Memories Part 1: The Gathering

Chapter 24

Alec Saiz took one last look around their old bedroom. He had just spent all morning moving his little brother's things to their hidden fort in the woods, and was almost done adding his things to the pile. This would be the last trip; so far his luck had held and the school hadn't told his father that he didn't show up today.

Tears rolled down his face as he looked at the room, stripped of all indications that two boys had grown up there. 'I promised Trav no matter what happened that I'd back him up, please God let this be the right thing I'm about to do for him.' Alec thought as he locked and closed the bedroom door.

Nobody noticed the thin fourteen year old as he pulled the wagon full of trash bags into the woods for the final trip. He still had not hit his growth spurt, so with his height of five feet he could pass for twelve if he wanted to. In fact, he usually passed for a twin of his twelve year old brother Travis. The only physical difference between them was the color of their eyes, Alec's were dark brown, while Trav's were grey. Both showed their mother's Mexican heritage in their hair, skin and facial features. Alec wondered if things would have went different last night if his mother had survived when Trav was born.

As he reached a safe spot in the woods, Alec reflected on the events of the previous evening.


Their father had always held a grudge against Travis. In his mind, Travis was the cause of his wife's death, so he took it out on the boy. Due to this, Alec had spent all of Travis's life protecting his little brother. Last night was the first time that even he was unable to help, as Travis got caught at his boyfriend's house kissing. The other boy's parents called Mr. Saiz during dinner, telling him they were okay with the boys being a couple, but they wanted him to make sure Travis knew what the limits were. Unfortunately for Trav, their father had no intentions of that. Finding out that his youngest son was gay finally gave him the reason he was looking for, and fifteen minutes later Travis found himself thrown out of the house with nowhere to go. When Alec tried to follow him, their father threw him back onto the couch and told him to go to his room; nobody in the family was to have any contact with Travis from this point on.

Travis had told Alec a year ago that he was gay. Alec had hugged Travis and responded that he was straight, but that he loved Travis and would always be there for him. Shortly after that, they used some of their hidden 'emergency' cash to get two pre-paid cell phones. They were kept hidden and charged just in case anything happened; anytime either of them left the house a phone was with them just in case. The other thing they made sure of was that their fort was set up to spend a couple nights in no matter what the weather; they had even found a portable heater at a garage sale and set it up there.

Once their father had fell asleep, Alec tried the cell and was relieved when Travis answered on the first ring:

"I'm scared, bro!"

Alec winced. Trav sounded like he was about to lose it. "I know, bro. Plan 'B' starts tomorrow, after that I might have an idea. Settle down and try to sleep. Did you call Gabe and fill him in?"

Travis calmed a little hearing Alec's voice. "Yeah. I talked to his dad, too. He said that if we are still out this weekend to come over, but he can't afford to have us live there. He also said to tell you that you are more of a man than Dad, and he's glad you are gonna take care of me."

"That's good, bro. Luv ya, get some sleep. You know the plan."

"Yeah. Luv ya too, big bro. Better get off the phone before ya get caught, then we would be screwed."

"Yep. Bye!"

The next morning, a nervous Alec left the house and hid around the corner until he was sure that their father was gone for the day.


Alec reached the fort and unloaded the last of the bags into the corner. Travis was still asleep; he had not slept most of the night because he was worried that Alec would not get away. Once Alec had arrived with the first load, he relaxed and followed his big brother's orders to nap while everything was being moved. Alec looked at his watch - it was 10:30 already.

'I hope this works, if not we are screwed!' Alec thought as he got out his cell and entered the phone number that he prayed would reach some help.


Sean and Cory were just finishing their shift in the shower. It had been decided that to save time and water the boys would shower as couples.

For the younger pairs the plan worked, but the older ones made up for it. When Ty and Kyle offered to take Timmy with them to shower, the smile on Cory's face brought the room to tears in laughter.

They all were just sitting down for a late breakfast when the phone rang. Helen answered it.

"Short residence; this is Helen."

"Helen, this is Alec Saiz. May I please speak to Mrs. Short?"

Helen paused; she knew Alec was one of Sean and Kelly's teammates from the cookout. If he had asked for one of the boys, she would have told him to call back, but asking for Teri was something else. She had also noticed the worried tone in his voice, and decided it was best to go for it. "Yes Alec, she's right here. Hold on for a minute, I will get her for you. I'm going to put you on hold, okay?"

"Okay, thanks Helen."

Helen walked to the head of the table, where the adults had gathered to try to survive the feeding frenzy of the group of teens and pre-teens who had invaded the dining room. She leaned over and whispered to Teri.

"Teri, Alec Saiz is on the phone. He wants to speak to you. It sounds like there's a problem from the tone of his voice."

Teri looked at the expression on Helen's face and replied. "Thanks, Helen. I'll take it in my office." She then got up and went into the office.

"This is Teri. What's wrong, Alec?"

Alec was in tears as he replied. "Can you help us, PLEASE! Our dad kicked my little bro out last night 'cause he's gay. I won't leave him but we ain't got anywhere to go!"

Teri immediately became all business. "Yes, we will try to help you, Alec. Take a second to calm down while I get some more help in here." Teri did not even bother to put him on hold as she laid the phone on the desk and strode to the doorway.

"JOHN! DANIEL! CORY! SEAN! KELLY! Get in the office - NOW!" She then turned back to the desk and picked up the phone. "Hang in there. It will be just a second, Alec."

"Thanks, Teri." Alec replied, somewhat calmed.

Teri patched her tricorder into the phone's base as everyone came into the office. "Everyone is here, Alec. I'm going to log this call, so you need to tell only the facts, okay?"


Teri began recording. "This is Teri Short, Director of Federation Youth Services. Begin preliminary investigation regarding Alec Saiz. Representing Federation Security is Commander John Martin. Youth Services Mental Health is represented by Dr. Daniel Richardson. Starfleet Command is represented by Ensigns Sean and Cory Short of the USS Enterprise. Also present is a civilian witness, Kelly McCarthy. Interview is taking place over civilian phone network. Alec, could you please tell us exactly what has happened?"

Alec reviewed what happened the previous night. Once he finished, the questions started.

John went first. "Alec, what would happen if your brother was taken in and you returned to your father?"

"He'd beat the shit outta me." Alec replied. "Any time I stood up for my brother he would beat my butt until I couldn't sit down. This time, he will probably kill me for going against what he said."

"Thats what I expected. Teri, in my opinion the Act needs invoked on both boys."

Instead of a question, Dan gave an opinion. "Alec, from what you have said I believe you have been the one stabilizing factor in Travis's life. With the combination of his sexuality and family situation, it is my opinion that it would be detrimental to his mental well being to be separated from you at this time. Teri, I recommend the Safe Haven Act be invoked for both boys immediately."

Sean and Cory conferred while the others were making their statements, then Cory gave their decision. "As officers of the Starship Enterprise, it is our belief that neither boy is safe in their home environment, and we recommend the Safe Haven Act be enacted on their behalf."

Kelly looked at Teri and grinned. "You take care of getting' them out. I'll take care of where to put them." He then ran for the door.

Teri shook her head as Kelly passed her. "I believe it's unanimous. John, take the Suburban and get the boys. Take Adam, JJ, Kelly, and Andy with you to help. Cory, call Dr. McCoy and set up a physical. Alec, wake your little brother and tell him to get ready, I'm invoking the Safe Haven Act on both of you. You are coming to your new home."

As John began rounding people up, Cory called the starship. "Ensign Cory to Enterprise."

"Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Cory."

"Commander, could you patch me thru to Doc? Mom's invoking the SHA over the phone right now."

"Sure thing, Cory. Here you go."

"Sickbay, this better be good, Ensign!" McCoy answered.

Cory giggled. "Cut the crab routine, Doc; we all know better! Mom said to call you; she has two kids who need a physical real quick, SHA inductees."

McCoy grumbled. "I swear, give them Ensign bars and they think that they know it all. Get them up here. I'm too busy to come down. Make it fast Cory."

"Will do, Doc. As soon as they get to the house we'll beam up. Thanks."

Both of them signed off, then Cory found and filled in Teri. "As soon as they get here, Sean and I need to take them up to the Enterprise. I guess getting them settled is gonna have to wait."

"That will be fine, Cory. I'm still getting used to the way both you and Sean act when you are on duty. It's like you suddenly grew up. Both of you boys have made me very proud in this last week, keep it up."

Cory blushed. "Thanks, Mom. I'll pass it on to Sean. Who are they gonna stay with?"

It was Teri's turn to grin. "It seems that Kelly is pulling a Justy; he went out and told Helen that she was getting two new sons. Not asked, but TOLD!"

Cory giggled. "How'd she take it?"

"After she talked to me, she agreed to it. So it looks like you have two more members for your tribe."

Cory gave Teri a big hug. "Thanks, Mom. You are really the best Mom in the whole world."

Twenty minutes later, John returned with Alec and Travis. Teri was shocked when she met them in the hallway; if she didn't know better they could easily be twins! Both boys were about 5 foot tall, thin but not malnourished. Both had identical hair cuts, collar length straight black hair, with a skin tone which made them seem to have a natural tan. The only real difference between them was their eyes, Travis had deep grey eyes which just grabbed you, while Alec's eyes were a dark brown which seemed to never end.

Travis was latched onto his older brother like a shadow. Cory and Sean walked over, Cory speaking as they met. "Hey Alec, welcome to the tribe! Let me guess, that must be Travis hangin' on ya'."

Alec grinned. "Yeah, thats my lil bro. Trav, this is Cory and Sean. If you got any problems, you can see them, too. They won't let ya' get hurt."

Travis relaxed slightly, but still kept a hand on Alec.

Cory grinned at the two boys. "Y'all need to separate for a minute! The Doc is waiting for us, and he is a real pain if you make him wait too long."

Travis dropped his hand and looked at Cory with confusion. "Wadda' ya' mean 'he's waiting for us'? Where are we going?"

"Just watch!" Cory answered with a grin as he pulled out his communicator. "Ensign Cory to Enterprise. Four to beam up."

"We be ready when you are, laddie."

Cory giggled. "Energize, Scotty!"

When the four boys materialized in the Enterprise's Transporter room, both Alec and Travis still had looks of shock on their faces. Cory and Sean both came to attention. "Permission to come aboard, sir," they chorused.

"Aye, permission granted. By the looks on the lad's faces, didn'a tell them how they were a getting' here?" Scotty replied with a chuckle.

"Oops! Sorry, Scotty. I knew I forgot something!" Cory giggled while Sean played innocent.

Scotty shook his head. "Sean, could you take care of these fine lads? Since Cory is here, I could use an extra hand with a wee problem we've been a havin'."

"No problem, Mr. Scott." Sean replied. "C'mon guys, if we hurry up maybe the Captain will let me show ya' around." Sean led Alec and Trav out of the Transporter Room. As they walked towards the turbolift, Travis finally regained his voice. "Okay Sean, where in the heck are we?"

Sean giggled. "Welcome aboard the Starship Enterprise, guys."

"No way!" Travis replied in shock.

"Man, I thought your Uncle was BS'ing us!" Alec added, finally out of shock.

"It's for real, guys. Lets go see Doc then I'll get the okay to show ya' around."

They entered the turbolift, and Sean instructed "Sickbay". His two companions both went speechless again as the lift accelerated. Thirty seconds later, the door opened and the three boys walked out onto Deck Seven. The three walked down the corridor to Sickbay.

McCoy looked up as they entered. "Not bad timing, Ensign. All three of you go in my office, we'll get the history out of the way first. Where's Ensign Cory?"

Sean smiled. "He got kidnapped in the transporter room by a rabid Scotsman."

McCoy grinned. "I'll have to remember that one, Sean. If it's okay with these two, you can check in with Jim while I'm getting their histories, just don't go far."

"Okay Doc. I'll wait out here."

A few minutes later, McCoy brought the boys out of his office and took Travis into the exam room. Alec sat next to Sean. "You know what, he's pretty cool for a doctor."

"He's the best Doc you'll ever find; if he can't fix ya then give it up." Sean replied with pride.

"Well he even got Trav to loosen up, and he's gonna talk to him about being gay and safe while they are in the exam room. He was treating Trav like a real person; our old doctor just kept telling him he would grow out of it."

McCoy walked out of the exam room with an arm over Travis's shoulder just then. "You better believe I'm gonna have a talk with that quack first chance I get, too! It's people like him who give legitimate doctors a bad name. You're next Alec, Travis here has a clean bill of health. There is nothing wrong with him that a loving family won't fix, thanks to you."

Alec blushed as he stood up and went into the exam room, followed by McCoy.

Travis shyly sat down next to Sean. "This is kewl! Why does everyone call you and Cory Ensign though?"

Sean smiled. "It's because we are really Ensigns. Both of us are part of the Enterprise crew. That's also why I was able to bring you here, we would have had to have an escort if you didn't have an officer with you."

"Wow! Doc said to ask you this. Do I have to worry about being gay with my new family?"

"Nope. In this group, if you are not gay you are a minority. We will all be there for you, and nobody will ever force you to do something you don't want to do. If they try, let Cory or me know, we'll handle it. Once we get back home, we'll all sit down and you can get to know everyone better and ask all the questions you want, okay?"

The two sat for a minute, then the sickbay doors opened and Chip walked in. "Hey Sean, how's it going? Who's your friend?"

Sean looked up. "Hi Uncle Chip! This is Travis, his big bro Alec is in with Doc right now. They are our newest tribal members. Travis, this is my uncle, Commander Chip Dodds."

"So I've heard. Where's your brother at?"

"Mr. Scott hijacked him to Engineering. Something about a wee problem." Sean replied, giving a fair imitation of Scotty on the last part, which caused Trav to giggle.

Chip chuckled. "You're as bad as I am, Sean! Add a little more bass and I think you'll have him down!"

Just then McCoy walked out with Alec. Sean immediately noticed neither was smiling. "What's wrong, Doc?"

McCoy looked at Chip. "You showed up at the right time, Chip. Are you prepared to make a medical decision for Teri?"

Chip got serious. "I can, but up to a point. What's the problem?"

"As I'm sure you've noticed, Alec seems stuck physically at twelve years old. The reason behind that is his body is producing an excess of Melatonin. Normally at puberty it reduces, but his is above normal levels. Testosterone therapy at these levels could cause more problems than it would help. I feel safer waiting to see if the mid-puberty growth spurt at least drops his Melatonin to a safer level before even considering treatments. Alec understands that he will not be growing like other kids his age, but this is one decision I can't let him make."

Chip walked over to Alec and knelt in front of the younger boy. "Before I answer, how do you feel about it, Alec? This is your body we are discussing."

Alec looked up at Chip. "I'm kinda used to everyone calling me shrimp, at least I know why now. Doc told me what would happen if we do nothing and what could happen if we use the treatments. I've always told Trav I'd be here for him forever, I'd rather put up with teasing at school than take a chance of not being there when he needs me."

Chip nodded his head. "Don't worry about school; by now I'm sure Dan has called and pulled you out. Doc, I'm going to agree with you. Follow what you think is best. I'll fill Teri in real quick and then we can show these two around."

"Fine by me, just make sure you are back for your pre-departure in an hour."

Sean gave Chip a puzzled look. "Pre-departure?"

"Yep," Chip replied, "while you and Cory are studying and catching up on your backlog of programming, the rest of us have to go out for a trip around the galaxy. It shouldn't take too long, so unless you want to deal with a disappointed Vulcan you better bust your butts on that simulator repair."

Sean grinned. "Well, I guess that means that at least the two of us are gonna get something productive done in the next couple weeks, huh?"

Chip reached over and gave Sean a light slap on the back of the head. "Watch it, buster! Remember, I'm still your superior officer!"

McCoy gave Chip a stern look. "If you are not back in an hour, you're going to be a civilian. I suggest you get your butt in gear and show these boys around the ship."

Chip shook his head as he headed for the door with Alec and Travis under his arms. "You know Doc, one of these days we're gonna have to talk about your superiority complex!" Before McCoy could answer, they slipped through the doorway and the doors slid closed behind them.


The boys had barely rematerialized in the Rec room before Kelly was in front of them grabbing for Alec and Trav's hands. "C'mon guys, Mom's been waitin' to meet you!"

Cory noticed the panic in Travis's eyes and laid a hand on Kelly's shoulder. "Go on bro, we'll be right behind ya."

Cory waved for Alec to go with Kelly, and then guided Travis into the office. After the door was closed, the two boys sat in two chairs along the wall. "Hey lil' buddy, whazza matter? Things moving to fast for ya?"

Travis looked over at Cory, tears running from his eyes. "What if she don't want me? I'm nothing but a little faggot, nobody wants me around. Look what happened when my dad found out!"

Cory reached over and pulled Travis out of his chair and onto his lap. Once Travis was sitting on Cory's lap, he buried his face in Cory's shoulder and began weeping. Cory softly rubbed the boys shoulders and held him as he cried out the stress of the last twenty-four hours. "It's okay lil buddy, let it all out." Cory whispered soothingly.

It took about ten minutes before Travis's tears were reduced to an occasional sob. Cory kissed his forehead softly and then gave him a quick squeeze. "You feel a little better now, Trav?"

"Yeah," Trav responded shyly, "I'm sorry for being such a baby. What's gonna happen to me now?"

Cory smiled for the first time since they entered the room. "Hey kiddo, you're not a baby. Everyone needs to cry once in a while. As soon as you are ready, we'll go out and I'll introduce you to your new mom. And you don't need to worry, if Helen had any problem with gay kids she would not be here. Just remember; Alec, Kelly, and Andy are in the minority here - they are the only straight people under eighteen except for maybe the young kids. In a couple months all of us are gonna be moving to Orlando, and that includes the two of you."

"I've never had a Mom; what's it like?" Travis asked shyly.

Cory giggled. "It's pretty cool. They tend to baby you sometimes, but if you need someone they are there for ya'. The only bad part is they expect you to keep your room clean!"

Travis giggled at that, but then became serious again. "What about Gabe, I don't wanna leave him?"

Cory responded carefully. "I know how you feel, Trav. Why don't you give him a call? After you let him know you are gonna be okay, I'll talk to his parents and see if they wanna come over to visit. I can't make any promises, but right now Mom is setting up an office staff; who knows, maybe one of them does something that she still needs someone for. If we can figure out a way to keep you two together, we will."

Travis hugged Cory tightly. "Thanks Cory, I feel a little better now. Can I call Gabe now?"

Cory giggled. "Yeah, lets do it. We can't have your boyfriend worrying about you."

It took a minute to get Trav to understand all of the buttons on Teri's communications console, but shortly Travis had it down enough to place his call.

"Michaels Residence." a male voice answered.

"Hi, Dr. Michaels! This is Travis."

Cory's eyebrows raised at Trav calling his boyfriend's dad Doctor; when the viewscreen came to life showing the call being taken in his office Cory smiled.

"Thank God you are okay; we were getting worried since you didn't call like you said you would this morning. Where are you at? Where's Alec? Who is that behind you?"

Cory tapped Travis on the shoulder. "Let me answer for ya', I'm sure thats the only way he will believe it." Cory then switched the console to conference mode, and scanned his ID so his credentials would be displayed at the other end.

"Good afternoon Doctor." Cory began. "I'm Ensign Cory Short, Engineer's Assistant, USS Enterprise. As of 10:47 USA Central Time, both Travis and Alec were taken under the protection of the Federation Safe Haven Act. They have just returned from onboard the Enterprise after receiving complete exams from the Chief Medical Officer. Right now Alec is meeting their new mother; Trav here needed to do a few things before he was ready to take that step."

Doctor Michaels visibly relaxed. "Thank you, Ensign. Knowing that both boys are safe under Federation protection eases my mind tremendously. You also eased another of my worries; I have been hounding their former father to let me examine Alec due to his lack of growth. Instead of listening to a pediatrician, namely me. He insisted on listening to the general practitioner who had treated him when he was a kid."

Cory grinned. "Well, Doctor Michaels, I think you and Mom need to sit down and have a talk. How would you feel about coming over and meeting their new family this evening?"

"I sense an ulterior motive young man, but I'll still accept your invitation. Let me go get Gabe before Trav wets himself; I'll get the directions from you after they finish."

"Sounds good." Cory replied then stepped back so Travis had the screen.

About thirty seconds later, a boy with white-blond shoulder length hair skidded to a stop in front of the screen. As soon as he saw Travis on the viewer, his mouth split into a grin that threatened to warp the facebow attached to his braces. "TRAV! I was SOOOOOOOO worried about you babe! Are you okay? Where ya' at?"

"Hey sweetie. I miss you tooooooo." Travis replied with a grin a mile wide. "I'm just fine, my big bro made a call and now we got a new family that don't care if I'm gay. I think you guys are gonna come over later so you get to meet them."

"AWESOME! I can't wait to hold ya' again! I wanna cuddle ya SOOOOO much!"

Gabe had not noticed Cory standing behind Travis. He turned red as an apple when Cory was brought to his attention by Timmy running into the office yelling 'DAADDDDYYY!!!!' as he jumped into Cory's arms.

"W..wh..who is that?" Gabe stuttered.

"Oops, sorry hun. That's Cory; the little tornado in his arms is his and Sean's boy Timmy. Don't worry, they're cool."

Timmy reached over and slapped Travis's shoulder. "I ain't no 'nado; I'm a hur'cane! Just ask Gran'ma!"

That broke the tension as everyone broke into giggles. As Travis recovered, he spoke to Gabe. "Hey babe, why don't we finish catchin' up tonight. Cory needs to talk to your Dad and I need to find Alec."

"Sounds like a plan. Luv ya' baby."

"Love you more."

"Love ya' more than more"

"Double love ya more"

"Gadzillion million love ya' more!"

The boys took the hint when Cory groaned theatrically; after one more round they finished saying goodbye. Once Cory finished giving Dr. Michaels directions, he ended the call. "You feel better now, Trav?" Cory asked as he put a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"Yeah, thanks Cory. I'm not gonna get in trouble for not goin' out right away am I?"

"Naw, Helen will understand. I'm the one who has to worry, I invited them over without asking Mom first. I just hope she accepts that I was doing it to help her. Besides, this way Helen gets to meet her future in-laws."

Timmy wiggled down off of Cory and walked up to Travis. "Twav, will you give me a horsey ride? We can see if your mommy is done with the cookies yet!"

Travis's eyes lit up at the mention of snacks. "Hop on, little guy. I'll bet my big bro is there eating them all!"

The three giggling boys headed to the kitchen. Travis started to freeze as he went through the doorway, but Timmy egging him on from his back got him over his fright.

Helen looked up and saw the scared boy standing on the other side of the counter with Timmy on his back. "Hello Travis. I see you have made friends with Timmy. Timmy, why don't you go pounce your Pop; he tried to steal the cookies I was saving for Travis."

Once Timmy was gone, Helen sat down and motioned for Trav to sit next to her. Cory started to head for the door, but turned around and grabbed a seat when Helen motioned him to stay.

"Travis," Helen began softly, "I realize right now things are moving way too fast for you. You can relax some; as unlikely as it sounds you are home now. I know what happened at your old home and why; I promise you will NEVER have to worry about being kicked out again. I know you are gay; the only way I'm going to treat you any different is I plan on giving you a lot of extra love to make up for what you have missed."

Travis looked at her in shock. "But my Dad said that I was going to Hell for being gay, that I was lower than trash. Why don't you think that?"

Helen put her hand on her new son's shoulder. "I have never thought that, but in the last couple of days I was proven right. If it wasn't for a young GAY man, I would not be sitting here with THREE sons; I would be in an apartment wondering if I would ever see Kelly again. That young man, Aaron Carter, reunited me with Kelly. When Kelly came to me asking for you and Alec to become his brothers, I knew it was God's way of letting me pay back for Kelly being returned to me. Both you and Alec are God's gifts to me for being patient waiting to get Kelly back. I also know of two more gay young men; both of which are known throughout Starfleet and one of which is a hero many times over. That young man is sitting right over there, he's Cory. Thanks to him, the young boy you were carrying on your back is here instead of being scattered all over the roadside. Cory disarmed a bomb while rescuing Timmy; he not only saved Timmy, but also a whole group of young men, most of which are gay."

Travis looked at Cory in awe, his unasked question answered by Cory's blushing face. He turned back to Helen. "What about my boyfriend, Gabe? Can he come over without me being watched all the time?"

Helen smiled. "As long as you are responsible and follow the rules I have no problem with that. I do need to sit down with his parents and make sure our rules agree with theirs, but after that you will be trusted until you show me you are not ready for the responsibility. The only thing I will say now is that if Sean and Cory make a rule for you two that is more restrictive than what us parents have, you are to follow their rule. Remember that Sean and Cory have made some mistakes you have not made yet; if they tell you not to do something it is to help you. Now, when do you think I'll get to meet Gabe?"

Travis turned in his seat and gave Helen a hug. "Wow! If this is what it's like to have a real family it's AWESOME! Thanks ... MOM! Oh, well, Cory kinda invited Gabe and his parents over tonight. That's okay, ain't it?"

Helen had a couple of tears of joy running down her face as she hugged Travis and replied. "Yes son, it's fine. If Gabe is anything like you I look forward to meeting him."

Travis cuddled with Helen for a few minutes before his stomach began rumbling. Helen giggled and commented "Sounds like someone is hungry! Tell you what, there's some peanut butter cookies over by the sink; grab yourself six of them and a glass of milk. After that you might want to find your brothers, I think they are worried about you."

Travis giggled as he headed for the cookies. "Thanks Mom, you're the greatest!"


Cory, Sean, Teri, and Dan were having a conference in Teri's office. "I'm going to have to fill out the final placement report." Teri began. "Do any of you have anything you think needs put in it?"

Both Sean and Dan shook their heads no, but Cory hesitated before he answered.

"Mom," Cory replied hesitantly, "I might be wrong, but going by the stuff I learned watching Dan with Kyle I think we need to watch Travis."

Teri and Dan turned to give Cory their full attention. "Why do you say that, Cory?" Dan asked.

Cory squirmed in his chair. "Do you remember how I used to ask you about why Kyle was acting up, and you explained to me what happens when someone is emotionally abused?"

Dan leaned forward. "Yes, you made me proud with the questions you asked and how you tried to understand so you could help Kyle. What did you see that the rest of us missed?"

Cory swallowed nervously, then continued. "I had to talk with Trav in the office here before he would even go see Helen. He was kinda like Kyle was just before we left the home; he did not trust anyone but his brother. He calmed down some after I let him talk to his boyfriend, but still would have ran if it wasn't for Timmy on his back when we went to the kitchen. Once Helen finally convinced him that she truly did not care if he was gay he seemed better, but I'm not sure if he really is okay. I invited Gabe and his parents over here tonight; if we can't figure out a way to keep Gabe and Trav together, when it comes time to move I think Trav is gonna lose it. Gabe's dad is a pediatrician; if he is as cool as he seemed on the phone, I was thinking of you hiring him as a staff doctor for the kids, mom. I already pulled his records and ran them through Doc McCoy; he said to tell you it was your call but he would have no problems working with Dr. Michaels."

Before Teri could reply, Dan held up his hand to stop her. "I'm glad you listened Cory. From what you just described I think you are right. You have picked up on some of the signs of emotional abuse; now that I know about it we can work on helping him through it. As far as the doctor part goes, I think you have a good idea; if that works out tonight we can kill two birds with one stone."

Teri shook her head. "You know, it's nice to know I'm in charge around here! You do have a valid point, Cory, but next time please tell me about it BEFORE you take action. As far as your concerns about Travis, since Dan believes you are on the right path I'm not going to argue. I have no idea what to even start looking for, but obviously you paid attention and were able to see what the rest of us missed. You are doing great Cory, I'm proud of you!"

Cory relaxed. He knew that the minor chewing out he had just received would be the end of it, and that Dan would make sure his concerns about Travis were handled properly.


Travis, Kyle and Tyler were sitting on the couch in the Rec Room comparing notes on how their life now was different than it was in their previous homes. At first Travis had been reluctant to talk to the other boys when Dan had suggested it; but once they started talking about what their lives used to be like he realized that he was not alone. In no time he was sharing how it was with his old father, and listening carefully as Kyle passed on the tips Dan had told him while he was back at the home. The three boys were so absorbed in their conversation that none of them even looked up when the doorbell rang and Helen answered it.

Helen opened the door. Outside were two adults in their mid-thirties and a very nervous twelve-year-old boy. Helen was pleased with her new son's choice for a boyfriend, Gabe was about 5 foot 2, fair skinned, with the rare blond hair which looked almost white cascading to his shoulders. His ice-blue eyes naturally grabbed your attention, and were a perfect compliment to his thin nose and full lips. He was built like Travis, skinny but obviously very active.

"Dr. Michaels, Mrs. Michaels, Gabe. Welcome to our home, come on in! I've been waiting all evening to meet my future in-laws!"

As they entered the foyer, Alec came out and took their coats. "Hi Doc, Mrs. Michaels. Wazzup lil bro! I don't know if she told you yet, but this is our new Mom, Helen McCarthy!"

The Doctor and his wife both chuckled. "We kind of figured that out when she called us her in-laws, Alec, but thanks for the introductions anyway." Dr Michaels replied. "Helen, this is my wife Carrie and my son Gabe. As for me, you can just call me Austin or Doc Austin if you want to be like most of my patients."

Helen smiled. "Follow me, I'll introduce you to the rest of the family."

As they prepared to leave the foyer, Gabe finally spoke up. "Where's Travvy at?"

Helen stopped and turned to the boy. "He's in the Rec Room with a couple of his new cousins. They are helping him deal with how his old dad treated him, since they went through some of the same things that he did. Alec, why don't you take Gabe in to be with Trav and then join us in the dining room?"

"Okay Mom!" Alec answered as he guided Gabe into the Rec Room.

Alec and Gabe froze as they entered the room and overheard the ongoing discussion.

"Why did we end up with such screwed up parents when we were born?" Travis asked the two younger boys.

Kyle answered the question after a glance at Tyler. "Mikey said Saturday that sometimes bad stuff needs to happen to let the good stuff happen. I guess our first parents were the bad stuff."

"That kinda makes sense." Travis replied. "By the way, who is Mikey?"

Tyler took his turn answering. "Mikey is our big bro. He's dead now, so he's our guardian angel."

"If he's dead, how did he tell you that Saturday?" Travis asked with a confused look.

All five boys were startled when the question was answered from the couch. "I just stopped in and said 'Hi'!"

"MIKEY!!!!" Kyle and Ty exclaimed in unison.

Mikey grinned at the boys. "You guys should'a known I would stop in to see how my latest charges were doing. Welcome to the family Trav and Alec. Oh, yeah, you too Gabe, you are a Tribe member too, the rest of the guys just don't know it yet! Trav, I'm glad you are talking to our little bros about what your life used to be like; but from now on forget all of the things you used to do to protect yourself - you no longer need to hide inside yourself to protect Alec. Alec, you can back down too, from now on you don't need to protect Trav from punishment - if he does something wrong the punishment will fit the crime, and he won't be in danger. The two of you are going to feel overwhelmed with love until you get used to it; I promise you that it is all for real, so enjoy it."

Gabe, Trav and Alec looked at Mike in shock. "How do you know so much about us?" Alec asked.

Mike gave a glowing smile. "Why don't you all have a seat over here?" he asked as he patted the couch. The boys all moved onto the couch; when Gabe saw Ty take a seat on Kyle's lap, he smiled and took up his favorite position on Trav's lap.

Mikey took up a position on the arm of the couch. "Relax Gabriel, you are doing nothing wrong. As a matter of fact, you have a lot to do with these two being safe now. Do you remember a prayer you said at dinner Saturday night? You asked Our Father to do whatever it takes to protect your boyfriend. When you asked that, I became involved. I guess it might make more sense if I tell you my full title; its Saint Mikey of Urbandale, Protector of Gay and Abandoned Children. Once you asked for help, I made sure that Alec remembered Mom's phone number when he heard Sean give it to Kelly to pass out to his friends. After that it was just a case of letting things go as they were before; a little tickle in your Dad's mind, Gabe, which had him make the phone call which started the ball rolling. The next step was restraining your old father Travis; I made sure he did not hit you no matter how badly he wanted to. I sat with you all night, Trav, until it was time for school; then I made sure the secretary was too busy to call and say Alec was not there until after you two were safe here. Gabe, your love for Trav made it possible for him and Alec to have a better life; don't be surprised if his love for you causes some positive changes in your life soon."

Alec unconsciously placed an arm around both couples and pulled them close to him. "I understand why you helped Trav, but why me? I'm not gay, and I was not abandoned; I ran away."

Mike moved next to Travis and Gabe and wrapped his wings around all five boys in an angelic hug. "Alec, you are what we call our living helpers. You swore an oath to protect Travis no matter what. Yesterday you made an extreme sacrifice to keep that oath, a sacrifice I had no hand in at all. You gave up the only family you knew so that you could ensure your little brother was safe. Higher powers than me have noted that in the Book of Life; and due to the sacrifices throughout your life for one of the children I am protecting, you are also under my wings, just like now. Oh, while I'm here, I checked out the scoop on your growth problem. Don't worry about it, there is a good reason you have been held back from puberty. I can't reveal why, but when the time is right the problem will disappear."

For the first time in a VERY long time, Alec's face broke into a huge carefree smile. "Thanks Mike, I understand now and feel LOTS better!"

"You're very welcome, Alec. Enjoy your new home, you both earned it. Guys, I need to get going and check up on your cousins in Orlando."

Kyle giggled. "Justy says if you are gonna come down there you better show yourself. Oh yeah, Jamie said make it so Mark and Zac ain't so goofy too!"

Mike softly chuckled. "Tell Jamie I said to pounce Justy for me; I'll see them in a few. I will see you later guys, Kyle knows how to get me if there's an emergency, but I'll still be watching over all of you as much as possible."

The boys finished their goodbyes, and Mike faded away. Once Mike was gone, Alec looked at the two young couples in his arms and smiled. "You know, I could stay here forever, but I think we better go see what Mom's up to. Besides that, you need to meet our bro still, Gabe."


Teri, Cory, and the Doctor had found a safe area by the pool and were having a quiet discussion while watching the rest of the boys work off excess energy. "So Austin, have you figured out what my scheming son has up his sleeve yet?" Teri asked.

"MOM!!" Cory moaned in feigned pain.

Austin chuckled. "Not yet, but if he's anything like Gabe I'm sure it will be interesting. Sometimes I think the boy is too smart for his own good."

Teri looked at her blushing son. "If Gabe is anything like Cory or Sean, I have only one bit of advice - RUN!" She looked to make sure Cory wasn't going to throw anything at her then continued. "Seriously, there are a few things you might not know about Cory and Sean that you really need to know before we discuss his reasons for inviting you over here."

Austin looked at Cory, who was fidgeting in his chair. "I know that Cory has Starfleet credentials, even though I still haven't figured out how he got them at his age. You mean to tell me there is more?"

Teri nodded as she watched Cory blush. "You are sitting next to one of the two youngest fully commissioned officers in Starfleet history. The other one just tossed Kelly off of the diving board. Both of them have designed modifications to Starfleet vessels which are implemented fleet-wide, starting with the Enterprise. Between the two of them, they are responsible for saving most of the boys here and a few that are not here right now. Cory himself is responsible for saving the young boy cuddling with Carrie right now; this may come as a shock, but that boy is now Sean and Cory's son. I could continue, but I think you get the idea."

Austin looked at Cory with a newfound respect. "Cory, you have no reason to be shy. I know grown men who can't even imagine doing half the things you have already done. If Gabe was to choose you as a role model, I would be very pleased."

Cory grinned shyly. "Mom always told us to help others. I guess Sean and I just listened better than most kids."

The conversation was interrupted as Alec, Trav, Kyle, Ty, and Gabe came out of the house. Alec's whistle made the pool fall silent. "Kelly, come over here bro. Everyone else listen up, Trav wants to say something in just a minute."

Kelly climbed out of the pool and joined his new brothers. Trav put his left arm around Kelly's waist and his right arm around Gabe's waist. "Gabe, this is my new big brother Kelly. Kelly, this is my boyfriend Gabe. I wanted you to meet him before I introduced him to everyone else, bro."

Kelly moved to turn it into a three-way hug. "Welcome to the family, Gabe! You ever got a problem let me know, if I can't fix it one of these guys can."

Gabe visibly relaxed and then grinned. "Thanks Kelly; you really don't care if Travvy or I are gay?"

Kelly squeezed both boys tighter. "Gabe, you are in the one place where NOT being gay is considered weird! I kinda know how you feel in the morning, I woke up yesterday morning and realized that I was one of the two known straight kids between the ages of 8 and 18 in the entire house. I never minded if my friends were gay before that, but now I really can't stand people who put you down for who you love."

Travis and Gabe both turned their heads and each of them kissed one of Kelly's cheeks. "Thanks for being my big bro, Kel." Travis whispered.

Travis then broke the hug, guided Gabe in front of himself, and wrapped his arms around Gabe's waist. "Hey everyone," Travis yelled, "I've wanted to do this for a LONG time! Everybody, look! This is my boyfriend Gabe! Y'all find your own blond god, this one's MINE!"

There was a deafening cheer as the pool emptied and all of the boys rushed to greet Gabe. Cory even excused himself for a minute to welcome the new boy into the family, and came back with Timmy on his hip.

"What did you get into this time?" Teri asked Timmy, as Cory sat in his chair and scooted Timmy onto his lap.

"Nut'in Gran'ma. Daddy said I gotta leave Aunt Carrie alone now an' sit in the shade with him." Timmy answered with a giggle.

"Aunt Carrie huh?" Teri replied with a grin. "I won't ask! Go ahead and cuddle your Daddy, just remember he has to be able to talk to us, okay kiddo?"

"'K, Gran'ma!" Timmy answered as he snuggled into Cory's shoulder.

Cory stroked his son's shoulders as he began speaking. "Doc, there are a couple reasons for what I'm about to offer. The first one is sitting in my lap. I've grown kinda attached to the little booger, and I want to make sure he's getting the best. The second reason is over there in the corner trying to use his tongue to clean the insides of your son's throat. I asked Dr. McCoy to check you out, and he totally approved of my plan. That really means a lot to me, 'cause as the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise he usually doesn't agree about anything medical that don't involve him directly. Mom is lettin' me ask since it was my idea; can you join us as the Federation Youth Services Medical Director? Basically you would be the one called when the Safe Haven Act is invoked and an impartial medical exam is required. Oh, yeah, you would be stuck with all of us too."

Austin looked at the boy in front of him. At first glance it looked like a big brother holding his little brother, but as Austin watched he could see the look on Cory's face that only a father would have when holding his son. As he watched, he contemplated the bombshell the young teen has just dropped on him. As Cory had hinted, a recommendation by Dr. Leonard McCoy was as good as gold. From what he had been told by Teri, along with the reports which raged through the medical grapevines, both Starfleet and civilian; he knew he was being offered the chance to be part of the cutting edge of the Federation's child welfare reforms. "Okay, I understand what you've said so far, Cory; but how does this involve Travis?"

Cory looked to Teri for help, but had to reply when she nodded back to him. "Doc, I guess the best way to say it would be how Dan explained it. He said that Trav only has two people he feels he can count on right now - Alec and Gabe. When we called you earlier, Trav was freaking about meeting his new mom, he didn't calm down until he got to talk to Gabe. I was the only one there with him, and after I described what I saw to Dan he agreed that Trav has suffered severe emotional abuse. In a couple months we are moving to Orlando; if you, Carrie, and Gabe don't move with us Trav's probably gonna break down from losing Gabe."

Sean walked up and stood behind Cory. "Besides, Doc, when that six year old boy Ricky comes back tomorrow for his appointment; you know, the one that you have been trying to get CPS to pull from his druggie mom for the last year, you can take it in your own hands. Besides, Gabe needs a little brother anyway. Your final thesis in Med School said you became a doctor to help kids; now's your chance." Sean then looked down at their son, who was sleeping peacefully on Cory's chest, and added softly "besides, there is no feeling like looking at your son and knowing he is alive and happy because of something you did."

Austin started to look around the pool area for Carrie to ask her opinion when he suddenly got his first view of Adam in something other than a long sleeve shirt and long pants. The sight of the still-healing marks on Adam's body tied Austin's stomach in knots, and he reached his decision immediately. "CARRIE! GABE! Come here!"

Carrie came over first, followed shortly by Gabe. Travis was not far behind, following Gabe like a lost puppy. Once they were all seated, Austin made his announcement. "Everyone, I have just been offered a job as Federation Youth Services Medical Director. I'm taking the job as of now; tomorrow will be my last day at the Clinic as a staff doctor. Travis, I just heard that you are going to be moving to Orlando; you can relax because we are going to be moving with you. Oh, Carrie, dig out those old toys of Gabe's; I'm bringing home a younger brother for Gabe tomorrow."

Carrie sat in shock, while Gabe and Travis had began hugging and kissing as soon as they heard the words 'moving with you'. Both boys' minds clicked onto what was said at the same time. While Gabe was speechless with shock, Travis gave Austin a puzzled look. "Doc, I know how you straight people make babies, and it sure as heck don't work that fast! How you gonna get a little bro for Gabe?"

Austin laughed. "Trav, lets just say that I know of a young boy who needs to get out of a bad environment. Tomorrow he is going to get a wish answered. I do have a question, Cory. How did you know about Ricky?"

It was Cory's turn to giggle. "Just a little lesson, Doc; secrets are hard to keep around here. I wanted to see what you would need to feel comfortable joining us, so I had Kyle send a Kylegram to Jamie and Jacob; the three of them checked you out and found out about Ricky. If you had said no, after what they told me I would've been at your office tomorrow rescuing him myself."

Austin began to respond, but Teri held up her hand. "Trust me Austin, you will find out soon enough. I'll put it this way; none of these boys understand the meaning of impossible, in fact they take it as a challenge!"

Later that night, Sean carried the last load of blankets and pillows into the Rec Room. As he sat to wait for Cory to bring in the cookies Helen had baked for a bedtime snack, he thought about the events of the day. 'I don't believe Cory!' he thought to himself. 'I haven't seen him take charge like he did today since before Mike's accident. It was kinda nice being asked for my opinion instead of making the decisions.'

Cory walked in just then, and came immediately over to Sean. "Hey babe, what's with the grin?"

Sean took the cookies and sat them on the table, then pulled Cory into his lap. "I was just thinking of how great you did today, and how lucky I am to have such a great boyfriend."

Cory blushed half way down his chest. "You would have done the same thing! Besides, I'm the lucky one, you stuck by me when I didn't even remember you."

Their discussion was interrupted by Kyle and Tyler joining them. "Y'all sound as bad as us!" Kyle giggled.

Tyler smiled as he tapped Kyle on the back of the head, then turned his attention to Sean and Cory. "I've been wanting to say this, but I didn't know how. I know something the rest of the guys don't, and it's the real reason we are all lucky. Cor, before you came back Sean seemed like he was missing somethin' in his head. I've watched ya' both since I moved in, and both of you are the same way if the other is not nearby. I really think you are kinda like twins, your minds seem to work together. Everything you two do is thought of by both of you; today Cory took charge but he involved you in all of it Sean."

Before either could reply, Kyle poked Cory. "Everything he just said applies to you too! As far as being lucky goes, there's one kid who has us all beat; Timmy, 'cause he can call you Dad and Pop."

Sean smiled. "Thanks, guys. Speaking of Timmy, I thought he was going to shower with you?"

Tyler giggled. "Sorry, bro, but he decided he needed to break in the new uncle. Alec is in for it!"

Cory slapped his forehead and laughed. "Poor Alec, I hope Timmy is easier on him than he was on Kelly!"

A half hour later, everyone had finished their showers. As he grabbed the last cookie from the plate, Timmy climbed into his parent's laps."I luv you!" Timmy whispered as he snuggled into Sean and Cory. They both leaned over and kissed his forehead, replying "I love you too!" in unison.

Helen joined Teri in her now-nightly rounds to make sure everything was shut down for the night. As they looked in the Rec Room, Helen stopped in awe. "I have never seen such a beautiful sight!" she whispered to Teri.

Teri smiled. "I agree totally. Look at how they are grouped so that the older ones are guarding the younger ones!"

Sean was laying with Cory on one shoulder and Timmy on the other, both boy's arms over their son. Adam's back was against Cory's back, and he was being cuddled by Tyler. Kyle was cuddled against Tyler with JJ tight against him, JJ and Adam having their arms interlocked over their little brothers. Jeffy and Sammy were nestled together between JJ and Andrew, both with their hands touching JJ's arm.

On the other side, Kelly's back was against Timmy's back. Gabe had been given the okay to spend the night, and was cuddled front-to-front with Travis with his back pressed into Kelly's chest. Alec was protectively cuddled against Travis's back with his arm over his two brothers and Gabe.

"Don't you worry about them doing something?" Helen asked as she surveyed the group of brief and boxer clad boys.

"Not really." Teri answered. "My guess is that most of them got that out of the way in the shower." At Helen's surprised look, she continued. "Chip and Josh filled me in on the facts of life with gay sons. If you set limits on what they can do and tell them to keep it private they are going to pretty much follow the rules. If you say 'no' absolutely, they will find some way to do it and end up getting hurt. Besides, if Timmy catches them, half of Iowa will find out about it; just ask Sean and Cory!"

"That actually makes sense." Helen replied after some thought. "I just noticed something, do Sean and Cory end up in the center all the time?"

Teri thought for a second, then replied. "You know, come to think about it, they do. It's almost like Sean and Cory protect all of the boys during the day, and at night the boys all protect Sean and Cory."

Teri dimmed the lights in the room, and her and Helen headed for the stairs.

"Teri, is there anything you would do different raising the boys if you knew then what you know now? I know I would have spent a lot more time with Kelly."

Teri stopped on the stairs and looked at Helen. "I spent the last year asking myself the same question, Helen. When I took in Cory, I had no idea what changes he would bring into my life. After this last week, I finally have my answer; if you think about it you really would answer the same way. I would not change a single thing; all of the stress and worry after Cory had his breakdown has rewarded me with more sons than I ever expected and a grandson who I adore. Ten years ago, I made a decision which has affected the life of everyone under this roof; I agreed to take my best friend's son if anything ever happened to her. That decision saved Timmy's life, probably saved Adam's life, and gave a group of boys a fighting chance to finish growing up normally. Even today, kids are still pressured into trying to be what is considered 'normal' by their peers; even the fact that being gay is now broadly accepted does not reduce the perceived pressure. The parents who live in the stone age still do not help the problem, and the kids end up suffering for it. The one decision I made ten years ago has made it so that fourteen boys here and five boys in Orlando can sleep peacefully tonight knowing that their sexual alignment has no bearing on how their family treats them."

Helen smiled. "I see where those two learned their compassion and conviction! You've convinced me Teri; I wouldn't change a thing either. Thanks a lot, you just cleared up a lot of the worries I was having. I'm going to call it a night; those fourteen angels are going to be hungry animals in the morning!"

"Tell me about it!" Teri chuckled as she opened her bedroom door. "See you tomorrow, Helen. Goodnight."

"Goodnight Teri." Helen replied as she entered her room.