Sa'ren Part II

Chapter 5

Slip Sliding Away


Downing Street, London – UK:

"What was that, Ma'am?" the Prime Minister asked in surprise as he held the phone closer to his ear and held a hand up to still the already quiet chatter in the Cabinet Room.

A few seconds later, "I understand. I will set it in motion at once. Thank you. Good bye, Ma'am."

"What is it, Tony?" Harriet Harmen asked.

Tony looked at the woman and shook his head. "This meeting is over, I'm afraid. Gordon, please action what we were talking about. Otherwise, I'm going to be busy for a while."

"What's that woman want now?" Harriet said with a scowl as she picked up her papers and made to leave the room.

"If you mean the Queen," Gordon Brown said softly, "then please use the proper mode of address. If the Queen wishes to speak to her Prime Minister, she has the right."

"The people's Prime Minister," Harriet argued as the Cabinet left the room, leaving Tony Blair alone.

Tony smiled to himself once the room was empty. At last, an excuse. He called the Ministry of Defence and was put through to Chief of the Imperial General Staff. "General," Tony smiled. "We have a green light. Starfleet in gathering in Wolf 359, and the Earth is considered under attack. We can move our forces now."

"And the Empire's military?"

"And the Empire's military as well, yes. They can move to standby. Then, prepare the hoax. Our little plan is moving along better than I'd imagined. After believing we were going to be exposed, we can now push the timetable up instead!"

"Joseph will be pleased, Commander," the General answered, before the phone went silent.

Tony Blair smiled, "Yes. He will. I'm happy too, even with the failure in Orlando this morning. The more pain to that irritating symbol of Sarek's pride, the better."

The Prime Minister turned and walked into the adjoining room, "Suffer, Blade of a long forgotten prophecy. Suffer...."

Clan Compound, Orlando:

Timmy and Ricky were cuddled with Austin and Helen on the couch, and all were looking angry and miserable about what had happened to Joel. They heard the comm signal again, and so Tommy and Justy ran back out of the room to answer it.

Timmy brushed away his tears angrily, his rage transmitting itself to Red easily.

*You cannot help Joel if you are angry, Timmy*

'I know...'

Timmy looked up at the door quickly as Justy staggered back into the room and collapsed sobbing to the floor. JC ran over and pulled him into his arms, "Justy? What's wrong?"

"Joel... J...Joel's awake and..." Justy's voice broke off completely as his sobs overtook him, and these were not tears of relief nor joy.

JC smoothed the hair on his trembling son's head and whispered, "But that's a good thing, Justy."

"No," Tommy said weakly as he too entered the room and fell to his knees crying. "No, it's not. Joel's blind, Uncle Josh... completely blind..."

Timmy burst into tears, and Ricky was seconds behind him.

Allie, however, turned her butt around and stormed out of the room furiously – as only an alligator can – and was off in search of something.

It was a long while before the kids there calmed down after the news; long enough for Allie to return with what she had been looking for.

An adjusted blind-dog harness.

Allie looked Timmy in the eye and growled rapidly at him.

Timmy wiped his eyes and smiled weakly. "She says she's gonna be Unca Joel's Guide-Gator..."

Justy smiled though his own tears and reached to pat Allie on the snout. "Good girl, although you might have to share with a Guide-Sehlat and Guide-Wolf."


"She says she likes them and she'll let them share," Timmy giggled weakly.

Dan walked into the room. "Just had a message from Doctor McCoy. I'm going over to speak to him in Utah," he said to Helen. "Can you tell John where I am when he gets back from Starfleet Command?"

Helen nodded. "Sure thing. Give Joel a hug from us."

Dan pursed his lips, "That might be an issue. I'll see what I can do, though."

"Allie says she wants to go with you," Timmy said firmly as he got up off of Helen's lap. "Me too."

"Me three," Ricky added, also jumping to his feet.

The rest of the kids in the room started to their feet as well.

Dan sighed. "Guys. Joel's not up to visitors yet. He's already told Kevin to go away and leave him alone. I don't think he's going to be able to see all y'all as well."

"We won't all see him at once, Uncle Dan," Timmy said, his eyes narrowing with determination. "But we have to be there. He's our Uncle!"

"Yeah!" chimed in most if not all of the Rugrats and Tribe.

Helen half smiled, "You should have learned by now. I don't think the Unit will fall apart with a few more bodies over there."

Allie swished her tail, knocking over the coffee table she was by.

"Then again..." Dan sighed as he tapped his communicator to call Daileass.

Yoshuhlnak – Brig:

Corey and his brothers looked up as the door opened. They watched silently as nine robed and hooded figures walked in. Eight were kids – smaller even than Corey. One was obviously an adult. None of their faces could be seen. At a gesture from one of them, the Vulcan standing guard stood and pulled up his own hood to drop his face into deep shadow. There was no other there, and no other in sight.

In the next room, the gathered family and Clan of Sa'ren Joel Short watched on monitors. The ferrets had hissed and spat with fury when the monitors flickered to life. The others just let their faces grow hard. Spock and Sarek's faces filled with fury, and Spock's eyes were not his normal brown but a mix of brown and blue – T'Sara's Katra was sharing control equally with her widowed husband.

The three in the cells looked at each other briefly through the transparent aluminium that separated each of them before casting wary eyes back at the group before them.

The one who seemed robed in slightly different clothing stepped a pace forwards. "I am the Voice of the Dragon," he said in an emotionless tone, "your judge." He let that sink in for a moment. "Your minds have been scanned by myself, a registered Vulcan VSO operative, and your culpability for your crimes has been confirmed by all Dragon Leads – those in black behind me," he added, gesturing to the other black robed figures standing close. "We have come here at this time to render judgement upon you for your crimes – and especially to avenge the blood you have spilt, and the lives you have torn to shreds."

Corey, his face pale but his eyes hard with what could only be described as evil, looked at the final kid next to the adult – both in grey robes. "What of those fuckers?"

"They are here to assist, for they have a vested interest in what will happen."

"Oh? They related to that little shit too?" Corey sneered.

"Yes," Voice said. "And they have prior claim upon you."

"Reeeally," Corey smirked. "We fucked with them too? Nice. Whatever, fuckface."

Voice took a step forwards and looked directly at Levi, in the central cell. "Levi Adam Scottman, you have been found guilty of the rape of thirty-six children, ranging in age from three to fifteen. You have been found guilty of the torture and abuse of one hundred and seventy-one children, ranging in age from seven months to sixteen – all those you raped are in that category as well. You have been found guilty of thefts and arson, and are culpable as accessory to five counts of murder at the hands of your youngest brother. How do you plead?"

Levi spat at him. "Fuck off, you... you dumb fuck. I ain't saying shit without my le...le... lawyer. Right, Cor?" he mumbled, looking at Corey with suddenly uncertain eyes.

Corey remained tight-lipped.

Voice spoke, "Since you lack the mental ability to fully be responsible, your sentence of death is commuted. However, since you are by nature an evil brute that takes delight in causing pain for its own sake, you are sentenced to full and total castration. You will then be sent to the penal world of R'tha Naraz in the Denobulan system – there to spend the rest of your natural life in hard labour."

"What he say?" Levi trembled, looking again at Corey.

"You wouldn't dare! We have rights!" Corey screamed, rage and only rage in his eyes.

Voice looked to his side and nodded at one of the black robed figures.

The figure stepped forward and lowered its hood. Victoria, the Heart of the Dragon, pulled out a long, wickedly sharp knife. "I am going to cut off your balls, your sack and your dick. Then, you will be taken to our sickbay to be tidied up – you'll be pissing sitting down from now on, eunuch."

Levi's hands flew to his groin, but never made it. Viccy's eyes shone out in blue and he found himself hoisted into the air by his hands. Nothing seemed to hold him, yet something certainly was. His arms pointed to the celling, and his feet were being held ground-ward. His pants and undershorts slid down his body and his top was pulled up by the same unseen hands.

Viccy walked toward the screaming and blubbering young man, and the forcefield of the central cell fell.

"You will look, Corey William Scottman," Voice said hollowly as he used his abilities to force the fourteen year old's eyes to open and his head to turn to watch. "You led him into his evil. You shall watch the results of it."

After the unconscious Levi had been transported out and to the sickbay, leaving behind his manhood and a fair supply of blood in the cell, Viccy stepped back out and stood to the far side of the room. Corey had tears running down his face, but they were not tears of sorrow for his brother, nor sorrow for his crimes, but of fear – fear in the knowledge that he would likely get the same treatment.

Voice was now standing before the cell of the a now hysterical Dillon.

"Dillon Cameron Scottman. You have been found guilty of the rape of twenty-nine children, ranging in age from four to thirteen. You have been found guilty of the torture and abuse of one hundred and three children, ranging in age from seven months to thirteen – all those you raped are in that category as well. You have been found guilty of thefts and arson, and are culpable as accessory to four counts of murder at the hands of your youngest brother. How do you plead?"

"It was him! He made me! He said I should! I didn't want to do it, I swear! Please don't do that to me! He made me!" Dillon screamed, pointing down passed the cell that had contained Levi to where Corey was standing, pale faced.

"You are right, in that your youngest brother was behind most of what happened, but you are in error over 'wanting' to do what you were told to do. You enjoyed it. You have even gone out on your own accord to take people to hurt. Also, one of the twenty-nine children raped by you and your brother was at your suggestion. Your youngest brother liked the idea and arranged it for you – as I have now arranged for that self same child to be here to administer part of your punishment. Due to your mental age, that being of a twelve-year-old, death has been commuted. Since you are, like your eldest brother, enamoured of causing pain and fear in others, and since you take the greatest delight in forcing your sexual attentions on others, your sentence is identical to your brother, Levi's. You are sentenced to full and total castration. You will then be sent to the penal world of R'tha Naraz in the Denobulan system – there to spend the rest of your natural life in hard labour."

As Dillon screamed and yelled and tried to find some way out of his cell, Voice turned to the two in grey robes. "Little brother – you are to carry out the castration, if you wish. Your father is allowed to help. The information as to how is now given you. Do no more, and no less, than the pictures now moving through your minds. If you cannot, or choose not to, you may step aside and Heart will carry out the task."

Voice drew an identical knife from within his own robes and held it out toward Sammy.

Without hesitation, Sammy took the blade, and, with his father's hand on his shoulder walked toward Dillon's cell. He lowered his hood and spat out at the still screaming and terrified teen, "Remember me, you prick?"

Dillon suddenly found himself pulled into the air as Sammy's eyes blazed blue...

... and again, Corey was made to watch as Sammy – with Mike's assistance – cut his other brother's manhood from his screaming and twitching body...

Corey was hyperventilating. There was nothing that he could do nor think of to get himself out of this situation. He could barely move from the fear that gripped his stomach and nearly stilled the beating of his heart. He could only keep his eyes fixed on the boy now standing outside of the forcefield of his cell – the one who had tortured him with that pain-giver thing earlier.

Voice lowered his hood and grated, "Corey William Scottman. You are evil personified. You delight in causing pain and suffering to others, and you are a murderer without conscience. You have raped only ten children, Sa'ren Joel Short of Vulcan included, but you have been involved in almost all your elder brothers' crimes in some way or another. You have taken more delight than even they at torture. You are without excuse. Your sentence is full and total castration and then death by vivisection. I shall carry this judgement out myself. You will experience the pain you put your first two victims through – the ten year olds you murdered as your brothers held them down."

Corey found himself suddenly in the air and his clothes simply ripped themselves from his body. Voice walked up to the cell and the forcefield dropped...

... and that is where things changed.


Brighter than the sun.

Invasive, casting no shadow for it was omnipresent.

It should have killed all in the room, but it did not.

"Hold," said a voice.

In the Viewing Room, Adam Casey recognised it. He darted out and into the brig that was still shining brighter than was possible.

Voice felt he should blink, yet found he had no need to. His eyes darted to either side of Corey – who was now curled up in a heap on the floor – to see two seven foot tall 'men' standing there.

"What is this?" Voice asked, his tone guarded.

"I am the Announcer," said the second. "You know me by the name of Gabriel."

"I am the Warrior," said the first to have spoken. "You know me by the name of Michael."

Adam Casey gasped as he realized whom he had fought earlier that day. No wonder he had lost the sword fight! He had battled the Archangel Michael!

"Why do you prevent justice?" Voice asked, his voice trembling in shock.

"To preserve all that exists," Gabriel said.

Michael added, "To save the life of the Heart of the Nexus."

"Explain..." Voice croaked.

"Corey and Cory. Two sides of the same coin. Opposite and Equal. Yin and Yang. Balance of Life. Kill or harm the one, and you kill or harm the other," Michael said, his voice echoing and re-echoing through the ship.

Gabriel nodded, "They are linked in a way that few that exist are – as good as Cory is, Corey is as bad. As powerful in Love as Cory is, Corey is in hate. One cannot live without the other."

"But I hurt him earlier! What... I didn't hurt Cory... did I?" Jason fretted suddenly, his 'Voice' persona dropping quickly.

"No," Michael said, "for I prevented it. However, now that you know, I will no longer stand in the gap. Hurt him not. Kill him not. It is not for you to deal with him."

Sammy moved forward and asked, "You said they are joined... how?"

"Only the Father knows," Gabriel explained. "Only He. But not often are lives linked thus. There are only two pairs that currently stand in Creation that are joined as Opposite and Equal. Corey and Cory are one such. The other pair, you shall find out in His good time."

"Farewell, Children of the Nexus. Do not fear, for Destiny alone can change What Is to Be Anew – and fear not for the future – the Blind shall See that which the Seeing cannot, and shall bring into ascent that which has long been hidden. The Race of Man shall finally grow... be at peace," Michael said, as the light faded and they vanished.

Jason backed out of the now normally lit cell and reactivated the field.

Corey, still naked and trembling, now stood to his feet. He grabbed his dick obscenely. "Suck on this, you cunt! Even GOD wants me alive... looks like our 'lord' is a fuckin' pervy bastard as well, don't it? Go on! Hurt me, I fucking dare you! Go on! Kill me and kill this other runt fucking bastard who has MY name! Go on!!"

"Leave," Jason ordered as he turned to the others in the room. "Leave now. We cannot risk hurt to our brother."

"Fucking cowards! Can't face losing someone? Fuck off, then! Ha! Fuckers!" Corey yelled after their retreating backs. Then he smiled to himself. "I win. I always win..."

Sammy stopped dead at hearing that last thing, and turned slowly to stare at Corey. His eyes burned with rage as he took a step back toward the imprisoned teen.

"Sammy, no," Jason said softly as he laid a hand on Sammy's shoulder.

Sammy turned to look at Jason, his eyes now bright blue, "I won't 'Hurt' him... exactly."

Jason walked in following his brother, "Sammy, you can't."

"That's right, you can't do shit to me" Corey goaded, enjoying this immensely.

Jason tried to move to stand between Sammy and the forcefield, "Sammy no, you can't do anything to hurt him."

Rather than speak, Sammy sent back sadly, 'I know, Jace. I'm not going to, although I wish I could. No, I'm going to do something even better than hurt him' Before Jason could say anything else, Sammy spoke up, "My brothers taught me this, only I'm not going to let you feel all the pain those you hurt went through. That would hurt our Cory. Instead, this is something else – something I don't think you're gonna like at all."

Jason watched with all levels of his mind, and saw what Sammy was doing – he was pouring into Corey the love that Joel felt for others. The love that Cory Short felt for others. Pure love. Jason sighed. 'Nice idea,' he thought to himself, 'but it's not going to work.'

When Sammy finished, his eyes returned to their normal colour. He grinned at Corey, but then his face fell somewhat.

Corey leered at him, "What? You think I don't feel love? That I'm not capable? I love causing pain. I love seeing people die. It's like a warm blanket to me. This is your great punishment? Ha! Get lost, fucker. Maybe my brothers should have fucked you harder to knock some sense into you."

Jason guided the now discouraged Sammy out of the Cell Block and into the corridor.

"Why didn't that work, Jace?" Sammy asked softly, hurt and pain showing in his eyes.

Jason shrugged, "Our Cory has felt hate in his time. Doesn't like the feeling, but he has felt it. That bastard has felt love in his time – perverse love, but still love. While they are both opposites, they are still able to feel all emotions. Love and hate isn't so much the feeling anyway – it's the action. Cory loves by what he says and does, not necessarily by what he feels at any one given time."

"Oh," Sammy whispered as he hung his head. "So that didn't do anything at all?"

"It will drive him to distraction for a while," Jason smiled, "but it won't hurt him as you were hoping." He hugged Sammy tight for a moment, then turned to look at the rest of the group gathered.

Spock was seething, and Sarek looked worse. The Ferrets... he had no words to describe their pissed-off-ishness.

"Until we find a way to unbind them, we cannot hurt this prick," he said softly. "I'm going to talk to Kyle when he gets back on Monday."

"Why not now?" Sammy asked quickly.

Spock, as angry as he was, stepped in quickly and grated, "No. Cory must not know yet. He still needs to heal, and so too does Kyle. My anger needs to vent, and soon, but I know this – if we tell those in Des Moines, we will kill Cory anyway. I will not lose a son. I refuse."

Jason nodded, then said, "Grandfather, A'nirih. Beam down to Utah. There is a room set up for you both to vent with Aunt T'Pol. Do so now so that you can properly help Sa'ren."

"I agree," Trip said, his face red with temper. "We can't help him if the three of you are bouncing off the walls."

The two Vulcans said nothing. They turned and made for the transporter room instead.

Adam looked at Jason, "What now?"

"Now," Jason sighed, "now... we go and help our brother. Now, we grieve for our blinded brother and help him to live again. Now, we go home..."

Camp Bam Bam – Med-Bay:

Kevin and Kenny were walking back toward Joel's room, but stopped when they reached the room where Bradley and Stewart were sleeping. Inside, they could hear both T'Pol and McCoy talking, and so they stopped at the door to listen.

"The HRIT is working," T'Pol said softly. "Will we try it on Sa'ren before broaching the topic with Spock?"

"Yes," McCoy nodded. "We can hope that it will have an..."

"WHAT?!" Kenny yelled loudly, running over and slamming into McCoy's side. Kevin ran over quickly and grabbed his twin's hand, while Kenny asked, "What did you say? HRIT? Joel has AIDS?! NO!"

"Wha... No! Oh, no!" Kevin bawled. He had no idea what 'HRIT' was, but Kenny's words brought his heart almost to a stop.

McCoy pulled both boys into his arms and held them tight. Kenny was shaking badly, and Kevin was nearly as bad. "No, he doesn't have AIDS, but the HIV Alpha virus has invaded his system. One of the three who raped him passed it to him and to at least one of these two boys."

"But... but Vulcans... they can't get it! They can't!" Kenny sobbed. "No, you're wrong!"

T'Pol touched the boy's shoulder, "Somehow he has contracted it."

"Is it Gamma? Has he got Gamma type?" Kenny sobbed brokenly. "Like Daddy had? Does he?"

"No. Alpha strain, but it has changed. HRIT may or may not work," McCoy answered.

"I... I can't lose someone else to it! I CAN'T!" Kenny screamed, his temper flaring yet awash with renewed and remembered grief. "I watched Daddy die of it! I can't watch Joel die, too! And my brother just found him, and now he can't even sleep with him, or I'll lose him too! It's not fair! Why can't you heal all of it? What good are any of you Vulcans if you can't heal everyone with AIDS?!"

"Calm down," McCoy said firmly as he turned more and got down to his knees. He pulled both boys against his chest and held them there as they sobbed. "The one who found the original cure is still available to us, although she wasn't for nearly thirteen years. We have to wait for Spock to get here."

"And for us to go and release our pent-up anger," T'Pol said softly as she placed her tricorder down on the bedside cabinet. "Then, we can investigate the possibilities."

None of this made any impact on the two now distraught boys. McCoy looked up at T'Pol. "You go. I'll take care of these boys."

T'Pol nodded and left the room. She tapped her comm, "Daileass – where is the room you have prepared?"

'I'll take you there now by teleport.'

She vanished from the corridor just as Trip, Adam Casey and the rest of those who had gone to the Yoshuhlnak appeared by transporter beam. They all split up and moved in various directions, with no small number of them heading for Joel's room – only to find that the small boy was fast asleep with Levi cuddled next to him.

By the time the three Vulcans had finished releasing their anger and returned to Joel's room, Allen and all of Joel and Kevin's kids had returned, and Dan and the Tribe from Orlando were present as well. Lee was now sitting at the foot of Joel's bed and just watching his daddy sleep, while the rest of Joel's kids cuddled together on the nearest armchair, for comfort.

Kevin and Kenny were watching Bones like a hawk, and as Spock entered they began to look more animated. Bones went over to Spock immediately and, together with T'Pol, they left the room briefly.

After explaining the current situation to Spock, McCoy waited. He was surprised that the Vulcan man did not explode yet again. Then he saw why – T'Sara's light was in his eyes; his dead wife's Katra was obviously in communion with him over this issue. Good.

"Have you taken samples?" Spock/T'Sara asked, their voices choral.

McCoy nodded. "Yes. I have also received samples of all seven strains of HIV from Starfleet Medical while you were on the VSO ship. We have all we need to examine this problem," he said seriously.

"Good," Spock/T'Sara stated. "We shall attend to our child, then we shall need you, our mother," they said as they looked at T'Pol, "and a place to work. We will not allow this human disease to claim our son nor any other on this world."

Inside the room, Timmy was trying to comfort Rafe and the others, but he himself was still hurting terribly after seeing what had happened to his uncle's face.

Dan was quietly talking with Sarek about possible treatments on an emotional level, comparing Vulcan needs with human. Sarek simply said, "My grandson was raised human. He may think as a Vulcan, but not with our training. You should deal with this issue as you would a human, but keep in mind his Vulcan heritage. He will process his emotions and his trauma in a far speedier way than would a human. This may seem odd to you, even as if he were repressing the events. You must learn, and learn fast, to distinguish between true repression and actual progress."

"This is going to be harder than I imagined, isn't it?" Dan asked.

"Yes," Sarek said simply. "Much."

Kevin was trying his best to ignore the muted talk from those gathered in the room, and instead just held Joel's available hand and stroked it with his other. "I'm here," he whispered, "I'll always be here, Sa'ren. I love you."

Levi smiled at him as he cuddled in on Joel's other side under the covers.

Without realising it, Kevin started murmuring his fears. Fears held in common with Kenny. "Pon Farr's coming. What am I to do? He'll die without me, but I'll die if I sleep with him, and I'll leave my brother all alone, and why did this happen? It's just not fair... it's not fair."

Levi's forehead crinkled in curiosity, so he quickly took a look inside of Kevin's mind – and there found the truth. "HIV?" he whispered in horror. "Uncle Joel has HIV?"

Adam Casey looked up sharply, his intake of breath hissed through his teeth. "What was that?"

Levi looked at him with tear filled eyes just as Spock/T'Sara, T'Pol and McCoy re-entered the room.

"He has contracted HIV strain Alpha, but it has somehow changed inside of him. We will be investigating it shortly," T'Pol said quickly into the suddenly silent room.

Juan got up and moved to stand next to Kevin, and he reached to take Joel's hand as well.

Currently leaning against the wall with Nathan, Jason muttered, "Those bastards... I wish I had known this before sentence was passed."

Victoria reached over and poked her brother. "None of that! Don't second guess yourself. If either of the two going to prison have HIV, they get to die of it. That is punishment enough. If it's that Corey fucker, then maybe that will sever the link he has with our Cory."

"Or maybe it will..." Jason started, but one look at Timmy and Ricky in the corner with Joel's kids made him shut his mouth.

"I have what?!" Joel exclaimed as he sat up suddenly.

"How long have you been awake?" McCoy asked quickly, looking at T'Pol and gesturing with his hand for her to get near to her grandson just in case he freaked.

"Long enough... HIV? I have... have... NO! This isn't fair!" Joel yelled, his fear building as he started to thrash about blindly on the bed. Lee was sent tumbling to the floor, while Kevin let go of his husband's hand before he ended up getting smacked by it.

Juan kept his grip, however. "Joel, you need to calm down, bro," he said gently. "Your dad is here, and he'll fix it. I'm sure."

"No! NO! I... I...."

The dam broke. Fear upon fear, and memory upon memory burst out like a bomb from Joel. All those with mental powers reeled back from the burst – all but Juan, who was holding on to tightly to Joel's hand.

Trained in telekinesis well, but sadly lacking in any form of telepathic and empathic training, Juan's N-Gen mind was invaded by all that Joel threw off mentally. Juan stiffened for a brief moment, and then exploded himself.

As the Hispanic/Klingon boy's eyes blazed out, Joel wrenched his hand away and wailed, "I want to go HOME!" – and he vanished through suddenly liquid air.

Levi bounced to his feet as if to follow, but stopped. "Where did he go? I can't sense hi..."


Juan's power suddenly unleashed, and it even sent Levi tumbling – more from shock than anything to do with the power itself. The bed that Joel had just been on burst into flames, while the walls started fracturing and cracking. Chang dove forward and wrapped his arms around Juan, but with merely a panicked thought, Juan sent Chang slamming back and into Adam.

Adam yelled, "Daileass! Get the kids... oh, good!" He watched as all the young children, save Levi, vanished.

It was Jason who saved the rest of those present. In fact, he saved that part of the base as well from being blasted into nothing – he pulled on and linked his mind with all those other N-Gens there and put a shell of power around the now senseless and freaked-out Juan.

Everything that Joel had been through – today and in his past – was so similar to Juan's history, that the living memories of the now-departed Vulcan boy merged with the remembered memories of the freaking out N-Gen. The living fear compounded the issue, and all of Juan's life-history suddenly came into current thought and feeling. All his pain and hurt and anger and fear... he lashed out, and lashed out and lashed...

Blocked. Shielded. Stopped.

"Hold the shield," Jason grated to Adam and Nathan and the others. "Viccy, Sammy – you're with me. He's lost it totally... come on!"

Together, the three most powerful N-Gen Empaths flung themselves mentally at Juan and started to fight through the sub-consciously directed power bursts he was reeling off...

"Get out! NO! Leave me alone!" Juan screamed at the shadows and the pain that was lancing into and through him. He flailed about with a sword his mind had formed in one hand, and a beretta in the other was being fired point-blank into the shadows that flocked around him. Mr Scott Williams appeared suddenly before him, and lashed him with a belt, causing him to cry out in terror and hunch over, then the doctors that had made him were there, and scalpels slashed at his groin.




... then three more shadows moved toward him, but these seemed more solid – more real – than the figments of his and Joel's remembered horrors. They grabbed him, and he tensed up, waiting for the pain... which never came.

It was Sammy, Jason and Victoria.

"Juan! Juan? Can you hear me?" Sammy asked as he cupped his brother's face with his hands. He started siphoning off Joel's fears, and started passing them to Victoria, who dumped it out and away from the hurting child.

Jason latched his hands onto Juan's head and said, "Keep that up, Samsam – I'll close the doors. Viccy? Take the shadows."

"Gotcha, Jace," the deep auburn haired girl stated as, one by one, the shadows and forms around them stilled and vanished.

Sammy continued to keep his eyes locked with the tear-streaming ones of Juan, and was constantly talking to him – pulling each piece of fear that did not belong there and disposing of it, allowing Jason to take Juan's own fears and lock them back away into the rooms Juan had set up for them.

"That's almost got it," Jason muttered, his eyes closed tight.

"This is getting difficult," Victoria yelled as one last shadow resisted all her attempts to get rid of it. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear this was the devil himself!"

Jason risked a glance, then sighed, "That's cos it is, Vic. That is an after-image of what Joel had carried since he was a baby!"

"He had the devil in him?!"

"Uh huh!"

"Why didn't you say anything?!"

"Why? The Guardian and all of those who died in Montana got rid of him. I didn't think it was needed to say."

"What the hell am I to do with this, then?! It's a powerful memory! I can't..."

"I'll do it," Sammy said firmly as he glared over from Juan's face toward the midnight shadow that wielded a sword of dark-lightning. "Begone!" he yelled, flicking his hand out briefly.

The shadow vanished.

"How?" was all Victoria asked.

"Love," Sammy shrugged as he went back to his job with Juan – who was now looking more and more peaceful.

"So much for getting five minutes peace and quiet," Jason grumbled as he removed his hands from Juan's head. "Okay, he's back, guys."

Victoria sat down with a sigh, then waited for Juan's eyes to regain focus and conscious control. Jason sat next to her and Sammy moved back from Juan to give the boy a bit of room.

Juan blinked a few more times before looking at them, and bursting out in tears, "It's all my fault... I should have learned! I... I... I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry," Jason said softly.

Victoria added, "Just learn now."

"Yeah, bro," Sammy added with a smile as he moved forwards and pulled the boy into his arms.

"Not right now, though," Jason decided firmly. "You need to talk to Grandfather Xolan, first. You're not going to be able to learn right with the turmoil you have going on here right now."

"Wh...who?" Juan asked mutely as he wiped at his eyes.

Jason smiled lovingly, "A Commander in the Dragon. He's here at the base right now – he's a Kolinahr Master, and can help you a lot."

Juan nodded. "Okay... did I hurt anyone out there?"

"Riti got a scrape on his elbow from falling over, but that was more due to fright than anything else," Sammy giggled.

Victoria grinned, "You scared the shit out of everyone! But Jace got the shield up in time – dunno how, but I think he saw it coming."

"Was just a feeling," Jason said thoughtfully.

"Thank you... how's Joel?" Juan asked, his eyes still leaking tears no matter how hard he tried to stop them.

"Now that," Jason muttered as he stood to his feet and prepared to leave Juan's mind, "is the million pound question..."

When Juan opened his eyes, he gasped. The wall, the bed he was by, the cabinet – they all were burnt, as if a raging inferno had ripped its way through the Med Bay. "I did this?" he asked weakly.

"Uh huh," Adam said as he strode over and pulled his beloved little brother into a crushing hug, "and I'm taking this out of your allowance... Oh, God, Juan... don't do that to me again, okay?"

Seconds only had passed for those in the room, so Levi was still standing there with panic over his face. Jason noticed. "What's wrong?"

"Can't find Joel! I can't sense or feel him! I need to be with him – the Guardian said so!" Levi wailed.

Jason smiled, "His House Crest is back on, so ask Draco – Draco! Where's Joel?"

'Scanning – Orlando, Main Compound.'

"That's not very precise," Kevin complained, looking about as shocked and scared as Levi.

Jason shrugged, "It's not a precise beacon. But narrow it down, guys – where in the Compound would he consider home?"

Levi thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Dunno. Maybe the room he and Kev had their wedding night in?" he asked, blushing cutely.

"It's a place to start," Jason smiled.

Levi obviously agreed with him as he vanished a second later.

Jason took another look at Juan, who was still being cuddled by Adam, and then left the room to look for Commander Xolan. Next time that he had a chance to teach an N-Gen about their powers, he would make them learn, Jason decided as he walked down the corridor.

Spock turned to McCoy and T'Pol. "This situation is now under control. We must start our investigations."

"Where? Is there a lab in this base?" T'Pol asked, looking at Logan.

Logan nodded. "Yes, there is." He looked over at his boyfriend, "Do you need me here?"

Adam shook his head in-between kissing his little brother's hair.

"Then follow me, please," Logan said as he gestured out the door.

S'pilash, registered Vulcan mind healer, was currently working his way through the new intake of children from the past week. He would stop and chat with each, determining if they needed or required help, then move onto the next. He was not alone in this task – four other Vulcans were present, as well as two Betazoids.

A tall, old Vulcan stood by the door watching impassively as the seven adults moved about the Unit's Rec Room. Internally, he was impressed by the dedication shown. "Envoy S'pilash – would the brief diversion of your attention be acceptable? I desire a word with you," the old Vulcan said as the younger Vulcan drew closer.

S'pilash looked up and raised an eyebrow, for the elder Vulcan was dressed in a solid black jumpsuit, with a black robe open at the chest. On the shoulders of the jumpsuit, barely visible, was the insignia of Commander in the VSO, as well as the sigil of Kolinahr. "Certainly, Commander. What do you wish of me?" S'pilash asked as he moved to stand before the aged man.

"I am curious as to your presence here. Pleased, but curious. These children have been a part of the Clan for close to a week, and have already received much Vulcan help. While more help is understandably required, it is highly unusual for Vulcans to take such an interest once the crisis has passed. I would like to know why you are here."

S'pilash nodded. "I failed the Ambassador earlier this week. This is my atonement. Also, in my time at the embassy, I have come to understand and appreciate that humans, when helped beyond our normal level, heal all the faster. Children especially. I can do some good here, and to ease distress..."

"It is logical, agreed. I am impressed with your dedication, Envoy. Please return to your most worthy task and do not let me delay you any further."

The younger man nodded, but paused. "Might I know your name? I was unaware of a Kolinahr master on Earth, other than Commander R'Kau and Admiral Spock."

"I am Xolan, son of Merik, of the House of Surak. Kolinahr Suppression Master, third circle," Xolan said seriously.

"Live long and prosper, Xolan," S'pilash said as he held up his hand in the standard salute.

"Peace and long life, S'pilash," Xolan responded just as he felt a light tug on his robe. He looked down to see the troubled face of his Division Commander looking up at him. "Jason. How can I assist you?"

"Juan," Jason rushed out. "He's just had a mind-fit due to a Zherka-bosh'tel-nashiv-tor."

S'pilash stiffened noticeably. "Who would do such a thing?"

Xolan, impassive as ever, looked long at Jason. "It was Sa'ren, correct?"

"Yes. He's had a complete breakdown, then vanished on us. Levi is looking for him now," Jason explained.

S'pilash's eyes narrowed. "Emotional rape? Why would the son of Spock do such a thing?"

Xolan looked at him. "You are unaware of the current issues that have arisen today?"

"I was aware of the alarms, but I have been here since late last night. What has occurred?" S'pilash asked.

"Sa'ren was attacked by two adults and a teenager, beaten, blinded and raped," Xolan said simply.

S'pilash stiffened again, then nodded. "Then the assault is understood. I should report in to the Ambassador's office. They might require my expertise."

"No," Xolan said softly. "You can do more good here. Sarek is also at the base, and I shall inform him of your presence. If he shall require you, he shall call for you."

S'pilash nodded. "Understood."

"Come on, Grandfather... Juan needs you!" Jason said urgently.

The elder Vulcan nodded and took his grandson's hand and walked quickly from the room with him.

Jason and Xolan checked the room Joel had recently been in, but found it empty. "Daileass, where is Juan right now?"

'With Mama Janet in her apartment... he's a bit of a mess.'

"The rest of the guys?"

'There too. Adam's really worried.'

"Transport us there now," Xolan ordered firmly.

'Okay, Commander,' Daileass said with relief – he'd already seen some of what this old Vulcan could do, and he didn't want his brother Juan to hurt for much longer.

Jason blinked as both he and his grandfather vanished from the Med-bay and appeared in a well appointed apartment room. Joe was sitting on his wheelchair with Juan cuddled on his lap, shaking like a leaf and sobbing heavily. In Juan's hand was his old teddy, Rambo, while cuddled with him was his now living, animated Teddy, the other Rambo. Janet was kneeling next to Joe and talking softly to the boy, while all his brothers, his boyfriend and a few others were watching silently.

"Sorry I took so long, but my grandpa can be a hard Vulcan to track down," Jason said softly as Xolan moved over and laid his palm on the trembling Juan's forehead.

"He needs a meld immediately. Please relinquish your hold on your son, Joseph, or he will not recover," Xolan ordered the wheelchair-bound man.

Mutely, Joe raised up the violently trembling child while Rambo jumped to the floor and went crying into Jory's embrace. "Can you help him?" Joe and Janet asked together.

Xolan didn't respond. Holding the boy over his left hip, he initiated a meld immediately.

Jason nodded and answered for him, "Yes – hopefully. What Joel did was the emotional equivalent of rape, and the harm from such can be mind-breaking if a full mind-healing is not performed very soon after. We should have caught this in time."

"Joel... that sweet boy raped Juan?!" Janet exclaimed.

Jason nodded, "Not meaning to, but yes. He thrust all his own pains and hurts into Juan."

"But he's N-Gen. That wouldn't have worked with me," Adam said as he clenched his hands into fists. "How did this happen?"

"Because Juan has never trained his telepathy nor empathy," Jason sighed. "He had no defence, and he is just lucky that Joel was too freaked out to focus his thoughts. A Vulcan can shred a person's mind if they do so correctly."

"How will this affect the relationship between our brother and Joel?" Will asked sickly. "They are as close as they can be without being lovers."

"Umm, they are lovers... in a way," Koth said seriously. "Juan spent almost as much time with Joel in the Tardis as he did with me."

"Why would Joel do that to Kev, though?" Korris asked.

"Long story, but Kev was okay with it," Jason said seriously. "Just the same as Juan is fine when Koth does the same with Riti and Viccy when he feels he wants to bond with them a bit."

"What's this?" Logan asked curiously.

Koth grinned, "We play a lot – we love each other, and show it physically. Juan knows and doesn't mind – he even has an open invite to play, too!"

"So Juan has 'played' with Joel, Jace?" Adam asked.

Jason nodded, "More than play, less than In Love. It's real between them, but – oh, man, it's hard to explain. Juan or Joel would have to. Or Koth as he feels the same about Viccy and Riti."

Koth giggled, "Well, if you want me to..."

Janet raised a hand.

"Yes?" Koth asked her sweetly.

"Is this an occasion for BBQ sauce?" she asked with a giggle and a wicked glance at Adam and Logan.

"Moooom!!!" both teens yelled as their faces flushed in an instant.

"Could be," Koth smirked. "So," he added, pulling out a notepad, "that's one for the Mom and zero for the sons. Okay... now, on with the story..."


Inside the Tardis on Friday – Two Years into Training:

With a plate of still warm cookies in his hand, Koth walked along the street of the town the Doctor had created for all those in training to live in. He saw his target destination drawing closer and closer, and he smiled to himself. 'They're really gonna like these!' he bubbled to himself as he made his way to Riti and Viccy's apartment. 'They're the best I've ever made!'

At the door, he simply opened it and walked in, "Hey guys! Look what I've... OH KAHLESS! I'm SORRY!" he yelled, dropping the plate of cookies to the floor in shock.

There, on the bed, Viccy was lying on her back – with Riti on top of her. They both turned their heads to the side to look at him and smiled.

"SHIT! I'm SOOOO Sorry!" Koth blushed as he covered his eyes to not see them making love. Fumbling awkwardly with the door, he tried to back out of the apartment.

"Stop, Koth," Viccy giggled at him. "You've seen us naked before."

"But you're... he's.... you're doing it, sis! I..."

Riti chirped in amusement, "Then why don't you come have fun with us. It's been a while, bro!"

"Umm... but not... this is... not your first time together, guys! It's... well.... and Juan won't... Umm..." Koth spluttered, his eyes still closed and his back pressed against the door he was still struggling with.

He heard movement and then the quiet patter of Lo'Garn feet. He felt Riti pull his hand away from his closed eyes. "Idiot! Look at me, you silly Klingon," Riti giggled.

Koth warily opened his eyes.

"You taught us to masturbate and to do mouth stuff," Riti giggled, "why are you so nervous now? And this ain't our 'first' time. That was a few nights ago!"

Koth blushed and looked between Riti and Viccy, who was still on the bed. "But... Juan. Guys, you know I..."

"Yes," Viccy smiled softly, "we know you love us. If it wasn't for Juan, you'd have been lovesick to be with the two of us. We love you too, just..."

"Just not that you're IN love with me, yeah, I know," Koth said as he hung his head.

"Just like you're not IN love with us either," Riti said as he hugged Koth tightly. "But Juan knows we've played before, right?"

"What you're asking is more than play. It's sex!"

"Then ask him," Riti smiled. "If he says you can do everything but go all the way, then you can still have fun with us like you used to. And anyway, I've always wondered what it would be like to have you make love to me."

"Same here," Viccy giggled with a blush.

Riti pulled Koth over to the bed and sat him down.

"You gonna ask him, or shall I call him?" Viccy giggled as her eyes started to flash blue.

"I'll do it!" Koth blushed. He sighed and reached out with his mind toward his boyfriend and sent the entire situation in a rush to him... and then burst out laughing.

"What's funny?" Riti giggled as he cocked his head to the side and started chirping in laughter.

"Juan just sent a similar request to me!" Koth howled out in mirth.

"Really?" Viccy said with slight concern. "He'd only do that with a few people – his five brothers..." Koth shook his head as she said it, "Jeremy and Tyler, but that was a one time thing..." Koth grinned and shook his head yet again, "... and, well... noooo... you're joking, right? Tell me you're joking!" she exclaimed as Koth fell off the bed laughing.

Riti's eyes widened until they looked like they'd overtake his entire face. "Joel?! You can't be serious!"

Koth pulled himself into a seated position and nodded foolishly at them. "Yeah," he giggled, "Joel and Juan want to share what they feel... and I think Joel wants Juan to make him feel safe... Juan's always looking out for him, and Joel's feeling a little – flushed? – so..."

"But... Joel said that 'feeling safe' that way meant..." Riti started, then blushed as Koth, grinning, nodded his head again.

"My God," Viccy giggled. Then she used her telekinesis to levitate Koth and strip him. "In that case, YOU can make ME 'feel safe', Koth-Boy... Riti's turn comes next," she added as Koth started to float down toward her, grinning like the cat who was about to get the cream.

As he neared, he smiled, "What, for him to make you 'feel safe' after I do?"

"Nope," Riti smirked. "For you to do the same for me... show us this Klingon stamina you keep boasting of!" he said as he settled in to watch his beloved girlfriend and beloved best friend start making love...

:End Flashback:

Jory wiped a tear from his eye. "God, that's beautiful. You really do love them, don't you?" he murmured as he looked at the peacefully smiling Koth.

"Yes, but I'm IN love with your brother – my heart belongs only to him. Just like Vic and Reet love me, but they BELONG to each other. We're closer than siblings, and we'll always have that in our hearts. What we do physically is just how we show it on occasion. It's spontaneous only, though. We don't arrange it beforehand. That wouldn't feel right," Koth whispered as his eyes locked on Juan's form as Xolan continued the mind-meld.

Logan shook his head. "Complete horndogs. Jory, you too. And that Ollie of yours, Koth... he's corrupting half the base with his boyfriend! Is there something in Welsh water that makes you hormonal sexual fiends?" he asked with a giggle.

"No. Natural ability!" Koth giggled, then he sighed. "But that's the reason why what Joel just did – even though he was flipped out and didn't mean it – is going to have a profound effect on Juan."

"But you won't tell us, right?" Adam asked shrewdly.

Koth shook his head. "No," he whispered. "That's for Juan or Joel to say, not me. Or Kev, 'cos he's linked to Joel in that special way of theirs. I won't."

"But I can," Juan whispered sickly, yet there was a hint of love nearly buried beneath the hurt in his voice. Xolan had finished the meld and had even caught Juan up on the conversation he'd missed.

Xolan placed Juan back into Joe's arms and said, "I will be back shortly, Youngling. I have something to prepare for you." Then, he turned and left the room with Jason.

Juan sighed as the door closed and looked at his brothers and parents, then at Koth. "I... I understand what just happened, and even though... even though it hurts, I still love my Elf... I just HATE those fuckers who messed MY Joel up that much that he flipped on me... I HATE THEM!" he finished with a yell.

"You don't have to tell us, son," Joe said softly as he held tight to the boy on his lap. Joe continued, "If it's special to you, you can keep it special."

Juan shook his head, "It's special, but Joel wouldn't mind. It's love, just like Koth said. And it's not what you guys are thinking. We didn't just get our rocks off or play for the sake of it... there was a reason... and it made me want to look after my Elf all the more... Koth? Could you? I wanna... but can't... right now..." he finished with tears starting from his eyes as he cuddled in tight to Joe.

Koth nodded, and started explaining...

:Flashback – Tardis...:

While Koth was off baking up a storm in the kitchens, Juan and Joel spent their free afternoon out in the muddiest part of the training grounds. Juan was dressed in chainmail and had an axe as large as himself, while Joel was in green woodland garb and held a bow in his hands. They were fighting a large group of holographic Orcs and Ogres, playing the parts of Gimli and Legolas perfectly.

"Twenty-six!" 'Gimli' shouted with glee.

"Fifty-seven! Nerr!" 'Legolas' retorted.

With a pout and a sigh of irritation, 'Gimli' grumbled, "I'm the fucking marksman and he's the damned Chang-Trained Sword-dancer, and I get the goddamn AXE? Joel! Swap roles, okay?"

"Nope! You promised! I'm Legolas this time," Joel giggled as he sent three arrows into the air and managed to skewer two orcs and fell an Ogre.

Juan grumbled, but did grin a bit – he had promised, and this was fun in any case. However, he wasn't about to let the Elf's cheek go unanswered, so he pounced Joel and forced him into the mud.

Sensing the 'wargame' was on hold, the Tardis deactivated the holograms and watched in amusement as the two already mud-flecked boys became 'Mud-men from the planet Mud-ania'. And Tardis wasn't the only one laughing – nearby, on a normal grassy section of the grounds, Kevin, Chang and two fur-covered groups fell about laughing too. Kevin had been helping Chang referee a 'semi-friendly' soccer match between the G-Cats and G-Wolves. Both sides had been shouting insults and showing off their unique skills to win (thus the fouls had been over-the-top) but Chang and Kevin knew that they were all really enjoying themselves. Once, however, the two nearby 'Middle-Earth' fighters had regressed to mud throwing and dunkings, the group of nine G-Cats and eight G-Wolves started hanging off each other, howling in mirth and calling out advice to the two 'Mud-men'.

Kevin moved slightly closer and said, "You'd better get those costumes clean before the Doc finds out! He'd kick your butts!" Then he ducked as Joel aimed a ball of mud in his direction, "Hey!"

"Nerr nerr, boo...*BLUFFFTH*," Joel tried to taunt, but Juan got his face with more mud. After spitting out the foul tasting gunk, Joel pounced Juan and started shovelling mud down the front of his pants and under-shorts, causing the Klingon to howl about cold nuts.

Running off giggling, Joel – the once-fleet-footed 'Legolas' – dodged and weaved as the rampaging Juan – the once stoic steady 'Gimli' – lit out after him. Joel was fast and agile, but not quite in Juan's league. Strength for strength, they were almost the same, but Juan did had the advantage. He tackled the fleeing elven giggle-box to the ground, in the deepest, muddiest part of the training grounds. Three feet of mud enclosed them and covered them completely.

"You know," Adam mused as he came over at the mental summons of his brother Chang, "this type of training might be useful too. I'll have to add in Joel and Juan as Advanced instructors," he suggested to Chang.

"Indeed," Chang chuckled lightly, "however, the hugging and tickles might not work in live-fire incidents."

"No, you're right. However, it would still be good muscle training; with enough life-guards to help those less strong survive that deep mud," Adam added. "Builds endurance," he added as Joel picked up Juan and managed, somehow, to repeated dip the Klingon's head into the foulest smelling patch of gunk he could find, while standing almost chest deep in the mud himself. "They are good, aren't they?"

"Very," Chang smiled, "good friends... and good fighters too."

"Ha ha," Adam giggled.

Kevin grinned at the banter, then called out, "Tardis? Are they both really okay?"

{Yes. They are both letting the other do what he wants once caught. They are in no danger, and I am monitoring their life-signs at all times.}

"Cool," Kevin smiled as he turned back to the now hysterical pile of fur that the wolves and cats had become. "Okay, you lot! We have a game to finish!"

Ten minutes later, Juan walked back out of the mud, with Joel riding piggy-back. "We need a shower," Joel giggled as he wiped his eyes with one hand, which didn't help all that much.

"No, really?" Juan mocked with light-hearted sarcasm. "I've only got mud encasing all four of my balls and making my pants feel like I've shit myself. Why'd we need a shower?"

Joel laughed, then said, "I'd kiss you, but you smell like a Cory-fart right now."

"Oh, charmed, I'm sure," Juan retorted, in a fake UK accent. Then he grinned, "Your apartment's closest. Shall we go there?"

"Yeah, but we better strip outside, or Kev will kill me for trekking mud through the main room!"

{That will happen whether you strip or not. Do you wish me to trans-mat you directly to your shower?}

"Oh, yes please, Tardis!" both boys echoed, then giggled.

A second later, they were leaving their muddy footprints all over the tiled floor of Joel and Kevin's en-suite.

"Urgh! How can I get this chainmail off?! It weighs more than Amur Khan, now!" Juan grumbled as he fell over as he attempted the task. The mail was now caked and covered in dirt and mud, and that made it slick. Juan was having a difficult time even getting the smallest grip.

Joel helped him back to his feet and said, "Arms out. I'll grab, you walk backwards."

It worked very well, apart from Joel falling to his butt with the foul smelling mail on his lap. The weight of it and the momentum had driven him there, where he sat laughing.

Juan grinned. "You look cute like that."

"Huh?" Joel looked up at him as he pushed the mail to one side and started on his boots.

"Your pointy ears sticking out of a mud-head!"

"Oh!" the elf giggled. "So do you, with that Klingon brow of yours!" he added as he slowly stripped himself off.

Juan did the same with the leather under-armour he had been wearing, and soon both were naked and piling their battle gear in the corner. Being naked was just a technicality, however, as they were caked inside of their clothing as well as outside of it. Neither could tell a single feature about the other, other than the aforementioned ears and brow.

Both giggling, and still attempting to throw some of the mud from themselves at the other, they got into the large shower area and began to wash themselves down.

Once the mud had gone, they spent more time soaping up and rinsing each other off as well as shampooing their hair. As Juan rubbed down Joel's back, Joel started to purr. "Ah, nice. Can you scratch... yeah, there!" he murmured with contentment as Juan set to work with both hands.

Juan laughed all the more as Joel's purrs and groans of pleasure filled his ears.

"You're a good back-scratcher," Joel said as Juan finished off.

Juan asked curiously as he started to rub the smaller boy's back instead, "Why do you always call me good at something, and praise me for these little things, Elf?"

Joel turned around and looked up at Juan's face, "Because you're more than just a soldier and a marksman, Juan. You're good at a lot of things, and I want to tell you when you are."

Juan cocked his head to the side, "But I was made a marksman. It's how I was designed."

"But you're more than what you were made, Juan; you're human..."

"And Klingon," Juan grinned.

"No. Human. Human isn't a race, Juan," Joel said seriously. "Not really. The people on Earth use it thinking that's what they mean, but Uncle Jim has it right – everyone's human. The real name for people here on Earth is Terrans. Human is just the Terran word for 'Sentient-Alive-Thinking-Person', if you think about it. If someone is thought of as sub-human, then their self-worth has gone. Everyone's human. You're human. You're worth more than the genetic soup that those bastards created in you. You're good at more and able to be more. I'd not be able to be a friend to someone who was a killer and only a killer."

"It's what I'm good at, though," Juan muttered sorrowfully. His sorrow was not because he hated what he had been made as, but because what he had been made as was not something Joel was a friend to – and therefore he was afraid of losing his little friend.

"Not ONLY, Juan. Want me to tell you what else I see?"

Juan nodded.

Joel smiled and ran his arms around Juan's neck and hoisted himself up to be at eye level with the taller boy. Now, with his feet dangling just over Juan's ankles and with the Hispanic-Klingon's arms around his waist to help hold him there, Joel kissed Juan gently on the lips and said, "You're a loyal friend, a fierce friend, a good back-scratcher, great at boardgames, brilliant playing a flute, creative with music and words and poems... and you make the bestest tub of movie-watching popcorn this side of the Beta Quadrant!"

Juan burst out laughing, even with tears starting to run from his eyes. "Trust you to think of food!" he giggled, but then sobered and asked, "You really think all that of me?"

"You played and sang that song for me on my birthday. You did, and are, all that to me... and I've seen a LOT more when you're with others. You're funny, you're a comedian. You like it when people laugh at the silly jokes and things you do 'cos they are your friends and you want to make them happy. You have more in you than what General Adams wanted there. You're human. You're your OWN person."

Juan sniffed and kissed Joel lightly. "Thanks," he murmured.

"And you're wonderful. Loving.... kinda sexy, too," Joel added with a light blush. "And hard... well, so am I," he finished as he looked down. He couldn't see anything due to them being so tightly pressed together; but he could certainly feel Juan's excitement pressing against his upper thigh, just below his own excitement.

Juan blushed as well. He whispered, "You're sexy, too... Elven Prince."

Joel blushed more and tucked his face into Juan's neck. "I love you, Juan. You're one of the few people I trust this much and love this much."

"Same for me," Juan murmured back as he sank to the floor and sat with Joel more or less on his lap as the shower head poured out the hot stream of water over the two of them.

They hugged for a long while before Joel giggled, "We'd better deal with this 'gun' of yours before you kill someone with it."

Thinking it just a joke, Juan played it up, "Hey! I'm the best shot in the world... no matter what you've heard from Riti, the little feathered alien cheat... I can handle my beretta just fine!"

Joel giggled and shifted slightly until he could reach and grasp Juan's stiffy gently.

Juan suddenly realised that, to Joel, this was no joke. "Um, Joel? We can't, Joel; what about Koth and Kev?"

Joel looked puzzled for a moment then smiled, "Kev don't mind me showing those I trust and care for my love in this way. I've done it with Samsam a few times – once at my birthday in a meld and then a few times in here."

Juan's eyes grew wide. "What about Koth?"

Joel's smile never changed. "Ask him. He told you that he does stuff with Viccy and Reet right? Try asking him about you showing me you care this way."

Juan looked slightly more puzzled, "Aren't you assuming a lot, Joel? That I want to do this?"

Joel shook his head. "No. Not assuming. You raised two objections, and I felt that those were your only ones. You not wanting to love me this way wasn't and isn't one of them."

Juan blinked, then blushed. He turned his eyes away shyly for a moment before nodding. "You're right. I want to do this too."

"Then check with Koth," Joel whispered. "I'll not be hurt if he says no, or you decide no. I know you love me anyway. I'd just like it if I could show you this one way."

Juan kept his eyes fixed on the floor for a moment before responding. "Only if you ask Kev as well. I don't want him to think I'm stealing you or that you're betraying him. That's just not right."

Joel nodded, "Okay."

And so, together, they reached out to their other halves. But before Joel could do more than send the normal mental kiss down his bond-link to Kevin, Juan erupted in laughter.

Joel opened his eyes, "What? What's funny?"


"Huh? What he say?"

"It wasn't so much WHAT he said, but the timing of my question and HIS!"

"Explain," Joel giggled as Juan continued to laugh.

The little elf had to wait a few more seconds for Juan to get his breath back before he got his answer. "Koth is with Riti and Vic now – and he had walked in on them making love..."

"They've finally gone all the way? Wicked!" Joel cheered.

"Yes, but that was a few days ago. Now, though, Riti and Vic want Koth to join in with them..."

"With everything?" Joel asked, wide eyed.

Juan nodded and giggled.

"You don't mind him doing everything with them?"

"Nope. He loves them. They love him. But he's IN love with me and I own his heart like he owns mine. No, I don't mind as long as it's real and not just fooling around for the sake of it. That's betrayal," Juan said seriously, yet with love and a smile on his face.

"Sheesh..." Joel giggled, "and here we're only asking if we can masturbate to express our love!"

"Wellll...." Juan murmured. 

"'Well' what?" Joel asked, his belly suddenly beginning to fill with a butterfly feeling.

Juan blushed, "He said we can go all the way too after I'd explained our request."

Joel's heart rate increased, "I don't know if Kev would agree to that, tho..."

Juan shook his head, "I wasn't suggesting it, but if I did and he said no, I wouldn't mind – just as you told me earlier, we love and care for each other anyway. If you say you're both fine with hands only, and once you check, that's enough for me."

Joel nodded uncertainly. "I won't ask him about going all the way. Sorry, I don't think he'd..."

'You don't have to.'

Joel stopped talking as Kevin's voice came to him over his bond-link. "One sec, Juan... it's Kev!" Then he sent back, 'Were you listening in after my kiss?'

'Yeah. Of course I was. You usually send me kisses randomly, but always with warm huggy feelings if you just want to kiss me mentally and NOT talk. This time, you just started with our 'Kiss-Hello' thing... then silence. So I got curious and linked up a bit.'

Joel blushed furiously, causing Juan to get a bit nervous.

'Don't blush, my heart,' Kevin said softly and lovingly. 'Your answer, for Juan, is yes. But if you two do go further... you also have a yes.'


'I feel your heart, Sa'r. What is Juan to you?'

Joel looked full into Juan's eyes and said and sent at the same time, "T'hy'la."

'Yes. Brother. Soul-mate. Friend. Lover. It means all that. I'm T'hy'la too, but what am I REALLY to you?' Kevin asked gently.

With tears starting to run from his eyes, Joel whispered aloud, "K'hat'n'dlawa."

'Yeah, and you're my k'hat'n'dlawa too. 'Other half of my heart and soul'. I do not just love you, I'm IN love with you – like Juan explained. And I KNOW you feel and are the same way for me. I'm YOUR other half, just as YOU are MINE. I know you don't go around sleeping with people for the sake of it. I trust you. You love Juan, you trust Juan. If you both go all the way, I'll just smile... or come and watch!' Kevin added cheekily.

'You... you'd be welcome to,' Juan sent into their link.

"How'd you do that? Vulcan bonds... Jason can't do that! How did you?" Joel asked in shock.

'Because I let him in with MY telepathy, Sa'r,' Kevin giggled. 'I'll be home in about an hour or so. Seeya then. Love you!'

"We love you too," Juan said, as Joel sent, 'Shal ashau du!'

Joel blinked his tears away as he smiled at the smiling face one of his few best friends. Juan winked at him, then gently took Joel's hand and moved it toward his dick. Then Juan placed his other hand on Joel's. "Love you, my big little brother," Juan whispered.

"Same to you, my little big brother," Joel added with a grin.

Cuddling close, and with their cheeks touching, they showed each other gently how much they cared for the other. Once done, they hugged and left the shower to dry each other down.

Out in the main room, Joel walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. Juan called the Tardis and asked for his clothes to be trans-matted to him. As they appeared, Joel smiled and asked, "What you gonna do with the evening? Seems like Koth might be 'busy' for the night."

Juan shrugged as he picked up his under-shorts, "Dunno. Might pop over to see if Chang wants to watch a film or something. Then, go to bed."

Joel giggled, "Why don't you stay here tonight? We'd like the company, and you can watch films with us too!"

Juan grinned, "Okay! Deal." Since Joel seemed in no hurry to dress, he let his clothes drop back on the seat they had appeared on and moved closer to Joel. "What film were you thinking of? Tardis has just to many to chose from!"

Joel thought, then suggested, "What about a Star Trek film?"

Juan frowned, "Huh? Oh! You mean those films about Kirk and your dad from the universe you were stuck in?"


"Okay. Sounds kewl!"

While Joel went to pick one out that he knew Juan would like, Juan pulled the double quilt off of the queen-sized bed and draped it over the foot of the bed and onto the floor. He threw a few of the pillows there as well before heading for the kitchen area and starting on:

"Yay! Popcorn!" Joel giggled as he sniffed the air.

"You said I made the best!"

"You do!"

Juan giggled, "Get comfy, and I'll be there soon."

"On the floor with our backs to the bed?"

"Yup. Then, when we look up at that big screen TV you've got, it'll be just like the movies!"

"Good idea! Mmm... Oh! I'll get the drinks! We gotta have Pepsi!"

"Oh, that's right – shall I get the Tardis to get hot dogs and tortilla chips ready for us too?"

"Great idea!"

After the preparations, and the required munchies close at hand, the two boys settled down in the middle of the quilt, and pulled it around them and over them until only their heads were visible. They had easy access to the food, and the controls for the film and lights were close at hand. "Dim the lights and lets GO!" Joel giggled, and so Juan did so.

About an hour later, the door of the apartment opened. The film was currently paused as Joel was explaining some of the differences between the Star Trek universe and their own, and so both boys turned to see the small shadow now closing the door.

"Sa'r? You asleep?" came a soft whisper.

"No!" giggled Joel. "It's only... uh, what time is it? Ah, seven thirty! Did you have fun, Kevvy?"

Juan raised the lighting half way so that the room was warmly lit. There by the door, Kevin was stripping out of his slightly muddy clothing. "Yeah. The Cats cheated so much that Chang called it for the Wolves. That started a mini-wrestle war, which I got pulled into. Now they're all off getting showers. Did you have fun?"

"Still are," Juan smiled. "This film is great! Action, adventure... it's cool. No guns, though... pity."

"Goof," Joel giggled as he reached and tickled Juan's belly.

Kevin smiled at them before heading naked to the bathroom, "I'll grab a fast shower."

"Okay!" both boys responded before turning the film back on.

Not ten minutes later, Joel felt the bed move as a slightly damp but thoroughly clean Kevin climbed on and over toward them. Kevin spread himself out on his belly and rested his chin on Joel's shoulder, which was just over the edge of the bottom of the bed. "I'll have to watch this from the start with you later, Sa'r," he said after a moment or so.

Joel reached up with a hand and rubbed the back of Kevin's neck.

"And I love when you do that, but I'm real tired tonight... those fuzzy idiots wore me out," Kevin giggled.

"You should have tried mud-fighting," Juan said quietly, a grin on his face.

"I'm not enhanced nor an alien! Just a regular squishy," Kevin retorted before pecking a kiss on Juan's nearest cheek, then swooping in on Joel for a proper one. "I'm gonna watch a movie with the cats. They invited us over, but I'll tell them you and Juan are spending some time together instead."

"You sure?" Joel asked as Juan paused the movie again.

"Yeah... besides, I can sense that you're both getting turned on again... no idea why," Kevin said sarcastically. "It's not like either of you are sitting next to beautiful, naked bodies... Yeah, Sa'r, I'm sure. You guys have fun. I'm going to the cats."

Juan studied Kevin's face for a long moment before smiling, "Thank you. You've got a great partner here, Kev... I was just concerned that..."

"I know, don't be, and just look after him," Kevin answered. "Like I said, I'm tired. I couldn't get the energy to get it up, never mind get off, with my sexy husband tonight." And with that, Kevin bounced off the bed and grabbed his Clan robe. After tying it around himself, he waved and said, "Good night. Love you!"

"Love you, too," Joel replied as Juan echoed, "Good night!"

Once Kevin had left the room, Juan asked Joel, "Was he being truthful? I can sense that Koth is hot-to-trot right now, and it's getting me warmed up. Surely he feels it when you're turned on, too?"

Joel giggled, "So that's why I'm feeling turned on, too! I'm picking it up through contact from you!" He giggled some more, then, "Yeah. He's tired all right. I can feel it. Besides, if he's gonna be with the cats tonight, he'll get a cat-bath. For some reason, he can't have one without getting 'the feeling', so he's gonna have some fun."

"I thought Kev couldn't do that with others," Juan said in puzzlement.

"It's not sex," Joel grinned. "It's just his reaction to grooming. The cheetahs find it hysterical. So do the girls, but they don't tease him about it. I do, too, but I just wait til the cats have left before getting my wicked way with him."

"You're evil," Juan grinned.

"And you're hard again. Kev was right!"

"So are you, Elf," Juan blushed. Then, "Shall we... like the shower?"

Joel shook his head, grinned, then ducked down under the quilt.

"Joel? What are you... oh... oh, that's what..."

Five minutes later, Joel reappeared and sighed happily, for Juan felt more at ease and peaceful now. He cuddled into his side again before reaching to start the movie back up.

"No, you don't," Juan said softly.

"Why not?" came the puzzled response.

"You're still in need of help too, and it's not fair for you to do that to me and expect nothing in return."

Joel smiled at his friend, then moved Juan's hand over his stiffy. "If you want, but I never expect anything from anyone – not when it's in love, bro."

Juan removed his hand. He threw back the quilt and giggled, "Now for this green popcicle!"

"Goof..." Joel purred before starting to giggle and wiggle about under Juan's assault.

Again, after about five minutes or so, both boys were back to being cuddled together, and they managed to finish the end of the film – as well as pack away all the popcorn that Juan had made (enough for four adults), five plates of tortilla chips, six hot dogs each, and two bottles of Pepsi. They both had the urge for the bathroom at about the same time, and so shared the loo and played sword fighting with their streams.

They washed up and headed back to the quilt-nest. "It's only twenty past eight. What else do you wanna do? Another movie?" Juan asked as Joel lay down on his back spread eagle and sighed.

Joel patted his over extended belly and hummed to himself. "What about you pick out a movie? Just nothing scary."

Juan giggled, "Okay... Predator!"

"Yeah!... more popcorn, too?"

Nearly two hours later, and another huge supply of snacks destroyed, they decided to call it a night; or so they thought.

"You still turned on or something?" Juan giggled at Joel, who was sitting on the side of the bed.

The little boy blushed. "I was just thinking about Koth... then I suddenly saw Viccy from my memories... when we were swimming? It popped up... not that you can talk, boner-boy!"

"Well, he IS currently with her right now," Juan blushed. "I can't help it! But you're a perv... Perv-Vulcan, the Sexual Imp of the World!"

"Goof!" Joel yelled playfully as he picked up the closest pillow and launched it at the laughing half-Klingon.

Catching it easily, Juan ran at Joel and pounced him. Squealing gleefully, Joel found himself pinned under the heavier boy, with the pillow over his chest and making it impossible to raise his arms. Juan looked down at the happy face his small friend had, and smiled as well.

"You make me feel so... safe, Juan," Joel said sweetly before lifting his head just enough to kiss Juan's lips. "Thank you."

Juan felt so protective in that moment, that he didn't quite know what to do with himself.

"Can you... will you make me feel safer?" Joel asked, his eyes filled with trust.

Juan nodded, "But how?"

Joel explained that when he made love to Kevin, Kevin said he felt complete and utterly protected. And it was also the same when Kevin made love to him. Joel never finished the explanation, however, for Juan wasn't slow by any stretch of the imagination. "You want me to make love to you," he said, more of a statement than a question.

Joel nodded. "I can't with you. I know that. And Koth should be the first to do that with you anyway. But... if you want... could you...?"

Juan moved enough so that he could move the pillow away and then lowered himself back so that he was fully chest to chest with Joel. "For you, yes. I will," Juan whispered.

Joel pointed to the nearest cabinet by the bed, and Juan knew what he'd find there. After moving about to get more comfy, Joel watched as he lay on his back as Juan got himself ready.

Then, his eyes locked with his friend and his arms hugging him, Joel drew Juan close and into contact with him.

"Did it work?" Juan whispered as they once again lay together, Juan on top of Joel.

Joel stared back into Juan's eyes and kissed him lightly, "Yes. Not like Kevvy. He is like my other half and I become immortal, it seems. You... it was like being in the middle of an army of white knights – and even though I felt exposed, I KNEW that nothing could get to me. Different, yet the same... thank you, Juan... thank you for being my friend and brother."

"It's me who should thank you," Juan whispered.

Again, in the now mostly dark room, they heard the door open. Looking over, they saw Kevin closing the door and then pad over to them.

Juan stiffened slightly, but once in the light of the bedside lamp, he saw Kevin's smile. "I couldn't sleep," Kevin giggled. "And no wonder why."

Joel smiled at him as Kevin pulled off his robe and jumped into the bed with them. "I love you, k'hat'n'dlawa," the little Vulcan murmured.

As Kevin linked his hand with Joel and cuddled close to his side, Juan made to roll off onto Joel's other side. "Don't," Kevin smiled. "You can stay there if you want."

Juan nodded before moving back.

"Thanks," Joel whispered. "It makes me feel safe... the two of you here with me."

And so they slept, curled in each other's arms – Kevin and Juan keeping their elf safe between them.

And Joel slept with a contented little smile on his face...

:End Flashback:

There was silence in the room as Koth finished telling the story, but Janet was the first to speak. "... Juan, you're special and Joel is special. So is Kevin. Don't let what happened change that."

"I won't, Mom," Juan managed from the death hug he had Joe in.

At that moment, Jason and Xolan returned and approached Juan. Jason said, "Little bro, we've talked about how to help you best, now."

Juan looked up and blinked at the older boy before nodding slowly.

"Usually," Xolan said, "after this type of meld, the one in pain is placed in assisted sleep for a day so that the mind-healing has a chance to work on their conscious and subconscious minds. Since you are likely not going to want to do that, Jason had come up with a work-around for you."

Jason took up the explanation, "I'll go into your mind and show you how to form an area you can spend the time you need in to let Grandfather's healing take place. While your core personality is there, a side-persona will act and react like you to interact with everyone out here. It'll be you in all ways, just not the hurt you've just been through. Once your core has finished dealing with everything, you'll take over full control, at will, and then know everything your side-persona has experienced while you were away."

"I... I don't need anyone else's help. I'm fine," Juan said, trying to take on the tough boy exterior that he always had up.

Janet was the one who cut him off. "No, Juan, you're not. You have two choices, either you take Xolan's advice and sleep for a day to let yourself heal, or you take Jason's idea and go with that; but either way, you are going to do one of them."

Juan stared hard at his mom for a few moments, as everyone else kept quiet, knowing this is something for them to stay out of. Finally the 'mom' factor won out, and Juan deflated visibly. "Okay Jason... let's do it your way."

"Uncle Joe? Let go, please, I'll take him from here," Jason whispered.

Joe opened his arms, and Juan floated out of his lap to hover before Jason. Jason walked over and into the kitchen area and closed the door, Juan floating before him all the way.

Once both boys were sat down on bar stools, Jason ran his fingers through Juan's hair. "This won't be bad at all. I promise, little brother. And I promise, while you're dealing with this shit, everyone out here will see you acting normally – your street cred will be safe, okay?"

"Just get on with it, please... there are some assholes out there that need killing, and I need to vent some frustrations," Juan replied.

Jason nodded. "Okay. Also, your side-persona will get all the training you need. Defense, standard and Vulcan Telepath Criminal Code. Tomorrow, go and see Jamie and Jacob Dodds to get certified."

Juan frowned, "If you train this persona, how will that help me?"

"Because once you take back control, everything your persona has said and done and learnt will be yours. It IS you, remember. Now, relax and you'll feel better tomorrow," Jason smiled.

"Doubt that," Juan grated out as his eyes closed.

Ten minutes later, the kitchen door opened, and Juan's family and Xolan looked over to see Jason walk back in with a smile and Juan bounce back in as if nothing had ever happened. "Hey! Come on, there's shit to fuck up somewhere! Let's go!" Juan smiled evilly.

Meanwhile, in another part of the base, Timmy and Ricky had gathered around Dan, and were having a true powwow regarding what had happened to Joel. After Dan had tried to regain control of the situation six times and failed each time, he gave up and endorsed Solkar and Jimmy's plan – to seek out and cuddle into submission the hurting Vulcan boy.

And so saying, the Tribe/Rugrats all called Daileass at the same time and in multiple voices and phrases demanded transport back to Orlando.

Dan was sure that the sudden acquiescence by the UNIT AI was due to fear... the Tribe were mostly small, after all, and could easily fit into the crawl-ways and air ducts of the base to find and punish him if he should refuse!

But where had Joel gone to?

He was safe, but he didn't even know where he was, at first: and he therefore panicked.

He felt around in the darkness that was now his existence, and felt the soft quilt that he lay upon. It was a bed, a large one. Comfortable. He caught a scent with his heightened smell – Cory and Sean. Their room?

Yes, it was. He had come to the safest place he knew; a place he had felt the most protected of all – above and beyond the times in the Tardis with Juan or Kevin.

Where his two first and greatest protectors had comforted him with Kevin.

How he managed to make the trip, he didn't know. If felt like the effect of the Armour of Sa'ren, yet he had not been wearing it. The method of transportation was irrelevant to him, though. He was safe, here. He wiggled until he reached the edge of the bed, and then slowly got to his feet. Unsteady due to being sightless, he waited for a while until he caught his equilibrium. Then, with his arms out before him, he moved to where he knew Cory's PC table was. He found it without hurting himself, and thus oriented to the room, felt his way to the door. He shouldn't be here, after all. As safe as he felt, he shouldn't be in his brothers' room unless they were there or had allowed him to be there alone. He opened the door silently and stepped out into the silent hallway.

Mostly silent. From the direction of the stairs he could hear very soft voices; Russ, Sara, Tanner and DJ. Joel's face scrunched up slightly as he turned the other way and headed for his own room. He'd only been in there a few times: once with Cory on his first night in this house, and then a few times afterwards to change into different clothing or to arrange all his birthday gifts.

Now, he'd never see his room again, and most of his gifts were now redundant – especially his Mac Pro from his Mama. 'What a waste,' he thought as he brushed his hands against the wall until he made contact with the door frame to his room. He opened and entered silently, before closing the door equally as quietly. He stood with his back pressed against the door for a long while as his mind laid out the floor plan of his room. He made for his wardrobe, his hands sweeping back and forth in front of him to find out where his PC desk chair was. He found it and moved around it. Then he stopped.

He was now standing in front of his wardrobe, but that was not the reason his flesh started to creep – he was also by the armour stand that held the Fo'Wein Sa'ren. He felt its call. It was palpable. Yet he could not bring himself to touch it. He had betrayed everything about himself. Everything. He turned away from the Armour and reached out for the handle to the wardrobe.

Once open, he felt about inside for his robes. Just by their texture he could determine what were his Family robes, his House and even his Clan ones. He did not want any of them. He was after something that should only be worn once in his life, something every Vulcan had made for him yearly until they were fully grown: his burial robe.

He found it and pulled it out.

Dead he felt, and so, dead he would be.

Clutching it against his chest, he cried for a moment before turning and making his way to his en-suite bathroom. As he entered, he dropped the robe onto the chair he knew was just outside of the bathroom door before entering. He made his way over to the shower area, and then, his skin still creeping with disgust, turned on the water at full temperature. He grabbed a sponge and started to clean himself – hard. Rubbing and rubbing at one patch of his skin until the pain grew so bad that he had to move on. It was the only way, he reasoned, that he could be sure that no more filth from his 'master' and his 'master's' brothers remained on him...

He padded along quietly, poking his nose into various rooms in Main CIC as he went, sniffing and looking around for something to do while his best friend was away for the weekend. He saw Helen and ran up to her, smiling in his own kind's way up at her until she patted his head and tossed him a treat.

Yum. Ham.

He moved off quickly, following his nose and hearing. He found a closed and locked door, and Slid through just to see if there was anything fun going on inside. No, just a utility room. Out he slid and padded on again. He came to the door leading out to the grounds. Closed, as it should be. No problem for him, for he Slid through that as well.

It was outside that he felt something was wrong. Someone nearby was hurting, and many since the dawn had come had been hurting; but none like this one. He sniffed and sniffed before orientating himself to the direction of the boy in pain. He squinted his eyes at one of the upper floor windows of his friend's brother's house. He tensed himself, from nose to tail – and Slid...

Joel had finished scrapping the top layer of skin off of his left arm and was beginning on his right, when a panting started in the darkness.

"Who's there?" he whispered in fear, falling to his butt and drawing his knees up to his chin before wrapping his arms around them. "Who is it?"

More panting, followed by a short, low bark.

"S... Slider?"


"What... how did you get in here, Slider?"

*pant pant – swish*

The dog wagged his tail as he sat there, just outside of the shower. He looked on with sorrow at the blood that was dripping from Joel's left arm and hand. The boy had not harmed himself seriously, but all the capillaries nearest the skin had ruptured, and the hot water was turning green as it ran down it. Slider whined, for it looked like it would hurt a lot.

"I... please go away," Joel wept.


"But I..."

*woof – pant – swish*

"Oh... okay," Joel sniffed as he uncurled himself and started to crawl toward the panting noise. "But I thought you liked showers."

*woof woof*

"Oh... yeah, I want it hot."

Joel reached the edge of the shower, and received a dog-kiss up the side of his face. He drew back and cried, "Don't, boy... I'm dirty."


Joel sat there, sniffing and trying not to cry more, but the dog had already decided that he wanted to fuss him. And Joel knew that what Slider wanted, Slider usually got.

He was spoilt rotten by Kyle.

Joel started to scratch the dog's ears and fuss him, thus allowing himself to be licked and fussed on back. As much as it made him cringe and feel foul, it also felt good deep down. Slider washed his face, ears, neck and hands, but kept clear from touching his now sore and hurting left arm.


"Thank you," Joel trembled as he crawled backwards and back into the near scalding hot water that cascaded down over him.

Slider looked at him sadly for a moment, then started sniffing the air again.

Someone was searching for Joel.

A lot of someones.

Yet Joel didn't want anyone to find him.

Slider thought he'd help his friend's brother stay hidden a little longer.

Slider turned and ran for the wall... and Slid away.

Timmy was getting most put out with the situation.

False trails everywhere; and Uncle Joel hadn't been wearing any clothes to begin with... and NOBODY would have been wearing fifteen pairs of shorts, five jeans, twenty three tee-shirts, a pair of boots, one sock and three pairs of trainers (sneakers to us Americans, -Ed.).

And why were there dog prints everywhere and slobber on the clothes?

Timmy whistled shrilly, and the entire Tribe gathered around him. "We have a spy working against us! He must be with those wanting to hurt Unca Joel!"


"Slider's right," Ricky said. "We have to search harder and tell someone about the spy!"

Solkar looked worried. "I am technically a spy... you do not mean me, do you?"

Timmy shook his head, while Slider wagged his tail and licked Solkar's face.

"Good," Jimmy said. "If you were gonna fight Sol, you'd hav'ta fight me too!"


"You smell Unca Joel?" Timmy asked Slider excitedly.

"WOOF!* Slider answered before starting off in another direction. The Tribe followed.

Overhead, William looked at Duke and laughed in their eaglish way. They knew Slider was behind the false trails, and they knew why he was doing so.

It was not meant for the Tribe to find Joel first.

That job was for the most Innocent of the Clan.

Therefore, they kept silent and followed Slider on another snipe-hunt.

Levi appeared in Cory and Sean's room and started looking around, just as he had done in many other places in the Compound. He scanned his eyes around the room, then walked into the bathroom, but stopped just inside the door. He turned back and looked at the bed. It looked messy. As if someone had... had landed there! None of the cleaners that helped out around the Clan would have left a bed like that, and Cory had been gone for a day already.

Joel was either here, or near. Levi started moving faster and checked everywhere before darting out of the door and down the hallway to the next door – Joel's. He popped through to the other side and knew he was in the right place. The bathroom door was open and steam was pouring out. The air of the room was muggy with it.

He walked over and looked inside, before gasping in horror.

"Who's there?" Joel yelled in fright, curling up upon himself again. "Slider? Is that you?"

"No, Uncle Joel," Levi said softly as tears sprang to his eyes. "It's me."

"Leevee," Joel whimpered before pressing his face against his knees and wailing softly.

Levi moved into the shower, his robe vanishing into his pendant with a thought, and knelt down before the Vulcan boy. Joel's skin was now in a very sorry state indeed, for Joel had scraped and scratched at himself so much that he was looking more green than normal. Green, inflamed and sore. His chest, arms, legs. Even his dick had not escaped his assault upon himself. Only parts of his back, where he couldn't reach, were still normal looking. His ears were bleeding more than any other part of himself, and his face was flushed and also inflamed, making the scar running up his left cheek and to his forehead stand out all the more. The socket of his eye with the sunken eyelid seemed to mock at Levi's desire to help, and that sightless white right eye... Levi burst into tears. "Will you let me heal you, Uncle Joel?"

Joel shook his head and started rubbing hard with the sponge again.

"Stop it! No more, Uncle Joel! Please, no more!" Levi wailed as he grabbed and threw the sponge out of the shower.

"I still feel them," Joel croaked out, "all over me. In me. Touching. Hitting. Their... their 'stuff' squirting on me, in my mouth... I..." he stopped as he started dry retching.

Levi lay his hands on Joel's head and concentrated, healing and restoring all the harm the boy had just done to himself. The skin changed and became whole as Levi sped up the natural healing process, leaving behind healthy, whole olive-coloured skin – with only his standard pale marks tracing him. "You have to trust me," Levi whispered as he wormed his way into Joel's arms. "Hold me and cuddle me, Uncle Joel. I love you, and I'll protect you."

"Don't call me that. You can't love me. I'm a traitor. I betrayed Kevin. I can't love him. I don't love him. I don't love anyone. If I did, I would have fought them. I didn't. I wanted to be... be... I must have... I..." Joel stopped again as more dry heaves shook his frail frame. "And now I'm a dead man... I'm dying and I deserve it... it's all my fault... my fault."

"No it isn't and no you ain't!" Levi said firmly. "I won't let you die."

Joel sobbed and sobbed into Levi's shoulder, one hand gripping Levi's hair while the other gently enfolded the boy's back. His own statements not withstanding, Joel felt the love well up and flood over him for Levi. Yet his mind recoiled from it desperately. It only made sense, what happened, if he did NOT love his family.

Levi pulled back just enough to cup Joel's face with his hands, "Come on. You're clean now. You can get out of here."

"I don't feel it," Joel whispered as he allowed the far smaller boy to pull him to his feet and lead him from the shower.

"I know don't, but you are clean. It is not your fault, and you are the same loving Uncle I've always known," Levi insisted as he grew to Joel's size to be able to use the towel he'd just grabbed more easily.

Joel just stood there, weeping as Levi patted him down gently. He did not feel the desire to recoil when Levi touched him, unlike everyone else, so this confused him all the more. His mind was tumbling over and over itself, trying to make sense out of everything that had happened to him, but intruding upon it all was the slick filthy feeling on his skin and the pain and terror of the memories of his assault. He could not close them away as he did with his past horrors. They would not stay locked in the rooms in his mind. He felt like he was running with nowhere to go, yet desperate to get to whatever the destination was.

He realised that Levi had guided him out of the bathroom and sat him down on his bed without remembering it happening, and he trembled.

"What do you want to wear?" Levi asked from the direction of his wardrobe and chest of draws.

Joel pointed in the general direction of the bathroom, to where the Burial Robe lay on the chair by the door.

Levi walked over and picked it up. "This?!"

"Yes," Joel whispered.

"But... but you're..."

"Yes, I am. I just haven't done it yet. That's what I want to wear."

"No, Uncle Joel. It'll be wrong! You ca..."

"Yes I can!" Joel screamed. "Yes I can if I want to. I don't WANT to wear anything else! It's that or NOTHING!" he raged, standing to his feet and making his way blindly at Levi, his fury pushing him on dangerously.

Levi felt fear. Not for himself, but for the uncle he loved who was slowly slipping away before his eyes. He whispered, "Okay. Here it is," as he moved to place the black robe into Joel's hands.

Joel snatched it from the small boy quickly and started trying to pull it on.

"Do you want me to help you?" Levi asked hesitantly.

"No!" Joel snarled, but since he could not determine which way around the robe was, he was failing miserably at putting it on. In the end his rage dropped away and he fell to his butt on the floor, sobbing. "I can't DO this, Leev... I can't live like this! I can't... I just can't..."

Without a sound, Levi walked over and picked up the robe before putting it over Joel. He gently tugged each of Joel's arms into the right sleeve and then pulled Joel to his feet. With tears in his eyes, Levi said, "You will have to let us help you, now. You can't do everything alone. Please don't go away from me again like that, Uncle Joel... you scared me! I thought you'd never come back..."

Joel raised his hands to his face and broke out in more cries. "See how bad I am? Now I'm hurting you for just... just h...helping me..."

The door opened suddenly, and Russ and Sara appeared. "What's all this shouting? What is goin... Joel?" Sara started. "Joel? You're here?!"

"Go away!" Joel screamed, falling to the floor and scrambling around the edge of the bed to hide. "Go away!"

Levi shook his head at the two adults and mouthed, "I'll explain later."

Russ nodded and pulled Sara from the room forcibly, for she was more than a little intent on going to Joel to help him.

Levi turned to see Joel's hand reach up to the bed and pull the queen-sized quilt off and over him. He sighed and moved over to squirrel under with his heavily weeping uncle – to do anything he could to try and calm him down.

Slider had given the Tribe the slip, after leading them and a large security team on a merry trip across the road to Camp Little Eagle. The entire Tribe was now going from cabin to cabin in their search, so Slider felt that it was a good time to go on another mission. He Slid away and appeared just outside of the CIC kitchen doorway. And his next helper was in there waiting for him, adapted guide-dog harness in place and ready.

Miss Allie Gator, soon to be world-wide traveller, for she still had a belt around her middle with her British Empire Passport in the pocket.

She smiled and growled out her greeting, getting a bark and a whine in return.

They started out of the kitchen and into the Rec Room only to be joined by a white wolf pup with four black paws and a massive Sehlat cub with silvery fur and mane.





... and the four Animalteers were off to help the Lil'elf!

They arrived at Cory's front door, with Blackie sitting on Allie's back – to make sure it was comfortable enough for the elf they were about to collect, of course – and opened the door. How they opened the door will remain a mystery. It certainly was to Russ and Sara, who were arguing at the foot of the stairs.

Sara stopped protesting her husband's removal of her from Joel's bedroom with a shocked stare as I-Cheya entered and huffed his greeting before getting his large rump through the door – without busting the frame somehow, which was another mystery that would never be solved. Then Allie plodded in with a wolf/collie cross puppy on her back, and both barked a 'hello'. Slider was the last. And he closed the door. Then, after a 'lovely day, wot?' style wink, he followed the others upstairs.

Sara decided to get a beer. Russ was in full agreement.

In Joel's bedroom, Levi had only just managed to get Joel up from the emergency den he had created with the massive quilt and sat him on the edge of the bed when the door opened. With I-Cheya huffing the theme tune from Disney's 'The Three Musketeers', in plodded the Levi Support Squad. They lined up in a row, from smallest to largest and remained there... while I-Cheya finished his musical huff-rendition.

Joel couldn't help but giggle. For the first time since the assault, he giggled. Levi's eyes began to leak tears once more, but he dashed them away quickly. "Uncle J..."

"Leev," Joel whispered, his giggles drying up, "please... don't call me 'uncle'."

"But you are..."

"No... well, I don't feel like I am. And you saying it makes me hurt. Could you call me just by my name for now? You're daddy is only a few years younger than me, and in a way so are you..."

Levi sighed. "Well... okay... Joel."

Joel smiled weakly. "Thanks, Leev," he whispered.


Joel turned slightly and shook his head, "No, 'Cheya. Not hungry."

I-Cheya narrowed his eyes. *Huff!! Huffhufhufhufff!*

Joel bowed his head. "You're gonna keep annoying me if I don't, ain't ya?"

*Huff!* *Growl!* *Bark!* *Howl!*

Levi giggled. "Come on. We can find something easy for your tummy to take," he said with a smile, but before he could move, Joel's arm reached out and stopped him.

Standing still before the little Vulcan, Levi waited to see what it was that Joel wanted. Rather than say anything, Joel traced his hands up until they reached Levi's face and started to feel around gently. Levi smiled more.

"I can still see you," Joel whispered with a weak smile. "In a way... I miss your smile."

"Then I'll smile a lot more and make sure you can feel it," Levi exclaimed as he burst into a huge grin.

Chuckling softly, Joel stood up with Levi's help and allowed the boy to lead him toward the door.


Both stopped and Joel asked, "What does she want?"

Levi giggled, "She has a guide-dog harness on her, but I think she's wanting you to use it like a horse's rein as you sit on her back."

*Growwwwl!* Allie agreed as she turned around and patted Joel's shin with her tail.

Bending down to feel along her tail, Joel managed to find a place to sit cross legged. He raised the hood of his robe up and plunged his face into deep shadow before he took the 'reins' in his hands. Rather than move, Allie turned her head slightly and barked at Levi. Levi clambered on behind Joel and wrapped his arms around Joel's waist. And so, with Blackie in the lead, Slider moving alongside to make sure Joel didn't fall off Allie's back, and I-Cheya bringing up the rear with his ample rear, they made their way down the hall and down the stairs. I-Cheya started up again with his musical huffing, this time with 'Pirates of the Caribbean – He's a Pirate'.

Russ and Sara, beers in hand, were on their way from the kitchen to the living room when this odd procession made its way down the stairs. They watched as Blackie opened the door – and still couldn't work out how he did it – and waited for the rest of the Joel group to leave before Looking right at them. He sent, Sorry. No rides for grups! Then the puppy turned, left the house... and closed the door.

"Whiskey," Sara decided as she turned back toward the kitchen. "Most definitely a whiskey.

Toby, DJ and Tanner were holding their ribs, laughing...

The four-animal-procession with their precious cargo were almost to the CIC outer door when Timmy, the Tribe, a good portion of the Recovery and Support Division from Camp Little Eagle – led by Dylan Chang – and an even larger Starfleet security force returned and spotted them.

Timmy stopped dead in shock. "SLIDER! It was YOU?! You were the spy??"

Slider even managed to look slightly guilty, which was impressive all by itself.

William stopped circling high above and landed on his Guide's shoulder. Duke did the same for Ricky just as both boys marched over to stand before Kyle's dog, fully intent on running an Animal Trial Hearing.

(I would imagine with a twelve dog jury of Slider's peers, but since he's a rather unique dog, that might be hard to fill up.)

"What do you have to say for yourself?" Timmy and Ricky said in perfect unison.

*Ruff! Rooorrrrwrooowwwwwworrr rrr grrr rowwwwrrrwr rufff grruurrrufff! Grrooowrrr rowrrr rrrorrrwwrrr rowrrwr?* Slider replied.

"What planet speaks THAT dialect of dog!?" Timmy exclaimed. "Can you translate that, 'Cheya?"

*Huruffy uff hurr hurrrufffuff, hoorruuff. Huff?*

Timmy began to get more than a little put out for the second time that day, for the Sehlat had responded in such an ancient Sehlat dialect that he didn't stand a chance of understanding it.

Timmy turned to Allie, who started chirping like a Lo'Garn Raltiiti bird – whom Timmy had never met to learn to speak to. Before either he or Ricky could look at Blackie, the puppy started burping like the Selofa reptile from Tellar Prime.

William and Duke started laughing. So much so that they fell off of their Guides' shoulders and onto their backs on the ground.

"Okay, featherheads! Fess up or I'm callin' your Boss!" Timmy said seriously.

The birds laughed harder.

Timmy stamped his foot as he started to build up to what would have been a world destroying temper tantrum when Levi offered, "I can explain, Tims!"

"In ENGLISH!!!!????" Timmy asked in exasperation.

Levi nodded as he hugged the trembling Joel harder. "I needed to be with Un... with Joel. My Friend said so, and Slider knew it. So he got some help from 'Cheya, Blackie and Allie. Unc... Joel's feeling a lil' better now, so now you and the Tribe are allowed to find him. And William and Duke's 'Boss' is in on it too."

"You coulda just TOLD us!!!!" both Timmy and Ricky exclaimed, neither one pleased with being played with.

/My friends. Could I talk to you?/

Timmy and Ricky spun around. Between them and the rest of the gang that had followed them, hovered the Shattered Sword of Sa'ren.

Joel, his hood up and shadowing his face, started violently. He had not summoned his Sword; how had it appeared thus on its own accord?

Timmy nodded mutely as Ricky said, "Hi, Sword-Guy... yeah, we can talk to you."

/You – all of you – felt you had to DO something for your Uncle. You ALL wanted to be doing something; and so Oekon arranged for you to have an adventure... which you enjoyed/

"But we needed to help Unca Joel. Gamin' aroun' ain't helpin'!" Timmy exclaimed.

/Yes, you need to help Sa'ren... now. No, you did not need to help Sa'ren... before now; but Levi did. You did need to expend your energy and get some fun; to believe you were doing something to help. So it was arranged for you, and you did have fun. I know, for Vae'Ruman knows. However, NOW is the Time for you to help the Sa'ren. The Tribe and only a few others can, right now/

The Sword moved in the air until it hovered before Dylan Chang and pulsed out brightly.

/Child of Beauty Within, you have something to say that the Sa'ren will only listen to, coming from you. Follow your heart/

"What do I have to do?" Dylan asked the glowing Vulcan icon.

/What I said: follow your heart. You will not go astray/ Then the Sword vanished, the air rippling around it.

Dylon looked confused and more than a little nervous. "What if I mess up?" he whispered to himself.

"I'm still not happy," Timmy groused moodily, drawing everyone's attention to himself. Slider moved up behind him and licked his hand. "Kisses won't make me forget you tricked us," Timmy told him.

Slider whined, then pushed Timmy over and started to dig his nose under the redhead's tee-shirt to lick and tickle the boy's belly.

Ricky smiled even though he did try not to. Then he giggled as Timmy squealed out at the dog's antics.

From on top of Allie's back, Levi said, "Come on, we have to go inside. Joel's getting cold."

The little boy was as well. Dressed in only his thin black Burial Robes, the slight late October breeze in Orlando – which was warm to most humans – was making him shiver.

While the Tribe and 'Teddy Bear Brigade' quickly entered the building, Ricky was trying to fight off Slider from his little boyfriend.

Slider was having none of it, however, and grasped Timmy by the back of his shorts and started dragging him inside, with the boy laughing insanely all the way.

Joel whispered to Levi, "What's happening?"

When Levi told him, Joel started to laugh softly; and that made Timmy and Ricky smile in hope that they may yet get their Uncle Joel back. Well, smile and laugh, in Timmy's case as he was vanishing by Slider Power through the now closed door.

Big Entrance... Indiana Jones?

Levi glanced back at the Sehlat and giggled. I-Cheya nodded and took the lead, 'huffing' the theme tune out for all he was worth.

Blackie shook his head before jumping into Joel's lap for a quick Allie-Ride to the Dining Room.

Once Kevin had seen Levi vanish to go hunting for Joel, he turned to look up at his Poppa. "Can we go to CIC as well? I'll wait there for Levi to find him."

Allen nodded and picked up the boy. He checked around and made sure that his other three were with him, and all of Kevin's kids, before asking Daileass for transport.

Seconds later, they arrived in Main CIC and made their way into the Rec Room. Kevin plopped down on the floor and found the nearest chair from where he could see all the entrances to the room and the Dining Room next door. Kenny went over to join him while all of Kevin's kids ranged around and tried to find something to do. They weren't too successful at keeping their minds occupied, but it did help most of them.

Apart from Lee, who found his way – somehow – onto the light fitting again and hung there upside down looking miserable.

Allen shook his head sadly before heading off to find Helen, just to keep her updated on the goings on.

Justy walked in at the increased noise and sighed as he saw the faces before him. Xain's in particular was the worst, and so he moved over to where Xain and Jake were cuddled together and sat down next to them. "Want to talk about it, bro?" he asked the Vulcan tenderly.

Xain blinked at him for a moment before whispering, "All that has happened has brought – memories – to the surface. However, I do not wish to elaborate, just yet."

Jake grunted as he increased his hold on his t'hy'la.

Justy was no fool. The little that had been said sent many possibilities running through his mind, and foremost was that Xain himself had been raped. From his experiences that morning with Peter, he could easily tell that something of that nature had happened to Xain. He did, however, respect the Vulcan's request and kept his thoughts to himself. Instead, he reached and took Xain's free hand and simply sat there in silence to lend his support.

Not long later, the door opened and Kevin looked up with interest before sighing irritably. It was Jacob, Jamie and Beau and not his lost husband.

"Kev... why can't you tell where Joel is with your link?" Kenny asked as he heard his twin's desperate sigh.

Kevin bit out, "'Cos he's blocking me. I can't feel anything from him, right now."

The door opened again, and a mass of kids and teens came charging in. Kevin watched with only slight interest as they passed, but his eyes were drawn to two Vulcans and a human boy who came to stand before him and his brother.

"Unk Jowl's outside," Pauly said with a soft smile. "Levi, Tims and Ric is wif him," he added before scampering off after the rest of the Tribe.

Kevin nodded as he left, but his eyes were drawn back to Solkar and Jimmy. Jimmy reached and took Kevin's hand and said, "Sol and me'll stay here and wait with you."

Kevin nodded again. The numbness inside was still there from when Joel had told him he didn't love him. As much as Kevin knew this was a reaction to being raped, it didn't make it easier on his heart. He both wanted to see Joel and didn't at the same time.

Then, as he was beginning to fidget more and more in the chair, he heard I-Cheya huff-singing. As the sound of it drew closer, he gasped. "I feel him," he whispered nervously.

Kenny hugged him tighter. "He's too close to block it?" he asked gently.

Kevin only had time to nod mutely before the Sehlat cub nosed open the door and plodded in still huffing away. Behind him came Joel, Levi and Blackie on Allie's back.

Cowled and robed in black, Joel turned his head toward Kevin for a second, but then, to Kevin's sorrow, turned away again quickly. Kevin saw Levi smile weakly at him and mouth, "I think it's too soon, Uncle Kev."

Kevin nodded and brushed at his tears quickly before following Allie into the Dining Room. He found a seat and Kenny sat next to him, but he just bowed his head and cried soundlessly.

He did not want to see where Joel would pick as his seat, for he knew it would not be by him, and he felt he would not be able to bear it.

A hand touched his shoulder in a fumbling manner, as if unsure of where his shoulder even was. At that touch, a flash of fire seemed to race through Kevin. He opened his tearful eyes and looked up at the standing figure at his side; at the shadowed and hooded face of his beloved.

"Kev... I," Joel started haltingly. He took a deep breath before managing to say through an emotionally filled voice, "I don't... don't really know if anything is right or what's going on, but... I... I keep hurting you and I shouldn't. I can't do that to people... and I just can't to you. I... I don't know if I love you or ever did, but I can't... I feel I can't be away from you. It just makes everything so much worse."

Kevin reached up with his hand and laid it over Joel's. Joel flinched and nearly withdrew his hand, but seemed to force himself to allow Kevin to grasp it. "I understand. I won't pressure you, Sa'r... I'll just wait for you. Okay?" Kevin wept. His lips trembled and he felt everything inside beginning to break, but he forced his voice to stay as strong as it could. "I'll be here to help you find out," he finished.

Joel sniffed himself before being helped by Levi to sit down at the table.

The Clan around them remained silent and still, watching with concern at the heartbreaking sight of the once happy pair of boys fought with the hell they were each going through.

"Let go of my hand, please, Kev," Joel rushed out nervously.

Kevin did so, but patted Joel's shoulder briefly to say he understood.

Solkar and Jimmy moved in on Joel's other side, and Solkar whispered, "Big brother? Is there anything I can do to assist?" He took Joel's other hand and squeezed firmly.

Joel did not seem to start and flinch as when Kevin or one of those his age or over touched him, but he did tremble. "Don't touch me, Sol..." he whispered.

"Why not?" Solkar asked, not letting go of his brother's hand.

"I don't want you to catch what I have," Joel mumbled.

Kenny weighed it quickly, "Joel, you know it's only passed by fluid transfer, don't you?"

"Yes, but I have a different form of HIV... I don't know if that is true any more," the small Vulcan sobbed.

Gasps of shock from those old enough to understand echoed around the room, and Helen dropped the plate of food she had been carrying through the door from the kitchen. Those too young to get Joel's meaning all started throwing questions at those who had reacted badly.

Helen rushed around the table to reach Joel and, crying herself, scooped him up into her arms. Joel did not flinch or freak out. The time being hugged by both his grandmothers flooded into his memory and he just latched onto Helen as a source of comfort and howled his misery into her shoulder.

"HIV?" Jimmy asked as he looked at his best friend curiously. "What's that, Sol?"

"An impossibility," Solkar said with assurance. "Vulcans are immune."

Joel wailed louder in Helen's arms. She looked down at Solkar and asked, "Then why does he believe he has it?"

Solkar raised an eyebrow and shrugged without meaning to. Then he mumbled, "I do not know."

"I do," Levi said with barely a whisper, bringing silence to the whole room. "My Friend said that it is due to Unc... Joel being Sa'ren. This is something that has happened. He does have HIV."

"But what is it?" Jimmy asked, and Timmy and Ricky nodded their heads as well to show they wanted to know too.

Kenny, his face pale and wane looking, choked out, "A death sentence..."

"That is only if we cannot help it," T'Pol said seriously as she entered the room from Main CIC. She walked up to Helen and her grandson, who – on hearing her voice – started reaching and crying out for her.

Helen quickly passed the distraught youngster over to the visibly concerned grandmother and remained close to keep her hand on Joel's trembling back. T'Pol nodded her thanks and spoke to the entire room, "Joel has contracted this human disease, but it is not acting in the expected way. I have come here for a quick scan of Joel's bio-status to compare with what we had recorded earlier this morning. Please, do not concern yourselves just yet. Also," she added, using her hand to raise her grandson's hooded head up so she could talk to him easier, "also, it seems to transfer just as normal HIV does. Do not be concerned with normal physical contact, Sa'ren. You will not infect others."


"No. You will not. Do not worry, my little one," she soothed, showing a remarkable grasp of human comfort-methods that the Clan as a whole did not expect from a Vulcan. "Remain here and eat, Sa'ren. Your father and I shall return to your side soon. Your grandfathers and grandmother Amanda will be here within an hour and we two a little after. Please remain calm and let your brothers and sisters help."

Joel paused in her arms as he sniffled, then he nodded. "Okay, Fa'komi," he mumbled.

T'Pol broke with tradition yet again and raised Joel's hood just enough so that she could bestow a kiss upon his lips. "I love you, Grandson," she whispered before placing his hood back in place and gently passing him over into Helen's caring arms, scanning him quickly and leaving the room at a brisk pace.

Helen asked, "Do you want me to stay with you while you eat, Joel?"

The little boy nodded slowly and so Helen sat and arranged Joel on her lap so that he could comfortably reach the table. Kevin and Kenny reached over and patted Joel briefly. He jerked slightly at the contact but did reach out and pat their hands quickly. "Thank you," he whispered.

Solkar and Jimmy squashed themselves onto the chair on Joel's other side and were about to start on their meal (shared, by the way) when Justy, Jamie and Jacob came over and whispered to them. They nodded and moved their chair enough so that the three Js could get next to their hurting cousin.

"Sa'ren?" Justy whispered.

Joel turned his shadowed face to the side toward the voice.

Justy opened his mouth to speak, but his voice vanished behind a sob. Jamie took over fluidly, "Sa'r... can we three..."

"... hug you?" Jacob finished. "You're our..."

"... family, and we..."

"... love you," Justy finished through his sobs, and just revealed HOW closely he really was linked to the minds – mind singular? – of Jamie, Jacob and indeed Beau.

Sniffing at the emotion he felt wash over him from the three next to him, Joel burst back out in tears and reached for them. In a heartbeat, they had drawn him into the middle of a triangular embrace and cried with him. The twins repeated over and over "I love you", and their voices created a stereo effect that melded with Justy's own murmurings. That, in effect, did it for the rest of the kids in the room. Levi made the table (and all the food) vanish with a thought so that Joel could be passed from hug to hug like a puppy. He eventually ended up in Kevin and Kenny's arms – and this time, he clung onto his husband like a drowning man clings onto driftwood. With the overload from his Vulcan touch-empathy, he felt awash with the love of the Clan, and was therefore more attuned to the love coming like a tsunami from Kevin. "I love you... I love you," he wept heavily into Kevin's shoulder as Kenny hugged him from behind. "I... love you..."

It took a while before the boys and girls there returned to their seats, thus allowing Levi to bring the table and food back from wherever it was he sent them. Joel found himself back on Helen's comfortable lap and sniffing at the food around him. Nothing had been placed before him, however, for he didn't know what he wanted.

It was Timmy who solved this problem.

"Wanna bite of my burger, Unca Joel?" he asked softly as he held his double-stacked cheese and bacon beefburger up near the hooded face of his Vulcan uncle.

Nodding, Joel leaned forward and Timmy helped him get a nice mouthful of the burger.

As he chewed and fought his stomach's immediate response of turning over in disgust, Ricky wiggled into position and replaced Timmy. "I gots a chicken burger wif lettuce an' mayo an' onions. Want some?" he asked happily.

After helping Joel as Timmy had to take a bite, Solkar was next. "Le-metra," was his hesitant statement. Half the piece of meat vanished, to Solkar's amusement. Then Jimmy with some spaghetti. Then Justy with a handful of french fries (Justy nearly lost a finger). Then Jamie and Beau with some Shepherd's Pie.

The funniest of all were Joel's kids. Rafe had something relatively normal to eat, but the two cats and two ferrets had raw meat. Joel ate it anyway. Lee had fruit and some nuts, which wasn't a big issue. It was Brian and Sue with their live grubs and worms that caused hysterics at the table. Mainly due to Helen's squeamish reactions as Joel slurped up a wiggling worm like a string of spaghetti, and then followed it up with a nice, fat grub.

All in all, once the entire Clan had given Joel a mouthful or six, the little Vulcan had eaten more than any of the rest of them; and his belch of contentment told them all he'd enjoyed it.

Kevin saved his offering for last. Since Joel was not feeding him – something Kevin believed would be a while before it happened again – Kevin had a double sized energy shake in front of him. And so he whispered to Joel, "Can I join you on Aunt Helen's lap?"

Joel nodded hesitantly, but soon had a straw placed in his mouth. Together, a straw each, both small boys made quick work of the milkshake.

"Thanks, Kevvy," Joel smiled from under his hood.

Kevin smiled back. Then he remembered, and so raised Joel's hand to his face and smiled again, so that Joel could feel it.

This made Joel giggle.

Allie returned to Joel's side as the Clan started to vacate the Dining Room, and she made sure he was seated properly seated on her back and holding the 'reins' before plodding off into the Rec Room. She waited until she was sure Joel was comfortable on the sofa with Solkar, Jimmy and Levi before barking at him a few times and wandering off.

Solkar asked, "What did she say?"

"For me not to go any place without her," Joel answered, a smile in his voice.

He felt a hand touch his leg, and reached out to see who it was. His fingers met the tearful face of his Chimp-son, Lee. "Oh, sweety..." Joel whispered as he pulled his boy up and cuddled him. "I know... I wish there was some way to know what you're saying..." he sobbed as Lee cried silently in his arms.

"There is," Solkar said seriously. "Lee talks with his hands. You can listen with yours. I know of a type of sign language that he can use by tracing his fingers on the palms of your hands. I can teach you both, if you would like."

Lee started nodding like crazy, and Joel immediately said, "Oh! Yes please, lil'bro!"

Solkar answered, "You'll have to meld with me, Sa'ren. I cannot meld yet, as I have not been taught to. Then, you can teach Lee."

As Joel moved his hand to do so, Lee signed his thanks to Solkar, who smiled at him.

It wasn't long before Lee was happily drawing his fingers over Joel's palm and Joel was animatedly talking to his eldest child. Solkar, a feeling of pride flowing through him, said, "I'm going to go play with Jimmy. He said he would teach me about sex, and he hasn't had a chance to teach me yet."

Jimmy blushed and hissed, "Sol! He's your BROTHER! What's he gonna say?"

"Have fun?" Joel trembled slightly, yet he smiled at them from under his hood.

Jimmy blushed more and dragged the highly interested Solkar from the room, berating him all the way for his lack of discretion.

Lee covered his mouth as he giggled mutely, and Joel giggled a bit as well before feeling two pairs of furry paws touch his hands. "Hey! Is that an Aslan and a Shere Khan I feel?"

"Yeah!" both giggling kittens shouted as they jumped up to share lap space with their older brother. "Yous okay, Daddy?" Aslan asked as he snuggled his muzzle under Joel's hood and chin and started purring.

"No, but I will be," he replied as he tickled both boys' ears with the help of Lee (having the ability to use both hands and feet for this task was a bonus, Lee decided).

Kevin watched all this from the next sofa and smiled as Brian and Sue were the next for 'Daddy-attention', thus ousting Lee and the two kittens – who came charging over to him to get some Poppa-Time in. As he snuggled Lee under one arm and let the two furry-boys purr at him from his lap he saw Rafe and the two mischievous ferrets charge over and pounce Joel. Levi, bless his little cotton socks, was buried beneath two large and heavy badgers as the ferrets wiggled their older albino siblings out of the way.

All in all, it was going to be a hard struggle for Joel and Kevin to overcome what had happened; but with the support they had from the Clan and their family, they would make it.

Of that, Kevin was 100% sure...

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

This chapter seems to be the beginning of the healing process. It took a lot out of me to edit this one, with all the hurt that Joel was going through, I was doing a lot of crying. I wanted to get my hands on those nasty creatures that raped him, but since I couldn't, I had to simply let those who could administer justice do what they could.

I am ready and waiting for the next chapter.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

Other Editor's Notes:

This was a tough chapter to edit. Iluvantir let us know just how totally devastated Joel felt, how thoroughly he was in despair, and then how some of the most unlikely of Clan members brought healing to him. And he did it in a way that leavens it with just enough humor, and humor that is not out of place, to make it not totally a portrait of devastation and redemption.  This was truly a masterly told story, and it shows. Thank you, Ilu, for this.