Memories Part 1: The Gathering

Chapter 34

Aaron woke up and couldn't help but smile. Timmy and Ricky were still in the same positions they had assumed at bedtime the night before, one under each of Aaron's arms and both of them using his chest as a pillow. Somehow, they had managed to drag Timmy's huge teddy bear along, and it was sandwiched between them on Aaron's stomach. He glanced towards the headboard and saw William and Duke perched in their now-usual positions, standing guard over all of their charges. Aaron gently shook his nephews. "Hey guys, I need to get up."

To his surprise, both boys were instantly awake. Timmy wiggled up and gave Aaron a kiss on the cheek. "Mornin' Unca Aaron. Can we get up too?"

Aaron chuckled. "Sure thing, Munchkin. Right now I need to hit the bathroom."

Both boys hopped up. "C'mon Uncle Aaron!" Ricky exclaimed as they both grabbed a hand and began pulling him up. "We gotta go too!"

Aaron began to argue, but changed his mind when he saw the looks on the boy's faces. "Okay guys, but this better not become a habit." Aaron decided to save Sean and Cory the trouble of trying to get the boys to take their bath. "Ricky, Timmy; why don't y'all shower with me this morning. I heard what you pulled yesterday; right now Cory does not need to have to deal with things like that."

Timmy looked up at Aaron. "Why's Daddy so sad, Unca Aaron?"

Aaron knelt down between the boys. "Timmy, your Daddy had to do something that he didn't like doing so that some of your other uncles would be safe. He's been thinking about it a lot, and it makes him hurt inside."

Timmy thought for a minute. "I guess Gran'ma and me needs to give Daddy extra cuddles. Can you help Daddy too?"

Aaron smiled as he pulled both Ricky and Timmy into a hug. "That's why I came up here. Ricky, you might want to give Gabe some cuddles too. He needs them just like Cory does."

Ricky nodded his head against Aaron's chest. "I was thinkin' of that, but I didn't know if he'd let me."

"Don't worry." Aaron replied. "If he gives you any trouble about it tell me. I'll make sure he understands that you're helping him."

Aaron scooted the boys into the shower. Twenty minutes later, he managed to have them dry and getting dressed. Just as they were finishing, the rest of the boys started waking up and drifting in groups into the bathroom. Aaron couldn't help but smile when Timmy ran over to sit on Cory's lap just as he sat back down. As they cuddled, Gabe came out and found Ricky on his lap as soon as he took a seat.

Gabe looked at Ricky with surprise. "What's up, lil' bro? Is something wrong?"

Ricky snuggled into Gabe's chest. "Nothin's wrong; I just wanna cuddle you cuz' you're such a good big brother."

Travis joined the pair in their cuddle. "You got that right, Ricky. I think you got yourself an awesome big brother; I know he's the best boyfriend in the whole world."

Gabe looked at his two companions with tears in his eyes. "Thanks guys, I love both of you. I wish I knew what I did to deserve you."

Eli and Benji joined the pile. Benji answered Gabe's question for everyone. "Bro, I can tell you what you did. You stood by Trav's side when he needed it most, you gave Ricky a family by welcoming him with open arms, and you gave two crippled boys with bad attitudes a chance to move on with their lives. You really care about us, we can all see that; in fact you probably saved all of our lives in one way or another."

Gabe hung his head and muttered "Yeah, but I killed someone too."

Eli reached over and lifted Gabe's chin. "Yes you did. You, JJ, and Cory did what had to be done to protect the people you love. If you hadn't done it, I can name five kids who would not be able to sleep at night because they would be worried about him coming back for them. I also have a good idea of what he planned to do from some comments he made; I don't know about the rest of these guys, but I consider you my hero for taking care of him. Think about it big bro; Ambassador Sarek would not have let you do it if it was wrong to kill him. You did what was needed to protect us; that makes you one of the best big brothers in the whole world."

Gabe gave Eli a small smile. "I guess if you look at it that way you're right. I just don't want you guys to learn bad things from me."

Travis kissed Gabe before commenting. "Babe, if looking out for your little brothers and doing what you could legally do to protect them is bad, then you can be as bad as you want. One of the things I love about you is that you always check yourself to make sure you did the right thing; you can stop checking babe, this time we all agree you did exactly what you should've done."

Gabe took a chance to look around, and was shocked to see that both Cory and JJ seemed to be getting the same treatment he had just received. He smiled as he commented "Hey bros, I think we should get dressed and head downstairs. It looks like the rest of the guys need some time too."

Ricky waited impatiently as his brothers got dressed, then the five of them went into the hall to go downstairs. Duke took flight and joined them as they went through the door.

Eli and Benji looked at each other and giggled. Benji stopped everyone else and said "Hold on, guys. Since Eli's gotta float down anyways, let's do this like brothers should. Gabe, take a seat on the top step; Trav, you sit on his lap and Ricky sit on Trav's lap. The two of us are gonna sit on either side." Once everyone was in position, Eli and Benji concentrated for a second. The group of boys lifted off of the steps and slowly floated down in one mass; Ricky giggling uncontrollably the entire way to the dining room with Duke perched in his lap.


Aaron watched as Gabe led his brothers out of the room. Once the door closed behind them, he turned back to Cory. "Hey lil' bro; were you paying attention to what the guys told Gabe?"

Cory slightly nodded his head as he rubbed Timmy's back. "Yeah, kinda. But that was all about him; what's it got to do with me?"

To everyone's surprise, Tommy answered. "It's gotta LOT to do with you. I know what he was plannin' to do with me and the twins; he told me enough times. You and Sean are what's holdin' this group together, and you made a decision which saved a bunch of us. Kel and I have been talking, and he says you ain't actin' normal since those happen'ns. I'm startin' to think you're lettin' your head mess you up again. I just got y'all as kin, and I ain't gonna watch you crash like you did before. Sean don't need it, Timmy don't need it, Mom don't need it. You also gotta think about Adam, Ty, Aaron and me; we didn't see it happen but we'll get hurt too. Ya' need to stop worryin' your pretty blond head and git to livin' again before I figger out how to git hold of that Justy kid an' have him fetch a Vulcan to do sum head-fixin'. You ain't got me riled yet, but you're pushin' it."

Sean looked at Cory in shock. "Babe, I think our little brother just gave you one of those kicks in the butt that Uncle Josh and Uncle Chip was talking about."

Cory was frozen, still trying to process what he just heard. A few seconds later, he finally was able to respond. "Yeah he did; and he's right. Tommy, thanks a bunch lil' bro; you've got my attention now. I know I've been thinkin' about that a lot, but I didn't think it was messin' with me. I think you might have the right idea Tommy; but we might not need a Vulcan. It's time you met Justy, Jamie, and Jacob anyways." Cory turned to Aaron. "Bro, could you get ahold of David and see if he'll escort the three musketeers up here? I think there are four heads that need some cleaning and filing help up here; and a human would understand how to file emotions better."

Aaron nodded his head. "I'll call Josh once I'm sure he's up and set everything up. I'll make sure that Triple Threat knows you called them the three musketeers, that should have them ready to visit."

Kyle giggled from over on JJ's lap. "Too late, Air-Head! They know; Justy says Cory can call them that, but you're goin' swimmin' for the triple threat stuff. They just helped Uncle Josh wake up. Jamie said for some reason he's more than happy to ship them off with David for a few days. He said somethin' about sleepin' in."

JJ giggled. "I guess we better warn Mom. It's gonna be cool having the twins back here."

Aaron smiled. "Just wait! You can ask Cory, those two are really opening up. I think you'll be impressed."

Adam looked over at Aaron. "That sounds great, they were so jumpy before. I kinda miss them; when we found them I think they were hurtin' as much inside as I was outside."

Tommy looked over at Adam with a confused look on his face. "Whadda ya' mean, bro?"

Adam put an arm over Tommy's shoulder. "Bro, you know about me being beat before I came home. We found Jamie and Jacob when we stopped for dinner after I left the hospital. Their old father had messed them up really bad in their heads. When Justy came up here they kinda hooked up with him and started opening up; that's why Uncle Chip and Uncle Josh decided to make them Justy's brothers."

"Okay, I kinda get it. It's just weird the way y'all talk 'bout guys I ain't met like they's kin."

Adam giggled. "It's okay bro, we understand. I promise you'll get to meet everyone pretty soon."

Aaron looked at Cory then turned and checked on JJ. Satisfied that both of them were settled down for a while, he announced "Okay guys, I think we better all get around and get downstairs before Gabe and his bros eat all of the food."


Matt was surprised when Antonio climbed on his lap after breakfast. "What's up little buddy?"

Antonio giggled as he snuggled into Matt's arms. "Nuthin! I just ain't had a daddy who I felt safe cuddling with for thirty-two years. I realized this mornin' that I'm starting to feel safe here with you, so I'm gonna see what this daddy cuddle thing is all about."

Matt chuckled. "Well, I think it's time we both learned! Just remember; I'm a new daddy, so I'm gonna make mistakes sometimes. The one thing I'll never let happen is to let you get hurt. You've already made me proud by everything you've lived through; I'm looking forward to lots of years of you making me proud of what you accomplish."

Antonio purred as he snuggled tighter. "I'm glad I've got a lotta years to have you for a daddy; you're making me feel happy."

Teri smiled at the interaction between Matt and Antonio. The peaceful moment was shattered by the ringing of the doorbell. "I'll get it." Teri announced as she stood and headed for the front hall. As soon as she saw who was there, she opened the door with a smile.

"Joe! I was beginning to wonder if you forgot about us!" Teri joked as she opened the door.

Judge Lewis chuckled. "Not likely, Teri!" he replied as he hefted the briefcase in his right hand. "I've started asking my clerk what you had for me whenever I walk into the office. This is the first chance I've had to come out and place faces with all of these files."

Teri giggled. "Well come on in. They all just finished breakfast. I think there's gonna be some happy people if that case is filled with what I think it's filled with."

Joe followed Teri into the foyer. Just as he closed the door, they were distracted by a group of shimmering columns in the hall. A few seconds later, Teri chuckled as she identified the new arrivals. "Dang, Josh must really want to sleep in! How many days did he pack you guys for?"

David giggled. "Hey Mom! Josh said he'll call Tuesday to see how the guys are doin'. Where's the blond goofball I call a boyfriend?"

"He's in the dining room." Teri replied as she received a triple hug from Justy, Jamie, and Jacob. After giving each of the three a kiss on the forehead, she told Justy "Why don't you take your brothers into the dining room. There's a few kids in there waiting to see them."

"Sure thing, Teri."

Teri looked at the two remaining new arrivals. "Mark? Zac? How'd you two sneak out?"

Mark grinned. "When I reminded Josh that I'd helped Cory through the worst time in his life, Josh all but held a phaser to my head to make me hurry and pack to be here for him. These guys are responsible for me getting the best break of my life. There's no way I'm going to miss a chance to pay them back."

Before Teri could respond, Joe commented "That's a very admirable attitude, Mark. I'm impressed by your increased maturity. Who is this young man with you?"

Mark's face glowed with pride as he answered. "Joe, this is my boyfriend, Zac Hanson. Zac, this is Judge Joe Lewis; he's the Family Court Judge here in Polk County."

Zac stepped forward and held out his hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Your Honor."

Joe chuckled. "It's a pleasure to meet you too, Zac, but please call me Joe outside the courtroom, okay? I'm glad to see Mark has such a well-mannered partner."

Teri turned her head as she thought she heard a noise behind her. She was about to ignore it when it repeated - a soft knock on the door. She turned back to the door and opened it. Standing outside were two young boys who looked to be about twelve years old. Both had short hair; one medium blond and the other medium brown. The blond had bright green eyes, while the other boy's eyes were a deep blue. "Hey guys, how can I help you?"

The blond answered shyly. "Are you Mrs. Short?"

Teri heard something familiar in the tone of the question. "Yes I am, but you guys can call me Teri. Are you looking for some help? What's your names?"

The blond boy answered again. "I'm Caleb, and this is Noah. I don't know if you can help, but can we talk to you? Noah heard about you before he came to my house."

"Come on in here, we'll see what I can do." Teri replied as she placed a hand on each of the boy's shoulders.

They entered the front hall and Noah came to a sudden stop. "Judge Lewis?" he said in a shocked voice.

Joe turned at the new voice. "Noah Baldwin? What brings you here? Is this your new brother Caleb?"

Noah looked at the ground. "Yeah; we kinda ... well ... we're sorta havin' problems at home."

Joe reached over and lifted Noah's chin. "If you're having problems that you think you need Teri's help with, I'm all ears. In fact, why don't you two go with Teri into the rec room while I get your file from the office."

Noah gave Joe a small smile. "Thanks sir. You're not mad about me havin' problems with the family you set me up with, are you?"

"No, actually I'm impressed you decided to look for help. Get on in there so we can sort things out for you."

Teri started to escort the two boys to the rec room. As she passed Mark, she told him "Get Eli and Benji to help you with y'all's bags. Send everyone else in here; adults included. I'm calling a family meeting. Tell Gabe to call in everyone from his house too."

"Yes Ma'am!" Mark replied with a giggle as he gave Teri a mock salute. He managed to avoid Teri's swat as he ran towards the dining room, Zac hot on his heels.

A few minutes later, Teri looked around the room at the assembled families. Once she was sure everyone was there, her eyes settled on the two awestruck boys sitting between Aaron and David. "Caleb, Noah. I know this is not what you expected; but right now you are sitting with the collectively most powerful kids advocates group in the Federation. Whatever your problem is, someone here can help you. You guys decide how you want to tell us; we'll wait until you are ready."

The two boys whispered to each other for a minute, then Caleb started to stand up. Aaron placed a hand on his shoulder and pulled him back down. "Stay here buddy; it's easier to talk if you're with someone you care about."

Caleb gave Aaron an appreciative smile, then began explaining. "Noah and I hit it off the night he came home. As soon as I saw him I knew he was special. Mom and Dad thought it was cool the way we got along until last Friday morning. We'd fell asleep in our underwear cuddled up to each other Thursday night; by the time my dad came in to wake us up we were belly to belly and our stuff had wiggled out of our shorts. He freaked out and started yellin' about how he wasn't gonna let nobody corrupt me. He was leaving to go out of town for work; he's supposed to be back today. He told Mom that we ain't allowed to be alone with each other and that he's callin' the judge Monday to send Noah back. Noah and I talked about it at school; that's when he told me about y'all and we decided to sneak out this morning and ask if there's any way you can stop him from sending Noah away from me."

Teri smiled at Caleb. "You made a good decision; I'm about to take the first step in protecting Noah." She turned to Joe and held out her hand. "Joe, the file please."

Joe chucked as he handed a disc to Teri. "I figured as much. Let me guess, Section 9.3(a) on the close ticket? By the way, Caleb's adopted too; his records are also on the disc."

As Teri discussed the applicable sections with Joe, Matt came over to explain what happened to the two confused boys.

"Hey guys, I'm Matt; I'm in charge of security for all of these boys. Do either of you have an idea of what just happened?"

Both boys shook their head no.

Matt smiled. "Well, as of right now, your Dad could call the President of the United States and still not separate you guys. Judge Lewis just turned your files over at the request of the Federation Youth Services Director. That means that Teri now has absolute say over what happens with BOTH of you. All she has to do is nod her head and you both will have a new home; and I KNOW she will not let you get separated."

Noah grinned for the first time since the meeting started. "Wow! I'd heard stuff when I was in the new home waiting for my new family; but I didn't think all of it was true! This is awesome!"

Caleb was more subdued. "Judge Lewis? When was I adopted? I never knew that."

Joe spun to face Caleb. "I'm sorry Caleb; I thought you knew. You were about eighteen months old when they adopted you. By the time most kids are your age the parents have told them that they were adopted."

Everyone was shocked when Caleb's face clouded over with fury. "THEY LIED TO ME! I'd asked them lots of times if I was adopted since I don't look like them. I never got as good of stuff for my birthday or Christmas like my cousins; now I know why."

Matt reached down and pulled Caleb to his chest. As Noah stood and covered Caleb's back with a hug, Matt told Caleb "Settle down lil' buddy. I've been there; I know it hurts right now. Being adopted don't make you any less of a person." Matt pulled an arm loose and pointed at Cory. "You see that blond over there? That's Teri's adopted son Cory. At fourteen, he's the youngest commissioned Engineer in Starfleet, he's got two major engineering changes to starships that he either developed or helped with, and he is the Patriarch of a Vulcan Clan. Teri loves him just as much as her son Sean; the fastest way to piss her off is to treat Cory different just because he's not her blood relative."

Noah added his opinion. "He's right Caleb; I like you just as much no matter who your parents are."

Matt guided both boys back to sit with him and Antonio. As they sat down, Joe spoke up. "That wasn't the reason I came over today, but I'm glad I was here. I actually came over to make some of you happy. Judge Robison and I have been working together; we have finalized a few things that have been left hanging." Joe opened the case he had brought with him and pulled out a folder.

Joe smiled as he pulled out the first form in the pile. "Is there a Tommy Wilson anywhere here?"

Tommy shyly raised his hand. "That'd be me, Sir."

"Great! Why don't you grab those two goofball brothers of yours who like to moonlight as Starfleet Officers and come over here; I need them to sign something."

Cory and Sean escorted a perplexed Tommy over to where Joe was sitting. Cory had a huge grin on his face as he commented "Hey lil' bro; I know you're starting to believe us that you're a part of the family now. I know that look on Joe's face; any doubt you still have is about to be blown out of the water."

Joe chuckled at Cory's comment. "Sometimes you're too smart for your own good, Cory. Tommy, your new mom told me that you thought you had to see a judge before she could make you a part of her family. From the sound of it you've figured out that she can do a lot more than you thought; the only thing she can't do is give you her name. I have one question for you; you need to give me an honest answer. Don't worry about what anyone thinks, I know for a fact they all value honesty above everything else."

Tommy nodded. "I understand, Sir. Momma learned me early there ain't no good comes from fibbin'."

Joe nodded with a smile. "Okay. Tell me what you think about your new family and if you want to keep them."

Tommy smiled. "Dang Judge, I thought ya' was gonna give me a hard question! In the last couple of days I learned I had a bunch'a big brothers who like talkin' to me and helpin' me. I gotta new little brother who I think is awesome, and a new nephew who's kinda silly but really lovable. Mom's wantin' me to try to talk like the rest of y'all, but I like her anyways cuz' she lets me know if I'm messin' up. A couple'a days ago I thought I'd lost all my kin; this mornin' I woke up and looked around me. You know what I saw? I saw a bunch'a guys layin' around me who love each other and love me; I saw my new kin. You're darn tootin' I wanna keep them!"

Joe chuckled. "I thought as much! Well, I think that if you're going to be part of the family you should do it all the way. I have a piece of paper here that will complete the process and give you Teri's last name. Do you want to take that last step?"

Tommy turned to look at Teri. "Can I? Do you want me that much?"

Teri smiled as she held out her arms to Tommy. "Yes I do, Tommy. That's why I called Joe as soon as I brought you home. I think you fit the family perfectly and I want you to be part of it."

Tommy was unable to speak as he jumped into Teri's arms and buried his face in her chest. It took almost five minutes before he was able to control his emotions enough to turn his head and ask Joe "Can you really do it today? Please?"

Joe pointed at Sean and Cory. "If it wasn't for your big brothers, I'd have to say no. But, since they are Starfleet officers they're allowed to witness proceedings like this and make them legal. I guess now all you have to do is convince them to sign the papers, I signed while you were cuddling your mom."

Before Tommy could even ask, Cory reached in front of Joe and grabbed the pen. "Give me that paper, Joe! One of the memories I've got back is what it feels like to lose your mom, and how it feels for another family to take you in as one of their own. There is no way in hell I'm going to let Tommy down; besides, it's not every day that you get a little brother who is an awesome cook!" Cory signed his spot as fast as Joe could slide the paper to him, then pushed it over to Sean. "Hurry up and sign before I decide to make you sleep outside!"

Sean giggled as he signed in the remaining blank. "You know Cor, you're getting' kinda pushy in your old age! At least you're right about Tommy; I want him to have a family as bad as you do."

Joe took back the form. "Thanks guys, hang around though; you've got a few more after this." Joe waved Tommy and Teri over to join him. Once they were standing by him, Joe put his hands on Tommy's shoulders and turned him to face the room. "Gentlemen, I'm proud to present to you Tommy Short."

Tommy was shocked to suddenly find himself in the center of a six-way hug. Cory, Sean, and Teri got him first; Adam, Ty, and Timmy piled onto the outside. Tommy was once again speechless, tears of joy streaming down his face.

Joe smiled at the group in front of him. "In case anyone wondered, this is the reason I enjoy my job. Is there a Doctor Austin Michaels in the house?"

Austin stood up and replied with a grin. "A judge with a sense of humor; what a concept! How can I help you, Judge?"

Joe continued with a grin of his own as Teri slipped out of the room. "I've heard through the grapevine that you and your wife Carrie have been taking lessons from Teri. It seems there are three boys who now call you Dad; the problem is they still carry their own names. Do you want to fix that problem?"

Austin turned and looked at the shocked faces of the three boys he had taken in. "You know, a month ago I would have laughed if you told me I'd have three more sons. Now I have four boys calling me Dad; four boys who each hold a piece of my heart. The decision is theirs, not mine; I'll be happy no matter what they decide."

Carrie wrapped her arms around Ricky and asked "Do you understand what you need to decide?"

Ricky had a mile-wide grin as he replied. "Yeah, Duke 'splained it. If I say yes, then I'm really your boy forever; nobody can take me away. Y'all gave me three awesome big brothers and now you wanna give me your last name. I wanna be a Michaels for real!"

Benji piped up with a reply as soon as Ricky finished. "Y'all joke about all of us twins taking turns talking; we do it 'cause it saves time. Eli is gonna answer for both of us."

Eli took his turn. "When we were in the hospital, everyone treated us like trash until Doc Austin showed up. Neither one of us trusted him, but our new little brother went out of his way to make us realize we needed to give Doc a chance. Thanks to him and our boyfriends, we have a family we are proud of again. I was the last one to accept our new family, but I'm the first to say we wanna be Michaels kids just like Ricky and Gabe."

A tear ran down Austin's cheek. "Thank you boys; all three of you. You have all made myself, Carrie, and Gabe much happier. Joe, let's give these guys what they deserve."

Three minutes later, the Michaels family was in their own group hug in celebration of the three boy's decision. Joe looked through his remaining papers and gave a big grin. "John, you're next; I hear Sammy and Sebastian have settled in nicely, are you ready to take the final step?"

John looked at his two sons; the bouncing of their heads answered his unspoken question. "You better believe it, Joe. Those boys have made me proud ever since I found them. They have earned the right to carry my name."

Joe was all smiles as he gave the twins their new last name. His next victim was Helen; she didn't even have a chance to respond before Alec and Travis yelled 'YES!' in unison.

Just as Joe finished with Helen, Teri returned to the room, fuming. "John, call your former co-workers at Polk County and tell them to pull the kidnapping report on Caleb. He and Noah are Wards of the Federation as of right now."

John moved to the phone and began calling as Caleb and Noah jumped up and joined Teri.

"What happened?" Caleb asked Teri with a worried tone.

Teri took a seat and pulled both boys onto her lap. "I called your house to see how I could help you. Caleb, your Dad got home this morning about the time you got here. As soon as he realized you guys had left the house, he called the police and told them Noah had kidnapped you. When I tried to talk sense to him, he informed me that there was no way he was going to let Noah 'have his way with you'. That was his exact words. When I informed him that from what I could see nothing more than normal experimentation was occurring, he went through the roof and started ranting about Child Services sending out perverts. I reminded him that you were adopted too, and told him neither of you forced the other to do anything; that's when your mom commented that if she'd known you had bad blood they never would have adopted you. I had heard enough; I informed them a Federation Security detail would be by to retrieve both of your belongings and that from this point on you were no longer their children. I am also blocking any future adoptions they might attempt."

"What's going to happen to us now?" Noah asked, tears running down his face. Caleb had his face buried in Noah's chest, his sobs audible to everyone in the room.

Teri hugged the two boys. "For now you stay here. More than likely you will be moving to Orlando; we have a camp down there for boys who need someplace to grow up where they are loved no matter what."

Antonio was sitting on Matt's lap. He turned his head and told Matt "Go ahead, Daddy. I know you want to, and I want to help them too."

Matt stood up and balanced Antonio on his hip. "Teri, break out the tricorder. Antonio and I would like to give these two a chance to see where their feelings lead."

"Are you sure, Matt? Considering your position and what these boys have already been through, there's no turning back once you say yes."

Matt glanced at the two boys sobbing on Teri's lap, then looked her straight in the eye. "I'm positive, Teri. Those boys are only going to Orlando when we move down there; and then they are going as my sons. Now hurry up, I need to go get my son's belongings."

Teri got the attention of the two boys on her lap. "Guys, Matt and Antonio want you both to join their family. I'm going to let you decide; would you rather go to the camp or join Matt's family?"

Noah looked over at Matt, then back to Teri. "What happens if we wanna become boyfriends? We can't do that if we're brothers."

Cory answered for his mom. "Noah, it doesn't work like that around here. Sean has been my brother since I was six, but he is now my boyfriend. It don't matter if we have the same last name; everyone knows I'm adopted. Don't think you have to be gay either; no matter if you are gay or straight we will all back you up."

Caleb finally spoke, his eyes red and puffy from crying. "Noah, you make me feel different. I'm tryin' to keep it like you're just my brother, but it's like something more with you. I want you to decide, I don't know what to do right now. The last people I thought loved me just threw me away; I need you to make me safe again."

Noah pulled Caleb against him and thought about what he had just heard. He was still thinking when Kyle walked over and joined them.

"Noah? Do you remember Cory, Mark, or me from the home?"

Noah looked up. A few seconds later, his eyes widened in recognition. "I remember you a little. You hung out with one of the older guys. I was only there for a week before things got shut down, so I didn't get to know many people. One of the other kids told me not to mess with you; he said someone had messed you up and I'd get hurt if you thought I was gonna try anything."

Kyle giggled. "Dang, I had a reputation and didn't know it! Let me fill you in some before you decide. The blond who was talking to you about boyfriends is Cory; he was he older kid I used to hang with. He's the one who caused the Home to be shut down. He had lost his memory, that's how he got there. The old kid over there is Mark; he was Cory's roommate. All of us are a kinda family now, and Matt is our guard. Antonio was worse off than you guys when Matt made him his son; I know Matt's serious and he ain't gonna let you get hurt again."

Noah gave Kyle a skeptical look. "Nothing personal, but how do I know I can trust you?"

Kyle smiled. "You don't, but why would I lie to you?"

Noah thought about it. "Okay, you got me. Caleb is counting on me to protect him; I don't know anything about Orlando, so it's better if we get a family while we gotta chance. You all say that if what Caleb and I are feeling is long lasting that you'll be okay with it; what do you think about it Matt?"

Matt knelt down so he was eye-to-eye with Noah. "You are a very impressive boy, Noah; you are asking all of the right questions. First off, I'm gay; it would be stupid for me to deny you the feelings for each other when I'm looking for someone like that myself. You two deserve a chance and I want to give it to you."

Noah nodded his head. "Okay, that answered my questions except one. How long are you gonna keep us before you get tired of us?"

Matt answered seriously. "I'll never get tired of you, this will be forever if you decide yes."

Noah turned to Teri. "I'm sorry we dropped this on you; but can you make Matt our foster dad?"

Teri smiled at him. "You don't have to apologize; this is my life now. I won't make Matt your foster dad though; I'm making him your actual dad."

Joe spoke up from across the room. "Hurry up Teri, you might actually get them done while the ink is still wet on their name changes; I brought blanks with me. I've learned quick; around here I need to carry spare paperwork."

Teri shook her head and began the process of assigning the boys to Matt. As soon as she finished, Joe called Matt, Antonio, Noah, and Caleb over. "Matt, you are definitely a part of this family. I planned on giving Antonio his final name change today as a surprise; instead I'm proud to be giving THREE boys a father's name. Boys, from this day forward you are all the sons of Matthew Barnes; and I hereby order you to use your new father's last name as your own."

Matt pulled his new family into a group hug, tears of joy flowing down all of their faces. As the hug broke, Sean came over.

"Congratulations, guys. Matt, while you're out, could you grab another bed for the bedroom? Between Antonio's new brothers and our visitors it's gonna be too cramped otherwise tonight."

Matt smiled as he replied. "Sure thing, Sean. I was wondering how much longer until you asked that! You guys gonna have the room ready when I get back?"

Aaron answered for Sean. "You can bet on it; they are going to work on that while Cory, JJ, Gabe, and Kyle are in the office for attitude adjustments."

Cory couldn't resist. "Hey Airboy; that's MY room you're setting them loose in! Don't you think I should have a say in how it's arranged?"

Aaron giggled. "Easy there, bro. Don't worry; Sean's gonna be in charge. Right now your head is more important; besides we all know that Sean thinks just like you."

Twenty minutes later, everyone separated to begin their assigned duties. Matt and John donned their uniforms then left with Caleb, Noah, and Antonio to pick up the new boy's belongings and do some shopping. Tommy and Tyler joined Helen in the kitchen to begin lunch, while Teri and the remaining adults moved to the living room. Aaron, David, and Mark rounded up the group for in the office: Justy, Jamie, Jacob, Kyle, Cory, JJ, and Gabe. The rest of the boys headed upstairs to begin making room for the new furniture.


Justy took charge as soon as the door to the office closed. He grinned as he announced "Okay guys, I'm losing quality pounce time right now. Let's see what's bouncing around those empty heads of yours!"

Cory giggled at Justy. "Okay smart aleck, we get the hint. Please take this seriously though, bro. I got bad enough that Tommy chewed me out. Believe it or not, it was his idea to call you guys."

"I know," Justy replied. "As soon as he was able to get me off to the side, Tommy told me exactly how you were acting and begged me to make sure that you will be okay. He may talk funny, but that kid definitely don't take any crap as far as his family is concerned."

Cory smiled. "In other words, you think he's a younger version of you! If so, I just hope he doesn't get as excited as you do when people remind him that he's an angel."

Justy blushed as he replied. "Don't EVEN start with that. Just remember that we're going inside your head. You'd really have trouble explaining to Sean why you suddenly cream your jeans every time you see a German Shepard. You get the hint?"

"Yeah, even though you wouldn't be that cruel." Cory replied with a grin.

"YES, HE WOULD!" Mark, Aaron and David yelled in unison. Cory turned his head to see what they meant, and saw the three of them trying to hold back laughter.

Mark was the first to be able to explain. "Zac was messing around picking on Justy and the twins last week; he made the mistake of falling asleep right after a major prank. When he woke up, he found out that the twins had got even; he orgasmed at the sound of a cat's meow. It wouldn't have been that bad, except someone kept playing Cat Chow commercials over the intercom every half hour. I think the only reason Josh didn't kill the three of them for that one was the fact he was laughing too hard to catch them. Supposedly they undid it; but for some reason Zac gets boners now at the sound of a cow mooing."

Cory turned back to Justy, and began giggling at the sight in front of him. Justy, Jamie, Jacob, and even Kyle were all sitting quietly trying to look innocent. Once he regained enough composure to speak, Cory addressed the four pranksters. "Okay guys, let's hit it. No pranks though; this needs to be done right. We'll have the prank fun later; I know where Mom hid Sean's old see-and-say. If I remember right it had a VERY realistic cow on it!"

Gabe chuckled. "You know, I bet Ricky would even play with the see-and-say; all we'd have to do is tell him it's part of a joke. Seeing as Timmy is well on his way to totally corrupting my innocent little brother, we might as well let him in on the fun."

Cory sat down as the four gifted boys gathered around him. After about fifteen minutes, they announced that they were done and moved on to JJ. After they finished with JJ and Gabe, they all took a seat.

"Man, that wore me out!" Justy commented. "I could definitely use a nap after this!"

Aaron looked around at all of the boys who had been involved. "I think you've got the right idea, Justy. Me, David and Mark are going upstairs to help out the others. The rest of you grab some shut-eye for a little bit. We'll wake you for lunch, okay?"

Everyone agreed with the plan; Cory spread the blankets on the floor, then all seven boys cuddled into one huddled mass and almost instantly fell asleep.

Teri intercepted Aaron, Mark and David as they slowly closed the office door behind them. "How'd it go, guys?" she asked.

"Don't worry, Mom. I think they've got it under control," Aaron replied. "Right now they're all taking a nap. We're gonna wake them for lunch."

Teri smiled. "That's good. Sean told me Cory hasn't been sleeping right since that night. Him taking a nap is a great sign."

Aaron gave Teri a hug. "I'm not leaving until I'm sure, so you can relax. I'm looking out for my little brother."

"I know you are Aaron, and all of us are glad you came home to help him. Speaking of which, you better get upstairs; it sounded like they were tearing the walls down in Cory's room the last time I walked by."

"I'm on it, Mom!" Aaron chuckled as he turned and sprinted up the stairs.