as of right now. I'm invoking the Safe Haven Act - Section 17, Subparagraph 22. Unreasonable incarceration."
"Got it, Teri. He's all yours, I hope you know what you are doing. I'll see you at the party, Kevin just called me."
"Thanks Joe. Don't worry; he's gonna be in good hands - his mothers."
Just then, Kelly's social worker walked up. "Come on, McCarthy. You've been out too long already."
Teri pulled out her Federation ID. "Sorry, sir, but he's not going anywhere with you. I'm with Federation Child Services, and as of five minutes ago this boy is now a Ward of the United Federation of Planets."
John had followed the social worker as he walked toward Teri and the boys; his police sense telling him trouble might be brewing.
The social worker responded. "Like hell. Until I see the paperwork at the office, you have no claim to him." He reached out and grabbed Kelly; to his surprise the next thing he knew he was on the ground in handcuffs.
John rolled him over. "I guess you didn't understand the lady. The Federation has assumed custody of that child. Right now I have you on initial charges of assaulting a Ward of the Federation and disregarding a Federation custody order. Do you wish to add to those charges?"
The worker shook his head, deciding silence was best.
Aaron looked at the young pre-teen sitting across from him in the limo. Kelly was just a hair taller than Sean, all of it in his legs. The twelve year old had a deep tan, which went well with his chestnut brown hair and hazel eyes; eyes that were now showing panic. "Kelly, settle down bud. You've got nothing to worry about."
"What if she don't want me back?" Kelly responded as he wrung his hands. "What if she found out life is better without a loser like me around? What if she hates me?"
Aaron pulled Kelly across the limo and sat him on his lap. "Kelly, your mom was in tears when I told her she could come see you. Trust me, she misses you. The next thing I'm gonna say is not just from me, but everybody in this car. None of us better hear you call yourself a loser or anything else like that again. If you start feeling that way, let someone know, one of us will help you through it."
Kelly snuggled into Aaron's chest. "Sorry. It's just why would she want me back? I was the one that screwed up and got taken away."
Teri reached over and placed a hand on Kelly's shoulder. "Yes, Kelly, you did mess up. But it's not your fault you were taken away; the judge over-stepped his bounds when he sentenced you. If he had not, I would not have been able to release you like I did. Trust me, moms understand when their sons mess up; we only get mad when they fail to learn from their mistakes. Right now you are starting with a clean slate; what you do from today on will determine if I'm the best adult you know or your worst nightmare. You have two paths ahead of you, just ask anyone here and they will help you along the right one."
"Thanks Mrs. Short." Kelly replied, relaxed by Aaron holding him and Teri's speech. "I only have one question; how often do I gotta listen to long speeches like that?"
Teri smiled. "From me, they are rare. From Cory and Sean, they are an everyday occurrence! And you better start calling me Teri, you hear me?"
"MOM!" Cory and Sean yelled in unison.
"Busted!" Aaron giggled.
Kelly grinned. "Okay, Teri. You know, I just realized I'm riding in a limo cuddling Aaron Carter. Sean, I think you are rubbing off on me, bro. Is this a conspiracy to make me switch sides?"
"HECK NO!" Sean replied. "Why would I do that? My brothers don't need YOU as competition!"
Kelly turned his head and looked up at Aaron. "Aaron, should I take that as an insult or a compliment? I'm not sure which it was."
"Considering the source, call it a compliment. That's the closest Sean can get to telling you you're cute without Cory slapping him silly." Aaron responded with a grin.
When Sean blushed, Cory went to slap him anyway. Teri saw it and told Timmy. "Tim, control your daddy. If he slaps your pop, all three of you are going swimming - the hard way."
"Stop it, Daddy!" Timmy said as he grabbed Cory's hand. "I don' wanna swim right now. Besides, he is cute."
The limo rocked with laughter as Kelly tried to hide his blushing face in Aaron's shirt. "That's enough." Teri said between giggles. "We're almost home, and I really don't want to explain to Kelly's mom why he is blushing."
As their limo pulled in the drive, all of Kelly and Sean's teammates and all of Sean and Cory's extended family gathered in a circle around the door.
"How'd the rest'a the team beat us here?" Kelly asked.
"Easy. Kev was in charge of seating in the other limos. He could find room in a sardine can." Aaron replied with a grin.
Kelly just looked at Aaron in wonder as everyone else exited the limo.
"Well, Kelly, its show-time" Aaron quipped. "Don't worry; I'll be with you all the way. I stuck my neck out because I see something special in you, and I won't let anything go wrong now."
Kelly nervously climbed out, and as soon as Aaron was out Kelly was glued to his side, not caring what his teammates thought. They walked through the crowd to the front door, everyone quietly falling in behind them. Aaron guided Kelly towards the rear of the house and out to the pool deck.
Standing there were Anne and Kelly's mom. Just an inch taller than Kelly at five-seven, she had the same chestnut brown hair and athletic build as her son. The only difference was her eyes, a deep brown which showed the suffering she had been through for the last year. When she saw Kelly, tears of joy rolled down her face. She held out her arms and said softly "Thank you God. Kelly Joe, it's really you! Come here baby!"
Kelly broke away from Aaron and ran across the deck, falling into his mother's arms in tears. "I'm sorry mom! I missed you so bad!"
"Shhhh ... it's okay baby, everything's gonna be just fine now." She held Kelly tight, both overcome with the joy of being together once again.
Anne motioned Aaron to join her. "Aaron," she said softly, "let me be the first to say we are very proud of you. Helen told me about what happened with Kelly while we were waiting; your instincts might have just saved Kelly's future from being totally ruined. Today you have proven you are a man; you make me proud ... grandson."
Once Aaron finished hugging Anne in gratitude, she waved Teri to join them. "Teri, you have gained a fine son here. Helen and I have already discussed Aaron's surprise for you; so once her and Kelly have recovered, Aaron can do the honors. Aaron, her answer was yes, and I fully approve."
Teri looked at Aaron curiously; he just smiled and whispered "you gotta wait, mom."
About ten minutes later, Kelly and Helen separated. Kelly looked around, and found that everyone was standing watching them with smiles on their faces. "Hey everyone, look! I GOT MY MOM BACK!"
The assembled crowd cheered and applauded. Sean leaned over to Nick. "Anyone ever says anything bad about Aaron I'm personally gonna kick their butt! That is the happiest Kelly has been in a year; and its all 'cause of Aaron."
"Stand in line, little bro." Nick whispered back. "Today he has made me prouder of him than I have ever been."
Anne got everyone's attention. "Since we have such a crowd here, I want each of you to step forward when I call your name. Sean, you will be responsible for introducing your teammates. This is Kelly's mom, Helen McCarthy. Helen, it's time to meet the family." Anne then went through each person, followed by Sean introducing the team and his coach.
Once all the introductions were done, Helen reached behind her and picked up a package off the table. From the dust marks, it was obvious it had been wrapped for quite a while. "Kelly, I had got this for you for your last birthday. Unfortunately I was never able to give it to you. I saved it, hoping someday the wrong would be righted. Could you please open it, son?"
Kelly carefully took the package from his mom, and with tears flowing down his face slowly and carefully unwrapped it. Inside the wrapping was Aaron's CD Another Earthquake. Kelly embraced Helen, the CD clutched tightly in his hand. "Thank you, mom!" he whispered, tears once again rolling down his face. "I wanted this soooo bad before I got taken away; not only did you get it, but you KEPT IT for me! I LOVE YOU mom!"
"I love you too, son. You might want to listen; Aaron has something to say I think you'll like."
Aaron took his cue. "Everyone, listen up! I think we all agree Mom has been working too hard, and with a five year old grandson here now it's gonna get worse. Mom, I have offered Helen a permanent position as housekeeper and cook for here at home. When everyone moves to Orlando, she and Kelly will come along with you. Don't worry about her pay, that's my responsibility."
Teri started to argue, but Anne stopped her. "Teri, don't make me put my foot down. You need the help, and Aaron is making sure you have it. I back him all the way, any questions?"
"No mom." Teri answered meekly. She turned to Aaron. "Thanks, son, but I'm gonna get you for this!"
Aaron giggled then gave Teri a hug. "Only the best for my mom!"
"I agree!" Kelly piped up.
Helen smiled. "Why don't you spend a little time with your friends, Kelly? We have forever to catch up, but not much time before all these hungry kids start eating the chairs. Mrs. Short, where's the kitchen, I'll get started."
"Please just call me Teri, Helen. There's no need to be formal, your son is gonna be running with my boys anyways. As far as the food goes, today you are a guest; spend some time getting to know the crew, since some of them are going to be leaving tonight."
Helen started to argue, but saw the determination in Teri's eyes. "Alright, Teri, but this will be the last time. You have a family too, and it's my job to make sure you have time for them."
They were both distracted when they heard Timmy yell "Hey, KELLY - BONZAI!"
They watched as Kelly turned just in time to be hit dead-on by a pouncing Timmy. The two boys fell into the pool; when they came back up, they both began laughing as Kelly told Timmy "You'd better run munchkin! When I catch you, its tickle time!"
Teri giggled. "Looks like Timmy has accepted Kelly; the young ones only pounce people they like."
"Thanks for the warning!" Helen responded with a grin.
Helen began making the rounds of the pool as Teri and Anne got everything together for a cookout. Kevin took Helen off to the side. "You know, I think you'll find your life is going to be much different from now on."
"How's that, Kevin?"
"You might not realize it, but Aaron had more in mind than just giving you a full-time job when he suggested you work for sis. Kelly is going to need a lot of extra attention after what he went through; Aaron is counting on his bros being the support network you both will need."
"But they are so young. I'm still trying to get used to hearing Timmy call those two boys dad and pop, how can they support Kelly too?"
"Don't let their ages fool you. Those two boys are known throughout Starfleet, and are responsible for saving most of the boys here today. I really think their youth has become an advantage, they are not aware that some things are not possible, so they just do them."
"I had no idea! They seem like such normal boys right now."
Kevin smiled. "Usually they are, but put them in a situation and suddenly they surprise all of us. Chip threw a simulation at them as a joke, they ended up solving it like nobody has before. In the process, they figured out a repair to fix a bug in the ship's weapons system which is being implemented fleet-wide right now."
"Thanks for the warning, I'll watch out!" Helen said before heading off to see what else was happening.
An hour later, Sean and Cory were taking a much needed break from playing in the pool when Kelly walked up, Timmy riding on his back. "Hey, Sean! Does this belong to you?"
Sean looked over Cory's shoulder. "Yeah, he's ours! You having fun, kiddo?"
"Yeah! Kelly is givin' me horsey rides! He's a GOOD horsey!"
"Why don't you climb down here with Daddy and me; let your horsey rest a minute. We want to talk to him anyway."
"Okay, pappa. Put me down horsey!"
Kelly giggled as he placed Timmy on Cory's lap. "There ya go, Timmy. What's up, Sean?"
"Have a seat. Since you are gonna be around for a while, there's a few things I'd like to cover with you."
Kelly sat down in the lounger next to the boys. "I knew things were going too good. Okay, lay it on me." he announced with a dejected look on his face."
Cory noticed the look. "It's nothing like that, Kelly. You are a part of what the grownups call 'the tribe' now. We just wanted to give you some advance warning on a few things so you don't get surprised."
Kelly brightened up a little. "I'm not in trouble? Why do you think I'll be surprised? Y'all don't do anything weird with each other, do you?"
Sean chuckled. "No, it's nothing like that. First thing is, as Cory said we are considered a tribe by the grownups. What that really means is we look out for each other; since Aaron rescued you that makes you the newest member. If one of us screws up, the rest try to help him out. It also means if you have a problem, all of us are here for you."
Kelly looked thoughtful. "But what if I make you all mad, then you will ignore me."
Cory answered. "Kelly, Sean and I screwed up big time Thursday. We had everyone mad at us, adults and kids. Do you know what happened?"
"What? They all kick your butts?"
"No. Aaron called a tribal council, and made us talk it out in front of all the kids. Nobody could leave until it was settled with all of us. That's what we mean by everyone backs you up; Justy was ready to strangle Sean and I but he let the group settle the dispute instead. In the process, we all learned from Sean and I's mistake."
"That don't sound too bad, I guess. What if I don't agree with everyone else?"
Sean answered. "Then you let us know, and we all work it out until everyone is satisfied. Some of the guys have been through a lot worse than you, Kel. You can see it in Adam's bruises and a few of the boys' skinniness. For a couple of them, this is their first real family, so there are going to be some problems."
Kelly looked across the pool at Adam, whose bruises were just starting to shrink. "Oh, man, I had no idea! I guess I can get used to that, it's a lot better than just being told I have to do it someone else's way."
Sean smiled. "I kinda' figured you'd say that. There are a couple things you will see sooner or later that might freak you out, so I'll warn you now. Do you remember Cory and I's older brother, Mike?"
"Yeah, that stupid drunk killed him a year ago. Why?"
"Well, he kinda comes and visits occasionally. So don't be surprised if you think you are seeing a ghost; you probably are. He's the guardian angel of all of us kids here."
Kelly had a dubious look on his face, but a second later his jaw dropped. He was unable to speak, so he just pointed towards the doorway.
Timmy turned first to see where he was pointing. "Hi Uncle Mikey!" he exclaimed joyously while frantically waving his hand.
Sean and Cory looked just in time to see Mikey waving back as he disappeared."Kinda like that!" Sean said with a laugh.
Kelly shook his head in wonder. "I don't believe it! I just saw an angel standing in the doorway, and Timmy's sitting here saying 'hi' like it's nothing new!"
Sean giggled. "Get used to it, Kel. If things get rough for you he's the best friend you will ever have. Timmy has seen him work; Mikey brought Timmy's father back to say goodbye for him."
Kelly took one more look at the doorway. "Okay. I guess now I believe in ghosts and angels! How many more surprises you got for me?"
"I'll take this round!" Cory said with a giggle. "First thing is that Jamie, Jacob, and Kyle can read minds. Tyler is an empath, he can read and affect emotions."
Kelly smiled. "If you had told me that five minutes ago I would have laughed; but after seeing Mike I'm willing to believe just about anything."
Cory got serious. "The last thing is really important. We need to know now if you will have any problems with it, so tell the truth. Every kid here over the age of eight except Andy is either confirmed gay or is showing signs of being gay. The one thing we will not allow is anyone forcing someone to do sexual things they don't want to do. That includes bugging them until they give in. Until we move down to Orlando, things are gonna be kinda crowded, so chances are most of us are going to be sharing a bedroom. Since most of us are already paired off, there is a good chance you will be woke up by someone moaning as they are doing something with their boyfriend. Is that going to be a problem? If so, we'll make arrangements for you to have your own place to sleep."
Kelly thought it over. "Since I'm not gonna be forced to join in, I'll be okay. Does that mean nobody will make fun of me if I have to take care of myself?" he finished with a blush.
"Not at all, the most that will happen is someone will hand you a towel!" Sean responded with a smile.
"Kelly, I'm really glad to hear that." Cory continued. "By Monday it will just be close family left here, and I really don't want you feeling left out."
Kelly stood up and leaned over to wrap his arms around Cory, Sean, and Timmy. "Earlier Aaron told me he was getting me my mom back. He didn't tell me he was giving me a whole family! Your mom told me I was starting new; I didn't believe her then, but now I do after what you just said. Thanks guys, I now know what true friends really are."
"You just gained a whole bunch of brothers, Kelly." Sean whispered. "And every one of us is proud to have you as our newest brother."
"C'mon, Timmy; let's go find your Uncle Aaron so I can thank him too."
Timmy grinned. "Daddy, if Kelly is your brother, is he my uncle now?"
Cory smiled at his son. "He sure is, munchkin. Go on, have some fun."
"Okay, daddy!" Timmy said as he scrambled into Kelly's arms. "C'mon Unca' Kelly, let's go!"
Kelly giggled. "Now THAT is gonna take getting used to! Seeya in a few!"
Cory waited until Kelly and Timmy were out of hearing before quietly asking Sean "Do you think he's really gonna be okay?"
Sean snuggled down into Cory's chest. "Yeah, now that he's with his mom again I think he'll be fine. He's just gotta lot to learn."
The two boys had just fell asleep when they were rudely awakened by a small wet body hopping onto their laps. "Daddy, Pappa, wake up! Gran'ma's cookin' and I'm hungry; but she said I gotta wait!"
Cory shook the cobwebs from his head as Sean groaned from the interruption. The smell of hamburgers, brats, and hot dogs on the grill assaulted his nose. "You know what, that does smell good. Let's all go over and see if we can sneak a snack." Cory said with a grin.
The three boys walked towards the grill. They were about five feet away when Anne turned around waving a large fork. "We told Timmy he has to wait, that goes double for you two! Unless you want to have to use a pillow when you sit for the next month, I'd advise you find something to do until there is enough food cooked for everyone to start eating."
"But Grandma, our son is starving to death!" Cory tried.
"Nice try Cory, too bad it's not going to work." Anne responded with a smile. "Why don't you round up the tribe, and Sean you round up your teammates; tell them to wash up and get shirts on. Dinner is almost done."
Cory picked up Timmy. "Sorry kiddo, but your Grandma Anne has a weapon. Why don't you go find Johnny and Robbie. Tell them to have their daddies get them ready to eat, then you hurry up and come back here; we'll get you ready."
Timmy gave Cory a quick hug. "Okay daddy. I'll hurry."
A few minutes later, all the boys were fighting for position around the grill. Helen saw the situation could get ugly, and put two fingers in her mouth to emit a shrill whistle. "Alright you savages! Here's how it's gonna work. I want a single line, youngest first. Timmy, Johnny and Robbie; you can each pick ONE parent to help with your food. The rest of you be patient, there is enough to go around."
Timmy grabbed Cory, Robbie grabbed Brian, and Johnny grabbed Nick before the three youngest boys wiggled their way to the front.
Everyone filled their plates and found seats around the pool to relax and eat. Once they all finished, Kevin stood up and got their attention.
"Unfortunately, some of the guys are going to have to leave tonight. We all discussed it and decided you kids deserve one more night together before we all head back. I want to thank and congratulate all of Sean and Kelly's teammates; you guys are great. Coach, if you wouldn't mind watching the team we have some quick family business to take care of. Chip contacted the Enterprise and has a holographic camera set up in the rec room. I want everyone to get cleaned up so we can record this family get-together forever. Helen, Kelly, Andy, and Mark that includes you too."
All the family migrated into the rec room, where Anne ensured they were arranged exactly how she wanted them. "Sean and Cory, sit on the couch with Timmy on your laps. Aaron; you and David sit to the right of them with Johnny on your laps. Adam and Tyler sit to the left. JJ and Kyle sit at Cory's feet, Jeffy and Sammy sit at Sean's feet. Justy, sit next to Adam with Jamie and Jacob on your lap. Rusty, Robbie, I want you two to sit at Justy's feet. Andy, Kelly, and Mark stand behind the couch, and no hiding behind anyone.
"What about me, Grandma?" a voice said from nowhere.
Anne looked around. "Well Michael, if you would be kind enough to become VISIBLE I might let you stand behind your brothers!"
Cory giggled. "Dang, even as a Saint he STILL gets in trouble!"
Mikey appeared and glided over to the back of the couch. "It's all y'all's fault; you are being a bad influence on me."
Anne placed the adults around the group of kids, then set the timer on the camera and took her place in the center rear of the group. A few seconds later, the camera beeped and ejected a mini-disk.
Anne checked the viewer to make sure she approved of the picture, then pressed a button. The camera ejected more copies of the picture, which she immediately put away. "I'll pass these out later as soon as I get some mini-projectors for them. Thanks to all of you, this week has made my life and my family complete."
All the boys returned to the pool, and in no time they had a game of water tag going. As parents started showing up to pick up their sons, each of the teammates made sure they thanked Aaron, Sean, Cory, and even Timmy for the party.
Later that evening, the goodbyes started. First to go were Aaron, David and Mark. They were heading to Southcrest to get a room ready for Jamie and Jacob, so Chip arranged for the Enterprise to beam them directly there. A half hour later Lance, Matt, Howie, Chris, AJ, and Joey headed for the airport to catch flights home.
All of the adults that were left went into the dining room, except for Justin. Justin sat next to Rusty and gave him a hug. "How you doing, kiddo? It's about time to check your sugar again."
"Okay, Dad." Rusty smiled as he returned the hug. "Thanks for lettin' us stay one more night."
"Thank your Uncle Kevin; it was his idea to give you guys one more night together. I was just the first to agree."
Justin pulled out the tricorder and checked Rusty, made some adjustments, then administered the nightly dose of insulin. "Okay, you're all set. Have fun tonight!" Justin then headed out to join the rest of the adults.
"Okay guys, movie time!" Sean announced. "What sounds good?"
"GREMLINS!" Timmy shouted with glee.
"YEAH!" Robbie chimed in.
Sean looked around the room. "Whadda you think guys, should we watch that first?"
Kelly was unsure if his vote mattered, but answered softly. "I'd like that, not that it matters."
JJ reached over and rubbed Kelly's shoulder. "Kel, you are one of us. Your opinion matters just as much as mine or Cory's. I agree with you, that movie is great."
Cory grinned."Okay, what do you think Justy?"
Justy gave a huge grin. "I wanna know why Timmy's called Gizmo! If we have to watch the movie to find out, I'm all for it!"
With the first movie title settled, Sean pulled out the DVD and they all settled down to watch it. By the time it was over, every boy there was in tears from laughing at Timmy's impressions of Gizmo as the movie played.
"Okay guys, lets get the nest ready." Cory announced. "How's Never-Ending Story sound for the next movie?"
Everyone approved of his choice, so he found the DVD while they retrieved the blankets and pillows to build the nest. Once everyone was settled, Cory started the movie and settled in next to Sean and Timmy.
Later that night, Teri was making her rounds shutting off lights and looked into the rec room. She couldn't help but smile at the pile of sleeping boys in the center of the room. Instead of their normal separation into couples, they all were cuddled into one big pile, even Kelly and Andrew were cuddled into the group. She quietly slipped in and pulled covers over the boys, then dimmed the lights and headed to bed.