Sa'ren Part II

Battle Of Earth: 01

"Do you take this Vulcan...?"

'... to be your logically bonded, Pon Farr plush toy?

'Okay! Okay, Daddy, I'll behave!'

'Hi everyone! Dylan here! My uncle... I mean brother... DAD! What's Joel to me now?'

'Fine! Don't answer then... sheesh... anyway, Joel asked me to tell you all that happened in the missing afternoon on Thursday. So... that's what I'm doing. Don't worry, things that got skipped over are now explained, and Uncle Mikey even has to put on some wings to explain a few things... he was a little grumpy as he had been in the middle of a kissing-marathon with his girlfriend, Candy, but...'

'HEY! No fair, Uncle Mikey! I can't wedgie you back!'

The threat that Cory was about to soak the bed made the tickles stop. As he raced for the bathroom, Teri grinned down at the remaining two in the bed. Sean had pulled the giggling little Vulcan close and was holding him possessively to his chest. "Mornin', Mom," he said softly, his own giggles at what they had done to the Patriarch of the Clan fading away to be replaced by a look of contentment and joy.

"Good morning, my handsome young man," Teri responded. "I should say handsome young men, but I'll hold off on that until I can embarass all three of you at once."

"What about Sa'ren," Joel grinned as he tried to not let his cheeks change colour too much.

"Mmm... can you be embarassed, Sa'ren?" she asked curiously.

"No. Apologies. You will have to simply make up for it by overdoing so with Joel," answered the Vulcan boy that shared his body with Joel.

"Jeez, thanks, Sa'r," Joel grouched as Cory came back into the bedroom, looking much more relieved. Joel heard his movements approaching the bed. "You made it, then?" he asked his blond brother, attempting to derail their mother's train of thought.

"No thanks to you three," Cory grinned as he plopped himself down in the middle of the bed, sitting on Joel's feet. He looked at Teri, and saw the expression on her face. With a smile he turned back to Joel, "Get ready, Elf. It's inquisition time..."

Joel blinked blindly for a moment in confusion. "Huh?"

Teri sighed and poked Cory in the ribs. "Ignore the comedian, Joel," she said as Cory yelped. "I just want to make sure that all of you are okay... and judging by the various hickies I see on the three of you, I think part of that question has been answered."

"What hickies?" Cory replied innocently.

"That one," Teri responded, just as innocently, as she poked his side, "and that one," another poke, this time at his neck, "and..."

"Nuh huh!" Cory giggled as he rolled away, his hands cupping his boy-bits.

"Like I said," Teri grinned. Then she looked at Joel who was smiling softly, his blind eye blinking uselessly. "Mainly, little one," she said as she tickled at the Vulcan's outtie belly button and making him giggle, "I want to make sure Cory and your pillow are okay."

"Hey!" Sean protested.

"Hush," Joel giggled, still fending off Teri's tickling fingers.

Sa'ren added, "Inanimate pillows make no protest, Big Ted."

As Sean started helping his mother tickle Joel, who was giggling madly at Sa'ren's joke, Cory smiled at his mother. "We're okay, Mom."

She smiled at him, then pulled Joel out of Sean's arms and sat the boy on her lap; ending the tickle attack. "And you, son?" she asked her biological child.

Grinning, he nodded.


"Wasn't much by the way of questions," Joel noted with a smile.

"They already know the questions, since I asked them after their first time making love together... Mikey was no help then, as I recall."

"Jeez, you had to remind us!" Cory groaned, blushing. Sean just remained quiet and blushed.

Joel scratched at his head. "Why'd you have to ask now, though? They're not inexperienced..."

"Not by a 'long shot', as Humans say," Sa'ren added.

<I can verify they qualify as experienced. There are a few other terms which also apply, but I believe that you expressed those when they woke you up, Teri.>

"You are soooo helpful sometimes, Ark," Cory groused.

<Thank you.>

"In answer to your question, my little man," Teri chuckled, for the expressions on both Sean and Cory's faces were priceless, "is that while you have already come to terms with being in a relationship with Kevin that morphed to include Levi as an equal partner, Cory and Sean have only just started that."

"Ooooh," Joel responded. Then asked, "But now I've got two 'three-partner' bondings... shouldn't that raise a few questions for me?"

"Joel," Sean giggled, "if you ask, you'll get. Trust me, don't."

"Unsatisfied curiousity," Sa'ren noted. "I am glad that I am not a cat."

"Speak for yourself... I like belly-rubs," Joel smiled.

"I noticed."

"And you both like having your tail rubbed," Sean giggled.

Teri raised an eyebrow, "I believe this is something that should only be discussed without my being here..."

"Would we do that?" Cory asked innocently as a pile of halos appeared above his head.

Sean looked at the halos suspiciously, then rubbed a finger over Joel's outtie bellybutton. "Do you know which of the Mikyvis are here doing that?"

"Doing what? I've not got my eyes on, Ted... ah wait, the halos over Blondie?"

"Uh huh," Sean murmured with a shocked look on his face."

"Ummm... no Mikyvis... just a glowing red blob in the corner, meaning an angelic being is hovering around out of sight of you 'lesser beings'..." Joel whispered as he 'looked' around.

Sean blinked. "What... wait! You can still see souls without your crown on?"

"Seems like... you're real pretty as indego, Ted!" the boy giggled as he twisted around to 'look' blindly at his 'pillow'.

Mikey appeared in the corner of the room, blushing. Teri just gave him her patented 'Mom' look. "I'm innocent!" Mikey exclaimed, blushing some more.

"He spied on us," Joel stated simply. "He did the same on my first night with Kev... the big, feathery perv," he added with a grin that showed he was only teasing.

"Us too, and he was still alive the first first time!" Sean said accusingly.

"I was outside of the door keeping Mom from barging in and ruining the show for you! Ungrateful..." Mikey muttered. "And I was only outside the door with you, Joel, making sure you were okay... ask Blackie and I-Cheya... they can back me up!"

Huffing came from outside the door, followed by a single bark/howl.

Joel giggled. "They said you're a perv..."


"You DO qualify under that definition!" a deep voice from everywhere added. "Busted, Michael!"

Mikey's eyes blazed bright for a moment. Sean, Cory and Teri recognised this as impotant rage, and they knew that he only ever showed this emotion in his eyes when he knew he couldn't fight back against an injustice.

Joel looked upwards, "Saint Peter... no fair. We're only teasing our bro, and you just annoyed him... I can feel it."

I-Cheya poked his head around the door and huffed a few times in agreement to his ward's statement.

"Mmm... You are right. And I am teasing too, but I have been out of practice for a while," came that same booming voice.

Mikey looked a little less murderous. In fact, he smiled. "I really thought you all thought I really was a perv..." he said softly. "... I've only ever listened..." he added, winking at Cory and Sean as a wicked smile played over his face.

Teri smiled and rolled her eyes. "My biological offspring are terrible, Joel," she said as she turned and rubbed her Vulcan son's stomach. "I'm just glad I have two handsome, sane, well behaved young men to reign in Sean..."

None of them in the room had ever heard a Sehlat fall into hysterical laughter before. None of them could ever say that again, for I-Cheya did just that. He was rolling on his back, all four paws flicking at empty air futilely and his be-sabred mouth hanging open letting loose on his huff-laughter.

Sean and Mikey were laughing along with I-Cheya at the mortally offended looks on both Cory and Joel's faces. Teri managed to control herself, though. Once the laughter had died down somewhat she asked her most 'angelic' son, "What brings you out of the shadows, pest?"

"Someone has to provide the halos for my fellow angels!" Mikey replied with a grin as said items appeared on all the boys' heads.

Teri saw what Sean and Cory did not. There was something else that had prompted this visit; something Mikey was not keen to share right away. However, she had a gut feeling that he was here to bring about something good, only that something 'uncomfortable' would happen first. Not bad, the feeling seemed to imply, just not wholy happy at first.

"Right, well... you three naked cherubs get ready for breakfast while I take the resident aural-peeping-tom down to the dining room," Teri said with a smile, tilting her head in the direction of the door. Mikey took the hint.

"But Mom," Sean grinned, "we are ready for breakfast... at least according to Aunt Angela!"

"Fine," Teri smiled, "but remember that Tera is also around, and..."

All three boys scrambled from the bed and started fighting their way into their clothes, with Joel causing the most hillarity by somehow managing to get both of his legs into the same leg of the jeans he was struggling into. "Pekh," he swore in Vulcan, making Cory near bust his ribs laughing. "Sa-fu t'ko-ron-tu!" he yelled as he fell over trying to get one of his legs back out.

Teri sighed, "I am going to have a very long talk with JJ for corrupting you, young man..."

"Mom, JJ would never corrupt our angel!" Sean giggled.

"Too late," Sa'ren interjected from the floor. "Can someone help? My 'elven-side' has managed to firmly wedge our legs into this article of clothing..."

"Ah, shut up, Sa'r," grumbled Joel in return as he twisted one way and then another.

"You are increasing the likelyhood of our remaining in this pradicament for more time than is needful."

"You need to learn fun, Sa'ren!" Cory prodded with a grin.

Sa'ren blinked blindly, "Fun is subjective. In this instance, this is not 'fun'..."

"I agree! Pekh!"

"I formally request asylum, Patriarch," Sa'ren sighed as Joel continued to wiggle around. "Mother Teri is likely to scold us for Joel's behaviour, and I do not feel like having my 'backside warmed' today..."

"Sorry, cute elf antics don't qualify!" Cory giggled as he began to assist Joel with getting things straightened out.

"I am relieved," Sa'ren said thankfully as Cory and Sean assisted him in putting on the rest of his clothes, sans getting tangled up in them.

"Thanks!" Joel smiled broadly.

"You forgot these!" Sean giggled as he put a pair of boxers over Joel's head.

As Joel started winding up into a truely awe-inspiring rendition of JJ at his best, Sa'ren jumped into full control and shut him up. "It is only logical," he said, rubbing at one of the shield emmitters on his chest through his tee-shirt. "We are getting married today, and the less time required undressing after means more time copulating..."

"... no, I just fuckin' forgot!" Joel yelled, his face blotchy with annoyance.

Sa'ren wrestled back control. "Help? Please? I cannot control him..."

"I'm sure Kev will appreciate the easy access!" Cory replied seriously. "Besides, you're probably one of many who are going commando!"

Joel pushed Sa'ren out of the way, mentally, and retorted, "This is just for breakfast... my wedding gear is made from Vulcan material. And not our nice underwear stuff! It itches!"

"I have to agree on that point," Sa'ren put in, less than helpfully as Joel's expression shifted to annoyance.

Teri, who had only made it as far as the door, sighed. "What did I do to deserve this?" she asked no-one in particular as she turned around and went to her 'half annoyed, half placating' Vulcan son. She prodded the boy in his stomach, thereby pushing him onto his back on the bed, and in the same motions had undone his jeans and removed them.

"Cute," Sean giggled at the sock and tee-shirt clad sight before him.

Cory just whistled in amazement before asking, "Can you teach me how you do that, Mom? Would be helpful when Timmy is feeling fractious!"

As she grabbed the boxers from Joel's head and quickly put them on the now quiet and shocked boy, she answered, "Later. Now, put the jeans back on our Elf and get to breakfast."

"Spoilsport!" Sean giggled.

"I am impressed," Sa'ren murmured as he got up and pulled the front of his jeans away from himself. He then physically checked that his Vulcan 'boy-bits' had not been damaged by the hyperfast de-pants-ing he had just received. "Very impressed."

"You know, it's hard to concentrate when you have two eight-year-olds rolling around in your head laughing their skinny butts off!" Cory commented. "Do they make leech tranquilizers anywhere?"

Joel turned his face towards Cory, and summoned his Crown. Once his 'eyes' were on, he said simply, "If you two imps don't behave, I'll start explaining exactly what Levi and I did when we made love... in exquisite detail!"

Cory winced. "Owwwwww ... they just screamed 'no' so loud it hurt!"

Joel smiled, then held out his arms. After a few seconds of nothing, he tapped his foot. "I'm waiting, Lil'bear and Leo... if you don't want hugs, of course, I can..."

He suddenly had his arms full of two giggling eight year olds. One in Power Rangers PJs, the other in Sponge-Bob Square Pants PJs.

"Thought that would turn the trick," the little Vulcan giggled as he proceded to cuddle his two little bothers.

To get even, both boys gave Joel a Timmy-quality slobbery kiss on the nearest cheek, both giggling cutely as they did it.

"I love you guys," Joel purred happily, tickling their ribs a little as he squeezed them tighter to himself.

Sa'ren interjected, "I must add support to that statement."

"Ooops, gotta kiss both of you!" Kyle giggled as the two of them repeated the ritual soaking of cheeks.

"I do not warrent a kiss?" T'Sara asked before chuckling lightly. The light above Joel's left eye was now pink in colour.

Tyler rolled his eyes as he and Kyle repeated the kisses again. "There, Mama T'Sara. Happy?"

"Thank you," she smiled. Then she goosed both of them.

"My mother's silly," Joel giggled as T'Sara moved back into his mind. "And I'm hungry!"

Tyler started bouncing, and rubbing at his backside where T'Sara had pinched him. "Cool! Tommy's making..."

"Hush! Secret, Ty!" Kyle scolded, also rubbing at his butt.

Joel laughed. "What are you two rubbing for? You can't be hurt... can you?" he asked, suddenly a little concerned.

"We like feeling stuff; so we do," Kyle replied simply.

Joel just stood there nonplussed. He looked at Cory, then back at Kyle. "So, you like to feel stuff, so you choose to feel a sore butt when you're goosed?"

"Yep. 'Member, I ain't Superman no more!" Kyle giggled.

"Oookay," the Vulcan murmured before picking up Tyler and tossing him onto his shoulders. He then grabbed Kyle and held him out from himself, hanging horizontally in the air. "Now you are.... Is it a bird?"

"Is it a plane?!" Tyler joined in, bouncing on Joel's shoulders.

"No!" Cory and Sean crowed.

"It's Super-Lil-Bear!" Joel yelled before running for the doorway, Kyle now holding his arms out and 'flying' like Superman.

Mikey only just managed to get out of the way of being trampled to... well, just trampled. He was already dead, so not much of a threat from it, really. "Mom? Let's get to the dining room and let the kids play," he giggled as he and Teri vanished into sparkles.

"Faster than a speeding bullet!" Sean called out as Joel zoomed up and down the hallway - Kyle still 'flying', and Tyler hooting encouragement.

"More powerful than a locomotive..." Cory added.

This went on for about ten minutes, with Kyle 'saving' whichever body poked their head out of their bedroom to see what the noise was all about, before Tyler reminded them all about food. So saying, he and Kyle vanished - to make sure the 'surprise' Tommy was making was done - leaving Joel to bounce along between Cory and Sean, holding their hands.

Joel and Juan had finished explaining what they had decided the night before, and with Belar's loud prompting, they all sat down for breakfast. As Joel made himself comfortable, with a happy Kevin pulled up on his lap, he sniffed at the air as he wondered what Tommy had in store for him.

He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see Tyler. He could not make out the expression, but he did feel that something minor was wrong. "What's up?"

"Sorry, big bro," Tyler said softly, "but Tommy was chased out of the kitchen. He couldn't make your surprise."

Cory, sat to Joel's left, blinked, "What?" He then turned and looked across the table to where Tommy and Kelly were. "What's this?"

The focus of the Patriarch's attention was sitting there, looking most put out with the world. "That thar overgrown ferball of the Elf's done chased me clean outta the kitch'n! Then Jace made me 'sit my cute butt down'!"

Cory blinked again. He looked over at I-Cheya, then over at Jason. "Care to explain?" he asked.

Jason shrugged, "We're making you all a special breakfast. It's a special day, after all. What you had yesterday was more varied. Our cooks thought you'd like something more similar to what you're used to at home. Today, however... today you eat British Style... since no-one actually went for a full Welsh Breakfast yesterday when I mentioned it... and Tommy?"

A grunt from a still miffed Tommy was Jason's only answer.

Jason took it as a possitive response and continued, "You'll get taught all the recipes after you've been a good boy and finished your food."

Tyler giggled. "Now y'all's done it, you done miffed a sleepin' rattler! Ain't no good way to keep from bein' bitten when you've done kick'd him outta 'is den!"

Tommy nodded his head, with his face still serious. But, try as he might, he could not remain angry... not when Kelly was giggling next to him and attacking him in all his most sensitive spots with tickling fingers.

Tyler pouted. "You done gone and ruined it, bro! We could have had all manner of concessions out of this limey!"

Rolling his eyes, Jason got up, walked around the table, planted a kiss on Tyler's forehead and said, "I'd give you anything you wanted, little brother. You're family... now sit and behave, or no nice goodies..." Then, as he was about to leave, he gave Tommy a parting wedgie just to prove that he was a brother to Jason - and therefore that Jason was a target for paybacks.

Protective of his mentor as always, Tyler returned the favor for Tommy... by popping over and pulling Jace's underwear half way up his back while giggling madly before popping back to his seat. The innocent grin on both his and Tommy's faces told Jason in no uncertain terms that they were both in on it.

Sean was trying not to laugh - too loudly - when he looked up as a number of the kitchen staff came in, four plates being carried by each in proper waiter style. The smell of what was on those plates hit him hard, and he started drooling. So too did all those sat at the large table. He looked down at the plate in awe when it was put in front of him.

Two large fried Cumberland sausages; four rashers of cured Cumberland Shortback bacon, also fried; four fried eggs, sunny side up; two rounds of fried bread; fried mushrooms and tomatos; some baked beans; two large hash browns; three slices of fried black pudding and...

"Daaaadddy? Why is there snott on my plate?" came a disgusted query from Timmy as he poked his fork into what looked like green goo.

Sean and Cory looked over at him, then down at their own plates. They checked out everyone's. Everyone had the same, even the youngest kids. All with that green goo. "I... don't know," they both answered in puzzlement. "Jace?"

"Oooooh! Lava-bread!" Joel exclaimed happily. Since his crown sight wasn't accurate for details - as in what was on the plate - he had fallen to the simple expedience of dipping a finger into every 'shape' he could see and tasting a bit. He had done the same with the 'goo', obviously. "I stole some of this once from my ex-master and mistress... it's YUMMY!" he hooted as he ripped off a piece of his sausage and dipped the end into the 'goo'.

Timmy, his lips curled, turned his plate around to keep the offending 'snott' away from him. "Don't like it," he said firmly.

Cory smiled, knowing that his shadow was having a 'Timmy moment'. "Hey fireball, since your Uncle Joel likes it, whadda you say that we both try a little bit of each other's, just the way Uncle Joel is doing it?"

Timmy looked between his plate, Joel, and Cory. He was tempted to put up a fight, but the way his Dad had suggested it sounded fair, and it suggested that he wouldn't have to eat it if he didn't like it. To be sure, he asked "Do I gotta eat that stuff if I don't like it?"

"No, just like I won't eat it if I don't like it." Cory responded softly. "When you see something new, a little taste to be sure makes it so you don't miss a new food that you really like."

"Okay, Daddy. Only if you try it with me though."

They both dipped a piece of sausage into the lava-bread and exchanged it with each other. Cory sniffed at it first, with Timmy copying. "Mmm..." Cory mumbled, liking the smell.

They both popped their small taste into their mouths at the same time.

Cory decided he liked it.

The other small kids were watching Timmy like a hawk - at least those from Orlando, as those from the Dragon base had had this before. Timmy's face scrunched up thoughtfully as he chewed.

"Well, Timmy?" Harley asked, alternating his gaze between his Tribal leader and his own food. "Does it taste good?"

"It's kinda weird, but it's kinda a good weird. I think I kinda like it. Eating slimy sausage ain't too bad," Timmy replied.

Cory choked on his own at that comment, and Sean had to rescue him by thumping his back repeatedly, laughing uproariously along with all those who had caught the unintentional hidden meaning.

Joel just grinned and patted Cory's thigh comfortingly, but otherwise continued to eat. This was very good food, after all.

Ten minutes later and everyone was on a second helping, just as large as their original serving. Kevin was now seated next to Joel, cuddled close. He grinned at a sudden thought, and, between eating the irregularly spaced offering of something from his husband's plate, whispered in the Vulcan's ear.

Joel also grinned and kissed Kevin's cheek. He then moved and reached over Cory's lap, using his left hand to support himself on Cory's thigh.

Cory watched, bemused, at his lover's antics. "What are you...?" he started to ask, but Sean's semi-outraged yell cut him off.

"Hands off my sausage, Elf!" Sean glowered, moving his Cumberland sausage away from Joel's seeking right hand.

"But I like your sausage!"

"Steal Cory's!"

"Prefer yours... with Blondie, it's his buns!"

"UNKA KELLY! They's playin' with their sausages at the table again!" Pauly exclaimed. "Tell 'em to stop!"

Teri looked over, "Again?! What is this 'again'? Cory! Sean! Explain!"

"We were practicing some of the stuff Rusty taught us?" Sean replied hopefully.

He received a glare, but thankfully that was all. As Teri's attention went back to what was going on her own table with Angela, Spock and the rest of the adults, Sean looked down into Joel's mist-eyes. "You nearly got us into trouble!"

"But you love me... right?" Joel smiled.

Sean couldn't help it; he pulled Joel's face closer and kissed him. "Of course I do..." he said as the kiss broke. Then: "HANDS OFF MY SAUSAGE!" he yelled as Joel had multitasked. He'd enjoyed the kiss, and used it as a workable distraction to grab at Sean's plate.

"Joel?" Cory's pinched whimper pleaded. "Can you not rest your entire weight on my left nut again, please?" he asked as he moved Joel's body so that he was again supporting himself on the blond teen's thigh.

"You weren't that worried about it last night..." Joel giggled as he moved back to his seat, half of Sean's Cumberland sausage in his hand in victory.

"Grownups are weird!" Timmy exclaimed loudly as he returned to feeding sausage links to Ricky.

All the oldest of those from Orlando looked at each other at this statement. The younger kids were still eating and ignoring such 'grown-up' statements.

The Mikyvis did not even bat an eyelid at it, of course, for Kyle had been in the meld with JJ, Cory, Sean, Cody and Joel. He knew what had passed between those three boys' hearts - and he had obviously explained to his family. Same for JJ. Cody seemed ambivalent to it all, since he was new to the group. It was the look on Adam, Justy, Kelly and Dean's faces that told Cory instantly that something was amiss.

"After," Mikey said firmly, coming over from the adult's table briefly at the sudden shift in the older ones' emotions. "Talk after. It's why I'm here and not spending some free time with Candy. Eat, enjoy and talk later... oh, Timmy? Your plan - Our Father says you need to get the group together and talk... why don't you go do it now... yes, take your food with you. No, I'm not sending you away. Yes, I still love you... and yes, you're my favourite Timmy," he giggled as he answered each of Timmy's questions and objections before they were even asked.

"You cheat, Uncle Mikey; we're gonna pounce you later for that!" Timmy giggled. "All of us!"

"No cheating... I just know you... hardly cheating!" Mikey laughed as Timmy got up and took his plate with him as he led the Tribe and Rugrats away from the table. The cutest of the bunch were Jules and Verne as they carried their plate between them.

Adam pushed his plate away from himself and sat back. With a strange, semi-concerned look on his face, he said, "I think I'm done."

JJ sighed. "No. Eat. That's the least I've seen you eat since I've met you!"

"Guys," Mikey put in firmly. "This will all work out. I promise. Now, eat. JJ's right, Adam... you're still hungry... after a fashion..." he grinned, knowing how much that boy had already put away.

"Yeah, there is still food left in China, you can't be done!" Sean added, causing Adam's face to uncontrollably break into a grin.

Once they had finished, a large group of the Clan relocated to a more private setting; Cory and Sean's room.

Adam noticed right away. Cory and Sean's bed looked unslept in, and he knew that these two had to always be prodded to make their bed by Mom. However, Joel's room that they had just passed looked like a bomb had gone off in it. He sat down on the nearest seat, JJ squashed in with him. Justy and Dean chose the floor, as did Tommy (still disgruntled at being ousted from the kitchen earlier) and Kelly. Jason, Nathan, Vicky, Tera and Cory's brother, Cody, kept out of the way in the corner, sensing that they were welcome to be there but feeling that this was going to be something that the core of the original Clan needed to talk about without them butting in.

Sean and Cory sat on their bed, and Kevin, Levi and Joel sat on the large windowsil. Kenny, Xain and Jake found a chair each out in the hall and dragged them in. They, too, sat outside from the core group. While they were some of the oldest members, they also felt that this was more intended for the original Clan group. The rest looked around for a moment before cuddling in with whichever warm body would let them. Kyle decided on Cory's lap, of course. Tyler sat on Joel's shoulders. Dylan did a Lee and hung from the light-fitting.

Mikey was the only one still standing. He looked around, first at those who were there for the birth of the Clan, and then the others. Weighing his words carefully, for only a few things had been told to him from 'Above', he held the gaze of each of the kids and teens in turn. "Family. That is what you... we are; and what we'll always be. Family is not something that just happens by accident. You are not always born into one. You have to make it 'family'. Some don't get the blessings of a 'birth family'," he said to start, meeting Jason and Viccy's eyes as he said the last. They smiled. "But all of us have now found and made a family together."

They were all nodding their heads.

"But there isn't a family in existance that doesn't have it's own problems, even the best of families," the Saint continued, turning around slowly so that he was continually addressing and meeting the eyes of them all. "There are times we'll disappoint one another, or times we'll confuse each other. There will be times when promises - as hard as we want to keep them - get broken."

They were all silent, watching. Nervous. Adam's face was pale with worry.

Mikey saw it all clearly. He smiled, "This is not one of the latter's times." He turned once more so that he was now facing Cory and Sean. "Instead, it is a confusing time; made so all the more due to one thing... or should I say one 'person'? Directly or indirectly, it is the presence of this person that has caused confusion and change, and therefore made some of you feel that certain promises have failed or been broken... or worse, deliberately destroyed?"

Joel sighed and slipped from the windowsil. He reached and lifted Tyler from his shoulders and placed him between Levi and Kevin. "It's my fault, isn't it?" he asked in a tone that suggested he didn't need an answer. "It's because I'm here, and now partners with Cory and Sean as well as Leev and Kev... You're worried about them changing, aren't you, Adam? Justy?" he finished, looking at his blond and auburn haired brothers.

Both boys nodded, aware that if they spoke at that point, it could cause more damage than a simple meeting could fix.

Mikey held out his arms toward Joel, and the small teen ran to them. He held the boy close as he addressed Adam, Kelly, Dean and Justy, and the rest too, but them especially. "As you know, Joel was lost as a baby. What you may or may not know is that he was not meant to have been lost at all..."

"Destiny changing?" Dean asked softly, carefully.

"Yes and no," Mikey replied. "Joel as the Shaper changed something to allow Destiny to save himself and his mother. However, what was meant to happen has, in fact, happened regardless. The changes that took place were things susceptable to fate or destiny. But some of these things that have happened since Joel came back... they were beyond both fate and destiny..."

"Do I got to get Saint Peter down here to get you to get to the point?" Kyle asked with a giggle.

"Do you want me to go get Kuan Ti to kick your butt?" Mikey giggled back before becoming more serious. "This takes a lot for me to say... because of what was shown to me and what I can show to you... and I what I found out on Saturday makes sense... that I wasn't meant to die when I did..." he finished softly.

The smile fell off Kyle's face quickly. "Bro... I... Sorry, I didn't..."

Mikey looked at him sternly, then smiled. "Don't you dare apologise, imp. You weren't to know."

Sean coughed uncomfortably, his arm holding Cory close in case this discussion would affect him. "Mike; before you explain that bombshell, can you explain what you meant by 'beyond fate and destiny'? So far, we've only heard about both - and that there are only two that can change the last."

Joel was looking up sadly at Mikey as Sean said this, and turned around to wrap his arms tight around his big brother. Mikey's smile softened even more. "Providence. Divine Providence. It's destiny, but something beyond the norm. It simply means that no matter what else may change - like me being alive or dead - it won't. If Cory was to grow a wart on his butt..."

Some of the kids started giggling as Cory looked horrified.

"... and that was to happen as Providence, then no matter what - it would. Not that you will, I don't think," Mikey added quickly, his eyes mischievious. "Your butt's all..."

"Mine!" Sean and Joel said together; unplanned and unintended.

"You're NOT helping!" Cory whined.

"Wasn't trying to help," Joel giggled, his face mushed against Mikey's chest. "Just making sure that everyone knows..."

Sean smirked, "That would be a safe bet, Elf..."

"Sooo!" Cory broke in, ignoring the looks he was getting and focusing on Mikey. "Providence has caused a few things to happen... and that is?"

"Well..." replied the Saint, "I could explain, but I think it's better if you all see instead. Guys? What I'm about to show you is something that 'could have been'."

"Like a Memory of Time?" Levi asked excidedly. "Galli showed me how to do that. I can help!"

With a small shake of his head, Mikey responded to the Mikyvis' kind offer, "Sorry, little guy. This isn't a Memory of Time as there could never be another timeline - either living or dead - where Joel is. That would mean he had been duplicated by a timesplit. Most here have alternates elsewhere. You High Races don't. Neither does Joel. No, this is simply 'what could have been', maybe even 'originally should have been'. But not a memory, and therefore no-one is able to see it or find it."

Tyler hummed for a brief moment before saying thoughtfully, "That's why we can't tell Joel's future? Ignoring the Darkness ahead, even if it wasn't there, we couldn't tell Joel's future because it's in so much flux and he can only exist in one timeline?"

"The Main Line of Alpha Prime - or whatever universe he happens to be in," Mikey said. "He would need to be taken into an alternate, or find a way to go there. There has always been, is now, and ever will be just one 'Sa'ren Joel Short'."

"Okay, enough of the 'Galli Timeline Explainations' please," Cory commented. "Having a little brother who does it is bad enough, I don't need my big bro doing it too!"

"There's no other way to explain the unexplainable," Mikey giggled. "No-one alive can truely understand it..."

"Galli's alive," Levi pointed out. "I'm sure he would."

Joel looked over at his boyfriend, "The Doctor has died more times that I've had cookies... And he's different."

"Anyhow," Mikey put in, "Let's see what we shall see..."

"Not without us!" Timmy exclaimed as he and most of the Tribe and Rugrats piled into the room and found laps to sit on, warm bodies to cuddle against, or - in Belar's case - angelic wings to explore.

With a roll of his eyes, Mikey waved his arm and, before the eyes of everyone there, a vision unfolded. They were all aware of each other and could see each other, but at the same time they were fully focused on what was playing out before them. "What if there was only one difference? This is what would be had Satan not tried to attack Joel on his way to Earth..."

"When?" Timmy asked.

"Long ago, TimTims... 12 years ago... I was just four at the time..."

Earth, February 2nd, 1992:

The Vulcan passenger ship, Zhuk'Fasek, made dock with Terra Main. Alongside her was what was shaping up to be the Federations greatest success story, the Transwarp Experiment ship, Voyager One; freshly back from her first trial run.

Looking out of the portside window of the Zhuk'Fasek, a Vulcan woman in a dark brown robe and hood, watched with interest and barely concealed pride at what Starfleet was doing. In her arms was a small bundle of joy; her son. As yet, unnamed, but no less loved for it. She looked down into the baby's face and smiled, "Your father will love you, my dearest one."

The baby opened his eyes and burped. He then closed his eyes again as sleep took him.

T'Sara laughed before turning and making her way to the docking area to disembark.

London, Vulcan Embasy - The following day:

Michael Cory Short and Patrick Sean Scott were walking the short distance from where they'd parked their rental car to the Embasy, talking quietly as they went. "Why here, Patty? I know it's your old stomping grounds..." Michael said, smiling as his old friend immediately cut him off.

"Tsk," Patrick tutted, his eyes twinkling. "I'm Scottish, not some damn sassanach!"

"Same difference. Small country, England."

"You and me're going to have a falling out," Patrick said, aiming for menace in his voice, but the cheesy grin on his best friend's face made him start laughing.

"Anyway," Michael smiled, "why have we been brought here? Weren't we meant to meet in San Francisco?"

"Aye, but ye know these Starfleet types..."

They were nearing the Embasy and looked across the reletively busy street to see a group of Vulcans and Starfleet officers leaving. "That must be them now," Michael pointed out, his eye being drawn to the female Vulcan who was obviously carrying a young babe in her arms. This was only natural as he, too, had a young baby at home. His youngest, Sean. This babe seemed younger, he thought in passing as they stopped by the pedestrian crossing.

Patrick pressed the button so that they could cross. "Stop it with your baby eyes, bro," he laughed, "or Teri'll start getting worried that you be wanting another so soon!"

"She said she wanted a daughter," Michael smiled, a twinkle in his eyes, "and I don't mind the practicing nor the trying for another..."

"You wouldn't," Patrick laughed as the lights changed and they started to cross.

They were spotted as they started over the road by a few of the Starfleet officers, and one waved in greeting. Admiral Kirk. He whispered to the Vulcan mother carrying her child and then stepped passed her to stand by the crossing on the other side. The Vulcan, T'Sara, moved to be near him, with her baby grabbing at her long hair.

"He's a handful," Michael said softly.

"How'd you know it's a 'he'?" Patrick asked curiously as they reached the Admiral on the other side.

Michael rolled his eyes before answering, "You don't put a girl-child into a male-Naming robe."

"You know a lot about our culture," T'Sara said with a ghost of a smile. "Greetings, I am T'Sara, Wife of Spock of the House of Surak."

"Greetings," Michael responded. "I am Michael, son of Clyde, and my friend is Patrick, son of... some unpronouncable, Scotish drivel..."

Mikey paused the 'vision' before everyone's eyes, for a small number of the watchers were not paying any attention. Joel, Kyle and Tyler were cuddled around Cory and Sean, and both were weaping softly.

"Shhhh," Kyle soothed as he rubbed his fingers through Cory's hair. "Remember we saw them on the weekend? In Des Moines?"

"We're not upset, Kyle," Cory responded, still weeping but smiling at the same time. "It was great to meet them then, but we're seeing our dads being alive... and good friends... it's just..."

"Just..." Sean tried to complete, but fell silent. No words were needed.

Mikey smiled. "They were still alive in our past at this time, but not for much longer. You guys don't remember them, not really."

Then it was Joel's turn. Now satisfied that his two beloved older brothers were not 'upset', per say, he let loose on his own tears. Only his were heart-rending; wrasping sobs from deep inside.

Cory's eyes widened through his own tears as he pulled Joel in tight. Kevin also ran over from the window to slam into the group. "What's... your mom?" Cory guessed.

"Kinda..." he whispered, "but no. She's in my head, so no. It's... it's..."

He couldn't continue. But Mikey knew what the 'problem' was. "Tigger, your Elf can actually 'see' this vision. Not through Kev's eyes, nor with his crown. Actually see it... and..."

With tears still streaming from his blind eyes, Joel managed, "I can't e...explain how m...much I've missed seeing..."

"Shhhh," soothed Cory as he rocked his sobbing Elf in his arms. "Shhhh."

"Sa'r?" Levi asked as he padded over and gently laid a hand on his boyfriend's cheek. "Why didn't you ask Him to give you your sight back?"

Cory blinked at that. "What do you mean?"

"Jesus," Levi answered, "when we saw him in Israel..."

"Uhhh...." Sean stammered, his mind jamming to a halt and then reversing.

Joel half smiled, his blink eyes still streaming. "I took Levi back in time a bit."

"That's an impressive 'bit'... wait! You took him back? How?" Sean croaked.

"His Armour," Levi grinned. "You didn't answer me, Sa'r. Why didn't you ask?"

"More important things at the time," came the answer.

Mikey reached over Levi to run his fingers through Joel's hair, "There aren't any less important questions to Him, Kiddo. You ready to continue this?"

Joel nodded and smiled, wiping his eyes quickly.

After checking that they were all able to continue, Mikey restarted the 'vision'...

"Michael, if it wasn't for the company, I'd kick your... behind," Patrick grated, holding back on his language in the presence of a lady. He directed his attention to T'Sara. "I am Patrick, son of Eumann, who is the brother of Montgomery Scott of the Enterprise."

"Ah, the Chief Engineer is your uncle? I have only just met him," T'Sara smiled broadly, immediately shocking both men.

"You always have to point that out to people," Michael half whispered.

Patrick grinned, "Just as you always have to rub my nose in the fact that you're the alien expert in our dinamic duo."


T'Sara smiled again, "I like humans. You are so much fun."

It was at this point that Michael had to ask, "Excuse me, Lady T'Sara, but you're emoting more than I would have expected from a Vulcan..."

She nodded, "I am half human, as is my husband. I have chosen to try walking a path seldom attempted - to hold to both logic and emotion."

Kirk coughed. "If I might interupt, my Lady, but I need to speak with Michael and Patrick for a moment."

"Of course, Brother of my Husband," she nodded again and turned to walk along the pavement for a few metres to give them room.

Patrick turned his attention to the Admiral, and slapped the obviously broody Michael into paying attention, for his eyes were following the baby in T'Sara's arms. "Admiral," he nodded. "As instructed, we are here and also as instructed, no-one - not even our wives – know anything yet. We're not sure why that instruction was needed, but..."

"That shall be revealed later," Kirk smiled. "But you can know now that all restrictions are lifted. And call me 'Jim', Patty. You've known me long enough. The same goes for you, Michael," he added, looking at Patrick's oldest friend.

"But this is our first meeting. I don't think..." Michael started, but Patrick elbowed him in the ribs.

"If an Admiral of Starfleet tells you something, bro, you do it!"

"What he said," laughed Kirk at the look in Michael's face.

There was a squeal of tires at that moment, and a loud bang. The tire of a car, travelling just a touch too fast for the road, exploded and the vehicle plowed off the road and onto the pavement - right where T'Sara and a civilian man and his young daughter were. T'Sara was fast, even for a Vulcan. In the same movement she: threw her baby in the direction of Kirk, trusting to the Admiral's abilities to catch the precious bundle; pushed the man back forcably to get him out of the way of a car; then grabbed the five year old little girl who was with him and threw her over the nearest wall and into the branches of a tree.

She did not have the time to do anything for herself and the car went into her at fourty miles an hour, crushing her against that same wall.

It was not Kirk who caught her tiny baby son, though. It was Michael. Patrick and Kirk, along with a number of other from the group from the Embasy, started running to the accident. Michael stayed where he was, his heart racing and a screaming baby in his arms, wiggling about in sheer fright. He started doing what he was good at. Blocking off all external distractions, he cooed and rocked the baby in his arms; and sang softly to him.

"My... my mother was meant to die? Then, at that time, as well as what happened in reality?" Joel asked, his face pale and fresh tears threatening to fall.

Mikey nodded soberly. "Yes. Sorry, Elf."

Joel sniffed for a moment, then sighed. He whispered something, but those nearest him couldn't hear it. Cory guessed, though; it was likely a prayer.

"Why would a good God let something like that happen? Why would it be his plan?" JJ asked.

Mikey looked at him and found a face filled with honest puzzlement rather than accusation, as what would be customary whenever that question was asked. "That is something that cannot be explained, not even by one such as myself, JJ," he answered softly. "His ways are not ours, and his view of history is far longer and broader than ours can ever be. But what we all should have learned is what Timmy likes to say over and over... TimTims?"

Timmy looked at him, his face sad at the 'vision/movie' he was watching, but also puzzled at first. Then it seemed that a light blinked on in his head. "Oh! That bad things happen so that good things can?"

Mikey nodded, "Or, as Paul wrote in the letter to the Romans, 'All things work together for good to them that love God'. The way I like to see it is that an artist needs dark colours when painting a masterpiece. The painting itself cannot see itself, and we're all part of that painting. But once it's all finished and God lets us see it... then we'll understand. Does that help any, JJ?"

"About as much as anything else you ever tell us!" JJ replied with a small smile.

"Made sense to me," Sean muttered, loud enough for all to hear.

"Ah, but you're his blood brother... and just as strange. Of course you can," JJ giggled. He looked at Mikey with a smile, "I don't understand, bro, but it's comforting what you said even so. Thanks."

Mikey smiled.

Cory squeezed his little brother gently. "Could you say what you just prayed, bro? I don't know why, but I think it might be something good for all of us to hear," he asked Joel.

The boy nodded and, wiping his eyes, recited, "'For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'"

"Well said," Levi smiled as Mikey restarted the visions...

All and sundry were on Terra Main's med-bay when Michael noticed anything other than the small bundle of joy in his arms, who was still crying - but at least now far less full of fear and fright. It was, in fact, pain. Michael could recognise that much. He looked around for someone he could call on to help, only to find Patrick with a Starfleet doctor before him.

"Mike? Mike, let Dr McCoy check the baby out, bro," Patrick said softly.

Nodding mutely, Michael handed the baby over to Bones, only to be shocked at the sudden and drastic increase in the child's cries. Both he and Patrick recognised the fear and longing in that cry.

"I think he likes you," Bones said gruffly as he laid the child down on the nearest biobed and started checking him over.

Michael shook himself slightly before asking Patrick, "What of T'Sara, his mother?"

The look on Patrick's face said it all. Michael closed his eyes and sighed.

"Bruising only, from when you caught him," McCoy started.

"Sorry," Michael whispered, suddenly feeling terrible.

"Do not apologise, Mr Short. If you had not caught him he would have suffered far more," came an emotionless voice from behind him.

Michael turned to see a Starfleet Vulcan Captain. "I gather you are Captain Spock?" he asked.

Spock nodded. "I thank you for being there for my son, sir," he started to say again, but Michael raised a hand.

"Captain," he said simply, "I need no thanks for being there for any child; yours not least. It's a father's duty, even for children who are not his. Well, it's everyone's duty, but... I..."

"I understand your meaning," Spock nodded. Silence fell amoung the group as they watched Bones work on the nearby screaming infant.

"I'm sorry for your loss," Michael put in, breaking the quiet between the three watching men. He did have to speak loud enough to be heard over the yells of the baby, though.

"Thank you," Spock responded, just as emotionlessly.

Patrick was shaking his head slowly, and Michael knew what was going through his friend's mind. So too did Spock.

"It is the way of my people, Mr Scott," Spock said softly, watching his son closely. "If my son had died you would be witnessing me in a far different situation. However, I knew my wife. We had shared our lives totally. Her loss is felt, but I celebrate her life."

"Well, Spock," McCoy put in quickly, picking up the baby boy that was trying his best to bust the eardrums of all listening, "he's all good to go, now, with a nice, powerful set of lungs as well! Now please, cuddle him and save our ears!"

Spock took his boy into his arms. They all watched as he tried his best to bring some peace to the child, but all to no avail.

"Do you want some pointers, Captain?" Michael asked, guessing that this was Spock's first child.

"Please," the Vulcan responded, handing his son over to Michael.

Patrick's grin was saying the the world, 'Any chance to get some cuddle time!', as he watched his friend pass a near miracle and still the screaming child in a few seconds. "Okay," Patrick said in wonder, "that was fast, even for you."

Spock's eyebrows were raised, "I would concur, even without experience."

Michael looked down into the bright baby-blue eyes of the infant in his arms. "I think... he likes me..." he whispered. The baby agreed with a giggle. "That's a positive."

Spock watched him for a moment as he held his son. With a tilt of his head he decided to ask. "Sirs. Might I share your minds?"

"The both of us?" Michael asked. "Why?"

"Please. I shall explain after."

"Okay," Michael said, as he handed the baby over to Patrick - who was not adverse to taking care of a baby. He just hid it better than his 'soppy friend'.

The baby giggled even more in Patrick's arms. The Scot asked, "What's this? A meld?"

"Yes," Spock answered as his initiated one quickly with Michael. After a bare few seconds he had finished. "Would you allow it, sir?" he asked Patrick. "You need not pass my son to Michael; you will not lose control," he added as Patrick made to pass the child back.

A few seconds later and the Vulcan was done. "Would it be acceptable for me to invite your wives and children aboard the station? I have a... favour to ask."

The two men looked at each other. Bones rolled his eyes.

The baby giggled and cooed happily in Patrick's arms...

Spock watched, almost bemused, as his son was passed around the meeting room he had led the two visiting men to. There, Cheri and Teri had been led by a young ensign, along with a four year old boy and a toddler who was busy trying to steal kisses from a barely one year old baby. The sight of his daddy holding a baby caused the toddler to go over and investigate. The same for the four year old, who was continuously instructing the blond toddler to behave and be gentle with the Vulcan baby.

The baby was almost hooting with giggles as his belly was being poked by the toddler.

Teri was feeling rather odd at seeing the child, as if something deep inside of her was being pulled on.

Spock noticed clearly.

"Spock," Michael said, looking at the bemused Vulcan, "could you explain now, please?"

With a nod, Spock gestured for everyone to be seated. As soon as he had sat himself he found his lap taken by the four year old, who was now holding his arms out and demanded to cuddle the baby, for "I'm a big boy now, Unca Patty!"

Chuckling, Patrick placed the baby Vulcan into the boy's arms, and, supported by Spock's own, the boy started singing (off key) a lullabye to the baby. As out of pitch as it was, the baby seemed to like it, and promptly fell asleep. After burping, of course.

Spock felt a desire to roll his eyes, but his long training in controlling his emotions made resisting the desire more than easy. He looked at Michael and then at the rest. Michael took the hint.

"Let me introduce everyone," he said with a smile. "This is my darling wife, Teri," he said, resting a hand on the woman's shoulder.

She, with the one year old baby in her arms, nodded at Spock.

"In her arms is our youngest son, Sean, and you have our eldest on your lap; Michael."

"Nice to meet you Teri," Spock said seriously. Then, down at the boy on his lap, "And you too, Michael."

"I'm Mikey, Uncle Captain," Mikey giggled.

The older Michael grinned, then pointed over to Patrick, who did the honours for his own family. "This is my wife, Cheri," he said.

"Pleasure, Captain," Cheri smiled as she got up, grabbed and corralled her son. "And this ball of fire is our son, Cory. Behave, you imp."

Laughter greeted that order as the toddler attempted to climb into the table.

"Is he in what you humans call 'the Terrible Twos'?" Spock asked curiously.

"Yes... early," Patrick smiled.

Spock watched quietly as Cheri calmed her son down, and, once complete, spoke up, "The reason I have asked for you to meet with your husbands with me is in regards to a recent developement. Both Michael and Patrick were with us today in London when my wife was caught in a motoring incident. My wife has passed away, but my son was saved, both through her actions and through those of Mr Short..."

Teri's hand was covering her mouth and her eyes were starting to fill. Cheri murmured, "I'm so sorry."

Spock nodded, but continued softly. "In the aftermath, Michael Short took care of my son. Once we had assured that my child was in addiquate health, I asked to meld with both Michael and Patrick. The reason is directly to do with my son; or more specifically to do with what happened at his Naming.

"My son has two names; one by the Naming and a second at a request from my wife. That in itself is unusual, but it is his 'first name', as you would put it, which is about to cause some tensions on Vulcan. Sa'ren Joel..." Spock said, but the gasp from Michael cut him off. "I see that you at least know the significance."

Michael nodded. He glanced at his wife and his friends, and seeing their confused looks, said, "It's akin to... well, to the Vulcans, this is like a young woman telling her husband to be that she is going to have a boy-child and that his name was to be Jesus..."

Cheri's eyes widened. "'Sa'ren' is the name of a, what? Vulcan Messiah figure from their past?"

"No," Michael shook his head. "It's the name that was only ever used of their most famous sword, and would only ever be given to the Vulcan who is prophecied to come and stand for Vulcan; to save it from... well, no-one knows exactly. Destruction, most likely, going by what I have read of the Legend. If Spock saw that name for his son in the Naming, then... he's right, Vulcan is going to have some issues to work out. Spock has as much as announced to the Confederation of Vulcan that their own Messiah has come..."

Teri was looking between both her husband and the boy in her eldest son's arms on Spock's lap. "Why," she started, then cleared her throat. "Sorry. What does this have to do with us, if I can ask, Captain? Surely your people will be able to deal with this situation?"

"In time it is my hope that they will," Spock answered her, "but we are a very passionate people. We control it with logic, but in certain situations, logic fails. This is potentially a serious situation, and if passions run hot it could even mean my son's life would be in danger. My wife had decided at the end of the Naming to live on Earth for a few years. We had already decided to raise our child in a dual manner, both human and Vulcan. In order for me to now fulfil that obligation I would have to leave the Fleet. However, 'fate', it seems, has presented me with a glimmer of hope for a way for my son to have what my wife and I wanted while still being in the Fleet..."

Michael was already thinking on the same lines. "Spock, would you allow me time with my family and friends to discuss this? I think I can explain this in a way that they'd understand easier... no offence."

"None taken. I shall be in the next room over. I will leave my son in your son's capable hands. He seems content..." Spock replied as he carefully got up and placed Mikey plus baby back on the seat he had left.

Once he had left the room, Michael began to explain; with barely contained excitement in his voice...

"Your dad's worse than you for adopting kids," Adam giggled at Sean as the vision paused for a moment.

Sean grinned as he looked from Adam to his older angelic brother. "So I'm thinking dad would have taken Joel as under an a'nirih fostering? Like with Xain and the Clan?"

Mikey grinned and nodded. "We're going to skip ahead a bit. I skipped over a bit there as well, since we don't really need to see sorrow that could have been. I think we've all seen enough of that."

Most nodded. Mikey continued, "Yes, Spock asked our parents, all four of them, to enter into a foster relationship with his son. The three families arranged for many meetings so that Joel would know his Vulcan family, but due to what became a stressful time - Vulcan style - on the homeworld, Joel did not set foot there again for six years. In that time he was raised on Earth, with a few visits to other Federation planets with his dad... and of course, his four brothers... There were quite a few changes due to the Zhuk'Fasek not being destroyed."

"Like?" Cody asked from where he was sitting close to Jason.

"Well," Mikey grinned at him, "Sarek didn't gain an enemy in the same way on the High Council. Our fathers didn't die shortly after, you were raised with us and were teased rotten by four older brothers... especially by a certain Vulcan that shall remain nameless..."

Joel grinned sweetly with a 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' look on his angelic face.

"Oh, and there was one change... a death that should have come early but didn't in our history... your mother, Ken, Kevin. Due to our fathers being alive and visiting a business near to the hospital where you two were born, my dad's car was parked in a place where, in our history, nothing had been parked. Due to that, as your parents were leaving the hospital with you, and already arguing and preparing to split up, a car came around the corner, skidded to avoid my dad's, and hit her..."

"Good," Kevin grated softly.

"In a way, yes," Mikey nodded seriously. "Without her, you dad raised you. And... well, you'll see..." he said, a small smile creaping over his face. "Here's one such incident of the terrible quintet, as we all would have been called..."

Calgary, Canada - 1997:

Cory and Sean, with a near five year old Cody in tow, were hiding behind a mound of snow awaiting their prey.

"See 'em?" Cody whispered to his brother.

"Only Mikey... don't know where Elf is..." Cory hissed back.


Three snowballs found their marks, one into each of the three boys' faces.

"Hoorah! Gotcha!" Mikey called out. He, however, had not thrown the snow. Behind him, and off to the side, a small face poked out of a white parker coat.

A six year old Joel grinned widely at them as he bounced yet another snowball from gloved hand to gloved hand. "Vulcan and Mikey, three. Silly human trio... nil!"

The score did not stay at that for long, however...

Three or four scenes later, and the Clan were watching Mikey keep Teri away from Sean and Cory's bedroom.

"If you're sure, Mike," Teri said, her eyes showing that she knew what was going on but she diplomatically refrained from stating such. She turned and left.

A moment or so later Mikey saw Cody and Joel's door open. Both boys looked out sleepily and then ran over silently.

"Are they doing it at last?" Cody asked cheekily.

Joel's face froze.

Mikey nodded, "Yeah. Shhh, like you promised."

"Okay!" Cody giggled before padding back to his bed.

Joel, however, stayed. His face was a picture of conflicting emotions.

"Something wrong?" Mikey asked, knowing quite well what it was.

Emotional training took over and Joel answered in a level tone, "No, brother. Please excuse me, I wish to talk to mother."

"Mikey?" Adam asked, pausing the vision as he did so. "Why are Cory, Cody and Joel in your house in this?"

Mikey sighed. "Our dads shouldn't have died when they did here, but they were still destined to die young. They did so while helping Ambassador Sarek on a diplomatic mission to QonoS."

"What happened?" Xain asked.

"They got involved in a Klingon dispute that meant that Koth and Korris' father never got dishonoured and therefore never got cast out of the Klingon Empire. It meant that we would never meet them, but at least they had a loving family to be in. Cory and Cody's mother, Cheri, moved in with us. She didn't die young as she didn't have the stress that made her cancer worse, and it was discovered and cured early. As for the Elf, he spent equal time between both of our places until we all moved in together."

"Oh," Cory whispered quietly. "Okay, keep on showing us, Mikey."

"There's not much more I was given. Joel left for Vulcan the next morning and stayed there for quite some time...."

"Why?" Joel asked, looking horrified.

"Because you loved both Cory and Sean and when you found out they had chosen each other, your heart broke," Mikey explained. "Little did you know that they loved you as much as each other, but didn't want to involve you in their first time as they thought you were just a little too young. It broke their hearts as well when you left, especially when I eventually explained what I 'thought' was the matter."

"I... I hurt them?!" Joel whispered, tearing up.

"You were hurt yourself, but... these things happen. Or would have," Mikey said seriously.

Sean asked soberly, "When did Elf come back?"

"Not for years. Not until just before his thirteen's 'human year' birthday. Not until the day he actually arrived with us here, in the real world as it were... And much had changed. You had kept in contact over subspace, and you... we... had formed a Clan, just a slightly different one than before. A few new founders were involved..." Mikey giggled.

"Who?" Kenny asked.

"You, and your twin. Jake and Xain as well."

Kevin blinked.

"Then Joel returned, finally ordered to by Sarek and Amanda. The reunion was tearful," Mikey smiled. "I won't show you for you're all a bunch of cry-babies. I really don't feel like spending three hours calming all y'all d... OOFF!"

A mass pounce had taken place, bringing the befeathered saint to the ground. "We're not cry-babies!" Jake said, sitting square on the giggling angel's back.

"I must add my agreement to my T'hy'la," Xain added, as he tickled Mikey's side. "Besides, we Vulcans are incabale of being 'cry-babies'. So there."

"Yeah Unca Mikey!" Timmy and Ricky exclaimed as each of them attacked an angel-foot.

Joel was howling with laughter as he snuggled with Cory, Sean and Kevin. They had wisely decided to remain apart. Mainly as there was no more room to get close to Mikey in order to give him their own paybacks. "That'll teach ya to call them names, Mikey," Sean put in.

"Was calling you it, mainly," came the giggled retort from his elder brother.

Sean moved quickly and piled into the mob around his brother, growling threats of vengeance.

"Should we help Mikey?" Davie's voice asked from a corner.

"Hell no; I've got good odds that he'll need refeathering when they are done!" Pablito's voice replied.

"Really? I wanna get in on that! Let's go!" Davie's voice replied before they both went silent.

After a few more minutes of horse-play, Joel pipped up, "Can you all release my brother so he can continue telling us this story?"

Sean's head popped up from the mass of bodies. "But..."

"No butts until later, and now, please," Joel smiled sweetly, causing Cory to break out into laughter.

Giggling and play-moaning about the unfairness of it all, the group 'attacking' Mikey all moved back to where they had been sitting - only to find that there was no Mikey underneath the pile.

Kenny blinked from his seat, "Angels sure move fast."

Giggles from the celling made them look up, only to find the angel in question sitting upside down, cross-legged next to the light.

Dylan, still hanging from it upside down, grinned down at everyone, "I was wondering when you'd all notice."

Sean glared up at his brother, "You cheated."


"It's not fair."

"Life never is."


"I'm the eldest, and that means I get to tease you. So even when you're teasing me, I tease you. Besides... you know you love me, and that means I can get away with it," Mikey finished, an impish grin on his face.

"Someone pass the Tylenol!" Cory quipped as he held the sides of his head.

Joel twisted around, pulled Cory's hands away from his face gently, then placed his lips against his brother's soft ones.

Cory's eyes blinked open for a second before he wrapped his arms around his brother and returned the kiss.

A few moments passed in utter silence, then Joel broke away slowly. "Better?"

"That's cheating, but a lot better than Mikey's cheating!" Cory giggled back.

Mikey, slowly floating down from the celling and righting himself, said, "Well, I didn't kiss you like that ever... hey, little bro?"

"What?" Sean muttered ungraciously.

"How about you show Joel how it's done."

Giggling, Joel said, "But I already know!"

"Ah, but not the BEST way to get Cory all gooey inside..."

Sean couldn't keep 'sulking' with a challenge like that, and so grabbed Cory and showed Joel how it was done right.

Joel watched through Kevin's eyes as well as with his own Crown sight. As the two teens broke apart, he murmured softly, half in thought, "I would have made him gooey inside last night, but I can't shoot yet..."

"T-M-I!" the older kids in the room responded in unison, while giggling.

Some of the younger members of the Tribe/Rugrat community that were present all turned and started whispering to themselves.

"What did Unca Jowl mean, Mista TimTims?" a small four year old Welsh girl asked the Tribal leader.

Belar quickly whispered into Timmy's ear as the munchkin pulled the girl closer to his side. He explained to the Tribe leader that she was very shy, very nervous and only recently rescued by his daddy, Jason. Timmy nodded and then quietly whispered an explaination of her question to her.

Most of the rest of the Tribe were still whispering and deciding upon something, and the older kids and teens could hear 'spermies' being mentioned by quite a few of them.

"Oops!" Joel blushed as he caught on with what his half-thinking statement had caused. "Ummmm, Cor?"

"Don't worry, Elf," Cory giggled, fighting with his blush at what Joel had basically shouted, not implied. "Timmy was present for an erruption by one of our own, who shall remain nameless. Then he and Ricky were there for another such, by someone else who shall remain nameless... and they've taught the entire Tribe, with examples if they could arrange it."

Joel thought about that for a second, his fingers twitching in the air around him; checking the strings of past destiny that only he could see, feel and manipulate. He raised an eyebrow at both Cory and Sean. "Sean was sucking you off, and Timmy caught you. Then he and Ricky were sitting on Kelly's lap and accidently made him pop. Ah, okay."

Kelly tried to hide underneath Tommy, who was chuckling wickedly as he did everything he could to stop his boyfriend from hiding. Cory and Sean, however, were currently helping Mikey with a very important task: toasting marshmallows with the heat from their blushing cheeks.

The tasty treats were actually toasting as well, much to the Tribe's fascination.

After Joel had eaten one, marvelling that a human could produce enough bio-heat to toast it, he started to ask if Mikey could carry on with the vision-story he was relaying. He was interupted, however, when Timmy pressed himself against his knees and patted at Cory's arm.

"Daddy! Daaaaaddy! Stop blushing, Daddy! I wants you to meet someone!" he smiled as Ricky brought the small four year old girl closer to them.

"I know that tone... better you than me, hon!" Sean stated as he quickly scurried out of range.

Mikey brought him back with a snap of his fingers. "Sit, little brother mine."

"BRAT!" Sean said before sticking his tongue out at Mikey.

Cory shook his head. "Okay, munchkin, what are you scheming this time?" he giggled.

Timmy looked offended, so much so that Cory's eyebrows shot up.

"Hon, I've seen that look on your face. No-one would doubt he's yours!" Sean giggled.

"Not scheming. This is Ffion, and she wants to meet you," Timmy said, with a pout in the works.

The girl in question, Ffion, edged foreward until she was pressed tight against Timmy's side and looking up into Cory's blue eyes. "H...hi, Mista Corwie. My name's Ffion."

"Hi there Ffion. I bet Timmy's been a lot of help, hasn't he?" Cory replied. He turned to Timmy "Would you like to bring your friend up here for a cuddle?"

With a quick nod of his head, Timmy helped Ffion to climb onto Cory's lap. Ricky quickly scooted onto Joel's, leaving Timmy to take Sean's.

Kevin giggled, "I'm feeling left out!... OOFFF!" The reason for the 'oofff' was due to Sue deciding to half-sit on his lap. She was big (due to being a badger hybrid) so mostly it was her legs and head on his lap. (Quite bendable, too!)

"Don't complain!" Mikey chuckled. The reason was quickly obvious, as all of the Mikyvis had decided to occupy his lap... at the same time.

Cory wasn't laughing along with the rest of them. He was captivated by the eyes of this little girl who was staring avidly at him. She suddenly turned to Timmy and asked, "Will they?"

"Think so," Timmy smiled. "If not, I'll pout!"

"Can you be my daddies, Mista Corwie? Mista Sauwn?" she asked, her eyes flicking back and forth between Sean's and Cory's.

With a smile, Joel murmured, "Didn't need to check Destiny to see that one coming!"

"Just wait, elf; Timmy's teaching your kids too." Cory commented. "Ffion, we'll be your daddy and poppa if that is what you really, really want us to be. You have to want it though, okay?"

"My baby brother, too?"

Cory grinned, "Of course; we can't let him grow up without a big sister!"

"He's isn't a baby baby, Daddy," Timmy explained helpfully, pointing over to where an even smaller boy was cuddled with Belar and Ross. "He's gonna be three in November!"

Cory looked over at the child Timmy was pointing towards and saw a face filled with puzzlement and hope. He was looking between the boys on the bed and his big sister on Cory's lap, mouthing the word 'Dada?'.

"His name's Gabriel, but Ffion calls 'im Gabey-Baby," Ricky added, just as helpfully.

Ignoring the elf-giggles beside him, Cory simply held out one of his arms. Little Gabe got up, with Ross' help, and ran over awkwardly. He scrambled up (with Ffion's help) to join her on Cory's lap.

Cory's eyes went a little distant as Kyle gave him a quick mental dump on what the two of them had been through - abandonment, mainly, and neglect. Also, that Gabe was mildly on the autistic spectrum, but the 'tells' were so mild that it would be hard for a casual observer to tell. He certianly had no problem making eye contact with Cory, nor with snuggling quickly under one of his arms.

"Dada," he murmured. "Ffi-ffi? Dada?"

"Yeah! Dada!" she cried, wiping at her eyes as she squirreled under Cory's other arm.

What with the increase in emotion in the room, Joel glanced at Mikey. "Don't show us the reunion in the 'what-if' place, bro. Can you just explain quickly what happened?"

Mikey nodded, "Okay." He then waited for a moment or so for everyone to calm down and pay attention - there was no particual rush, especially with Sean and Cory taking some time to cuddle with their two new, youngest kids. He grinned after the few minutes lengthened. "We'll wait."

Joel nodded happily before patting his cookie bag and hearing his Tribble purr from inside. He fished her out and placed her on Cory's shoulder, much to the facination of the two young kids.

"If you pet him soft, he'll purr!" Timmy announced helpfully. "He's one of us, he likes cookies!"

"Kataui is female," Kataui the Tribble stated as Ffion petted her fur. "But Kataui does not mind pets. Or cookies. Or food. Or cake..."

Levi grinned and quickly fished a large cookie out from Joel's cookie bag. It was an odd shaped one, he thought. Then he giggled and pushed his arm to the side. It vanished into the air for a moment. When he pulled it back he seemed to have lost that odd shaped cookie, and was instead holding a few different cakes and smaller, crumblier cookies.

"What about the rest of us, Angel-boy?" JJ asked as he poked at his nephew's ribs.

Poking his tongue out at JJ, Levi retorted with a wicked giggle, "Go find your own time-displaced cookies! And who're you calling 'angel-boy'? Justy's the Angel!" He then dumped his presumably legally obtained cookies and cakes onto the combined laps of Cory, Sean, Gabey-baby and Ffion. "These are for the newbies!"

"Hmm -- that smells like fresh pineapple..." Cory commented. "You raiding the Rimmer kitchens, Levi?"

"Yep!" Levi giggled.

"Why don't you drop some Welsh treats on them in trade, munchkin?" Cory replied with a grin.

With a short laugh, Jason called over from the side of the room he and his family were watching from, "I think that cookie was one of Nathan's! So it was a Welsh treat... he can't make them look good for shit, though."

Nathan elbowed his lover in the ribs. "They taste great, and that's what counts. No snuggles tonight, though... meanie!"

From a speaker on the wall, Draco put in, 'Mama Angela and Auntie Teri are on the way up with more 'num-nums' for you kiddies... Levi could send some of them over, back or forward to wherever he got those Hawaiian yummies from.'

"I'm not entirely sure," Levi said thoughtfully. "I know it's the future, but since I can't see past the next two seconds right now I just had to trust that my Friend would guide me. He did. I think he'll let me send more nibbles over, thought," he finished as the door opened and in walked Teri and Angela Evans.

"Okay, you heathans," Angela smiled. "Helen's made you some Welsh ca... oh, that's sweet. Teri? Unless I'm very much mistaken, I think you have a new grandson and a granddaughter!" she laughed as she saw the Clan Patriarch and his husband cuddling two of the Dragon's rescuees tenderly.

"Levi, could you be a little sweetie and get my scroll?" Teri asked with a grin.

"Sure Grandma!" Levi replied helpfully. A few seconds later, a scroll about eight inches in diameter appeared in Teri's hand. She unrolled it, making a fairly large pile at her feet, before stopping and holding her place as she asked "Cory, what are the names of my latest new grandchildren, I want to add them to the list before I get sidetracked by welcome cuddles."

"Ha. Ha. Ha," Cory groaned theatrically. He then smiled and lifted his daughter up slightly. "This is Lady Ffion," he said, and she giggled. "And between me and Sean is her baby brother, Gabriel..."

"Gabey-baby," Gabey-baby said with a smile before hugging Sean's arm tighter. "Nana? That Nana?" he asked, looking up at Sean.

"Yep, little guy. That's your new Nana!" Sean replied.

Little Gabe pushed himself off of Sean's lap carefully, then turned and tugged at his sister's nearest available foot. "Nana cuddles! Nana cuddles! Ffi-Ffi! Com'mon!"

"Already taking after their parents!" Teri chuckled as she laid the scroll down and droped to her knees to welcome the two little angels.

Ffion clambered down from Cory's lap with a little help from him and a lot of foot tugging from her brother. Then, hand in hand, they picked their way - with helping hands where needed - through the massed kids to get to Teri.

Ffion looked at her carefully and smiled. "Nana-Teri," she murmured before allowing the lady to pull her into a hug.

Gabey didn't even waste time with looking. He just let himself be scooped into her arms as well, a blissed smile on his face and with his eyes closed trustingly.

As this was happening, Levi gathered up a plateful of the cakes and then made them disappear, just as he had done with the cookie.

Now with Angela and Teri in attendance, with Ffion on Teri's lap and Gabey on Joel's, Mikey finished explaining the reunion that would have happened in that 'what if' timeline.

"Joel, Sean and Cory spent some time in alone to catch up, brothers to brothers. When they came out, each looked the happier for it," Mikey smiled, "but I saw that there was something still unsaid - a sadness in Joel's eyes that remained unanswered. A loneliness. I collared my two brothers and asked them if they had confessed what they had been feeling all along. They had not..."

What If World:

"Why not?" Mikey demanded, his eyes showing just a little anger. The delay would only cause the hurt to grow, in the three of them.

"We... I didn't think it was time," Cory muttered. "We've only just got our kid-bro back, Mikey, and..."

"Cory, you need to tell him. He needs to know. You need to lay this to rest. Much has changed in the past few years, and you KNOW he's found out that Spock got him betrothed. Do you really want to keep this hanging? Better to find out now than to remain with this pain," Mikey said seriously, looking across the room at Joel, who was meeting in the flesh many of the Clan he had only seen by viewer. "This is an order, brothers," Mikey said with a note of finality.

Cory and Sean nodded, and both mumbled, "Yes, Patriarch." It was not often that Mikey would pull rank, and when he did there was no disuading him.

Taking a deep breath, Cory started to move to head over to Joel, but then the door near them opened and in walked a Vulcan teenage girl who, quite simply, took his breath away. He knew her. He'd seen her on viewer at times with Joel.

Tera, his betrothed.

"Oh my God, she's beautiful," he whispered to Sean, who silently nodded. "Am I sure I'm gay?" he queiried after a moment or so, as he tried to hide his sudden boner.

Mikey was chuckling, "Yeah, I guess so, or so Timmy explained when he told me what he saw this morning in the showers."

"He didn't shower with us," Sean said, blushing.

"Nope, but he was spying," Mikey giggled.

"Gonna kill him... nicely, but I will," Cory muttered, his face flaming.

Tera nodded in their direction, smirked slightly at the lump in all three teens' pants, and sat down to silently watch the goings on in the room. Mikey had made no attempt to hide his own boner, since he was straight, but he was blushing as he looked at her.

Sean slapped him, "Candy will kill you, then we have to raise Pattie ourselves and I'm not changing that stinkie-boy's nappy again, bro!"

Mikey slapped him back. "Get over to Joel, before I string you up by your short and curlies."

Shaking their heads, the two boys started again to head towards Joel.

Which was when things changed. Rapidly.

The door nearest Joel opened and in walked Xain, Jake and two identical boys; Kenny and Kevin. Levi was alongside Kevin, and their hands were joined.

The five newcomers looked at Joel. He looked back at them. Then his eyes locked with one of the twins' eyes; Kevin's. Then over and locked with Levi's. Then back to Kevin's. They were also looking between Joel and themselves.

It was funny, in a sad way. Everyone else could see clearly what was going through the three boys' minds.

And it was Tera who saved the situation by making her way over quickly and pulling the Mikyvis and Kevin into a meld, nodding at Joel to meld with her himself.

However, it did nothing to ease the sudden pain in the chests of both Sean and Cory, who both felt as if the world had split and swallowed them whole.

Real World:

"Soooo," Kevin murmured, "love at first sight there too? But with Levi as well?"

"Yeah," Mikey smiled. "Tera helped sort it out between you three in a matter of minutes, and that night you, uh, kept everyone awake..."

"Yeehaa!" Levi giggled as Kyle poked his eldest child.

With a cough, Sean asked, "What about... you know..."

"Watch," Mikey replied, waving his hand.

What If World:

Two days later and Mikey had had enough. He picked up Cory, who was by far the lightest of the pair, and slung him over his shoulder. He used his free hand to grab and pull Sean along by the boy's ear. Both were yowling and protesting at the top of their lungs, but it was futile. He carried/dragged them into a meeting room at the Des Moines CIC and sat them down. They glared at him and were about to get up and leave when Teri entered with Kevin and Levi.

"Sit," was all she said. So 'sit' they did. "You as well," she informed Levi and Kevin, who were just as wise as Cory and Sean.

Mikey stood there as his mother departed with his arms crossed.

"Uh, Mikey? Why...?" Levi started.

"You will see," Mikey answered, his tone final.

The door opened again and in came Tera. She looked at Mikey and said politely, "Sa'ren will be here shortly, Patriarch. He is aiding one of the recent rescuees; the only survivor of that General's perverse tests."

"Ah, Juan. Good," Mikey smiled. "I thought our Elf would be able to get through to him where we failed."

Tera shook her head, "I do not believe holding onto hope is wise, Patriarch. That boy's mind is fractured and his spirit broken."

"I believe in Joel," Sean said softly, his eyes downcast to keep the others there from seeing his anger at Mikey... and his own internal pain that he shared equally with Cory.

Levi's face was filled with sadness as he saw what the others did not. He shared a look with Kevin, who nodded solemnly.

Five minutes or so later and the door opened to admit both Joel and the rescued boy, Juan. The boy clung to Joel's side as a drowning man would cling to a rope thrown to him. They sat near to where Mikey was, equidistant to Cory and Sean on one side and Kevin and Levi on the other. "He's staying with me for now," Joel said firmly, his eyes not missing a thing nor his wits the tension in the air.

"As you wish," Mikey nodded.

Tera was about to leave when Mikey touched her arm briefly. "Please stay. This concerns you as much as them."

Tera nodded and sat.

Real World:

"Why'd you stop the show?" Timmy asked, pouting.

Mikey shrugged, "Because it's a lot of talking and no giggles. In short we got out into the open the feelings shared between Joel, Cory and my kid bro. We got into the open the unique relationship between Joel and Kevin and Levi. We found out that Kevin and Levi had already worked out what was going on between Joel and Blondie and Ted, and had decided to let it happen, trusting Joel's heart.

"A union formed between them all with Joel as the fulcrum apon which is swung. Tera was most at ease with the situation, for if Joel could maintain the unique relationship web he was in without stress then she could also accept it when the time came for them to be married. And she, in truth, loved the other four as brothers by this time - yes, after only two days with them.

"As for Juan, he became another 'Short', and a 'soul-brother' to Joel. In that place they never became intimate in a sexual manner, but their relationship was no less intimate for that lack. The same there as here, in fact, only here they have been together physically."

Juan coughed. They all looked at him and saw the sad look on his face, which he quickly hid from them behind his well developed masks and controls. "Sex isn't a focus for us here either, Mikey," he said seriously.

"Yes, I know. Your relationship is no more and no less with or without sex. It is just an expression of the deep and abiding joy and fellowship you both share, and you express it better when you... may I?" Mikey asked seriously.

Juan nodded. Mikey smiled and looked at them all in the room, finally looking at Joel who also nodded. "The most intimate thing these two boys do together is not sex, nor lovemaking, nor kissing, nor holding hands. It is playing together. Neither has really been able to play before they came to the Clan, and when they play-act or just play around or monkey about - whatever - is when their hearts sing the loudest. It is their unique little thing that binds them. Joel has a unique little thing that binds him to each of those he cares about intimately, just as you all have something special and unique yourselves with your bonded ones."

Adam raised his hand, for all the world as if he was in the Camp's school and Mikey was his teacher. "Um, Mikey - what you're saying is is that Joel has always meant to have this tangled relationship system? That it's destiny?"

"Yes, he was and is meant to have it, and no, it is not destiny. It is providence," came the explaination.

"And we're forgetting Tera," Joel said softly. "I think you've revealed what she is here for - what I've guessed."

Tera stood up from where she had been sitting quietly in the corner with Jason and the rest. "Sa'ren, may I speak?"

Joel nodded slowly.

"I am not your betrothed here, cousin. What I have been sent for is yet to be revealed and I do not yet believe it is time to discuss it. Will that sufice for now?"

"Yeah... okay, but you will explain soon?" Joel asked softly, his face now curious. If she was not his betrothed, then what was she here for?

"When it is time."

With another nod from the boy, Tera sat back down.

Mikey also nodded in her direction, his knowing eyes telling her that he would keep the secret until she revealed it. He glanced back at the others, finally settling his gaze upon Adam and Justy. "Does all that has been revealed settle your minds and hearts about the unions going on here? Do you retain your trust of Cory and Sean?"

"It matters... are you providing the ear plugs to prevent those of us with innocent ears from hearing the horn-dogs?" Justy ask, somehow appearing serious.

Blinking, Mikey nodded and most in the room received angelic-strength ear protection, along with some "Reason Why" books for the little ones (with stick figure pictures to show how to 'snuggle properly' - all tailored to each individual child's emotional and mental developement). The only ones who did not receive these items were the 'horn-dogs' in question (Joel, Kevin, Levi, Cory, Sean, Juan and, funnily enough, Tera), and Justy. Instead, angelic strength condoms were given to the boys... and a defence shield landed on Tera's lap.

Adam almost fell over. "So Justy's a Pablito clone? An Un-Innocent angel?" he managed to ask through his giggles.

"Bite me, bro!" Justy giggled back. "Dean and I can pay back the noise!"

As the boys bickered good-naturedly with each other, Tera checked out the personal body-shield she'd been given. "Excuse me, Honoured One."

Mikey looked over at her, an eyebrow raised.

"Why have I been given this? I am of Deltan decent, and they... well, we are considered... what was that quaint human term? Ah... sluts. I have yet to partake of the pleasures of the flesh, but this will not aid me in my future endevours..."

Helpful as always, Levi giggled as he outfitted Tara in a Medeval-period chastity belt... updated with the latest high-security padlock.

She checked this as well. "Even less helpful," came the conclusion, although this time, they all saw the humour in her eyes as she said it.

Teri breathed out slowly. "I was about to have a long, serious chat with you, young lady."

Tera smiled softly at her as the chastity belt vanished, thus allowing her to sit more comfortably.

Adam got back on subject. "So you're saying that our bros ain't really screwing around, they're sharing different parts of themselves with people in the way they need it most to heal?" he asked Mikey.

Mikey didn't answer this question, but rather looked at Cory, Sean and Joel for them to do so.

With a bit of whispered chat between the three, Joel was prodded forward to do the honours.

Rolling his blind eye and straightening the Crown upon his head, Joel smiled at Adam. "Our 'brave' big brothers have left this one to me, it seems. Okay... Adam. How much do you love JJ?"

"Answer CAREFULLY!" JJ giggled.

Adam flipped JJ the bird, then answered. "Despite his annoying habit of destroying things, actually he's my life. I really can't live without him."

With a loving smile to the both of them, Joel pressed, "So you love him with all...?"

"...of my body parts?" Adam responded with a giggle, ducking JJ's swat to the back of his head. Then he smiled back at Joel just as lovingly. He knew what 'phrase' his Elven brother was aiming to get, and so he said it. "I love him with all of my heart, Elf."

Giggling, the mischievious Imp sighed, "We finally get there..."

"Blonds," Kevin giggled, only to get goosed by Cory, who was in grabbing distance of him.

Shushing them with a flapping hand, Joel asked Adam a second question. "How much do you love... say, Harley?"

Harley looked at his Daddy quickly, his eyes hard as agetes as if daring him to say anything in jest.

"He's my little angel. I love all of our sons the same, but Harley's my angel. Just like 'Roo and Brad tend to be closer to JJ," Adam said seriously, smiling gently at his glaring son.

Harley, satisfied with that answer, went back to snuggling with his brothers.

"Would you say you love him with all your heart, too?" Joel asked.

"Are you trying to get me pounced?" Adam asked with a grin. "Of course I do."

Grinning now, Joel winked at Harley - a special 'Code-Blink' known only to the Tribe (and now Rugrats) that Joel and Kevin had been taught when they were inducted into the group by Timmy and Belar. A code system that was a closely guarded secret punishable by 'tickling til you peepee your pants'. A code system that none outside the Tribe/Rugrats had an idea was even there, barring those with telepathy, and they all kept this secret.

"Wait a minute... you said you loved JJ with all your heart. Now you're saying Harley! How many hearts do you have, bro?" Joel asked, his eyes and face telling Adam and all the rest that he wasn't doubting what was said, just trying to make a point.

"I'm the brother of the Doctor, as many as I want!" Adam replied with a giggle.

Rolling his blind eye again, Joel just came out and said it, "I love Kevin with everything within me. He loves me the same way. We both love Levi with all that is within us, and he us the same way. I love Cory and Sean, each, with all of my heart and all that I am. They love each other and me with exactly the same. I love Juan with all my being, and he me, and he to Koth. There is a hightened link between Cory and Sean, and I am allowed into that. There is a hightened link between me and Kev, and Levi is brought into that. There is a hightened link between Koth and Juan, and Koth allows me in to share Juan with him. Each of those not linked to one of the others feels no anger at my being with one of the others, nor jealosy, nor fear that I will leave them, betray them, stop loving them. I... I am different. I have no limit. Adam... there is a limit with most who live by which they can bond. Not that they couldn't love many, many people, but that they couldn't focus on so many relationships. If I let myself, I could emotionally, physically, intimately bond with each and every person I have met that returns my feelings... and from what Galli explained to a few of us at different times, I cause affection to be returned in willing hearts. It's not forced, it's automatic to a point. It's chosen. You and I, IF we allowed it, could fall in love, and you and JJ would feel nothing wrong in it. I won't let myself, though... for some reason I know I'm near the limit to those I 'should' be bonded to - this providence Mikey said. But to answer your question plainly; we are not screwing around, nor getting our rocks off. We're all in love, truly, utterly in love. But no, it's not sharing different parts of ourselves with each other... At least not for me, Kev, Levi, Cory and Sean. Juan it is, to a point, like that..."

Juan nodded, reaching over to squeeze Joel's shoulder gently.

"But ultimately, it's all of ourselves we give to each other. The triune link of me, Kev and Levi; the link of me, Sean and Cory; the link between myself and Juan. All is in the giving freely to each other, demanding nothing, trusting everything, caring deeply, forgiving all, laughing at mistakes, helping in times of need... it's just... love." Joel finished, his blue mist-powered eyes looking 'elsewhere', seeing something from his peculiar memory that only he seemed to see. Then he started to speak, in a whisper that grew to a song, lifted to the heavens, it seemed, by his sweet angelic voice. It captured them all, and for a brief moment, those not intimately linked to him suddenly saw his heart and soul as never before, by the power of the Crown-sight that his eyes blazed as he sang:

"Love is patient, love is kind,
No eyes of envy, true love is blind.
Love is humble, it knows no pride,
No selfish motive hidden inside.
Love is gentle, makes no demands,
Despite all wrong, true live still stands.
Love is holy, love is pure,
It lasts forever, it will endure.

"Love is loyal, believes the best,
It loves the truth, love stands the test.
Love is God sent in His Son,
Love forgives all we have done.

"In this world where hatred seems to grow
True love goes against the flow,
And becomes so hard to show;
In this world where push turns to shove
We have strength to rise above,
Through the power of His love;
Lord, we need to know the power of Your love!

"Love knows when to let go,
Love knows when to say no,
Love grows in the light of the Son,
And love shows the world that the Son of Love has come..."

As the final notes of his voice drifted into silence, he looked at each of those there in turn. "That's from 1st Corinthians, chapter 13... made into a song by a group called Petra. I think that explains it... at least, how I see it... if it helps," he finished, looking directly at Adam.

Adam nodded. "We're all more worried about how it affects the kids and the rest of the Clan," he finally admitted. "How can we explain that to the hundreds... wait, thousands... of other Clan kids? I guess it's a thing of examples, while everyone understands that Cory and Sean share their love of every Clan member openly, are they gonna tie that together with your group sharing a special bond?"

"Well," Cory said, pulling Joel back and stopping him from answering. This was, after all, a major Clan issue that needed the Clan's Patriarch to address, not the Associate Clan Member that Joel was. "First we make known clearly to all, and fairly soon, that Joel, Sean and I are together. Properly together. At the same time, or just before, Sean and I, with Joel, get the Division Directers on communication and explain as has just been done here. They then can answer specific questions from the other Clan members as they come up, especially from the little ones."

Kenny raised his hand and butted in, not even waiting for Cory to acknowledge him, "Remember, we have a lot of racial information to draw upon that the kids, even the youngest, would be learning in school. Like the Denobulans, for instance."

Cory's eyes brightened at that, and he nodded in thanks to Kenny. "That's right. The Denobulans each have four partners. Each male has four wives, and each female, four husbands. Each family link can have over 35 joinings. Then there's Andorians..." he nodded at Jason for him to explain, having an Andorian brother in the Dragon Division.

"There are five sexes on Andoria," Jason said, "Three female types and two male. Telez is a Factor. He could never be a father in his own right. He HAS to have each of the other four involved for him to father a child. The other male CAN be a father by himself, but needs two of the females. One of the females can have her OWN child, but ONLY when one of the OTHER female types makes love to her... Telez' type can ONLY be born to a 'standard female' bonding with the 'Ressestor' female, or when a 'Ressestor' bonds with any alien biologically compatible species, such as Telez' father, Dr Fisher from the Hood."

Cory winked at Jason, then continued, "We cannot and will not lie about this. It is unusual for humans, at least in the West, to have such an intricate relationship set up, so questions will come up and should be encouraged. We just need to have the answers ready for them, especially to set the minds of the little ones at ease."

Timmy, whose eyes had been rolling at the needless (in his mind) debate, stood up. "This is stoopid! Daddy and Poppa love Daddy Joel. The end. You grown-ups are so silly! Just tell us kids the truth. You love each other, so you're together, and me and my brothers and sister, and... oh, that's a surprise! We'll tell you once you've all finished worryin' 'bout nuffin!"

Then he sat down, to much giggles from the rest.

Jason, after giggling himself silly, coughed and put in, "Oh, also know - and they don't mind my saying - that Prez and Keith, and Mike and Derrick, are two couples yet they've grown up together and learnt everything together, including... uh, 'shower time', let's say. They love each other. It might not be exactly as what our Casanova-Joel has going for him - lucky dog..." (Nathan smacked him hard across the head) "Ouch! But it's still a situation like it... damn, Nath', that hurt!"

"It was meant to. I'm sharing you with no-one, hot-pants!"

"Are you SURE?" Sean asked with a flutter of his eyes.

"Yes," Nathan responded, pushing Jason behind him protectively. "However, sex-on-legs-Sean, if Cory and Joel are not objecting, I would give you a roll on that bed right there..."

Swish, Smack.

It was Nathan's turn to nurse a bruse on his head, courtesy of Jason. "Same goes for you, sweet-cheeks. You're mine!" Jason giggled.

"You know, they said no to Cory and Sean; I wonder if either of them can handle a hot Vifer...." JJ giggled, Adam grinning his approval.

Jason blinked. He and Nathan looked at each other for a brief second, then...

"Hey! HEY! Put me DOWN!" Adam giggled as he was hoisted into the air by Nathan's telekinesis, while Nathan and Jason both got up together. "We won't share each other with anyone else... but we CAN use and abuse such a willing victim!" they giggled in unison, mischief clear on both their faces. "Especially since JJ planted the suggestion... he must not mind too much..." Jason added with a huge, wicked grin.

"I don't mind if that hot bit of crumpet joins us in the using and abusing... he's hot-to-trot, and looking is as good as tasting...." Nathan put in.

"You know, Nath; if you're okay with it... use and abuse both?" Jason offered, as JJ raised of the floor by Jason's power.

Nathan licked his lips, "Yummy! Vifer for starter, JJ for main course... you, of course, are my dessert, Jace!"

"As it should be... well, shall we?" Jason grinned up at the two floating, howling with laughter teens.

"Uno!" Timmy yelled.

The teens and adults looked over, and found Timmy, Dylan, the Tribe and the Rugrats all intently engaged in a ten-deck game of Uno. As they started laughing, Timmy looked up and stated "Y'all are BOOOOORRRRRRIIIIINNNNNGGGG! We hadda find SOMETHING ta do while you was bein' stoopid!"

With a small smile on his elfin features, Joel watched as JJ and Adam were placed gently back on the carpet. Then he asked his Vifer brother and Justy, "Anything else you're worried about? Will what Cor said be okay for the Clan?"

"We'll have to see; I think getting our friends onboard who are trying to keep divisions under control will be a big help." Adam replied.

"Fortunately, they already know our Patriarch and his mount are strange!" Justy added.

Giggling, Joel replied, "Well, now that definition can be altered... Cory's mount is Sean, Sean's is me, and mine is Cory!"

"Hey Uncle Mikey! These earplugs work AWESOME!" Timmy giggled loudly.

The Saint winked at him, and then nodded and made a strange hand gesture.

Joel giggled and said to his five lovers, "Hold on to your ball sacks, boys. The kids have a plan..."

Teri murmured to Angela, "I'm going to have words with JJ... all this language must be his fault."

"What I heard from my little angel, Jason... no, I would say blame Nathan."

"No, he's too angelic looking," Teri grinned.

Sitting cutely, with his blue eyes wide and as innocent looking as he could get them, Nathan giggled sweetly. "Yeah, Auntie Teri! I'm innocent and sweet and butter won't melt in my mouth!"

Angela looked over at Teri, "Didn't you ever get the memo, when they look the most angelic is when they are causing the most trouble, or getting into trouble, and you can't believe a word they say."

"That's a plain, utter, nasty... truth," Jason said seriously. "I'm not innocent, not sweet, and not to be trusted in anything I say, so you can take my word for it. Levi is to blame for EVERYTHING... isn't that right, Levi?"

"Ye.... NO! Hey! You tricked me!" Levi exclaimed, before giggling.

Dylan and Bryce immediately had halos above their heads, and with a brief giggle, made horns appear over Levi's, Kyle's and Tyler's. "We're the angels!" they crowed.

Levi pouted.

Kyle and Tyler, on the other hand, somehow managed to look angelic despite the horns.

"You're still our Unicorn, Leevee," Kevin smiled, pulling the boy into his side close. "Innocent and horny!"

Levi couldn't help himself. He grinned and then kissed Kevin seriously.

Timmy was tapping his foot, his face serious as he glared at all the Mikyvis - except Levi, who was kissing Kevin. He found that "... awwww! CUTE!" Then he went back to tapping his foot and waiting for the clowns to finish so that he could explode his bombshell on everyone.

"I think we've pushed our Fireball's patience as far as it'll go, Hon," Sean giggled as he pointed at his son.

Nodding, Cory looked around at the others and said, "Okay, cut it out, guys. Timmy has a surprise for us... we think."

"Uh-huh and you tooks long 'nuf!" Timmy stated as he signalled for the others to stand.

Quite a few others.

With Timmy were all of Cory and Sean's kids, his brothers and sister. Well, mostly. Ricky counted simply because Timmy said so, and that was that!

Then Aslan, Shere Khan, Sue, Brian, Jules, Verne, Lee, Rafe, Lemic, Cain, Seth and Abel joined them; all of Kevin, Joel and Levi's kids. Cain and his triplet brothers were rolling their eyes, but looking excited at the havok they hoped this would cause.

Finally, Tumelo lept to Timmy's other side (as Ricky was hogging one of them).

"Oh boy," Koth murmured. "What now?"

Juan shrugged and grinned. This was going to be fun.

"Whats happ'nin', Timmy?" Ffion asked softly from behind Ricky. Gabey was holding her hand and sucking his thumb with rapt attention.

Brandon leaned down and whispered to her, thus allowing Timmy to explain what was happening. He watched for a second as Mikey corralled Koth and Juan over to join the other five principle people involved on the bed so that they were all sitting, watching the kids.

With a deliberate air of one whose word will not, and should never be, questioned, Timmy said, "We have all decided that since our Daddies and Poppas are all in love with each other in different ways, then it would only be right for us all to be kids TO you all, and that way we have seven daddies to take care of us."

"We hope you don't mind," Seth added cheekily.

"Tough shit if you do," Abel put in.

Brandon giggled and said, "What they said... Dads!"

Jules and Verne, with Lee egging them on, pounced onto Sean and Cory's lap - one on each - and started to bestow rapid-fire Ferret kisses onto their faces. Ricky swarmed into Kevin's lap, while Brandon sat on Levi's - giggling, for he swamped the boy. Sue and Brian pounced Juan and Koth, and snuggled.

Joel had the Fireball on his, and Timmy got himself comfortable and asked in a whisper, "Do you like the surprise, Poppa Joel?"

Joel couldn't answer, for he feared his voice would betray him and he would burst into tears. He instead did what he used to do, before the funeral the week before - he looked at Timmy with all the love and gratitude he had for him showing in his mist-power eyes.

Timmy beamed happily, and snuggled closer, chest to chest.

Surprisingly, everyone was ready to go to London on time, which was ten thirty that morning. Surprisingly for those not aware of how meddling Mikyvis could be when tempted, and the fact that only ten minutes were left after the kids had surprised their various 'dads' was certainly an opportunity to 'show off'. They were darting about between groups of kids, pausing time, rewinding time, dressing (in the case of Belar and Ross, who decided to run laps naked around every room of the manor), and all the rest in order for them to be transported, teleported or 'Mikyvis-popped' to their intended destination in the Heart of the British Empire.

Cory was more than a little surprised to find himself, not in the grounds of Buckingham Palace as expected, but rather in the courtyard of Wellington Barracks, the home of the Five Foot Regiments that were assigned in rota to guard both Buckingham and St. James' Palaces. Their arrival did not go unnoticed from the general public standing outside the fences and gates of the Barracks, who had all gathered to see the Changing of the Guard, or Guard Mounting, that was set to start 'just after eleven o'clock' by tradition.

He looked around slowly, while trying to keep the blush that was threatening to creap to his cheaks from overtaking his face at being the centre of attention. He would have attracted this attention no matter how he was dressed, due to arriving by Starfleet Transporter, but dressed in his full Fleet dress uniform on the request of his father only intensified this reaction.

Alongside him, and thus sharing in his discomfort, were his husband and his lover, Sean and Joel; Kevin and Levi; Adam and JJ; Tera, Teri and Spock; and finally, Sammy Raynolds and Miss Allie Gator. All were in Starfleet Dress uniforms, with Levi in his full VSO dress and Sammy in his Unit Dress uniform. Joel had a pair of dark shades on and was not wearing his Crown. Teri and Tera were both resplendant in Vulcan tailored dresses, with Teri's standing out the most.

In short, Cory thought his mother was the most beautiful woman in the world, and the look in Spock's eyes was certain agreement to that as he gazed at her.

Allie, it had to be said, stood out the most to those watching outside the railing - she was somehow wearing a Starfleet uniform jacket (Super Admiral rank... Cory decided not to ask!), and around her waist was a black leather belt with her British Passport tucked safely in the attached pocket (Just in case).

Seconds after they had beamed (or in Levi's case, popped) in, there came another shower of transporter sparkles behind them as their G-Cat guards appeared. They were accompanied by a full-grown, adult sized Sehlat and Wolf: I-Cheya and Black Feet. All had their respective armours on, and all had brushed their fur until they gleamed. (I-Cheya and Blackie had been personally brushed by Saint Mikey)

A slight fidgeting from his side made Cory look down at his Vulcan brother. "Looking for something, Elf?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah... hungry. Where's my...? Ah ha!" he giggled as he blindly pulled a large cookie out of his Dimension Bag and offered some to Cory. "Cookie, Blondie?"

Shaking his head with amusement, Cory took the offered nibble with a whisper of thanks and ate it quickly. Obviously all the folderol going on around him did not faze Joel in the slightest, and the fact that it was meant to be offical seemed lost on the currently carefree seeming Vulcan. Cory was not about to shake Joel out of that feeling, for he seemed lighter in spirit than Cory had seen since he'd returned from Des Moines. With the possible exception of last night, he admitted privately with a slight blush and a cheesy grin.

The main doors to the Barracks opened and out came Redcoats. A lot of them. For but a minute, JJ, Adam and Sean felt a twinge of what their ancestors must have felt, fighting these guys. Sure, the weapons were different - not quite so 'evil' looking - but the training implicit in the controlled, stately movements of these men said they were all soldiers through and through.

"Which Regiment is it, Cor?" Joel asked curiously.

"Uhhh..." came the immediate response as Cory did a quick visual check.

Sean was glad the Elf had asked his Blond hubby, for he did not have a clue, himself. Neither did the rest, with the exception of Levi; and the Mischievious Mikyvis was simply enjoying the show.

"All but the Grenadier Guard, Elf," Cory said after that brief pause. "Looks like they're the Old Guard about to be relieved.... but..."

"Yeah, but," Joel pondered as the marching men formed up around them as well as some forming a circle before them; the Regiment Band for the Coldstream Guard.

"But what?" Kevin asked.

With a shrug, Joel answered, "The Old Guard is relieved, the New Guard takes its place. The next in the sequence is Coldstream. So why are the Irish, Welsh and Scots Guards here as well?"

Levi put in helpfully, "They are the ones around us, JoJo. There's only a Squad from each... and here come their Squad Leaders!"

Three Corporals came to stand before the boys and adults assembled and saluted. Sammy and the G-Cats returned with American salutes, Teri and Tera nodded politely, and Levi gave the Vulcan one. Those in Starfleet dress simply came to attention, for there was no salute in Starfleet. Kevin, of course, had to whisper to Joel quickly that they were saluting him, or he'd have continued munching his cookie in unseeing, contented ignorance.

Allie growled and wagged her tail, Blackie barked and bowed his head, but I-Cheya ignored them totally as he attempted to get a burr out of his tail; noisily.

"Your Highnesses, Ladies, Gentlemen; we are to be your honour guard this morning," the Welsh Guard Corporal said formally, looking primarily at Cory Short. "Please enjoy the band as we wait for the march up to the Palace."

After a brief pause, Cory managed a quiet, "Thank you very much, Corporals," to the three of them before him.

"I think you nearly broke him," Joel said seriously, before his face broke into a sunny smile. "Not that it's hard to do, mind..."

The three military men before them were trained to show next to no reaction to whatever they might see and hear that is not a threat to the Palace, those within or themselves; but a smiling Vulcan child cracking a joke at them tested that ability. The Irish Guard Corporal's mouth twitched slightly before he and his fellows saluted the group again. They turned and marched off to take the lead at the head of their specific squads.

Out of the corner of his mouth, Adam whispered over to Joel, "Well done, Elf!"

"Remember, you owe me five super-sized cookies for teasing Blondie," he whispered back.

"You weren't meant to say that now, Joel!" JJ whined. Then he realised he'd dropped himself into the same trouble Joel and Adam were now in.

Levi just laughed a silvery little laugh.

"You're all so dead. Dead, I tell you," Cory mumbled without any expression showing on his face. "Except Elf. Him I'm going to tickle until he pees himself."

"I am so glad," Teri said in a normal tone of voice, "that these fine gentlemen around us are used to this type of childishness from tourists, for if not, you would all be letting the American side down badly."

"Speak for yourself," Cory, Tera, and Joel said together. Joel continued, "We're not American."

"By birth, at least," Cory amended quickly.

"You, my lad, are a Natural Citizen of the United States," Teri said simply. "Joint nationality not withstanding."

"It sounded good," came the Patriarch's reply, followed by a round of giggles from the boys and G-Cats.

Just as Teri was about to retort with well chosen words, the band started playing. Cory felt that he recognised it from the first few notes, and it was confirmed when Sean inhaled sharply.

"Isn't that... Bon Jovi?" Kevin asked, in awe that a brass band could pull it off.

Joel just started singing along at the correct time, "Tommy used to work on the docks..."

As Cory and Sean joined in, Teri just shook her head in exasperation. "Kids!" she muttered.

"Why should they not?" Spock queried. "They are as well," he added, pointing to the mass of people watching from the outside.

"Because the mass of people outside," Teri grumbled, "are tourists. Ours are in uniform and should hold themselves to a higher standard." Teri then sighed. "Oh hell," she whispered with a shake of her head, "what am I thinking? They never did hold themselves to anyone else's standards, so why should they start now? I am just surprised they haven't started dancing in the streets."

"That's for later," Joel said loudly before diving into the chorus full voice. As he did so, one of the band members (all standing in a circle) facing him winked without missing a beat.

Teri glanced up at Spock, "Incorrigable. That is what they are, incorrigable."

"Please do not look at me as if to say it is entirely my fault," Spock said, without actually looking at her. He knew what her eyes were saying just by the feeling from their bond-link. "I will only take credit for Sa'ren. The rest are your problem."

"Ha! Sorry to inform you of this, but you are their father," Teri smirked and stood a little taller, "so, while they may have been mine alone before, they are now just as much your problem as they are mine. And in moments like this, a fathers hand is needed much more than a mothers. You are, afterall, a Starfleet officer and it is your duty to teach them how to act as such in these situations!"

The tone of Teri's voice was filled with what could only be called child-like glee at, seemingly, getting one over on her soon-to-be husband.

"You know, Mama," Joel stated, turning to face her, "you're as much of a kid as the rest of us!"

"Mind your manners, Sa'ren," Spock said, his voice serious. Then, "Children. Your mother is correct. I am to teach you what you should do in situations such as this."

They all stopped singing and looked at him in horror.

Then Spock started singing along to the song, winking at them.

Teri glanced at Spock in shock, then, after another moment's thought, she shook her head and started to giggle. "You are correct, Joel," she giggled as she reached passed the others to squeeze his shoulder. She then started to sing along with her family, while bouts of their laughter filled the air.

As that piece came to an end, the groups inside and outside the courtyard wondered what would be played next. There was still time before the march up to the palace, after all.

Then JJ started cheering loudly, while the rest giggled at him, as the band started playing 'Take it to the Limit', by the Eagles.

As this wound down, Levi whispered to Kevin, "I wonder what's next?"

"What's your favourite?" Kevin asked, but then the band started again.

Giggling, Levi bounced on his heels. "This!"

'The Last Unicorn'

"That's our horny little Mikyvis..." Cory giggled.

As this song ended the New Guard, and the honour guard for the Clan representitives, started to march out of the Barrack's courtyard and onto the Mall. As they formed up, Cory looked around and saw that the Metropolitan Police had blockade the roads leading onto the Mall to give the Changing of the Guard unfettered access. The band had formed at the front and started up yet another tune, and this one caused a lump to form in Cory's throat. The American National Anthem.

They started marching to that music, while the crowds on the pavements either side of the road watched. There seemed more there than Cory would have expected on a regular day, but he couldn't think of any reason why so many more would have turned up. Some were pointing and laughing, which caused him to look around. He found the reason.

Joel was sitting with his legs crossed on Allie's back - she was his guide-gator, or transport, and therefore looking comical to those not used to it.

As the one refrain played of his nation's Anthem ended, Cory's eyes widened as the Anthem of the Federation started. By the time this one ended they were just entering the roundabout outside Buckingham Palace.

Their honour guard stopped, allowing the New Guard to move on before them to take up possition just inside of the grounds.

And now it was explained why so many had gathered to watch this bi-daily event: a stage had been set up at the founting in front of the Palace and on it was the Mayor of London and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. A number of other officious looking men and women were gathered with them, and at the front stood Prince William, the eldest son of Prince Charles. He was also a defacto member of the Clan, due to his younger brother's membership, but one that none of those from outside the UK had ever met before.

"If this is Grandma Lizzie's idea," Cory whispered, "I'm going to be in trouble for killing a head of state."

"It's actually mine," Teri said to him quietly. "I'm getting a wedding, you're getting the Key to... no, wait. This is Britain. The Freedom to the City..."

"Good, I think the punishment is less for killing soon-to-be Princesses!" Cory giggled, showing no surprise at Teri's revelation.

"Wha...what?!" Teri hissed, managing to stop herself from screaming in front of half of London.

"Oh, dear. We forgot!" Joel exclaimed in a faux despairing tone. "We didn't let you know that Grandma is making you a HR as well, did we? Oh, we'll HAVE to be spanked later... the shame..."

"Yes, you shall," Teri growled as she ruffled her Vulcan son's hair.

At the smile and gesture from Prince William, the Clan crew walked up onto the platform and stood awaiting what was coming next.

What came next was, of course, a rather long winded speach from the Prime Minister. Cory listened attentively, even though it was more boring and just as riviting as watching an ant decompose. Typical polititian double-talk, he thought to himself as he elbowed Sean every so often to stop him dosing off.

Joel was also listening closely, but did not mentally comment on the standard drivel of this typical political figure. Rather, he was attempting to work out where the source of the growing threat was coming from. A weight of malevolence was in the air, but it was unfocused and generalized; as if the source was not altogether sure of what he, she or it hated.

"... and so, for their many valourous acts in the assistance of both children and teens around the world, as well as for the especially heroic actions shown in the past few weeks by a handful of remarkable young men, the City of London is proud to bestow the Freedom of the City upon..." Tony Blair finished.

The Mayor of London stepped forward and proclaimed, "Patriarch Cory Short of Clan Short of Vulcan."

Cory stepped forward to have his hand taken by first the Mayor, then the Prime Minister. Then he was handed a certificate of his Freedom within the City of London.

The same applied for each of the boys on stage in turn, except for Levi and Sammy. They received two awards each. Here, Prince William explained to the crowd that two boys who should be honoured for their valourous acts onboard the Enterprise just that week were unable to be present. Therefore, Levi was called upon to accept the award on behalf of John Hundser, while Sammy accepted the one intended for Stephen Marr. This was on top of their own awards for their own actions.

Throughout all of this, thunderous applause was shaking the stage that they were on as the crowds cheered and yelled.

Joel, however, was struggling to maintain his external show of surprised joy for the now palpable sense of dread was pressing in upon his senses.

The band now within the courtyard of the Palace started playing again as the stage emptied. The Prime Minister and the Mayor of London quickly disappeared into waiting cars and left; their duties not permitting them more time to remain. This left Prince William and the honour guard the Clan members had to guide them into the Palace grounds. There they met up with all of the others who were coming to the weddings, and most of the little kids were singing loudly along with (and mostly on-key, too) the music from the Band: The Neverending Story.

Lemic was clicking his teeth together rapidly as he sang, as well as any Gorn could sing a human song, along with his brothers and sisters.

Kevin grinned at Joel and sent, 'I think we should go inside before our little Hissy shatters the glass of this big building... I'm sure Momma Teri won't be happy if she gets that bill.'

'I'm fairly certain that Grandpa Sarek would pay,' Joel sent back.

Cory had decided the same, along with the fact that the word 'bullets' really didn't belong in the Neverending Story, and having a Gorn scream that too much and too loudly with these trained killers all around might not be the best plan for the Clan to go along with.

As they all turned to go through the arched tunnel into the inner courtyard of the palace, Sean did a quick nose count. "Uh, where is Timmy and little Gabe?!" he called out franticly.

Sniggers from the rest of the Rugrats and Tribe told him that the answer should include the words "Good", "Up", "No" and "To" but not in that order...

Cheers and screams of laughter from the crowds watching outside the gates and fence made him and the rest of the older kids turn and check the front of the courtyard. The Old Guard were still parading, and the band was still playing, but Cory pointed quickly at what he had spotted. Two of the Old Guard at parade rest were without their traditional bear-skin hats.

Next to them was a boy in a red jacket, barefoot, shod in just his undershorts (with Scooby-doo smiling at everyone), with his pants stuffed into the way oversized hat as it wobbled on his head. In his hands was a bright blue, plastic watergun shaped like an AK-47, and he was twirling it about fluidly.

It was Timmy.

Next to him was simply a bear-skin hat... with small trainers sticking out of the bottom.

Baby Gabe, for no matter how many articles of clothing he had stuffed into the hat, he always ended up inside of it. Said clothing was scattered about this now mobile hat.

The guards all around amazed everyone, for not one of them cracked a smile, never mind laugh.

Prince William did not refrain from laughing, along with most of the Clan.

Teri, however, did not look overly amused. "First he corrupts Timmy, then he gets Timmy to corrupt my baby grandson after only an hour and a half in the Clan? JJ? You're sooo dead."

"ME!?!? I'M INNOCENT! I had NOTHING to do with THIS!" JJ responded quickly.

"He just didn't think of it first, is what he means," Adam put in helpfully.

As JJ chased Adam around with one of his trainers in his hand to use as a club, Cory went to retrieve Timmy (and give the hat back to the guardsman) while Kyle and Sean collected a giggling Gabe and made sure the hat he had was fit for the other guard to have back.

Returning with a diaper clad only Gabe wriggling happily in his arms, Sean rolled his eyes, "The guard is just happy he didn't completely strip!"

"How did they get the hats to being with?!" Seth asked curiously.

Dylan was paying vast, undying attention to a particular cloud formation overhead and didn't seem to hear the question.

After getting both boys dressed again, the group moved through the tunnel and into the internal courtyard to be met by none other than the Queen herself - laughing. "I have not been this amused in a long time," she said as her chuckles decreased. "Timmy, and you, little one," she smiled down at the two boys, "are treasures."

"Thank you, Grandma!" Timmy giggled. He pulled Gabey close, "This is my new brother, Gabey. And that's my sister, his big sister, Ffion! My daddies just 'dopted them!"

And with that, they all walked into the palace proper...

Joel had finished explaining to the Queen why there would now only be two weddings, not three as he had originally requested. He did not see her face, however, once he had turned away. The look she had was one that literally screamed there was a surprise coming.

Everyone gathered in a well appointed and prepared hall, with Cory, Adam, Joel and Tyler standing down at the front with Spock to keep him from 'getting scared and running away', as their mother had winked at them ten minutes before. They were looking around at the hall as it filled with their family and friends that had come with them, as well as a few others. Then music started, and, from the back, came Teri in her wedding gown. At her elbow and leading her was her only living blood son, Sean... to give her away. Cory smiled at him, but he didn't think Sean noticed for his husband's eyes were glimmering with happy tears.

Joel was weeping openly once Teri had reached the group at the front, for his empathy picked up her feelings of joy, bliss and contentment. She was, probably for the first time in a long time, the star of this show. She was a princess right at that moment, and everything, every eye - especially Spock's - was on her. Joel couldn't control his tears at that moment, but none of his brothers felt any need to run to his aid, for the smile on his face said these were the best tears of all.

Happy ones.

And he was not alone, for Cory also had a few running down his face, and so too did little Tyler. So much so for the little man that Joel had pulled him against his side so that they could smile and cry together.

Back a few rows in his seat, Kyle was pulled against JJ's side and they were both crying as well. Many were.

This was Teri's moment. After all the sacrifice that she had willing taken on board to help any and all kids that came her way; after all the sleepless nights when one child was away from her in a Home; after all the pain of losing friends and family, a son and a husband; after all the horror of the past few weeks... this was her time for ALL of them, both here and through the Clan Network that was relaying the live feed, to give her a moment that would forever be hers alone... well, and Spock's. Without him she wouldn't have had this chance.

Spock was also moved, but visably less so. His mind went back for a brief instant to another wedding. He glanced at his son and saw the light on his boy's forehead glimmering between green and red and pink. He knew his late wife rejoiced for him. He was content. He was whole, now.

And as he beheld his bride, now at his side, he felt fully at peace.

There was no preacher or pastor at this wedding. A certain Queen-Empress decided to seal the deal by conducting this herself... after placing a circlet of fine gold, encrusted with pearls, amathysts and diamonds, around her brow. From this moment onward, the first mother of the Clan would be Princess Teri Short. With a brief word on what marriage meant and a few asked and answered oaths, Teri Short became Lady Teri Short, wife of Spock.

And Spock let out a rare smile of joy as he looked into his beautiful wife's eyes just before their lips met in the required and traditional kiss.

Cory couldn't see this, however, for the tears now running freely from his eyes.

As per the request from both Joel and Kevin, their wedding was even more low-key than Teri's had been. There had been various dignitaries present for Teri and Spock, some ambassadors from parts of the world as well as a few from off-world. When the two small boys exchanged their own vows (again with Her Majesty officiating) it was just their families present: meaning the Clan who had joined them.

And Ark.

And Draco.

And Daileass.

Meaning a record of this would of course be relayed to the rest of the Clan quite shortly.

So yes, rather a small affair.

Sammy, one of Joel's best men, gave the little Vulcan a huge hug as the two boys at the centre of attention broke their kiss. Then he giggled at the look on Joel's face as both he and Kevin were stopped from leaving, as they thought they could at this point.

"We have not yet finished, young princes. There is another matter to which we have become aware. Two other matters, but the first one involves a certain First-Born of the Mikyvis," Elizabeth said imperiously as she beckonned the puzzled boy in question to come forward and join the newly Earth-Ceremony married couple before her.

Levi glared at his parents as he pressed passed them. "What have you done, Poppa? I didn't know anything about this!" he accused Tyler.

"Surprise, kiddo," Kyle grinned.

"It was you?!"

"Sure! I can't let Tyler have all the fun getting into mischief and pulling stunts, now can I?"

The now furiously blushing and puzzled Levi was pulled securely between an equally puzzled Kevin and Joel.

"We have been informed by a letter sent 54 years ago to us from a certain Sainted Physician that you three are in love, but that nature cannot allow you to bond while there is inequallity in your core being. However, since the bond to which this meddling Doctor and equally meddling Kyle-Bear have referred and explained to me is not activated by a human ceremony of simple words... Therefore I ask it of you all now, within the sound of my voice, to all nations, peoples, tribes, races and planets on which the Clan has influence and family and friends, if there is any just cause why these three should not be bound together in a promise of love that will last until the Binding of Souls of the Highest of Races can take place, then speak of it now - or forever hold your peace."

Silence. A silence as poignant and deep and terrifying as when the Fish swallowed Jonah.

"Then I shall continue. Levis Hunter Richardson, do you promise before God, your friends and your family, that you will love, comfort, honour and protect your life-partners - Sa'ren Joel Short and Kevin Charles David Thompson - and be faithful to them for as long as you all shall live?"

With a suddenly dry throat, which was odd as he didn't need spit the same way fleshys did, and trembling knees, also odd as he didn't have a nervous system that would cause such, Levi trembled out a quiet and tearful, "I do..."

"Kevin Charles David Thompson, do you promise before God, your friends and your family, that you will love, comfort, honour and protect your life-partners - Sa'ren Joel Short and Levis Hunter Richardson - and be faithful to them for as long as you all shall live?"

With tears also in his eyes, and his arm pulling Levi tight to his side, Kevin nodded. "I do."

"Sa'ren Joel Short... same question, change your name for Levi's... and I take the kiss you've landed on the boy in question's lips to be an 'I do'... I now pronounce you Life-Partners one to each other. So let it be recorded in the annuals of the Empire," the Queen finished with a laugh as Joel was trying - successfully, Levi concluded - to reach the Mikyvis' tonsils.

Cheers from the room, and from the speakers - kindly relayed by Ark through means unknown to the other AIs from all sections of the Federation that had a Clan presence - echoed and re-echoed. Tyler and Kyle were in Spock's arms, crying and blubbing about how quick kids grew up, Sammy and JJ were singing and leading a dance that suddenly took over the front end of the room.

The Queen laughed long at this, but after a good ten minutes of excitement, called them all to order. "We have not finished. There is yet another matter that requires our attention. And this time, the instigators are Timmy Short and..."

"What have you done now, Fireball!" Cory exclaimed.

"We are not amused at being interupted, Prince Cory... Timmy Short AND Lady Teri Short."

"MOM?! MOM AND TIMMY?! WHAT NOW?!" Sean exclaimed.

"Do we need to repeat our displeasure at being interupted?"

"No Ma'am."

"Good. Now. Princes Kevin and Levi... yes, Levi. You're also a prince of the Empire, now. We'll get to the offical ceremony in a while... please stand with Lady Teri and Spock, please. Not you, Prince Sa'ren. Please remain there while Princes Cory and Sean join you..."

"I think I know where this is going," Levi giggled to Kevin.

Kevin nodded sagely. "Your parents must have been in on it to keep you OUT of it, Unicorn."

"Not in public, Kev!"

Cory and Sean joined a wondering Joel at the front as everyone else backed away to give the Queen-Empress room. Then, as per the request relayed - nay, ordered - by Timmy Short, with the backing and support of Teri, Elizabeth got Cory, Sean and Joel hitched as well.

"A busy day," she smiled as the three boys exchanged kisses after their vows. "And a noisy night... I think I'll go and stay at Windsor this evening..."

The 'Wedding Breakfasts' were an hour away, so Cory spent the time circling the group that had been there for his mother's wedding. In some ways he was glad that these Earth dignitaries had not been there for the other weddings. Joel and Kevin wouldn't have been that much of an issue, for he and Sean had been married on live TV; but when Levi was added, then he and Sean to Joel... it was unusual for Vulcans, and more so for Humans, irrespective of the gay aspect. He was simply glad that there were no scenes caused by the simple expedient of not including outsiders. Time will work its own magic and the peoples of the Earth will grow. Baby steps is what was needed.

He had already met a fair number of dignitaries, including a six year old grandson of the Chinese Emperor, who was visiting with his widowed mother. As he finished his brief talk (and quick royal hug between princes, which was a must in this little boys mind) he made for the bar at the side of the room for a stiff shandy. The bartender winked at him. "You know, Captain Short, you are able to have something harder than that. This is Britain, and you're in your family home, being a Prince of Britain, and we..." he trailed off with a grin.

"Aye, I be aware," Cory giggled. "Tis' one of the things my wee ones might not be unner'stan'in yet though."

The man rolled his eyes and laughed, then made a big deal of mixing up what Cory decided was the perfect lemonade shandy.

After thanking the man, Cory moved off into the crowd and, not paying as full attention on where he was going due to the quite excellent soft drink he was sipping, bumped into a smaller lad. "Oh, sorry," he said as he looked down at the ten year old or so boy before him. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

The boy smiled at him. "You're forgiven." His voice was calm and filled with joy and love, and his eyes radiated peace.

Cory couldn't help but smile back. He looked at his drink and then back at the boy, "Would you like some?"

"Thank you," the lad answered as he took a small sip from Cory's glass. "Interesting. I have never tried that before."

With a grin, Cory told him what it was. Then, "I'm Cory. Cory Short."

"I know. My name is Yahushua."

"Oh? That's Hebrew, right? Isn't the English version Joshua?"

"Correct. You may call me Joshua if you find it easier."

Cory tilted his head slightly. "I don't think calling you by your proper name would be a problem for a lot of us. But I'm surprised you'd allow that."

"It is the same name," the boy smiled happily. "Please. Call me Joshua."

"Okay... okay, Josh," Cory grinned, bringing the boy close and resting his arm over his shoulder. It was then that he noticed someone else. Or something else. "Oh, hello! Who's your friend?"

The boy smiled wider. "You can call him Rua," Joshua smiled as the pure white dove on his right shoulder tilted its head at Cory. The bright eye facing the Clan Patriarch seemed to shimmer in the light of the big, crowded hall.

"You fit in well, my little angel wanders around with an eagle, as does his boyfriend," Cory commented.

"I've seen them."

"So... you're from Israel? One of your parents Jewish?" Cory asked as he made his way toward where he could see Joel and Sean chatting by the door.

"Yes, my mother."

"Is she with you here?"

"No. She is in Heaven, now," Joshua answered.

Cory looked down at him quickly. "I'm sorry," he said softly. He could sense no pain or grief from the boy, so he assumed it must have been a while since she had died. "Like me and my brothers. We lost our dad when we were very young and it was just mom for a long time. We've got a new dad, now... I'm sorry, that... I don't know why... So, it's just you and your dad, huh?"

The boy looked up at him with a soft smile. "He is with my mother," he said simply, no hint of pain at Cory's seeming insensitivity.

Cory stopped walking, and so too did Joshua. "Any family you can stay with? Are you okay?" he asked, suddenly full of concern and in full Clan mode.

The boy smiled wider. "I would stay with you for a time, Cory Short."

Somewhat surprised at the forwardness of the child, but grateful for that, Cory nodded. "Forever and ever, if you want to. We will never turn any away."

"Nor I," the boy nodded happily. Rua cooed softly.

Cory felt his chest warm at that coo. It was like a drop of liquid sunshine had slipped down his throat. "Uh... come on, let me show you around and introduce you to our family."

"That would be great, but please excuse me for a moment. I shall be back," Joshua smiled as he disengaged Cory's arm from his shoulders and made for the door, and what Cory could only assume was the restroom. Rua, however, seemed to want to stay behind, and so flew and sat on Cory's head.

Smiling, Cory and Rua made their way over toward Sean and Joel. "Hey, Husbands," he giggled as he got to them, thus causing them to stop searching for each other's tonsils. "I see you're teaching Angel how to do that proper," he giggled to Sean, who blushed.

"Who's your new friend?" Sean asked as he attempted to get the red from his face.

Joel looked up at Rua with his blue-mist eyes. "That's... a spirit-animal? Yeah... yeah, I.... mmm..."

"His name's Rua, and that wouldn't surprise me. His friend is off in the rest room," Cory grinned, reaching and taking Sean's hand. "Where are your other two hubbies, Elf?"

"Over there, kissing and blushing and kissing some more," the Vulcan grinned.

Sa'ren put in, "We felt it best to take turns. I shall have my time with Levi and then Kevin once they have finished shining each other's teeth."

"Nicely put," Joel finished with a giggle.

Rua cooed happily.

Sean blinked. "Wow..."

"I know," Cory smiled, trying to look up at the dove.

Rua stretched and looked down sideways at him.

"You're awesome, you know that, right, Rua?"


Just at that moment, Cory saw Tyler jump up with a concerned look on his face and make for the doorway that Joshua had just left by. "I'll just go see what Turtle's up to," he said as he moved off.

Sean nodded and then looked back down into Joel's dancing eyes. "More?"

Joel simply tugged his new hubbies head down far enough to seek and find his lips again.

Tyler had ran out for a reason. Timmy was hurt. He felt it happen and ran quickly to the rest room, only to find a shocked looking Timmy, with tears drying on his face, and a boy he had never met before hugging him. "Tims? Tim Tims? You okay?" he asked as he ran over and took Timmy's hand.

"Uh huh. Josh helped me," the little Fireball whispered as he was transferred over by Joshua to Tyler's arms.

"What happened?" the Mikyvis asked him, but looking at Joshua carefully.

"I was desperate and ran in and slipped and banged my head on the big boy ur.. uri... pee-place and there was blood and ever'thing, then Josh came in and..."

"He'll be okay, now," Joshua smiled just as the door opened and in came Cory with his Dove-Hat on. "Your son is okay, Cory."

"I... what..."

"I'll tell you after," Tyler said as Timmy left his arms and ran for Cory's. "I'll be out in a minute."

Cory nodded with a strange look and left, carrying his son. Rua, however, took off and landed back on Joshua's right shoulder.

Once Cory had gone, Tyler turned to look seriously at Joshua. "I don't know you."

"No. You don't, yet," Joshua smiled. "But you're close."

"Should I?"

"I think the answer is yes."

Tyler blinked. His eyes narrowed, then widened in surprise. "I can't feel you. Read you. Nothing."

"I know."


"You just can't," Joshua smiled. "Cory invited me to stay with you for a while. We can talk, if you'd like."

"Please... I... sorry for trying to look but it's my job. The Double Js will try and so will my husband, and..."

"Tyler Austin Short..."

Tyler blinked and backed up a step. "Y...Yes?"

"I know. Do not worry, I know. And I smile at what you do and why. Come. Walk with me and talk with me. Then you'll start to know me better. And I think it'll be more fun that reading my mind, no?"

After a moment of stillness and quiet simply staring at this strange boy, Tyler nodded and a smile appeared on his face. "I... come on. It'll be nice on the roof. Shall I take us there, or...?"

"We'll walk," Joshua laughed.

"Cooo," cooed Rua.

Later that evening:

Cory had been with the Queen in the basement of the palace and now had that strange grey bracelet around his wrist; something that Sean couldn't see. He thought that maybe Joel might, but he, Kevin and Levi were back in Dragon's Nest with their kids so he couldn't ask. He was nervous and it showed as he paced to and fro along the long corridor in the bedroom area of the palace.

The information he had been given and the fear in Joel's face over that prophetic poem he had read from the Book of Shinys, as well as the news his intel division was feeding him about strange waves of unrest rolling through England and many other countries had him more than on edge.

How could a day so wonderful suddenly turn so sinister and serious? He had no answer to that, and he was trying his best to not think on what he and only a few others now knew.

He turned to make another pass down the hallway when he found Joshua and Rua right there in front of him. "Wow! You're quiet! Didn't hear you coming... something wrong, Josh?" the Patriarch asked quickly.

Joshua smiled, "I am fine. Are you okay, Cory?"

About to nod his head and say he was fine, Cory suddenly found himself lost in Joshua's deep brown eyes. "I... no, but... there's nothing I can do about most of this, and I'm worrying needlessly. What will happen will happen, and I will just have to deal with it as it does... wow..."

"Sometimes the answer you need you already know, when you learn to listen," Joshua said simply. "Go to bed, Cory. Follow your heart and you will find everything will work out, even if there is pain in the process."

As unsettling as this strange boy's words were, Cory found himself beleiving him. "Uh... thanks. Um, you've got a place to stay tonight? They found you a room? I'm sorry, but I didn't check... I..."

"I will stay with Timothy. He insisted," Joshua smiled.

Rua cooed.

"Good plan... oh, and be warned: Timmy likes showers..."

"I know." And with a final soft smile, Joshua turned and made his quiet way down the hall until he reached the door to the room the younger children were in. "Sleep well, Last Dragon Son," he said without speaking as he watched Cory enter his own room and close the door. "I will be with you, even to the end..."

To be Continued in The Battle of Earth: "Avalon Rises"