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Sean started to get everyone in position on the other side of the room. "Hey munchkin, No one can be carrying you during the transport, so I need you to stand beside Lance for a few minutes. Okay?"
"He's blind." Lance explained has he gently set Greg down in the position next to him that Sean had indicated.
Cory looked around at his group. "Is everyone ready?"
After getting nods from everyone, Cory took out his communicator. "Terra Main, this is Clan Short. Requesting 6 to transport directly to the Clan Short CIC."
A few moments later, the communicator that Cory was holding crackled to life. "Clan Short, this is Terra Main. Confirming request to transport 6 from your location to Clan Short CIC. You are first in line. Ready to transport on your command."
Cory smiled. "Thanks Terra Main! Energize!"
A few seconds later Brent, Lance, Greg, and Eric found themselves engulfed in columns of shimmering light along with Cory and Sean as they slowly faded away to begin their new life.
Evan woke up to the feeling of a soft breeze blowing across his face. He still had his eyes closed and was still half asleep as he started to get his bearings. His neck was stiff, and it felt like something was poking his back. He opened his eyes to see that he still had his arm protectively around his younger brother as they both lay under some small shrubs near the edge of a clearing in the middle of nowhere. It was at that moment that everything came back to him that lead him and his brother to have fallen asleep in this spot. He didn't have long to think, however, as he heard his younger brother moan slightly and start to wake up as well.
Haden gasped as he pushed his older brother's arm away and sat up looking around. "It wasn't a dream?"
Evan shook his head and sighed, "The bastard finally did it." His voice cracking slightly as he could still see the nail marks in his younger brother's neck.
Haden's eyes started to tear up as he looked down toward his lap and softly started to sob.
Evan lovingly wrapped his arms around Haden and held him tightly. "Don't worry little bro, I told ya I would always look out for you even if HE wouldn't, and I don't plan to stop now. We'll find some way through this."
The two young boys said there at the edge of the clear for several minutes until finally Haden looked up at his older brother. "What are we going to do Evan?" Haden sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve and tried to clear some of the tears away.
The older boy thought for a few moments before he replied, "I think the first thing we need to do is find something to eat. I don't know about you, but I'm kinda hungry." As if on cue, Evan's stomach rumbled which caused both boys to smile slightly.
"Come on!" Even said as he stood up with a slightly lighter mood, and both boys headed out into the clearing in search of something to fill their empty stomachs with.
The light humming sounds of the transporter effect could be heard as 6 shimmering columns of light appeared in the center of a large square room filled with several wall sized screens, and various computer equipment on each of the sides. A few moments later the sparkles of light started to fade, they were replaced by the forms of Brent, Lance, Greg, Eric, Cory and Sean.
Even before the final visible sparkles had gone away, Lance already had his hands flinging up into the air! "Wow! That was wicked cool! You could feel the tingles and everything!"
"I think that's the first time I've heard anyone refer to the transporters as wicked cool." Cory grinned as he quickly glanced around to make sure everyone had arrived safely.
"I don't know, I seem to remember another certain blond who's reaction to his first transport wasn't to different." Sean smiled as he walked up next to Cory.
"Anyway" Cory raised his voice slightly as a clear indication that he was making things a little bit more serious. "Welcome to the Clan Short CIC guys!"
Brent took his eyes off of Lance, and the antics of his rescuers to glance around the rather large room that they had appeared in. If he didn't know any better, he would have thought that he had landed in the middle of some kind of high-tech control center. There were a few chairs and couches placed around the room, but along most of the walls were various types of computer terminals and work tables, most of which appeared to be off. On one side of the room, there were a few work men using a small lift to install one of the largest screens that Brent had ever seen.
"You guys will need to excuse the dust, we're still kinda in the process of getting moved in and everything set up." Sean added.
"Bout time y'all made it back!" A shaggy brown haired boy who was a little smaller than Brent said as he entered the room from behind them, "Y'all done nearly gave mom a heart attack with y'all rushing out so fast like that!"
"Hey Tommy, stop complaining and get over here and meet your newest brothers." Sean replied as he tried to restrain his laughter at the surprised looks of the rest of the group.
"You done went and got me kin folk?" Tommy exclaimed as he was embraced in a sideways hug by Cory so that he could still see the new guys. "Hiyas!"
"Hello" was the only thing that Brent could think of to say. He tried to think of some other comment, but his attention, along with the attention of the rest of the boys, was quickly pulled to Greg.
Greg had fallen to his knees and had a death grip on his head with his eyes clinched shut.
Lance immediately lost interest in the room and knelt down next to Greg. "Hey bud, what's wrong?"
"Hurts." This was the only word that Greg was able to get out from his soft whimpers. Already, tears could be seen starting to drizzle down from his eyes.
Cory placed his arm lightly on Lance's shoulder. "Come on guys, grab Greg, and let's get him and the rest of you to Doc Austin's office. He should be able to figure out whatever is wrong with him." Cory then looked up toward Tommy just in time to see the boy give him a nod as he released Cory and ran over to one of the communication terminals.
Lance scooped up Greg, and all the boys followed Sean and Cory as they quickly went through a large set of doors and past what appeared to be the start of a security checkpoint station. Once they went through a second set of doors, they were outside in bright sunlight walking across a grassy courtyard toward another set of buildings.
A few moments later, they were entering another building, and after walking through what appeared to be a living room that was doubling as a waiting room, they entered another room that looked like it was a cross between a small library and an office. To make the room appear even weirder there was even a rather odd looking bed that was placed against the opposite wall.
"Hi guys, Tommy just called me to let me know you were coming." A middle aged man with light blond hair dressed in a white doctors coat said with a rather cheerful sounding voice.
"Something is wrong with Greg, can you help him?" Lance asked with pleading eyes as he looked up toward the man.
"Doc, these are our new brothers that we just rescued out of a rather hostile situation." Cory answered Doc Austin's unasked question as he seemed a bit puzzled by the new arrivals.
"Gee Cory, you just can't seem to stop collecting, now can you?" The man teased as he started to look Greg up and down.
Both Cory and Shawn rolled their eyes while everyone else had puzzled looks.
"I'll see what I can do." Doc replied as he grabbed his tricorder from the table and pointed it toward the small boy curled up in Lance's arms.
"Is that a real tricorder?" Brent asked as he tried to shift his position to get a better look at the device that Doc Austin was using to scan Greg with.
Doc smiled as he started to press buttons on the tricorder to view various test results, "Yes it is. It's actually a specialized medical tricorder.
Brent got as close to Doc as he thought he could without getting in the way. "What's it telling you?"
"That there is definitely something odd with his vision that might be causing his headaches", Doc answered as he turned off the tricorder, "Go ahead and lay him down on the biobed and we should be able to get more detailed information."
"He's been blind since birth." Lance took the sobbing boy over to the bed and tried to lay him on it.
"It hurts!" Greg whimpered again, not wanting to let go of Lance.
Doc Austin brought a small hypospray over and placed it next to Greg's neck. "This should help a little."
"What are you doing go him!" Lance asked with alarm.
"It's just a mild pain reliever that should help until we get a better idea as to what is causing the problem." Doc injected the hypospray into Greg's neck, almost immediately causing the small boy to relax.
"Wow! My head doesn't hurt as much." Greg wiped a few of the tears out of his eyes.
"That's a good sign, now let's see if we can get a better idea as to what the problem is." Doc put the empty hypospray down and walked over to the front of the bed, and pressed a few buttons on the control panel. "I've just instructed the biobed to run through an entire suite of tests, so this will probably take a few minutes."
"Thanks Doc!" Sean stated, noticing that the other new arrives were too tied up in watching Greg and Doc.
Doc glanced back toward Sean with a smile and nodded.
Cory wrapped his arm around Sean and gave him a loving squeeze. "Hey babe, you think you can keep an eye on these guys while I go back to CIC and see how David, JJ, and Gabe are doing?"
"Sure thing." Sean answered as he gave Cory's hand an extra squeeze before the two separated, and Cory headed back out of the room.
Brent briefly glanced at Sean, then back toward Doc, and then toward Sean again.
Sean smiled as he noticed the concerned look on Brent's face. "It's okay Brent. You will find that most the kids you meet here are gay, and the adults are totally cool with it."
"Really? They don't get mad at you or anything?" Brent blinked in disbelief.
"Why would we get mad if our kids are happy and in a relationship they want to be in?" Doc answered for Sean as he pressed more buttons on the biobed.
Brent thought for a few moments. "I don't know. I just thought that... well.... I'm not sure."
Doc gave Brent a knowing smile before turning his attention back to the biobed. "Your parents didn't approve of you being gay, did they?"
Brent glanced down toward the ground. "Something like that I guess."
Sean jumped back in before the conversation went too much further. "Don't worry Brent, you don't have to talk about it now. Later when you meet the rest of the clan, you will understand more. But for now, just know that being gay is the norm around here. In fact, if you are straight you are considered to be in the minority."
Brent nodded as Lance moved closer to him, and hesitantly placed his arm around Brent's side while keeping an eye on Sean just to make sure it was really okay.
"Okay." Doc stated which broke the tone of the mood that was quickly forming. "There is a lot of rather odd information here, it's going to take the computer a little bit to sort threw it. Right now it can't really find anything directly physically wrong with him, but it has a lot of detailed analytical data to sort through."
"Thanks Doc, whatever you can find out would be very appreciated. To be honest, we were not even expecting this much. I thought biobeds were a reserved starfleet technology." Lance tightened his squeeze around Brent.
"It's my pleasure to be able to help. And normally your right, but you have just been rescued by some of the most powerful kids on the planet. I'm sure they will explain things to you in greater detail when you meet the rest of the clan. For now, while the biobed is processing Greg's data, how about we check the rest of you guys out?" Doc Austin smiled as he glanced over toward Eric.
Lance walked over to the biobed, and lifted Greg off the bed and into a hug. "He doesn't seem to be able to talk for some reason, and I don't think he can understand a lot of what we are saying."
"I see." Doc answered as he motioned toward the biobed, and helped Eric up onto it.
"He's actually the reason we are here. We saw him tied up to a pole in his back yard, and when we tried to free him, some guy started chasing and shooting at us with a phaser." Brent added.
Doc fought to restrain his anger as he gently pushed Eric's chest back to help indicate that he wanted him to lay down on the bed. "Well, I'm sure you guys don't need to worry about that now. Your probably in one of the safest places you could possibly be."
Knowing where Doc's thoughts were headed, Sean jumped in. "Clan Intelligence is already on it Doc. We should have a lot more answers pretty quickly, if we don't already have them."
"Thanks, we really appreciate that too. Although, I'm still not sure where here is exactly." Brent added.
"You guys are very welcome, and your actually at our main clan compound in Orlando." Sean stated as he moved closer toward Lance to get a better look at Greg.
"Orlando, Florida?" Brent asked with surprise.
"That would be the one." Sean smiled back.
"Wow! That transport couldn't have been more than a few seconds, and we went all the way from Iowa to Florida!" Brent momentarily forgot about watching Eric and was lost in wonder at Sean's words.
"Actually, you first went about 30 miles above the earth to the Terra Main station, and from there you were transported to Orlando." Sean was starting to find it hard to prevent himself from giggling.
"No way!" Brent nearly shouted with excitement.
"Careful Sean, he might never want to leave your side." Doc stated jokingly as he continued to look at some of the biobed readings.
"Oh, don't worry. I'll find ways to prevent that." Lance jumped in as he kissed the back of Brent's neck, causing Brent to jump a little, and turn his attention back toward Lance, making both Sean and Doc giggle.
"Hmm, this is a bit disturbing." Doc stated in a more serious tone.
"What's wrong?" Brent asked as he immediately became serious as well.
"Well, physically Eric seems to be fine. But I'm detecting brain utilization and power readings that are a lot lower than they normally should be for a boy his age." Doc stated as he continued to review additional information from the biobed.
Just as soon as Doc Austin had stopped talking, the door to the office burst open, and two kids with shoulder length strawberry blond hair ran in.
As Brent looked at the two boys, he could tell at once that they were identical twins. They looked like they were about 9 years old, and both of their faces were filled with millions of freckles.
"Jamie! Jacob! What are you guys doing over here? Aren't you suppose to be at school?" Sean asked with surprise.
"Sorry Sean, but Greg has been blasting every telepath in Camp Little Eagle." Jamie answered as he fought to catch his breath.
"I don't know if blasting fits. Grabbing would probably be more like it." Jacob added as he too tried to catch his breath as well.
"You guys should at least knock before you come barging in. What if I had a patient undressed in here?" Doc asked as he got weird glances from both twins.
Lance finally recovered enough from the surprise entry of the new arrivals so that he could talk. "What do you mean Greg was blasting and grabbing?"
"Greg is a pretty strong telepath but his mind doesn't know how to control his abilities." Jamie answered as Jacob walked over toward Greg and Lance.
"His mind instinctively searches and tries to pull visual information from any other mind it can, to try to make up for the lose of his own vision." Jacob added.
"And with there being so many telepaths here, I think Greg's mind basically got overloaded, as it tried to pull vision information from all of us at the same time." Jamie finished.
"You guys definitely talk like twins, but how can you possibly know all this?" Lance asked with disbelief evident in his voice.
Sean answered first. "Sorry guys, we haven't really had a chance to do proper introductions yet, but your going to be meeting a lot of really unique kids here. Jamie and Jacob are telepaths and are the head of the clan's intelligence division, which is why I was so sure earlier that we would be getting everything we needed to know about your attacker."
Lance nodded as he glanced at Jacob walking over to Greg.
"Hey Greg, we heard you and I want to try to help you, okay?" Jacob stated turning his attention toward Greg who was still tightly clenching his arms around Lance's neck. After getting a small nod from Greg, Jacob continued. "I need you to focus on me, and just focus on my voice... There ya go big guy, turn all your focus toward me, ignore all the other noise."
After a few moments, Lance could feel Greg's grip loosen.
"I can see myself now." Greg softly whispered.
"That's right. Wow, your pretty good at that." Jacob smiled.
Just then, the door to the office slammed open again as another boy about 14 years old with slightly curly blondish-brown hair ran in. "Have any of you seen.... Oh, there you guys are. And I see you already found Greg."
"Justy, you're as bad as your little brothers!" Doc commented.
"Of course Doc, someone has to teach them!" Justy smiled as he moved toward Jamie and Jacob, sharing brief glances with each of them. After a few moments, he then turned toward toward Brent and Lance. "Hi guys. I'm Justy, and I see you've already met my little bros Jamie and Jacob."
"Hi." Brent answered hesitantly, "You guys can really read people's minds?"
Justy giggled. "Yea, that's what telepaths can usually do. My little bros probably know more about you guys right now than you guys know about yourselves. But don't worry, they won't share any of the information they find unless you are doing something wrong, or planning on hurting someone."
"Can you guys help Greg?"
"We might. Right now, Jacob is helping Greg to keep his mind focused on him, so that should stop his head from getting overloaded from everyone else s signals. Doc, did you get to check on his eyes?" Justy answered as he looked up toward Doc Austin.
Doc punched a few buttons on the biobed, and slowly shook his head as he looked at the data. "I'm afraid not, it seems that Greg's optic nerves, along with a number of other key components needed to allow the brain to process visual signals never developed. We can't even do nerve regeneration since there was nothing there to regenerate from."
Justy exchanged brief glances with Jacob and Jamie again before he continued talking. "We think that we can help teach Greg's mind so that he has more control over his mental abilities, but he's still pretty young, so we are not sure just how much control that will be."
"That sounds like it would be awsome!" Brent stated.
"How about it angel? You want to let our new friends try to teach your mind how to control itself better?" Lance asked Greg as he brushed some of the hair out of his eyes.
Greg nodded yes.
"What do we have to do?" Lance looked up toward Justy.
"Jamie and Jacob will just need to take him over to the other chair. You can't hold him since your minds will be too close together, and they are going to need to be able to focus completely on him." Justy answered as he glanced toward an empty chair on the other side of the room.
"Can we watch?" Lance gently sat Greg in the chair and took a few steps back.
"Sure, but there is not going to be much to see." Justy smiled as Jamie and Jacob walked over to the chair that Greg was sitting in, and keeled down so that they were at eye level with him.
Several minutes went by while everyone in the room sat or stood in silence. Brent thought that he felt a very faint, light tingling sensation in his fingers, but quickly chalked it up to his imagination.
"Of course I can hear you." Greg said out loud, breaking the silence.
"That's good Greg, Now try using your mind to answer us instead of your mouth." Jamie replied.
"I don't know how to do that." Greg stated shyly.
"Just think of what you want to say, but instead of saying it, just pretend you were saying it to us." Jacob added.
A few more moments of silence went by until Greg once again interrupted it with a huge smile on his face. "Cool!"
"That's pretty good Greg." Jamie stated as he ruffled Greg's hair and stood up with his brother.
"That's it?" Lance asked with a puzzled look on his face.
"Told ya there wasn't much to see." Justy answered with a grin.
"So Greg is not going to hurt anymore or do any of the blasting stuff you were talking about earlier?" Brent asked.
"Some of his abilities, like visual intercepting are very strong since he's used them almost constantly since he was very young. But he's still going to have to work on all his other abilities." Justy replied.
"Maybe later we can get Kyle to sit down with Greg a bit to help him with focusing as well. He's head a lot more experience working with younger minds." Jamie stated.
"Can you guys help Eric too?" Greg asked as Lance reached down to lifted him up again.
"He's not a telepath like us." Jacob answered.
"But I could see out of his eyes really good." Greg pleaded.
Jamie glanced over toward where Eric was still laying down on the Biobed. After a few moments, he tilted his head slightly as Jacob joined him in his gaze toward Eric.
Justy glanced over toward Eric as well. "Humm, he's definitely not a normal telepath, but there is something a bit different about him."
"Different as in that he can't seem to talk?" Brent asked.
"Yeah, that's odd as well." Justy answered somewhat lost in thought. "It's like he's mostly empty. Almost like all of the events in his life have been erased up to about three weeks ago when he was first purchased."
"Purchased?" Lance's voice clearly showing signs of annoyance.
Justy nodded slowly. "I think we can help teach him some basic language skills to at least let him talk with us. But we might need one of our other brothers to help finish the job later tonight."
"If there is anything you can do to help him, that would be great." Brent stated, as he too was showing signs of disgust.
Jamie and Jacob walked closer to the biobed, and Justy walked up between the two twins, holding on to a hand from each of them.
While they waited, Brent was almost certain he could feel a mild tingling sensation in his fingers. Just as he lifted one of his hands to investigate it further, Eric sat up on the bed.
"Thank.... you?" Eric's soft 10 year old soprano voice said very hesitantly as he lifted one of his hands to feel his throat.
"Your welcome Eric, and I promise you, if my brothers ever find out who did this to you, they will pay for what they have done." Justy replied softly.
"Thanks... you... Gurg see now?" Eric said, still feeling the strange new vibrations from his throat.
"I can see through people's eyes better now, but I still can't see with my own eyes." Greg answered as he twisted himself around in Lances arms to get a better look at Eric.
"Thanks you" Eric answered.
"It's going to take Eric's head a little while to sort out all the knowledge we gave him, but over time he should be able to put thoughts to words better."
"You guys are amazing." Brent said as he reached out and hugged Justy. "You have no clue how much you've helped both of these guys today."
Justy lovingly returned Brent's hug. "Thanks, but there is still a lot of work for both of them. We are going to need Kyle to help with finishing with Eric's language skills later tonight, and Greg is still going to need a few more sessions with the twins, and possibly Kyle as well to help him with more of his telepathic skills."
"I'm not sure how long we will be here, but if we are, that shouldn't be a problem at all." Brent stated.
"From what clan intelligence has been telling me so far, you guys will probably be here for at least the next day or two." Sean jumped in.
"Okay, well I need to get these two back over to school, and I'm guessing that Eric and Greg will probably need to take a nap somewhere quiet so their brains can start to sort out all the new stuff they learned." Justy stated as he glanced toward the twins, and then back toward Eric and Greg.
"I do feel kinda sleepy" Greg commented, ad he shifted himself back around to rest on Lance's shoulder.
"Okay, that sounds good. When will we see you guys again?" Brent asked.
"You will see us after school, and you will also get to meet the rest of the clan. I'm pretty sure they are all going to be really interested in meeting you guys, especially after what Greg did with all the telepaths!" Justy grinned.
Not quite sure how to take Justy's last statement, Brent simply waved as Justy along with a somewhat sluggish Jamie and Jacob headed out of the room.
"Okay guys." Doc Austin stated to get everyone's attention back. "I would like to do biobed scan's on Eric and Greg again to get updated readings, and then get Brent and Lance up here for their scans. After that, we can let Eric and Greg sleep in the back room for a bit."
Before long, all four boys had their scans complete, and Doc lead them into another room that had two couches and a desk in it.
Once Eric had laid down on one couch, and Lance laid Greg down on the other, Doc brought in a few blankets that he used to cover each boy.
Once they were out of the room and had the door closed, Doc looked at the remaining three boys. "They are probably going to be asleep for a few hours. You guys should probably think about getting something to eat."
"That was my plan exactly." Sean stated as he got agreeing nods from both Brent and Lance. "We will be over in the main CIC building. Can you call and let us know as soon as they wake up?"
"You bet. Now you guys go eat before you die of starvation!" Doc giggled as the boys headed out of Doc Austin's office.
Brent and Lance followed Sean into the main dinning room of the CIC building to see Cory already sitting down with a lady that he assumed to be Mrs. Short, and a guy they recognized immediately as Neal.
"Neal!" Both boys shouted as they ran over to hug him.
Neal jumped out of his seat and soon found Brent and Lance on each side of him. "Hey boys, are you two okay?"
"Uh huh, This place is beyond awesome! They have a huge computer center, Starfleet bio-beds and other starfleet tech and telepaths and a giant soccer field and everything!" Brent bubbled as he and Lance were led by Neal to sit back down at the table.
Sean couldn't help but grin at the antics of the two boys, "If you guys think that's cool, just wait till you see the Olympic sized in-door pool that we have!"
Both Brent and Lance looked at each other, and then at Sean. "Seriously?"
Neal simply giggled, "I guess I should leave now and come back in a month."
"No way! I just found you, I'm not loosing you that fast." Brent stated and emphasized it by hugging Neal a little bit harder.
Teri felt it was her turn to jump into the conversation. "Actions guys, that's what we were just starting to talk about before you came in, so I'm kinda glad you got here when you did." She could see the puzzled looks on the faces of both Brent and Lance, so she continued. "You might not realize this, but when Cory, Sean, and their brothers rescued you, you immediately fell under the protection and custody of Clan Short and the Safe Haven Act."
Neal got a somewhat concerned look on his face. "So your saying that I no longer have the option of adopting my nephew? "
Teri nodded slightly. "In a manner of speaking, that's a valid possibility. With the escalation of the situation today, there are more factors that we need to look at in consideration of what's going to be in the best interest of the boys."
Cory smiled as he could see that most of this was going over Neal's head. "In English, what mom is trying to say is that you might still get to adopt them, but there are also a bunch of new possibilities that have also become available now that need to be taken into consideration."
Teri nodded as Sean couldn't help but jump in. "Gee, I guess keeping a blond around has it's advantages after all."
Brent and Lance both giggled at this as Cory pretended to strangle his brother, and then whispered something in his hear that no one else could hear, but it seemed to have the desired effect as Sean immediately shut up.
"Teri, I'm only interested in what's going to be best for the boys. If that means staying with me, then I would gladly accept that. If it would be in their best interest to instead be somewhere else, then I'm willing to accept that as well. So I'll follow your lead on this given you and your sons seem to have a lot more experience at this than I do."
Teri nodded. "Thanks Neal. That right there says a lot about you. Not many adults would be willing to look at the larger picture and accept that what they want is not always what is going to be in the best interest of the children. But there is still a lot that needs to happen and be discussed before we can really get to that answer."
Neal agreed as he looked down at the two sets of smiling faces that were looking up at him.
Lance gave Neal another squeeze and looked over toward Teri. "Mrs. Short? You said there were a number of options that you were going to discuss?"
Teri nodded and smiled lovingly toward Lance. "Yes, there are. However, since you were rescued by my sons and their brothers, I'll be treating you just like any of my other sons which means that you can call me Teri, or it you would like, you can call me mom, but you don't need to call me Mrs. Short. Okay?"
Both boys nodded.
The conversation was interrupted has Helen brought over a tray of sandwiches to the table. Teri thanked Helen and then looked back toward the boys. "As far as the different options, I'll tell you what they are, but first I think we should take a break to eat some of these sandwiches."
Lance seemed to completely forget about his question as both he and Brent started to dig into the food, not having to be told twice. This was quickly followed by Sean and Cory digging in as well. Both Teri and Neal smiled toward each other as they too decided to start eating before the living food disposals left them with no sandwiches at all.
Doc Austin had to step out of his office for a few minutes to deal with another matter that had come up. When he returned, he decided to peak in on Eric and Greg. What he saw when he cracked the door open melted his heart. Both boys were fast asleep, but at some point, Greg had crawled up onto Eric's couch, and was snuggled up next to Eric, with Eric's hand protectively draped over Greg.
Doc pointed his tricorder toward both boys briefly, before he just as carefully closed the door once again to allow the boys to finish their nap.
Brent looked at the empty tray as both he and Lance were finishing up the last bites of their sandwiches. "This were really good sandwiches Mrs... umm... I mean Teri. Thanks!"
Teri smiled and nodded. "Thanks, however Helen is the one that made them. You will have to be sure to thank her when you see her later."
"We will." Lance stated with Brent nodding his head in agreement. "So what were those options you were talking about earlier?"
Teri couldn't help smiling again as she could already start to see the similarities between how these two younger boys acted and her own sons. "Well, that's a very good question. First off, you should know that the Safe Haven Act gives me the authority to place you in a home with parents that I feel will be the most benefit to you."
"I don't know if I can take much more of the foster homes, that's kinda what we were trying to get away from." Lance stated, with his voice full of concern.
Teri nodded, "I'm not talking about putting you guys back into system. If your placed, it will be a permanent placement with parents who will care for you and love you and accept you for who you are, regardless of what that may be. That might end up being Neal, or it night end up being someone else, or if you don't feel comfortable with any of the available families, you will be able to stay across the street at Camp Little Eagle." She then waited a few seconds to make sure both boys understood what
"Plus, there is another option that you guys can think about." Cory added, which caused both boys to look at him, and then back toward Teri until they saw her nod in Cory's direction. "You could accept to become full members of the Clan."
Lance and Neal both had confused looks on their faces, but Brent's expression was more of shock and surprise.
Cory continued talking before either boy had a chance to say anything. "Before you guys answer that though, you're going to need to know what you would be getting yourself into, and I think Eric and Greg will need to have a say in it as well."
"How will we know what we are getting into?" Lance asked.
Cory grinned as he glanced toward Sean who took over. "At some point after dinner tonight, we will have a clan meeting where you will be introduced to all the rest of the guys, and learn a bit about their history, and some of the stuff that we do as a clan."
Brent was slowly recovering from his shock, as he already had a good idea about how much good the Clan had already done. "We could really become members of Clan Short?"
"If at the end of the meeting tonight, that's what you decide, then Yes." Cory gave Sean a loving squeeze as he stood up from the table. "But you guys will need to really think about it first. There is a lot of responsibility behind it, as you will see tonight."
Both Brent and Lance nodded their understanding as Sean stood up to join his brother.
"And where to you guys think your going?" Teri asked eying her older sons.
"Geez mom, you can't expect us to skip school the ENTIRE day, can you?" Cory grinned. "Besides, there are a few other things Sean and I need to check on over at camp before things finish up for the day."
"Can we go with you?" Lance asked before realizing that his question may have been out of line.
Cory nodded giving silent indication that the question was fine. "Probably not today, since there are only about 2 hours left. But I'm sure it would be fine if you wanted to come over tomorrow. You'll also know more of the guys by then as well."
"Kewl!" Both Brent and Lance stated at the same time, and then giggled, before they both said "Jinx!" at the same time, which caused them to giggle even more.
Sean shook his head slowly, "Everyone should start getting back over here at around 3:30pm." With that he and his brother left the room.
Once the older boys left, Teri looked back toward Brent and Lance. "I still have a lot that I need to talk to Neal about. I know you guys have been through a lot today, so if you want, there is a bedroom right over there at that you two could take a quick nap in so your ready for the rest of the Clan when they get back from school."
Brent thought for a few moments before answering. "Actually, do you think it would be okay if Lance and I went to check on Eric and Greg?"
"I don't think Doc Austin would have a problem with that as long as your quiet and don't wake them up. Do you remember how to get there, or would you like us to walk over with you?" Teri started to gather the empty plates on the table and place them on the empty sandwich tray.
"We remember." Lance answered for both of them.
"Okay, but if you get lost, just come back here, or ask any adult that you see for instructions."
"We will." Brent assured her. With that, both boys got up and headed out the other door leaving Teri and Neal alone so that they could start discussing more specific details about what the future might have in store for the 4 boys.
Doc Austin was sitting behind his desk writing some notes in one of his medical folders when he heard a light knock at the door. "Come on in Brent and Lance."
Brent entered the office with Lance close behind. "Wow, how did you know it was us Doc?"
Doc Austin couldn't help but smile at the surprised looks on the two boy's faces. "Simple. Besides the fact that almost everyone else is across the street at school, most of the other kids around here have a very bad habit of forgetting to knock whenever they stop by. I figured they didn't have a chance to break you two of that habit yet."
Doc's statement had it's desired effect, and both boys giggled a bit. "I don't think I've ever met a doctor like you before Doc, your actually kinda cool."
"Thanks Lance, I try. But I doubt you guys came over just to see me."
Brent nodded. "How are Eric and Greg doing?"
Doc got up from his desk and grabbed his Tricorder as he walked toward the large double doors behind which Eric and Greg were sleeping. "They are both still sleeping. My guess is that they will sleep for another hour or two.
"Are they okay?" Lance watched as Doc took a few readings after opening the door to the room up a little.
Doc Austin nodded as he reviewed the Tricorder information. "Yes, it seems that way. I've been taking periodic readings on both of them just to make sure there are no other surprises."
Brent and Lance both nodded and smiled in gratitude.
"You know, there is a free couch in there. If you two can be quiet and not wake the other boys up, you can lay on it while you wait." Doc Austin put the Tricorder back down on a table and then walked back to his desk. A bit surprised that he did not hear a response from either boy, he turned back around only to be slightly surprised by the fact that both boys were gone.
"I guess that works for being quiet" he said to himself as he walked back over to the door and peaked into the room to see that both Brent and Lance had already crawled onto the other couch. Gently closing the door, he returned back to his desk to continue his work.
Evan watched as his younger brother finished up the rest of his cinnamon swirl bread. It wasn't much, but they were both hungry, and with neither of them having any money, it was the only thing he had managed to swipe over the last two hours.
"How is it?" He tried to lighten the mood a bit as he couldn't help but notice how nervous and out of place his younger brother looked.
Haden gave several quick bobbing nods. "It's okay, I mean good, it's good. Thanks."
Evan sighed to himself. His younger brother had probably spent more time outside in the last 12 hours than he did over the last year. Just the fact that he had a nice tan complexion compared to Haden's pale, almost ghost white complexion was enough to confirm that, but he also noticed that Haden really wasn't use to being outside much because he was real nervous about anywhere he walked or anything he touched.
Why the hell did his step father have to treat Haden like that? Evan couldn't figure it out. Haden was his own son. If anything, he figured that it would be the step children that adults would pick on and frown on.
Why couldn't Frank pick on him instead of his own son? At least he could deal with it better. Maybe that was why though. Maybe it was because Haden was a lot more passive than he was, that Frank choose to pick on him more.
"What are we going to do now?" Haden asked, breaking Evan from his thoughts.
Evan thought for a few moments before answering. "Well, we can't go back. And we can't get too close to the roads. Frank will have the cops out looking for us." Evan looked toward the rolling hills head of them. "The city should just be over those mountains, if we can get there we can probably hide there, and no one will find us."
Haden nodded slightly. "You sure it's safe? I looks like a long walk, and I read that the desert is usually filled with things like snakes and scorpions and stuff."
"We'll be fine. They're a lot more scared of you than you are of them." Evan actually wasn't sure about that last comment, since he realized that his little brother was actually rather scared so he through in a bit more re-assurance for good measure. "Besides, you'll have your big brother to protect you."
Haden grinned. Evan's remarks clearly had the desired effect on the younger boy as he walked over and grabbed the hand of his older brother, and the two boys started off toward the mountains leaving what little remnant of civilization that was left behind them. But not before Evan grabbed the bag that had the second half of the loaf of cinnamon bread, since he really wasn't sure what else they would find on their way that Haden would be willing to eat.
The sun was shining brightly as Teri and Neal walked down a sidewalk that would lead them to the main Youth Services building.
"I have to hand it to you Teri, this is a truly remarkable place you have here." Neal stated as he was still glancing around in amazement.
Teri smiled as she continued to walk. "Thanks Neal. Believe it or not, I had very little to do with it. The real credit goes to Cory and Sean."
"Your sons? They helped inspire you to build this?" Neal seemed somewhat confused.
"Not exactly." Teri stopped so that she could look directly toward Neal. "Everything that you see here, and a lot more that you don't, is a direct result of what those two and all of their brothers have created."
Neal started to look even more confused. "I'm not sure I understand. I know that your sons work with the children that you bring here, but I don't see how that makes them responsible for all of this."
"I'll give you the longer story tonight when we sit down with the rest of the adults, but for now I'll just say that these kids simply don't know the meaning of words like 'impossible' or 'can't'. Not only have they brought themselves together to help each other cope with their own problems of the past, but they have also taken it upon themselves to help others out there who have been hurt like they have. Everything you see around you Neal is a direct result of actions they took. What they have accomplished on their own over the last month would have taken any other organization years to do, and then still possibly not reach the same level of results."
Neal gasped as Teri's words finally started to sink in. "You mean..." Neal tried to continue several times, but the words just weren't there to express what he was trying to say.
Already having a good idea of what Neal was trying to say, Teri decided to help him out. "That's right. It's the kids that really run the show around here. As adults, we simply provide the stability and foundation for them, and help out from time to time when we can."
"Okay, now I'm even more amazed." Neal finally was able to mention after taking a few more minutes to think about what Teri had said.
Both continued to walk toward the large building ahead of them.
"So, what happens now?" Neal asked after several more long moments of silence.
"Well." Teri started as she took a few seconds to collect her own thoughts. "From the comments the boys made before they left earlier, they will have a full clan meeting this evening where your boys will probably learn the histories of all the other guys in the clan, and will most likely be invited to join the clan themselves."
"I see." Neal stated not really sure what to think of that.
"There is a good chance the meeting will run pretty late, so you should probably plan on spending the night at my place. Then once we see what the boys have worked out, we can review our options in the morning, but I don't see why you would not be able to head back home tomorrow if everything works out well.
"With or without my boys?" Neal asked with a very serious look on his face.
Teri took on an equally serious expression. "I won't lie to you Neal, there are a number of possible outcomes which would involve your boys staying here, some of those outcomes involving you being offered a job here as well, and some possibly not. It will really depend on the outcome of their meeting tonight, and what decisions your boys make."
Seeing the look of panic on Neal, Teri continued. "However, I can also assure you that we would never separate you if you really care about them, and they really care about you. We are simply looking for what is going to be in the best interest of the kids, and a lot of that decision is going to be based on what they want."
Neal nodded. "Okay, that sounds fair. Thanks for being honest with me Teri."
"It's the least I can do Neal." Teri smiled as she reached the door of the building they were walking to. "Come on, there are a few other adults I would like you to meet."
Helen was just getting ready to put a tray of cookies into the oven when a hazel eyed, chestnut brown haired boy ran through the door nearly knocking her and the cookies over in the process.
"Hey mom! Were are the new guys?" The boy asked.
"Kelly Joe McCarthy!" Helen set the tray down as she turned to face her son. "How many times do I have to tell you to not run inside?"
Kelly had a somewhat surprised expression on his face, but after a few seconds, it registered as to what he was being yelled at for, as he lowered his head and looked down toward the ground. "Sorry mom, I guess I was just excited to meet my new brothers."
Helen smiled and hugged her son. "It's okay, just try to be more aware of what your doing." After a few seconds, they broke the hug. "How about you make up for it by grabbing the other two trays of cookies over there so I can get them all in the oven at the same time."
Kelly nodded and walked to get the other cookie sheets, just as two more boys a bit smaller than Kelly came into the kitchen.
At the first glance of the smaller boy's white-blond hair and blazing blue eyes, she knew immediately that it was Toby and the chocolate brown haired boy next to him was his boy-friend Ian. Helen could only smile at how precious Toby looked. Even though she knew that he was the same age as her son, he looked like he could easily be two years younger, which made 11 year old Ian a small bit taller than Toby.
"Area any of the new guys in here? We can't find them anywhere in CIC." Toby asked breaking Helen from her thoughts.
"Last I heard, they were all over at Doc Austin's sleeping. Although, I would guess that they should be over here soon. I bet by the time you guys get your homework done, they will be over here, and by then I'll also have some new warm double chocolate chip cookies ready to snack on."
"Cool!" All 3 boys chimed as they headed back out of the kitchen.
"Jamie? Jacob?" Greg mumbled as he slowly started to wake up.
"Huh?" Brent asked, as he had not really slept much, but was more resting and enjoying the closeness to Lance.
"I can't hear Jamie and Jacob no more." Greg sat up and started to rub his eyes a bit. "I could hear them in my head earlier."
Lance, who wasn't really sleeping much either, got up and walked over to pick the little guy up as he could already see the panicked look starting to form on his face. "It's okay angel, you will probably get better at it as you practice more."
"Mmm... Voices?" Eric's soft soprano voice could be heard as he too sat up and rubbed his eyes from waking up.
"Hey Eric, you sleep well?" Brent asked.
"goodly... I think?" Eric hesitantly replied.
Brent and Lance shared an understanding look between each other. Although it seemed that Eric was still struggling to pick the right words to say, it was much better than not hearing his voice at all, as both boys agreed it was a very cute voice.
All four boys jumped as the two large doors leading in the room they were sleeping in suddenly flew open to reveal Doc Austin standing at the doorway. "I see you guys woke up just in time. The rest of the clan has just made it home from school, and already I've had two calls from people looking for you and wanting to meet you."
"Meet us?" Lance was somewhat surprised. "Why would they want to meet us? We aren't anything special."
Doc Austin walked over and put his arm on Lance's shoulder giving him a loving squeeze. "I know you guys haven't had much time around your new brothers yet, but please don't look down on yourself like that. All of you guys are each special in your own ways. Just look at what you have been willing to do for Greg. How many other 12 year olds do you know that would put their own fun aside so that they can make the life of a younger blind boy better?"
"But I care about Greg! Doc." Lance answered in protest, although his voice indicated that he knew what Doc was talking about.
"That's my point exactly Lance." He gave Lance another squeeze before he stood back up. "I think most of the guys are over in the main CIC building. Would you like me to walk you guys over, or can you get there on your own?"
"I think we can get there fine." Brent answered as he, Lance, and Eric headed for the door. "Oh, and thanks Doc... for everything!"
"You're welcome." Doc Austin smiled as the door to his office was closed.
"New brothers!" A small, skinny redhead boy yelled as he leaped in the air toward Brent, just as Brent was walking through the door of the main CIC area.
"Wha...?" Brent gasped. Although the young boy couldn't have been more than 4 or 5 years old, the surprise was so great that Brent went flying backward knocking into Lance, almost causing him and Greg to fall down as well.
"Timmy!" Sean half yelled and half laughed as he went running over to collect his son. "What have I told you about doing that to our guests?"
"Sorry pappa." The small boy fake pouted. "But you said they were new brothers not new guests."
Greg started giggling from Lance's arm. "That was kewl! What was that?"
"A pounce!" Timmy answered as if Greg should have already known that.
"A what?" Greg's giggles stopped and were replaced by a rather puzzled look.
"You don't know what a pounce is?" Timmy seemed surprised by this, and stood there thinking for a few moments. "Come on, Ricky and me will teach you, and then you can play with some of our toys and meet the rest of the tribe!"
Greg got a really excited look on his face as he was just about to leap out of Lance's arms to join the first boy that he saw met here that looked close to his own age, but then the look disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived. "I can't."
Timmy had a confused look on his face for a few seconds, and then tilted his head slightly. "Oh! That's okay, William says that you can see though his eyes while your playing with us, since his eyes are a lot cooler than normal human eyes."
"Who's William?" Lance asked for Greg, as he tried to figure out which federation race would have better eyes than a human, and tried to look around the room for aliens at the same time.
As if on cue, a large eagle swooped down from somewhere above and landed on Timmy's shoulder causing Brent and Lance to take a step backward, and Timmy to smile brightly. "William is a spirit guide, he helps to watch over Camp Little Eagle."
"Wow! Kewl!" Greg was once again excited.
"Ricky has one too! Come on, you can meet him!" Timmy bubbled as he walked over to pull on Greg's hand to lead him away, almost forgetting that he was still being held by Lance.
Lance and Brent both looked at Sean questionably.
"It's okay guys." Sean smiled. "The eagles that Timmy and Ricky have really are spirit guides, and they really can talk to Timmy and Ricky. I'll explain the whole story later, but if William says that he will watch out for Greg while he's playing with the other little guys, I don't think it would be possible for him to be in any better hands."
Both Brent and Lance nodded their understanding as Lance lowered Greg to the ground, only to immediately have him dragged away by Timmy in the direction of several other of the smaller kids.
Sean took a few moments to smile with pride at how well Timmy seemed to understand how to integrate the younger kids into the tribe, but quickly turned his attention back to the three boys that remained. "Come on guys, I think it's time you met everyone else."
For the next several minutes, Brent, Lance, and Eric were lead around CNC and the dinning area to meet most of the other clan members, as well as some of the adults. Eventually, they ended up in a large rec room where some of the guys were playing video games, board games, or just spread out relaxing on the floor catching up on homework.
Brent found himself slowly walking toward a large TV screen that had a car racing game on it. Before he knew it, a small boy with auburn hair and hazel eyes was looking toward him, offering him a controller. "Wanna play?" the boy asked with a hopeful expression.
Looking over and seeing that Lance was in a conversation with one of the twins, and Eric was next to his side, he took the offered controller and sat down. "Thanks. You're CD, right?"
"Uh-huh." The boy smiled, and without another word, the competition began.
Although Brent was not familiar with this particular game, he was fairly good with racing games in general, so he and CD were evenly matched, with each having won 2 races. By the end of the forth race Lance and Eric had wondered over to watch as well.
Just as Brent was getting close to winning the final race, Lance felt someone's leg brush up next to him. Since he was so focused on watching how well Brent was doing, he ignored it at first, but when the leg kept brushing up on him, he finally looked down and saw only a leg!
Lance's eyes grew big as he took at step back trying to make sure that he was really seeing what he thought he was seeing, as the leg just seemed to dance around behind him. "Umm... did someone loose something?" Lance hesitantly asked causing a few giggles to be heard from various parts of the room.
Before anything else could be said, Timmy, Ricky, Greg, and several other smaller boys came running into the room. "Leg! Get back here leg! We're gonna get ya!" They were all shouting as the leg took off with the kids close behind.
Having won the race, Brent looked behind him just in time to see a leg leaving the room along with a bunch of little kids, and an eagle close behind. "Wow, I think I've been playing too many video games lately." Brent started shaking his head not sure if what he had seen was real.
CD giggled next to him. "Don't worry, that's just Eli playing with his 'pet' leg again."
Brent looked at Lance, who only shrugged.
"Dinner Time!" Someone shouted, and like a herd of wild animals, everyone started to head into the large dinning area.
It didn't take long for Brent to figure out why. As soon as he stepped into the room, he could smell the homemade spaghetti sauce and freshly beaked bread. In the center of each table were laid out several huge bowls filled with pasta, sauce, salad, and baskets of warm butter bread rolls. He even thought he heard some snickering about garlic bread from some of the kids around him, but he was pretty sure the bread in the baskets was not garlic.
"Guess who?" Greg's familiar voice rang out as his little hands reached up to cover Lance's eyes which caused Brent to giggle.
"Humm" Lance thought out loud. "Is it Brent?"
"NoOoOoOo! He's sitting right beside you!" Greg couldn't help but to giggle.
"Oh yeah.... humm..... is it Timmy?" Lance guessed again.
"NOOOOOOO!" Greg burst out laughing even louder drawing the attention of several of the other boys sitting near by. "He's with his daddy and papa!"
"Well... In that case... It must be..." Lance allowed a long dramatic pause until he quickly twisted himself around, and in a single fluid motion, grabbed onto Greg, lifting and twisting him so that he ended up on his lap, where he then proceeded to start tickling his ribs as he quickly finished his answer. "A Greg who needs to be tickled!"
Of course, this caused the small boy to immediately start flailing his arms and legs around as his giggles turned to surprise which quickly turned to all out uncontrollable laughter. This continued for several seconds until one of Greg's kicks ended up kicking the table, and causing the plates and bowls to bounce up slightly, which caused Lance to finally stop and give Greg a warm hug before putting him in the seat next to him.
"Did you have fun playing with the tribe?" Brent asked once Greg had recovered.
"Uh huh! Timmy and Ricky showed me how to pounce and then we played duck duck goose, and then he showed me some of his pets that he had and they were really cool and he said he would see if he could find a pet for me and then the whole tribe went to some of the older boys and we got lots of hugs which was cool because they give really really good hugs!" Greg excitedly bubbled which caused both Lance and Brent to smile even more."
"Wow, sounds like you did a lot of cool stuff!" Brent gave Greg another squeeze as he reached over and started to put some spaghetti on his plate.
"Were you really able to see through Williams eyes?" A voice asked that Greg did not recognized.
"Yup! He answered. Still getting views from William who was not that far away, he saw a small black haired boy walking up to them, who looked like he was maybe 8. But then he saw two other slightly taller boys with strawberry blond hair that he did recognize. "Jamie! Jacob! Can you guys sit near us?"
"Sure" Jamie started.
"As long as Beau can sit with us too." Jacob finished.
"Who's Beau?" Greg was somewhat puzzled.
The smaller black haired boy waved as Jamie answered for him. "He's OUR boyfriend!"
"Are they allowed to do that?" Greg asked no one in particular.
Lance giggled, "As long as they are all fine with it, they are."
Brent finished getting Greg's plate ready as he started to work on his. "Okay big guy, you got a bunch of spaghetti at 6, some broccoli at 10:30, some applesauce at 12, and bread at 2."
"Thanks Brent! But William is perched above us, so I can see my plate a little."
Both Brent and Lance glanced up to see the large eagle sitting in a rafter not far from them keeping a watchful eye on their table.
"Hey!" Greg started again after he took a few bites of his dinner. "When I woke up after my nap, I tried to talk to you guys in my head like we did earlier, and I couldn't hear you."
"That's okay Greg." Jacob answered between a mouthful of bread and spaghetti. "Your still really small, so it's going to take a bit for you to get access to all of your abilities. "
Jamie chimed in next. "But we talked to Kyle, who's a lot better at this than we are, and he said he would help teach you some stuff later tonight which might help some."
"It must be pretty cool being a telepath and being able to know what everyone is thinking and know their secrets and all." Lance giggled, but then stopped when he saw that no one else was giggling with him. "Did I say something wrong?"
This time it was Beau that answered. "I know your new here, so you probably didn't know. But just about every kid that you see in this room has had some really bad stuff happen to them through most of their life, so it's not really all fun and games for them, but almost the opposite."
"Really?" Lance felt ashamed for what he had asked. "I didn't know. Sorry if I hurt you."
Jamie nodded. "It's okay Lance, you didn't know and we know you were actually trying to give us a complement."
"Besides, it's not all bad stuff, plus Papa Spock has taught us how to push a lot the really bad stuff away." Jacob added.
After a few minutes went by, being curious about telepaths himself, Brent spoke up. "So, like you can tell what I'm thinking right now and stuff?"
Seeing both Jamie and Jacob nod at the same time did not really surprise Brent. However, what happened next did surprise him. Right after the twins nodded and started to eat their dinner again, he heard one of their voice's in his head. "Don't worry bro, you don't have anything to prove. If Cory and Sean didn't like you, you would have been over at Camp Little Eagle with the other rescues. It doesn't matter how much crap you've been through, it matters more who you are inside."
Brent lowered his head a bit. He simply couldn't figure out what was so special about him, and why these guys who he had just seen a few weeks ago at a concert, and who were close to living legends in his eyes would be treating him so nicely. He couldn't even protect his own guys.
A few moments later, Jamie or Jacob's voice could be heard in his head again. "It's because of the fact that you DO see Lance, Greg, and Eric as 'yours' to protect, and that you DO care so much about them and everyone else you meet. That right there sets you apart from 99% of the other 13 year old's out there. You just need to learn to trust in yourself more. But hanging around here a bit will probably help with that a lot."
Brent allowed himself to smile a little and nodded an unspoken 'thanks' to the twins as he continued eating.
All the boys continued to talk small-talk amongst themselves during the rest of dinner. When just about everyone was done, the entire room suddenly got quiet. Lance looked up, and then could see why, as Cory was standing up next to one of the tables on the other side of the room.
"I don't know about you guys.." Cory started with a smile. "But I think Tommy, Tyler, and Helen really out-did themselves on this one!" Suddenly, the entire room erupted in cheers of agreement.
Once things calmed down, Cory continued. "Also, I'm sure a lot of you have already noticed that we have a few new faces here with us tonight. Sean and I both figured that since we haven't really had a full clan meeting yet with all of us down here, that now would be the perfect time to do it. So tonight after dinner at around 6:30pm, all the kids are to be over at Southcrest for our clan meeting. That way we can make sure everyone is properly introduced.
Brent saw many nods of agreement and understanding, but not as many cheers. That was, until Cory added his next part.
"Also, be sure to bring your swim suits for a quick swim after the meeting, and plan on spending the night there, since JC has already agreed to let us have a sleepover there tonight."
Several of the kids started to cheer and clap until one of the adults on the other side of the room jumped up yelling. "I did?" This caused many of the kids to laugh.
"Thanks for agreeing with me!" Cory added, which caused everyone to totally loose it, as Josh realized what he had done.
With that, Cory sat back down, and everyone started to finish up dinner, as well as eat the cup-cakes that were brought out for desert.
Lance was surprised to see that when dinner was over, just about every kid in the room was helping with grabbing all the dirty dishes and putting them into large bins that were lined up on one said of the room.
"Well, we'll see you guys later, okay?" Jacob asked as he, Jamie, and Beau were about to leave.
"Sure." Brent answered, "But what should we be doing while you guys are having your meeting tonight?"
"Since your one of the main reasons we are having it, I'm really hoping that you will be there." Cory smiled as he walked up holding Timmy in his arms, and Sean walked up next to him holding CD.
Brent was somewhat confused by this. "But you said we were not full clan members yet, and that the meeting was a clan meeting."
"Your right, I did. The reason you are not full members yet is that you did not agree to become full members. And before you make that agreement, I think you should probably know what you will be getting yourselves into, which is what you will be learning about at the meeting."
"Ah, okay!" Everything finally started to make sense to Brent.
Greg, on the other hand, seemed a bit more worried. "But you said that we should bring swimsuits, and we don't have any swimsuits."
Sean smiled. "Don't worry little guy, we have plenty of extras around here. I'm sure we will be able to find some that fit you. How does that sound?"
"Cool!" Greg cheered, now content that the more important matter had been addressed.
A large group of the kids were gathering with their swimsuits and towels in the CIC, getting ready to leave, when Brent spotted Neal walking over to them.
"Neal!" Brent shouted cheerfully running over and giving him a warm hug, as Lance and Greg quickly joined. "Are you going to be coming to the meeting?"
Neal gave Brent an extra squeeze before breaking the hug. "No kiddo. The clan meeting is just for the kids. I'm going to be with Teri and a bunch of the other adults over here getting some paper work and other stuff taken care of."
"That's not fair!" Greg jumped in. "You should be allowed to come to, I'll ask if you can join the clan as well."
Neal's heart melted at how much concern Greg had for him. "Thanks big guy. But this is really something you guys need to do without the adults. I'm sure they will explain why it's best to be this way."
Greg was about to protest when Adam and JJ walked up to their group. "He's right." Adam said in a calm voice. "Tonight you guys are going to be learning a lot of really bad, really personal stuff about all the other kids in the clan. A lot of us have been hurt really badly by adults, and we are able to handle and deal with this stuff a lot easier when we are just talking with other kids."
"Oh" Greg answered, thinking that what Adam said might have made sense.
"Besides." JJ added. "We still involve the adults in a lot of stuff, and they all help us out a lot. It's just some things that we have to do as a clan that doesn't involve them. But a lot of that will be explained tonight at the meeting."
"Okay." Greg nodded.
"Speaking of which. You guys ready? Everyone else is already starting to walk over."
"Yup!" All four boys chimed. After getting a final round of hugs and kisses from Neal, they were on their way.
None of the boys were really prepared for what they were about to see. The only words that Lance could come up with to describe the size of Southcrest was that of a mansion! The 'house' was huge! The lawn and landscaping was even huger! They could even see part of the large, fenced in pool in the backyard as they heading into the house, and into the large study where all the kids of the clan were gathering up.
One of the first things that Brent noticed is that all the usual cheerful fooling and joking around was not heard or seen. Instead, the mood seemed to be much more somber. It also seemed that in some say, everyone was divided up into groups. As he would learn later, they were actually split up into their family groups so they could be there to give each other the support they would need to get through the meeting.
Even the sight of two boys 'floating' into the room did not seem to cause any reaction at all from anyone. Brent was almost starting to get worried about what he might be getting himself and his friends into given how everyone else around them was behaving.
A few moments later, Cory stood up from where he were setting with Sean and their kids, and walked to the center of the room causing everyone else to stop talking.
"Hey guys!" Cory started. "Sean and I have actually been planning to have one of these for the last few days now, but with a bunch of us still working on getting settled in our new homes, and with our trip to the Enterprise last night and all the other stuff that has been going on, this is the first chance we've had."
Brent noticed all the other kids nodding in understanding. All that is, except for two 13 year olds toward the back of the room that seemed to stiffen up a bit when Cory had mentioned that the Enterprise trip last night. But two smaller boys next to them seemed to comfort them fairly quickly. He wasn't sure what that all meant, but if he had to make a decision about really becoming a full part of this clan, he would need to watch every little detail that he saw in tonight's meeting.
"Also, as I'm sure most of you already know we have a few visitors. Brent, you want to introduce yourself and your guys?"
Brent was caught off guard slightly as he was not expecting Cory to call on him for anything, but he recovered fairly quickly. "Well, let's see. I'm Brent."
Giggles could be heard coming from some of the younger kids, as Brent continued. "This cute guy sitting next to me is Lance. The little elf that Lance is holding is Greg, and the boy on the other side of Lance is Eric."
All the other kids nodded toward the 4 boys. A few boys that Brent had not met yet waved or said quick 'hellos' to them.
Cory continued. "Tonight Sean's going to be going over backgrounds of everyone, and then after that, Brent, Lance, Eric, and Greg will be able to decide if they accept being full members of the clan or not."
"So does that mean we have to wait until AFTER the meeting to start pouncing them?" One of the boys that Brent did not recognize asked which caused several other of the kids to giggle.
"No, Timmy already gave Brent a good pounce earlier." Another boy called out causing even more giggles.
"Timmy and Ricky taught me how to pounce too!" Greg stated as a matter of fact from Lance's lap.
Cory walked over and picked up Timmy before sitting back down with him. "Yeah, that sounds like Timmy, making sure that every new little kid here knows the art of pouncing."
Timmy for his part, just sat there trying to look as innocent as possible. Of course, this did not work that well, and for anyone who knew Timmy who was not already giggling, was doing so now.
After a few moments, Sean then stood up and walked to the center of the room. "Okay guys, here is the serious part. I knew a bunch of you have been through this with me before, but since this is the first time in a while we have had everyone together in one place, I'm going to go over things a bit more than I usually do. So everyone be sure to sit close to your family, and be sure to give plenty of hugs and cuddles to those that need them."
Neither Brent nor Lance were really sure what Sean meant by that, but all the giggling stopped, and many serious faces simply nodded their understanding, as a few of the kids shifted where they were sitting slightly so they could be closer to the others around them.
Sean looked around the room to make sure everyone was situated. "Let's see. Where to begin?"
Over the next 1 1/2 hours, Sean went over the general history of the clan itself, as well as the histories of all of the clan members.
Sean started from the very beginning, and explained how everything started when Cory and Sean's older brother Mikey was on his way to pick the two of them up at the mall after football practice when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Both boys loved their older brother immensely, but Cory also seemed to blame himself for Mike's death. Things got so bad that Cory ended up lapsing into a comma, and when he woke up, he had lost just about all of his memories, which ended up causing him to have to go and stay in a group home while his mind tried to heal itself and while Cory tried to regain his memories.
Despite a large amount of corruption in the home, and an intentional effort to prevent any of the kids there from getting better and being able to leave the home, about a year after the accident, Cory had finally started to regain enough of his memories that Cory's therapist Daniel (Dan) Richardson felt that Cory was ready to be able to return home to live with his mother and brother. However, when Dan tried to call the group home to arrange for Cory to be released, they flat out refused to release him, and order that he be returned immediately.
Expecting trouble, after getting a court order from a family judge for Cory to be released back to his mother, he contacted a friend of his, a sheriff John Martin, and together they went to the group home to get Cory's stuff. As expected, the administrator of the home tried to cause problems, and long story short, the home ended up being shut down that night due to intentional fraud, mismanagement of the children, and a number of other issues.
"Wow" Lance piped up. "I heard about that. It seems that when that home was closed, that caused the state to start reviewing a bunch of the other group homes, which caused a few others to get closed as well, and a bunch kids where getting shifted around and all. But I had no clue that was all started because of the clan!"
Sean smiled. "Actually, the clan wasn't even close to be created yet, this was all started because of Cory."
"That sounds pretty wild." Brent added.
"Oh, it gets a lot better, we are just getting started." Sean smiled again before continuing.
Like Lance mentioned, the closing of the group home caused some kids to be released, since they were past being ready to go, but the home had lied on their records, or to be relocated to other place. That was, everyone except for one little 8 year old boy named Kyle.
Shortly after Cory, Sean,Teri Dan and sheriff John made it back to Teri's house from getting Cory's stuff at the group home, Dan got a call from Judge Jamie, the family judge that filed the papers earlier to force Cory to be allowed to be released. It seems that Kyle did not have anywhere to be placed yet, and due to his past abuse and very high distrust for adults, he was tearing up the court house. Since Dan's son JJ was one of the only people Kyle would listen to and trust, since Kyle had been spending every other weekend with Dan and JJ, the judge asked that Dan get his son, and go to pick Kyle up so Kyle could be placed with him for a bit.
So they went and did exactly that. They made it to the court house, and JJ was about to get Kyle under control, and then they all went by to Teri's.
"I heard that Kyle kicked some of the police men in the marbles! Was that true?" Ian asked from his place sitting next to Toby.
"Oh yeah!" JJ answered. "My little brother can have a mean right kick when he wants to, and had several of those guys singing soprano before I could finally talk some sense into him." This caused a bunch of the kids to laugh and for Kyle to blush.
It didn't take Kyle long to recover, however. He started to hug Tyler even more than he was, because he knew all too well which part of the story Sean was about to tell next.
After they made it back to Teri's house, Dan got a call that his wife Sarah had been found unconscious and had been taken to the hospital. John took Dan to the hospital, and arranged for JJ and Kyle to be able to spend the night at Teri's with Cory and Sean. Later that night when Dan and John made it back to Teri's, everyone learned that Sarah had died due to a brain aneurysm. It was then decided that Dan, Kyle, and JJ would stay at Teri's for as long as they needed.
The next morning, Tyler, who was a friend of Sean's and who had been watched on occasion by Teri showed up on Teri's doorstep crying. It turned out that Tyler had been abandoned by his parents. He had not seen his parents for several days, and he just then found out about it by finding a letter his mom had left for him in a cereal box. His mom also turned 'the brat' over to Teri, along with all the needed legal paperwork.
What no one knew at the time was that Tyler's parents had left Tyler for his older half brother Adam. They didn't find out until later that afternoon when Mikey was able to get a message to Kyle that Tyler's parents had his half-brother Adam at a local hotel, and that he was about to get hurt real bad. By the time they were able to get to him, he had blisters and bruises over his entire body from being beaten all day because he had mentioned to them that he thought he might be gay.
"Wait, I don't get it." Lance interrupted. "How could Adam and Tyler be brothers if they never knew about each other."
Adam quickly answered. "That's because I'm only Tyler's half brother. My parents got divorced when I was younger. I lived with my mom, and my dad went and got married to Tyler's mom. I didn't find out about Tyler until my mom started to get really sick, and she told me that I was going to go life with my dad, his wife, and their son Tyler."
"Ah, I guess that makes sense."
Adam continued. "The real kicker is that when they picked me up that Friday afternoon, they told me that Tyler had died. Looking back at it now, I guess that's how they really saw it, because they had abandoned him and left him for dead."
JJ gave Adam a warm hug and brushed some of the tears away from his eyes. "But you two have each other now, and things ended up working out a lot better in the end, huh love?".
Adam nodded and rested his head on JJ's shoulder as Sean continued.
The next two clan members to be added were Jamie and Jacob. We had gone to the hospital so that Adam could be checked out and mom could get some special cream to help his skin heal. After that, since it was so late, we decided to go to Perkins for dinner. When we got there, we found Jamie and Jacob shirtless, and trying to get food from the dumpsters.
Their mother died when they were born, so they just lived with their father. A few years ago, his father had caught them touching each other. Since then, he would sexually molest them every night, forcing them to allow him to touch their privates, while he would get himself off and force them swallow when he shot. Besides that, they only had 3 sets of school cloths and one pair of shorts for at home. They were not allowed to have friends, they were not allowed to leave the yard. If they were outside, they could not wear shirts, and if they were inside they could not wear any clothes at all. For dinner they only got two slices of bread and milk, and for breakfast they got two slices of bread and juice.
You know how I said he would only touch their privates and rub himself? Well, one night that changed, and he started to stick his finger in their butts. Since they both already knew they were gay, they both knew where that was going to be leading, so they decided to take their chances on the street, and ran away the next day. They were on their own for 3 days before we met them at Perkins.
Later that night Dan got an e-mail from Anne Richardson, where he not only learned that she was his real mother, but that he had a number of brothers and cousins who cared about him and who wished to offer their condolences toward his wife. One of his brothers, Kevin, and one of his cousins, Brian Littrell are the Kevin and Brian involved with Backstreet Boys, and his other cousin Chip Dodds was a commander in Starfleet.
"Wait!" Brent interrupted. "That wouldn't be the Commander Dodds that's part of the U.S.S. Enterprise's bridge crew, would it?"
Sean grinned. "Uh huh, that would be him."
"Wow! You think we will ever get to meet him?" Lance was now almost excited as Brent was.
This time, Cory answered as Sean was too busy snickering. "I would hope so, given that you are currently sitting in his house."
Neither boy could say anything as they just looked at each other and then toward Sean and Cory with their jaws on the floor which caused everyone else to giggle.
"Not only that! But Uncle Chip is married to JC from N*Sync!" CD added. This caused everyone to laugh even more as both Brent and Lance accomplished the impossible and made their jaws drop even more than anyone thought was possible.
When things calmed down, Sean continued.
Okay, the reason I mentioned all that, is because that brings us to our next 3 clan members. All of Dan's new brothers and cousins came to Des Moines. Chip and JC brought their 14 year old son Justin who very quickly became attached to Jamie and Jacob. Then the following day the rest of Dan's extended family arrived, which included Nick and Ashley Carter, and their son Johnny and Arron who was rescued by Chip a year earlier.
During this time, a lot of other changes were happening to members of our family as well. Cory and I were promoted to acting Ensign's for the U.S.S. Enterprise (eventually, we get promoted to full ensigns), Mom was appointed as the director of the new Federation Youth Services Bureau, Dan was appointed as the head of the psychiatric department for Federation Youth Services, and John was appointed as Chief of Security for the Southeast United States for Starfleet.
A day or two later, we met our next two clan members when the entire family went to Denny's for breakfast. We found Robbie and Rusty sitting in one of the back booths. Robbie is strawberry blond 6 year old that is sitting on his 12 year old cousin, Rusty's lap. Robbie's mom abandoned him about a month earlier, so he went to live with his cousin Rusty. About 3 weeks after that, Rusty's mom left both of them, so they were living on their own for about a week before we found them. They were actually using the last of their money to have one final meal together before they would have to turn themselves into the state to be split up and sent to different foster homes.
Denny's is also where we met Andrew, who was not only one of JJ's best friends, but also the son of the store manager, Cecil.
"That's also when we found out Rusty was sick." Robbie added as he hugged his older cousin.
Sean nodded. "Yeah, Rusty got really weak while we were there, so we had Doctor McCoy beam down to check him out, and found out that he had diabetes.
Brent and Lance both gasped. "How come he didn't know until then?"
This time, Rusty answered. "My mom knew for awhile, but whenever she would see the warning signs that my blood sugar was low, she would just give me a candy bar or something. But now I hardly have any problems at all with it. I have a test kit now, and I'm watching my diet better, so it's not really that much of a problem."
"That's good at least." Brent stated, and Lance and Greg both agreed.
Okay, moving on... You guys remember how I mentioned that John was given the position of Starfleet Chief of Security for the Southeast United States? Well, on his very first day on the job, while he was at the Orlando Spaceport, John ended up rescuing our second set of twins, the two platinum blond 10 year old's sitting over there, Sebastian and Samuel.
Their father had taken to excessively beating and abusing the boys for any little thing at all they did wrong. John was even able to catch their father in the act when he came into the bathroom to start beating them because they had been taking too long.
This time it was Greg's turn to ask a question, which surprised a bunch of people, since he had been quite the entire meeting. "Why did your daddy try to hurt you like that? Didn't he love you?"
Sebastian started the answer. "He didn't really love us, he just thought we were sissies."
"He would tell us stuff like it was the only way for us to learn and to become men." Samuel finished the answer.
Adam started to snicker, and as some of the other kids were starting to look at him, he told everyone what he found amusing. "The best part of this was that their father was an officer on the Enterprise at the time, assigned to the Helm Division, and Uncle Chip was his superior officer. So needless to say, I doubt their dad will have to worry about taking his anger out on his sons ever again."
Everyone else nodded in agreement.
After a few seconds, Sean clapped his hands together. "Okay, well... does anyone remember who it was that was added next?"
"Oh, you are SO going to get it later!" Cory grumbled between grunts and trying to protect his most prized possessions from the now extremely hyperactive bouncing fireball that was raising his hand and intensely bouncing up and down on Cory's lap.
"Timmy? Do you know?" Sean called on the little guy as he was laughing himself.
"Me!" Timmy said with pride. "It was me!"
That's right. The next member to get added to our clan was Timmy. The night after Sebastian and Samuel were rescued by John, we were all driving home from a special dinner the captain at thrown for us for all of our accomplishment, when a car literally went flying across the road in front of us.
It turned out that both Timmy's father and grandfather were important diplomats, and someone had tried to kill Timmy and his father by putting explosives on their car. One of the bombs went off which caused the explosion that sent the car flying. We found out later, that the second bomb only had 6 seconds left before it went off before Cory ended up cutting the wires as a result of his rescue attempt of Timmy.
Unfortunately, Timmy's father did not survive. However, as as last request, he requested that Cory and I adopt, and raise Timmy as our own, which we accepted that night.
"How can you guys adopt a kid, you two are both kids too?" Lance was somewhat puzzled.
Sean smiled. "Since both Cory and I are commissioned officers in Starfleet, then legally, we are treated as Adults, which meant we were allowed to adopt Timmy."
Brent was surprised. "Wow, that's really cool. I don't think there is any way I would be able to raise a kid like that."
"It's s'okay!" Timmy bubbled. "My daddy and poppa have lots of help from my grandma and all my other aunts and uncles. Grandma even watches me sometimes when dad and pop are busy playing horsey."
"TIMMY!" Both Sean and Cory called out in unison, as they both started to turn red.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to!" Timmy giggled, his voice clearly indicating otherwise.
JJ Couldn't help joining into the fun. "You know Timmy, you better be careful. If you lie too much like that, God might strike you down."
"Nut uh!" Timmy said in defiance when suddenly everything went black as all the light and power in the house went out. Timmy gasped and hugged Cory tighter as a small faint glow could be seen forming in the center of the room.
Hey guys! I would like to apologize to everyone for there being so much time since the last chapter. A number of real life issues required me to leave the net for awhile. But over the last month, things have been settling down rather nicely, and I'm starting to get free time again, so with any luck, chapters will start to get posted a bit more frequently. The story has a lot of catching up to do to get to the main time-line, but there are lots of exciting adventures planned for all of the kids to get us there.
Also, yes, I realize this is somewhat of a cliff-hanger, but if you have read any of the other CSU stories, I'm sure you probably already know what it is. I mainly just wanted something to transition between this chapter and the next.
Right now, our guys are learning what it means to be a part of Clan Short. The big question is, will they be up to the task? Guess we will have to wait and see over the next few chapters.
Finally, some of you have asked where in the CSU time line this chapter is taking place. This is taking place in the period of time between Memories Part 1 and Memories Part 2. More specifically, this is CSU day 33, the day before was the final two chapters of A New Day Dawns, and in 3 days, the events of One Door Closes start to occur.