David walked into the dining room, still half-asleep and counting on Shane to guide him. He was brought almost fully awake, however, when his twin Danny used their shared voice to exclaim "Damn y'all! Who done spiked them thar' brownies we was eatin' last night?"
"What are you whining about now, knucklehead?" David groaned as his brain tried to adjust to his consciousness seeing whatever Danny was seeing.
"Wake yer butt up an' geta lookin'," Danny prodded.
"I would if you'd stop interrupting with your twisted fantasies and let me use our eyes!" David stated. "I want to see the room, not your latest daydream!"
"Y'a need to stop bein' dummer thana boxa rocks." Danny stated with exasperation. "That thar' IS what we's seein', dufus!"
"Yeah, and you're the Pope," David shot back. "Stop screwin' around, I'm hungry, even if you ain't!"
"Sometimes yur a special kinda special, bro," Danny stated as he rolled their eyes. "In small words so yer pea-brain unnerstands: Maw ... is ... talkin' ... to ... LIONS! Got it?"
"Shane, tell this nutcase he's seeing things, and to stop trying to get me to believe them too!" David pleaded. After not getting an answer right away, he looked over, only to find their boyfriend barely restraining a full-on giggle fit. "Not you too!" David sighed.
"Look ... at ... our ... brothers!" Shane sputtered before finally losing it. David turned his head to where Shane had pointed, only to find their three brothers sharing a bowl of popcorn with their cousins.
"Is EVERYONE nuts here?" David asked in exasperation, only to be answered by a resounding "YES!" from everyone present, including the brother he shared a body with.
Danny took control to look back towards the table, only to find that one of the lions that David swore were hallucinations was now standing in front of them. "CRAP!"
"Welcome to the family, David and Danny," the big cat said, "I'm Mont Short. Timmy and Ricky already caught me up on your situation, so you ain't gonna freak me out. If the two of you can get your boyfriend standing on his feet again, all y'all can join us; I was just getting ready to explain how I came to exist to your Mom."
"I won the pool!" Caesin exclaimed as David fainted. "Kitty Cuddles!"
"You got lucky, cuz!" Beau giggled as he broke out the smelling salts to revive David / Danny. "Bet they BOTH passed out!"
"Everyone come on over to the table," Mont purred as he turned around to go back to his seat.
"Thanks for the breakfast, Ma Perkins," Bast commented with a smile.
"It's the least I could do for y'all droppin' in to help my boys adjust," Mary replied. "Now then, what was that all about that you was goin' to tell me before Daniel and David gave us a show?"
"I'll take this one, bro," Mont replied. "See if you can peel Judge off of Russ before you and Jer start cuddling again."
"You're a meanie, Uncle Mont!" Judge giggled. "I getta cuddle Dad and Pop alla da time, I don't getta cuddle Uncle Russ that much!"
"You'll get your cuddle time, squirt," Mont sniggered. "Uncle Russ needs to be able to pay attention, just in case Aunt Mary asks something I don't know."
"But you know EVERYTHING!" Judge giggled as he slipped off of the lap of Russ and proceeded to pounce his parents.
After ensuring that Judge didn't cause permanent damage to his parents, Mont looked around before beginning. "Okay, before I start, the people responsible have been dealt with, so don't go starting any raids, guys! I'll give you the lite version; if you want details, any of the Clan AIs can get you hooked up if you ask. Me, Bast, and a whole bunch of other kids are test-tube babies from a military project so secret even the military didn't know about it. It ran off of misappropriated funds, and has been completely shut down after we all escaped and got the word to the right people. They had two main lines they were running. The first was people like us, who are a mix of selected animal genes and human genes born in the lab. They tried with all kinds of animals, so you'll see all kinds of us in the Clan and the Unit. All of us but the last batches have went through extreme military training. One thing we all have in common is that we're trained killers, but have never learned to be kids, so we are learning that from our Clan families."
Mont paused, ensuring that nobody seemed confused so far. "In general, we were bred to gain some advantages of the animal we resemble. That means we are usually faster and stronger than we'd normally be, since those were primary goals. From our human genes, almost all of us gained telepathy of various levels; that was bred in to allow secure conversations in battle. The early experiments were done with gorillas; most of them now have multiple PHDs to their name. That group looks just like you would expect a gorilla to look like, but their IQ is off the charts. They've pretty much all banded together in the medical and R&D side of things, and are having fun with seeing just what they can create to help the Clan."
"Can they talk?" Freddie interrupted with wide eyes.
"Yep," Mont grinned, "usually in multiple languages!"
"COOOOLLL!" Freddie giggled.
"Now for their other experiments," Mont continued. "These violated every known human rights treaty in the Federation. They kidnapped, bought, or abducted normal human kids, then genetically resequenced them with animal genes. It put the kids through Hell, and then they had to suffer through training to find out if the splice was successful. I don't want to know how many kids died, but the ones that survived may look like kids, but they are more like those of us born in the lab as far as their abilities."
"Mary," Russ added, "They tried to brainwash all vestiges of childhood out of that last group. When Mont and Bast were initially assigned to Cory and Sean, they were all military, all the time. The converted kids were at the same place when the Clan and Unit met. Mont and Bast giving in to Cory's insistance that they learn to be kids has provided an example to all of the victims that they WILL be accepted as more than just a soldier by their Clan brothers and sisters. Mont and Bast finally accepted the offer of brotherhood extended to them by Cory and Sean; now they are the Patriarch's brothers, brothers who protect him because they can, not because they were ordered to."
"Don't forget," Toby giggled, "we're under orders to dunk them any time they forget that they're human!"
"Yeah, Cory's still paying for that one!" Bast chuckled. "He never gives up!"
"Kinda like a certain lion who called my boss," Jeremy grinned. "He called him, told him I was quitting, and then told me I was moving to Orlando!"
"You didn't argue!" Bast purred.
"That's beside the point, hot stuff!" Jeremy replied as he scratched Bast's ear.
Mary smiled as she watched the unlikely trio. "I believe Cory is right, and Judge is really lucky to have y'all as his parents," she stated. "I can see that you have left the past behind you, now your job is to make this here world a place where it never happens again."
"Maw?" Danny asked, "We was wondrin' why ain't ya gittin' yer skirt up 'bout all the weird happ'nin?"
"Because 'all this weird' is what put us here today," Mary explained. "It is what empowered a couple of little cuties to make it so you could walk away from a demonic possession, it is what made Shane smile more this mornin' than he has all year, it is what gave me six boys who are my kin forever. It's also why two of my boys share one body. Speaking of that, what do the two of you think about answering to 'DC' when we are talking to you as the combined person that you became? I think that might make things easier for you in public, and since y'all share the middle name Casper there ain't noone who'll question it."
The pair mentally discussed the suggestion for a minute, then David answered. "We'd kinda like to just be called 'Casper', Maw. Since I'm not used to letter names, we think we'd catch it better."
Mary nodded. "In that case, I'm goin' to call y'all Casper 'less I need just one of ya, that'll help y'all get used to it."
"Thanks," David replied, "we're still figuring things out, so that'll make it easier for both of us."
"Hey y'all," Beau interrupted, "Kylegram!"
"IIIINNNN,,,COMING!" Jamie, Jacob, and Beau exclaimed loudly in perfect unison.
Before the ringing had a chance to stop in everyone's ears, DJ, Tanner, Chek, and their sons / grandsons appeared at the other end of the table. DJ took one look around, then quipped "Looks like they're plotting... again!"
"Peter says he'll be right over," Jamie announced. "Right now he's in last weekend waiting for the cookies he baked next month to finish cooling."
"Can we go back to Archnania where things are sane?" Finn asked with a wince at the time-twisted statement.
"Don't tempt me!" DJ, Russ, Sara, Tanner, and Chek replied.
"I'll be right back," Cris told Finn after a quick kiss. "If we've gotta suffer, the rest of my side of the family has to too!"
Before anyone could respond, Chris vanished, only to return seconds later with the rest of his family, along with Peter Lambert, his husband Galen, and their sons DB and Luke. "Hi!" the four Mikyvis exclaimed before deciding to pop around the room, giving everyone a surprise hug.
"I need a mirror so me and Danny can exchange WTF looks!" David exclaimed, his eyes crossed as each of them tried to look at the other.
"Here!" Luke giggled as he pulled a mirror out of where a pocket would have been if he'd been wearing any clothes.
Shaking his head as he saw a halo appear above the little imp's head, Tanner spoke up, explaining things to everyone new just in case. "Anyone who wasn't warned by Dad, welcome to 'Life with Mikyvis, Clan Edition'. These guys are one of the possibilities of what Humanity could become, and the first one was our Uncle Kyle. Peter was about to die from cancer, but Kyle and Ty's first son Levi along with 'Tonio over there saved him. He's still catching up on hugs, we're guessing he might be caught up in another eon or two. If they start getting too insane, just cuddle them and feed them cookies!"
"Cookies? WHERE?" DB and Luke exclaimed in unison.
"What Tanner forgot to mention," Russ added as he pointed out the cookie jar on the nearest counter, "is that these boys exist throughout time all at once, but have consciously chosen to live and learn alongside the very people they evolved from. They could fix everything with a blink of their eyes, but they are mature enough to realize that most things need to happen naturally or it will break the entire Multiverse. None of them will outright intentionally lie to you; they'll either remain silent, mutter something that you'll only partially hear, or tell you that whatever you want to know they are not able to tell you. If it's the last option, don't argue; knowing something before it is time to can make bad things happen."
"Grandpa," Finn quipped as he rolled his eyes, "you're supposed to wait for questions to be ASKED before answering all of them!"
"Nice!" Peter giggled, "Have you taught him how to make his grandpa snort his drink yet, Deej?"
"That's next week!" DJ replied, earning him a 'you'd better not' glare from Russ. "Let me guess, Petey, you decided to give your usual wedding present to families with kids?"
"Nope, this is nothing like what I gave Tracy and Karl!" Peter replied as halos began orbiting his head.
"That's what I was afraid of," DJ smirked before making his way over to Casper. "Hey guys, Jamie and Jacob just finished filling me in on Gizmo's latest demon banishing. Do you mind if I hop on your twinlink with you and explain a few things before you decide we're all going nuts?"
"All Y'all's done pass'd nuts before we woke up!" Danny sniggered. "You ken try tho, ain't gonna make nuthin' worse!"
DJ grinned as he reached out with his mind and joined into the twin's natural link. Taking advantage of the speed of thought, it only took a couple of minutes to update the pair on just what to expect with their new life.
"Thanks, DJ," David stated for him and his brother. "The crazy stuff makes sense now; you can't live in the past when you're watching for the next nutty thing to happen."
"Any time, bros," DJ replied. Turning his head, he added, "As punishment for not warning them, you get to do introductions, Dad!"
Russ didn't need to read minds to know what Mary was thinking about saying, so he quickly headed her off. "Mary, remember that line? DJ's on the other side right now. I deserved that, and I'll explain why later."
"Grownups!" DJ groaned with a roll of his eyes. "Ma'am, I'm DJ Wagner, son of Cory Short, Patriarch of Family Clan Short of Vulcan. I'm also first in line if anything ever happens to my Patriarch to take his role. Every member of Family Clan Short, no matter what their age, is expected to ensure that new arrivals are at least partially prepared for what they will see. Casper's personality type needs someone older than them to confirm the stranger things are real; Dad should have seen that and responded. If I screw up, I expect him to tell me, and if he screws up he counts on me or any of my brothers to tell him."
Mary smiled, DJ's posture telling her he was certain that he was right, and wasn't planning on backing down. "That would be AUNT Mary, young man. You're just as much of a leader as Russ and Sara told me to expect. Appearing to sass your dad while actually pointing out what he missed isn't normal, but it is more acceptable in a public group than stating the transgression outright. We need to sit down later so I know what to expect from your cousins."
"We can do that," DJ replied, "IF Dad gets off his butt and introduces everyone!"
"Alright already," Russ chuckled as he started pointing at people as he gave their names. "You've met your Aunt Mary; her sons are Shane, Caesin, Freddie, and Harold. Casper's married to Shane somehow, Dylan's still trying to figure it out, but if you need to just speak to one of the guys in the body, they are David and Danny, they go by Casper if you're talking to them both. The snake making the rounds of the boys is Chu'mana, and her babies are somewhere around here; blame Gizmo for her. The big guy who is about to go swimming for laughing at me is Matt Barnes. The boys with him are his sons Noah and Caleb, with their sons Hunter and Ron, his son Antonio with his fiancé Byron and their son Yist, and two of his three remaining sons, Ty and Samson. The third one, Chris, is busy trying to swallow his boyfriend Finn's tongue under the table."
"Am not!" Chris exclaimed from under the table.
Russ paused, dramatically drawing in more air. "I'm Russ, and that is my wife Sara. Our boys are Toby, Beau, DJ, and Tanner; Ian is Toby's boyfriend, and Beau is Bonded with Jamie and Jacob. Now for the stars of the latest circus. DJ, Tanner, and Chek are the ones responsible for the size of the last group, their family that they've built almost instantly. Their sons are Warren, Wesley, Hank, Pierce, Rollie, Davner, and Finn; Finn's the one who is blushing while him and Chris rejoin us. Finn and Chris put together their own family, Gyakk, Klauzen, Zamzoon, Tarsee, Syam, and Sylys. The two laughing furry guys are Mont and Bast, along with Bast's boyfriend Jeremy and their son Judge. The four munchkins with halos are Peter, his husband Galen, and their sons DB and Luke. Unless someone was added while I was talking, that's pretty much everyone."
"Someone was added before you started, you just didn't meet him yet!" Peter giggled as he tried to look innocent.
"Them!" Mont, Jeremy, and Bast exclaimed in unison.
DJ shook his head. "We need to find someplace with enough room for all of us to sit before you goofs try to collapse the floor with more people."
"I know just the place!" Galen giggled before popping the entire group outside. "Follow me!" he added as he started walking towards a large house which none of the non-Mikyvis had seen before.
As they got closer to the large two-story flagstone building, a figure in formal Vulcan robes exited the double front doors and headed out to meet them. As they met in the front yard, the veteran Clan members collectively held their breath, as the figure was Cory. All of them knew that Cory's current wardrobe only meant one thing; something serious was about to happen, and there was nothing any of them could do to stop it.
"David James Wagner," Cory stated in full Patriarch mode, "George has been instructed as to appropriate attire for your presence in what is to come. Allow yourself to be prepared."
"Yes, Sa-mekh," DJ replied. "Proceed, George." Seconds later, DJ found himself similarly outfitted in full formal robes. Knowing better than to ask, DJ simply stated "Proceed, my Patriarch."
Cory turned around wordlessly, the unspoken command to follow him understood by all. DJ, due to being the only one ordered to dress in his robes, fell in behind Cory, with everyone else following along.
Cory led the group through the entry foyer of the house. They turned right to head down the hallway, turning left at the end. Just before the staircase at the end of that hall, Cory turned and went through an arched doorway into a large room with one glass wall overlooking another room of the house. Nobody paid attention to the window, however, as their eyes were drawn to the floor-to-ceiling screen currently showing Ambassador Sarek, also in full formal robes. There was a small stage set up in front of the screen, which held Spock, Tzar Alexei, and Jason Evans, all similarly dressed formally.
"Be seated, brothers and sisters," Cory stated as he indicated the well-padded carpeted floor.
Without asking, DJ knew that the offer wasn't extended to him. Once everyone was seated, each unconsciously gravitating to their close family groups, Cory turned to Spock. "Father, I have determined that the outcome of the advice of Patriarch Evans is logical. Family Clan Short of the House of Surak hereby requests a Tribunal of House Surak.
"The House of Sarek concurs with your logic," Spock replied. Turning to the screen, he stated "Sarek, son of Skon, Patriarch of House Surak. The House of Sarek of the House of Surak, Family Clan Short of the House of Surak, and Clan Evans of Family Clan Short of the House of Surak require a House of Surak Tribunal."
"Proceed," Sarek stated.
Cory took one step forward. "Patriarch Sarek, it has been brought to my attention that my son David James Wagner has performed the functional duties of a Patriarch within Family Clan Short when not under my direct observance. Recently, I observed his leadership and guidance skills being used as he accepted six children and seven grandchildren into his own family, including providing guidance to his eldest son in the unexpected addition of the six grandchildren to the eldest's new family. Patriarch Evans has prepared a detailed report of his observations, will you accept this into evidence?"
"I find that your statements concur with my own observations," Sarek stated. "You may submit the report, Patriarch Evans."
After two minutes of reviewing the report, Sarek spoke. "Your logic is sound. Proceed."
"The logical solution I have surmised will be to declare the formation of Clan Wagner as a sub-Clan of Family Clan Short. David James Wagner would be the only possible candidate to fill the position of Patriarch."
"As the emotive display and lack of bloodflow coloration in the face of the candidate provides evidence that in no way was this requested, I shall return with my determination in fourteen point seven minutes." Sarek stated before the screen went blank.
As Cory waited patiently and DJ stood there in shock, the newer members took the chance to whisper to the nearest veteran Clan member, asking just what was happening. Antonio and Chris both had tricorders out, ready to spring into action if it appeared DJ was about to pass out. Exactly on schedule, the screen came back to life, with the room immediately going silent once again.
"I find no flaws in the logic of your statements," Sarek stated. "House Surak recognizes David James Wagner, son of Cory Short, as Patriarch of Clan Wagner of Family Clan Short of the House of Surak of the Planet Vulcan."
"I am honored, Patriarch Sarek," DJ squeaked, his voice crossing three octaves.
"As all who are necessary are present," Sarek added, "I have reviewed statements by Patriarch Cory and have determined it would be logical to acknowledge the bloodline that recently became apparent. Tzar Alexei Romanov, you may join he-who-is-your-brother."
Alexei quickly complied, mentally kicking himself for believing he was just there to observe. "How may I be of assistance, Patriarch Sarek?" he asked nervously.
"Patriarch Cory has determined that Terran cultural history dictates that there be Patriarchs within Family Clan Short which are recognized as his equal in proclamations and actions that involve the Family. Patriarch Evans is acknowledged to be in this position. As your bloodline and Patriarch Cory's bloodlines have crossed in relatively recent history, it would be illogical to allow any titles to be honorary within your family. House Surak recognizes the blood ties of House Romanov and House Scott, and officially recognizes Alexei Romanov, Patriarch of House Romanov of the Russian Federation of Terra of Family Clan Short of the House of Surak of the Planet Vulcan."
Alexei, while now matching DJ's facial lack of coloring, managed to reply "The people of the Russian Federation thank you for the Honor, Patriarch Sarek."
"The Tribunal is dismissed. Live long and prosper, young Patriarchs," Sarek stated as he held up his hand in the familiar gesture.
"May Logic be your guide," DJ and Alexei replied, returning the gesture.
Within seconds of the screen going blank, DJ and Alexei had Cory slung between them. "Follow me, the lift goes to the pool," Alexei stated as they headed out of the room, obviously planning on dunking Cory.
"Wait for me, I still owe him some too!" Jason exclaimed as he rushed to join the fun.
"The window will provide an adequate view of the new Patriarchs thanking their Family Patriarch for his consideration," Spock advised the rest of the room as he quickly moved towards the best spot. That got the entire family moving, as they lined up along the full-length window that they now knew overlooked a pool. Watching the three boys taking turns dunking Cory, which quickly turned into a four-way free-for-all, caused the newer members of the group to begin to relax, especially when they realized that the four boys were having fun.
After a group hug, Cory, Alexei, DJ, and Jason headed back toward the turbolift. Spock turned, and allowed himself a slight smile as he noticed the new boys were now interacting with each other. "Family, Jason and myself are required to return to Wales. Once we have completed our task, I shall return to properly greet you."
"I'll make sure they understand Vulcan family customs, Grandfather," Tanner offered.
"It would be logical for you to investigate their human family customs as well, grandson," Spock replied with a cocked eyebrow.
"I get the hint!" Tanner giggled. "Don't forget to give Jason a dunk from me for plotting with Dad behind our backs!"
"I shall add that to my important task list," Spock replied as he headed towards the doorway.
"I'm not ready for this," DJ sighed as he dried off in the bedroom that now contained all of his and Tanner's belongings. "I love my kids, but I don't want to be on my own yet. Dad, you made me a Patriarch, but I don't even know how to be a dad yet."
Cory and Alexei exchanged glances, then Alexei walked over and pulled DJ into a hug, not caring that they were both naked. "DJ," Alexei stated softly, "Your Uncle Bruce told me something when I was worried about if I could really handle raising my boys. He said nobody is ever ready for the changes that come with raising a family. Then he reminded me that I wasn't doing it alone; if I need help, all I need to do is ask."
Joining the hug, Cory added "Deej, believe it or not, I wasn't joking about you already doing the duties of a Sub-Clan Patriarch. Every big brother is Orlando tries to emulate you, just because you do the right things without even trying. You're just as responsible for how your brothers and sister are turning out as me and your Pop are, and you do it naturally. Your job is to guide, and that is one of the things you do even better than me."
"I just help them," DJ countered, "I don't really raise them, you and Pop do."
"We wouldn't have been able to do it without you and Tanner," Cory replied. "The two of you taught a bunch of boys who had given up on trusting anyone that family was real. You lead by example, and your example is making your brothers and sister into more than they would have ever became on their own."
Alexei nodded. "DJ, you didn't hear the comments I heard from your brothers after you left for your honeymoon. Even though they said it in different ways, all of them think their new nephews just found the best parents they could get without becoming brothers instead of nephews. Mom says being a parent isn't a competition, it's all of the family working together to guide their kids to be the best they can be."
"I've heard all kinds of stories about when you guys set up Time Touched," Cory added. "When it started, they rest of your brothers looked at you as the boss. By the time you guys played your first concert, you had turned them into a team of brothers who counted on you to give them guidance. For the first time in most of their lives, they were comfortable trying their own ideas, and they knew they could count on you to help them if it didn't work out. You changed KC from someone about to give up on his family, into a confident brother who is willing to stand by the side of any of his brothers who are pushing their limits, helping them ensure they don't go to far. I haven't heard CD say his musical experiments 'ain't good enough' in a long time; thanks to you, instead he's showing them off and asking me and Pop what we think. Grandpa Sarek explained what being a Patriarch really means, and there are times that you've been MY example of what I need to be."
"Me? Really?" DJ asked in shock
"Yes, you!" Alexei giggled. "You're a natural, DJ; none of us are going to make you go it alone, but I honestly think you'll teach the adults a thing or two without trying."
"Neither one of you are gonna let me win this argument, are you?" DJ asked, rolling his eyes.
"Are you kidding?" Alexei exclaimed in mock fear. "Do you know what Timmy would do to us if we let his little brother miss this chance to show what he can do?"
"I think I need to give the little rat swimming lessons... again!" DJ sniggered. "Okay, you made your point, I guess I'll give it a try."
Cory gave DJ an extra squeeze. "I know you, you'll do great, son. You don't fail unless you want to, that's a part of you that you'll never change."
"Thanks, Dad," DJ replied, his confidence boosted by the trust his Dad and Uncle put into him being able to succeed.
"Get dressed," Alexei stated as the hug broke. "I think we need to go get my boys before they teach JJ any more Russian cuss words, then we can find out what Peter's plotting this time; I tried asking Kyle, but he just giggled."
"Are you sure Uncle JJ's not teaching them?" DJ giggled. "Okay, Tanner says he has things under control, and thanks for drilling into my hard head to get me thinking again."
"Cory, you mind taking care of your new grandkids when we get back?" Alexei quipped. "DJ and I need to remind a certain husband of his that those of us who are hard-headed don't need reminded of it!"
"I thought you said you forgot how to be a kid, my little brother?" Cory giggled, which earned him a tickle attack from Alexei.
DJ, Cory, and Alexei came to a stop in the family room doorway, while Alexei's sons Daniil and Yegor ran into the room to join the other kids they spotted playing. The room bore no resemblance to the room they had left a short time ago. The farthest corner from the doorway was now a play area, with the younger kids happily getting to know each other as they checked out the toys and books. The corner straight in from the doorway now contained two large sectional couches, arranged into a square with opposing open corners. In the center of the square was a large coffee table, with two monitors placed back-to-back in the middle. The kids who were not playing had congregated in this corner, having some sort of discussion and occasionally pointing at the screen facing them.
The adults had found safety on another sectional that was facing the wall that had held the large monitor. That monitor was now lowered into the recess in the floor designed to hold it when not in use, and two smaller six-foot-wide monitors mounted side-by-side had taken it's place.
"Wow!" DJ muttered in awe. "Look, Dad! There's even one of those old arcade games and a pool table! This is awesome!"
"I need to talk with Peter about getting a room like this in my place!" Cory giggled.
"Me too," Alexi added. "This looks like fun!
Just then, Finn spotted DJ, and came over with Sylys at his side. "Whose house is this, Dad? This is awesome!"
"I got to play with a lot of new toys!" Sylys added with a happy smile.
At that moment, DJ finally comprehended what the comments back on Archnania about his relationship with Finn really meant. Even with his other two parents, his grandparents, and his uncles in the same room, Finn waited until he could ask DJ his questions, unconsciously proving that his trust in his new Dad was absolute.
"I'm pretty sure it belongs to us now, son," DJ replied. "All of the stuff from me, pop, and mom's bedrooms is moved in here already. If your Uncle Peter pulled his usual stunts, everything from your old bedroom is probably here too, if he was able to save it."
"You mean Uncle Peter gave us a MANSION?" Finn asked, his mind trying to process the possibility.
Deciding that DJ could use some help, Cory interjected "Finn, you don't know this, but your Uncle Peter owns the construction company that builds everything for the Clan, along with their normal jobs. When you meet Tracy and Karl, ask them about his wedding gift to them; they ended up with an entire complex. When the Clan saved his life, Peter vowed that he'd never forget it, so now he makes sure we all have the residence we need before we even know that we need it."
"That I can understand!" Finn quipped as he stole a quick hug from DJ.
"Does that mean we live here, Daddy?" Sylys asked hopefully.
At Cory's nod, Finn replied "Yes, this is our new home, Sy."
In the blink of an eye, Finn was on the ground with said son trying to hug him as hard as he could. Alexei smiled as he quipped "That is all you, DJ. Don't ever forget it. Kyle says that you're the only reason that little guy has a daddy to look up to."
"Okay, you win already!" DJ grinned. "Let's rescue Finn, then he can give us the tour of the room."
As DJ, Tanner and Chek joined the conference on the couches in front of the huge dual screens, DJ quipped "Before you say a word, Dad, I've already been told the recommended doses of Pixie Styx and Mountain Dew to feed your grandchildren and great-grandchildren before visits if you try to pull a stunt like Dad Cory did."
"I'm only crazy, not insane!" Russ chuckled. "Don't worry; unlike your other set of parents we're planning to help make things easier for you."
"I heard that, Russ!" Cory yelled from across the room.
"Good!" Russ shot back. "That way you can be blamed too!"
Shaking their heads in unison, the three boys took a seat on the couch, immediately forming a three-way cuddle. "Okay, what's happening?" DJ asked politely.
"Matt, you first," Russ stated. "You've got the most important part on the Clan side of things."
"Thank, Russ," Matt replied. "I'll make sure Chris is aware of your generosity!"
Turning to the boys, Matt continued. "DJ and Tanner, I don't know if you picked up on it, but me and Antonio have taken a personal interest in your health and safety from the day we rescued you in that bus station. Even if I wasn't there, I always knew who was watching over you; even on tour, Dylan had standing orders to pull me in if needed. With that in mind, Cory warned me about what he was going to do, and told me that he thought it might be time for me to step up and take an active role in your security. I fully agree, and so does the rest of my family, so unless you three say otherwise we want to move in here with you so that you have the security that goes along with your new title."
After an obvious mental three-way conference, Tanner answered for the trio. "Honestly, if it was anyone else we'd say no, just because of our kids and how they'd react. You're one of us though, you have been since before we even met you. If we gotta have live-in security, the security being family is the best option, so we're willing to give it a shot."
"Thank you," Matt acknowledged. "I hope I get more time in as a grandpa than I do as Security, to be honest. From what we've figured out, there are six little guys who really need a family tree that they can count on."
"There's actually another reason we said okay," DJ added. "We have four boys who share a genetic link with Antonio. You're the expert in showing kids like them that they are normal, so you'll be a big help with our boys."
"The three of you just passed your first parenthood test," Matt smiled. "Learning to ask others to help with things you are not prepared for is a lesson that a lot of parents never learn. Keep that up, and someday you'll be the parents in a conference just like this with one or more of your sons."
"Finn," DJ giggled. "I'd be willing to bet on it."
"Probably so," Matt nodded. "Before we leave this room, Mont and Bast personally selected two permanent security personnel for you right after your wedding. DJ, with your new title, I would recommend that you accept them."
DJ looked over at his furry uncles. "Did either one of you actually give Jory a choice as to who you picked?"
"We told him he could choose two from the list," Mont grinned.
"It wasn't our fault that there were only two names!" Bast purred as he tried to look innocent.
"That's what I figured!" DJ giggled. "Thanks, guys. I figured we'd get security once we started our family, it makes me worry a lot less that you guys picked them out."
"Thanks, Deej," Bast replied, "We plan on them coming over after Matt gives them his approval."
Tanner shook his head. "Bring them in; we all know that the chances of Matt not liking them are even less than the chances of us not liking them."
"That's a valid point!" Matt sniggered. "You heard the boss, gentlemen!"
"I'll do it from the hall," Mont stated as he stood up. "I don't want to scare the kids."
"Good idea," DJ nodded. "But are you sure it isn't that you don't want the kids to scare them?"
Mont tilted his head, then purred "Both!" as he headed towards the hall.
While they waited, Matt turned back to DJ. "Deej, just as soon as you think he's stabilized in his new home, we need to get Finn a phasenmorph. Chris has his already, and I'll be reviewing the rest of the house once we're settled in."
"Yeah, I think I'm stuck with that one," DJ replied. "He's already coming to me, and waiting if I'm not here."
"He knows how to pick role models," Matt observed. "His psych profile is almost a match to you, Deej, so it makes sense that you'd be his source of security."
"I guess that means Dad needs to get a diaper for his nose," DJ quipped, naturally just as he saw Russ taking a drink.
He got his intended result, as Russ sprayed his Dr. Pepper all over himself and the floor in front of him. "SCORE!" DJ exclaimed as he high-fived Tanner and Chek.
"Will you ever learn?" Sara chuckled as she pulled a hand towel from her purse. "Drinking and Deej talking never mix well!"
Mary, who had been watching the boys silently, stated "I was beginnin' to wonder if'n you yunguns was gonna loosen up. All y'all's done been wound tighter than the rubber band on Freddie's toy airplane."
"We're just trying to get everything together so they have a home," Chek explained.
"Y'all worry 'bout their heads," Mary stated, "and let all y'all's kinfolk sort out their home. Y'all ain't no good to them worryin' 'bout things you ain't learned yet." After pausing for breath, Mary added "Y'all ain't feedin' this here mob yourselves. All y'all take care of the young'uns, let me worry about keepin' their bottomless pits happy."
DJ's first instinct was to fire on Mary with both barrels; in fact, the expressions on Russ and Sara's faces showed that they fully expected it. The similarity to the statements he'd heard from Helen stopped him; Mary sounded exactly like that, and DJ was fully aware of how much stability Helen had given to him and his brothers with her direct approach. After a quick mental conference with Tanner and Chek, DJ took a deep breath then replied. "You're going to sit down with Mom, Grandma Teri, and Aunt Helen to learn how the kitchens for Clan families are run. You are part of the family, not an employee, and I expect you to treat all of my boys and any family they assemble as you would treat any family member. My cousins are part of Family Clan Short; in fact, they are Charter members of Clan Wagner. In all Clan matters, you will defer to my judgement regarding any Clan activities that your sons become involved in."
Mary considered DJ's statements, placing them in context with the ceremony that she had witnessed earlier that day. After contemplating if DJ was the type of influence she wanted her sons exposed to, she made her decision. "That I can work with, but I'm not holdin' my tongue if y'all ain't usin' your heads."
"I don't expect you to," DJ admitted. "Grandma Teri says no parent knows everything, so the more ideas on fixing an issue the better."
"That's why you're my son's Patriarch," Mary stated, accepting DJ's conditions by inference.
The conversation was stopped when Mont returned with his two picks for Security. The twin jaglion-human hybrids spotted DJ, quickly moving to stand at attention in front of him, saluting as they said in unison "Majors Kopa and Kovu reporting for duty, Patriarch."
Returning the salute, DJ replied, "At ease already. The next time you two clowns pull this crap, I'm banning you from catnip for a month. Mont and Bast had to learn they were family, and the two of you are no different. You have until this time tomorrow to pick a family that you think you'll fit in with, then we'll start getting you used to being people. Understood?"
"I told you so!" Mont laughed. "Next time you'll listen, little nephews."
"Would you mind explaining that, fur-ball?" DJ asked with raised eyebrows.
Realizing by DJ's tone that it wasn't a question, but an order, Mont replied "The lion that was used as our father bred with one of the jaguars when the keepers were not looking, and she gave birth to three jaglions. One of them was used as the father for those two, which makes them our nephews."
DJ smiled, and turned back to find the twins glaring at Mont. "Chill, guys; that means you're my cousins. There's one thing I can promise you; I know how your uncles think, and there is no way that they'd put you in the position of Patriarch Security unless they honestly believed that you were qualified and were able to do the job to their standards. You've already proved yourselves by being picked; now just relax and do what you need to when it's needed."
Recognizing the lost looks on the two furry faces, DJ pulled them into a hug as he said "You became family the day Mont and Bast became my uncles. You're stuck guys; now that I know that you're family by blood, I'm not ever going to let you forget that you are one of us. You're not an experiment, you're my furry HUMAN cousins."
"Kopa? Kovu?" Tanner interrupted. "You're off-duty today to get to know your family some. Matt can arrange for coverage, I want you to take some personal time to adjust."
"I already have house security on station," Matt added. "We're covered as long as we're onsite."
"Don't try to argue with Tanner," DJ advised with a grin. "I even lose, you wouldn't have a chance!"
Just then, Peter wandered over to join the group. "I was wondering when Mont and Bast were going to get around to getting the last two here!" he giggled. "You guys ready to see your new house?"