Sa'ren Part II

Chapter 11

Pon Farr


Quint had gone ahead of the main gang to prepare the 'surprises' for the returning group, so when the rest arrived just outside of Cory and Sean's front door, they found themselves contained within a semi-circle of the entire Orlando Compound group, and most of Camp Little Eagle as well - and all of them dressed in Native American garb from five centuries ago. Chief Tecumseh smiled and greeted them, "Welcome home, children."

"For some reason, seeing all of you at once makes me wonder if I need to see Dan for a sedative..." Cory quipped with a grin. "Thanks for the welcome, Chief."

The Chief smiled, then looked at the youngest of the returning holiday-makers. "I guess one of you two did that to that poor, defenceless building?" he asked Kyle and Tyler, pointing to where the now completely collapsed CIC 'stood'.

Ty stared at his feet and shuffled them as he shyly raised his hand. "I did, Chief. I kinda got a little mad."

Hawkeye Tecumseh turned and looked at Timmy, "There's your culprit. He destroyed your cookies and snacks."

"Oh CRAP..." Kyle muttered as Timmy started marching towards Tyler. "I'll be right back," he announced as he quickly vanished.

"Why?" Timmy asked as he looked up into his Uncle Tyler's eyes. "We're STARVING, now!" he added, putting on the full works: wobbling bottom lip, watery eyes, hang-dog expression.

Tyler continued to shuffle his feet as he couldn't think of anything to say, so Joel did so. "He found out what had happened to me, TimTims. He got mad," he said gently.

Timmy pondered that before nodding. "Okay... but where are we gonna eat? All the food's gone! All the snacks!"

Joel was going to say something else when Kyle reappeared with a large supply of food - upon which the Tribe and Rugrats pounced. "Rescued from just before Ty's blow out," he whispered to Cory, who nodded thankfully at him.

"Problem solved... for now," Joel smiled as he gazed with his Crown-sight at the wreck that CIC had become. "Quint, did you say you wanted to remodel this place?"

"Sure do! Got all the plans ready, just need Cory to decide he wants it. Will be more than just CIC I'll be renovating!" the little Q giggled.

"Okay," Joel grinned. "After our surprises, then." He turned and looked up at his brother. "We have three types of surprise. One type is cool and fun. The next type is shocking. And the last... well, you and Sean might pitch a fit... So! Which first?" he asked brightly, but Cory could see he was also slightly nervous.

"You decide, Lil'elf," Cory replied with a smile.

Joel thought for a moment, then turned and pushed his way through his family to reach the front door of his and his brothers' home. He poked his head inside and whispered something that none of the others could make out - apart from Spock who just shook his head. Then he came back out with a small figure next to him who was wearing a Clan robe with the hood pulled up so that only his face was visible.

It was Pauly, who was grinning excitedly at his Dads and Uncles and Grandma Teri.

"This is the surprise that might make you get a bit mad," Joel said nervously. "Something happened on Friday just after you left. It, ah... nothing bad but Pauly won't be the same as you remember him..." he trailed off. Pauly, his hand still in Joel's, looked up at his Daddy and Poppa and giggled some more.

Cory just shrugged, "We saw him last night at the concert, Joel. He was dressed up as a Vulcan. He looked fine then!"

Joel sighed and used his free hand to lower Pauly's hood. "He wasn't dressed up at all, Blondie," he whispered just loud enough for them all to hear.

There, before the group now fresh back from Des Moines, stood a blond little five year old Vulcan with Pauly's face... Grinning at them.

"My new Name's Senva!" Pauly giggled happily at his dads. "Grampy Named me!"

Cory reached down and picked up his youngest son. "Ohhhhh Quuiiiiinnnnntttttt......" he exclaimed sweetly as he shifted Pauly onto his hip and tickled him.

"Don't you try and lump this mess on me, Coooorrrrryyyy!" Quint retorted. "Blame Joel's bloody Sword!"

"Sword-Guy!" both 'Senva' Paul Short and Timothy Short exclaimed happily - the latter around a mouthful of cookies and brownies that he was currently scoffing down.

"You have to admit, you were the most likely culprit!" Cory laughed. "At least I know who is responsible now, and after what has happened recently I think there is pretty much nothing any of us can say other than 'a blond Vulcan? Fascinating.'"

Joel breathed a sigh of relief.

"Why so nervous, Elf?" Sean asked as he stood by Cory and ran a finger over his youngest's pointed ears.

"'Cos usually the Sword don't do stuff unless I tell it to, but it told me to command it to do something and then it off and did Pauly without me saying anything... I thought you'd blame me..." he added in a quiet voice.

Sean opened his arms to his brother and gestured for him to come over, "We'd not blame you, Elf. We know you'd never hurt any of us."

Joel ran into his arms and sniffled, "Unless I lose control again like I did on Saturday and nearly hurt Juan bad, and..."

"Stop that," Juan ordered seriously. "It wasn't your fault, and there's no harm done, okay? Leave it where it is, Joel. It's done."

Joel just sniffed more in Sean's arms as he let his big brother comfort him.

"What's the next surprise, Elf?" Cory asked softly as Joel seemed to calm down some.

Turning around in Sean's hug, trying to keep himself as close as possible to his brother, Joel called out, "Ricky! Come here with Timmy, please!"

Both boys, chocolate from the snacks smeared over their faces, trotted up and stood before Cory, who lowered Pauly back to his feet. Cory then checked both boys' ears. "Okay, they're still human. What's up here, Elf?"

Ricky just raised his left arm, upon which Cory saw an identical Phasenmorph to Timmy's. "This is Rahm'Fo-dan," Ricky smiled happily. "He's Red's twin!"

Joel grinned, "That is what the Sword asked me to command it to do. Make Ricky and Timmy equal."

"Hey there Thunder Shield!" Cory said as he stroked the Phasenmorph. "Has anybody made sure that you're trained yet, Ricky?"

Ricky giggled, "Sword-Guy made sure I knew how to do ev'rythin', Unca Cory! He said I'd not miss the side of a barn like you!"

Kyle and Tyler started hooting with laughter at that. JJ's eyes danced with mischief while Adam tried to hold his own giggles in.

"Hey, I hit the barn!" Cory replied.

"But you were aiming for the house!" Sean added as he quickly moved out of reach.

Since Sean had moved away from him, Joel decided that the next surprise should be a fairly good one. "You've got two more brothers, Cor," he said as his blond brother glared menacingly at his auburn haired one. "Mammy? Um, did Daddy tell you?"

"Yes, he did," Teri smiled. "Go and get them."

Joel darted back to the door to the house and then returned a moment later with two more Vulcan boys; one of which Cory and Sean recognised.

"Hey, Solkar!" Sean smiled. "Settling in?"

"Yes, brother," Solkar smiled as he held onto the other, younger, Vulcan's hand.

Cory grinned as he looked at Spock, "Thank you for adopting him, Dad. He needs a family."

"I did not adopt him, Cory," Spock answered seriously, before gesturing with his eyes at the two boys with Joel.

Cory looked back and saw that all three had identical grins on their very similar faces; first Joel, then Solkar and then the new boy.

"Okay, fill me in; this should be fun!" Cory giggled.

"Well, you know Solkar. He's the son of Spock and Saavik, so he's my half brother," Joel grinned.

"Like I said! Brother!" Solkar giggled as he freed his hand from Joel's and waved at Sean.

"Okay Elf, what's up your sleeve?" Sean giggled as he waved back at Solkar.

"Nothing," Joel answered, "don't have anything on but these boxers! No sleeves!" He then pulled the five year old Vulcan boy in front of him, "There's a long story here, but this is Joseph. He's my full brother, son of Spock and T'Sara. I'll have to explain about my adventure this morning with Levi and Vincent later, but the Guardian made Joseph my full brother in order for us to save him."

"E'roi thi ka, obriaska," Joseph smiled as he waved at them all.

"He was originally half human, half elf... that's his original language," Joel giggled.

Joseph smiled up at him, then back at the thunderstruck group. "Natures peace on you, brothers," he translated simply. Then he looked at Spock, "Now that my new mother is here, can I be Named as the Traditions of my new people dictate?"

"Certainly, son," Spock smiled, "once all has been done here, we shall proceed with the Naming."

Joseph smiled then looked into Cory's eyes, "You are right, Sa'ren. He is beautiful. I think I will like being his littlest brother."

As Cory blushed enough to bring the temperature in Florida up five degrees, Sean giggled. "Nice to know that we're not the only ones who like giving Mom more sons! C'mere lil bro, I gotta check your cuddle training!"

While Joseph cuddled with Sean, Solkar looked up at Cory. Then he giggled and said, "Can I too?"

"Of course," Cory grinned as he hauled Solkar up and into his arms.

Joel took this chance to bring out his next surprise. While standing in the doorway to Cory's house, they all heard him say, "Why naked?"

Austin's voice could be heard laughing back, "He said that the biggest shock would be this way, but also to show he's still a boy like the rest of us!"

"Borg are weird," Joel giggled as he back away from the door to let Austin out.

"Hey, Dad, Pop, guys," he giggled as he waved at them all. "I'd like you to meet my boyfriend..."

When Nine appeared in the doorway, they all gasped. Even Teri, who had been told of this development by Spock down their bond-link.

With his tool-arm, visual device, pale grey seeming skin, silver right eye, various small metallic devices over his torso and legs and the tube running up his arm to vanish into his flesh, Nine was a bit of a shocking sight.

Cory grated out, "A, who did this to him and B, are they dead or do I get the pleasure?"

Nine raised his right eyebrow and lapsed into Borg-Speak, "We are Nine of Twelve, Subset fifteen of Unimatrix 935, Cube 56233 - We are the Borg, and no, we are not dead, nor are we in this universe."

"Another long story," the Doctor giggled without any show of surprise, "and no, Cory. Don't think about going to the Universe they are in and killing them all. They exist for a reason and are the only Young Race group to ever wield enough power to hold back the High Races of the past."

"They ain't met me... yet." Cory replied. "Welcome to the family, Nine. How long have you and Austie been boyfriends?"

"We have known each other for over five million years," Nine answered. "We have been lovers for most of that time, and he has meeped for most of it!"

"MEEP!" meeped Austin as he blushed.

"Okay..." Cory replied as he turned to Galli, "... would you care to try to explain that one, oh bratty little brother of mine?"

The Doctor shrugged, "I wasn't here for this event, pain."

Dylan, over with Thomas and the group watching, said, "Somehow, Aussy got lost in a transporter incident due to that Vae'Za guy messing around. When we found him, he was meeping happily with Nine and had been in a realm of null-time for that long. That's about it... the meeping, we don't know if it's a result of too many anal 'probes' or if his positronics have been buggered like his butt has been by being there too long!"

"MEEP!" meeped Austin again, while he glared at Dylan - who grinned back evilly.

"DYLAN!!" Cory exclaimed as he tried hard to suppress a giggle. "Have you been hanging out in your Uncle Adam's head again?"

The Mikyvis boy shook his head untruthfully while Adam loudly protested Cory's statement.

Joel just shook his head happily. He'd missed this, his brothers arguing in a friendly, brotherly manner. He'd missed them all, far more so than a simple weekend away should have caused. All due to being hurt, he thought to himself sourly as his face clouded over. Being in the Dream Realms that long had made him long for his family to a degree that it hurt.

A group of eyes were peering out from the crowd of onlookers at him, and saw him getting upset. Cory noticed too, but before he could do anything, eight kids ran at Joel and pounced all over him, telling him they loved him.

Now, Rafe, Cory and the rest recognised. Jules too. Verne was easy to place a name to as Jules had mentioned his twin brother when they had met.

The fact that Joel had eight kids wasn't a new thing to Cory nor Sean. The fact that they were mostly G-Hybrids was. Two ferrets, a lion cub, a tiger cub, two albino badgers and a chimp!

As he passed Nine a pair of boxers so he could at least be somewhat presentable, Austin giggled for he was glad to have the attention off of him. "Dad, Pop, meet your new nephews and niece!"

"Remind me to never take a whole week off!" Cory said with a grin as he joined the group around and on Joel.

Once Cory had been kissed, licked and nuzzled by Joel and Kevin's brood, he lifted his face to Joel, "Anything else you want to let me in on?"

Joel shrugged. "Not much... except that we now have a Pacific Rim Division that me, Kyle, Ty and the rest created when we were sorting out Kai's old foster parent in Hawaii. They call themselves the Rimmers... I knew I should have named them something different!" he finished with a giggle.

"You know, every time I leave someone with a name starting with 'J' in charge, a new division gets added!" Cory giggled as he gave Joel a quick kiss on the forehead. "I hope you did better than JJ; we ended up with two pissed-off parents when he tried it!"

Joel grinned. "You'll have to tell me about that one," he giggled, "but I didn't do too badly. Prez's mammy is a little... odd... and she might be on elephant strength sedatives right about now, but most is all cool!"

"I think I'll find out about that later... just what could make it so that she'd need sedatives?" Cory asked.

Joel shrugged and simply said, "You've yet to meet Prez. Or Keith. Or John - He's nice but nuts! Oh! There's a blond Corey there too! He's nice, not like that other fuck you blasted to oblivion."

"Sweet; they need blonds to keep their IQ average up!" Cory giggled, his hug of Joel wordlessly expressing his pride.

Joel giggled and squirmed happily in his brother's hug. "So. I know you're not going to go on a holiday and come back with no surprises of your own! Plus, Adam knows Tesnian, so that means they are involved here somewhere too! Where's Kai, anyway? He's staying there?"

Cory shook his head as the Doctor smiled, "They are arriving in six seconds, bro... here we go!"

In the space between the watchers and the group with Joel, a number of bodies appeared; including Mikey, a golden winged female angel... and a baby.

Joel stared at the new angel first, then at the baby in her arms; then at Mikey. "Soooo... who let the snake out of the boxers, big bro?" he asked with a giggle.

"It's Cory's and Sean's fault! All their playing around made us horny!" Mikey replied with a grin.

Joel grinned too before walking over to stand before the female Angel. "Hi! I'm Joel... you're a saint, aren't you? I can see the similarity between you and Mikey."

She smiled down at him, "Yeah. I'm Candy, Mikey's girlfriend." She held out her little baby, "And this is our son, Patty."

Joel reached out and took the child into his arms, looking with the power of his Crown into the baby's soul. "You have a great future ahead of you, Patty," he cooed before kissing the boy's cheek. Patty reached out and grabbed at the mist-power flowing from Joel's eyes, making the Vulcan giggle, "Just like Jules and Verne! After the Shinys!"

Patty giggled.

"He's already learned the fine art of fur-tugging too!" a small furry boy said with a grin as he moved over to joined them.

Joel handed Patty back to his angelic mother and then turned to look at the furry boy with a smile, "I knew Cor was bringing a Tesnian back to with him! Hi, I'm Joel!"

"I'm Fife, Uncle Joel!" the boy responded.

Joel tilted his head as he looked at the Tesnian, then at Cory, "Ah, you have Cor as a daddy?"

"Yeah," Fife smiled.

"Congratulations, Hrfraffif," Joel grinned.

" did you know my full name?" Fife asked curiously.

Joel smiled, "I... I just do. Just call me Joel, though. You're more or less the same age as me."

"Okay..." Fife giggled, then he asked, "Can I scent-bond with you?"

Joel nodded seriously before opening his arms to hold the smaller boy. As Fife buried his nose in Joel's neck, Joel firmly massaged the alien's back. Then, when Fife raised his wrist to Joel's nose, he started to inhale the Tesnian's scent. While he did not need to keep sniffing as Fife was doing to him - for he had registered the boy's scent instantly - he continued as it was a part of the ceremony.

"Joel," Fife whispered as he raised his head, "Your scent is in me, and mine in you. I am your close-blood, and you are mine."

"Hrfraffif, your scent is in me, and mine in you. I am your close-blood, and you are mine," Joel said just as seriously. He saw a few tears trickle down Fife's face, "What's wrong?"

"'re the one," Fife said as he started to cry. "You're the one who smells like a Rescuer."

Joel felt a cold rush down his spine; fear. Not a Shaper event, this time, he knew, but real fear. He knew what a 'Rescuer' was to Tesnians.

A nine year old boy came over, a strange boy as he had the hair of a Tesnian yet the features of humanity and hints of other species. "Don't cry Cuz; Uncle Joel has no fixed destiny that I can sense, so you might just be smelling one of the possibilities."

Fife sniffed and nodded but still looked sadly at Joel.

Joel just stood there trembling for a second. Then he looked at the new, multi-coloured hair boy. "You're Mikyvis," he said simply.

The boy nodded with a grin.

Joel reached out his hands to feel over the boy's face. "Why do you have pointy ears?" Joel asked as he giggled, his fingers tracing the soft points to the Mikyvis' ears.

"Because when I was born, I linked to a lot of people in the Clan. You were one. I even have a trait from you," he said.

"Oh?" Joel smiled. "What did you take, Ezra?"

"I took... wait! How did you...?"

Joel smiled gently. "What did you take?" he asked again, leaving the question unanswered.

"I... um, well... the ability, power and knowledge to do a Vulcan 'Sharing'," Ezra mumbled as he peered closely at the strange Vulcan before him.

"And?" Joel pressed, knowing there was more.

Ezra shook slightly. "You're willingness to... to sacrifice yourself," he answered after a long moment.

They were interrupted by a slightly annoyed Levi. "How is it that I didn't know I had a brother?" he asked, his voice quaking slightly in anger.

Dylan and Bryce looked at him curiously. "You didn't??" Dylan asked in shock. "We felt him being born!"

Kyle was also rather shocked. "How could you not know, Leev?" he asked gently as he looked up into his eldest son's eyes.

Levi simply vanished.

"He's gone to our Friend," Joel answered simply. He looked again at Ezra, who was still looking like he was out of place having met his Vulcan uncle. Joel shook for a second as his personae shifted. "Is there something amiss, Ezra?" Sa'ren asked.

Ezra blinked. "You're not what I... I mean, I know a lot about those who I touched when being born. I know Uncle Cory's history, and know what Uncle Sean knows... but... I'm looking for what I took from you, and..."

"There would be nothing," Sa'ren answered easily. "Levi is the only Mikyvis able to read my mind and my past without outside help. However, should you require it, I can give you what you took from the others, so that the balance is even."

"You're knowledge too?" Ezra asked carefully. "I have all that Cory knows."

"My past is enough," Sa'ren answered simply as he felt his pendant pulse a warning. "My Friend says that my knowledge, that which I have learned, is not for this place and time unless I choose to give it." He raised his pendant in his hand, "If you wish my past, my pain, then take a hold on the Pendant of the Guardian. It shall be given you, and I shall help you as I can to bear it."

The new Mikyvis reached out and curled his fingers around the Vulcan's pendant. Sa'ren felt the boy reaching into his past, and so directed him to the correct rooms. Then he reached and held Ezra carefully as the Mikyvis absorbed his past.

Once finished, the now crying Mikyvis pulled his hand away and kissed Sa'ren's cheek, "Sorry, Uncle Joel."

"Do not be," Sa'ren answered simply. "You did not hurt me." Then he sniffed the air, "Is there another feline hybrid in a sexual relationship?" He looked around and saw a teenager standing next to Bast, and their hands were linked, "I believe I am correct."

The group that had been in Des Moines broke into giggles as the fourteen-year-old next to Bast began doing a quite acceptable imitation of a purr.

Sa'ren, hand in hand with Ezra - who was still looking at the unreadable Vulcan carefully - walked up to Bast and his new boyfriend.

"Y'all meet Jeremy ... he's MINE!" Bast announced proudly.

"Greetings, brother," Sa'ren said as the rest of the Clan shouted their own 'hello's' and giggles. He held up his hand in the Vulcan salute, then his hand flew to the side of his head. "Ouch! Damnit! Owwww!" Joel exclaimed as he rubbed the temples of his head. "That hurt!"

"What?" Kevin asked as he came over. "Your Crown?"

"No," the young Vulcan shook his head, "that's just a constant ache. When I became me again. It hurt."

Levi returned at that moment, looking a little less put out with life. "It's Joel's fault," he giggled at them all. "Because I was so close to him over the weekend, I didn't know about Ezra!" Then he saw the pained look on Joel's face and he ran over to join Kevin. "You okay?" he asked with concern.

Joel nodded, then gently pushed Levi into Ezra's arms. "Say hi to your new baby brother," he giggled.

And so he did; and he was joined by Bryce and Dylan as well as they mobbed their newest sibling.

It took a few minutes to ensure that they all knew each other's ticklish spots, but then they separated. Everyone cracked up at the 'horns' that Dylan had grown, especially when he couldn't get rid of them himself. "Hey!" he protested loudly. "I'm not the horny one! Leevee is!"

All three of his brothers just watched him with matching angelic expressions on their faces... so matching that it was impossible to tell which one was responsible.

A small voice made everyone look at the final three people that had returned with Mikey. "Where's Eyhheya?" called out a little five year old girl.

Joel giggled before raising his face and huffing loudly.

The girl looked at him strangely as the boy at her side giggled. "You sound like I-Cheya!" he giggled at Joel.

The man, Bruce Collins, shook his head, "Casey, Tina, calm down. I'm sure you'll see that huge beast soon enough."

"Here he comes," Kevin giggled. "With company!"

From around the side of the blasted and broken CIC, three Sehlats thundered. I-Metri was the largest, followed by an only slightly smaller Marjur. Between them, looking terribly small by comparison, I-Cheya loped. As soon as I-Cheya saw the two children with Bruce, he huff-howled his greeting and charged over; only to start rolling around as they pounced at him, giggling and yelling for joy.

"That's an adult male," Teri said simply to a stunned looking Bruce as she pointed at Marjur. "Domesticated, which is why he's smaller than the female next to him. She's wild."

"Isn't she dangerous?" Bruce almost squeaked.

Joel giggled, "I-Cheya's wild as well, sir. And yes, they all are. 'Man-eaters', although they rarely eat a Vulcan. Only when they have to. They're sentient, you see."

"And you domesticate them?" Bruce asked curiously.

Joel shrugged, "And they eat us if they need to. It's an odd relationship. As long as you are not late with their lunch, you'll be fine. Even a domesticated Sehlat will snack down on you if you're too late feeding him!"

"I gather Vulcans are never late feeding their pets!" Bruce exclaimed.

"Never," Spock assured him simply.

Marjur ambled over to Spock and huffed at him, *Huff huffuff!*

"Indeed," Spock nodded. "You are quite correct, Marjur. Have you given your new ones a greeting back yet?"


"You had better do so, then," Spock said, a subtle evil glint in his eyes.

Marjur went over to the puzzled Cory, promptly stripped him of his remaining clothing - he was still topless - and started bathing him, between grunting out, *Huf huffuffuffhuuff huffuff.*

"Who you calling pet?" Cory giggled as he wriggled at the tongue bath being applied to him.


"ME?!" Cory giggled. "When did I become a pet?!"

Marjur stopped mid-tongue-swipe and answered, *Huff huff huffuuffuffuffhufff huf hufff!*

"All of us?" Joel giggled, "wow!"

Sean quickly started looking for an escape route at hearing this latest revelation. I-Metri simply grinned at him and pounced.

The rest of the Clan were back to their lessons with Mr T and the Chief, leaving only a small group inside Cory's house and chilling out in the Living Room: Cory and Sean were on the love seat, with Joel on Cory's lap; Galli, Kevin and Levi were together on the couch; and Artemus and Mercury were cuddled together on the floor between the love seat and the couch.

Kevin was still giggling at Sean. "My heart is still racing from when she pounced you!" he grinned.

"Tell me about it! She's good, though; didn't touch me as she landed, but still pinned me with her belly!" Sean laughed.

Joel smirked, "Well, you did the right thing in just falling flat right away."

Cory simply laughed.

Galli got up and started heading for the kitchen, "Thirsty. Anyone want anything?"

As the guys started calling out their choices of thirst quenchers, Joel turned slightly on Cory's lap and asked, "Can you take me upstairs? I wanna get some clothes. I'm feeling... a little uncomfortable."

Cory looked at his little brother carefully. He had been fine before everyone in just his boxers... then he realised. He was sitting on his lap, and he was only in his boxers as well - since Marjur had decided to run off playing hide and seek with his jeans. Joel was obviously still a little shaky around him. "Sure, Elf."

"Want me to come too?" Sean asked.

Joel nodded. "And Kev and Leev. I... never mind," he whispered as Cory stood up with Joel over his hip.

"You what, bro?" Cory asked softly.

Joel just shook his head sadly, took off his Crown and let it vanish back to join his Armour.

Galli stuck his head around the doorway, "I'll have your drinks ready. Take your time, bros. Then we need to talk."

"Okay," Cory replied, his tone matching the slight worry on his face.

Kevin and Levi came over and their faces matched Cory's. "Your headache bad?" Levi asked.

Joel shook his head, "No. Not too bad. I just..." He let what he was going to say trickle away before resting his head on Cory's shoulder.

Sean simply pointed to the door and the stairs beyond, and they all made their silent way up to the bedrooms.

As they drew close to Cory and Sean's door, Joel reached and pointed, confirming to Cory that it was his own near nakedness in proximity to Joel's that was the big problem. It broke his heart, the feeling that his little brother didn't trust him.

Joel felt the emotions inside Cory and burst into tears. No words could describe the wretchedness of what he was feeling at this point, so he just sobbed and blubbered into the crook of Cory's neck as the blond teen carried him into the bed room. Cory held him for a second or so, but the sobs only increased in strength, and so he placed him on Sean's side of the bed.

Kevin and Levi quickly picked a side and cuddled up next to the boy they both loved while Sean and Cory shared a long, sad look. Wiping a tear away that was threatening to fall, Cory turned for his wardrobe and asked, "What do you think, hon? Formal, or informal?"

Before Sean could ask why Cory thought formal wear would be necessary, Joel piped up quietly, "Your Starfleet uniform."

Blinking, Cory turned and asked, "Why?"

"Well... if you wanna..." Joel whimpered, "I'm gonna go to San Francisco for some tests and I want... I mean, I would like..."

"Okay, I'd love to go, my Lil'elf," Cory nodded simply as he turned back and pulled out both his and Sean's uniforms.

"Me too, if you want me there," Sean added with a forced grin.

Joel smiled and wiped at his eyes, "Yeah. Please. Umm... can I ask you something?"

"Sure," both boys answered.

"I... you won't be mad if I ask?"

"Never," both responded.

Joel hung his head, then raised it bravely and asked, "Can you both shower me? Me, and Kevvy and Leevee?"

"Why'd you think we'd be mad at you asking that, bro?" Sean asked curiously. "We'd love to shower with you."

Sniffing back some more threatening sobs, Joel whispered, "'Cos... 'cos I wanna be over this fear of Cor, and I wanna face it, and that... it means... I..."

"Just say it, little brother," Cory said simply as he moved to kneel before the bed and gently lay his fingers on Joel's bare knees.

His breath hitching and his heart racing, Joel blurted, "You're the same as Corey, bro. Same size. Same shape. Same everything... even your dickie. He hurt me with it. Bad. Real bad. But when... the first time we showered, you let me... touch you... you didn't hurt me, but I think now you are... sorry... I'm so sorry... but if I don't face this, I'm afraid I'm never gonna be able to sleep in a nest with you ever again... I'm so afraid of you still, because everything about you is so much like him. I... I'm sorry..."

Cory felt his heart break yet again. "Don't be sorry," he whispered as he pulled Joel down and into his arms, "I understand. Come on, Elf..."

The whole group moved through into the en-suite, where Joel just stood and shook. Darkness was all he saw, but love was what he could feel. He sensed with his Vulcan abilities the other stripping down, but he reached to stop Cory from pulling off his boxers. "Can I?" he trembled.

Cory whispered, "Sure."

Joel, his hands trembling like leaves in the wind, knelt and pulled them down so that Cory could step out of them. Then he stood back up and lifted his face to Cory's.

The blond teen could see the fear in his little Vulcan brothers face - could feel it rolling off of him, in fact - and knew that Joel both wanted him to take off his own boxers and yet did not at the same time. Moving close and kneeling down himself, Cory raised his hands to Joel's tummy. "Are you sure, my wonderful little elf?"

"No," Joel croaked, "but do it anyway."

Levi and Kevin moved to either side of the Vulcan and laid their hands on his shoulders, feeding into him their courage and support.

"I have to do this myself," the hurting alien whispered.

"No you don't," Sean said firmly yet tenderly. "We are not alone, Joel. We are Family. Family is never alone, do you understand? The bastard that hurt you was alone, bro. He had no-one he cared for, no-one to love. Evil is always alone. Good is not. We love you, so we are not going to let you go through this fight alone, do you understand me?"

Nodding with tears now flowing down his face, Joel wept and raised his hands to Cory's; which were still on his chest. He then pushed them down to his waist, to the top of his boxers.

As Cory tucked his fingers into the top of his boxers, Joel's mind flashed back to what had happened on Saturday: he had been held by Corey's two older brothers, and Corey had sliced down the left side of his face with his knife, slicing right through his left eye. The pain had been incredible, and Joel had never yelled so hard in his life. It only got worse as Corey then dug the knife in and tore out the already useless and sightless eye.

'Now for some fun!'

Joel could still fell the hate-filled fingers ripping his clothing from him, and he spoke before he could stop himself. "Don't..." he whispered to Cory as his blond brother started to lower his underwear. He stopped as he choked on his feelings. Coughing, the small elven boy managed to say, "... please... please don't hurt me... no more... please..."

"Never ever," Cory whispered back as he pushed his love for his little brother out so that he could feel it. He continued to pull down Joel's boxers and then, once down, lifted Joel out of them and into a hug. Chest to chest, the small Vulcan sobbed uncontrollably into Cory's shoulder. "Start the shower, Babe," the blond teen whispered to Sean.

Lifting Joel's slight frame easily, Cory walked behind Sean into the large shower area, followed close by Levi and Kevin. Once the water started, all four began to wash down the still scared and trembling Vulcan. Through their love, they soon had him smiling - then giggling as he helped to wash each of them down in turn.

Outside, Ezra was dressed in old Native American garb, as were his two brothers and both parents. Yet, unlike Bryce and Dylan, Kyle, Tyler and Ezra were sitting apart talking. Ezra was looking most puzzled, "I just don't know, Dad. I'm meant to be the protector of the Clan, yet there's nothing I can do about Uncle Joel. It's like he's not even a part of the Clan at all!"

I-Cheya was sitting not far from them, and looked over as he listened.

"How can I do my job and protect the Nexus if one of them I can't protect?!" Ezra exclaimed.

Ty tilted his head, "I dunno.... did you consider an aluminium bubble?"

The huffing from near to them blended with Ezra's own giggles. He looked over at the chuckling Sehlat before answering his Pop, "No, going by what Levi told me, he'd be able to get out of it."

"Levi chatted to you?" Kyle asked with surprise.

"Yeah. He stopped time to chat and get to know me before he ran off with Uncle Joel... I like him." Ezra became pensive, then. "I still need to know about Uncle Joel, though. I don't like not knowing," he said finally.

You never know, Ezra-boy. My Boy never knowable; not your job

Ezra looked into the large cub's eyes, "What do you mean?"

Boy not Nexus. He Shaper. He Sa'ren. He One's Champion. Heart of Nexus protects Champion, supported by Nexus. You protect Nexus. Not Boy

"Try and stop me!" Ezra giggled. "If it affects Uncle Cory, I'll protect it!"

I-Cheya narrowed his eyes and sighed sadly. He sent, Not your job, Ezra-boy. Destiny no be undone in this. Do not fight. Destiny only changed by One and One's Shaper. Not you. Never in this. Cannot, or doom on all. Do not stop only chance. Age of Legends this be, and Legends return: Q, Lords of Time, Dark Destroyer, Earth's Winged Powers, Silver Warriors... many others... and One who is to fight Dark Destroyer. No protect from it. All is as should be. All is for Good of all. Only chance - why Champion is in protection of Heart. Not to keep from pain for One already Forged in Pain. Heart is to Temper in Love only. Then It shall return to where Made... and Sunlight Trembles at that Hour... No protect, Ezra-Boy-Clan-Protector; or all Boy's Pain be for nothing

"I'm glad I know Guardian-Speak; that last bit woulda made Uncle Sean go nuttier than he is already!" Ezra said with his eyes wide. "Are you sure, 'Cheya?"

I-Cheya nodded sadly. Hour comes. Pain comes. Loss comes. Choice comes. One chance all there is. I sure

"It figures; I get to miss all the fun stuff, and instead I gotta work before I'm even a year old!" Ezra said in mock exasperation.

I-Cheya stood up and shook his mane out, then looked down at the three Mikyvis, but mostly at Kyle and Tyler. You be there for End. You, Kyle-Boy and you, Tyler-Boy. You and your son, Levi-Boy. There at Choice: there for the End. One command been given: Doctor-Boy's Command. Let Boy go. Hold not back. Remember... and remember me at that time. Whatever is Choice, from Choice I and Black Feet will walk with you no more. Our Destiny comes... unless Shaper makes another way

"Uncle Joel ain't gonna let you get away that easy!" Ezra commented. "Levi says Uncle Joel likes seeing just how much shampoo he can use at once!"

I-Cheya looked at him sadly, then sat back down and stared out over at the rest of the Clan at their lessons.

In the privacy of one of the wigwams, Spock and Teri sat with the latest addition to Spock's blood children. Having explained what was about to happen, Spock waited as Joseph quickly stripped off and cuddled onto Teri's lap.

Although CIC would have been the best place for this, since it was now destroyed, Spock made do with a more limited space. He reached and took the young boy from Teri's arms as she said the ritual words.

Placing Joseph before him, Spock reached and laid his fingertips against the boy's head and opened himself to See. Unlike with Sa'ren and Senva Paul, no flux in time span around him and no vision came. He therefore just opened his eyes and looked at his newest son. With the beginnings of a smile on his face, he said, "I name thee Seltor, for I have chosen thee this day."

Seltor Joseph Short beamed happily up at his new Mom and Dad.

In the living room of Cory's house, Joel and the others were back and sipping the drinks Galli had fetched for them while the small Doctor was busy removing the orbs from both Cory and Joel's chests. "Stay close to each other for a few hours more, just to be sure, but it looks like you're both back to normal."

"They were ever normal?" Mercury giggled. He was slapped by Artemus.

After poking their tongues out at the still giggling cheetah, Joel and Cory relaxed back on the love seat with Sean and buttoned up their shirts before closing the uniform jackets. Kevin and Joel were in their Cadet Ensign uniforms while Cory and Sean were in their Captain uniforms. Levi, not to be outdone, was in his Major rank VSO uniform and cloak.

His drink finished, Cory looked meaningfully at the Doctor. "The last time we spoke on Friday, you said you'd only return if I called you. What changed?"

"Well," Galli said playfully as he sat down, "you changed things, Mr Smarty-Pants-Big-Brother. I saw the echoes of it and came into Alpha Prime to find out just what the hell had fucked up; it wasn't what was meant to be!"

"Someone has to prove that the biggest BRAT in the known and unknown universes isn't as smart as he thinks he is!" Cory retorted with a grin.

"OoooOOoo!" Galli giggled. Then he looked around, "Why am I still waitin' for him to turn up then, dork?"

"Because you ain't looking, little brother... when you get to be my age you'll learn to pay attention, twerp!" Cory giggled.

"Joel," the little Time Lord said sweetly, "can you move over onto Big Ted's lap, please?"

"Sure," Joel giggled as he was picked up and moved over by Sean, who knew exactly what was going to happen next.

"Thank you!" Galli smiled as Kevin tossed him a soft, fluffy sofa cushion. The ten year old, ageless, near immortal Time Lord - oldest of all currently living things - charged at Cory. "Take that, stinky butt!" came his war-cry.

"Hey Draco!!!" Cory giggled. A few seconds later, a large pile of pillows appeared by him. He grabbed two from the pile, and went on the offensive. "Take that, BRAT!"

The rest only let the two fighters have all the fun for about ten seconds, then they piled in, swinging pillows at anything and everything that moved. Joel, even without his Crown, seemed the most 'dangerous'; his Vulcan abilities seemed unerring in their accuracy.

"Blond topped, brainless nerd!" Galli giggled as he sat on Cory's back - Cory had long since been brought to the ground by a well aimed pillow-throw from the elven fighter - and thumped one pillow onto Cory's head and another onto his butt. "Smelly-butt! Cheese for brains!"

"Pre-Pube Punk!!!" Cory exclaimed as he tensed then sprung up, launching Galli into the nearest stack of pillows which had appeared as the pillow fight got rolling.

"Hey!" both Kevin and Joel exclaimed as they decided to form an immediate team with Galli verses Cory... which in turn spread to all of the fighters - those with hair on their nether regions and those without teamed up and moved into battle-lines. Mercury and Artemus were both still pre-pubescent themselves, but since they had hair all over, and since Cory and Sean would have been way outnumbered, they sided with the two teens verses the 13 year old Vulcan, the 11 year old human, the 10 year old Time Lord and the 9 day old Mikyvis... and then it was 'Game On!'

The battle was fairly even ... until Cory heard a 'Huff' from behind him, just before getting a double hit which propelled him into the midst of the younger group.

I-Cheya, the Battle-Sehlat had arrived... along with his mother, Marjur, Slider, Allie, Teri, Spock, Allen, Mont, Bast, Jeremy, Kyle, Tyler, Dylan, Bryce and Ezra...

"And this is what boys who love each other do to each other?" Spock murmured. "I would dread to think what would happen if they truly loathed each other!"

"Shall we join in?" Teri asked him sweetly.

Spock nodded, "Certainly. I have not had the pleasure of a pillow fight since I was ten years old and talked into it by Jim."

"Reform the lines!" Joel crowed out. "I-Cheya, cheetah, Lioness, Mikyvis - to us! All the rest with Blondie and Ted!"

And so the battle lines now stood thus:

Spock, Teri, I-Metri, Marjur, Slider, Mont, Bast, Jeremy, Allen and Miss Allie-Gator stood by Cory and Sean.

Mercury, Artemus, Kyle, Tyler, Levi, Bryce, Dylan, Ezra, I-Cheya, Kevin and Galli stood with Joel.

"For the Honour of Mount Seleya!" Joel shouted as he launched a pillow directly at his father's head.

To retaliate, Allie spun around and took down both Mercury and Artemus with a well-aimed pillow-shredding swat from the pillow she - somehow - was holding with her tail.

All in all, it was a very good thing that a bunch of beings were involved who could repair the damage that started happening to the room. The battle went on, and on, and apart from the outrageous cheating by Joel - he was bestowing his little pecking kisses at every chance he got, which completely distracted the bestowee - everyone was holding his or her own fairly well. The sofa died, however, when I-Metri feigned 'death' at a blow from Ezra and rolled on it.

While all this was going on, Kataui - who had been asleep on the table near the door to the hallway - moved like lightning from the room in the direction of the kitchen. One track mind, tribbles.

The one thing that Kataui had failed to take into consideration was that Helen had arrived with the group now battling Joel, and had gone to the kitchen of Cory's house to prepare a light snack for the kids (CIC being totaled and all). The group in the living room burst out laughing - except for Spock - when they saw Helen shouting like a fishwife and chasing the speeding Tribble of Borg back from the kitchen with a large pillow.

"I think it's a draw," Galli decided from his seat on Cory's chest.

Sean, attempting with Marjur's help to battle I-Cheya, agreed.

Joel was still being attacked by Spock and Teri, however. Due to his evil cheating, he was being held down by his father and receiving many belly-bubbles and tickles from his mother. Kataui sought refuge from the 'Evil Helen' by disappearing into a gap in Joel's uniform top, thus adding to the tickles he was experiencing.

"That was fun!" Ezra shouted happily. "When can we do that again?"

"Soon, baby boy," Tyler giggled, causing Ezra to blush.

"What brought you all here?" Cory asked pleasantly, after making sure his 'bratty little brother' had been hugged and kissed into submission.

Allen smiled, "I'm here for another reason, but on my way I heard Daileass give Teri and Spock a report that a large fight was under way in here, and they came to investigate."

Joel, finally allowed up by his parents, scooted over in the general direction of Cory and was snatched up fast and held close, along with Galli. The little Vulcan whispered to his Time Lord brother, "You never told us the full reason for coming back and staying when you said you'd not see us for a while."

"What I said was true, Elf," the Doctor smiled, "I came to investigate a Change that should not have happened. And I found it was all centred on you being raped and blinded."

"Wait!" Joel exclaimed. "When me, Leev and Vincent were on our mission, we met you and Jay. Your first time meeting us, so it was before you came here the first time, just before I arrived! How didn't you always know I would be raped and blinded?"

"Grandma, do you have any Mikyvis strength aspirin?" Ezra asked. "I think we're about to hear about a time loop; either that or Uncle Galli is just loopy."

Galli sighed and answered Joel, "Because you changed things, Elf. You are the Shaper. I have two memories of you in that first meeting, now. One, you're fine and everything is going great. You were hyped about having been to Disneyland on Saturday, and you were excited to the extreme about Cory and Sean getting home soon. The other, which appeared slowly in my mind, is how you remember it; you blind and hurting and clinging onto Levi like a drowning man. Since I was out of Alpha Prime, the changes were slow to come to me; even though they were my past. It is not a pleasant thing to find out that the Shaper has such a power, Joel, but it isn't your fault. Your life is a flux of possibilities. Only your Destiny is fixed, and that is still, as ever, veiled. I can guess, and I know some, but mostly dark. That and that alone you cannot change." The Doctor then looked into Cory's eyes, "I cannot stay for long as I have an appointment with some Mikyvis who will come to me after Joel gets hurt... yes, I'm here before they did; don't ask... but that's why I came back. So many things have changed, and then Cory does something that he cannot do, even with his power to destroy all that is. It made sense when I saw it happen, though. Only the Shaper and the Sa'ren are One, and therefore the union of 'Opposite and Equal' have no effect, plus the Armour and Sword protecting and directing under the touch and command of Sa'ren... I had to find out. Now I have, so now I can go again. Well, once a few more things happen."

"Oh?" Sean asked as he watched Levi repair the I-Metri flattened sofa. "You can see ahead?"

"Nope, but the Guardian informed me of something that he hid in the last few days here, and that something is about be told to you," Galli grinned as looked pointedly at Allen.

"My turn?" the man asked as he sat on the newly fixed sofa with Kevin pulled up on his lap. "Okay. On Tuesday, Billy and I were taking some time out in Billy's place. We had a visitor, a young teenage boy. Lost, lonely and very much out of place. We took him in, and Billy has adopted him, but..."

"Huh?" Sean interrupted. "That's the first I've heard of this!"

"Me too!" Kevin echoed. "If Uncle Billy adopted him, that means this new boy's one of my brothers! Why didn't you tell us? And why didn't we see him before?"

"Well, that is why I need to get a few of you to come back with me," Allen explained. "Cory, I need you there for certain. He asked for you. But I'd like it if a few others come too," he added, looking at the Doctor. "After what I've seen from you, I'm glad you're back to help explain things."

"Certainly, young man," Galli giggled in his best Time Lordish voice.

"I'm coming," Kevin and Joel said at once, then giggled.

Levi put his hand up, "Me too. Where Elf goes, I go."

"Good thing none of you make a mess yet..." Sean giggled, obviously trying to get in one last shot.

Teri swatted the back of Sean's head lightly, "Stop teasing them, or I'll explain about the time I found your special sock drawer..."

"MOM!!!!!!!!!!!" Sean exclaimed, blushing fiercely.

Cory perked up. "Oh, a story I don't know about? Pray tell, mother dearest!" he giggled. "I, at least, am safe! I didn't produce anythingbefore I lost my memories, and I didn't do anything until after I started getting them back, so no socks here! Come on! Tell!"

"Should I tell about your experiments with different slippery substances too?" Teri asked sweetly.

"NO!!!" most of the room's occupants exclaimed loudly.

"Yes!" came the loud plea from the innocently grinning Joel. He really had nothing to worry about in all this, and he could feel Cory getting embarrassed and just felt like adding to it.

"Imp!" Cory giggled as he blushed furiously, before tickling Joel's ribs.

"There are things brothers should find out for themselves," Teri chuckled.

Joel, still giggling at the rib tickling, twisted and rubbed his nose against Cory's. "Perrrrleeeasssse?" he begged, giggling continually.

"Later!" Cory giggled. "Ezra's ears are still innocent!"

"So're Levi's... check!" Joel smiled. "I checked this morning... look into his eyes! He's still innocent!" He twisted back to sit more comfortably on Cory's lap and turned his face towards Kyle and Tyler, "Honest! Check!"

"Joel!" Levi whined as he started to glow pink.

Ezra sniggered. "Yeah, he is, and Uncle Cory? Don't bother! I know what you know, remember?"

Cory shook his head and stood up, "Where is this new boy, Uncle Allen?"

"At Billy's, with him, Lawrence and Deacon," the man answered.

"Lawrence and Deacon know?" Kevin spluttered as he was placed on his feet as Allen stood up.

"Well, yes. He's been staying at Billy's house since Tuesday, so they were bound to know."

"Nice," Kevin grumbled. "A new brother and we're the last to know!"

"You'll understand once you meet him and learn about him," Allen chuckled. He looked at Cory, "Come on, then. I'll drive you all over in the SUV."

The Doctor smiled, "No, I'll take you. This'll be quicker, and Joel has other things to do today so we can't waste time!"

With that, Cory, Joel, Kevin, Levi, Kyle, Tyler, Galli and Allen all Folded away.

Billy's House:

The group arrived in the hall, and Allen turned and said, "I'll just make sure they're ready."

"Ready?" Joel whispered. "Is this going to be bad?"

Allen smiled, "No, Little Heart, but Ace is a little jumpy."

As he went into the lounge, Cory looked down at the Doctor. "Ace?"

"Nickname," the small Time Lord grinned back.


Joel smiled at the name, then shifted so that he was just that little bit closer to Cory.

Considering that the little Vulcan was already pressed against his side, Cory had the insane notion that Joel might be wanting to merge with him again and giggled. "Did you like hanging out in my head that much?" Cory whispered as he gave Joel a squeeze.

Joel raised his blind face towards Cory's and smiled. "I only remember being warm, safe... home. Like when Kev and I..." he paused, blushed and then grinned, "... make love. You made me feel like that - special and safe."

Cory leaned down and laid a gentle kiss to his Elf's forehead. "I think you're pretty special too," he whispered back. "You gave me the strength to do what I needed to."

"Did I?" Joel asked. "I thought my strength came from Kev."

"Not that type," Cory smiled gently as he squeezed Joel tighter until he squeaked.

Allen came back through the door and said, "He's calmer now, but I must warn you; he'll likely say things that will be strange at first."

Cory shrugged, "You wanted Galli along, so that means either a time problem, or a dimension problem, or a universe or time-line problem... or all the above. Nothing new to me there, Uncle."

Allen smiled briefly before leading them into the lounge, and Joel dropped back from Cory to walk hand in hand between Levi and Kevin.

Allen directed them to various chairs and seats around the room, and when they had settled they all regarded the new boy seated between Billy and Lawrence. Deacon was just to Lawrence' side, sitting on the arm of the sofa.

Cory smiled, "Hi, Ace. I'm..."

"I know you, Uncle Cory," Ace smiled with a small blush. Then he giggled, "I recognise you from pictures you showed me of when you were my age! It's funny seeing you the same age as me! You used to bounce me on your knee and play horsey with me!"

"He still plays horsey," Tyler giggled from his seat with Kyle, "just not with the little kids!"

"Remember munchkin, I can still out-run you!" Cory said as he stuck out his tongue at Tyler. "I'm not the one that woke up the entire room giving birth Saturday night!"

Tyler decided that silence was a good ploy and devoted his attention on the new kid.

The new boy, Ace, narrowed his eyes. He looked around at all the boys who had come in. He'd checked them out as they entered, but now he looked closer. "I know some of you," he said softly, "but there's some I've never seen before - not even pictures of." He pointed and named each he knew in turn, "Uncle Cory, Uncle Kevin, Uncles Ty and Kyle. The rest, I've never seen before."

"You keep calling us Uncle. You're from the future?" Kevin asked.

Ace shook his head, then grinned and nodded, "I'm from another dimension in the future, so not from this dimension's future. Or something."

Kevin nodded, shrugged and then cuddled in closer with Joel.

Ace blinked. "You... Uncle Kevin never had a boyfriend. He never had anybody."

Kevin sat straighter. "Pardon?"

"You. You're with the Vulcan?"

"Yes, he's my husband," Kevin answered with a smile.

Ace was shaking his head in denial. "This is wrong. This isn't right at all! You've never had anyone, Uncle Kev! I know you! You've always seemed lonely, always looking in on what you never could have, or what you thought you could never have. It always made me cry, seeing you look sad! This is not right... I..."

"Doctor Brat, your assistance is needed in Receiving!" Cory quipped as he started to move over to comfort Ace.

"Ace, is it okay if I first explain to the guys where you're from? It shouldn't take me long as they are more used to this type of thing. Then I can explain things to you," the Doctor asked seriously.

Ace nodded uncertainly as he allowed his 'Uncle Cory' to cuddle in in between himself and Lawrence.

Galli smiled and then addressed them all, "Ace is from a time-line of this universe that split away just after Kevin and Kenny were rescued by the Clan. He's from the future of that line, and was sent out for his own safety when they discovered that some massive disaster was coming."

"Axon?" Kyle asked uneasily.

Galli nodded. "Don't get upset, bro. It was meant to happen. Now, there is no way for any Younger Race to foresee such a situation; not a sudden destruction as the event Kyle is aware of. So it was our friend the Guardian who stepped in to warn them."

Ace mumbled, "Unc... Captain Winters took me to 'Gateway'. The Guardian was nice. I'm sorry he's gone."

Levi and Joel giggled while the Doctor just grinned, "Don't worry about him, Ace. He's still around. Now," he continued, looking at the others, "Ace was sent out for a reason. I don't know what that is yet, due to the Darkness we're in, but count on it. The Guardian doesn't do this type of thing lightly."

Kevin was nodding along with the rest of them, but was also looking closely at Ace. "He looks like someone I should know," he said to the Doctor before addressing Ace directly, "What's your real name, Ace?"

"Allen Vasquez," Ace answered. "My dad is Reuben Vasquez, and my mother is Susan Bowers, the daughter of Joseph and Mona Bowers. She should be born in about 7 months..."

Cory grinned, "Has anyone told Uncle Joe yet?"

Kyle grinned and nodded, "Yeah. She's told him."

"Good," Cory smiled.

Galli said, "Well, that's about it. Now, if I can just see you for a moment, Ace, there's something I need to check and do before I answer your questions and problems."

"Uh," Ace looked at Allen and then turned to look at Billy.

"He's okay, Ace, you can trust him," Billy smiled.

"Okay," Ace said as he stood up and moved over to where the Doctor was sitting.

The small Time Lord jumped to his feet and pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and started scanning Ace. The teen stared at the device in astonishment. "You're The Doctor?!"

The Doctor nodded as he grinned and continued to scan. "You've seen the shows, then?"

"Yeah! I like the really old shows," he grinned. "You're really young, though."

"He's older than dirt," Cory giggled.

"Earth dirt, yes," Galli said with aplomb. "Now be quiet, arse-face."

"Potty mouth," Cory said in mock shock. "I'm telling Mom on you!"

"Grass," Galli giggled as he finished his scan. Then he looked up into the shocked yet amused eyes of Ace, "You're already bound to our quantum reality, bro. The Guardian must have done it already. Go back to Monkey breath and get some more cuddles."

"Don't worry about the brat. He's been grouchy ever since he found out that Aunt Helen don't know how to make Brontosaurus Burgers." Cory giggled as he pulled Ace back into his side. "You feel better now?"

"A little, but why are things different?" he asked as he smiled at Cory.

Galli answered, "Now on to you, my young friend. You arrived here before the Montana attack and you were told to not contact Allen or Billy before then, right?"

"Right," Ace nodded. "Captain Winters also told me to keep out of sight until at least the first of November, just in case I ruined Uncle Cory and Uncle Sean's wedding on Sunday; Halloween."

Joel spoke up, "They got married on the Tuesday before."

"Huh?" Ace looked shocked.

"Shhh, don't worry, Ace," Galli soothed. "I'll explain. This is a different time-line to the one you were in. Our future is not going to be what you know it should have been from your own place. Things are going to be a lot different. Especially as this is the Core realm of what we call Alpha Prime Universe; and because young Joel is here," he added, pointing at the smiling Vulcan.

"Joel?" Ace giggled. "Never heard of a Vulcan with a name like that!"

"He's my brother, and was raised on Earth... long story," Cory smiled.

"You have no Vulcan brothers... wait... another change?" Ace asked the Doctor.

Galli nodded. "Yup. Just like you don't know Levi... the purple eyed one sitting next to Joel... When your reality split from ours it was before Kyle and Tyler became Mikyvis. Energy beings," he explained. "Their children don't therefore exist in your old time-line. Any split that happens now, they would not be in because they cannot be split that way. They cannot be affected by time like the Younger Races; like you can. Your dad, Reuben, was the 'identical twin' of our Reuben, so don't think of our Reuben as your dad, but as an 'uncle', in a way."

"Oh... so, if my dad in this place never gets married I'm not going to suddenly disappear?" Ace asked to confirm.

"Correct. He might never get married, or he might marry someone different than he did in your time-line," Galli said. "You can't change the future of this place any more than we all can... which means, you will but in the way this universe is meant to be changed. Nothing bad will happen if it is different from what you know."

"Okay, but why are there so many differences if it's all connected, kinda?" Ace asked.

"Mainly due to what Kyle became, a Mikyvis, and then Joel on top as well. Joel's presence has caused a Darkness to descend and in that Darkness there are going to legendary things happening. This realm is going to be radically different because of them. Which is why you don't know Joel either. He arrived after the time split that made your time-line, and also... well, Joel is like me and the Mikyvis. He cannot be split by a time event. There is only one Joel anywhere."

"Really?" Joel asked.

"Yep. If a time split were to happen now, in the new time line Cory would see Kyle, Tyler, Levi, you and me vanish. We'd not be there. Now I could GO there, same as the Mikyvis could, but we'd be of THIS place, not the NEW place. You... well, you're of HERE and only HERE."

Kyle giggled. "So THAT is why Cory claims that I'm irreplaceable!"

Cory, on the other hand, looked a bit pale. "So... if I wake up and Joel and my bros and nephews are just gone... then I know I'm not the main Cory but a time-line one?" he asked carefully.

The Doctor nodded. "Yes. High Racers cannot be duplicated, and nor can most Middle Racers... and not Joel." The Doctor then looked back at Ace, "In your case, don't worry is what I really need you to understand. If you want to be careful about what you reveal then that's fine, but don't worry about messing things up. You can't, so don't be concerned."

"Thanks, Doctor," Ace smiled. "I feel a bit better now. I still don't know what it'll be like to meet 'dad' here, but at least I know I won't erase myself from history!"

"I understand, and call me Galli. This bunch of nutters do," the little Doctor giggled, and Ace giggled right along with him.

Ace then looked at Levi, "So... you're only a few weeks old?"

"Nine days," Levi grinned.

"I need a drink," Ace shook his head.

"Hot cocoa?" Cory giggled. "Straight up, or with a caramel twist?"

"You're a goof, Cory," Galli giggled.

"And you're on waiter duty, Brat!" Cory replied with a smile.

Cory vanished, only to reappear dripping wet and holding an angry looking crab.

"Opps!" Galli giggled. "I thought you said 'water' duty 'cos you wanted to get more pets for Timmy... my bad!"

"Ty, could you take this to Timmy while I introduce Galli to Allen's pool?" Cory asked sweetly as he passed the crab to Tyler.

Galli was already 'beating retreat' out of the door as fast as his short, ten year old legs could carry his giggling bod by the time Cory had finished speaking.

As Cory ran after his 'bratty little brother', Ace looked up at Billy, "He never grew up, Dad. Uncle Cory was worse where I was from."

"Why does that not surprise me?" everyone else said at once.

Not long later:

Outside Billy's house, the group - minus Allen, who stayed inside - were standing and laughing as Cory walked back across the road from the Thompson's house. Galli was riding on his shoulders, and both were dripping wet. Water didn't do much for Cory's once clean and pressed Starfleet uniform. However, that was not what was amusing the rest: rather it was Galli who was making huge spikes out of Cory's shoulder length hair, using some fast-set gel he had gotten from 'somewhere'. Cory was also giggling wildly as Galli "fixed" his hair, the giggles making some of the spikes have 'interesting' shapes.

Joel was watching through Kevin's eyes and was shaking his head. "Admiral Morrow is going to be changing some dress rules if he sees that," he commented to the others with a quirky grin on his face.

"Yeah, spikes will become a requirement!" Kyle giggled.

Joel turned to face Levi and reached out to where he could sense his new boyfriend to pull him close. Then he whispered in the Mikyvis' ear. Giggling, Levi produced some more of the Doctor's hair gel and set to work on the Vulcan's hair. First he made grow slightly longer, then spiked it... then he pounced on Kevin's brown mop and did the same thing - which in Kevin's case was really a refreshment of his pre-existing spikes. Finally, he sorted out his own caramel blond hair. "How's that?" he asked as Cory and the laughing and amused Doctor reached them.

"You forgot to take care of me and your Pop, kiddo!" Kyle giggled with a fake pout.

Levi rolled his eyes before sorting out his fathers. Kevin's laugh rang out once Levi was done, though.

"There! A goose for Daddy and a monkey for Poppa!" Levi chortled as he backed away.

Sure enough, Kyle's hair was shaped remarkably like a goose, and Tyler's was very much monkey-power.

Cory took one look and began laughing. "Watch it, Levi! If Mark sees your handiwork, he'll want to hire you to help with the landscaping!"

Kyle turned to glare at Levi, but couldn't hold on to his expression and burst out laughing. Then he jumped and yelled when Tyler goosed his butt.

"Well... it's an advert. Kinda," Tyler giggled as Kyle started to chase him to get pay-backs.

With Cory's help, the Doctor got down from the teen's shoulders and grinned at the mayhem before Folding them all back to the Compound. They appeared just outside of Cory's house and spent a few moments watching Mr T and Chief Hawkeye teaching the rest of the Clan before heading inside. As they went in, Galli said, "There's a bit of a side trip for a few of you. I think you'll like it..."

Half an hour later, Spock and Teri herded the boys out of Cory's house and told some, in no uncertain terms, that they were to go to lessons after lunch - which was about to be served on the fields by the wigwams that had been erected there. When argued with, the fact of them having been to the new High Race planet of Archnania for months on end was pointed out and they quickly stopped complaining.

Apart from Kyle and Tyler, who grouched and moaned half heartedly before scampering over to Mr T to get changed into what everyone else was in.

Galli looked around and smiled before turning to Cory and Joel, "Brothers - I have to go again. I shouldn't be here, and the Guardian is telling me I have to leave now."

Joel's bottom lip started to wobble, "And what you said the last time you left still applies?"

Galli nodded seriously. "I'm sorry, bro..."

Joel slammed into his arms and hugged him, "Then I'll hope."

"That's all we can ever do," the Doctor whispered from the hug before Folding away and right out of Joel's embrace.

Joel turned and cuddled close to his father. Forcing himself to smile, he deliberately changed the topic, signalling everyone that they shouldn't ask about what he'd said and confirmed with the Doctor. "Can we really go over to the Academy early? I thought the Admiral wasn't expecting us for another two hours."

Spock answered, "Yes, it will be acceptable to go now. We can have our lunch there before a more extended tour."

"And we can also have a shuttle ride," Cory offered by way of inducement. He had been informed as to why Joel, Kevin and Jude were going to the Academy and was feeling rather hyped about it himself.

From the group assembling on the fields to get their food (CIC being in small itty bitty pieces, after all) Jude and Billy Joe came sauntering over. "Can I get changed first? I don't think this is standard Starfleet garb," Jude giggled as he gave them all a twirl to show off his Native American clothing.

Levi giggled. "I'll fix that!" he commented as all of the proper Starfleet insignia appeared in the proper places on the buckskin tunic that Jude was wearing. "There, now it's a uniform!"

Jude shook his head and giggled before asking, "So: transporters, or Insane Levi Taxi to get there?"

"Shuttle!" Joel yelled at the top of his lungs as he adjusted Kataui on his shoulder - who had woken with a start at Joel's excited shout.

"Is Sean going to pilot? Let me check to make sure my life insurance is paid up!" Jude commented as he quickly ensured that he was out of Sean's reach.

"No," Sean said with dignity, mentally take a note to dunk Jude after they return. "Joel is. I'm going to teach him."

Joel's jaw dropped open, and his blind eye went wide.

Cory smiled as he gave Joel a hug, "You'll do great, Lil'elf... and you have my permission to refuse if he tries to get you anywhere near a bridge!"

Joel nodded, then reached and took his Crown out of the air and placed it on his head so that he could see. "Um, okay... oh, thanks Kev! Rooster Tails sound like FUN!" the giggling Vulcan exclaimed as Kevin informed him of Sean's misadventure.

"I'm glad I'm staying here," Teri quipped before giving each of the boys a hug, Joel a tight squeeze to make him squeak and then wandering off to the food tent in the field.

Seriously, Spock said, "Captain Sulu is no longer a good target for reparations should someone need a cleaning service on their car. I would suggest Commander Chekov."

Sean started laughing so hard that he fell over, and the others weren't in much better shape.

"Come," Spock said as they started to calm down. "I am in need of sustenance, and there is a very good food court in the Academy."

"So that's where Elf gets his food addiction from!" Cory giggled as he and the rest trailed behind their father. "Dad!"

"Was there ever any doubt?" Spock asked without turning.

They came to the shuttle pad area and climbed aboard the Clan's shuttle. Joel was guided by Sean to the pilot's position while he took up the secondary one. "Do you know what is what, Elf?" he asked gently.

Joel nodded, "But like driving a car, knowing it with your head is different from doing it. I'm nervous!"

"Don't be," Cory said from behind his as he reached and wrapped the little Vulcan in a brief hug. "My hubby's good at teaching people to fly."

"And I'll be right here to take over if you have trouble," Sean added, patting Joel's leg.

Smiling, Joel reached and ran his fingers over the controls, equating them with the azure blue image he was now 'seeing' with his Crown. "Is everyone strapped in?" he asked over his shoulder.

"Are we there yet?" Jude giggled from the back.

Sean blew him a raspberry.

"I'm still trying to figure out how to strap in a Tribble!" Cory giggled.

"No fridge?"

"No fridge," Joel answered his pet.

"Actually, there is," Levi giggled as he pointed to the side. "This is a Clan Shuttle, Joel!"


"I said NO FRIDGE!" Joel laughed as he ran the start up sequence.

"He's a meanie, don't listen to him," Cory crooned to the little creature next to him. "You can have some food after."

"You are nice. I like you."

"Thank you!" Cory giggled as he petted the furry tribble.

"Call me a meanie?" Joel play-pouted. "Fine! I'll set her free in our house later, Blondie... and you'll not have snacks!"

"Daddy won't let Uncle Cory go without snacks!" Levi giggled.

Joel just shook his head, then turned to look at Sean. "What now, sane brother?"

"Secure for lift-off and run your preflight," Sean giggled.

"Are we there yet?" Jude and Billy Joe called out together.

Joel ignored them both, and grinning happily did as Sean had instructed. Sean, grinning just as much as Joel at seeing him happy, guided him step by step until the shuttle had taken off smoothly and was pushing towards the upper atmosphere. "Ten minutes to San Francisco," Sean stated as he checked over the controls.

"Are we there yet?" Cory, Jude, Billy Joe, Levi and Kevin called before falling about laughing.

Now that they were past take off, Spock undid his belt and moved to the replicator. After a second or so, he turned to Jude with a Cadet Ensign uniform. "Maybe attiring yourself with this will keep you occupied so that the arduous flight does not bore you further," he said with a twinkle in his eye. Then he looked at Cory, "I think the floor needs scrubbing... what do you think, son?"

Cory decided to remain quiet, but the grin never left his face.

Giggling to himself, Jude also decided not to say anything else - just in case, of course - and instead busied himself with putting on his uniform.

Billy Joe enjoyed the show.

While this was going on, Joel was busy with Sean talking about shuttles and flying and what to do or not do in any given situation. "Now remember," Sean said with a wicked twinkle in his eyes, "if you're coming in over water, have just enough distance from it to make a rooster tail - especially when you're going UNDER a bridge... and you know of a nice Starfleet target to blame after..."

"Is that what Captain Sulu was telling you off for on Terra Main on Wednesday?" Joel asked in awe.


"Coooool... can I try it?" the Vulcan asked excitedly.

"NO!" the occupants of the passenger seats all exclaimed in unison, including one put-out tribble and an alarmed Vulcan admiral.

Sean laughed, "Golden gate bridge, I think the altitude was 25 feet for the best effect."

Joel turned back to his controls and started the descent to the West Coast, then put in a call to landing control, "CSV Mississippi to Starfleet control."

"Control receiving."

"Requesting permission to land at Starfleet Headquarters," Joel said in his best, most professional voice.

"Are you expected, Shuttlecraft Mississippi?"

"Yes. Admiral Morrow expects us at 1100 hours, but Admiral Spock wished to arrive sooner."

"You are cleared for landing pad three, Starfleet HQ. May I ask why you are coming in over the bay at an altitude of 25 feet?"

"Would it upset you to know that I'm blind and that my navigator is one Captain Sean Short of Clan Short?"

"Yes. It would. On both counts."

"Then I won't tell you," Joel giggled, making the controller chuckle as well.

"Are we to assume Captain Sulu is about to get another valet bill from some poor, unsuspecting person - like my nephew?"

"Nope! Unca Pavel!"

"Lord have mercy..." came the response as the signal shut off.

"It must be T'Sara's genetics," Spock reasoned to himself as he sat back down and put on his safety belt. "My family has no insanity in our gene pool."

"That's not what Uncle Bones says!" Cory muttered with a giggle.

Spock ignored him.

They passed under the Golden Gate Bridge easily, and the tail of water shooting up and over the moving traffic did most of the drivers a favour - they wouldn't need to hose down their cars that night.

However, the same dispatcher's nephew that Sean managed to drench when he did his rooster tail, driving the same open topped Corvette, happened to be in the middle of the line of cars that got the blow back from the shuttle.

He was none too happy about it either!

The landing went without incident, although the dispatcher Joel had been talking to was laughing. His colleague with him was already moaning about the fuss his nephew was making while stuck on the Golden Gate Bridge in his rather wet vehicle, and the man who had spoken to Joel was trying to complete the landing details while choking on his chuckles.

Sean made sure Joel had run the shuttlecraft through the shut-down procedure before clearing his little brother as competent to fly while accompanied. "A few more like that, and you'll be a pilot like me, bro," he giggled.

"He's already a pilot like you," Cory retorted from the safety of the back of the craft, "he's soaking poor, innocent bystanders with Rooster Tails!"

"Bite me, hon!"

"Not in public, love-bunny!"

"Get a bloody room!" Joel added while giggling.

"It's more fun showing y'all how it's really done!" Sean retorted with a giggle.

Without planning to, both Levi and Kevin said in unison, "He don't need no examples...", before breaking down in giggles as Joel blushed to the roots of his hair.

Instead of responding, the little Vulcan removed his Crown and sent it off to 'who-knows-where' before slipping his tiny seeming hand into his father's. "I'm hungry, Daddy," he mumbled as he ignored the others giggling at him.

Spock squeezed his son's hand briefly before heading out of the shuttle and towards the main Officer's Building and Starfleet HQ. The food court he headed to made all the teen's and kid's noses twitch, for the smells were quite literally out of this world. "Do not concern yourselves with knowing which foods you are able to have," Spock informed them as they prepared to do a Clan style pounce at the food on show, "for there are attendants at all areas to help you."

Joel simply followed his nose to the Vulcan section, closely followed by a near drooling Cory and and equally hungry looking Kevin.

The kids fed, Spock led them through the main building of Starfleet Command towards Admiral Morrow's office. They were passing some high level briefing rooms when a door opened and a Starfleet Captain stepped out, his arm in a sling. He looked at Spock, nodded and said, "Admiral."

"Captain Spence," Spock nodded in return. "How are your injuries healing?"

"Very well, thank you. I'm... well..." Captain Spence trailed off as he saw the boys with the Vulcan Admiral. "These are the ones?" he asked, pointing to the smiling group gathered to the side and just slightly behind Spock.

Spock nodded, turned and gestured for the group to stand in front of him. "Let me introduce Captains Cory and Sean Short, and Cadet Ensigns Jude Lee, Kevin Thompson and Sa'ren Short. My sons," Spock said to him. Then he rested his hands on Cory's shoulders, "My children, this is Captain Spence of the Newton."

Joel's blind eye opened wide in surprise as Cory reached out a hand to the Captain's. "Pleasure to meet you, sir."

"The pleasure is all mine, Captain," Captain Spence smiled as he shook Cory's outstretched hand. "Thank you all for what you did."

Cory blushed and said depreciatingly, "Thank Jude and Joel more than the rest of us. They were doing things we've never seen before - we just went along with what we were seeing them do."

Captain Spence shook his head, "No, son. I read the reports and I know that I couldn't have just followed what they were doing as easily as you and the others. You are just as much to be thanked." He then shook Sean's hand and Kevin's before looking down at Jude and Joel. Them, he hugged. "Thank you. My officers and crew thank you."

"You're welcome," Jude mumbled with an embarrassed grin.

Joel just 'meeped' from the tight hold the man had him in.

While Joel meeped, Spock glanced through the still open door behind Captain Spence and said, "Those are the delegates from Betazed. I was not aware of a meeting today with them."

Captain Spence smiled. "It is in regards to the Tesnian Problem," he said. "In a way, I'm glad Captain Short is here to hear about it. The fleet has already been sent from Wolf 359. Most are on Yellow Alert and have gone out on patrol in the outer three sector rings around the Central Hub, but most of the Home Fleet have gone on to Tesnia. With the volume of likely rescuees, Terra Main and Moon Base are preparing room for visitors. But we have a problem of long term logistics."

"They all need new homes," Cory stated simply, following the Captain's train of thought.

"Correct," Captain Spence nodded, "and so the Betazoids have offered their help in finding homes. They are all telepathic, and they can read most of the races in the Federation. They can help FYS filter those who come forward to offer homes to these orphaned kids. We might even have a large group of Under-Class families who want to come off world with us, so preparations are being made for them as well. Placement there will be easier as they will be family units. Still, the Betazoids and their personal fleet will be arriving here by Thursday ready to help."

"When will the Fleet return with the Tesnians?" Sean asked curiously.

Captain Spence rubbed his face as he answered, "Friday is the projection. The Enterprise is still in orbit, but it is one of the few with the new Drive system so it will be able to get there within a few minutes. For the rest of the fleet, the distance is large but done in just over a day. A day or so for pick up and just over a day home. Friday is most likely."

"How many ships have been sent?" Spock asked.

"The Enterprise will eventually go there to join: the Excelsior; the Gallant, another Excelsior Class ship; five Constitution Class ships; six Miranda Class; six Oberth; ten Constellation and two Huron Troop Transporters. Also, the Vulcans are sending two Battleships, five destroyers and five frigates; and finally, the Andorians and Tellarites are sending fifteen ships between them, a mix of Destroyers and frigates."

"WOW!" Joel giggled, "Are we evacuating the entire planet?!"

"Not quite," Cory giggled, "but close enough!"

"This will work out to Betazed's advantage with their application to join the Federation," Spock stated simply.

"And they didn't have long to wait in any case," Captain Spence added. "Anyway, it was nice to meet you all, but I have duties. Again, thank you," he added to the Clan boys before nodding at them all and Spock and walking away.

Spock felt a small hand slip into his own and so he looked down at his son. "Do you feel well, Sa'ren?" he asked, sensing something amiss with the emotions coming from his offspring.

With a one shoulder shrug, Joel answered, "I'm not sure. I was feeling okay until we met the Captain."

"I think I know," Cory put in softly at they all began to walk on towards Admiral Morrow's office. "Captain Spence just reminded you of what you lost between our rescue of the Newton and now, didn't he?"

After a moments silence from Joel as they walked, Cory eventually had an answer from his little brother. Joel nodded briefly and breathed out, "Yes."

Spock, mid step, released his son's hand and scooped him up to ride on his hip. "Nothing has changed with how we feel about you, Sa'ren. We are here to help. Please do not hesitate to tell us about your problems, nor try to fight your troubles alone," the man stated gently.

"Okay," his son answered as he laid his head on Spock's shoulder and closed his blind eye trustingly.

Admiral Morrow was surprised at seeing them arrive so early, but was more than accommodating. The tour of Starfleet Academy was a highlight for all of them, especially for Joel and Jude. The Admiral even, as a joke, put the two boys through the Phaser Test, but the joke ended up on him when both aced it. After a few questions from the examiner, they were cleared for full phaser use, and their ranks were updated for Fleet Security to 'lieutenants'. They both, however, chose to keep their 'Cadet Ensign' ranks as their primary for the Fleet as they were going to push for their chosen paths: Jude with Engineering and Joel with Command.

The group of boys were split into two teams for the simulations. Cory and Jude, with Billy Joe as an observer, were sent to the Engineering Simulators for a bunch of tests while Joel, Sean and Kevin were sent to the Command Simulators. Levi obviously chose to observe Joel and Kevin. A fairly large group of second year cadets were also called to join in, and this was to be their first fully marked simulator drill.

Morrow and Spock watched from monitors as Kevin, Jude and Joel romped through the tests. Kevin was showing his true colours with all diplomatic aspects of the simulations, and no small measure of pride could be seen on his face each time the examiner read out his results. As for Jude and Joel, each had cheeky grins and knowing looks on their faces as they ploughed through their respective tests and situational puzzles for their preferred roles in the Fleet.

It was seemingly just too easy for them both.

The two simulation rooms in use were eventually linked up via the comms for what Spock believed was their final test: the dreaded Kobayashi Maru scenario - which he knew Joel had already thought about seriously since arriving back in this universe, and who had already found a way around it: without cheating.

That being so, Spock looked at Morrow briefly and smiled as the Admiral's attention became riveted on what was going on on the bridge of the 'Starship' before him...

Joel recognised it immediately, of course. Throughout the whole experience in the simulation room, he had known this scenario was coming, and had mentally revised and refined what he would do in response to a variety of possible 'Kobayashi Maru' changes. Maybe in this universe they would be up against Romulans instead. Maybe there would be five ships, not three. Whatever the possibilities, Joel's Vulcan mind was working - chess-like - to cover as many if not all the bases as possible. It was therefore no surprise to find him smiling as he read out the mission briefing on the data-pad the examiner had just given to him. His Crown around his brow, and his eyes glowing blue, he grinned in glee as he ordered Sean to set a course to circumvent the Klingon Neutral Zone so as not to break the treaty with the once extremely hostile race.

Then he started humming to himself pleasantly as he swung his legs while sitting on the every so slightly oversized Captain's chair.

As the comm beeped by Kevin, who was playing the Communications Officer's role for this scenario, Joel depressed the comm button on his chair and asked Jude, "Are you ready to do some fast modifications to the shield's, Chief Engineer?"

"Can't wait!" came Jude's excited answer - he had been looking forward to this scenario as much as Joel had.

"Captain," Kevin said from the Comm chair, "receiving a distress call from the USS Kobayashi Maru. They have been hit by a micro-singularity and their engines are dead. They have drifted into the neutral zone."

"Helm," Joel said with a grin, "distance to the Kobayashi Maru?"

"Two minutes, maximum impulse," Sean answered. "They are drifting further into the zone, but  very slowly."

"Set course and engage at three quarter impulse."

"Sir," Sean stated as he went by the rule book, "should we enter the zone we will be in violation of treaty ourselves and could become open to attack from the Klingons."

"Your objection is noted, Lieutenant," Joel answered, using the 'scenario' ranks they had all been given for the tests. "Follow my orders."

"Aye, sir," Sean replied as he keyed in the destination and got the ship moving.

"Keep all scanners at maximum. I want to know if any Klingon ships approach," Joel said, his voice sounding slightly bored as he 'went through the drill'.

Sean's brow rippled in concern at the lack of concern in his little brother's voice, but then his eyes shot open at the sound of munching from the Command Chair. He turned and looked on in wonder as the small Vulcan was chowing down on a large, plate sized cookie that he must have gotten from his dimension bag. "You're not taking this one seriously?" Sean asked in shock.

"Always," Joel purred as he polished off the cookie in record time. "Yum... oh! You mean the test? Sure. Eyes on station, Mister," he giggled.

Sean could only blink before turning back to his control board.

A Starfleet cadet sitting next to Sean called out, "Three Klingon cruisers de-cloaking ahead!"

"Red Alert," Joel instructed, "and shields to full. Bridge to Engineering; Jude, begin modifications to the shields just like we did for the Newton rescue."

"Aye, Captain... if this slow-poke big brother of ours helps better this time, I should be able to hold the modifications for over an hour... Cory! We can't tickle now, goof!"

Joel shook his head before ordering, "Sean - all stop. Then set in a course to 400 yards before the lead cruiser."

"All stop registered. They have also come to a stop," Sean answered as his hands flew over the controls.

Joel nodded at Kevin, who opened hailing frequencies, "This is Captain Short of the USS Enterprise. We are on a rescue mission of a distressed ship that has accidentally crossed into the neutral zone. Please allow us to help them back into Federation space and we shall be on our way."

Kevin looked up from his controls, "They have terminated the hail from their end, Captain. I don't even know if they heard us."

"Expected," Joel giggled. "Firing control - I want two photons ready to launch on my command, the first when I say so, and the second is to launch the instant we leave warp. Both are to target the neck of the middle cruiser. Load the rear tubes as well, and target each of the two wing cruisers with a rear torpedo each."

The cadet at the Weapons Control console responded with an affirmative, and so Joel turned to Sean. "On my mark, I want you to engage into warp and stop at the co-ordinates you have computed. Then, when out of warp, evasion pattern delta-niner."

"You want me to do what?" Sean bellowed as he turned to stare at the little Vulcan.

"You heard. Trust me, this ship'll take it - she's more advanced than a Constellation Class, correct?"

Joel never heard Sean's response because Sean's mouth had gone too dry to even think about speaking.

In their observation room, Spock was looking genuinely impressed at the direction Joel was taking things, but he did not know what the two forward photons were going to achieve against even a single Klingon cruiser with its shields up, never mind three.

Morrow, however, was having kittens at the mere thought of a short-hop warp jump of this nature...

"They are arming weapons and their forward shields have increased to 200%," the cadet at Weapons Control called out. "Torpedoes armed, Captain," he added quickly.

Sean yelled, "Lead ship firing!"

"One!" Joel yelled and the screen showed a red photon torpedo lance out fast towards the lead ship. The disruptor torpedo from the lead ship was a lot slower than Federation photons, thankfully, so Joel simply sat there mentally counting down. "MARK!" he yelled.

Sean pressed the button to engage the warp engines and closed his eyes. Everything was pre-plotted, so that one button press was all it would take. This might be a simulation, but Sean was damned if he was going to watch a warp crash of this nature.

The screen shifted as the 'ship' they were in hammered to warp speed. The torpedo they had just fired they overtook in less time than the others could compute - but Joel had already computed it all.

Joel grinned as the second torpedo lanced out from the launcher just as the 'ship' came out of warp. They then banked sharply to the right to do a tight loop across the front of the lead ship and the wing man on its left.

While it was all a phantom play of electronics, it was all still based on the laws of physics. The first torpedo caught up with the second torpedo and due to the warp bubble effect that was dropping from the rapidly manoeuvring starship, they overlapped each other in space-time. This caused them to shift and explode and implode all at once - yet still remain heading towards the lead Klingon cruiser as a white, high speed blob of energised fury.

The effect would be completely recognisable to any from a hundred years in the future.

A Quantum Torpedo.

It hammered into the shields of the lead cruiser at just under the speed of light.

The cruiser's shields shattered. The torpedo slammed into the ship itself and exploded fully. The lead ship vaporised and the shields were smashed away on the two wing ships by the shock-wave, leaving them wide open to two standard photon torpedoes that the departing 'Enterprise' shot out of its arse end at them.

While the simulation computers were 'drawing' all this on the screen before a stunned Sean and group of Cadets, Joel was investing all of his attention on something much more important...

... another cookie.

In the Observation Room, Spock whistled to himself. He gave himself that luxury as witnessing this innovative and highly destructive gambit by his young son had caused Admiral Morrow's bowels to require emptying.

The Admiral was therefore currently in the rest room taking the largest dump of his life.

Five minutes later, the Admiral arrived back in room to find Spock talking to Kirk. "Finished reporting to the President, Admiral Kirk?" Morrow asked as he adjusted his uniform top slightly, and smiled over at Cory who was entering the room.

"Yes sir, and he is now advising the rest of the Federation Council," Jim answered. "And now I've been shown what Joel just did to the unbeatable scenario. Interesting! I think I'm going to really like that little boy - he doesn't believe in no-wins either!" Then he moved slightly towards the controls for the comm channel and looked directly at Cory, "Doesn't Joel have the hots for you and Sean too, boy?"

Cory nodded, "Love, sir. Not 'the hots'. He really loves us. Kev does too, in a way..."

"I'd be more scared about Joel," Kirk smirked. "If he could do that to the Kobayashi Maru, then getting into your tighty whities wouldn't pose that much of a problem to him..."

The three Admirals were now looking at the most remarkable of sights; a blushing, blond, speechless Cory Short.

Spock lifted an eyebrow at his old friend, "Are you attempting to say that my son is a..."

"He's a 'connoisseur of boys', let us say," Kirk grinned, "especially with the stories I've heard: Kevin... Juan... Levi - that one's impressive! I've no doubt he's got his sights set on his two big brothers..."

Cory's face was imploding, by this point.

Over the comm, Joel's voice giggled from the Simulator room, "Is that a challenge, Unca Jim?!"

His jaw dropping open, Cory spluttered, "You had the channel open?!"

Kirk grinned and nodded.

"Don't worry, Sean," Kevin giggled as Sean could be heard moving about and telling Joel to behave amidst the chuckles from various cadets. "Levi and I'll protect your butt from another horny dick!"

"Hey! I don't want Sean's butt! I want him in MINE! It's CORY'S butt I want... it's so cute with those dimples!"

By this point, Cory didn't know who to look at, for Kirk and Morrow were both trying valiantly not to laugh, while Spock was simply looking him over as if sizing him up.

"Hey! I just had a thought! You know how I like being a Joel Sandwich between you two? Welll....."

Cory mashed his hand down on the comm, silencing the gain from the simulator. "If I didn't love him so much, I'd kill him," he muttered through his embarrassment.

Morrow took pity on him and looked at Spock, "Do you think your son can handle one more test?"

Raising an eyebrow, Spock nodded. He asked, "Which were you thinking of?"

"The Commander test," Morrow said steadily.

Cory sucked in his breath. "You're not serious! Only those 'going' for the rank get to do that! I by-passed it when you promoted me, but most..."

"Fail it the first time, yes," the Admiral nodded.

Kirk hummed to himself before saying, "It will certainly give us a good understanding of where he is emotionally. It's always a tough test for bright students as they think of everything but the obvious."

"I don't like it," Cory stated firmly, his mind already working fast. He knew what the test involved, having had Captain access to Starfleet information for a little under four days. "Can he handle it, Dad?" he asked Spock with worry.

The Vulcan tilted his head and answered, "As with all things, we will not know until it is attempted."

The blond Patriarch just shook his head and sighed. "What do you want me to do, Admiral Morrow? Tell Jude that he's the chief engineer, or take it myself."

"I want you to be in that role," Morrow said firmly. "This will not be a proper test if there isn't something terrible to pay."

"It'll be terrible no matter which of us is the Chief," Cory bit out before turning and stomping from the room to head back for the simulators.

"I hope this goes well," Kirk said as he moved to stand by the viewers with Spock.

"I concur," Spock added, his right hand in a tight fist - the only indication of his feelings at that moment.

It had come as a surprise to Joel that another test was started, but he went to work on it with gusto. It wasn't until the alarms sounded through the 'bridge' and the computer telling him there was a plasma leak in Engineering that he realised which test it was.

He felt sick to his stomach. Now he knew what Commander Deanna Troy had gone through, only he had the 'benefit' of knowing what to do: which made things all the worse, he felt.

'Warp Core Breach in 4 minutes,' the computer informed him after a moment spent to panic and mull over everything his remarkable mind held inside of it.

"Captain, I recommend a full evacuation," Jude called up, his voice also sounding more than a little sick as well - it was a foregone conclusion that he had guessed as to the 'way out' of this scenario.

"," Joel whispered, then he repeated himself more firmly. "No. We don't have time to get the crew away from a grade 1 breach. How long would it take to repair the leak, Lieutenant Short?" he asked his blond brother over the comm.

"The Jeffreys tubes will get me close to where it is, and I can shut it down in about twenty seconds," Cory answered from 'Engineering'. "The leak itself will be the other side of the wall to me," he added softly.

"No, that's insane! The radiation you'll be exposed to will become lethal in twelve seconds, and..." Jude started, but then his voice vanished.

Cory had obviously shushed him. "I can do it, Captain," he said firmly and steadily.

"So can I," Jude put in quickly. "You need your chief engineer, so I'll..."

"It is the Captain's decision," Cory said, his voice filled with authority.

Sean was looking at him. Joel just knew it. The fact that this was a simulator test was plain to his mind, but still - he had to do it. He just had to. "Cory, do it in ten seconds," he ordered before releasing the comm button. Then he started counting.

When he got to 'ten' he started crying. The graph on his chair controls was still showing a building reactor breach. At seventeen seconds, the breach slowed and started to stabilize, but Joel didn't see that. He had his Crown in his lap and was sobbing into his cupped hands which were covering his face.

"Reactor stable," Jude said sickly after another thirty seconds had passed. "Emergency trauma unit to Main Engineering, I repeat..."

Sean had turned off the comm altogether and just stood before his little brother as the Vulcan cried in the command chair. The cadets in the room were watching in awe and compassion as their 'captain' broke his heart at having 'beaten' yet another test - probably the worst test Starfleet had ever designed:

To send a friend and colleague to their death to save the ship or the crew.

"Why didn't he send me?" Jude raged to Cory as the entire group, including the cadets who had been with them, gathered in a large meeting room. The only one absent was Joel, who was currently with Spock. "I could have done it!"

"I know you could have," Cory answered, "but not as fast as me. Jude, you have all this knowledge that we don't, but I have experience. Scotty showed me this type of thing before on the Enterprise. I've done it, just not with radiation as a threat. You've never had to do it, so you might have taken too long. I was the most... logical choice. And Joel knew it."

"It's going to kill him," Kevin grated as his eyes bore into those of Admiral Morrow. "Why? Tell me why, sir. Hasn't he been through enough without having to 'send' his big brother off to die?!"

Morrow opened his mouth to answer when Kevin burst out in rage, "NO! Shut the FUCK up! I don't WANT to hear it, you..."

"Kevin!" Sean exclaimed quickly.

"Shut your mouth, you Iowan shit..." Kevin exploded as he turned on Sean.

Cory noticed first. The faint sheen of sweat on the brown haired boy's forehead. "Oh, God. Here we go, babe," he said. He looked at Admiral Morrow, who was looking just a bit offended. "Sir, excuse him. Kev's not in - control - right now," he said diplomatically.

Morrow stared hard at Cory for a moment, then his eyes widened in understanding, "Ah... a Vulcan 'problem'?"

"Yes," Sean nodded, his eyes now registering the same understanding as he watched Levi try and calm down an illogically pissed off Kevin.

The cadets around them all looked confused; except for the only Vulcan cadet in the group. She raised an eyebrow at Sean and mouthed 'Pon Farr' while flicking her eyes in the direction of the door - and Joel.

Sean nodded at her. He looked at Levi, "Can you calm him down, Leev?"

"Yeah, but..." Levi answered as he dodged a groin swat from the enraged Chicago-Street-Fighter, "... but I think he needs Joel more than me helping, Unca Sean!"

Loud curses in rapidly spoken Vulcan stilled everyone except for Kevin as the door opened. Spock entered, holding at arm's length a thrashing and yelling Joel. "I believe we shall take our leave, Admiral Morrow."

"Understood," Morrow stated, curiously watching Joel contort himself to attempt escape from his father's hands; without success, though. Still, it entertained the Admiral.

Kirk chuckled, "Okay... so, Kevin and Joel are going to be busy tonight?"

"No," Spock answered easily. "Stage one. They need to be apart until stage two, which will not usually start for about a day. Levi? Please take Kevin to his father and leave him in the care of Xain. Then, if you would, return and take my son and I back home."

Levi answered the simplest way possible. He just vanished with Kevin.

"I assume you can bring the shuttle back without me?" Spock asked Cory and Sean.

"Of course," Cory grinned as Levi returned and popped away with Spock and Joel.

"It's never a dull moment," Jude sighed as he sat down and cuddled with Billy Joe.

Kirk just winked at him.

"Shall I stay with Joel, Grandpa?" Levi asked as he, Spock and the still struggling Joel arrived back in Teri's house in Orlando.

Spock shook his head, "It would be best not to, little one. Should you remain, Sa'ren will likely try to mate with you. While I doubt you would be against such an event, it will only postpone his entering stage 2 of Pon Farr. As it is, my son is not handling this as well as most other youths when they enter their first - he just has not had the training required."

"I understand," Levi nodded soberly. "I'll be with my dads."

"Thank you," Spock responded with a brief smile as Levi vanished away. With an audible sigh, Spock carried Joel into the living room to find Teri reading a book.

"I got your message and got everything ready, Spock," she said as she saw him enter. She stood to her feet and approached, opening her arms to her struggling son, "Come here, sweety."

Her voice did what Spock's touch and words could not: Joel stopped fretting and just hung limp in his father's hands. He allowed himself to be transferred into Teri's before starting to grumble about the general unfairness of everything and nothing - in fluent Vulcan, of course.

Teri smiled at Spock, "This mind-link we have is so useful."

"Agreed," Spock nodded as he moved with her to sit on the sofa.

Teri arranged the small boy on her lap so that his back was tight to her chest, making Joel feel the most secure, and simply let him ramble on. She reached to her side and lifted a cloth from a bowl of tepid water, squeezed out most of the liquid and then wiped down her son's face. "This is completely normal, then?" she asked softly to the Vulcan sitting right next to her.

With a nod, Spock answered, "Yes, for one who has received no training nor preparation for this event. Sa'ren knew it was coming, but even with the knowledge he has from my memories, it needs to be practised first. Simply knowing it does not help."

"So Xain will not act this way?"

"To a point, no," Spock elaborated. "He will get progressively worse as the first stage moves on, but he will have more control. He will not perspire so much, either."

Teri grunted as she re-soaked the cloth. "He's slick with... what do you call this, by the way? I know it's not sweat."

"The word is 'wadashau', but 'sweat' is an acceptable translation. It does a different job than your reason to perspire, but the appearance is relatively identical. So, for the sake of argument, the majority of Vulcans do not correct human thinking."

Teri chuckled, "Your younger son did."

"He is young. The young tend to do so," Spock answered with a brief chuckle of his own.

Joel said something at that point, making both Teri and Spock raise their eyebrows together.

"He has one foul little mouth," Teri chuckled. "I'm going to stand JJ in the corner for a week for corrupting our innocent elf."

Spock chuckled again as the door was nosed open by Black Feet, Slider, Allie and I-Cheya. On I-Cheya's back were two brightly coloured snakes, Leh-sheh and T'Dahsu the Vulcan Sea-snakes. He smiled over in greeting to them. Then the door was pushed open again and H'rak and Keshta, the Mor'grilam children of Jamie, Jacob and Beau padded in, swishing their long tails.

"I believe they have come to help care for our child," Spock said as Keshta climbed up onto the sofa next to Spock and laid her head in his lap.

Gently, I-Cheya removed Joel's uniform boots to allow Slider and Blackie to start bathing them with their tongues.

Teri grinned as the boy in her lap wiggled slightly before relaxing enough to be properly comfortable. "I'm so glad for their sakes that Joel can't get smelly feet."

Slider winked at her before continuing with his ministrations.

For the next half hour or so, they all remained as they were, with Spock and Teri talking about non-consequential things and Joel making the odd attempt at flight in his fogged brain state.

"How long is he going to be like this, Spock?" Teri asked after yet another attempt by the speedy little boy to race out of the room - the wall stopped him and Allie brought him back.

"He should tire himself out shortly, then we'll have less trouble while he sleeps," the Vulcan answered as he took Joel into his arms to give Teri a break.

The door opened and Kirk and McCoy entered, along with Koth, Mercury and Hermes.

"No Juan?" Teri asked in surprise.

Koth shook his head, "No. I felt that trying to wrestle a horny Vulcan off of my boyfriend and stopping them from getting down and dirty in your living room might be just a little more exercise than I'd like on a Monday evening."

Teri simply shook her head with a small smile.

"How is he?" Kirk asked, pointing at Joel as he sat down. McCoy joined him, after getting a small sipping drink from Teri's locked cabinet first.

"A handful," Spock said dryly.

"And slightly warm," Teri added with concern, for she had just laid her hand on her Vulcan son's forehead.

McCoy swallowed his mouthful quickly before pulling a tricorder from his ever-present carry-bag and walking over. He hummed to himself as he scanned, then, after a few passes with the device, he stopped humming and became completely serious. "Damn. His metabolism is accelerating. He's not going to take long to get to stage two, Spock. He needs a cool bath, right now," he stated firmly.

"I'll take him," Teri said as she stood up and took Joel into her arms. "Merc, Herm? Come with me. I might need your help if he makes a break for it."

"Okay, Aunt Teri," the cheetah twins chorused as they padded out after her.

Bones sat back down next to Kirk and they both looked over at their old friend. After a few minutes, Bones sighed, "Come on, Spock. We know you too well for you to hide what's going on in that Vulcan mind of yours. Spill."

Spock closed his eyes and bowed his head for a moment before answering. "So much has taken place in the last few days. My training seems to be deserting me. I should have noticed Sa'ren's elevated temperature myself, but..."

Both men allowed the Vulcan to trail off, and neither offered any thoughts or opinions on what caused the proud alien's mental slip - it just wouldn't be accepted. Instead, Kirk changed the topic, "Who should I appoint as Captain of the Enterprise? Chekov or Chip Dodds?"

Looking back up, Spock fixed his gaze with that from his old friend and answered, "Both have strong points in their favour, Admiral, but is there any need of a captain for the ship? You are still in command."

"Only when I'm on-board, which will not be all of the time now that I know I have a son. You have your responsibilities here, and so do I. Also, with a Captain in place, the Enterprise can fulfil her role as Flagship without my being present all the time," Kirk answered. "And both have earned this; none of us would deny that."

"Chekov has seniority," Spock said, "but my brother has far more ambition."

"There is another ship in the fleet who's captain is about to retire: the Vigilant," Kirk said with a smile.

Spock raised his eyebrow, "Captain Yensing is stepping down? Intriguing."

Bones whistled, "And that's an Excelsior Class, isn't it? A plumb assignment for either of your candidates, Jim."

"But that ship isn't the Enterprise, and I don't want either men to feel like they have been passed over for the chance to command the Flagship of the Fleet."

"Then promote Uhura instead of them," Bones offered with a grin.

Kirk started laughing, and Spock raised an eyebrow. "It would certainly stop either feeling like the other has gained something," the Vulcan said, "but I doubt Nyota will forgive you."

"I wouldn't do that to her," Kirk grinned. "I'll shelve this decision for the time being. There's no rush."

Spock nodded in agreement before sitting back and trying to relax some. Koth was just giggling at the silly things adults worry about.


"Hold him and I'll fill the tub," Teri smiled as she handed her feather light yet wriggling son to Mercury.

"Okay, Aunt Teri," the cheetah smiled as he took Joel into his arms. Hermes moved over and joined him as he said, "We'll get him out of this suit as well."

"Thanks," Teri answered as she turned her attention to the bath.

Joel was, however, a handful for the two cheetahs. In fact, he was growling at them seductively as they removed his clothing, while trying to take their robes off as well.

"Sheesh!" Hermes giggled as they eventually managed to get the worked up Vulcan naked. "It would be easier to force Juan into a tutu!"

Mercury was simply giggling, for Joel was now half inside of his robe and searching for something - something that Mercury found amusing yet also slightly embarrassing. "Can you pull him back, bro?" he giggled at his brother, "before my girlfriend thinks I'm double timing her?"

Laughing, Hermes started to do so. Due to the struggles, growls and squeaks coming from the little Vulcan, when he managed to get Joel off of his brother, he ended up going over backwards into the half full bath of fairly tepid water with Joel on top of him. This was much to Teri's amusement, for Hermes' squeak of surprise and indignation was classic 'cat' as far as she was concerned.

As Teri took advantage of the shocked expression on Joel's face and basically forced him into the water to lie on his back, Hermes called out to his brother for help. This was rather pointless, however, for Mercury, laughing so much that his ribs were hurting, was running to the toilet in the corner to relieve himself before he soaked the front of his own robe. "Save my guns, bro!" Hermes called again. "Juan'll kill me!"

Joel was currently lying still, the coldness of the water having immediately started to lower his increasing blood-fever back to the levels they should be for this stage of Pon Farr. This allowed Teri to spare a hand to help Hermes off of his back to sit in the bath properly. She watched with a smile on her face as the cheetah-boy pealed off his drenched robe and slung it at his returning, still laughing brother. Her jaw dropped open at the sight of all the weapons squirrelled away on the wet cat's person.

"Planning to invade a small country after your bath?" Teri asked, her tone suggesting that her question had better be answered satisfactory.

Her statement stopped Mercury laughing far more effectively than anything Hermes could have done. Both cheetahs looked at her seriously, then at each other before Mercury said slowly, "We've always carried this amount of arms, Aunt Teri. It's what we've been trained for."

"I'm trained with a phaser rifle, that does not mean I carry it with me to go feed Pattie," Teri replied.

Mercury looked at Hermes with appeal in his eyes. Hermes swished his tail slightly, making the water splash over Joel who grunted happily at the cool sensation. "We're Joel's guards. We've got to be able to defend him from anything no matter what happens at a seconds notice and if we don't have our guns and stuff we might not be able to protect him right and that would be bad!" Hermes rushed out, blinking owlishly at her. Then he asked, "You're trained to that level really, Aunt Teri?"

"That and more," Teri replied. "You can't tell me that you need a grenade launcher inside CIC."

Hermes glanced at the weapon he had against his thigh. "It's only a small grenade launcher," he answered in a small voice. "You never know if... if, well..."

"If there's an invasion with guys commin' outta a helicopter and we need to... to..." Mercury trailed off. Teri's eyes were now fixed at him, and he put his paw to his own thigh unconsciously.

"Daliass, exactly how long would it take you to provide any specialized weaponry that these guys would need in any situation?" Teri asked, being well aware of the AI's habit of watching everything.

A full sized grenade launcher appeared two feet from Teri's side an instant later. 'Not long,' Daileass giggled before recalling the weapon.

"Can you provide that in purple with paint loads?" Teri asked, trying to make a point.

'Ooooh! A challenge! Just a second... there!' Daileass answered as a purple grenade launcher appeared, complete with paint-ball ammo. 'Who's the bestest AI in the Americas? Yes, you've guessed it... ME!'

"Thank you, Daileass." Teri replied. "If you don't mind, I think JJ would enjoy finding that sitting in his living room, with spare ammo of course."

Daileass didn't have a chance to teleport the item out of the room, for a purple haired Dylan popped in, yelled "Zoiek!" in a classic Bart Simpson expression, grabbed the paint-ball weapon and vanished.

"Make him another one," Teri sighed, making Daileass giggle. Then she looked at the two cheetahs, who were still blinking at her like two children about to have their favourite toys taken away.

"Now, tell me again why you need to carry an entire Ammo dump on you at all times," Teri asked them, her voice level and serious as a teenager who's found a rash on his nether regions.

Mercury just stared at the toes on his foot-paws that were just visible poking out from under his robe as he circled his right one about. Hermes opened his mouth to respond, then lowered his own gaze to the water he was sitting in and started flicking some of it onto Joel's belly, making his charge wiggle happily.

"Thought so," Teri said solemnly. "Mont and Bast have been told by Cory and Sean to take it easy when in a secure location. Outside, in the big wide world, I want you both armed to your cute, pointy teeth. If it helps to keep you and those you guard safe, then there's no such thing as too much weaponry. Inside the Compound, or any other secure place, weapons are only a Daileass or Draco shout away, right?"

They both nodded their heads. Mercury looked up slightly and asked, "Can we keep one gun? A small one? And a knife? Please? We don't feel right without anything but our claws...."

"I'll accept that," Teri nodded. "Now. Strip, Merc. Herm? All your weapons... all of them... out of the bath and piled on the floor. You too, Merc... come on, hurry up! If I'm bathing two of my sons, then I might as well bath three of them."

Mercury had his robe half over his head when she said that last bit and stopped mid-motion. A gun clattered from Hermes' hand as he was placing them on the floor and he stared up at her.

"We have a Mom already..." Hermes said quietly.

"Now you have two. This is a Vulcan Family, boys, and you're allowed lots of Moms and Dads. Merc? You're not ready for your bath... come on, hurry up!"

Mercury was out of his robe and divested of his weapons seconds later. Then he was hopping from foot-paw to foot-paw at her side, a huge grin plastered on his face. "Okay! I'm ready, Mommy!"

Teri just grinned and helped Mercury into the tub, where he settled in at the top end above Joel. He then moved the small Vulcan up so that his head was on his crossed legs. Hermes moved to be by Joel's feet more comfortably and then, together with Teri, they all started bathing Joel with the cool water and watching as their little elf became more and more alert.

Back in the living room:

The three men - plus various animals - were sitting quietly. The humans were sipping various drinks, while the animals were devouring various food items. The men were grateful that the animals were on their side, for the majority of the food was raw, bloody and making one hell of a mess on Teri's carpet: and had been alive only a short while before.

Koth was not even concerned, however. He wasn't sipping any drinks, but eating some fresh gagh - which Bones found more disturbing than watching I-Cheya eat his meat.

Spock took another long drink of his Vulcan tea then asked Kirk, "What has been happening in my absence?"

"A lot," Kirk replied as he placed his empty mug on the nearby table and handed Koth an escaping worm that had crawled onto his lap. "What do you want to know first? The current orders of the fleet, or the new visitors to Earth?"

"The fleet," Spock said simply. "I am more than curious as to any information we might have about those who attacked the systems of Earth - and who could have been behind the harm done to my child."

Nodding, Kirk started to talk, "We all met up at Wolf 359 and the heads of the fleets gathered on Enterprise. We decided that, since this problem was not one that could be solved with us all moving together, we should instead split into teams and patrol the area around Earth Sectors."

"Four sectors are lot of ground to cover," Bones said simply, just as interested in the happenings outside of Earth as Spock was.

Kirk nodded at him before continuing, "A small force has been left at Earth - one Excelsior Class, three Constitution and 10 patrol level Miranda Class ships. That and Terra Main should be able to hold off any surprise attack on Earth until the rest of the fleet can get here. The Excelsior and the Enterprise are here as well, for the moment, but will be leaving for Tesnia on Wednesday."

"Which fleets are involved in the patrols?" Koth asked curiously.

"Fleets One, Three, Four and Eight," Kirk answered. "Two and Five are out at the edges of the Central Core of the Federation, and the other four are spread amongst the other three hubs. The Third, Fifth and Seventh of the Vulcan High Command are with them, along with two fleets apiece from the Andorians and Tellarites."

"Is that all the Vulcans sent?" Bones asked, his eyes puzzled. "That's not even ten percent of their forces!"

Kirk grinned, "The Vulcans have the largest Fleet in the Federation, Bones, but what you might not know is that in this type of situation, the rest of the Vulcan forces are out on stealth patrol - using the excuse of scientific research as a cover."

"Typical, sneaky, green-blooded..." Bones began, but Spock just looked at him. Seriously. "Sorry," McCoy grinned, obviously not sorry in the slightest.

Kirk continued, "That's it for the Fleet, at the moment. The Council have been informed, and I've just finished briefing the President of our situation. They are now relaying all I've done to the League."

"Thank you," Spock nodded again. "Now, you mentioned visitors to Earth?"

"Yes I did," Kirk smiled. "Three species from quite some distance away - three you'll recognise, Spock - have arrived to open diplomatic and trade negotiations with the Federation. I think our first meeting at Operation Pied Piper shocked two of them somewhat. As for the third, I think our show of force has earned their government's respect."

"The Ferengi, the Cardassians and the Breen?" Spock asked, although he only did so for human politeness. He had already worked out who the three were.

Kirk grinned, "Yes. The Breen Confederacy have five ships in orbit, the Ferengi Alliance have three and the Cardassian Union have ten. More are on the way, but will remained stationed at Andoria, due to the emergency situation here at present."

"Interesting. We seem to have already learned much about them," Spock stated. "However, is it prudent to have so many of their ships in orbit at this time? We know how powerful the Cardassians and Breen are after our encounter with those renegades."

"There is... an advantage we have, Spock," Kirk smiled. "I am sorry, but until Commander Casey gives the all clear, I can say little more than there are a 'few' extra ships nearby that have a vested interest in Earth's safety at the moment. And they are allied to Vulcan for the time being, so..."

"Again, interesting," Spock said with a soft, small smile. "I take it you are referring to the Eryradain?"

Kirk's face fell in disappointment.

Koth, however, looked intrigued. "Mmm... so that's what Jace was hiding for so long..." he giggled.

Kirk just sighed, "Other than that, we have a group from Betazed here and more arriving to help with the Tesnian issue..."

"I know about them, I ran into Captain Spence earlier at Headquarters," Spock put in quickly.

Kirk nodded and continued, "And we have a few other ships from various Member worlds who are either here already or inbound to help with defending Earth. They should be hear shortly. Basically, it's business as usual."

"No it's not. Ty destroying CIC has slowed down Aunt Helen's cookie production!" Koth mumbled.

A loud belch from I-Cheya signalled that the various animals there had finished their munchies, meaning that the bloody mess had to be cleared up before Teri returned to see the state of her carpets.

Still looking put out over the cookie-famine the Clan was enduring, Koth tapped his comm and said, "Ty - get yer butt in here for clean up detail. You still owe us for the lack of nibbles, so no pouting!"

Tyler appeared and glared at Koth, "You're not going to let me live that down, are you?!"

"Nope!" Koth grinned. "Just too much fun teasing you!"

"I'll get you later," Tyler warned as the blood and pieces of spare meat vanished from the floor. Then he vanished as well, after blowing a raspberry at Koth for good measure.

The mess had been cleaned up just in time too, for Teri walked back in followed by three cat-kids - well, two cat-kids and a Vulcan in a poncho made from a towel that had tiger stripes and patterns on it. The hoodie over the Vulcan's head had two little ears sticking up, and the belt - also made from a towel - was tied so that it hang from the centre of his back to look like a tail.

Kirk and Koth chorused, "Awwwww! Cute!"

Spock very nearly lost control of his human side and joined them, but he managed to control himself. Just.

Bones was grinning as he watched Spock fight with his emotions. "I saw that, Spock," he said, his voice loaded with amusement.

Spock raised an eyebrow at him quickly before turning to continue looking at his young son.

"You nearly became emotional," Bones pressed, chuckling slightly.

"Incorrect," Spock said in a near whisper. "I am already emotional."

Teri, her face soft with compassion, came over to him and laid a hand gently on his shoulder.

As Mercury guided Joel to the middle of the room, the men and Koth noticed that there were drips of water marking the path the three had taken. "Why're you all wet?" Koth asked.

"Joel needs to be kept cool," Hermes said. "So we didn't dry off, and we soaked his poncho in cold water.

"Feels nice," Joel said, his voice odd sounding.

Teri then gestured for Mercury to follow her out of the room. It didn't take long to find out why - the two of them brought in a large metal basin, big enough for one small, thin Vulcan boy to sit in. It was half full of cold water and they placed it down next to Joel, who was quickly helped in by Hermes. The two cats then sat next to him outside of the basin and used their fur covered paws as sponges to run more and more of the soothing liquid onto Joel's arms that were sticking out of the side of his drenched tiger-poncho.

"He's a mini Amur Khan!" Koth giggled, making Joel turn his face slightly in his direction.

The small Vulcan then leaned his head on Hermes' shoulder and asked, "Are you sure Amur won't mind?"

Hermes giggled and said, obviously a repeat, "Nope! He'd think it's cool!"

'I'll help there,' Draco's voice came from the rooms computer console near the door. 'Picture taken and relayed to him... we should hear in a few minutes, when he can get a moment to see it.'

"I hope he won't be mad," Joel whispered as he settled his head more comfortably on Hermes' shoulder.

Hermes didn't say a word, but instead gently wiped his water filled fur paw over the boy's face to continue cooling him.

Draco was wrong on the timing of Amur Khan's response to the picture. Teri's comm beeped then activated. "Little Tiger brother, I think that's the sweetest thing I've seen in a long time!" Amur's voice came quickly, and behind his voice could be heard the sounds of various others giggling the words "Soooo cute!"

Mercury burst out laughing, "That was Adam, or I'm a ferret!"

"Correct. Now. Since you've got my little shadow Shere Khan as your son, Joel... you're now an honorary Tiger. Okay? I can't wait to see that for real... I promise a great cat-bath for you next time I see you! Take care."

From behind Amur's voice, calls from Adam and Logan and others could be heard yelling, "Get well soon, Captain Short!" and "Make sure Kevin has a good time!"

That last was obviously from Jory.

Joel just grinned before managing a "Thanks, guys!" right before the comm signal cut off.

"There! Stop worrying, Cute-Tiger," Hermes bubbled as he continued to sponge down Joel's face.

"Captain Short?" Kirk asked. "They use his Vulcan rank?"

"Nope," Mercury answered, "his Unit one. He was in the Tardis training with us and Adam made him a Captain in the Intel group we have. He's good with figuring out battle tactics and stuff, so..."

Kirk nodded, "Interesting. You're gaining titles and ranks like your big brother, Joel. Hope you've got the shoulders for them."

Joel shrugged. "I'll be fine," he answered. He opened his blind eye and turned his face in Kirk's direction, "Unca Jim? I've been wondering... how many ships are in Starfleet? I know how many you should have according to the shows I've seen for this time period, but I don't think the figures match in this Universe."

Kirk smiled, "Well, a lot. Not anywhere near as many as the Vulcans, yet, but a lot."

"Can you tell me?" the boy asked. "Listening to people tell me stuff helps..."

"Sure, little one," Kirk answered softly. "Apart from the Enterprise and the Excelsior, there are 15 Excelsior class ships, 57 Constitutions, 100 Constellations, 221 Miranda, 189 Oberth and 478 Nebula-Patrol ships. Those in the Central hub of the Federation are mostly crewed by Humans. Those in the three outlying hubs are mostly crewed by non-humans."

Joel raised his head. "How'd you get them made so fast? The Federation's only been going for about fifty years, hasn't it?"

"The Vulcans helped, as did the Andorians and about eleven other major Federation members. It was decided that Starfleet be ran by Humans, which is why the vast majority of Starfleet personnel are Human, but we needed help to get them all made. As for crewing them... well, there were three major colonies set up in the thirties, and since then that number has increased to about thirty or so. More colony worlds are founded each year as we spread out further. From the first three colony worlds came the majority of our crews, all trained on Earth. And there's a lot more, these days, of Earth-borns joining the Fleet," Kirk explained.

"Oh... my people helped a lot at the start, then, huh?" Joel smiled.

Spock nodded and answered his son, "That we did, my Child. We found Humans to be most receptive once certain elements were removed from their orbit. There are many Humans who are not yet ready for what the Federation offers, but many, many more that are. The early colony worlds are testament to the best of the 'Human spirit', and Starfleet is a lens that shows that fact all the more."

Joel smiled in his father's direction before asking, "What of the Huron Class. You didn't mention them, Unca Jim. I heard in Starfleet Headquarters that two are going to Tesnia to help."

"Hurons," Kirk answered as he moved slightly in his chair, "are part of the Starfleet Marine Corp. They are a small unit and spread out; since Starfleet is primarily the scientific and exploration arm of the Federation. There are 25 Huron Class troop transports in the Central hub, and seven a piece for the three external hubs. With them are the Stella-Attack ships. They are fighter versions of the Nebula-Patrol Class. More offensive. The Nebulas are tough, small 25 man craft that can take a beating and dish one out: border patrol and major fleet engagements are what Nebulas are designed for. The Stella class have 20% less durability than their cousins but 25% more offensive capability. Ten man crew only. Each Huron has three Stella class ships assigned to it. They are not designed for ship to ship combat like the Nebulas, but rather for atmospheric fighting to give the Hurons cover to land."

"Wow..." Joel breathed. "I think Sean'll love to fly one of them... or Juan... or Jory!"

"Me too," Mercury whispered, his face a picture of awe.

The three 'retired' Starfleet officers continued to talk to the four boys for over an hour before Joel's rumbling stomach made Teri interrupt the flow of the conversation. "What would you like to eat, sweetheart?" she asked after moving over to rub a hand across his face gently.

Joel thought for a brief second then smiled, "Cookies."

Teri grinned and kissed Joel on the nose. "And how big should these cookies be?" she asked.

"As big as my love for you," he whispered.

A tear trickled from his mother's eye as she reached and hugged him tightly, getting soaked in the process from the tub of water he was in. "I'll see what I can do."

"Vulcan cookies?" he asked, whispering in her ear.

Spock raised an eyebrow curiously.

Teri nodded, her cheek brushing against her child's. "Doris Teeter sent over a lot of food earlier," she said. "She claims that you love her cooking."

"I do," Joel answered as he moved back in her arms, yet his hands were linked just behind her neck. "It taste like Vulcan food."

"I will have to try some of these 'Vulcan cookies' myself," Spock stated simply.

Chuckling, Teri got up from the floor, her boy still attached, and carried Joel from the room to seek out the 'Vulcan cookies'... as well as 'Vulcan brownies', 'Vulcan ice-cream' and whatever else Mrs Teeter had sent over.

Spock followed them.

The three 'Vulcan cookie' seekers returned, the smallest carrying a large plate of said articles. Spock sat first and held the plate as Teri helped Joel out of the wet poncho he had on and began to briskly dry him down with the towel she had brought in with her. Hermes and Mercury just giggled as Joel's head bobbed back and forth as Teri attacked it with the towel. Once dry, Joel simply sat on the floor naked so that he could remain cool - even though his blood was heating up with the fever. The two cats and Koth all moved over to sit with him as the large plate held by Spock was placed back into Joel's hands.

Then the small Vulcan began to eat. He allowed his father one - just one - of the cookies, and he also fed one into Koth's mouth. Koth wasn't as impressed by the cookie, judging by his facial expression, but he didn't complain so as not to hurt the generous little boy he was guarding.

It didn't take long for the plate to be emptied, and Joel lounged into Hermes' side to rest - eating cookies is hard work, you see.


"Did you hear that?" Joel whispered as his head came off of Hermes' shoulder quickly.

"Hear what?" the Cat answered.

Champion... Redeemer...


Spock looked down at his son, "What is it, my child?"

"Someone's talking, Daddy..." the blind boy whispered as he turned his head this way and that.

"Champion, Redeemer, Destroyer... Exalt and Bring low..."

"I heard that!" Teri said seriously as she stood up. "Draco?"

'I heard it too, but it is a non-localised event. I cannot track it...'

"Hands that shed no blood, turn the key."

"What the hell is it?" Kirk asked as he looked at them all, "And why is it talking to Joel?"

"Voice that orders the taking of life, speak your command."

"I don't kill!" Joel yelled back at whatever it was.

"Sightless footsteps shall lead you to me; release us, child, for our hour is at hand... Our Great Mother needs us... seek, child..."

"Who are you?" Joel trembled as he clung onto Hermes.

"I am Earth's Eldest King, Redeemer. Come, Wing-Lord... High Marshall of the Skies... Seek me out!"

"What's that mean?" Joel asked, his voice still trembling.

But silence was his only answer, for it seemed that the voice was gone.

No-one said a word for a long moment, but before anyone could voice their concerns or opinions, Joel keeled over onto his back. Bones was up in a heartbeat and at his side, scanner in hand. "He's okay," he said after a second or so, "just fainted. Spock?"

"Yes, Doctor?" the Vulcan asked as he came to kneel at his friend's side.

"Is this reading normal? This is something I've not seen before, and I've seen a the most that a non-Vulcan could!"

"It is not normal, but has happened," Spock answered. "There is nothing to be concerned about. I did some research on Friday while my son was off fighting with the Unit..."

"While biting his nails," Kirk added with a half grin.

"Shut up," Spock grinned back.

Bones nearly joined Joel in a faint.

Kirk laughed, "Finally! The Spock I knew when we were nine!"

"I hate you," Spock stated deadpan.

"You're just saying that 'cos you love me!" Kirk retorted playfully.

Spock nodded, "As ever, Jimbo, you're correct!"

"Contractions too?" Bones gasped as he tried to regain his breath.

Teri was beet red trying not to laugh; Mercury and Hermes were making fish impressions; Koth was just blinking rapidly.

'Since Poppa Spock and Uncle Jim have regressed to childhood,' Draco said with a grin in his voice, 'I'll answer your questions, Uncle Bones.'

Bones shook himself then turned to the monitor to pay attention to the Vulcan AI.

'This is a condition that arises one in every 6.8 billion Vulcans, and in all cases in the last three hundred and ninety four years the condition was discovered before the first Pon Farr started - it only shows up on the lead up to stage one. It is then dealt with with some genetic medical aid and resolved. In Sa'ren's case, his Pon Farr started so rapidly and so early that the standard checks could not be done. You would not have known about it as it is not something needed for off-worlders to know; it is unlikely for a pre-Pon Farr teen Vulcan to be on a starship or away from their home near this time of their lives. You would have been told before Xain entered his own Pon Farr as you are so closely linked to the Clan and would likely be somehow involved in his,' Draco reeled off quickly and easily. 'The condition means that the Blood Fever, which should be at just 20% strength in Stage One of Pon Farr, effects the higher mental functions in Stage Two ways but without the strength behind it to carry it through. Sa'ren's mind therefore shuts down to deal with the imbalance. It is not dangerous if treated. Tri-Ox is the standard treatment required here, Uncle Bones.'

Bones nodded before administering the hypospray to his god-son's neck. "What of his elevated temperature?"

'That is wholy new. It is likely as you believe - his starvation and prolonged use of a BPC, plus stress, has accelerated and confused his reactions to Pon Farr. From the readings, Sa'ren's Blood Fever is at 38.82% strength right now, which is higher than it should be. He will need monitoring. I shall do so while you and the others sleep. Your strength will be needed tomorrow, I would imagine - and I can imagine a lot!'

By now, Spock and Kirk had finished trading insults and were listening in with the doctor. Teri was still chortling to herself while the three other boys were simply grinning at the foolishly smiling Spock.

"When will he come around?" Mercury asked as he petted Joel's black curls gently.

"Likely not until he enters Stage Two," Spock answered. "I will take him up to bed."

"First," Teri said seriously, her face now all business, "what about that voice we heard?"

Koth said what all suspected, "If it's an enemy, then it's likely that Vae'Za guy. If not an enemy, then more powerful than Draco and Daileass can track. Either way, there's nothing we can do about this 'Eldest King' for now."

H'rak and Keshta nuzzled Teri's side before cackle-purring at her. "Okay, I'll buy that, for now," she said slowly. "Now, why do I have the honour of these two here tonight?" she asked as she scratched the two Mor'grilam behind the ears.

Both creatures stared at her for a long moment, sending picture and feeling into her mind. "Ah," she said finally, "your dads are having a holiday in Hawaii. You can stay with me or Timmy, then."

They both cackle-purred again.

Koth added, "Cory and the rest should be there right now anyway. And Jace has been there a while along with Beau, Jacob and Jamie. Jace said he has an operation planned for later tonight - a Shadow-Play to get at an FCC cell we want to take out of play quickly. They're going to masquerade as UNIT members."

Teri nodded before moving and picking up Joel's sleeping form and holding him close. "Come on, boys," she said to the two Cheetahs. "Bed time for this one, and you two as well - you heard him when you were bathing with him; he wants to cuddle two teddy-cats tonight, and that's you!"

Both G-Cats blew her raspberries but did get up and pad quietly after her and Spock as the adults led them from the room.

Koth smiled. "I'll go get Juan - we'll be on guard duty tonight," he informed Kirk and Bones.

"Have fun," they responded as they made themselves comfortable.

Juan poked his face into Joel's room and smiled. His little elf was lying full out on top of Hermes' nude form, and he was sucking his thumb as was his normal routine. Hermes cracked open an eye and smiled at Juan, while Mercury's head appeared over the other two to smile over as well. "Night," Juan mouthed silently before easing the door closed softly. He grinned at Koth, "He's just so cute."

"I know," Koth agreed.

They remained standing there, seemingly silent, for the next few hours. They were, however, talking constantly with their telepathy as well as down their far more private and secure bond-link that Spock had enabled in them.

A movement from the stairs leading up from the ground floor made them both glance over. The two mor'grilam appeared, followed by Teri and Spock. Behind were I-Cheya, with the two Vulcan sea-snakes on his back, and Blackie. "Go to bed," Teri said as she reached Koth and Juan. "The house is secure, and we have guards outside. And I-Cheya insists," she added as Juan began to open his mouth.


Koth giggled.

Juan sighed and said, "In an hour. We're not tired yet. Is that okay, Aunt Teri?"

"In an hour. I will check," she smiled before walking to her bedroom.

Spock had stopped by his own door to watch this exchange with a small smile, but as he was about to enter, Teri called to him.

"Can we talk for a while?"

Spock turned and nodded. "Certainly," he said.

Teri opened her bedroom door and gestured. Spock moved and entered quickly, followed by Teri and the two Vulcan wolverines.

Koth exchanged a long look with Juan before both boys started to giggle.

An hour later and, just as promised, Teri opened the door to her room and stepped out, followed by Spock. Both Juan and Koth were still there, sitting on I-Cheya's back and petting the sea-snakes. They raised their heads and grinned knowingly at the two adults.

"Soooo," Juan sang out, "our Elf was right, huh?"

Spock raised an eyebrow curiously, then lowered it as understanding came. "We have not made love," he stated simply.

Teri added, "We are in the middle of a conversation, and we've only paused to tuck you two into bed."

"I tuck myself in good enough, thanks," Juan chuckled, then started laughing as Spock came over and picked him up and slung him under one arm and Koth under the other.

"We'll just make sure," Teri smiled as she and Spock entered the room set aside the night before for the two VSO/Unit guards of Joel.

Once the two youngsters had been properly subdued - read: hugged, kissed and cuddled into bed - Spock and Teri re-emerged from their room and firmly shut the door. "I shall change and rejoin you momentarily," Spock stated simply as he touched his finger tips to Teri's.

"Sounds like a good idea," Teri smiled, the barest hint of a blush visible on her cheeks. "Spice tea?"

"Please," came the emotionless answer as Spock moved to enter his own room.

As his door closed, Teri quietly giggled before moving as fast as was respectable back to her own room.

An hour or so later, and Koth was asleep. Juan, however, just lay there awake.

A tear rolled down his eye as his thoughts went back and fore through his mind.

He and Joel had been bonded that day, and that felt wonderful - but it wasn't the bond that Uncle Spock had first mentioned. Juan understood the reasons for that, of course, and nothing would make him place his Elf into danger. That wasn't the cause of his tears.

What was was that he had finally admitted to himself that he loved Joel as much as he loved Koth... but that Joel didn't love him the same way. Sure, Joel loved him, and sure, Joel and he made love sometimes, but... it wasn't what he had with Koth. Koth thought the world of him, and he of Koth. But Joel - there seemed a barrier there. Something...

Kevin. It had to be. And now Levi, maybe?

Juan turned on his side and let his tears fall thickly. He wasn't jealous of either. If he had to be honest with himself, he loved Kevin too - after a fashion. The boy had spunk, especially as Kevin knew very well that fighting him was a bad idea. Yet he had still done so and that had more than impressed him. No, he wasn't jealous of the bond between Joel and Kevin. Nor of the bond that was growing stronger between Joel and Levi.

He was just hurting that he couldn't be as married to Joel as he was to Koth. Joel just wanted Kevin and maybe Levi, eventually. Himself? Joel simply needed as a friend who was more than a friend. A brother that was closer than a brother. A lover, maybe. But not a husband. Juan just did not feel that same connection between himself and Joel as he could now easily sense between Joel and Kevin.

He was in Levi's place, he finally figured out. Outside, looking in on what he could not have, yet still able to get a taste of when Joel turned his eyes his way.

It hurt, unrequited love.

Juan moved suddenly yet without waking Koth. He got up and pulled on his clothes, weapons and armour. Then he started to pack. His brothers were all in Russia, now. Adam had spoken to him mind to mind early that morning - after discovering Levi and Joel together - and had told him of the problems there. He knew that Adam had ordered him to stay with Joel, but...

Joel was safe, here. He had guards everywhere, and his husband, Koth, as well to look after him.

Juan didn't need to stay, did he? No, his little Elf was quite safe without him here. He trusted Koth the most - Koth. His rock and support.

Juan glanced back at his sleeping husband, only to find a wide awake Klingon looking at him.

"Spill, Juan," Koth said softly. "Tell me what's going on."

So Juan did. Tearfully, his body shaking with his sobs, he blurted out everything. It was jumbled, but Koth was more than capable of piecing it together the right way.

"You ninny," Koth giggled as he moved to the edge of the bed and pulled Juan down next to him, "of course he loves you the same as you love him."

"But it doesn't feel like that. He feels... distant..." Juan blubbered into his husband's shoulder. Juan had no fears that Koth would think that he was betraying their bonding - he accepted that Koth loved Riti and Viccy just as much as he loved him, so he loving Joel was just as acceptable. But why couldn't Koth see what he was seeing?

"Juan, Joel and Kevin are two halves of the same heart," Koth whispered softly. "Just like Kenny and Kev are two halves of the same soul. I can't fully understand it, but Joel and Kevin are linked in ways beyond the norm. I'd wager that if Kevin died, Joel would too soon after - and vice versa. That's all you're feeling, the link between them. If you asked him, though, you'd get a nice answer - he loves you and that's it!"


"Hush, Qu'raki," Koth said simply. "Come on; sleep. We'll talk to Joel tomorrow... well, after his Pon Farr. I don't think he'd be overly understandable before the Fever leaves him, frankly."

Juan couldn't help but giggle a bit at that, then he smiled into Koth's face as the Klingon boy wiped his tears away. "I love you so much," he whispered to the alien boy he loved.

"Same," Koth grinned. "I love me too!"

And that was how the pillow fight started....

The next morning - about 6.30am:

Sean sat up and stretched, yawning widely as he opened his eyes to look around the wigwam he and Cory had shared that night. They had been late in Hawaii with the new division Joel and company had established, but Kyle had done them a favour and made sure they had enough 'time' for a restful sleep. Sean was deeply grateful for that, for sleep seemed a priceless commodity in the Clan these days. His perfect memory started to order those things that were planned for the day: Talk to Brant and Jason; get Brant and Matthew sorted; speak to Quint about his plans for Compound renovation and the renewal of CIC; school... 'Oh, yeah... school,' Sean thought happily. Of all the things that made him feel like a thirteen year old, the idea of having school that morning was doing it. Most kids hated school, but after the hell they had all been through recently, school would be a welcomed treat.

He turned and looked down at his still sleeping husband. Relaxing back and using his elbow to balance himself, he leaned down and kissed Cory's lips gently. Unlike with Sleeping Beauty, Cory did not jump into wakefulness. Sean didn't mind. He just watched him, more or less counting each and every breath. He was so lucky, so blessed, to have Cory.

"More," Cory said softly after another moment passed.

"So you did wake up," Sean smiled.

"Kiss. More. Now," Cory giggled as he cracked open an eye and looked up into Sean's face.

With a wide smile, Sean leaned back down and obeyed his hubby.

In the other wigwams, the Clan was stirring. Levi was already dressed in his Native American tunic and sitting cross-legged outside, staring across the lawns at Teri's house. Behind him, the tent opened and Kyle came out. "He'll be okay, baby-boy," Kyle whispered as he cuddled around his eldest son's back. "Aunt Teri and Uncle Spock are with him."

Levi sighed before turning around and tickling his dad before hugging him.

"You're getting as silly as Joel," Kyle giggled as he kissed Levi's cheek.

Levi shrugged and grinned.

Timmy came running passed at that moment and pounced into his parent's wigwam with an ear splitting "COWABUNGA!"

"Normal day, huh?" Tyler grinned as he poked his head out of the flap of the tent.

"Yeah, I think so," Kyle smiled back. "Fina..."

He never got to finish his sentence, for the comms of all those who had them beeped and a harried voice came over and echoed around the field. "Allen to anyone in the Compound. We have... a problem. Is Joel there?"

Cory, with Timmy on his back, jumped out of his wigwam in nothing but his boxers. He placed his hand to his ear and answered, "Cory here, Uncle Allen. No. He's with Mom and Dad. What's up?"

Shouting and yelling came from all the comms in answer before Jake's voice could be heard instead of Allen's, "We've all been woken up by a horny Kev trying to 'play' with Kenny! Kenny's having some... issues... and Xain is trying to calm Kev down... Jesus, Cory... is it going to be like this when Xain goes into Pon Farr?!"

Cory shook his head as he tried to stop laughing, "Hopefully! Then we get to tease you, too!"

"Ha ha," Jake sent back.

"Wait a moment," Cory said seriously, "I think I see... oh... shit! SEAN!"

Cory had been looking in the direction of his mother's house as he had been talking to Jake, so when one of the doors burst open and a naked Joel started running blindly out and in their general direction, Cory was immediately in full agreement with Jake's reservations: having Xain go through this might NOT be as fun as he thought.

Sean ran out to join him, and together they watched as Joel, followed by a boxer clad Koth, a naked Juan, two cheetahs, two Vulcan wolverines and two - thankfully - sleepwear clad adults, came running towards them.

Sean exchanged a long look with Cory, then they both turned back to Joel - who was on them ten seconds later.

Cory's boxers were literally ripped from his body, tearing them to pieces in the process, then he and Sean were flung with force back into their wigwam. Timmy, midway through the assault by the mindless seeming Joel, launched himself from his dad's back and to the ground before he got hurt. He was giggling insanely, however, for this was tremendous fun!

"Draco! Beam Kevin here NOW!" Sean called out in panic from within the wigwam as he and Cory attempted to hold off the hormone strength enhanced Joel.

A transporter beam started to take form  in the space outside of the wigwam, while all the Clan gathered around. It was a large beam, for due to the proximity of Kevin to his brothers and Pop, they had all been snatched at once. 'Should have used the teleporter,'Daileass giggled.

'Sean said transport, so transport it is,' Draco said with dignity. 'Anyway, this will be more fun!' he added as Koth, Juan, Spock and Teri skidded to a halt by the now materialised Thompsons.

Kevin stopped his attempts at getting into either Kenny's, Xain's or Jake's pants (boxers, or in Jake's case, nothing at all) and turned his face towards Cory and Sean's wigwam. The flap of said wigwam opened and a blind Vulcan face popped out, seeming to fix itself in Kevin's direction.

Then there was a blur of motion as both boys hammered into each other. As they made contact, what can only be described as a burst of empathic energy rippled from them and slammed into everyone's senses. Then they started to make love. Furiously.

Timmy's eyebrows disappeared into his hairline as his body responded to the hormone driven empathic burst. As did the eyebrows of the Clan that had gathered to watch the show, for all had been effected. "Ermm...." Timmy giggled as he tilted his head to one side, paying close attention to his uncles on the floor.

Levi giggled and dove on top of both boys and the three of them vanished.

Cory reappeared, his face flushed, "Wow... empathic Pon Farr? Is that new or something, Dad?"

Spock did not answer.

Xain growled.

Jake growled.

Quint laughed, "Oh shit! Kev and Joel's little explosion has triggered XAIN!"

Kyle rolled his eyes as he saw Xain go from a normal Vulcan twelve year old into full blown Stage Two Pon Farr insanity - and Jake was dragged, due to the bond-link, along with him. Kyle walked up just as Xain grabbed for Jake and the three of them vanished.

Cory scratched his head and turned to ask his Mom or Dad something, but they had both disappeared as well. "Dad?" he called, looking for Spock. "Mom?"

"Cory?" Quint smiled as he flashed back in - obviously he'd gone somewhere briefly. "I think a breakfast is needed about now... then cold showers for ALL of you! You've ALL got boners!"

Cory looked down, blushed, then giggled.

Kyle reappeared. "They didn't even wait for me to leave before getting down to it!" he exclaimed as he blushed.

"Did they lube up?" Juan asked, his face flushed with arousal as he fought to control his impulses at the burst from Joel and Kevin. "They could hurt themselves."

Kyle swore loudly, vanished and reappeared three seconds later blushing so much he was glowing. "Had to stop time and do it myself," he mumbled shyly.

"Good one," Cory said with understanding. "They'll thank you later. Where's Levi?"

Levi was still missing.

Tyler started blushing. Badly.

"What's wrong with you?" JJ giggled as he poked the boy in the ribs. "This ain't the first time we've seen your boner, bro!"

"I just scanned for my son," Tyler managed through his blush. "He's 'having fun' right along with Kevin and Joel... and he's the middle of the sandwich... I hope Kev won't mind when this is over!"

"Oh..." Sean stated, then started laughing insanely. "Oh, God... right! FOOD! Now! No more PON FARR, okay??!" he chortled as he turned to search for something to wear. He stopped and looked down at his two newest little brothers, Solkar and Seltor Joseph. "How come you two aren't...?"

"Effected?" Solkar completed for his big brother, while little Joseph was looking down the front of his tunic at his stiffy in astonishment. "Neither Seltor or I have began puberty, and the triggers for Pon Farr are not active in us. We are 'aroused' as is the rest of the Clan here, but the Blood Fever cannot be activated in us."

"Good," Sean smiled. He glanced over at Kyle. "Where are they? Just so we know where to check if they don't reappear for a day?" he asked with a giggle.

"Joel, Kev and my son are in the apartment room Joel and Kev used for their wedding night," Kyle grinned as he managed to control his pink glow. "I put Jake and Xain in the room next to them. If it's going to be noisy, then keep it in one place!"

Juan sighed heavily.

Cory looked over at him just as Koth put his arm around his husband's waist. "What's the matte... oh, I know. Juan?"

The boy looked up at him and blinked.

"Joel is not quite himself right now," Cory stated simply. "If you were with him you'd not be making love, but just rutting. It's animal. It's the worst thing to a logical thinking Vulcan, for it's all primal and emotive and lost. There's no tenderness, just wild lust with passion buried underneath carrying it. You'd like it in some ways, but I know you better than you think, bro - you've never just 'had sex' with my little bro, have you?"

Juan shook his head violently.

"This would be just that. Kev won't mind it, simply as he's in the same state due to the bond-link they have. Levi obviously chose to stay with them, probably to stop them from hurting each other badly as well as help in other ways, but you - I can tell that your heart would be hurt a little if you were with Joel in the state he's in right now... am I right? Honestly?" Cory asked gently.

Juan fought with himself for a moment before grudgingly nodding his head. "I'd really help if he'd have asked, though," he said quietly.

"So would I," Cory smiled as he moved to hug Juan. "I was about to be molested just then, as you know. But I wasn't fighting it too much - nor was Sean, who Joel was after too. We'd already told him we'd help if it came to it. But if I was going to make love with Elf, I'd never chose to do so that way. It's too violent for me. Not that I'm planning on it!" he added loudly to the others who were beginning to giggle around him.

"Riiight," JJ teased. "What's it worth to not tell Joel what you just said when he comes back, bro?"

"Your life?" Sean growled playfully as he, Juan and Cory pounced on the laughing JJ and Adam and began tickling them.

"Hey! Why me?" Adam squealed as he tried to escape.

Cory retorted as he attacked his brother's bare feet, "Because you don't control your lover properly!"

About midday:

A large tent had been set up near to where CIC had once been.

Quint had been busy that morning with Cory, going over the plans for the Compound, and the first thing to up and vanish were the remains of the once beautiful CIC. Mr T had not let Cory go without any form of 'schooling' while he talked with Quint, however; he was also tasked with researching building methods of the ancient Egyptians while doing so.

As Helen called out that lunch was ready, Cory and Quint moved to join Sean and the others to walk into the tent. As a dutiful Patriarch - and because he knew there was a lot of food to go around - Cory stayed outside until the end to make sure everyone was accounted for. As he and Sean took one last moment to scan the area for any latecomers, they saw the door to the Indoor Pool and Apartments swing open and three little boys bounce out: Levi, Joel and Kevin. Cory grinned to himself, and Sean started to chuckle. Kevin saw them and waved, but as the three started to walk, Levi stopped and turned. The door behind them opened again and Xain and Jake joined them.

Cory had to laugh. Only Levi had anything by way of clothing on, and that a very ripped up Native American tunic, which did nothing to hide his modesty. Other than that, they were all naked as the day they were born and sunning themselves as they started to walk over to the tent.

Laughing, Cory and Sean backed into the tent and just waited for the five to reach them. Without turning from the amusing sight, Cory called, "Quint! Can you make some clothes for our post-Pon Farr suffering brothers, please?"

"Sure thing... oh, that's funny!" Quint giggled as he poked his head around Cory's torso.

At about half way between the apartments and the Tent, Joel, Levi and Kevin started to sing, and Levi created a globe of energy that added the music for them...


"Take it easy with me, please
Touch me gently like a summer evening breeze
Take your time, make it slow
Andante, Andante
Just let the feeling grow



"Make your fingers soft and light
Let your body be the velvet of the night
Touch my soul, you know how
Andante, Andante
Go slowly with me now..."


More and more of the Clan started to look over through the wide doorway of the tent to see the singers, and all had grins on their faces. At the chorus, Jake and Xain took up the backing vocals:


"I'm your music
(I am your music and I am your song)
I'm your song!
(I am your music and I am your song)
Play me time and time again and make me strong
(Play me again 'cause you're making me strong)
Make me sing, make me sound
(You make me sing and you make me...)
Andante, Andante
Tread lightly on my ground
Andante, Andante
Oh please don't let me down."


The boys all stopped midway to the tent and danced slowly together - Xain with Jake, and the other three with hands linked. Levi leaned over and kissed Kevin quickly before taking the next verse alone - then after, for the chorus refrain, he was joined by the others:


"There's a shimmer in your eyes
Like the feeling of a thousand butterflies
Please don't talk, go on, play
Andante, Andante
And let me float away



"I'm your music
(I am your music and I am your song)
I'm your song
(I am your music and I am your song)
Play me time and time again and make me strong
(Play me again 'cause you're making me strong)
Make me sing, make me sound
(You make me sing and you make me...)
Andante, Andante
Tread lightly on my ground
Andante, Andante
Oh please don't let me down


Before repeating the final chorus, the boys all linked hands and started for the tent and the now swaying Clan - all of the kids with partners were dancing slowly as well. Cory even went so far as to bend Sean over backwards to kiss him tenderly...


"Make me sing, make me sound
(You make me sing and you make me...)
Andante, Andante
Tread lightly on my ground
Andante, Andante
Oh please don't let me down
Andante, Andante
Oh please don't let me down..."



("Andante, Andante" by ABBA)


"That's so cute it's sick!" Juan muttered under his breath.

"Shut up and kiss me again!" Koth grinned.

The five singers reached the door to the large tent as the final line was sung by a faintly flushed-faced Joel, who was standing between a glowing Levi and a relaxed, happy yet slightly embarrassed Kevin. Behind them moved Jake - blushing to the roots of his hair - and Xain - as poker faced as ever.

It was then that Cory noticed that they were all limping and walking like John Wayne. Except Levi; he was just beaming and glowing pink. Not with embarrassment, but rather due to all the feelings inside of him that were bubbling over for all the world to see.

"Sean, I think it's time for Uncle Chip to give them 'the talk'!" Cory giggled.

"We know not of what you speak," Kevin dead-panned.

Joel grinned before pinching his hubby's butt, causing Kevin to yelp and hop away quickly.

Levi rolled his eyes, "I offered to heal them, Uncle Cory, but they said to just repair their split lips, bruises, broken ribs and bite marks..."

"Bite marks?!" Sean exclaimed. "Who had them?"

Xain raised his hand before looking seriously at Jake - who blushed and tried to look contrite.

"I TOLD you introducing him to Brant was a bad idea!" Sean dead-panned.

"I just nibbled..." Jake defended himself.

Xain just continued to look at his t'hy'la. Unblinkingly.

"What?!" Jake protested. "It's all your fault, Xain! You went into Pon Farr!"

"I was triggered," Xain said simply, turning his eyes to look down at his smaller cousin.

"Bad me!" Joel giggled, his mind still awash with the end results of the Fever. "So bad... naughty naughty! Where's Kevvy? I'm hungry!"

Cory shook his head. Joel was obviously not his normal self, right now, but it was funny. "He's hopping over to the food."

"Hey!" Joel protested as he took off blindly in his husband's direction. "No eating without me, T'hy'la!"

"It's amazing how he can run and not bump into people," Sean whispered. "I know it's that Vulcan thing Dad taught him, but still."

Levi simply laughed before waltzing off in the direction of his giggling parents, a smug grin plastered on his face. The type of grin that simply screamed 'I got some woopie with two hawt boys that I love a whole heep!'.

"Our little perv," Kyle giggled as he pulled his son into his arms.

"Me?" Levi giggled. "I wasn't the one perving on his son as Kevvy was on top of me and me on top of Joe!" he retorted mischievously as he looked at his suddenly blushing Pop.

Tyler just coughed and continued to hug him with Kyle.

Deciding that it was better to not get involved, Cory moved over to the food tables and started loading up his plate. He watched as Kevin helped Joel to do the same with three plates in front of him. Cory shook his head, his happy grin never leaving his face - Joel was happy, and that was all that mattered.

He watched as Juan walked over to loop an arm around the Lil'elf's shoulders. "Hey, how're you feeling?" Juan asked softly.

"Great!" Joel answered as he piled yet more chicken-wings onto the plate Kevin was holding. Mid-motion he stopped and turned to face Juan, "What's wrong?"

Cory looked closely at the Klingon boy and felt what Joel had – hurt and sadness.

Juan mumbled something unintelligible before kissing Joel's cheek and walking away to find Koth.

Cory followed his progress as Joel half turned to call him back, but then noticed something. As Kevin whispered to Joel that they'd better eat before finding out what was wrong with Juan, Cory called out "Has anyone seen Mom since this morning?"

Sean, waiting at the table for Cory to bring the food, called back, "Nope. Nor Dad. It's odd, but... oh... um, Cor?"


"Xain got triggered, didn't he?"

"Oh... shit... that's where Dad is!" Cory said, his face paling.

Joel turned in his direction, a chicken wing now held in his teeth – the plate was now unstably full of them, after all.

Cory looked down at his little brother, "Uncle Jim must be helping him, Lil'elf. Don't worry."

Joel quickly stripped the meat off of the chicken wing before stating firmly, "I'll go check." He turned and called I-Cheya over and quickly climbed onto his friend's back. "Come on, Bo-bo! To Mammy's house!"


To be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Talk about public displays of affection; these guys certainly know how to do that.

I wouldn't be one bit surprised if Mammy and Dad have been playing a few games together.

I did actually wonder when they would finally realize that they really love each other.

I'm also pretty sure that Spock and Jim love each other, but I don't know if they realize it, or ever will.

Juan really does need to have a heart to heart talk with Joel, once things settle down, if they ever do, and let Joel know how he feels.

There is a lot more story to tell, of course, but I guess we will just have to wait to find out what has happened. I can hardly wait.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher