Well, I finished my inspection tour of the fleet. I just hope I didn't make Cory look bad for giving me the job of fleet commander. I was never that good at science or computers in school. I still feel a little out of place doing this, but Cory said I was the right guy for the job and I will do everything I can to never let him down.
Some of the ships' crewmembers found the bumper stickers on the Caledonia pretty funny, just like we did. My favorite is definitely the one that advertises 'Gus' Galaxy Grill at Space Stop 5 - Try the special, it's to die for.' The crew of the D'Kyr was a little worried about me and my team when we laughed pretty hard over that one. This of course led to us sponsoring a movie night for the whole crew so we could all watch Spaceballs. Well, everyone that wanted to at least; I think only a few people passed on it, and two of those were because they had just seen the movie recently themselves. Jessie's favorite bumper sticker is the one that says 'My other car is a Corvette.' Huey was falling over at the one that reads, 'What do we want? Time travel. When do we want it? Irrelevant.' It was Layton that pointed out to me the one that brags "My sister's girlfriend can beat up my brother." I took a picture of that one to send to Davey and Danielle. To almost everyone's surprise, even Stepn said he had a favorite bumper sticker. His choice was an even bigger shocker. It reads "Don't get even, get odd."
It was kind of cool getting to see all the ships, I gotta admit. Not that I have a favorite, of course, but the D'Kyr was so awesome. All of the ships have really great crews and are in perfect shape for whatever we need them to do for the Clan and for kids everywhere. I couldn't be prouder or more excited to be a part of all of this along with Cory and Sean and all the other directors.
We did get one surprise of sorts on the Lafayette. Healer Stepn came across one of his former teachers from the Vulcan academy; his favorite teacher in fact. Mister Strark was part of the new staff that had joined the Lafayette for the Battle of Earth. It was kind of cute seeing Stepn all nervous and bashful around Strark. Well, he was nervous and bashful for a Vulcan that is. Strark didn't look old enough to be a college professor to me, but yeah… Vulcans. Anyway, it seems the guy remembered Stepn, too, and must have kind of liked him a bit. When we left the ship, he agreed to come back to Earth with us and visit with Stepn as he was due some vacation time.
As we expected, having seen ourselves coming back home as we were leaving, someone showed up to "help" us get home quicker, but it wasn't Zipper. He said we would get to know him later. I spent a week on each ship, but we were back home in time to see the Popsicle Patrol off for their adventure in Arkansas. I personally hope I never see that state again, but then I'm a little biased on that after how my family was treated there.
Oh, it seems there is some commotion at the Compound Gates that I have to go check on.
Dixon heard raised voices as he got close to the entrance gate of the compound. "We told you not to do it. Three of us with way more sense, way more experience, and way more intelligence all told you not to do it. Did you listen to us? NO!" He recognized Kyle as the one umm… speaking, and Tyler as well, and he saw that they were both very upset, so he performed a strategic retreat to his office in the Command Center, knowing that he would know what he needed to know when he needed to know it. Hopefully, that would include finding out who the man was that Kyle was umm… discussing things with, but if one thing was sure, he knew he could trust both Mikyvis to protect his family and his compound.
"How are you here and still a little kid?" Casey blurted.
"That's what you focus on here?" Tyler growled with his arms folded across his chest and one foot tapping the ground. He looked like an exasperated, frustrated parent lecturing a naughty toddler, except for two things; one, each time his foot touched the dirt, little tiny bolts of lightning sizzled around his toes, and two, he barely came up to Casey's chest. Casey nevertheless felt sufficiently and totally cowed before the boy. "You'd better be glad that you thought parent instead of mother, too, mister, or I would be a whole lot madder at you right now."
"Casey, you've seen us in action, and you're not old enough to be going senile even if your race could, so start using the brain I know is in there somewhere. Do you really not have any idea how much trouble you caused? How much damage you did? How much pain you have caused to people you never even met?" Kyle snapped at him. "Do you have any idea how many entire races of high beings would like to just squash you like a bug right now? We got the chore of dealing with you because Galli and Quint both admitted they weren't sure that they wouldn't destroy you on sight."
"I wanted Mitch and Jason to not hurt," Casey brokenly whispered. "Do you know how much it hurt me to feel my mate disappear from existence when we were fourteen? In that moment, when I suddenly couldn't feel him anymore, I knew that moment that I had caused it. I was so ashamed of myself, of my family, that I couldn't look at him. I knew I would never be worthy of him because of what my father had done to him. I knew he could never forgive me for that. I did what I did so he would be safe and when we met he would be able to look me in the eye and not see the man who had hurt him so horribly but what I did caused his death, and it nearly killed me. And… and Mitch… my own child. It wasn't just my father that had hurt him. I remember how he had treated me at first. He hated me for how horrible I had been to him. I couldn't risk hurting that sweet, wonderful, funny, talented, intelligent angel of a kid again, but I would never allow anyone else to hurt him either. I made sure I went to the sperm bank to be sure that he would still be born, but he never was and that's left a hole inside me that eats at me every moment of every day and night. The only thing that made that bearable was the idea that if he wasn't here, he wasn't hurting."
"No, he wasn't here, but he was in the Time Tower," Tyler informed Casey, who gasped and started weeping even more. "You didn't want him hurt, but how much do you think it hurt him to know that just when he thought you two were getting along and having the relationship you should have had all along, you tried to wipe him out of existence, by preventing him from ever being born?" Tyler demanded. "Think about how he saw that; how it made him feel. You proved to him that he had been right; that you hated him so much that you wished he'd never been born by making that actually happen."
"That's not true and it's not fair," Casey snapped. "I didn't hate him; I could never hate him. I loved him more than I ever thought it was possible to love someone. I had made up my mind that the only good part of being gay was that I would never have to deal with having a kid, and then I met him. I loved him enough to never want him hurt by anyone, including me. You can't understand how that felt."
"Are you really so self-centered that you think you're the only parent to have ever had those thoughts and feelings? None of the parents in the Clan thought they were ready to have kids when they got them, no matter what age they were when they got them. It's part of what makes them all good parents, the fear of hurting your child makes you focus more on not hurting them, or at least it should," Kyle lectured. "You were only thinking of yourself and your pain though. You have no idea how lucky you are that I can see that you aren't really as shallow as you have behaved. If you were, I would be wiping you from existence right now instead of taking you to Archnania to give you remedial lessons in basic sense."
"You're not going to destroy me?" Casey squeaked, and then squeaked again as he suddenly realized that he was suddenly 13 years old again. The next moment he was not in South Carolina anymore. He wasn't even on earth anymore. His time wizard powers told him he was on Archnania.
"Wow that was intense," Alex mumbled from the door of the guard house at the gate of the division compound. "I think my fur has static electricity," he complained.
"What did you think would happen when those three met up again?" Georges said in perfect Federation standard before turning to walk away.
"Wait a second, you could at least tell me who they were and what it was about," his older brother whined.
"Can't talksh now, hunting moushesh. Gonna need stash when baby dragonsh is hatched ("I can't talk now, I am hunting mouses.  I am going to need a stash when the baby dragons are hatched")," Georges replied in his normal speech pattern.
"How does he always know stuff that he has no way of knowing?" Alex wondered aloud. "WAIT! Did he say baby dragons are going to be hatched?!? HERE?!? One of these days worrying about my little brother is going to make me start talking to myself," he grumbled as he went back into the guard shack to call for someone to come move Casey's car out of the way of the HQ entrance gates.
Walking into the Command Center, Dixon was met with another scene of massive emotion, but this one was very different from the one he had just ran away… err… strategically avoided. Zipper and the Popsicle Patrol had returned from Arkansas in the past with a teenager who was looking around himself with wide eyes. As soon as they saw him, Emile and Etienne ran forward and hugged him tightly crying profusely. "We so sorry Mama Dixie," Emmy gasped between sobs. "We don't want to left them guys lone, but Zippy, he say it a fix point and we got no choice."
"It not fair we had de chance to took them out, but we can't did dat and we gots to let them growed up and hurt you and Papa ("It's not fair that we had the chance to take them out, but we couldn't do that, because we had to let them grow up and hurt you and Papa")," Enny whined, as he too soaked Dixon's chest with tears.
"Shhhh, it's all right, my Popsicles," he soothed. "I know you wanted to protect me and your Papa, but somethings just have to happen. Someone very special to us in the Clan always says that sometimes bad things have to happen so that good things can happen later on. If we hadn't been hurt by those men, I wouldn't have you two in my life now. I would take all that hurt and a whole lot more just so I could know that I got my little Popsicles to love and cuddle forever, or at least until you get old enough to tell me to quit."
"We never get that old, even if we live long as Mamee and Tante René," Enny vowed as he snuggled up to Dixon and buried his little face under the left side Dixon's chin, as Emmy had already claimed the same spot on the other side. As Dixon cuddled his boys, he vowed if he ever got the chance, he would have words with whoever made his precious boys cry like this.
"You'll get your chance to yell at Grandpa, Oncle Dixie, but I gotta take Oncle Jase to Archnania so he has a few weeks to finish feeling better before Kyle and Tyler get there with Grandpa three minutes ago," Zipper announced cheerfully as he and the strange teenager disappeared, leaving three other boys and a dragon.
"Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but that is an actual dragon isn't it?" Dixon asked just before he was pounced and licked all over by said animal.
"Hi, I'm Maxie," the youngest of the three boys announced. "These are my big brothers, Mitchie and Martie. Oh, and you're getting squished and washed by Candy. He's a real live dragon and he's going to live here with us if it's ok with somebody named Frankenweenie."
"That would be me and welcome to the family, I guess," Dixon sputtered as Candy kept licking him and the Popsicle Twins.
"OOOO, Candy got to been met de gators," Emmy shouted.
"I had really thought that BossBaby was kidding about the gators," Mitch mumbled. "I told you not to call me Mitchie, makes me sound like a rash," he complained to his little brother, as he walked over to join Dixon as the younger crowd led the Great Dane sized dragon outdoors. "So since my nephew is going to be busy retraining my Dad on how to use his powers responsibly, because he didn't listen to me the first time, and Zipper is now the leader of our family and race, I get to hang out with you guys and be the divisional Time Wizard slash super hero while they're both gone," Mitch announced as he stood and saluted Casey military style and then posed like the old time black and white photos of Superman. "Reporting for duty, Fearless Leader."
"Fearless Leader? Where did you get that crazy idea?" Davey snorted and giggled from his duty station in the command center. He then waved off the glare from Dixon dismissively. "The only person that I'm scared of around here is Vampira, the sister-in-law, bro. Don't waste your parental glare on me."
"May I remind you, brother dear, who gives her permission to go after you?" Dixon said quietly.
"Aww, but you're supposed to be the nice brother," Davey pouted.
"HEY!" Danny called out from his workstation. "I'm nice to you, you little ingrate. Who let you hide at my house in my clothes last week so no one would know you were the one that….."
"Oh, but Danny, buddy, pal, friend," Davey cut him off quickly. "If he's the nice brother, you're the best brother," he gushed. "Let's go visit Auntie René and see if I can talk our way into some pralines and divinity before dinner."
"That reminds me, Mamee says I'm up for guard duty keeping Uncle Ossie and Auntie René separated, and you get to keep me and Princess apart until after the weddings tomorrow," Danny mused aloud. "I guess a few treats wouldn't hurt. It will keep Auntie René distracted and Princess isn't around to get sick from them."
"She still having trouble eating sweets?" Dixon asked his straight brother.
"Can't even be in the room when I am eating them," Danny said sadly. "It's so not fair that she can't have any good treats right now."
"How is she going to eat cake at the wedding reception tomorrow?" Davey asked sounding truly concerned for a change. No one said anything because everyone knew Davey was a lot more of a softie than he acted most of the time.
"Mamee and Grandmama made a special cake for her that Healer Stepn suggested; it doesn't have anything sweet in it and should be safe for her to eat," Danny explained as he and Davey left the command center headed for some Cajun cuddles and goodies from Auntie René.
"Aren't you the one that helped us get home so fast after the fleet inspection?" Dixon asked.
"Putting me to work already," Mitch smiled. "I can already tell I'm going to like it around here. Oh yeah, let me go get you home right quick." He blinked out of the room and then blinked back giggling. "I never heard of a spaceship with bumper stickers before. I'm glad your dude likes the one I put on there about time travel, though."
"Casey? It's really you again?" Casey turned to see Jason standing next to a tiny little blond hair boy in wizard robes.
"Jason? How can you..? What are you..? Wow, you look good," the Time Wizard stammered.
"Oh no you didn't just flirt with me after what you put me through," Jason snarled. "You did your fancy hocus pocus on my whole family and nobody even remembered Uncle Clyde or your father except me. They all thought I was crazy. Then I tried to find you and I got caught by people that were even worse to me than Clyde and your dad. Is that what you wanted for me? Is that how you show me that I'm supposed to be your true love? Well let me tell you a thing or two mister fancy dress…. And don't you dare tell me it's a robe right now. I am so not in the mood for that right now, you.... you….. I can't even think of a word to call you I'm so mad at you right now."
"You'll have all the time you want to yell at him now that we have him here, Jase," Tyler smirked evilly. "When Kyle and I aren't yelling at him, you can take a turn."
"That sounds good to me," Jason fumed with his arms crossed and stomping his foot just like Tyler.
Casey at this point was on his knees in front of them all crying. He bravely looked up at Jason and mumbled something through his sobs. When he was asked to repeat it, he blushed and squirmed, but did so a little louder this time. "Can I smell your hair?"
"What?" Tyler demanded.
"You want to… smell me? In public?" Jason squeaked and blushed.
"I just… I thought you had died when we were fourteen, and I never got to see you again after meeting you in Emifornec and all I could remember was the smell of your hair from that one time you hugged me and it was the most wonderful thing I ever smelled in my whole life. I just want to smell your hair one more time, so I know you're not really dead and I'm not just dreaming this and I'm so sorry and you don't have to forgive me cause I know I was the stupidest dumbest most…."
"Casey, shut up and hug me, and yes smell my hair," Jason blurted cutting him off. Once they had embraced for a couple of minutes, they realized that Kyle and Tyler had disappeared, but the little blond kid was still there beside them with a big grin on his face.
"I'm really glad you not lonesome no more, Granddad," Zipper told Casey. "I have to be your teacher later, but right now I think you two need some private time, so Kyle asked me to show you where you guys are going to stay while you're here. I promise not to interrupt you when you want to cuddle just with Unca Jasey, but maybe I can have some Granddad cuddles sometimes too?"
"Granddad?" Casey asked blankly. "Wait. It worked after all? Mitch did get born? I never felt him show up though. I don't understand."
"Oh Uncle Mitch is here and he's going to yell at you some, too, but no I'm your grandson from your daughter," Zipper explained.
"You're telling me that Kim had a…. Well of course she had a girl. She would, the…."
"Watch what you say about my sister, mister," Jason warned.
"Awww, that's sweet of you little bro," Kim said as she walked up to them.
"I was just going to call her ugly names," Casey pouted. "You don't know what it was like putting up with her on that trip to rescue you."
"She's still my sister," Jason responded. "You can call her names, but only I get to call her ugly names."
"Remind me why I was so happy to see you again, you brat," Kim growled, but she was hugging Jason as she said it. "Oh Grandson of mine, can you zap me younger for just a bit?"
"Why you want to be a kid again, Gigi?" Zipper asked innocently.
"I don't want to break any of the Clan's rules about child abuse when I kick Casey's butt from here to those mountains and back again," she snarled as she glared at Casey.
"Please don't do… thaaaaaaaaat," Casey started to beg and then scream as he ran from a fifteen-year-old female barbarian once again.
The double wedding ceremony was beautiful. Both couples had been honored that the Patriarch had offered to have the ceremony at the Clan Get-Together in Orlando as part of the recovery from all that had happened recently. They hadn't any of them really wanted to deal with any of the local politicians that would have tried to make their special day an opportunity to campaign for their preferred offices or strike up support for their less than productive laws. Quite a few people in the Intel Field Services Division compound, adult and kid alike, had talked with either Dixon or Stepn about the guilt they felt over feeling relieved that some fairly nasty and crooked politicians had lost their lives in the attacks on the planet. While no one was actually glad for the attacks or the deaths, it did give a sorely needed chance to end some corruption at multiple levels of government.
Both couples had asked that Dixon perform their ceremony, with Davey as Danny's Best Man with Danielle as Priscilla's Maid of Honor, and Mamee and PopPop filling those roles for Auntie René and Uncle Ossie. Dixon had to get a little dig in when he saw the chance though. As he declared them husbands and wives, he looked at Priscilla and said, "This time you get to kiss the me that wants to kiss you back." Priscilla flipped him off but she did it so that the only other person besides Dixon that could see her do it was Danny. "Oh no… that's his job too," Dixon replied.
"You are so gross Dixon Wiggins," Priscilla grumped after her kiss ended.
"Blood family, Clan family, friends, and loved ones, I present to you Osgood and René Brouillard Fielding, and Daniel and Priscilla Wiggins. Thank you for sharing this wonderful moment with them and with our division family. Now let's eat some of the fantastic food we've got, and have a great time."
A little while into the wedding reception and party, Stepn started acting very un-Vulcan. He was dancing… with a gigantic piece of the Red Velvet Cake that was being served as the wedding cake for Auntie René and Uncle Ossie. He had taken his shirt off as well. He held the little plate of cake right in front of his chest and then giggled. Yes, actually giggled. "Lookie Christmas is early, red and green!" he called out and began to smear the red cake over his chest.
"Stepn, have you eaten any of that cake?" Doug asked as he stepped up to him and started scanning him with a tricorder.
"We sorry," Emmy called out. "We just want Oncle Stepn to knowed how good the cake is."
"Couldn't disappoint the children," Stepn slurred. "Was just going to eat a bite, but it's so good. It's really warm tonight, though isn't it?"
"OH, oh my," Doug blurted with a blush and looked around quickly to catch Dixon's attention. "Commander, I am beaming myself and Stepn to my medbay immediately. Do NOT let anyone enter the medbay."
"Healer Whatley, I respectfully must insist that I be taken to the medbay with Stepn," Strark announced quietly as he wrapped an arm around the oddly out-of-character Vulcan mind healer.
"Mister Strark, I don't believe I need to explain to you the nature of the situation," Doug said in a forced whisper.
"Healer Whatley, I do not believe I need to remind you that other than Stepn, I am the only Vulcan in attendance who is also unattached, as the humans would say."
"Thibbie, two to beam directly to the medbay. Shut off all contact of any kind with the room once they are in it. Mister Strark will contact us when the uhh… situation has been umm… resolved. This is Starfleet Security Code 34. No one in or out until they come out themselves."
"Professor Strark? What are you doing here? Is this one of my human dreams again? Oh, I don't have a shirt, it must be one of my dreams," Stepn smiled up at the taller Vulcan. "Will you take me somewhere private now?"
"THIBBIE NOW!" Dixon yelled as he ran over to put a hand over each of his Popsicle twins' eyes.
"Oncle Stepn no worsed den you, Mama Dixie ("Uncle Stepn is no worse than you, Mama Dixie")," Emile pointed out loudly enough for several people nearby to hear.
"Dey gonna made dem noise now like you and Papa? ("Are they going to make the noises now like you and Papa?")" Etienne asked just as unshyly.
"And that is what you get for making a joke during my wedding ceremony," Priscilla laughed at Dixon's red face.