Memories Part 1: The Gathering

Chapter 41

Transporter Room Seven, USS Enterprise:

Once everyone else had cleared out of the transporter room, Thompson approached Scotty. "Commander Scott; this is Ensign Cory's phaser. I believe you found that it was unstable and required immediate destruction."

Scotty looked up in surprise; Thompson was the last person he expected to request the falsification of a report. When he met the Lieutenant's eyes, a chill went down his spine; the cold fury in them was so out of character that Scotty knew something bad had went down. "Aye, Lieutenant; I believe I did. Be in Briefing Room One in five minutes for debriefing; I'll be makin' sure the Captain is present."

"Yes Sir." Thompson replied, then headed through the door.

Once the door was closed, Scotty set the self-destruct timer on the phaser then transported it into empty space. Once that was done, he called the bridge. "Bridge, this is Commander Scott. Might the Captain be where I kinna have a word with him?"

Kirk answered immediately. "Is there a problem with the boys, Mr. Scott?"

"The laddies be fine, Captain. With all due respect Sir, I be thinkin' that yourself and Mr. Dodds might be needed in Briefing Room One. I'm a thinkin' Lieutenant Thompson's debriefing will be a needin' sealed."

"Your instincts have not failed me yet, Scotty. We'll see you there. Kirk out."



Cory looked up from watching Calen and CD explore William's feathers to see Kirk walk into Sickbay. As soon as the Captain spotted him, he motioned for Cory to join him in the passageway. Cory told the boys where he was going, then joined Kirk.

Once the door closed behind them, Cory asked "Is something wrong, Sir?"

"Yes and no, Ensign. For the first time since he came aboard, I just had to seal a report from Lieutenant Thompson. You were in command of the mission, and overall I believe you performed flawlessly. If I have a choice, I'll take an officer who thinks on his feet and adapts to the situation any day over one that is strictly by the book. On the other hand, I will not condone one of my command officers bending or breaking the rules just to satisfy a personal vendetta. Mr. Spock saw the logic in your actions in the basement; I still need to be convinced as to why I should file an official report which differs from what actually happened. I want the truth, Mr. Short, and you have five minutes to do it."

Cory began describing his thoughts at the time. "Sir, I had indications that there was at least one serial rapist on the premises before entering the basement. Most of the younger boys have various stages of bruising on their faces consistent with forced oral sex. On the basis of their interaction with the prisoner upstairs, I concluded he was most likely not the one doing it. One of the boys basically told me as much; in fact quite a few of them interacted quite well with him. While Mr. Thompson was cutting the deadbolt downstairs, I was leaning against the wall and could barely hear a voice inside. I heard a man say, quote: 'Open your mouth, punk, and get it wet - now! You might as well stop fighting it; you're the only cherry here I ain't popped, and today's your day! You've got one minute, then I flip your scrawny carcass over and pop it dry.' end quote. In my opinion at that time, there was a good possibility that, if that was indeed the almost nine year old boy we were looking for, the boy was in danger of being grievously injured. In fact, the attitude of the assailant suggested it could be fatal. Since the man was using his penis as a weapon, I set my phaser accordingly before entering the room. Once I confirmed that what I heard matched what was happening, I fired."

Kirk barely managed to keep from smiling as he informed Cory of his verdict. "Mr. Short, that has to be the loosest definition of a deadly weapon I have ever heard. A judicial review would determine that stunning him would have been sufficient." Kirk paused for effect, then finally let his smile free. "Fortunately, I usually disagree with the findings of judicial reviews! There's nothing worse than a back-seat driver. Considering the information you had, I think you made the right choice, Cory. Just so you know, if you hadn't done it, Mr. Thompson was going to finish the job. Since your phaser was so 'unstable' that Mr. Scott had to beam it into space, I guess that any relatives are going to have to live with the official report. You did right, Cory. Just remember that sometimes a leader has to put his men on the spot for them to learn how to make proper decisions."

Cory smiled back, relieved it was over. "Thank you Captain. I see what you mean now. It makes a difference if you think it through after it's over."

"You're learning!" Kirk chuckled. "Once Bones is done poking and prodding, get all those boys dressed and bring them and your brothers to the Bridge. Calen, Timmy and William too."

"Yes Sir!" Cory replied as he gave Kirk a quick hug of thanks and went back inside.

Cory couldn't help but giggle as the door closed behind him. Adam was pacing back and forth, a worried look on his face. "Hey bro; you lose something?"

Adam stopped long enough to reply. "Yeah, Doc's takin' FOREVER with Harley!"

Cory quickly went over and pulled Adam into a hug before he could start pacing again. "Relax bro; you know that Doc is just making sure he's okay. Knowing him, he's also probably talking to the little guy to help him relax some and feel safe. I was kinda joking with you down there about him becoming your son; you're serious about it, ain't you?"

Adam nodded. "Yeah, the little guy kinda stole my heart I guess. I can't let him get hurt again."

Cory searched Adam's eyes, then made a decision. "Bro, as much as I love you for what you want to do, I can't let you do it without one other person's approval. Take a seat, I'm getting JJ up here."

As Adam followed Cory's instructions, Cory went over to the com unit. "Bridge, this is Ensign Cory. Could you please contact Commander Martin and have him arrange for Ensign Richardson to be beamed up ASAP? Better yet, all of his family, there's some Clan business we can handle while they're here."

Uhura chuckled as she replied. "You are right on cue, Cory! Mr. Spock just informed the Captain that it would be logical for you to call for them! I'll get them up here as fast as I can. Where do you need them?"

"I need JJ down here. We'll meet the rest up there. Thanks, Nyota."

"Consider it done, Cory. Bridge out."

As Cory turned around, he was just in time to see Adam fly out of his chair and run over to where McCoy had just appeared with Harley. As Adam took the boy from McCoy, he asked "How is he, Doc? Is he gonna be okay?"

McCoy rolled his eyes in wonder. "Settle down before I sedate you Adam. Other than a sore butt for the next couple of days he will be just fine. Take a seat before I strap you on a table." McCoy turned to where Sean was sitting with Timmy, Calen, and CD. "Okay Mr. Short; time to give up your soon-to-be middle son for his physical."

CD climbed off of the table after a little urging from Sean, then slowly shuffled towards McCoy. Cory intercepted him, lifting his chin to look him in the eye. "CD, remember me saying I was going to make sure you were safe?"


"Part of making sure you are safe is making sure you ain't hurt, buddy. Doctor McCoy is the best doctor in the Federation; he wouldn't be here if he wasn't. Don't be scared of him, he's not really as mean as he sounds."

CD gave Cory a small smile. "Okay, I guess. You ain't gonna leave are you?"

Cory smiled and kissed CD's forehead. "No angel; I'll be right here waiting for you."

Ten minutes later, CD came running out and jumped in Cory's lap. "You were right! He's nice! I wish all doctors were like him!"

Cory giggled. "Doc, your reputation is ruined! How does he look?"

McCoy shook his head at Cory's comment. "Other than the malnutrition, he's just fine. Obviously you got to him before that slime did. You know the routine; both of them are on the same diet as Justy's brothers. Now get these boys some decent clothes before I decide that two Ensigns are due for a full physical."

Cory turned his head towards where Sean, Tyler, and Tommy were standing. "Bros, could you handle getting these guys down to the Quartermaster while Adam, Harley, and I handle one last piece of business? We'll catch up with you in a few."

Timmy jumped down from next to Calen and grabbed Sean's hand. "YEAH! C'mon Pop; I know a shortcut!"

Even McCoy had to laugh at Cory's quick response. "Timothy - NO! You are NOT taking them through the jeffries tubes! Is that understood?"

Timmy pouted and looked down at his feet. "Yes Daddy, I'm sorry."

Cory motioned for CD to get up, and went over to where Timmy was standing. He picked Timmy up and held him to his chest. "Hey Gizmo, a lot of these guys haven't done more than walk from the bedroom to the kitchen in the house they were in for quite a long time. How would you feel if one of them slipped and hurt themselves or one of the other guys? Think about Calen too, he's still weak from being hurt; do you think he should be doing that yet? I'm proud of how you are trying to learn all about Daddy and Pop's ship, but places like that are for Daddy and Uncle Scotty to work. They're not made for little boys to play in."

"Okay, Daddy. I unnerstan' now." Timmy replied as he gave Cory a hug.

"That's my Gizmo. I'll tell you what; you're in charge of making sure your new brothers get there okay. How's that?"

"Kewl!" Timmy exclaimed as he gave Cory's neck another squeeze and hopped down. "C'mon CD, we got to help Calen!"

With Timmy in high gear, it took no time for the room to clear. Tyler decided to bring up the rear to watch for stragglers; just as he exited the door, JJ walked in.

"Hey Doc! Was that the new midget engineers I just saw leaving?"

McCoy smiled. "Be glad Scotty didn't hear you say that. Cory went fishing and that was his catch; one from the first pond and fifteen from the other. Have a seat, you guys have to have a talk. I'll be in my office if you need me."

JJ went to take a seat; that's when he noticed Adam was there. "Hey babe! Who's that sitting in my favorite spot?"

Adam was so nervous he knew if he didn't get right to the point he'd chicken out. "JJ, this is Harley. Please say yes; I want him to be our son."

JJ dropped into the chair next to Adam in shock. Cory watched quietly as JJ reached out and took one of Harley's hands, slowly tracing each little finger.

Knowing what was running through JJ's head, Cory finally spoke. "JJ, you know the answers to all of those questions. They are the same answers as Sean and I received when we got Timmy. You and Adam are just as responsible for the happy boys we have it the Clan as Sean and I are."

JJ looked at Cory. "What if Dad and Pop say no?"

Cory pulled the trump card. "Mr. Richardson; what is your status in society upon accepting a Starfleet commission?"

JJ thought for a second, then smiled. "I'm an adult now."

Cory nodded. "Besides, I know your Dad and Pop will help you with learning to be a parent. You are no different than Sean and me; if they give you any hassle I'll deal with them."

JJ dropped Harley's hand and held out his arms. "Come over here Harley; Pop wants a cuddle!"

Cory let them bond for a few minutes, then ushered them out to get Harley his clothes and meet up with the rest of the group.


Main Bridge, USS Enterprise:

John glanced around the bridge, amazed at the restraint the thirteen identically dressed new boys were showing as they politely asked questions of the crew about the equipment. As Timmy and William supervised from Kirk's lap in the Command Chair; Tommy, Tyler, Kyle, Sammy and Sebastian helped keep the mob orderly. Conspicuous in their absence were Cory, Sean JJ, and Adam; repeated questions as to where they were just got answered by knowing smiles. John finally could no longer resist the temptation, and teased Kirk.

"Captain; I really think you need to get your transporter checked out. It looks to me like it shrank your crew!"

Not to be taken so easy, Kirk shot back "My crew? Their paperwork said they are your number one squadron."

John shook his head with a grin. "Don't give them ideas, Sir. Seriously, why the enlisted dungarees?"

Kirk grinned. "Cut the formality, John. When those boys beamed up, the only thing they had to wear was boxers. When Sean took them down to Supply, the Quartermaster made the mistake of telling them he could program for uniforms to fit them. As soon as they heard that, every single one of them decided to get them instead of the civilian clothes they could have had. He's getting a commendation for his mistake from Sean and myself; Sean informed me that the boys sense of self-worth jumped immediately as the uniforms were passed out." Kirk stopped as he noticed one of the older boys standing patiently behind John. To the boy's delight, Kirk was just able to read his name tag and addressed him by name. "Do you have a question, Peter?"

The boy seemed to grow two inches as he heard Kirk use his name. "Yes Sir. We were all talking, and we were kinda wondering ... we don't want to sound greedy ... but can we ... are we going to get to keep these uniforms? The man downstairs said that no kid who's visited has ever got any like these."

Kirk smiled. "You heard right; I have never authorized him to issue Enterprise enlisted crew uniforms to anyone but my crew. Those uniforms are yours to keep; you are a group of special kids, and I'm happy to give you all a special gift that nobody else has. When you guys get older, you're all already on the list to become active crew members if you want to."

"Thank you Sir!!!" Peter replied with a huge grin. He glanced at Timmy, then asked shyly "Why does Timmy have a different uniform? His looks a lot like yours."

Kirk chuckled. "Timmy's parents are both officers here on the Enterprise. He has a uniform like they wear; you'll see what I mean when they get here."

"Wow! You're a lucky kid, Timmy! Thank you, Captain!" Peter then sped off to rejoin his companions.

A minute later, the turbolift door opened. Cory, Sean, JJ, Adam, Calen, Harley and CD stepped onto the bridge. All were dressed nearly identically; JJ, Cory, and Sean had insignia signifying their rank and division, Harley and CD had no insignia and wore the red turtleneck of a trainee, Calen's turtleneck was replaced by a red collarless shirt due to the injuries on his neck, and Adam was an exact match to JJ except for the rank insignia. They were about three steps inside the door when Lieutenant Thompson stopped Adam. "Mr. Short, are you aware you are out of uniform?"

As had been pre-planned, Timmy jumped down and ran over. "Unca' Adam, you forgot to put these on!" With a huge grin, Timmy handed Adam a small box.

Adam opened the box, and almost collapsed in shock. Lieutenant Thompson took the box from Adam's outstretched hand, removed the contents, and spoke as he put them in place. "By order of Captain James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise, I hereby commission Adam Kelly Short as Ensign, Security Division. Mr. Short, do you accept this commission, along with the duties and responsibilities which accompany it?"

Realizing this was for real, Adam managed to come to attention. His voice cracked and covered several octaves due to the emotional overload as he replied. "Yes Sir, I accept my commission and all the responsibilities that go with it."

Thompson decided not to push Adam's emotions any further. "Relax Adam, before you pass out. Congratulations, and welcome to Starfleet. When you get to Orlando, Mr. Barnes will help you get all of the paperwork done. Right now, there's something a little more important to handle."

Timmy climbed into his favorite position on Cory's hip, then the eight boys worked their way over to the Captain's Command chair. Once there, Kirk stood, congratulated Adam, then had Uhura contact Teri and put her on the main screen.

John had rejoined Dan; after looking over the group, he commented "Dan, I've got this weird feeling I've been here before and there's nothing I can do to stop it."

Dan nodded slowly. "Me too. My only question is who and how many."

Both fell silent as Kirk began. "Good evening, Teri. As you've probably figured out by the group behind my chair, your boys have been busy. You can relax; the boys behind my chair are having a sleepover on the Rec Deck tonight. Based on what Sammy and Sebastian have found, these boys will be staying across the street from you in Orlando. I've spoken with your new assistant and she is processing their records as we speak. I believe the placement of these last three boys you are going to want to handle personally. I handled the interviews for you, but the final placement is all yours." Kirk turned to the boys. "Ensign JJ Richardson, Ensign Adam Short; front and center. State your request gentlemen."

Adam and JJ stepped up, each holding one of Harley's hands. Both tried to start a couple of times before Adam turned his head. "Sorry Sir, but we can't seem to ask this formally. Permission to speak informally?"

Kirk nodded. "At least you tried. Permission granted."

"Thank you, Captain." Adam said before turning back. "Mom; this little blond guy between us is Harley Jared Donaldson. JJ and I talked it over, and we want to adopt him and give him both of our names. He doesn't have any family to go to. JJ and I are both legally adults; we think with you, Dan, and John to guide us we can give him an awesome loving family. Please Mom?"

Teri thought it over for a few seconds before replying. "Both of you have been there from the minute Cory and Sean adopted Timmy, so I know that you understand what you are getting into. JJ, from the shocked looks I saw behind you, I assume you did not discuss this with your parents. You'll be glad to know they recovered quickly and signaled me with a thumbs-up. I have to agree with them, since I know neither one of you is afraid to ask what to do if you don't know. Congratulations guys; now how do you want your new son's last name done?"

JJ quickly put his hand over Adam's mouth. "Teri, please make it Short-Richardson. Adam's the one that saved him."

From the look on Adam's face, Teri could see that he had just been overruled. "Adam, your partner is right; you saved him so our last name should be first. Take your son to meet his granddad and grandpop."

As the grinning boys turned and went to where Dan and John were standing, Teri turned her attention to Cory and Sean.

Before a word could be said by anyone, Timmy spoke his mind. "Gran'ma, you know Calen; this is his lil' brother CD. You're 'posed to make 'em my big brothers!"

Teri couldn't help but chuckle. "Slow down there Tiger. You're as bad as your Daddy and Pop were at your age! Boys, now you know how I felt when you two pulled that! I was a step ahead of you this time; I saw the looks before you beamed up. Hurry up and get my grandsons down here! Dan, John; I need to steal Harley tonight, I'll turn him over for you to start spoiling tomorrow. JJ, you can stay over with your new son tonight if you want to."

JJ thought for a second, then took Harley from John. "Hey lil' guy; is it okay if Pop goes and gets your new bedroom ready for when you come home tomorrow? Your Daddy will still be with you."

In all of his short life, Harley had never been consulted as to what he would like. He wrapped his arms around JJ's next and hugged tightly. "Okay Pop. Can you find me a new Teddy Bear? The bad man took my old one."

JJ kissed his new son's cheek. "I'll do even better; I'm going to give my teddy bear to you. I think he's getting lonely and needs a little boy to cuddle with."

Harley was speechless, he could only respond with a hug.

Kirk smiled at the boy bonding with his new pop, then addressed Teri. "Give about a half hour for them to wrap up things up here, then your quiet house will be re-invaded. I know of a great Italian restaurant there in town; Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano. Take the boys there, I'm covering the bill. Goodnight Teri."


Short Residence, Des Moines:

Teri had just finished filing her reports on the latest adoptions when she heard the telltale sound of a transporter beam in the front foyer. She quickly got up and went to greet the boys. On her way out of the office, she grabbed a camera. As she rounded the corner and spotted her family, she got off a quick shot before any of them noticed her, then quickly placed the camera on a nearby stand.

"MOM!" Cory exclaimed.

Teri grinned. "Cory, I'll never understand how someone who loves to use a camera as much as you could hate to have their picture taken like you do. I wanted to make sure my first look at my new grandsons with their dads and most of their uncles was saved forever."

Cory shook his head and grinned. "Okay, I guess you're off the hook this time Mom; just don't make it a habit!"

Teri noticed that both Calen and CD cringed when the heard Cory tell her what not to do. She motioned for Timmy to climb down off of Sean. "Timmy; why don't you bring your new brothers and cousin over and introduce them to me?"

"Okay!" Timmy exclaimed as he jumped down. To her surprise, Harley assisted Timmy in ushering his reluctant brothers over to her. She knelt down to be closer to their level before speaking to them. "Okay, who is who Timmy?"

Timmy smiled broadly as he introduced them to her. "Gran'ma, this is Calen; an' this is CD. They's my big bros now! My new cousin is Harley; we are 'bout the same age and he's really kewl!"

Teri smiled as each boy was introduced, then spoke. "Thank you, Timmy. Calen, CD; right now I probably know more about what your old home was like than your dad and pop do. Things work a lot different around here. For one, if an adult hits you they have a whole line of people who will literally kick their butts. We actually had an adult hit Chip's son Justy a few weeks ago; last I heard he was still in the hospital undergoing reconstructive surgery on the hand he did it with. The things you had to live through will never happen again. I saw your reaction when your Dad sounded like he was talking back to me. He's not in any trouble, I knew what he was trying to tell me. Around here, I want you to express your opinion; all I expect is that you are not rude about it or crude and insulting. I'll bet there were a lot of things you guys were afraid to do because you thought you would get in trouble and get hurt. I know it will take getting used to, but now if you are not sure if you can do something just ask. If someone gets mad at you for asking a question, they have to deal with your Dad and Pop; if they are not around tell me and I will take care of it for you. Oh, I also require everyone to get lots of hugs!"

Calen decided to test her while he knew everyone was watching and could protect him. "How could you know what our life was like? We didn't tell anyone about a lot of it."

"Good choice of a question, Calen." Teri replied. "After you beamed up to the ship, I talked to the police officers that had came out there. I knew Cory and Sean would be busy with you, so I had them contact me with any information they found on your old mother. It didn't take too long; they found her in a bar in Altoona. I had her brought here, then called Orlando and had Josh send over Jamie and Jacob. If I know your Pop, he's going to fill you in about them, but for now all you need to know is they are telepaths. An hour after they got here, I had a report and they went home; your old mother is now sitting in jail awaiting trial on Federation charges. Considering the twin's report is better than a signed confession, she will be convicted for attempted murder and about twenty other things."

Feeling a little more sure of himself, Calen went for broke. "I bet you can't tell me why she did this to me."

Knowing she was about to break through his shell, Teri replied carefully. "Calen, I don't know how CD and Harley would respond to the answer to that. I know the rest of these guys might giggle, but they would not make fun of you. I won't say it out loud unless you ask me to; we can go in my office and I'll tell you in private if you want."

The last thing Calen expected was compassion at his statement. "Go ahead and say it; they're gonna find out anyways."

Teri nodded. "With the exception of CD and Harley, I know for a fact that all the rest of you do what Calen did quite regularly; so no laughing. Calen was caught rubbing his privates and making himself feel good. Calen, she had serious problems; she believed anything to do with sex was dirty and that touching yourself made you a demon. There is no excuse for the damage she did to you there. She failed in both things she tried to do though; you are still alive, and you can do anything with just one nut that the rest of these guys can do with two. You have no reason to be ashamed of how your privates look now, they are proof that you beat her and survived. By the way, if I catch you, the only thing I'll do is tell you where the nearest bottle of lotion is so you don't rub yourself raw! Just ask your Pop."

"That explains it! Uncle John was asking why there was a half empty case of lotion in Sean's closet!" Adam announced with a giggle.

Trying to save face, Sean spoke before thinking about what he was saying. "You must have found it first, it was three-quarters full!"

Sean realized he goofed when CD turned and asked "Pop, can I use some? I've never tried it with lotion!"

Sean turned six shades of red in embarrassment. "Sure kiddo, you can have a bottle. Adam, you are soooooo going swimming!"

Teri shook her head. "Calen, there's something else I know. You have not had a hug from a grown-up family member since your Dad was killed in that accident five years ago. It's going to take time to get over what was done to you; can we start it with a very proud Grandma getting a hug from her oldest new grandson?"

Calen slowly stepped into Teri's outstretched arms, still unsure if this was real. It finally hit home when he felt Teri's arms gently wrap around him; obviously being careful not to make his bruised body feel any pain. The tears fell freely as he began to release his pent-up emotions from the last five years.

Teri kissed the top of his head. "Let it all out, Calen. I'm going to talk to your little brother and cousin, but I'm right here if you need me. Just relax in my arms, I'm not going anywhere." She looked up at her other two new grandsons. "CD, Harley; both of you have at least a week of experiences that only the two of you know about. Nobody will force you to talk about them, but I promise you will feel better if you do. I'm guessing that you two were made to do things you didn't want to do; those things don't make you bad or nasty, you didn't have a choice. No matter what you've done or what was done to you, you are my grandsons. Everything you heard me tell Calen applies to you too; and all three of you are welcome to hugs and cuddles whenever you want."

Both boys decided to take Teri up on the offer immediately, and joined Calen in Teri's arms. They stayed that way for five minutes, each of the boys overcoming some of the demons of their past with the help of Teri's love. When they finally broke apart, Teri smiled and said "Have your parents show you where the bathrooms are so you can clean up your faces, then we'll go out to eat, maybe even pick you up some more clothes on the way back. You guys look great in your uniforms, but I think that after tonight we'll save them for special occasions."

All three boys smiled their thanks, and were shortly enroute to get cleaned up to leave.


Later that evening:

As the boys all filed into the bedroom, Cory, Sean and Adam pulled their new sons off to the side. Cory spoke for all three parents.

"Guys, all three of us care about you a lot. Part of that is making sure we don't do anything to make you feel uncomfortable. We want to let you guys decide where you sleep tonight, but you need to know a few things first. Usually all of us sleep nude; nobody is forced to, including you, but that's how we feel comfortable. No matter how you want to be dressed you can sleep with us. If you want to sleep with us, but can't handle us being nude, let one of us know; we'll put on something so we can cuddle with you. If you're really not ready to share a bed with us, there's another bed in Sean's room that you are more than welcome to sleep in instead."

Calen interrupted. "What happens if someone gets a stiffie?"

Sean took over. "I'll answer that one. If you get a stiffie, don't worry about it. If you want to play with it, go ahead. All of your uncles have boyfriends and are used to being poked with stiffies occasionally; nobody will say anything if you have one. That brings up another point which is more about CD and Harley; you guys were forced to do stuff. Nobody here will do that to you; the most that might happen is they might have a nice dream and rub against you in their sleep. Sooner or later, you guys are going to catch someone doing some of the stuff that was done to you with their boyfriend. If you look at their faces, you will realize it's different; they both want to do it and are not hurting each other. It's one of the ways they show each other that they are boyfriends and love their partner. Does that make sense?"

Calen nodded immediately. "Yeah, that makes sense to me, Pop. It don't sound so bad now that you explained it."

CD and Harley whispered back and forth a few times before CD answered for both of them. "When the Bad Guy was gone tryin' to find more kids, Phil used to let us touch each other. He said somethin' about us needin' to learn that sex wasn't supposed to hurt. He wouldn't let us see him nude, but he'd tell us what to do to make it feel nicer for each other. A couple of guys would even put our weenies in their mouths and make it feel really different. Harley and me will be okay, we know we're safe now."

Adam knelt down and pulled both CD and Harley into a hug. "That's right, guys - you're safe now. Around here there is one rule that is never to be broken. If someone says NO that means NO; we don't allow arguing about it or begging. You were forced to learn things which you wouldn't even think about until you are older; we understand that. There are some things that you are not allowed to do even though you know about them. Nobody is allowed to put anything in your butthole, and you are not allowed to put anything in someone else's butthole. Anything else besides touching you have to ask one of us first; we'll talk it over with you and help you decide if it's the right thing to do. Is that fair?"

"Yeah, daddy."

"Yeah, Uncle Adam. Thanks for lookin' out for us."

Cory looked over the three boys with pride. "Do you guys know what you want to do tonight then?"

Calen looked over at his little brother and new cousin, then back at Cory. "Can we talk about it for a minute, Dad?"

Cory smiled. "Sure, we'll wait over on the edge of the bed for you."

After a quick discussion, the boys came over to where Cory, Sean, and Adam were waiting.

"Pop, I gotta question. Is there a church we can go to so I can thank God for you and Daddy findin' us?" CD asked shyly.

Sean pulled CD into a hug. "Let me go talk to your Grandma; there's one nearby that I went to a lot when your Daddy was sick and in the hospital. Anyone is welcome, and they have morning services on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday so that people who work weird days can still go to church. We could all go there tomorrow morning; all of us have some thanking to do."

CD returned the hug. "Thanks Pop, that sounds kewl."

Sean ran downstairs, and returned a minute later smiling. "Hey everyone; fold the uniforms when you take them off! Mom wants us to wear them for Church in the morning."

Once Sean returned to his seat, each of the boys lined up with a parent; CD with Sean, Calen with Cory, and Harley with Adam. Calen spoke for all of them.

"Dad, we wanna sleep with all of you and sleep nude like you." Calen regressed to a small child as he spoke the next words; words echoed by CD and Harley to the parent in front of them. "Daddy, can you please help me get ready for bed?"

Cory didn't even blink. "If it makes you happy I would be honored to, SON."

A few minutes later, everyone was ready for bed and just kicking back, unwinding from the eventful day.

Tyler finally couldn't resist the urge to pick on Cory. "Hey, bro; you growing a crust yet? You musta eaten about fifty loaves of garlic bread!"

Cory giggled. "Dude, that was some great bread! Y'all just wasn't quick enough!"

Tommy joined in. "All of the food was awesome. I didn't believe you ate all that bread and still ate the meal you ordered!"

"Unca' Tommy, can you make 'paggettie like that?" Timmy asked while rubbing his belly. "It made my tummy all happy!"

"I'll see what I can do, lil' guy." Tommy giggled. "Spaghetti sauce is an art, but I think I know how they did it. We just gotta lock up the garlic bread so your daddy don't eat it all."

Cory just shook his head in defeat. "Okay guys, let's hit the sack; we gotta get up for church." He got up and went to shut off the light. He looked to make sure everyone was ready and smiled. With the exception of a small hole for him between Sean and Calen, everyone was belly to back, cuddled tightly into a supportive family group. He shut off the light, and made his way to the spot reserved for him. About a half hour of squirming later, he heard Calen whisper.


"Yes Calen?"

"It feels kinda funny down there where my nut was. You ain't gotta do nothin' but could you hold me down there tonight and put a finger where my nut was? I can't get comfortable to sleep."

Cory considered it for a second, then replied. "Lil' buddy, think about it for a second. I know I'm only fourteen, but I'm still your daddy; besides I have to do things like an adult. You're going to have to get used to it; I think I know someone who can help you some. I'll bet it's more that you are thinking about it too much. Let's go down to the Rec Room for a second, we need to make a call."

Once downstairs, Cory logged into the terminal and placed the call. A few seconds later, an obviously sleepy Dan answered. "Short Compound, this is Dan."

"Dan, this is Cory. Sorry about waking you, but I didn't know if the remote station in Kyle's room was set up yet. I've got a son here that could use some reassurance about something they have in common."

"That's not a problem, Cory. It's working, but the outside access to it won't be up until tomorrow. Let me transfer you over."

A few seconds later, Kyle came on the screen. Cory took one look and could tell Kyle had not slept one wink yet. "Hey lil' bro; you having trouble sleeping?" Cory asked.

"Yeah, I kinda miss Ty holdin' me." Kyle replied shyly.

"I bet you've got a big brother who feels the same way. After we're done, why don't you go cuddle with him so you both get some sleep. Right now, would you mind talking a bit with Calen? Since you know what it's like with only one nut, maybe you can reassure him about his."

Kyle giggled as he replied. "Like you have to ask? Get out of the room, I'll send Calen up when we're done talking. There's some stuff parents don't need to see or hear!"

Cory grinned and gave Calen a quick hug. "I'll see you in a few minutes, son. Kyle ain't going to lie to you; let me know if he was able to help. I'll stay awake until you come back up."

It took fifteen minutes before Calen quietly came back into the bedroom. His face broke into a huge smile when he found Cory sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for him. He immediately walked over and perched himself on Cory's lap and gave him a hug. "Thanks Dad. I guess I was kinda thinkin' about it too much. It's different now that I know someone else like me down there. I thought it was somethin' that made me look sick; Kyle showed me his and now I know I don't look much different than anyone else unless you really look at me. You ain't mad about me askin' you to do that, are you?"

Cory kissed Calen's forehead. "No, I'm not mad; you were asking for help the only way you could think of. Are you ready to get some sleep?"

Calen looked over Cory's shoulder and saw the hole that they had left was gone; CD was now cuddled against Sean. "Yeah, but our spot's gone; now you can't cuddle with Pop. I'm sorry!"

Cory glanced over. "There's nothing to be sorry about; I'm just as happy between you and Timmy. Let's get some sleep."

Cory scooted over to the end of the line of boys. Before he had a chance to roll onto his side, Timmy's 'daddy radar' kicked in; one leg and one arm reached out and made it quite clear that Timmy wanted to cuddle up to his Daddy's side. Cory lifted his arm out of the way of Timmy's head, and suddenly found CD following his new little brother into place. Cory looked over to where Calen was watching and said quietly "It looks like your brothers are claiming this side of me; the other side must be reserved for you."

Calen smiled and cuddled under Cory's free arm, snuggled as tight as he could be to Cory's chest. "Goodnight Daddy, I love you."

Cory kissed the top of Calen's head. "I love you too, Son. Sweet dreams."


Teri was sitting at the table drinking her morning coffee when she heard Adam yell "DUDE! Somebody needs to change their Huggies!" A few seconds later, the dining room was invaded by nude boys with watering eyes; Cory trailing behind with a huge grin..

"Did you guys forget something?" Teri asked with a chuckle.

Tommy looked over from his seat. "Mom, you can't go in the room without a gas mask! Even Timmy's teddy bear had to run for cover; Cory's butt is RANK!"

Teri thought for a second then slapped her forehead. "I should have known better, Cory and garlic don't mix! That was Garlic Bread you were hogging last night, wasn't it?"

Cory giggled. "Yeah, GOOD garlic bread, with lots of garlic!"

Teri shook her head. "Get your stinky butt up there and open a window to air it out; hopefully after breakfast the air will be clear enough for y'all to get dressed without passing out." She looked over at Sean. "Is he as bad as last time he pulled that stunt?"

Sean grimaced. "Worse; if I didn't hear his butt cheeks flap I woulda thought a skunk got in."

Teri chuckled at Sean's response. "Thanks for the visual, kid. Tommy, Ty; why don't you guys grab some aprons and we'll throw together some breakfast."

As Teri and her two helpers disappeared into the kitchen, CD leaned over and asked Sean "Pop, you mean we gotta help Grandma cook?"

Sean smiled. "No, little buddy. Your uncles like to cook; sometimes they'll even cook it all themselves and not let an adult help. Your grandma wants to get breakfast quick today, so all three of them will be cooking."

CD relaxed, obviously he didn't like kitchen duty. "What kinda chores do we gotta do then? Are we going to get an allowance?"

Cory came up behind CD and put his hands on his son's thin shoulders. "Slow down, CD. We are waiting to sort out chores until we get to Orlando. We'll figure out allowances then too. You'll have a say in it, so just wait until we are all settled in."

CD leaned his head back. "Okay Dad. I guess I'm still tryin' to fight to get stuff. We had to do all the chores, even cook, and was always promised money but never got it."

Cory brushed CD's bangs out of his eyes. "That won't happen, son. If your Pop or I even thought of doing that to you guys, your Grandma would chew our butts off."

CD smiled. "Thanks, Daddy. It's kinda kewl bein' able to ask stuff without someone getting mad."

Cory moved over slightly so he could put one of his hands on Calen's shoulder. "It's definitely kewl having two more sons to answer questions for!"


The boys all fell in line behind Sean and Cory as they walked up to the door of the church. Teri had dropped them off, having to do some emergency shopping at Sean's request. The pastor was greeting people at the door, and got a huge smile when he saw the group coming towards him.

"Sean! I'm so glad to see you; we've missed you. How's everything going?"

Sean shook the pastor's outstretched hand. "Everything's been great, Pastor Mills. We are moving to Orlando to a place where we can work at helping kids in trouble. My prayers got answered and then some! Let me introduce everyone. This is Cory; God gave him back to me just like you said He would. We're officially a pair now! The little guy in his arms is our youngest son Timmy." Sean reached behind him and guided CD and Calen forward. "These are our other sons as of yesterday, Calen and CD."

Once Pastor Mills finished welcoming Cory and their sons, Sean continued. "Pastor, I picked up some brothers too; this is Adam, Tyler and Tommy. The little guy in Adam's arms is his new son Harley; Adam got him yesterday too."

Pastor Mills welcomed the rest of the boys, then stepped back. "In all of my years, I have never seen a plainer miracle coming from prayer. A year ago, a scared young boy came in. After the service, we talked and I found out about how he had lost one brother forever and the other one had lost almost all of his memory. Today I'm looking at him and see the secure young man that God intended. Sean, you are living proof that love and prayer can accomplish anything."

Sean blushed as he replied. "Thanks Pastor. It's almost time to start, we'll talk some more during fellowship after the service."

As the boys headed in to find seats in the pews, CD pulled the pastor aside and whispered something to him. When the pastor nodded his head after a few minutes of discussion, CD gave him a quick hug then ran to catch up with the others.

"What was that all about?" Sean asked CD as they took their seats.

"You'll see, Pop!" CD replied with a grin.

The service went normally until the end of the sermon. Pastor Mills looked directly at the boys as he spoke his next words.

"Brethren, some of you remember Sean when he first visited us a year ago; most of you have grown to know him since then. Today Sean has joined us one last time before he moves to Florida; but he joins us with a joyous heart. The young man that makes his Spirit complete has recovered and is with him today, along with six other boys who now share in his endless amount of love. I would like for all of these young men to come forward so you can meet them."

Once each of the boys had been introduced, along with announcing their relationship to Sean, the pastor continued. "Since Cory's recovery, him and Sean have affected the lives of each of these boys in some way. From welcoming in an abandoned child to literally saving a life, together they have lived the teachings of Jesus to help their fellow man. One life in particular was touched so much that he has to say his thanks in front of God. CD has asked me to let him express his thanks in front of all of you. CD, go ahead."

CD stepped forward. "Thank you, Pastor. Let us pray."

The congregation bowed their heads, then CD began:

Heavenly Father, today we stand here in peace, some of us for the first time in our lives, to thank You for the blessings You have gave us. Thank you for not only giving me a new Dad and Pop, but sending them to save my brother Calen and bringing us back together. Thank you for healing Dad and giving him back to Pop. Thank you for giving us a grandma who is nice and listens to us. Thank you for Uncle Tommy, Uncle Adam, and Uncle Tyler. Thank you so much for giving me my new little brother Timmy to cuddle, love and teach. God, from the bottom of my heart I want to thank You for sending Daddy to find me and save me from the bad man who was hurting me. Also thank you just as much for sending Uncle Adam with Daddy so that he could rescue my friend Harley who You made into my cousin. Thank you for Pastor Mills and all of these nice people who helped Pop when Daddy was sick. Most of all, thank you for listening to the prayers of a bunch of lost boys and making it so they are all safe again. Thank you God for giving all of us a family to love us and teach us right from wrong. God, I know I didn't say much but the Lords Prayer for the last week, but you still listened to my heart. Today I can say it loud and strong with my new family that You have given me.

Our Father, who art in Heaven; Hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory forever; Amen.

There was not a dry eye in the building after hearing CD pour out his soul. Cory led the boys in giving CD a hug of thanks; nobody said a word out of respect for the moment. Pastor Mills remained silent as the boys returned to their seats, then spoke in a subdued voice."There is nothing I can say worthy of following CD's prayer except Thanks be to God. The boys would like to have you join them in Fellowship Hall so they can thank you in person." He placed the microphone in its holder, and everyone stood to exit the Sanctuary.

Fortunately for Cory, the noise of everyone getting up and talking masked the sound of what happened next. The noses of most of the congregation were not so lucky. As he stood up, the gas he had been holding back decided to break free, resulting in a deadly semi-silent fart. Sean and Adam quickly guided Cory out along with the rest of the sudden mass departure before anyone identified him as the cause of the fresh round of watering eyes. They could tell by his look that he had tried to hold it, so neither said anything. As Cory headed to the restroom to try to clear out any aftershocks, Sean gathered the boys around. "Guys, it was an accident. No picking on him until we get in the limo, okay? We are still in church."

They all nodded, and once Cory came back out they joined the congregation in Fellowship Hall.

An hour later, after receiving best wishes from all of the people Sean knew, the boys were standing outside with Pastor Mills waiting for Teri. Pastor Mills turned to Cory. "Well Cory, you almost made it! That's the fastest I've ever seen some of them move!"

Cory dropped his head, ashamed of what happened. "How did you know?"

Pastor Mills reached over and lifted Cory's chin. "I happened to be watching you guys when it happened. I could tell by the look on your face something happened that you didn't want or expect. It didn't take long to figure out what. I'm glad this is not a Catholic Church; their candles would have lit off an explosion!"

Adam grinned and said in his best newscaster voice: "In other news, a 14 year old young man is in custody after unleashing a fireball the size of a watermelon on his unsuspecting church brothers and sisters. Minor injuries have been reported and the youth, who will remain nameless due to age, is being questioned on where he got the materials for such an explosive event. No motives have been discovered at this point and the National Guard has been asked to stand down after earlier reports of terrorism were squashed by the boy's mother, saying, 'I only feed him garlic!'."

Even Cory came close to collapsing with laughter at Adam's parody. Once everyone recovered their breath, Adam came over and gave Cory a hug. Loud enough for everyone else to hear, Adam told Cory "Sorry bro, but the timing was just too sweet to pass up!"

Cory returned the hug, replying "It's okay bro. That's gotta be a classic; besides it made me feel lots better!"

Pastor Mills was still chuckling as he added "I agree, nobody's made me laugh like that in a long time! I'm really glad you all came out today, there are a lot of people who are going to sleep better knowing you are all together and safe. You guys touched a lot of hearts today, maybe they'll go out and pass it on." He looked over and saw Teri pulling in with the Hummer. "It looks like your ride is here; keep in touch and Go with God."

Each of the boys gave him a hug and expressed their thanks. Cory went last, and was just finishing thanking the pastor one more time for taking care of Sean when a voice came from the Hummer.

"Hey Stinky, come on! I may have forever, but times wasting for y'all!"

Cory looked over his shoulder just in time to see Mikey float out of the Hummer and wiggle his wings. When he turned back, he could tell by the stunned look on Pastor Mills' face that Mikey was allowing the pastor to see him. On a hunch, Cory guided the pastor over to the vehicle.

"Pastor Mills, I'd like you to meet our big brother Mikey. He goes by Saint Mikey of Urbandale now though."

Mikey saw that the pastor was still speechless, so he went ahead. "Relax Pastor Mills; Our Father just wanted you to keep doing what you've been doing. I'm actually here on a more personal note; to thank you myself for helping Sean through what happened last year. My little brothers mean a lot to me, and you played a part in them making it to where they are now by standing by Sean in his time of need. You are a fine example for everyone around you, don't change a thing."

Pastor Mills found his voice as he relaxed. "Thank you Saint Mikey; I'll do just that. Your brothers and nephews taught quite a few people something about caring and responsibility towards others today, including me. It's been an honor to meet them and you, especially since Sean told me so much about you when you were alive. Today will hold a special place in my heart forever."

Mikey smiled. "You're welcome. You do have a reward for your efforts, in fact you've had it for the last six months. The boy Paul that you seem to run into whenever he's in desperate need for food is actually homeless and without any living relatives. He's afraid to tell you because he does not want to go to a group home. You will see him tomorrow; tell him it's time to have a home again with you. He will accept; you are the only person who has looked out for him without wanting something. Mom will call you tomorrow night and get everything done so that he becomes your legal son."

"Thank you for giving me hope, Saint Mikey. I promise to follow in Sean and Cory's footsteps and give this gift from God the life he deserves. I better hurry, I have a lot to do to prepare my place so that Paul has a spot to call home."

"Go with peace, Pastor Mills."

"May Peace be with you and your family, Saint Mikey."


As the boys piled out of the Hummer at the house, Teri told them "Get into something comfortable, then go to the Rec Room."

Everyone but CD knew what was about to happen, so they hurried and got changed into shorts and tee shirts. Once Teri saw that everyone was ready, she came walking into the room carrying a cake bearing nine candles. As she walked through the doorway, the boys started singing.

Happy Birthday to you;
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday dear Cee Deeeee!
Happy Birthday to you!

CD had a smile ten miles wide and tears of joy running down his face as Cory and Sean escorted him to the table Teri sat the cake on.

As Cory and Sean knelt beside him, Cory said "Make a wish and blow out the candles, son." CD closed his eyes for a couple of seconds, then reopened them. He took a deep breath and blew all of the candles out first try. He turned to Teri. "Thanks Grandma! I didn't think anyone 'membered with all the stuff that's happened!"

Teri smiled "Your big brother, Dad, and Pop wouldn't let anyone forget! I'm going to get the ice cream real quick; go ahead and cut your cake!"

Once Teri finished her cake, she went and retrieved the things she had picked up earlier, then passed them out to the boys. Once everything was accounted for, she signaled Sean. He cleared everyone but CD off of the couch, then stood back to wait his turn. As agreed, Mikey went first. "CD, Happy Birthday. Since angels don't have money, I had to have Mom buy this for me. But I picked it out for you as a reminder you always have one more uncle watching out for you."

CD opened the small box that Mikey put in his hand and stared. Inside was a pair of diamond stud earrings. He found his voice enough to say "Thanks Uncle Mikey! Now I gotta get my ear pierced, these are awesome!"

Mikey chuckled. "Watch, little one!" He took one of the earrings out of the box and placed it against CD's right earlobe. As everyone watched, it seemed to make it's own hole and slip right through. Mikey put the back on then moved back. "How's that?"

CD reached up and felt the new earring. "Wow, I didn't even feel it! Thank's Uncle Mikey! What about the other one?"

"Have Grandma put it in her safe in Orlando; it's a spare in case something happens to the one you have in."


CD was overwhelmed as the boys each gave him a gift. As he fingered the necklace Teri had just put on him from Calen, Sean and Cory came up together. Cory spoke for them both as he said "CD, we figured it would be more fair if you got one present from both of us. Happy Birthday, Son."

CD tore into the big box they sat in front of him. His jaw hit the floor when he opened the inner case and found a teal Fender electric bass guitar! He spent the next five minutes wordlessly bouncing back and forth between Sean and Cory giving them hugs of thanks. Once he settled back down, Teri spoke.

"CD, I went ahead and had my present to you sent to Orlando so it wouldn't get damaged. I got you the amp to go with the present you got from your parents. It is already in the common room of your section of the house."

While CD was in Teri's arms thanking her, the rest of the boys cleaned up the mess from his presents. Mikey said his goodbyes, and they all just sat back and celebrated being a family. About thirty minutes later, Cory's nose picked up on a familiar smell. He got up and went to the kitchen. When he saw Teri just finishing stacking brownies on a serving plate, tears started running down his face.

Teri looked up and saw Cory standing there crying; she dropped what she was doing and rushed over to hug him. "Tell Mom whats wrong, Cory." she whispered as she held him.

Cory wrapped his arms around her as he replied between sobs. "You made brownies the first day I started getting my memories back, Mommy. It was later that day they started working again. I'm sorry I hurt you and Sean like that; you had to live with me being here in body but not really being here as me."

"Shhhh ... it's okay, baby boy. Both of us were just happy you were able to be here at all. That don't matter anymore; we've got the Cory boy back that we have always loved. We loved you even when your mind was giving you trouble. Thanks to you, there are a bunch of boys in the other room that have learned to overcome their past and make themselves better. In the last month, you have done more than enough to make up for the year you were without memories."

"Thanks, Mom. I know we got to leave soon; can we do it from the front yard instead of inside?"

"Whatever it takes to make my Cory happy. If that's what you want, then thats what we'll do."

Cory gave her one more hug, then followed her in as she took the brownies into the rec room. An hour later, they watched as the contents of the house began to be transferred to their new home. When the time finally came, the only thing left was CD's new guitar; he refused to let it go without him with it. At Cory's request, Teri took everyone else outside, leaving him in the empty house alone. He went upstairs and into Mikey's old room. He stood in the center of it silently for a minute, then began going to the rest of the rooms in the house, repeating his actions in each one. Finally he reached the front foyer, and stood looking at the view he had seen millions of times. He smiled as he turned and opened the front door. As he opened the door, he found Sean waiting on the front step for him. He stepped out on the porch, and reached for the doorknob.

"Wait." Sean said. "I was watching you through the windows. Please hold me and let me see what you see as you look inside."

They embraced and stood in the doorway cheek-to-cheek, both looking through the doorway at the tangled history which had passed through that portal into their young lives. They reached out as one and placed their hands on the doorknob; then with one last look, they closed and locked the door on their old memories, then turned to go start a new life and build new ones.




An open door I look through now;
a chance to view the past.
I look through all my memories,
I look upon the cast.
Of characters who've touched my life,
of friends who've touched my heart;
of people who've helped form my life,
time can not tear us apart.
The things we've done,
the things we've seen,
are etched now in my mind.
Of families and friends in need,
and love we've shared in kind.
This room once full
is empty now,
it causes me to sigh.
And think of all experiences
I've picked up by and by.
This open door it gives to me
a chance to search the seas;
for you my friends are always there,
etched in my memories

© 2005 GunRunner. Used with permission


The End (of Part One!)