The Mikyvis Chronicles

A Clan Vacation: Chapter 2

Later that day...

The Alpha Prime visitors to Archnania took a much needed lunch break, followed by some time at one of the lakes swimming. Leaving their kids with the Des Moines group, Kaleo, Tory, John and Stephen, the band members, Corey, Drew and Sean decided to return to the rehearsing. Walking into the rehearsal hall, Troy commented, "They've managed to get so much food that has the same flavors and textures as foods we're familiar with."

Nodding, Sean softly agreed, "It really is very good. Even the cakes and sweets that wouldn't be good for us at home are good for us."

Keith joked, "Even better, Mike hasn't passed gas once today." Evil snickering broke loose from everyone except Mike.

Smirking, Mike mumbled, "You're the sacrifice at our first Shiny Mass, Dull One." Troy, Sean, Reyes, Corey and Drew mooed through their giggles.

Stopping at the PA gear, Drew and Corey giggled, "I pledge allegiance to the Shiny of the Shiny Nation, and to the Gleam for which it stands; one Nation under Shiny – sparkling, with incandescence and radiance for all!"

Spinning around, Mike flashed the couple two thumbs-up and smiled, "Bless you."

"Spank me, you stocky brute," Keith sniggered.

Mike warned, "Keep talking like that and everyone in our bedroom will tan your buns tonight."

Walking with Troy and Sean to the guitar stands, Prez suggested, "How about you lead us through some of your favorite tunes, Troy?" Blinking fast and tilting his head, Troy grinned. Prez sniggered, "We'll continue as we were this morning; you'll get to know Old Habits tunes, and we'll get to know the songs you've worked on before."

Holding an acoustic guitar in one hand, Troy grinned, "If that's what you want to do, that's kewl." He put the guitar down, quickly kissed Sean, and then went over to the grand piano. Sean followed his partner but stopped at the distant end of the huge instrument. Beginning with a few scales to warm up his fingers, Troy paused, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. During that minute or so, Prez got the rest of the band to stop goofing around and go to their instruments. Troy began playing the familiar introduction to Elton John's Someone Saved My Life Tonight, and then sweetly sang;

When I think of those East End lights, muggy nights
The curtains drawn in the little room downstairs
Prima Donna lord, you really should have been there
Sitting like a princess, perched in her electric chair
And it's one more beer and I don't hear you anymore
We've all gone crazy lately
My friends out there, rolling round the basement floor
(Ooo-ooo-ooo)

By this time, Derrick had been tapping cymbals in strict quarter note time, and Prez was adding the bass line. Keith played the electric piano fills. Mike and Reyes stood at microphones and provided backup vocals with the rest of the band.

And someone saved my life tonight, sugar bear (sugar bear)
You almost had your hooks in me, didn't you, dear?
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You're a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye
(Ooo-ooo-ooo)

Archnanians filed into the hall. Most amazingly, all of them seemed to line up before the stage. They began swaying to the left and the right, as one, with the tempo. 

I never realized the passing hours of evening showers
A slip noose hanging in my darkest dreams
I'm strangled by your haunted social scene
Just a pawn out-played by a dominating queen
It's four o'clock in the morning
Damn it, listen to me good!
I'm sleeping with myself tonight
Saved in time, thank God my music's still alive
(Oh-oh-oh-oh)

And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear (sugar bear)
You almost had your hooks in me didn't you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You're a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye
(Ooo-ooo-ooo)

With a press of a button, Drew added reverb to the snare and tom-toms, making them pop explosively.

And I would have walked head on into the deep end of the river
Clinging to your stocks and bonds
Paying your H.P. demands forever
They're coming in the morning with a truck to take me home
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight
So save your strength and run the field you play alone

Keith switched from electric piano to organ and synthesized string parts. 

And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear (sugar bear)
You almost had your hooks in me, didn't you, dear?
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You're a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye

Someone saved, Someone saved, Someone saved my life tonight, 
(someone saved my life tonight)
Someone saved, Someone saved, Someone saved my life tonight, 
(someone saved my life tonight)
Someone saved, Someone saved, Someone saved my life tonight,
(someone saved my life tonight)
Someone saved, Someone saved, Someone saved my life tonight,
(someone saved my life tonight)
Someone saved my life tonight

Archnanians, Corey, Drew, Sean, and most of the band applauded. Keith cheered, "That's a keeper!"

Cameron announced, "Sir Elton said, that was a smashing good job, chaps!" The band broke down in soft chortling and giggling and turned to Troy.

With everyone's eyes on him, Troy giggled, "I spent a lot of time playing Elton John songs." He got up from the piano and stretched briefly, and then sat back down again. He played a single chord, then called out "Bennie And The Jets," and began playing the song. Mike got an acoustic guitar from the rack. Keith adjusted a synthesizer for later in the song. Reyes went to the gathered audience and got them clapping their hands to the tempo. Troy barely paused for the applause at the end of the song before starting Maybe I'm Amazed. During the song, most of the Rimmer's sons and the Des Moines group entered the rehearsal hall. Soon, everyone was dancing and getting the Archnanians dancing too. At the end of the song, Troy giggled, "Okay, can we start rehearsing now?" Sean howled laughing.

Julio's youngest, Terry, ran up on the stage and pulled on Keith's hand. "Unca Keith?"

"Hey, Terry. Wassup?"

Terry's nervousness was visible as he asked, barely loud enough for Keith to hear, "Could ya play a song for me an' my brothers?"

"We can sure try. Which song?"

"I Wanna Know What Love Is," Terry replied, sure he'd be told no.

Keith smiled, "Give us a few moments to get set up, and we'll play it next." He then waved all the band members over in front of the drum risers. Keith told the band about Terry's request, and none of them really had a problem recalling the song. Keith reminded, "We're gonna need your high voice in several parts, Reyes."

Nodding, Reyes recalled, "There's some percussion I can add too."

Mike shrugged, "There's no guitar part, so I guess I get to play the synth bell part."

Keith checked with Troy, "Do you want to play the organ part or the second synthesizer part, bro?"

"I'll play the organ part," Troy smiled, and cheerfully explained, "I'm really starting to like feeling bass pedals under my feet." Once again, Keith, Prez, Mike and even Reyes snuggled up close to Troy and began feeling him up. 

Cracking up, Sean hysterically roared, "Save some for me!"

Grumbling nonsense about the other half spoiling their fun, the band separated and went to their instruments. Giggling maniacally, Troy crossed the stage area for the Hammond organ. Keith took the rack of keyboards at stage left, and Mike went to the keyboards at stage right. Reyes went to the percussion and put his headset on.

Looking over his shoulder at Derrick, Troy began snapping his fingers to the tempo. Shaking his head, Derrick slowed him down just a tiny bit, to about 82 beats per minute, by tapping his sticks together. Troy faced the Hammond, nodded, and then counted out four beats. Troy, Derrick and Prez started playing I Want To Know What Love Is as a band for the first time. Only a few seconds into the song, Mike played the first synth bell part. Keith sang the lead vocals.

I've gotta take a little time
a little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
in case I need it when I'm older

Now this mountain I must climb
feels like the world upon my shoulders
Through the clouds I see love shine
It keeps me warm as life grows colder

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now
I've travelled so far to change this lonely life

I want to know what love is
I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is
I know you can show me

I'm gonna take a little time
a little time to look around me
I've got nowhere left to hide
it looks like love has finally found me

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now
I've travelled so far to change this lonely life

For the final chorus', all the Archnanians began singing along, surprising the band members, who didn't know that Time Touched had rehearsed the song there too.

I want to know what love is
I want you to show me
I want to know what love is
I know you can show me
I want to know what love is
I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is
I know you can show me
Let's talk about love - I want to know what love is
Love that you feel inside - I want you to show me
I'm feelin' so much love - I want to feel what love is
No you just can't hide - I know you can show me
I want to know what love is - let's talk about love
I know you can show me I wanna feel it
I want to feel what love is
And I know, and I know
I know you can show me
I want to know what love is
I know you can show me

While Archnanians applauded and cheered, the band noticed Terry was in his dad's arms, clapping and occasionally wiping tears from his eyes. Platinum Habits gathered around the drum risers. Picking up his PADD, Prez asked, "Do we keep it in the list?"

Shrugging shoulders were all around Prez. Troy offered, "It's not a bad song, it just needs the choir of voices at the end."

Derrick grinned, "Also, Mike seemed a little bored."

"I was," Mike chuckled.

Reyes offered, "How about we keep it on request only?" The band agreed. After a brief pause, Reyes grinned, "What we really need are more songs for Prez to sing. He's only got about ten songs. Troy and I already have way more than Prez does."

Keith smiled, "Prez can sing plenty of songs. We simply never worked them all out as a band, because we couldn't cover them right. We can now though." Glancing around, Keith prompted, "We'll have to switch things around a little."

"Let's start with some E.L.P.," Prez said, and went to put his bass guitar on the stand. He picked up an acoustic 12-string and suggested, "Still You Turn Me On".

Nodding, Derrick said, "That puts me on bass guitar." He turned to Reyes, saying, "You're on tambourine and percussion."

Reyes smirked, "I'm not sure I recall that song, dad."

"I'm in the same boat," Troy admitted.

"We'll signal you," Derrick reassured.

Waving Troy over to the stage left keyboards, Keith said, "I'll take the harpsichord part, and I'll show Troy the synth flute parts."

"The electric guitar part is a little tricky," Mike said. He then tried the wah-wah enhanced guitar licks.

Prez offered, "We'll run through it in sections, to get Reyes and Troy up to speed." During the first run through the song, Derrick showed Reyes when and how to come in with the tambourine and woodblocks. Keith showed Troy the synthesizer parts. Occasionally, the band members told Drew and Corey what was needed from the PA system. During the second try, the band played the entire song, but Derrick remained near Reyes, and Troy stayed by Keith. After checking that everyone was ready, and seeing Troy flash a thumb-up from the stage right keyboards, Prez cleared his throat and then stepped up to the microphone. He softly counted off, and then finger-picked his guitar and sang.

Do you wanna be an angel?
Do you wanna be a star?
Do you wanna play some magic on my guitar?
Do you wanna be a poet?
Do you wanna be my string?
You could be anything.
Do you wanna be the lover of another?
Undercover you could even be the man on the moon.

Troy had the synthesized flute part going through the first verse and Derrick softly played the bass. At the bridge, Keith began playing the harpsichord part and Mike began playing the electric guitar.

Do you wanna be the player?
Do you wanna be the string?
Let me tell you something,
It just don't mean a thing.
You see it really doesn't matter
When you're buried in disguise
By the dark glass on your eyes
Though your flesh has crystallized

For segue into the chorus, all the band members seemed to play the same stanza. Reyes rapidly shook the tambourine, making it sound almost like a rattlesnake.

Still... you turn me on
Still... you turn me on
Mmmm... you turn me on

With one hand holding the tambourine silent against his leg, Reyes played the wooden blocks with his other hand.

Do you wanna be the pillow where I lay my head?
Do you wanna be the feathers lying in my bed?
Do you wanna be the cover of a magazine?
Create a scene.
Every day a little sadder
A little madder
Someone get me a ladder
Do you wanna be the singer?
Do you wanna be the song?
Let me tell you something,
You just couldn't be more wrong.
You see I really have to tell you
That it all gets so intense,
From my experience,
It just doesn't seem to make sense.
Still... you turn me on
Mmmm... you turn me on, yeah
Mmmm... you turn me on.

The audience that hadn't applauded during the first and second tries made up for it during the third. Prez thanked the audience and then asked, "Do we keep it or..."

"We definitely keep it," Troy firmly answered. All the Rimmer sons in the audience hollered affirmatively. Giggling at the boys, Troy then asked, "Do you know Lucky Man too?" Prez nodded and Troy said, "That gets a lot of radio airplay still in the New York City metro area. I know the acoustic guitar part, and the lead solo. It gives you some ballads to sing too."

Mike grinned, "Prez knows a lot of ELP tunes, and his voice fits perfectly."

Almost simultaneously, Reyes and Troy agreed. "Kewl," Prez chuckled, "we'll need two acoustic guitars, electric guitar, bass, synth and drums."

Derrick smiled at Reyes, teasing, "Since I'll need to play bass, you get to learn some Carl Palmer stick tricks."

"Awesome!" Reyes giggled. "This should be fun." He grabbed his dad's hand and led the way up to the drum kit. Troy went to get a 6-string acoustic guitar and Prez followed, reviewing the chord progression. Mike and Keith walked back to the PA system to review the effects needed for the song. Dee, Gage, Richie, Sammy, Dillon, Jonah and Randy joined their fathers.

Prez, Troy and Derrick ran through the song in sections. Derrick showed Reyes how to alternate and syncopate the strength behind the snare drum rolls needed in the song. In the back of the room, Keith and Mike reviewed the effects necessary during the song. The great thing was that they could clearly hear Prez singing the verses, and Troy and Derrick joining in for the chorus'. After about ten minutes, Derrick got up and Reyes sat on the drum throne. Derrick went to get a bass guitar and again the four of them ran through the song, with Reyes doing a fantastic job on the drums. By the time they were about halfway through the song, Mike had rejoined the band and flawlessly played the electric guitar solo. Jogging with his sons, Keith had to hurry to make it back to the stage area to play the finale synthesizer solo. Occasionally waving one arm, Keith showed Corey and Drew how the sound should be bounced to the left and right. Already, the kids and Archnanians in the audience were quite enthused and applauded the band. 

Prez chuckled, "THIS is why we want both of you two dudes in this band. As a four man group, Mike would play bass, so the lead guitar had to be done on synthesizers, and with only one acoustic guitar, we were missing a lot that couldn't be reproduced any other way."

Keith wholeheartedly agreed and prompted the group to play the song again by counting down. Prez and Troy started playing the introduction. Reyes came in with the drums, and then Prez sang;

He had white horses and ladies by the score
All dressed in satin and waiting by the door
Ooh, what a lucky man he was

All six voices sang the last line of the first chorus

Ooh, what a lucky man he was

White lace and feathers, they made up his bed
A gold covered mattress on which he was laid

This time, all six voices sang the chorus.

Ooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooh, what a lucky man he was

Mike played the electric guitar solo with all six voices dreamily singing.

He went to fight wars for his country and his king
Of his honor and his glory, the people would sing
Ooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooh, what a lucky man he was

A bullet had found him, his blood ran as he cried
No money could save him, so he laid down and died
Ooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooh, what a lucky man he was

Keith played the ending synthesizer solo, but didn't prompt Drew and Corey this time. The sound engineers panned the synthesizer closer to the tempo of the music. Everybody was happy and another song was added to the growing repertoire list on Prez's PADD.

Derrick asked, "Are you ready for a break, Prez?"

"Yeah, I've had the spotlight about half an hour."

Turning to Reyes, Derrick grinned, "Pick another song for yourself."

Reyes thought for a few moments, and then suggested, "How about 'Shining Star'? I can play percussion on that one."

Most the band agreed, but Troy asked Reyes, "If you're more comfy on the hand percussion, I have a few others we could play that would keep you there a while?"

Reyes brightly smiled, "Sounds good to me!"

Keith wondered, "What're you thinking, Troy?"

"How about some Doobie Brothers?" Troy offered. "I can think of at least six songs we could easily cover, but 'Black Water' is at the top of the list, and probably the most challenging in the vocal parts."

While Troy was speaking, Mike was sending silent messages to Sean. When Sean nodded and giggled, Mike swung his guitar behind his back and snuck up on Troy from behind. Wrapping his new bandmate and brother up tight, Mike evilly snickered, "You just made my day, so I think a few of us will be making your night."

Blushing bright red, Troy giggled, "I'm just getting used to playing one-on-one. I don't think I'm ready, and I need to discuss it with Sean too."

Standing just beyond the stage, Sean carefully told Troy, "After all I've done, that you never held against me, do you think I'd prevent stuff with our Core Rimmer brothers?"

Reyes giggled, "I happen to know that they play with rules, Troy. Intercourse is only for partners."

Keith chuckled, "The Terrible Triplets shared what you were thinking about us, but I'll bet you didn't learn everything we were thinking about you."

Watching Troy turn even redder, Prez reminded, "Troy and Sean have only been together a few days. Let's get back to rehearsing, and let them talk about the possibility." He turned and found Kaleo and Tory in the audience, then grinned, "The same applies to you two." Kaleo was obviously surprised. Tory blushed and began giggling.

Troy softly wondered, "I guess I don't understand how things could be, or should be, for that matter."

Derrick answered, "Who do you tell your deepest thoughts and secrets? The four of us have been together half our lives, but the emotional intimacy is what separated us and formed the two couples. There's not much that we don't share, but it's still there, and the love we had when we were seven- and eight-years-old is still there too. If you're interested in another history lesson, Mike learned 'China Grove' when he was ten. We've tried that song as a band, but were missing a second guitar and percussion that left big gaping holes in the sound. That's why Mike got enthused when you mentioned The Doobies."

Reyes giggled, "If everyone would rather play 'China Grove' first, I don't mind."

Releasing Troy and smirking at his eldest son, Mike assured, "We are learning 'Shining Star' today. 'China Grove' is only a little easier, two-thirds complete."

"Five-sixth's complete," Troy grinned. "I even learned the guitar solos, on acoustic."

"Then let's play 'China Grove'," Reyes smiled, and picked up a tambourine. "I remember it too."

Mike told Troy, "You take lead."

"Who's got vocals?" Troy asked, and got a Stratocaster from the guitar rack.

"Me," Derrick said. 

Prez prompted, "Guitars lead off." 

As soon as Troy was ready and nodded, Mike counted off and began playing rhythm guitar. After four bars, Troy and Keith came in, and Derrick added the bass drum. The band joined together four bars later, and then Derrick sang lead vocals. 

When the sun comes up on a sleepy little town
Down around San Antone
And the folks are risin' for another day
'Round about their homes
The people of the town are strange
And they're proud of where they came
Well, you're talkin' 'bout China Grove
Oh, China Grove

Well, the preacher and the teacher
Lord, they're a caution
They are the talk of the town
When the gossip gets to flyin'
And they ain't lyin'
When the sun goes fallin' down
They say that the father's insane
And dear Missus Perkin's a game
We're talkin' 'bout the China Grove
Oh, China Grove

But every day there's a new thing comin'
The ways of an oriental view
The sheriff and his buddies
With their samurai swords
You can even hear the music at night
And though it's a part of the Lone Star State
People don't seem to care
They just keep on lookin' to the East

At the guitar solo, Troy came in perfectly. He slipped, slid around and bent strings easily, like he had always played the song on a Stratocaster. Mike moved closer and encouraged Troy by yelling and hopping up and down. Troy began giggling at Mike. Derrick came in singing the final chorus, with all the backup singers struggling to maintain just a few more seconds.

Talkin' 'bout the China Grove
Oh, China Grove

At the end of the song, the entire band and most of the audience cracked up. Prez went to get his PADD, sniggering, "That's on the list, and someone get a rope for Mike." Slinking toward Troy like a sexual predator, Mike leered and evilly cackled.

Pointing his guitar at Mike like a weapon, Troy loudly giggled, "BACK! AFTER SEAN SAYS IT'S KEWL!" With all his attention on Mike, Troy didn't notice Prez, Keith, Derrick and Reyes slithering up from behind. Wrapped up by four sets of arms, Troy cracked up. The audience howled, the loudest from Sean.

Mike giggled, "I'll play the teacher and you can be the preacher?"

Stepping up onto the stage, Sean went to his Lover and those around him. Derrick groaned, "Uh oh, here comes the other half. We're in trouble."

Shaking his head, Sean giggled, "It won't be my doing." He paused close to the group and locked eyes with Troy, grinning, "For now, until we chat, kisses are allowed." Noticing smiles and surprised expressions, Sean giggled, "Kiss him like you mean it though. If I see one baby kiss, that says someone's just being goofy, and it means hugs are as much affection as you can muster."

Prez smiled, "You don't have to allow this, Sean."

"I know that," Sean assured. He locked eyes with Troy again, seriously saying, "They're showing you that you aren't a convenient addition to this band, Lover. You've been doing an awesome job, and you did an awesome job in California too. I might not be the sharpest tack in the drawer, but it's clear that you matter to them. Let it happen, so we can get on with the rehearsal." He glanced around the group, giggling, "With a few less gang hugs centered on Troy!"

Swinging his guitar around and behind his back, Mike cheered, "You don't have to tell me twice!" He stepped closer to Troy and planted a kiss. Troy kissed Mike back. Taking a step back, Mike smiled, "Not only are you doing great in this band, and teaching us as much as we're teaching you, but that was a really nice kiss." He then spun ninety degrees and gave Sean a kiss.

Everyone was surprised, mostly Sean. Keith sniggered, "Good idea! Sean gets kisses too!" He then took his turn kissing Troy. Before moving on to Sean, Keith smiled, "Nice! A virtuoso kisser too!" Derrick took a turn.

Prez pointed at Kaleo and Troy, warning, "When you least expect it, you're next."

Stepping back from Sean, Keith chuckled, "At some point today." Reyes gave Troy a kiss.

Derrick moved back from Sean and sniggered, "One way or another, all the vine walls in our room will be gone by the end of this vacation."

Moving to stand before Troy, Prez softly smiled, "You're bringing a lot of great tunes and sounds into this band." He then gave Troy the longest kiss yet. When he finished, he whispered in Troy's ear, "For complimenting me, on Tuesday. One thing you'll learn, sooner or later, is that we all have the same equipment and make love the same ways. The vine wall can come down anytime you're ready."

"I know all that, but it's all still new to me," Troy whispered. "I'll chill soon, Prez."

Seeing Prez taking longer with Troy, Keith suspiciously called, "What's going on, sex-machine?" Evil snickering broke loose from the Des Moines group in the audience.

Taking a step back from Troy and going to Sean, Prez sniggered, "Lies and exaggerations, of course." 

Sadly shaking his head, Keith chuckled, "Naturally." 

After giving Sean a deep kiss, Prez whispered, "Is there any reason you want the vine separation?"

Sean sighed and whispered, "Because I'm undernourished, and because... it gets really big; nine by six."

Prez gave Sean a quick peck on the cheek, then reminded, "We're correcting the undernourished part. The other part you can chill about. Keith's seven by six, and Mike's seven-and-a-half by five-and-a-half. Every dude in our room is perfectly happy with what they've got, and with what their partner has. Be happy, because Troy is."

"Kewl," Sean giggled, and then softly grinned, "How you four manage, in plain sight of each other, is something I'd like to learn."

Stepping back from Sean, Prez shrugged, "Starting together when we were seven is why. Every dude has the same stuff. Quantity has nothing to do with it; quality is what matters. Do you think John, Stephen, Corey or Drew are worried about quantity?" Sean glowed with the realization that Prez was right. The youngest four Core Rimmers couldn't possibly measure up to any of the teens, but they were obviously able to please each other.

Giggling erupted in the audience. Almost everyone turned around to find Drew and Corey chasing Kaleo and Tory around the hall. Sean and Troy kissed, and then spent a few moments whispering. Five of the six band members gathered to discuss the arrangement of 'Shining Star'. After a couple of moments, Troy joined his bandmates. Sean stepped down off the stage and returned to the audience.

The funk song 'Shining Star' would need Mike chopping away at chords, Reyes on the congas and bongos, Keith on electric piano, Troy handling the horn section on synthesizer, and Prez would need to put an envelope effect on his bass. The audience cracked up when Drew had captured Kaleo and Corey had Tory backed against a wall. Still gathered in a circle before the drum risers, the band rehearsed the vocals, with only Mike strumming chords, and hand claps providing rhythm. At several points during the song, each of the band members would provide harmony vocals, and at the end they would all need to harmonize without any background music.

All the band members recalled most of the song, but the two main issues were the envelope effect on the bass, and precisely where and how the horn parts were to be played. Troy called over, "Hey Cam, get a copy of 'Shining Star' and have Drew feed it to the stage monitors."

In only a few moments, the song began playing. The band listened to the entire song, settling who would sing the various parts. Going to the stage right synthesizer with Keith, Troy asked for the song to be played once more. The two keyboard players copied various horn parts during the playback. Prez got his effects unit set up correctly.

Ready to give it a shot, the band members went to their instruments. 

Prez told Reyes and Derrick; "Just slightly slower the first time through," and demonstrated with finger snaps. Reyes and Derrick counted off. The song began with Mike and Keith. Prez came in on bass, and was soon followed by drums, percussion and the first horn part. Keith came in singing; 

Yeah, hey
When you wish upon a star
Dreams will take you very far, yeah
When you wish upon a dream

Derrick, Keith, Reyes and Troy sang; 

Life ain't always what it seems, oh yeah

Reyes took over, singing;

Once you see your light so clear
In the sky so very dear, yeah

All six sang;

You're a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be
That you can truly be

For the second half of the song, Keith played the electric piano and then Mike finished the segue with a short guitar solo. Then Keith sang;

Shining star come into view

Strictly following the melody and rhythm, Derrick, Keith, Reyes and Troy sang as one; 

Shine its watchful light on you

In a bluesy manner, Troy continued;

Yeah, gives you strength to carry on, yeah

Derrick half growled and half sang;

Yeah, make your body big and strong, yeah

Keith took over, singing;

On the adventure of the sun, yeah
Yeah, it's all awake and just begun
Yeah, thought I had to stir the mood, yeah
Well, that's it now I got my own, oh yeah, oh yeah,

Reyes sang;

So if you find yourself in need
Why don't you listen to these words of heat

Derrick, Keith, Reyes and Troy sang; 

Be a child that's free of sin
Words of Wisdom: Yes I can

To finish the song, all six sang;

You're a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be
You're a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be
You're a shining star, no matter who you are
Shining bright to see what you can truly be

With only hand claps, the band sang;

Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be
Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be

Drew cut the reverb on all the vocals for the last line and the band sang;

Shining star for you to see, what your life can truly be

The Archnanians obviously loved the song and loudly showed their approval. With some prompting from the audience, the band played the song again, this time at full tempo. At the end of the song, almost everyone in the hall sang along, and then burst into applause. Prez went and added the song to the repertoire on his PADD.

Troy giggled, "That was amazing! Vocal harmonies is what makes this band. Let's try 'Black Water' next." 

With that suggestion, the band started working out the song in sections. Mike and Troy played acoustic guitar. Keith played the piano and synthesized the fiddle parts. Derrick, Reyes and Prez worked out the rhythm. Lastly, they organized the harmony vocals that were very important at the end of the song. After about twenty minutes, they were ready to play the whole song as a band. 

Reyes started by brushing the chimes, then guitars and the fiddle part came in. Derrick sang lead vocals from behind his drum kit. At the chorus, Mike, Prez and Troy provided the backup vocals. Keith played another fiddle part, leading the band into the second verse. They were a minute and a half into the song when bass guitar and drums were added to the song. Mike and Keith copied each other's licks, and then the band faded out for the important multi-part vocals only section. All the band members clapped their hands two-to-the-bar and got the audience involved. Troy added some rhythm guitar, and then Mike added the lead acoustic part, and the band joined together again. They completed the song to another round of applause and cheers. Prez added another song on his PADD.

Keith prompted Troy, "Lead the way, bro."

Putting his acoustic guitar down, Troy giggled, "Everybody knows The Eagles tune, 'Wasted Time'?"

"Hell yeah!" Mike cheered, and went to swap his acoustic six string for an axe that looked like a Telecaster.

Keith asked, "Which part do you want to play, Troy?"

"I'll take the grand piano," Troy answered.

"Derrick's got lead vocals, and I'll take organ and synthesizers," Keith said.

Noticing Prez still had his PADD in hand, Derrick chuckled, "Ready, Head Rimmer?"

"I'm adding this song too," Prez smiled. "We never could do it right. It would always be missing either the organ or strings parts. Problem solved!" He put the PADD down and gestured with a thumbs up to Troy.

Derrick noticed his hubby rearranging his furniture, and loudly laughed, "MIKE!"

"WHAT?" Mike cackled, and then evilly snickered, "I'm thinking of about a dozen or so Eagles tunes that we can play now. If I listed half of 'em, I'd shoot in my shorts!" The rest of the band and the audience cracked up. In attempts to get back to the song, Troy had three false starts, but would then howl laughing again, pushing his band mates to evil snickering. Sadly shaking his head, Keith giggled and played the Wasted Time Reprise on his synthesizer to give Troy a chance to chill out.

After a few minutes, Troy pulled his act together and started playing 'Wasted Time'. Couples in the audience slow danced through the entire tune. Reyes occasionally shook maracas and added percussion accents. Keith handled the organ and strings parts on two different keyboards. Troy, Keith, Derrick and Reyes added background vocals. At the end of the song, the audience warmly applauded. 

Before the applause dwindled, Troy signaled Keith, and then played the opening chords to 'Take It To The Limit'. Now that the entire band knew the tune, Derrick counted off three, and everybody joined in. Keith sang the lead vocals through the song. There were spots where an acoustic guitar player might've been nice to have, but it obviously wasn't noticed by most of the audience with Reyes shaking maracas through those sections. Near the end of the song, Derrick signaled Reyes to come in singing the very high vocal parts. Keith kept the song going, singing, 'one more time', forcing Reyes to sing those high parts. When Reyes hit a note near the top of his range and held it through two bars, Keith signaled the end of the song. The band finished out the song and the audience roared approval. 

Standing behind his congas and percussion, Reyes giggled, pulled the waistband of his boardies forward and peeked down into the front of his shorts. The band members cracked up. Insanely sniggering, Derrick stood, went to his son, and gave him a hug, wondering, "Everything's still hanging?"

"Amazingly, yeah," Reyes giggled.

Derrick whispered, "Do you wanna try again, in 'One Of These Nights'?"

Reyes recalled the song and the high harmony vocals, then nodded, "Sure. It's a little easier than what I just did."

Derrick stepped back calling, "Keith and Troy, move to electric guitars. Prez, you'll start us off."

"Sweet!" Prez chuckled.

On the way to the guitar stands with Keith, Troy admitted, "I didn't know you could play guitar."

Nodding, Keith smiled, "It's another one of the benefits of learning together. I can play enough to strum chords. I taught Mike enough piano to play a few simple songs, like 'Imagine'." With guitars hanging of his and Troy's shoulders, Keith sniggered, "We've all swapped around plenty of times." Slumping, Troy digressed into a giggling fit.

As soon as Troy and Keith were walking towards the microphones with their guitars, Prez began playing the bass guitar introduction. The second time around, Derrick and Reyes added the drums and percussion. The fourth time through, Keith took the rhythm guitar part, and Troy and Mike played the two lead guitar parts. Once again, Derrick sang lead vocals, with Keith, Reyes and Troy singing backup and harmony vocals.

During the audiences applause at the end of the song, the band gathered before the drum risers. To finish off the afternoon's session, Mike asked, "Reyes, do you remember the lyrics to 'I Can't Tell You Why'?"

"It's another of those songs that requires two guitars and keyboards," Keith prompted.

Reyes thought for a moment and then smiled, "Yeah, and it'll be way easier than the last two songs."

Madly typing on his PADD to include the previous two songs on his list, Prez chuckled, "This will finish today's sessions. Tonight, we can actually plan stuff for tomorrow's rehearsals."

Troy told Keith, "I'm kewl on guitar or keys, your choice."

"I'll take keys then," Keith offered. The band returned to the microphones and Keith told the audience, "This is our last song for the day. Reyes is taking lead vocals on this ballad, so grab your partners and get ready to snuggle." The cooing audience paired up and Derrick counted off. Bass guitar and electric piano opened the song, with Derrick hitting his hi-hat on beats two and four. The guitars came in. With a tasty little congos part, Reyes began playing and singing. His voice was perfect for the song. Occasionally, Keith had his left hand playing the electric piano and the right hand playing the synthesized string part. Derrick, Keith and Troy provided backup vocals. Troy played the first guitar solo. Mike played the ending guitar solo. When the song ended, their audience applauded. The band put their instruments down and lined up at center stage, with Reyes and Troy in the center of the line, and bowed for the audience.

Prez smiled, "Not a bad day at all. We learned one new song this morning and played four others that each of us knew previously. This afternoon, we added another ten songs, only four of which needed some prep time."

Wrapping his arms around Reyes and Troy, Derrick beamed, "Tomorrow's gonna be better. If we took more than a week off, we could easily learn over a hundred songs."

"You're trippin'," Troy giggled.

Shrugging, Keith smiled, "In a week, and without much effort, we'll still manage about sixty new tunes that Old Habits couldn't have played."


After dinner...

Everybody from Des Moines and Pacific Rim Division returned to the rehearsal hall. It was already night time, but with three moons visible in the sky, it barely seemed like dusk, by Earth standards. During their swimming break, before dinner, the band had listed another group of songs they could easily pull together.

The first song the band wanted to work on was one that Old Habits had messed around with, but were unhappy with the overall sound. It needed a second guitar player and percussion. The band were singing the song A Capella while they got their gear set up. With all their sons and Des Moines friends watching, the band began working out the song in sections; the introduction, featuring Mike and Troy on electric guitars, the verses, the choruses, the middle instrumental break and guitar solo, and then the ending. Initially, Troy was singing lead vocals, with Derrick and Keith backing him up. While working it out though, they decided to have Keith sing lead, and Troy would move to backup vocals. After about twenty minutes, they were ready to try it out for the first time. All six band members came in powerfully. Mike and Troy doubled up on an introduction guitar solo, and then Keith sang.

Lightning smokes on the hill rise
Brought the man with the warning light
Shouting loud, "You had better fly,
While the darkness can help you hide."
Trouble's coming without control,
No one's staying that's got a hope
Hurricane at the very least
In the words of the gypsy queen

Sign of the gypsy queen
Pack your things and leave
Word of a woman who knows
Take all your gold and you go

Prez and Mike realized the first chorus seemed to be missing power and depth. With nods to each other, they decided to add their voices to the next choruses.

Get my saddle and tie it on
Western wind who is fast and strong
Jump on back, he is good and long
We'll resist till we reach the dawn
Running seems like the best offense
Staying just don't make any sense
No one could ever stop it now
Show the cards of the gypsy town

Sign of the gypsy queen
Pack your things and leave
Word of a woman who knows
Take all your gold and you go

After repeating the introduction section and guitar parts, the band went into the middle instrumental interlude and guitar solo. Drew added echo and reverb to Mike's lead guitar solo. At the lighting console, Corey emphasized music and musicians with dramatic bursts of light. With only Troy's rhythm guitar backing him up, Keith sang the third and final verse.

Shadows moving without a sound
From the hold of the sleepless town
Evil seems to be everywhere
Heed the spirit that brought despair

The entire band joined together again for the last half of the verse and to finish the song.

Trouble's coming without control
No one's staying thats got a hope
Hurricane at the very least
In the words of the gypsy queen

Sign of the gypsy queen
Pack your things and leave
Word of a woman who knows
Take all your gold and you go

Sign of the gypsy queen
Pack your things and leave
Word of a woman who knows
Take all your gold and you go

Sign of the gypsy queen
Pack your things and leave
Word of a woman who knows
Take all your gold and you go

The song abruptly ended with the short descending guitar and bass lick that was present throughout the song. Their small audience roared approval. From the back of the room, Drew loudly cackled, "FREAKY!"

Jesse turned to Drew, giggling, "Thank you! For a while there, I felt like I was back in Santa Barbara."

Holding his new young son from the Santa Barbara orphanage, Julio felt the same way. He wanted to ask if there was a house that needed to be turned into kindling somewhere, but held back his remark. Terry was still clapping his hands, but obviously didn't understand how the song made connections to the California orphanages.

Carefully watching the audience, Prez and Keith looked around for John and Stephen. Sean walked up to the stage, stepped up and went directly to Troy. John, Stephen and Frankie levitated and waved, so they could be seen by Prez and Keith. After kissing Troy, Sean nervously told the band, "You played that song like you were possessed."

Mike smiled, "Listen to the original track; it sounds the same way, which is why we wanted to add it to our list."

Still floating above everyone, John smirked, "I suggest that song gets played whenever we're about to go into search and destroy mode." Most of the audience and band members agreed with John's idea.

Stepping up to his microphone, Prez admitted, "We didn't come in here to freak anyone out or stir up memories. We only wanted to get our band's act together before calling it a night."

"Let's get the joint hoppin'," Derrick suggested.

Mike called out, "A little Brown Sugar anyone?" and started playing the song. Bass, drums and keyboards joined together. Troy removed his guitar and hurried to get a tenor sax. Mike sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar. Derrick and Keith sang backup vocals. Reyes played tambourine with one hand and shook maracas with his other hand. Standing at the piano, Keith was dancing and exaggerating leg kicks, doing his best Mick Jagger impersonation. Troy's sax solo in the middle of the song was so great that the band extended the ending to let Troy really wail. 

While the audience was still applauding, Derrick called out, "Hello It's Me." Troy put the sax down and went to the Hammond organ. Once Troy was settled and flashed a thumb-up, Derrick counted off. Prez started the song with a few bass guitar lead-in notes, and then the band joined together. Derrick sang lead vocals, with Keith, Reyes and Troy backing him up. Couples paired up and began slow dancing to the ballad.

Wanting to keep the show rolling, Troy chose another simple song that he could easily sing and the band could manage on the spur of the moment. He went to get an electric guitar and nodded at Derrick to count off Day Tripper. It was eerie how much they sounded like The Beatles with Mike backing up Troy's vocals. 

Since they were all set anyway, Mike suggested they play In My Life next. Proving the previous song wasn't a fluke, Troy backed up Mike's lead vocals, and again everyone noticed the very Lennon and McCartney harmony qualities they could pull off together. Keith set a synthesizer to sound like a harpsichord and played the middle solo. 

At the end of the song, during the applause, Mick, Janice and all the kids that had previously heard one or both songs poured praise upon the band. Troy took his guitar off and returned it to the rack. Keith grinned, "At our wedding concert Tuesday night, Mike sang 'Real Love' and I backed him up. That won't be happening again. From now on, when we need those kinds of harmonies, it's Troy and Mike."

Almost simultaneously, Prez, Derrick and Reyes asked, "How Troy?"

Blushing and giggling, Troy answered, "I wanted to be a session musician, so there were certain artists I studied; namely Billy Joel, Elton John and Paul McCartney. Sure, there were bunches of other songs I practiced and learned something from, but there was always something new to learn from those three very popular musicians." Troy glanced around and noticed lots of smiling faces, but Sean was giggling his ass off. It suddenly dawned on Troy that Mike wasn't anywhere he had looked. Before Troy could spin around, Mike had stuck his head between Troy's legs and lifted him off the ground. Everyone in the rehearsal hall roared laughing. Wobbling unsteadily, Troy loudly cackled, "MIKE! WATCH THE JEWELS!"

"That sounds like an invitation for later tonight," Mike giggled.

Hysterically giggling, "No, I mean I'm not wearing a cup and they're getting squished!" Troy cuffed Mike upside the head, just hard enough to mess up his hair more.

Looking way up at Troy, Prez sniggered, "You put yourself in the spotlight, bro. Now you get to come down here and share what else you've learned."

Troy giggled, "Down elevator." Prez reached forward and poked Mike's belly button. Cracking up and reflexively bending in half, Mike knelt down and let Troy off his shoulders.

Derrick began softly chortling at Troy rearranging the furniture in his boardies, and at Mike trying fix his messed up hair. Knowing that Derrick and Mike were married, Troy looked up at Derrick and blushed. Shaking his head, Derrick chuckled, "The shy boy act doesn't work on me any more, bro. If I wasn't up here trapped behind these drums, you'd be getting sandwiched again. Show us what you know."

Waving Keith, Prez and Mike closer, Troy began, "Okay, there's a great song from the 60s, and it's not another Beatles tune. What made it great for me was how it showed me to use augmented chords outside of jazz, in a popular song. Have any of you heard the song by The Dave Clark Five, titled, Because?" Seeing shaking heads and hearing negative responses, Troy smiled, "It's simple and really pretty. It's got an organ part, guitar, bass, drums and percussion. In the key of G, the intro chords are G, G augmented, to G6, back to G augmented and back to G, where we start the first verse. What made it so kewl for me, was figuring out that they used G augmented to C and then to C minor in the verse. Again, in the bridge, they go from D to A7, the five of five, and then back to D, and D augmented before returning to G and the verse. And then, when I worked out the organ solo, they threw another curve, going from G to E flat, and then to D, for a little chromatic movement. In that one song, I learned a bunch of stuff about harmony."

Gesturing to the Hammond, Keith prompted, "Lead us off, Troy."

Troy giggled, "It needs two guitars, Keith. Mike and I would sing a duet through the whole song too. I'll show you, and sing it solo the first time through." Troy reached for Keith's hand and led the way to the Hammond.

"He's showing me play how to play with his organ," Keith happily giggled to the audience of friends and family. Giggles and loud laughter broke loose.

Mike sniggered, "Tell him what you called a guitar neck when Prez and I were teaching you to play."

"Oh, yeah, the long, hard wood thing," Keith chuckled. 

Cracking up, Troy laughed, "This band has no problem with dirty jokes for audience interaction." He slid onto the Hammond's bench and took a few seconds to mellow out.

Keith only added fuel to the fire, whispering, "Tonight, with Sean's long hard wood?" Troy howled laughing again but shook his head.

Prez bounced his red eyebrows at Derrick, pushing Reyes to giggles. Mike went over to the Hammond organ. Prez called, "Keith, are you saying wicked things?"

Turning slightly, Keith smiled, "Sean will benefit from it."

Troy looked over and up at Keith, admitting, "I obviously misunderstood what you meant."

Mike chuckled, "The four of us stir each other up all the time. Yeah, we grew up fooling around together, but that doesn't mean we're looking to split up couples. You're getting the same games and jokes we've always given each other. The rule is only partners or husbands can give anything away."

Nodding, Keith shared, "When the vine wall around you and Sean comes down, we'll know that both of you are ready to be seen. If or when it goes further is entirely up to you two."

Sighing, Troy softly admitted, "I don't want him to ever think I need anyone else. We've only been together three Earth days, plus two Archnanian days."

Mike leaned over to whisper, "That's between you and Sean. We can goof around all we want, but nothing will change between you two unless you let it. I'm certain that won't happen, because of what I see in your eyes when you're with Sean, and in Sean's eyes when he's with you."

Nodding, Troy concentrated on the keys before him. Raising his hands, Troy began playing the introduction to Because. About halfway through, Derrick provided a simple backbeat. With Keith carefully watching the keyboard, Troy sang;

Its right that I should care about you
And try to make you happy when you're blue
Its right, its right to feel the way I do
Because, because I love you

Prez began playing an early sixties style bass guitar part. 

Its wrong to say I don't think of you
Cause when you say these things
You know it makes me blue

Mike came in, chopping away at chords on his guitar.

Give me one kiss and I'll be happy
Just, just to be with you
Give me, give me, a chance to be near you
Because, because I love you

Troy easily played the short organ solo, softly calling out the chord changes for Keith. He then continued singing;

Give me one kiss and I'll be happy
Just, just to be with you
Give me, give me a chance to be near you
Because, because I love you
Because, because I love you

The band played out the last few bars and crisply ended the song. The audience politely applauded. Still clapping his hands, Mick came forward, chuckling, "That song is older than I am, but I remember hearing it. That was damned good for a first try."

Janice prompted, "Now play it again, so we can dance to it."

Troy checked with Keith, "Ready?"

"Sure am," Keith replied.

Getting up from the Hammond, Troy went to get an electric guitar. Returning with it hanging off his shoulder, Troy asked Mike, "You've got the lyrics memorized?"

"No problem," Mike smiled.

Prez, Keith and Derrick chorused, "Not buyin' it!"

Seeing Mike smirking and squinting at his husband and two best friends set Reyes off hysterically laughing. He quickly covered his mouth with both hands, but the damage was done. The audience softly chortled and giggled.

Jonah laughed, "Show 'em, pop!"

Troy half giggled, "Everybody comes in at once. Mike and I have lead vocals. Is everybody ready?" 

"YES!" Mike shouted. He went to the microphone where Troy was standing. 

Since Mike was about two inches shorter, Troy adjusted the mic down a little. Noticing Mike grinning at him, Troy laughed, "WHAT? It's not my fault that you're shorter than me! If you don't want to be heard, I'll sing with Prez."

Mike chuckled, "Stop bein' taller than me, and we'll each sing into our own microphones." He went to his own mic stand, softly joking, "They're bein' taller than me just to spite me, I know it." Dillon, Randy and Jonah howled.

Reyes giggled, "Now that I've heard it, I remember the song. I'm pretty sure it's supposed to have five voices at once, in two or three part harmony."

Unable to take it any longer, Keith got up off the Hammond's bench, tapped his comm-badge and called, "Cam, get us copies of the lyrics to Because, by The Dave Clark Five." He went to get the music stands hidden behind the amplifiers. 

Cam giggled, "On the way, Keith."

Keith set up one stand in front of Mike, and another in front of Prez. The pages of lyrics appeared on the two music stands, and on a tom-tom before Derrick, and on the Hammond Organ.

Richie giggled, "Daddy, why'd you do that? We was havin' fun!"

Before sitting down on the bench again, Keith nodded and grinned, "So were we, pal; to the point where we were about to forget which song we were playing." To prove it to his youngest son, Keith sat down and began playing 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale'. All the kids in the audience cracked up. Still playing, Keith turned and bounced his eyebrows at the audience. He then ran his fingers down both keyboards and giggled, "Oops!"

Done goofing around, Prez, Troy and Mike turned to Derrick, who counted off. As if they didn't spend many minutes being silly, the band came together. At the end of the four bar introduction, five voices sang. Derrick glanced over at Reyes, who was lightly tapping a tambourine in strict quarter-note time. Noticing his dad, Reyes shook his head and signaled with his free hand that his voice was too high. All the couples in the audience began slow dancing. The short ballad crisply ended and the audience applauded.

Without warning his bandmates, Keith went directly into The Warmth Of The Sun. On the downbeat of the second measure, the rest of the band joined in. Playing his congas and percussion, Reyes easily duplicated Keith's falsetto lead vocals. Mick and Janice were briefly shocked, but then moved closer together and began slow dancing again. From the audience, there were a lot more cheers along with the applause at the end of the song.

After a few moments, Keith began playing lightning fast arpeggios on the Hammond. All the band members knew Keith was introducing Foreplay/Long Time and adjusted their instruments accordingly. This was another song Old Habits had played, but it really needed another guitar and another high voice. In the back of the room, Drew and Corey scrambled to get the PA set up for the chorus and delays the song would need. Reyes moved over to the electronic drum kit. Abruptly, bass, drums and guitars came in. Derrick and Reyes rapidly hit their hi-hats and then the rest of the band played the cadence that would lead into the song's main theme. After the second cadence, Mike and Troy watched and signaled each other during the explosion of guitar sounds that would finish the introduction. 

All the instruments suddenly became much more quiet, with only a few notes from the organ, and a few string scrapes and heavily effected guitar trills. Derrick began hitting his bass drum and slowly everything got very loud again. Mike played the lead guitar mini-solo, and then Keith sang the lead vocals. 

It's been such a long time
I think I should be goin', yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin'
Sail on, on a distant highway
I've got to keep on chasin' a dream
I've gotta be on my way
Wish there was something I could say.

Gage had been watching his dad closely at the Hammond when the band stopped and left only Troy playing a simulated acoustic guitar part. With the band leading the way, everyone clapped their hands in time to the tempo. Keith, Reyes and Troy sang;

Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' along
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I take what I find, I don't want no more
It's just outside of your front door.

Derrick played a little drum fill and the band joined together again.

Yeah, yeah, yeah! It's been such a long time.
It's been such a long time.
Well I get so lonely when I am without you
But in my mind, deep in my mind,
I can't forget about you
Good times, and faces that remind me
I'm tryin' to forget your name and leave it all behind me
You're comin' back to find me.

Again, all the band members clapped their hands while Keith, Reyes and Troy sang;

Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' along
You'll forget about me after I've been gone
And I take what I find, I don't want no more
It's just outside of your front door.

Yeah, yeah, yeah! It's been such a long time.
It's been such a long time.

Mike played the guitar solo, leading the band toward a crescendo and the last section of the song.

Yeah. It's been such a long time, I think I should be goin', yeah
And time doesn't wait for me, it keeps on rollin'
There's a long road, I've gotta stay in time with
I've got to keep on chasin' that dream, though I may never find it
I'm always just behind it.

This time, Troy remained in distorted electric guitar mode and drove the band toward the song's finale.

Well I'm takin' my time, I'm just movin' along
Takin' my time, just movin' along
Takin' my time, yeah I'm takin' my time...

The band ended their first attempt at the song with explosions of drum beats and cymbal strikes, swirls from the organ and the heavily effected guitar scrapes and trills.

While audience roared approval, Troy stepped back from the microphone, laughing, "Don't give me any clues, guys! Luckily, I'd played both songs before."

"We'll work on that song more tomorrow," Prez sniggered.

Mike nodded, "At last, we can play it right."

Out in the audience, several of the Rimmer sons and other kids wondered why they thought the song needed more work. None of them heard anything horrible, but they weren't familiar with the song either. 

Giggling and mooing, Troy took his guitar off and strode to the rack of keyboards and synthesizers with a purpose. After a few moments of fiddling with dials, Troy said, "Drew, this song needs lots of stereo panning, spacey echo and some phase shifting on my vocals."

"YAA!" Drew and Corey laughed, and set about adjusting the gear.

Glancing around at the rest of the band, Troy grinned, "This song was really popular in the New York metro area, but that's the only clue you get." He then asked, "Ready back there, Drew?"

"I think so," Drew giggled.

Troy played a single note on his synthesizer, drastically warped it and then returned to the original tone. With his free hand, Troy displayed fingers progressively counting from one to four in tempo, and swung his arm from the left to the right and back again. He then dropped that arm and began playing a synthesized guitar part before singing;

Life's the same, I'm moving in stereo
Life's the same, except for my shoes
Life's the same, you're shakin' like tremolo
Life's the same, it's all inside you

"I know this!" Reyes cheered, and began playing the electronic drum kit, leading his dad and the rest of the band into the song. Troy continued playing that one sweeping tone and the guitar and bass parts. Pleased that he had found a song that only the android in the band knew, Troy sang;

It's so easy to blow up your problems
It's so easy to play up your breakdown
It's so easy to fly through a window
It's so easy to fool with the sound

By this time, Prez and Mike had moved close to Troy, to watch his hands on the keys. They picked up the guitar and bass parts. 

It's so tough to get up
It's so tough
It's so tough to live up
It's so tough on you

Troy switched to an organ part, glanced over at Keith to pick it up, and then sang;

Life's the same, I'm moving in stereo
Life's the same, except for my shoes
Life's the same, you're shakin' like tremolo
Life's the same, it's all inside you

Life's the same, I'm moving in stereo
Life's the same, except for my shoes
Life's the same, you're shakin' like tremolo
Life's the same, it's all inside you

Troy signaled the band to end sharply on a downbeat, and then giggled, "The Cars, 'Moving In Stereo'. Tell me you've never heard it."

"Never," each of the band members except Reyes admitted.

Prez smiled, "You did a great job singing and playing it, bro. We will add it to the set list though."

Drew called, "Cam, we need to hear the original recording later, when we head back to our room for the night."

"My other half's got it ready when you guys are," Cam replied.

Troy suggested, "I'd like to add a bunch of Steely Dan tunes too. I think Derrick would sing awesome lead vocals, and I can play sax on a couple of the songs." Seeing nodding heads and wide smiles, Troy asked, "Tomorrow?" and the others agreed.

Janice nodded her head at Mick. The baby and lots of the littlest kids were getting tired. She began gathering up the youngest kids, asking if they were ready for bed. Mick told the band that they were about to take half the audience back to their house. Done rehearsing for the day, the band began powering down the gear. Soon, everyone in the group had left the rehearsal hall. Sons gathered around their dads and pops for the walk. 

Strolling down the road, some Archnanian kids noticed that Sean, Troy, Kaleo and Tory didn't have any kids of their own. In moments, each of the four Core Rimmers had kids taking their free hands and grinning up at them. Troy smiled, "We transported home last night, so you guys are escorting us?" The kids replied with chorus of affirmative hums and soft giggling.

Kaleo told the kids, "It's been a while since kids took my hands. I hadn't realized how much I missed it, until now."

The two holding Kaleo's hands giggled, "You know you like it."

Compared to all the round, smooth surfaces of neighboring homes, this building stuck out like a sore thumb, with far more Earth-like sharp corners than was typical. At the entryway, all the Archnanians except Cameron said goodnight, and then scampered off, presumably for their own homes. The large group of Alpha Prime visitors hadn't made it all the way up the staircase when everyone in the group spied an extremely large pool out the window.

Pausing at the window, Tory softly asked Kaleo, "Do you want to swim and hang out by the pool for a while?"

"Sounds good to me," Kaleo agreed.

Sean nodded at Troy, who then said, "We'll join you, while daddies get their boys to bed." Troy, Sean, Tory and Kaleo turned around and started back down the stairs.

After checking with Mike, Prez and Keith, Derrick said, "Give us a few minutes to tuck everyone in and we'll join you."

John tapped Reyes, saying, "Go hang out, bro. Stephen and I will stay with the rest of the kids."

Reyes checked, "Dad, is this a couples only gathering?"

Derrick shook his head, and Mike joked, "The couples only gathering is in the bedroom."

Jonah told Reyes, "Go ahead. We all feel a lot safer now."

And Randy added, "Even the fishes at the lake didn't hurt us, bro. We're kewl."

Turning around, Reyes called, "Wait up, dudes," and hurried back down the stairs. Leading their sons to bed, Drew, Corey, Julio and Jesse were deciding whether to go to bed, or join the group going out the pools. Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike started teasing Drew and Corey about their vine walls. Heading in the general direction of the pools, but not knowing exactly where they were going, Kaleo, Tory, Reyes, Sean and Troy evilly snickered.

Passing through the combined kitchen and dining room area, Kaleo, Reyes and Troy searched for a door that would lead them to another room where they could get outside again and by the pool. Tory began giggling. During the Archnanian day they had been on vacation, they were led everywhere, but none of them took the time to search the home for anything beyond the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen.

"Umm, dudes?" Sean giggled

Kaleo sniggered, "Why is it that the house that can build privacy walls on demand won't let us get to the damned pool?" Tory cracked up and howled laughing.

Troy spun around and chuckled, "You have an idea, Tiger?"

Nodding, Sean reminded, "There was a flight of about twelve steps up and into the first floor, and then two flights of six steps up to the second floor. We're thinking like Clan humans on Earth, looking for a door in a wall. Since there's gotta be something beneath us, why not look for a passage way in the floor?" He pointed at the one large white tile in the mostly tan and brown tiled floor. 

Going over and examining the tile, Reyes wondered, "How does it open?" He cautiously stepped on the tile. Everyone went and gathered around Reyes and the perimeter of the large white tile. When Sean stepped on the fourth side, the tile Reyes was standing on unexpectedly fell open. Dropping through the floor and onto a slide, Reyes screamed. There was a splash and Reyes scream was cut short.

Tory giggled, "Found it!" and jumped over the slide, laughing his ass off. Kaleo followed his husband, and then Sean and lastly Troy went down the slide and into the pool.

All five rose to the surface of the water. Troy sniggered, "The one thing we all failed to do was leave a note, telling the other guys how to get here."

Sean giggled, "How long do you think it'll take them to figure it out, Lover?"

Troy smirked and scowled, "Long enough for the two of us to figure out some stuff about them, and how we're gonna deal with more than brotherly affection, I hope."

Seeing Reyes swimming for the side of the pool, Kaleo chuckled, "What's wrong, Reyes?"

"This conversation really doesn't apply to me," Reyes giggled. He hoisted himself out of the pool, turned around and smiled, "Derrick and Mike are my dad and pop. There's nothing that's gonna happen between me and them, and that doesn't bother me in the slightest."

Kaleo grinned, "You really don't remember anything before June, bro?"

Shaking his head, Reyes answered, "Not very much." Again, Tory began giggling.

Kaleo prodded, "You and me were filmed, about nine months ago, but you don't remember?" Reyes mouth dropped open in surprise. "February last year," Kaleo reminded, "it was our first chance together. Most of those flicks were fifteen or twenty minutes long. You and I actually enjoyed our time together, because we were the same age, and you had protected me, Tory and almost every kid under twelve-years-old for a long time."

"You were a big brother for a lot of us at that home, Reyes," Tory smiled. "You and I never did nothin', but you have to know that I would, Kaleo would, and I'm pretty sure that Liki would."

"I don't remember any of it, and I wish I did," Reyes sadly muttered.

Pointing at the upper floor of the house, Kaleo said, "They asked me to join the team first, but if you asked any kid in our orphanage, every one of 'em would say it should've been you. We learned to protect our little brothers and sisters by your example. There was very little acting involved almost a year ago; we made love, as much as any two people with cameras on them possibly could. Tory knows that if he had said no last Sunday night, I would've gone directly to you first, and then Liki."

Tory wondered, "Why don't you become a Core Rimmer too, Reyes?"

Reyes smiled, "Dad asked, last night, but I put it on hold. Given what I've heard about the California orphanages, I'm glad I did."

"First chance you get, Reyes, say yes and let it happen," Sean instructed.

Wading near Sean, Troy confided, "I always thought that when two people made a commitment, that was final. Now I'm seeing that it doesn't have to be, but I really have to wonder if I could deal with sharing Sean." He turned to Sean and smiled, "All those other men you were with never mattered, because it was meaningless and hurtful sex. Every time we made love, in every way, it was really the best it ever could be, because we care for each other that much. I really don't want meaningless sex with anyone. If doing it ever hurt you in any form, I'd be devastated."

Kaleo offered, "Reyes and me together wasn't meaningless. As a matter of fact, it was so meaningful, it scared the hell out of me. Anybody that watched that flick of us would see it very clearly; these two boys really care about each other. So the question each of us has to ask ourselves is, how much do we really care about the person we're with."

Tory explained, "None of those four dudes rescued me, but from the moment I met them, they've been very kewl, and worth imitating. During the last week, I've watched them with their parents, with their kids and with all of the kids at Ewa Beach. What really drove my feelings home so even I understood, was learning that John and Stephen went to level three and four homes in San Jose. Kaleo and I went to a level four and a level two home. I wished it was us in San Jose, not John and Stephen."

Nodding, Troy agreed, "Sean and I wished the same thing; that we had gone to worse places, so John and Stephen wouldn't have to deal with it." He paused, scowled and blinked, and then admitted, "I lived almost my entire life in New Jersey, but no friend was ever close to any of you guys. Since getting here, I started meeting people that really matter to me; starting with the four band members inside, and then Sean the very next morning, and then the rest of you. In only five days, I found the best boyfriend and the best friends I've ever had. It feels awesome, but not so awesome that I would dare taking a chance hurting Sean."

Sitting on the edge of the pool, Reyes grinned, "You all need to remember that Derrick, Mike, Prez and Keith grew up together. What they can do together now took seven years, of being friends, of being bandmates, of learning about their bodies. I really don't think any of them are expecting a seven day turn around when what they have together took seven years to build. What they did was let you four know that they are starting to feel strongly about you. Troy was the convenient example, being the musician he's shown everyone that he is. Kaleo, you were given a job that you immediately excelled at; speaking for a bunch of us when we could barely speak for ourselves. Monday night, you punched out that FCC dirt-bag, Kaleo. All four of you went to California and did a kick ass job. You did such a great job, that the investors of the world took notice, and the stock markets went haywire. You're obviously a team of friends that are getting closer with every passing day. The only question you need to consider, not answer tonight, but only consider, is if you mean enough to each other to step beyond friends to make it more intimate. Hugs and kisses do count as intimacy, ya know? If that's where it's at tonight, then act on it. After all, who doesn't appreciate a hug and a kiss from a friend?"

When Reyes finished speaking, Troy, Sean, Kaleo and Tory grinned at one another. Tory helplessly giggled, "He was far less logical last week."

Kaleo nodded and teased, "Now that he's remembered he's fifty-six years old, he's starting to act like a geezer."

"Thank goodness he still looks like a thirteen-year-old Polynesian cutie," Sean giggled.

Reyes cracked up, and therefore didn't hear Troy suggest, "Let's see if he kisses like a cutie or a geezer." Before Reyes could stop laughing and react, all four were pulling him back into the pool. From the kitchen window, Prez, Keith, Derrick and Mike watched the four-on-one activity, hoping to eventually get someone's attention and learn how to get to the pool.

 


To be continued...