Memories Part 3: And A Child Shall Lead Them

Chapter 21: Family means everything!

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Alligator Alley Garage:

"Hey!" Cory groused as they appeared in the middle of the new garage that had been added during the latest addition.

"I know that look; you're taking a break." Tracy stated as he crossed his arms, seemingly daring Cory to argue.

"So are you!" Karl giggled before adding "Emmy, Steve has command, Tracy and I are on break."

"You ..." Tracy started to respond.

"Yes he can!" Kyle giggled. "Emmy, Intel override; everyone here's on break until Ty clears them for duty. Pass it around."

"Acknowledged Mr. Richardson." Emmy replied in a serious voice, only to ruin it with a giggle at the end.

"Umm, Kyle?" Adrian giggled, "You just took yourself and Tyler off duty too. How can he clear them if he's not able to work?"

"Oops!" Kyle laughed as a halo appeared above his head for a split second.

The humor of the situation made Cory finally crack a smile. He glanced at Mont and Bast, and finally began laughing. Both cat-boys had obviously finally let the little kids 'catch' them, and now looked like walking rainbows.

"Yeah, you laugh now!" Bast grinned. "Just wait until they target YOU!"

Mont nodded. "Who knows, we might even help!"

"This I gotta see!" Sean grinned. "Guys, while we're alone for a bit, I wanted to say something. When you two signed on as our security, you believed that you were freaks and wouldn't ever fit in. Look at each other, and tell me what you think now."

Both boys nodded, and looked at each other. After some thought, Mont commented "We were just pranked like any other family member. I just realized something else; Timmy and Pauly were calling both of us 'uncle' too."

"I guess the little ones think we're just like anyone else." Bast added.

"Not just the little ones, bro. All of us." Sean stated. "Mom's had the paperwork written up to make you our brothers forever for a while; we're just waiting for you to say yes and decide if you want to share our last name. You're family, both of you."

Both boys looked around the group, some of which they had interacted with constantly since the day they had been assigned to Cory and Sean by Adam. First were Kyle and Tyler, who had their humanity ripped from them by destiny and were just now getting it back with a lot of work. Next up were Tracy and Karl, whose normal teen lives were upset by the Battle of Earth, and both were still trying to adjust. Then there was Adrian, who volunteered to give up his life as the son of a very rich father to support what Cory and Sean had started. Next to him, holding his hand, was Cody. Cody, who lived most of his life until now knowing he had a brother he'd never met. Cody, a boy who now was part of the Clan Elite, yet still seemed to be trying to find a place where he really fit in. Then there was Cory and Sean; the reason all of them were able to be standing there right now. The two boys who started it all without trying. Two boys who still cared enough to give their own family as a gift to two genetic mutants.

As Mont and Bast mentally compared notes, they finally accepted the fact that every single person standing there not only considered them human, but family. Speaking for both of them, Mont softly stated "It's so unreal; after everything you guys still care. Adam told us a while back to do it, but neither of us really thought it'd last. You're right, we need to give y'all an answer. You've all welcomed us as brothers, and we should stop being selfish. Yes, we accept, we want to be Short boys."

"Paperwork filed and approved!" Emmy interrupted.

"Tracy! Control your AI!" Bast managed to comment before both he and Mont found themselves buried under their new brothers and in-laws.

Once the pileup and hugs ended, Tracy grinned. "Karl, you see that tent over in the corner? I got a little something for ya!"

"You shouldn't have!" Karl giggled as he pulled Tracy into a hug and gave him a quick kiss. "Can we go see?"

"Hey Emmy!" a voice from the other side of the tent announced "Fire up the cameras!"

"SHADOW!" Tracy giggled.

"Shadow?" Karl giggled. "Who is that?"

"My new Camaro." Tracy giggled. "Blame Cory, it's all his fault!"

"You have a talking Camaro?" Karl asked with a tilt of his head.

"Of course!" another voice answered from behind the tent.

"RAY! What you doing here?" Cory laughed.

"Teaching Shadow six-dimensional chess!" Ray replied. "He's getting good, too!"

"I really need to talk to Fife about the upgrades he's done!" Cory laughed. "C'mon, I wanna see this too."

"Like father, like son..." Bast muttered as the group headed over towards the tent. As they got closer, pre-rigged spotlights in the ceiling illuminated the area.

When they reached the tent, Tracy held up his hand. "Karl, you've stood by me ever since we were in diapers, and you made my life complete when you married me. When I saw this, I thought about how much you enjoyed one of the cases Dad and I had a while back, and I knew it had to be yours. Some of the guys from Pacific Rim helped out by making it one of a kind for you; this will be the first time anyone besides them and a certain pair of nosey Chevys has seen the final result. Kyle added his input too; you can thank him for what's under the hood!"

"I dug up some music from an old movie called '2001: A Space Odyssey'; hit it guys!" Tyler giggled.

As the opening horns of the theme blasted from the sound systems of Ray and Shadow, Emmy started slowly raising the tent. The first thing that came into view was a set of very glossy tires, immediately followed by chromed Rallye wheels. Tracy's eyes grew wide as the gleaming Hugger Orange body began to come into view; somehow the Chevelle had became four feet longer, yet all the body lines and proportions appeared as if GM had designed it that way. Once the full car was in view, Emmy transported the tent out, and the group headed over to give it a closer look.

"An SS Chevelle?" Karl gushed as he pulled Tracy into a bone-crushing hug. "You bought me an SS!"

As anyone would expect, Cory headed directly over to look under the open hood. After giving an appreciative whistle, he commented "Not just any SS, bro - this sucker's got a L-78 396, the 375 version!"

"It's brand-new, too!" Kyle added as he joined Cory. "WOW! The Scooby Gang did AWESOME in here - they made everything shinier!"

Curious, the rest of the group joined them. What they found was amazing; every single piece of unpainted metal had been polished to a mirror finish, while the painted parts had been treated so they were reflective. Chrome covers were added to hide everything mounted over the wheelwells and on the firewall.

After pulling Kyle into a one-armed hug, Tracy stated "Kyle built the engine for ya, Karl. The only time it has on it is from Kyle breaking in the cam, and Mom taking it out to break it in!"

Karl squatted down to Kyle's height, then reached out for a hug. "C'mere little bro!" Once Kyle was in his arms, Karl sincerely said "Thanks Bro; it means a lot that you did that for me. You made Tracy's present even better!"

Speechless, Kyle wrapped his arms around Karl and silently enjoyed the acceptance. Satisfied that his other half was getting the attention he needed, Tyler started poking around, opening one of the side panels over the wheelwells. "Whoa!" he giggled as he stared at what was hidden under the cover.

Sean looked over Ty's shoulder and giggled. "Nice! Hey furballs, we need some help over here!"

Mont and Bast moved to where they could see as well, and purred at the sight. "Nice!" Bast giggled. "Sixty cal semi-autos, remote activated!"

"They did great, you have to look to see the barrels next to the headlights!" Mont added. "I wonder what else they hid in here?"

Sean giggled as he held up a manual, the cover done in gold leaf. "Going by what I saw glancing through the manual, y'all might be better off not asking! What I got so far is that all structural components and safety gear have been upgraded to the latest Federation materials, which has actually lightened the car by almost a third, even though it is longer! With the various additions, which it doesn't detail other than to say refer to the interface in the cabin, the final weight on the car is only a hundred pounds more than it was from the factory."

"Ya think the front wheels'll stay on the ground since it's longer?" Adrian asked with a grin.

Rolling down the new rear driver's side window, Spike's furry face popped out, and he squeaked, "Weez hooked up gravity stabilizers soze they don't pop up offs the ground."

"Designed by our chimps," Willow cheekily grinned.

Xander and Faith cheered, "It was a community effort, at several divisions!"

"I shoulda known!" Cory giggled, ""Why don't all four of you come over and give Uncle Cory some of those Shiney hugs you're so good at?"

Once the ferret hugs were completed, the group finished going over the Chevelle. Once the ferrets returned home, everyone else loaded up to take the car on its maiden voyage. Since Karl still needed drivers training, Tracy took the wheel with Karl riding shotgun. Cory, Sean, Mont, Bast, Kyle, Tyler, Cody, and Adrian piled into the expanded back seat area, which now contained a U shaped back seat.

Twenty minutes later, they began their trip across Alligator Alley on I-75. As Tracy piloted the Chevelle, Karl studied the information about the car on the Drivers Information Center. In back, Cory was fiddling with the entertainment console controls, trying to figure out where all the new stations were coming from. All conversation stopped, however, when Cory landed on one of the new stations.

"... and that was 'WandWar', by WizardSeven from Theta Six. You're listening to the Interdimensional Music Network. Now for our latest breaking news! As we all know, the multiverse is buzzing about the return of Alpha Prime to the music scene. After an amazingly short stint on the Beta Circuit, the first musicians from Alpha Prime have been promoted to Alpha and have released their first compilation. Unlike any other group, they're showcasing the best of their home timeline, as well as the best of the Beta series who have not been represented yet."

"I wonder who's representing us?" Sean pondered.

"Gotta be one of the supergroups," Cory replied. "I guess we'll find out."

"... it's fitting that their first release showcases the trio of talented instrumentalists playing the instrument known in Alpha Prime as a guitar. Those of you with visual or sensory interfaces, this is a much-watch session from the recent Interdimensional Musicfest! Appearing at Seventy-Seven and climbing, here is 'Thunderstruck' being performed by Alpha Prime's own 'Time Touched'!"

Cory barely noticed the car sliding to a stop. Even Tracy and Karl joining them in back didn't faze him, as he watched the screen configuring the player.

'Identifying connection'

'WARNING! Restricted Zone: Alpha Prime'

'Security token verification'

'Security Token level: I50D4eeW953'

'Client status: Authorized Level 8St4'

'Technology Level 7BA-Special - interface Z32'

'Unknown holographic interface detected - scanning'

'Interface Identified: FCSV Holographic Emitter, Tech Level 5, Limited Distribution'

'Interface authorized - initializing... Activated'

'Dimensional transfer in progress... ... ... Completed'

'Loading media for playback'

As the group watched in anticipation, a 3D holographic image of an empty stage formed in front of them. As it stabilized, there was the sound of thunder in the distance accompanied by the forming of a purple mist over the stage. The next roll of thunder was considerably louder, and the mist quickly became a dense fog. A few seconds later, there was a bright flash and a loud 'CRACK' as the stage received a direct lightning strike. Before the echo of the strike had time to dissipate, Timmy stepped out in nothing but a breechclout and a guitar, his little fingers flying as he played the opening notes. About fifteen seconds later, DJ joined him from the mist, and the brothers began alternating the opening parts of the song. After another fifteen seconds, the fog vanished as every band member on the stage shouted "THUNDER!". Two sets of drums kicked in, Joey and Pauly grinning as they showed off their skills at staying in-sync. Seconds later, CD ramped up the bass, while Fife and KC moved up to join the two guitarists at the front of the stage. Fife came up next to Timmy, and began a decent air guitar while KC began the transfer of the lead part to himself with Timmy and DJ switching to the rhythm guitar once KC had the lead. Fife gave up on his air guitar seconds before launching into the vocals, his singing voice sounding much older than his body size would suggest.

"Our sons... hon, that's our SONS!" Cory stage-whispered as he watched. "They've never said they did this good!"

"None of them even hinted they'd become famous..." Sean added, awestruck at the performance he was watching.

"Dudes! Where'd Timmy learn to do that?" Karl asked as he stared at the show.

"They're all getting baths - our way for not telling us!" Mont and Bast chuckled in unison.

Nobody noticed Tyler flickering, not even Kyle. As the song came to a close, the DJ came back on. "I just had a visit from one of the elder family members of 'Time Touched, and he informed me that the custodial Seniors of the band's family were tuned in for the first time. Using the form of address common to Alpha Prime, this next song goes out to the Dad and Pop of 'Time Touched'. Charting at twenty-seven, their second release, also recorded at the recent festival, is called 'Alive Again'. Once again, here's 'Time Touched'!"

Cory's head twisted to the two grinning Mikyvis, which led Kyle to pointing at Tyler with both hands as he tried not to giggle.

"Thanks a lot!" Ty pouted as he withheld his grin.

Rolling his eyes, Cory shifted his attention back just in time to see DJ on guitar with Joey on drums starting the song. This time all of the band was involved in some way, either playing instruments or providing backup vocals. The surprise was the lead vocalist; KC had given up his guitar to provide the lead vocals. Timmy backed DJ on guitar, and Brandon picked up the bass duties."

"Who wrote that song? It's awesome," Tracy asked.

"Dilly says it's a band called 'Chicago Transit Authority' in one of the Beta universes; they go by 'Chicago' in one of the newer branches." Kyle replied. "He says the timeline split after the band formed, so both timelines have pretty much the same music."

"Dang it, I'd like to hear more of their stuff." Tracy stated.

"I just checked with Dilly;" Ty cut in with a grin, "he said he'll grab you a 'box set' and a player since their disks won't fit our players."

"Sweet!" Tracy exclaimed. "We better get moving before some police officer decides to check on us though.


Meanwhile, back at the Compound:

After watching Cory, Sean and the others vanish, Sa'ren did what he didn't want to concern his two big brother's over: he collapsed, pain shooting though almost every cell of his body.

What had happened could only have come to pass due to all six joined to him or linked to him having taken part, but the depth of power to undo a curse of death could only come from him and his Sword and Armour; and it had hurt. Kevin and the winged angelic Juan grabbed him and lowered him to the ground as he cried out. "Get Uncle Bones! Quick!" Kevin cried.

"No," Sa'ren whispered in his agony. "No... just... it will pass, Kev..." he murmured.

A figure from the crowd now gathered round the boy on the floor moved over to touch him. "Take heart," Joshua smiled before turning to leave the room, Rua along for the ride as well.

Sa'ren sat up quickly, his face now calm. "Are you okay, sweetheart?" Teri asked as she and Spock moved over to wrap their arms around their son.

"Y...yeah, now. I just feel tired, Mama... Dad... so, so tired," he yawned as Spock picked him up. He found himself carried to the nearest sofa and left there with Tera, Kevin and Levi close. Juan, his face tight after what had just happened with Joshua, asked, "Will you be okay, now? I have to go back to my job..."

"And that is?" Kevin asked, his eyes sad.

"I'm someone's guardian angel," Juan smirked before fading away.

"I'm betting Koth's..." Levi grinned.

Tera shook her head. "Koth would kill him again if he did that. Maybe we will never know."

A small black haired boy with yellow eyes then ran up fast to stand by the sofa looking at them all. "My new daddies say you're my uncles and aunt! Is that true?" he bubbled. Over his shoulder could be seen Matthew and Brant, with three other vampire children, their human daughter and cat-kid; all grinning at them knowingly.

"Yeah," Kevin and Levi giggled, and Levi continued, "Who're you?"

"Hehehe.... I'm gonna be Unca Joel's newest, bestest friend! We're gonna be pulling pranks and stuff!"

"Are we really?" Sa'ren giggled. "And why is... oh, let me guess... your name is..."

"I'm Joel!" Joel smiled, his pointy teeth gleaming in the light. "Nice to meet you, Unca Joel!"

"Nice to meet you too, Nephew Joel!" Sa'ren Joel giggled back. "You know, I feel better already... Kev? Levi? Go do a sixty nine or something... I've got a Dad to prank, and two Joel's are gonna make it sooo much more awesome!"

"Yeah!" cried little Joel as Sa'ren stood, grabbed him and vanished.

Teri looked and Spock, and both shuddered. This was going to get really bad, really fast.

Tera just laughed.


Alligator Alley Expressway, Thirty Minutes Later:

Tracy slowed down to take the exit for the Miccosukee Indian Reservation. As a genetic part of the Seminole Nation, the tribe had independently accepted Chief Tecumseh's treaty with the Clan as soon as they were made aware of it. With that in mind, Tracy figured it would be rude not to visit while in the area.

As Tracy approached the hut at the entrance to the public area to get a parking pass, he noticed the young brave manning it was excitedly saying something over a two-way radio. As he pulled up near the window, the young brave bolted out the door to come around and greet the car personally.

"Director Tracy!" the thirteen-year-old brave exclaimed as he saw Tracy driving. "AWESOME! Welcome to our home! Father is sending out my relief, then I'm to escort you to our village. Who all is with you, so I can pass word?"

Tracy giggled at the obvious hero-worship being thrown his way. "Thanks! There's me, my husband Karl, Cory, Sean, Cody, Adrian, Kyle, Tyler, Mont and Bast. If you're gonna hitch a ride, it'd be nice to know your name too!"

The young brave's mouth hung open for a few seconds as his brain processed the names of the visitors. Coming to his senses, he replied "Umm, I'm Micco Nokosi."

"Chief Bear?" Tracy translated. "Awesome name! Looks like your relief is here; fill him in, then hop in the back, Chief!"

For the first time in his life, Micco felt pride at being addressed using the English translation of his name. He turned to find his older brother running up, and with his head held high he stated "Tell Father that I'm escorting our Director and Patriarch with their party to greet him."

"Maybe I should..." the older teen started to say.

"Maybe you should pass the message and take your post, Holata!" Micco ordered, the recent interactions with Tracy emboldening him.

Deciding that arguing in front of their visitors wouldn't be in his best interests, Holata nodded and went into the shack, immediately picking up the radio to pass the message, along with reporting his little brother's attitude in front of visitors since it wasn't normal for the boy. He was so intent on his mission of getting Micco in trouble that he failed to notice his brother climbing into the car's back seat before it pulled away.


Chief Osceola Nokosi pondered the messages he'd just received from his eldest son as he prepared to meet the visitors. Holata was a very much by-the-rules child, one that would most likely grow into an adult who was very hard to corrupt. He had become good at dealing with things himself, rarely 'tattling' for the last few years. Micco, on the other hand, was a meek child, rarely causing problems and more likely to vanish to spend time on his own than to stand up for his convictions. Something was going on, but Osceola couldn't figure out what had brought this sudden change in his 'little Chief's" actions.

He stepped outside, heading towards the ceremonial grounds, still thinking. As he reached the grounds, the sound of an obviously powerful vehicle traveling at low speed reached his ears. He smiled as he saw an old Chevelle heading towards him, an army of little ones forming behind it and chasing it.

Tracy pulled the car to a stop near the man who was watching them with a smile, guessing that this was Micco's dad. Unable to resist giving the group that had formed behind him a thrill, he goosed the big engine under the hood, giving a loud roar from the tailpipes, before shutting down. Him and Karl opened their doors at the same time, quickly getting out of the way so the occupants of the back seat could join them. Taking a closer look at who was waiting for them, Tracy recognized the face from his intel briefings. Stepping forward, he spoke up. "Micco Osceola Nokosi, the Great Spirit honors me with the gift of meeting you in person. I am Commander Tracy Charles Butler, Director, Alligator Alley Division of Family Clan Short of Vulcan."

As Osceola clasped arms with Tracy, he replied "I am honored as well, Tracy." His eyes grew wide as Bast walked over, Micco happily perched on his shoulders.

"Hey Dad!" Micco giggled. "Tracy, can I do introductions?"

"Sure, Micco!" Tracy replied, "Go for it!"

Smiling, Micco began. "The guy that looks a lot like Tracy is his husband Karl, and the older version of them is our Patriarch, Cory Short. Tracy says don't tell him this, but he doesn't run things anymore, the Directors do. The guy holding him is Sean, and the mini version of Cory is his little brother Cody. The cute little guy with Cody is Adrian Jobs. The last two little guys are Kyle Richardson and Tyler Short. This big furry guy is Bast, and his furry brother is Mont. Guys, this is my Dad, Chief Osceola Nokosi!"

Osceola made his way over to Cory, clasping arms with him. "Welcome to my home, Patriarch. May I suggest that I have found that forced swims with alligators has a calming effect on warriors whose heads are too big for their headbands?"

"I like that idea!" Cory giggled. "It's a pleasure to meet you at last, Chief. May I ask that we be informal though, this is just a visit to say hello."

"I approve of that idea, Cory." Osceola replied with a smile, glad that the rumors he had heard about Cory were turning out to be true.

Once he finished greeting the rest of the group, Osceola asked "Would you be interested in joining me for a meal at our tribal diner? Many of our people cannot handle the food items popular with the tourist public, so we serve our native dishes in a more private setting."

As expected with any group of boys, the offer of food was immediately taken. They followed Osceola to a nondescript open building on the far side of the ceremonial clearing. The drool was obvious on every member of the Clan's chin as they entered and smelled the food cooking in the center of the  building. There were multiple pots of some stew that smelled great, yet wasn't identifiable by the boys. In the center of the 'kitchen', a deer was being roasted over a fire pit, and off to the sides were bowls of fried bread and cornbread.

Figuring a little history wouldn't hurt, Osceola explained "In the old times, we didn't eat three meals a day, we ate when hungry. To accomplish that, the tribe would maintain food ready-to-eat throughout the day. We are returning to that as a people, and have found that our health has improved."

"Fast food centuries before McDonalds!" Kyle giggled.

"You could say that," Osceola replied with a smile. "Only ours won't kill you!"

"Helen kinda does the same thing; there's always something to eat," Cory added. "We have family meals when there's time, but if we're busy we can just grab a snack to keep going."

"That is good," Osceola replied. "It seems the fan club you gathered driving in wishes to eat with their Patriarch, you might want to join them in stripping the food supply."

Micco jumped from his ride and grabbed Cory's hand. "C'mon, I'll tell you what we've got to eat today!"

A few minutes later, the boys were seated, the 'fan club' shyly intermixed with their Clan visitors. Cory glanced at his furry brothers, and began laughing.

"What?" Mont asked innocently, "I like this place, they have REAL drumsticks!" he added as he held up the leg of venison.

"See what I gotta live with?" Cory giggled as he tried to figure out which side of his mountain to attack first.

Tracy giggled at their antics, before leaning over and telling Karl "By the way, I played some head games with our AI snoops; they thought the car was for Cam!"

"Evil hun, just evil!" Karl laughed. "Serves them right for all their snooping!"

"Tracy?" Micco shyly interrupted.

Tracy turned his head. "Wazzup, Chief?"

Micco smiled. "How'd you learn to be a Director? Did you have to do a lot of training?"

Tracy grinned. "My goofy bro with the furry guards don't work that way, Micco. Pretty much Karl and I were tested along with a couple of our friends when we decided to try to hack into the Clan's computers for fun. The two rugrats over there feeding each other were on to us, and they purposely had the AIs mess with us. The day before the attack on Earth started, we were visited by a couple of the head security guys from Headquarters. We were asked to join the Clan, then spent a couple of minutes doing three days of tech training. Just as we got back, the Clan went to alert, and I found myself being tagged as the Director. By the time things got hot, it was made official. Pretty much you don't train to be a Director, you get drafted with no choice in the matter."

"You had a choice!" Cory added quickly.

"Tell our two time twisting munchkins that!" Tracy sniggered.

"HEY! Kyle yelled. "We weren't even here! We were over at Grandma Lizzy's!"

"Yeah," Tracy shot back, "And you had already set up your campground in my head before you left, lil' bro!"

"I... but ... no wa... Aww CRAP!" Kyle sputtered as he began blushing.

"BUSTTEEDDDDD!" the rest of the Clan party exclaimed in unison.

A cookie appeared in between Kyle's teeth. He pulled it out in shock and looked at it. In green, brilliant Vulcan-blood green, writing was written "Busted!"

It was definitely Sa'ren's handwriting too. Weird, thought Kyle as he chewed on it and blushed at the laughter, that such a genius kid had such messy writing! Still, he loved his big Vulcan brother... and paybacks were gonna be a bitch!

Grinning at the madness, Micco asked "What if someone wants to be a director?"

"We send them to consult with Kyle's dad!" Cody giggled. "You gotta be nuts to want the job, and Dan's the resident head shrink!"

Micco opened his mouth to ask something else when he felt about half his long black hair get sniffed into the nostrils of something big and furry behind him. Something that was also making some very weird sounds, like a huffing sound.

"Cheya, what are you doing here?" Cory and Sean giggled together.

[What? Me want smell Micco-boy. He smell... lickable!]

Micco turned slowly to see long, white teeth in a big, be-toothed mouth and a tongue coming right for his chin. LICK. Now Micco was spluttering as he felt big-toothed-bear-lion-thing dribble run from his face.

[Taste lickable too! Me want clean Micco-boy!]

"Like any of us can stop you, you overgrown teddy bear?" Karl laughed.

"What is it?" Micco asked nervously as I-Cheya started sniffing at his belly and arms.

"Our brother's pet - he's just a little cub," Cory giggled. "Actually, we're not sure; Elf might be HIS pet!"

[Yes, yes, yes. Answer all three. Now, Micco-boy. Strip! You stinky}

"DAAAADDD!!!" Micco semi-whined.

"Wise men never argue with beings bigger than them!" Osceola replied with a smile.

"But Daa... erck!"

I-Cheya, ever the patient Sahlat, had waited long enough and picked up the boy in one of his paws. In three seconds Micco was 'defurred' and placed back on the ground. Then he was washed, while others snickered and laughed at the show.

[No worry, Micco-boy! I get Laughing-Boys after... and Laughing-Dad of Micco-boy!] I-Cheya sent between one lick and the next.

"Good catch, 'Cheya," came a giggle from on top of the Sahlat. "Hi guys!" a butt naked Sa'ren grinned, his skin covered in his war-paint and his triple feathered headband around his brow. "I was just curious where fatty got to. Won't be here lon... is that deer? Is it tasty, Blondie?"

"Hurry up before Mont and Bast go for seconds, Elf!" Cory giggled.

Sa'ren jumped down and, before getting some of the food, he moved his cute self over to Osceola. "Honored to meet you, Chief Osceola. My name in the Seminole Tribe is Ataschopco Efeki, but my goofball family call me either Elf, Lil'elf, Angel, Lil'angel, Pain-in-the-butt, Cookie Monster - want one? - Sa'ren or Joel." He paused then added, "I won't tell you what my four husbands call me, though... might get them blushing... too late! Stop it, Ted! Jeez!"

"It is an honor, Ataschopco Efeki." Osceola stated as they clasped arms. "Your legend precedes you."

"Have they been telling stories again? Don't believe a word of it," Sa'ren giggled. "Naw, can't lie... I'm that bad." he finished, wiggling his pointy eyebrows

Then, after hugging the chief, the Vulcan zoomed off to the food, grabbed some and then planted himself next to the still blushing Sean.

Osceola just sat there and chuckled at the mayhem. "Chief Tecumseh warned me that if I was ever the subject of a Clan visit I would gain a whole new view of reality; I see that he is understating things as usual."

"What is this Reality you speak of?" Karl deadpanned. "I've heard rumors of such a thing, but I have not ever seen it in the Clan."

"Tracy, control your husband!" Cory giggled.

"I'll control mine when you learn to control both of yours, and your two husband-by-proxies," Tracy shot back with a grin.

"SCORE!" Kyle and Tyler both shouted, before almost falling over in giggles.

"I believe you have made my point," Osceola stated.

"Stop picking on them, Dad!" Micco said as he rejoined the boys, having not bothered to put his clothes back on. he turned his head towards Sar'en, stating with a grin "That was fun, Cousin Elf! When can we do it again? The bear said I'm supposed to call you Cousin Elf, is that okay?"

"'Cheya!" Sar'en giggled, "Stop jumping time, fatty!"

[Big boned!] 'Cheya huffed.

"Whatever!" Sar'en giggled. "Yes, Micco, I'll let you call me that; but only if you pass the cuddle test!"

"Whats a cudd... OHHHH!" Micco said as he suddenly found himself sitting with Sar'en on his lap. Without thinking, he wrapped his arms around Sar'en and pulled him against his chest.

"Nice... almost as good as Kyle-bear!" Sar'en purred. "You pass, Cousin Micco!"

Cory giggled, but then something fired in his brain. "Something's off, Joel..."

"Whatcha mea... oh, yeah! Ummm... how's this gonna work..." the little Vulcan, still cuddling Micco, murmured as he looked at Osceola.

The Chief raised an eyebrow. "Am I meant to do something to 'finalise' this cousin issues?" he asked with a smile.

"Weeeeellllll.... Ugan-Than-Sakai exists on Vulcan, adoptive parents exist..." Sean listed off. "There isn't anything for cousin... unless..."

"Either you and Daddy Spock swear the Ugan-Than-Sakai," Tyler giggled.

Kyle completed, "Or Grandfather Sarek adopts you under A'nirih father relationship... that isn't likely as you don't need a daddy to defend you, as you're a Chief, and your children don't need that defence... which leaves..."

"Ugan-Than-Sakai," Sa'ren grinned. "I think someone better call Daddy here, or poor Micco cannot be my new bestest Native American Cuz! And that will make for a very, VERY unhappy Cookie Monster!"

"What is Ugan-Than-Sakai?" Osceola asked curiously.

"Brother-by-vow," Spock said from behind him, where an ever-helpful Time Lord munchkin pain in the butt had Folded him and JJ in.

JJ giggled, "Do they have to get naked in a shower?" Kyle, Cory and Sean started grinning.

Spock cast a withering glare at all four boys (as taught by Teri), before speaking to Chief Osceola. "You are part of the Family Clan Short by the actions of Chief Tecumseh, all you need do is make an oath of brotherhood with me. No blood is spilt, nor is nudity required," he finished, casting yet another Teri-Grade glare at the now snickering children all around the two men.

At the glare, Kyle and Tyler helpfully added halos to the head of every person under eighteen in the room.

The Chief was about to reach his hand and simply say a few poignant words to accept Spock as a brother when a piercing howl was heard from outside the building. Everyone turned and watched in wonder as a massive wolf entered, Silver shot and powerful.

'I am Cynoeswr: the Ancient of the Forests; the Ancient of the Hills; the Ancient of Terra; Guardian Spirit of the Earth. Father of all Guides and Guardians of the Earth,' the wolf said, the sound of his voice harsh and loving all at once.

Osceola nodded at Cynoeswr, "Greetings, Spirit of Earth. How can your servants help you?"

'Long past is the time that the Guardians of Earth and Vulcan honour one of their own,' came an even deeper voice from outside. Then in came something that had to phase through the walls and door frame, so large what it. 'I am T'Kahr of the Red Sands, the Ancient of the Desert, the Ancient of the Mountain, the Ancient of the Forge. I stand with my brother, Cynoeswr.' spoke the Giant white-silver Sehlat. It stopped its speech when a very happy baby I-Cheya ran up to it for some parental attention.

'We are here,' the Great Wolf smiled as he watched his brother and nephew huff and lick each other, 'to give unto the father of the Sa'ren what has long been denied him - honour for his death in service to our worlds. Spock, son of Sarek, son of Skon; you are to have a child of mine, who stands like unto my feathered sons, as a guide for your path.'

I-Cheya backed away from his dad long enough to allow T'Kahr to breathe upon his brother Cynoeswr. Then the Great Wolf shimmered and all there, for the first time in mortal history, beheld how a new spirit guide was born. Unlike a spirit Guardian, who was conceived naturally, a guide came from out of the heart of the Ancient of the Earth.

A panther. A Florida panther cub. It had green, not blue eyes, and the claws on it's paws were also green. Gifted of T'Kahr.

Then the two giant Ancients vanished into mist.

"Hey brat, how are you at filling in as Shaman?" Cory asked Galli with a grin.

The Doctor giggled as he Folded into sight. "That isn't something I've done for a long, LONG time... but I think I still hold the qualifications around the Tardis... somewhere... okay, Chief... you ready for this? Hope so, you young whipper-snapper, you!"

The Chief shook his head with a smile before turning to a rather shocked Spock. At least the man thought the Vulcan was shocked. Seemed to be, somewhat. "Are you ready, my new Brother?"

"I do not know what to do in this instance, so I will be guided by you," the Vulcan replied seriously.

Cory scratched his head. "Your dad is on Vulcan, and I don't think it's a good idea to bring him right now, not with what's going on. Doc? What do we do? Chief?"

"I stand as the eldest blood son of my Father, as a Warrior of the Seminole, to present him as a spirit helper," Sa'ren said firmly as he moved to stand behind his dad. From out of the Guardian pendant around his neck flowed a tribal garment to cover his nude form. He glanced at Cory and Sean and gestured with his eyes.

"I stand as the Patriarch of Family Clan Short, Son of Spock, to present him as a spirit helper," Cory said as he too jumped to his feet and ran over. His own pendant did the same for him as Sa'ren's had done.

Sean was already garbed the same as moving, repeating Cory's words, almost. "I stand as Historian of Family Clan Short..."

The young panther moved closer and, as Spock knelt down as directed by the Chief, it climbed up to cling to his right arm and shoulder. The right paw was reached out to Spock's right ear, and Cory could see an extra dew claw present. In moments, Spock had this claw in his ear lobe. The young feline dropped to the ground and curled up in front of his helper while the Doctor moved forward to complete the fastening of the earring.

Then the Doctor took one whisker from the panther, and a few hairs from its scruff and started working on a headband that had suddenly appeared in his hands. "Sorry," he murmured, "I cheat a bit..." A green feather was then fixed in place and then Gallifrey stood in front of his Vulcan father. "Spock, the Spirits have chosen you," he smiled as he placed the band around Spock's head.

Sa'ren, Cory and Sean then helped their father take off his upper robe and took the paints from the Chief. They said together, "Today you became a warrior, father. May we have the honor of being the first to paint you to match your status?"

Spock nodded, "I would be honoured, my sons."

They began to paint markings on Spock similar to those on the young kitten before him. Then: "Fellow Warriors! I present to you, Kaccv-Lane - Green Panther of the Seminole Nation!" Osceola proclaimed.

Sa'ren then turned and captured Micco into a loving hug. "NOW you're my Cuz!" he bubbled before plastering the twelve year old in kisses.


Once everyone had finished eating and raiding Sar'en's cookie bag, the impromptu party began to break up. Sar'en headed out to refill his cookie bag, taking I'Cheya with him.

After they were down to just the original group and a few stragglers, Micco went over to his Dad and gave him a hug. "This was awesome, wasn't it Dad?"

Osceola smiled at his youngest son. "I have to agree." He lifted his head to face Cory and Tracy. "My home is yours whenever you wish."

"As is ours to you and your family," Cory and Tracy said almost in unison.

As the three 'elders' talked, Karl was half-watching a boy of about seven who seemed to be hanging around for something. Once Micco broke away from the hug and took a seat, it became obvious what the little boy was waiting for.

"Micco!" the boy exclaimed as he sprinted over and climbed on Micco's lap. "Did'ja see the big bear huggin and kissin everyone and cuddling them? he was really nice and made me feel lots better and he said I would get a surprise today! Whadda you think the surprise is gonna be, and is it a surprise that we can share you think?"

Karl's concentration was broken by Ty climbing on his lap. Softly, so only Karl could hear, Tyler whispered "Takoda there is an orphan. He's attached himself to Micco, and looks up to him like a father because Micco always makes time for him. Kyle's filling Cory and Tracy in with the details, but before we leave we're gonna have to do something for the little guy."

Karl tilted his head. Quietly, he asked "What is keeping us from making Micco his dad?"

"Nothing, but Cory is old, so he's slow to think up this stuff!" Tyler giggled.

"Good thing Tracy's there, or we'd all go grey!" Karl replied with a grin.

"Bad thing that Kyle's telling me everything you two say!" Cory stated as he turned his head. "Paybacks, little brothers, paybacks!"

"Gotta catch us first, old man!" Tyler giggled as he stuck his tongue out.

"And both of you have to sleep sometime!" Cory shot back with an evil grin.

Karl shook his head. "And we let him lead us why?" he giggled. "Since the management is so busy, let's just handle this ourselves, Ty."

"I'm in!" Ty giggled.

Karl turned his attention back to Micco and Takota, to find them watching him and Ty with grins on their faces. "You guys like that?"

"Yeah, you and your brothers are goofy!" Takota replied.

Karl smiled, glad that the ice was already broken. "Well little guy, it seems that we have some Clan stuff to do. Why don't you tell me and Ty a little bit about yourself?"

Takota nodded. "Micco said someone would ask that, he's super duper smart! I'm Takota, an' I'm an orphan, but Micco takes care of me. He cuddles me when I get bad dreams, an' he makes me be good. Mommy and Daddy got really sick after the went on a bus'nes trip, an they went to the Happy Huntin' Grounds a couple months later. Micco held me while I was cryin' about it, an' he talked his Daddy inta lettin' me stay at his place so he could give me cuddles when I needed them. He takes me out playin' on the swampboats, an' helps me read big boy books."

"It sounds like Micco's been like a daddy to you!" Karl said with a smile.

"Uh-huh! He's nice like my real daddy, but he ain't old 'nuf to be a daddy yet." Takota replied with a smile. "I like him like a daddy though."

"How long has he been taking care of you?" Tyler asked, making sure that everything was logged via his commbadge.

"A'most two years!"

Karl nodded, that being the last piece of information he was looking for. "Well, Takota, some things have changed since Micoa started taking care of you. If you had the chance to make him your Daddy for real, for the rest of your life, would you do it?"

"YEAH!" Takota yelled.

"Micco?" Karl asked, "Takota has stated his desire for you to become his parent in fact as well as in action. During this visit, you have been reviewed and have been accepted as a suitable parent under Family Clan Short guidelines. Are you ready to accept Takota as your son, to carry on your name as your first child?"

Tyler actually took mental notes of the technique used as Takota unleashed his puppy-dog eyes and quivering lip on Micco full-force. "Puuuuhhhhllllleeeeaaaasssseeee?" Takota whined.

Seeing Micco's hesitation under fire, Tyler added "You've already been doing it Cuz, the only thing changin' is you'll have the name."

"Yeah, I guess I have," Micco admitted, "Okay, what I do I need to do. I'll do it."

"By the power vested in me as Assistant Director of the Alligator Alley Division of Family Clan Short of Vulcan, I hereby declare you Father and Son." Karl stated with a smile. "Takota, you may now maul the Daddy. Ty, log it!"

"Seth's entering it now, Karl!" Tyler replied. "You need to have Wayne schedule him for pouncing lessons though; should be easy the way he's latched onto Micco!"

Cory joined them, a grin on his face. "Showoffs!" he giggled. "It's gonna be a little crowded on the way back; Tracy's decided he needs a rep from here on the team back at Division HQ, so the new rep and his new son are joining us."

"That's my husband!" Karl laughed. "Give him a few seconds of distraction, and he'll get his way every time!"

"You did a great job with the adoption, Karl," Cory stated, now serious. "Once they recover, could you and Ty break the news of Micco's new position and help them pack? Osceola's got a couple of families that he wants us to check out for onsite security and intel while we're here."

"Got it, Cor. You need the Rat Pack?" Karl asked.

"Nope;" Cory replied, "if you want them, they're free. Kyle says he's got Intel, and between Mont and Bast security is covered."

"Thanks, Cor." Karl replied before turning his head. "Hey Rat Pack! Get your tiny little butts over here!"

"I'm outta here before they pay you back for that!" Cory laughed as he quickly jogged back to the other group.

Cory barely got out of the way before the airborne combination of Adrian and Cody make contact with Karl. Once the pair had tickled Karl sufficiently, they perched on his chest and giggled in unison "You rang?"


The boys loaded into the car, Takota immediately noticing the electronics in back. As Cory showed off the toys to the new guys, Tracy piloted the Chevelle towards the entrance to the compound. As they reached the gate, Micco rolled down the rear window and stuck his head out.

"Hey Holata! Sorry bro, I'm being kidnapped by Director Tracy to work at the Alligator Alley headquarters! You got a new nephew though; Takota's my son now!"

Holata came over and reached through the window to give his little brother a one-armed hug. "So the Great Spirit has shown you your destiny, brother?"

"Yeah! Guess what, Dad swore brotherhood with Uncle Spock too!" Micco replied with a big smile.

"How does that affect us?" Holata asked.

"It makes us Cory, Sean, Tracy, and Karl's cousins! Isn't that great?" Micco gushed.

"Sweet!" Holata responded. "What are you going to be doing?"

"I'm representing our Tribe with the Clan," Micco explained. "and Uncle Spock said something about me training the Divisional Tribe."

"You've been chosen for a great honor, little brother," Holata stated seriously, "You have done well with the little ones; that is why the Great Spirit blessed you with Takota as your son. Today you earn the name that was given you at birth; go with honor, little Chief."

"Thanks bro!" Micco said as he reached one of his arms out and gave Holata a return hug. "Come on over and visit, okay?"

"I'm sure Father and I will be over often," Holata replied with a smile. "Go, brother, follow your Destiny."

"Love you bro; I know I don't say it, but I do," Micco admitted. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you too, Micco," Holata replied, "but it will be a happy missing because I will know that you are doing what you were born to do. I love you too, make our tribe proud."

"I will, bro." Micco said as he gave one more squeeze and then slid back into the car.

Holata stuck his head in the window. "Please take care of my brother and nephew; we're trusting you with our favorite angels."

"I promise," Tracy replied. "They're part of our central core now, which means they get the best protection we got."

"Thank you." Holata smiled. "Have a safe trip, cousins."

"Take care of the tribe, Holata. You're our on-site lead." Cory stated. "I'll make sure that your Dad knows."

"Thank you, Patriarch!" Holata  replied in shock.

"You're welcome," Cory giggled, "but next time you call me anything but Cory you get dropped off the end of the Naples pier for a swim!"

"I'll remember that, Cory!" Holata replied with a grin. "Have a good day!"

With the final goodbyes done, Tracy was soon back on Alligator Alley to finish the trip to Naples. As they took the exit towards town, Adrian popped up "Hey Trace? Can we swing by and see if Dad's home?"

"Sure Rat!" Tracy giggled. Following Adrian's directions, they soon found themselves pulling up to a closed gate leading into a driveway that wound through a grove of trees.

Adrian slipped over the back seat, and stuck half of his body out the window to reach the intercom. It was answered almost instantly. "Good afternoon, may I help you?"

"Hey Gator Breath, open the gate already!" Adrian giggled.

"And why should I?" the voice answered with a chuckle.

"Because I'm cute and you're an old fart!" Adrian shot back.

"As you wish, Master Adrian."

As Adrian slid back in, Tracy asked "What was all that about?"

"Security protocol three." Adrian giggled. "Me and George insult each other while he checks voiceprints. Me saying I'm cute is one of the triggers saying I'm not under duress."

"Nice!" Tracy laughed. "Now get back to your seat, Rat!" 

Adrian mischievously gave Tracy's cheek a sloppy lick as he wormed his way back to rejoin Cody, giggling madly.

Tracy just grinned, happy that Adrian was acting more and more like his age. He piloted the Chevelle down the winding drive carefully, finally exiting the trees a full two minutes later. To his surprise, the house that finally came into view wasn't some huge mansion, but was more the size of the Gaussman's house they'd just moved to Florida. 

As Tracy drove up to the front entry, a familiar figure came out the front door and came down the front steps, accompanied by a man that Tracy assumed was George.

The car had barely came to a stop before Adrian rolled out of the passenger side rear window, hitting the ground running. "DADDY!" Adrian exclaimed mid-pounce.

"Hey Squirt!" Steve replied as he managed to catch Adrian without being knocked over.

The rest of the car emptied, all smiling at Adrian's greeting of his father. They waited patiently, enjoying the sight of a loving father welcoming his son home. Once Steve finally put Adrian on his feet, the rest of the boys joined him.

Daddy?" Adrian began, "These are my new brothers! The big goofy blond is Cory, his cuddlebear there is Sean, the little brown haired guy with the halo is Kyle, and the blond kid hanging on him with his hand on Kyle's butt is his husband Tyler. The two shorter versions of Cory are Tracy and Karl, Tracy's the one with a wet cheek. The rainbow-colored furry guys are Mont and Bast, Mont's the one with an orange smiley face on his chest. The two native guys are Micco and his son Takota. Last but best of all, the mini-Cory-clone is one of my boyfriends, Cody! My other boyfriend, Ezra, will be here in a few seconds after he finishes something he has to do tomorrow."

As if on command, Ezzy appeared next to Cody. "You rang, Adie?" Ezra giggled.

"That's my other boyfriend, Ezzy!" Adrian announced proudly. "C'mon cuties, meet Daddy!"

"Okay... you said you had two boyfriends, but God DAMN... You never said they were this CUTE!" Steve giggled loudly to his son, causing both Cody and Ezra to blush crimson.

"DADDY!" Adrian exclaimed, developing quite a blush himself.

"Rules for Parents, number 3: Thou Must Tease Thine Offspring and Offspring's Lovers... carved into the Heart of Creation Stone, isn't it, Steve?" Cory laughed.

"No, that one is about taking embarrassing pictures of your children to show them and their loves later... I'll be doing that in five minutes. No, it was rule 2. Just behind Rule 1: Love them always," Steve grinned.

Just behind Cory, Kyle and Tyler were busy scribbling down these rules, while whispering to each other, "How'd we get to this Stone, dude! I have GOT to know what to do to get paybacks on Levi!"

Tyler looked up, and saw that neither Cody or Ezzy had moved yet. "Get over there with your Father-in-law already!" Tyler giggled as both Ezzy and Cody vanished, only to reappear on either side of Adrian.

"Pop! How'd you do that?" Ezzy asked in shock.

"Rule Six!" Tyler giggled, "Never teach your children all your tricks until they grow up!"

"Don't worry, Ezzy!" Levi giggled as he popped in right behind his parents. "I gotta edge over our 'rents!" he declared before giving them both an atomic wedgie... then vanishing.

"SQUEEEEEEEEEAAAALLLLLLL!"

"FUCK ME!" Sean yelled, wiggling his fingers in his ears. The others were doing the same as well. "That could have shattered transparent aluminum!"

Mont and Bast both had their hands over their ears, tears running from their eyes. "When you pay Levi back, you BETTER let us in on the fun." Bast growled. "That HURT!"

This time, Dylan appeared and squirted quick-hardening foam into the two lions' ears so fast no-one could follow the movement of him. Then he grinned, popped behind Cory and gave him the same treatment Levi had given their parents.

As everyone got the second huge scream to stop ringing in their ears, and while Sean was busy helping Cory get his underwear from out of the crack of his ass, Levi and Dylan appeared in the middle of the group. Seconds later, Bryce was plopped in. All three brothers were tied up. Then Ezra was popped to the group. Also tied up. Then Sa'ren appeared, this time dressed as a judge. "Levi and Dylan, for your actions, as planned by Bryce, and Bryce, for your evil plotting to get all parents and uncles in the Clan, and Ezra, for giving away the best time to put such a plan into action; I, Sa'ren Joel Short, Heir of Spock, Heir of Sarek, Kal'Ras of Earth, do hearby sentence you to five minutes of tickle torture with these feathers..." a feather appeared in Mont, Bast, Cory, Tyler and Kyle's hands. "Your abilities to pop away or stop them cannot be used... may the punishment commence."

Then, with a click of his fingers, Sa'ren took out the now set foam from the freaked out Lion's ears, and removed the clothes from the tied up Mikyvis. Then, he let all five boys have their revenge on the madly laughing brothers on the floor.

Steve was grinning at the fun as he sat with Cody and Adrian on the steps, helping them with a tub of popcorn thoughtfully provided by Emmy.

"JOOOOOEEEEEELLLL!" Levi squealed as Tyler used his feather on his first born. It was beginning to head to places that Levi wasn't too sure he wanted his pop to head it. "I LOOOVVEEEE... hehehahahahahahehehehee... youuuuu!"

"Love you too, Mousey, but you damn near crushed Cory's jewels. Not to mention my two little bros' bits and bobs. Take it like a man, or a mouse, but it's only tickles!"

"BUT POP IS TICKLING ME THERE!!"

"So? He's your pop. Don't worry, I'm sure Kev and I can kiss it better later."

"You're evil, Elf!" Cory giggled as he used his feather on Bryces' ribs.

Micco and Takota walked over to Steve, Cody, and Adrian. "Sir, could we join you?" Micco asked hesitantly.

"Only if you drop the 'sir'," Steve replied with a smile. "Adrian's been filling me in, you two should be calling me Uncle Steve, okay?"

Relaxing at Steve's casual attitude, Micco took a seat next to the group, Takota on his lap. "Daddy, can I try some of the popcorn?" Takota asked Micco softly. 

Steve glanced over at Micco, and saw the look on his face. "How long have you officially been his dad, Micco?"

"About an hour now," Micco admitted, "but I've been taking care of him for almost two years."

"Let him enjoy the popcorn," Steve advised, "and I'll give you a few pointers. Being a parent isn't that bad if you follow a few simple guidelines."

Micco nodded with a smile. "Sure, Taktak, you can, just take it slow. In fact, why don't you cuddle with Uncle Cody while Uncle Steve and me talk?"

"Okay, daddy!" Takota giggled as he jumped up and pounced Cody. "Uncle Cody, daddy says I get to cuddle you and help you eat the popcorn and cuddle you some more!"

Cody grinned. "Lets hurry up before your Uncle Adrian eats it all then, munchkin!"

Steve grinned. "You got that right, Micco. The hardest part of being a parent is understanding that you child needs to test his limits both physically and socially. If you do nothing but protect them, they'll be lousy adults. Adrian knows this too well; just by the fact of me being his dad, he was being isolated by others. Thats why we agreed together for him to join the Clan; he's getting the chance to do things he never could have done here at home. From what I hear, he's learned even more than I expected, plus he connected with the brother I couldn't safely tell him he had."

Adrian got an evil grin on his face as he tilted his head and triggered his subvocal. 'Rat to Head Cheese, you there bro?'

'What's up, Adrian?' Steve Mercer replied. 'Y'all having a problem?'

'Nope. You able to break away? I think it's time for you and Dustin to meet Dad; besides, the twins ain't met their grandpa.'

'You sure about this, bro?' Steve replied with worry evident in his voice.

'Yep. Besides, I owe him one for making me and my boyfriends blush!'

'Evil, little brother, just evil! We'll be right over!'

'Kewl, see ya soon bro!' Adrian replied as he tried not to grin too much and give his plot away.

By this time, the tickle punishment had wound down, with Sa'ren escorting all the offenders back to when they came from except Ezzy. Ezzy walked over to his boyfriends, not bothering to get dressed. "We'll get Uncle Joel later yesterday!" he giggled as he took a place between Cody and Adrian.

A bucket of ice cold water suddenly poured down over him, soaking Takota, Cody and Adrian at the same time. "Not if I get you first," Sa'ren grinned at their shocked faces as he appeared before them. "And anyway, I was just getting paybacks for my Cory's naughty bits..." Then his Armour flashed around him. Then the metal morphed, liquefied and cocooned him, growing larger and larger and... Kal'Ras stood there, twelve feet tall. "I'll check in on yesterday for your paybacks..." the great beast grinned before shooting off into the sky faster than they could follow.

Ezzy quickly dried all of them and the popcorn that was left, then looked over Adrian's head at Steve. "You having fun yet, Poppa Steve?"

With his mouth hanging open, and a single pop-corn dangling from his lip, Steve mumbled, "Huh? Wha?"

Giggling, Ezzy asked again, "Having fun?"

"Um... did that Vulcan just...? Kal'Ras is a member of...? Wha...?"

"Welcome to the inner circle, Daddy!" Adrian giggled, holding on to Ezzy to keep from falling over.

"Gee, thanks. Let me guess, that makes you the Golden King?" Steve retorted, tickling his son's belly.

Without a single word being spoken, just many giggles and laughs, all the children and teens there pointed at Cory. Cory just waved with a modest grin. Then, "You may kiss my feet," he smiled cheekily.

A single condom water balloon appeared over Cory and dropped on his head. Over Cory's commbadge, John Hundser giggled, "That's my line, Patriarch Blondie!"

"Yeah John!" Kyle and Tyler shouted before falling to the ground clutching their sides in laughter.

"I'm glad you guys still let yourselves be boys!" Steve laughed. "It's been forever since the last time I saw a condom water balloon; in fact it was one of mine hitting Bill Gates on the shoulder!"

"I guess that's better than when Caleb spanked him for Windows ME!" Cory giggled.

"I heard about that," Steve laughed, "I told him he was lucky it wasn't with a baseball bat!"

"Could someone dry off the drip so we can get inside?" Karl asked with a grin. "I really don't feel like standing around while I'm relaxing!"

"Suurrree!" Kyle said with a grin. Cory suddenly found himself dry, while Karl suddenly found himself wet with a seagull perched on his head. As the seagull took off and flew away, Karl glared at Kyle.

"Paybacks, little brother, paybacks!"

Sean sniggered, "Is that a cod in your pants, or are you just happy to see us?"

Karl blinked, then looked down. Sure enough, a tail of some fish of some sort was wiggling up from out of his belt, and he had been too shocked and cold to notice. With a scream, Karl pulled the fish out and threw it, only to see it pop away as Kyle sent it back to the ocean.

Tracy simply glared at the giggling Kyle as he tried to comfort his freaked out husband. Then, with a wicked smile, he whispered to Karl, "Don't worry. I like the taste of fish..."

Karl squinted and smirked, "We're gonna have to have a l-o-ong talk about that remark."

Puzzled, Tracy scratched his head, then it dawned on him. He blushed scarlet and started protesting his undying gay-ness to all and sundry.

Feeling sorry for Karl, Ezra dried him off. "Poppa Steve, can we get inside before Uncle Tracy makes it up his leg to his butt?"

Steve nodded, figuring the few seconds of calm wouldn't last, so grab it while it was there. "C'mon y'all; George is already getting drinks for everyone ready, as well as a snack."

Having said the magic word - food - Steve led the group into the house like the Pied Piper. As such, he almost got ran over when he came to a sudden stop in the doorway. "Stevie?" Steve exclaimed in shock.

"Wazzup Steve!" Steve Mercer grinned as he held up a cookie, "I see George hasn't lost his touch!"

After a few seconds of staring, Steve rushed over and pulled the younger Steve out of his chair and into a tight hug. "I was so worried about you! I had people trying to find you after you vanished! When Adrian called me and told me he'd found you it was one of the happiest days of my life!"

"Pops?" Ezra asked, "How are we gonna tell you two Steves apart when talking?"

"You could call him 'Junior', since the minute his sperm donor threw him out, a clause in his mom's will went into effect," Steve replied. "Stevie, I've already been in contact with your adoptive parents. I'm not contesting their adoption of you, and all three of us have agreed to work together to give you the family that you should have had all your life."

The newly-designated 'Junior' looked at the elder Steve in shock. "You mean I had a place to go? Why didn't you..."

"Because your Mom had to do some interesting legal stuff to make it foolproof. Part of that was the fact nothing could be said until something happened, and even then I could only tell you to your face. It took a lot of work keeping the secret of you and Adrian being brothers from the two of you, but I had to do it for the protection of you both. Now as far as the rest of your adoptive family goes, the dimensional door to Alligator Alley's rec room just got installed. They are packing up to move down here tomorrow, and will live here. With the door, it will be just like they had an apartment there. House security has already been transferred to Emmy, but George keeps up the old methods just to throw off anyone. We even have the shield system up and running."

"How'd you sneak that past me?" Steve Jr. asked, then shook his head as a halo appeared above Adrian's head. "Nevermind, I keep forgetting I have the sneakiest little brother in the entire Clan."

Steve let Steve Jr sit down, then took a seat next to him. "Listen, please. I have been looking out for you for a long time in the shadows; even when it seemed like I wasn't around. The staff members of the house you actually got along with? I planted them there to watch you. The gifts at Christmas and your birthdays with no 'from' on them? That was me too. All those classes that you took in school that were specialty courses? The school told your sperm donor they were forgiving the fees, but actually I paid them. If it concerned you, I made sure you got it and the asshole thought he was getting something for free. The only time I failed was when you vanished; you were so quick that by the time I knew and had everyone mobilized you were long gone." 

Steve Jr. looked around the room, only to find that everyone was watching him to see how he was dealing with the revelations. He was surprised when he locked eyes with Kyle and Kyle spoke.

"Steve, there is something nobody else here knows," Kyle said seriously. "Mikey says it's time for you to know, though. The fact that you and Mr. Jobs share the same name isn't a coincidence, neither is the fact that he was selected by your Mom to watch out for you. First off, him and your Mom were childhood friends. Your Mom used birth control under orders from Charles to prevent pregnancy, but it 'failed' twice. It didn't fail in the normal way, however. Your Mom's former employer has all the paperwork to prove this, but both times she was artificially inseminated with semen that was provided by Mr. Jobs for the sperm bank. As he correctly assumed by the experience with Adrian, being raised by him would have a negative affect on your social life growing up. All the paperwork is being held at the bank for your eighteenth birthdays to explain this, as well as to prove that you have full genetic rights to claim being his heirs. Steve, you are named after your genetic father. You ARE Steve Jobs Jr., and Adrian has always lived with you guy's father. That is how the hospital cooperated so easily with Steve taking custody."

Steve Jr. twisted around to stare at the man who he now knew to be his actual father. He remained silent, his face plainly showing his varying emotions. Unknown to him, the rest of his family popped in behind him, courtesy of Ezzy. Ezzy mentally briefed them on the latest developments, including all of the revelations during the visit. Steve Jr., unaware of this, closed his eyes and made use of his Unit training to control his emotions enough to analyze the information he'd heard. Once he was sure of the chain of events and actions, he allowed himself to match his emotions to his conclusions.

The elder Steve watched this closely, trying to keep his concern from his face. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his youngest watching as well, obviously more concerned about his big brother than how the revelation affected him.

Steve Jr. finally sorted it out in his head. Sitting next to him was a man who was trying to give his offspring a normal life, while providing for them in the background until he revealed himself after they reached adulthood. Obviously he cared, and his statements matched the things that Steve remembered from growing up. The fact that he stepped in to rescue Adrian when things went bad just served to prove his care for both boys. Even with all that happened, he stuck to his guns to isolate Steve from the troubles Adrian had went through as his live-in son. After reviewing all of that, Steve Jr. came to his decision; sitting next to him was the man he would proudly claim as his blood father from this day forward, and Charles was now nothing to him at all. Unable to vocalize it in any other way, Steve stood up enough to fall onto his father's lap, tearfully exclaiming one word that said it all: "Daddy!" 

The sigh of relief was audible in the room; everyone that knew Steve's history was very aware of how badly this could have went. Relieved, they waited for Steve to cry out the pain he'd never revealed to anyone, pain that only the father responsible for his creation could comfort.

Once Steve Jr. recovered somewhat, Dustin got up and walked over to join him. "Are you okay, babe?"

Steve Jr nodded. "I'm better than okay. I'm wonderful for the first time in my life!" He paused, then added "Daddy, this is my fiancé, Dustin. The twins over there are our sons Mitch and Jasper."

Steve smiled. "It's great to meet you Dustin; I see Stevie has good tastes! Mitch, Jasper? Once your Dad recovers, I'll give you your welcome-to-the-family grandpa hugs."

"KEWL!" the twins exclaimed in stereo.

"Speaking of family," Dustin grinned, "do you wanna officially meet your in-laws, Pops?"

"In-laws and co-parents!" Steve corrected. "But go ahead, Dustin; I'm looking forward to meeting my new housemates!"

"While you're doing that, I need to get ready!" Tracy giggled. "I've been meaning to fix this boyfriend issue - you have sons, so time to get married while the whole family is here!"

"Hey, it's my turn!" Cory groused.

"I'll let ya, bro, but we need to get everything ready," Tracy replied with a grin. "Which one is wearing the dress, and who has the rings?"

"Not sure, and yes he does!" Cory laughed, ignoring the two glares being shot at him and Tracy for the dress comment.

"We'll get them later," Dustin assured Steve as he motioned for the rest of their family to join them, including their sons. Once they were all gathered around, Dustin did the honors. "Mom, Dad, this is Pops!" he started with a giggle.

"Imp!" Tony Mercer chuckled as he stuck out his hand to Steve. "Hey Steve, I'm Tony and this is my lovely wife Diane. It's great to actually meet face-to-face finally."

"Welcome to the Alligator Alley Annex!" Steve replied. "I'm looking forward to y'all moving in; it's been quiet around here without a certain cute little munchkin taking naps inside my server racks."

As Adrian hid himself from everyone's view, the rest of the boys giggled. Steve Jr., however, was in the process of dismantling another of the mental walls he's constructed growing up. Looking up at Steve, he asked in an uncharacteristic vulnerable voice "Daddy, would it be okay if everybody calls me Stevie like you do?"

Steve smiled as he leaned over and kissed Stevie's head. "That would make me very happy, son."

Stevie smiled for a split second, then turned his head to look at his Unit family. "Mom, Dad? You ain't mad that I'm calling daddy Daddy, are you?"

Tony quickly crouched to be at eye level with Stevie as Diane moved to cuddle him. "Stevie, not only are we not mad, we're overjoyed to find out that your blood father isn't some scum, but a loving, caring man who looked after you the best he could even when he had to stay in the background. Once it was discovered that you and Adrian were brothers, Steve got with us to sort out how we were going to work it between the two families. We decided that the best thing for both you and Adrian would be to combine families, giving you both the support you deserve. With this new news, it is up to you how you proceed; just know that whatever your decision, you will not lose us as family, nor will we be disappointed."

Stevie quickly glanced around the faces watching him, unsure how to take the implied meaning of Tony's last statement. He locked eyes with Cory, and heard in his head 'Listen to your heart Stevie; follow it and everything will work out.'

Stevie closed his eyes, gathering his courage for the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life, even harder than asking Dustin to be his boyfriend. Taking a deep breath, he blurted out "I want my Daddy's name, I want to be his son!"

Bowing his head, Stevie waited for the explosion he was sure was coming. The silence didn't help, as tears began dripping from his cheeks.

Diane joined her husband, crouching in front of Stevie before reaching out to lift his chin. "Stevie, Tony and I are very proud of you for acknowledging Steve like that. Just remember that you've gained a father, you haven't left us. You're still just as much a part of the family as before today, the only thing that is changing is that you're acknowledging the person who loved you and provided for you in the shadows when he really didn't have to."

"You're really not mad?" Stevie sobbed.

"No, we're proud," Tony replied. "You just showed your brothers and sister something that they needed to see happen for themselves. Now they know how much love means when somebody takes the time to care."

Stevie turned his head to look at Steve, worried about his silence. What he saw brought tears to his eyes again, this time tears of joy. Steve's face was soaked, his smile a mile wide as he came to terms with the honor that Stevie had just bestowed on him. When he saw Steve mouth the words 'I love you, Son', Stevie lost controls, throwing himself at Steve and wrapping his arms tightly around his REAL father, once again breaking out in tears.

While they waited for Stevie to regain control again, Cory tapped his commbadge. "George, Emmy, and Daileass! Outfit all personnel from your respective locations that are here in full dress uniform except Stevie. Emmy, initiate real-time recording."

Within seconds, the Clan members found themselves in their dress uniforms. Cory glanced around, then poked at Kyle in his head. 'Hey little bro, is there any reason you can think of why Cody can't be in the same uniform as Adrian? They need Rat Pack insignia too.'

'On it bro!' Kyle giggled back. 'Lieutenant sound good? I can put the message promoting him in George an hour ago and have it hidden until you ask him about it!'

'Evil, I love it! Go for it, Kyle!'

"CRAP!" Kyle blurted out.

"Wazzup bro?" Cory asked.

"Prez just broiled my chicken."

"We'll get him later!" Cory stated with a grin. "By the way, does anyone have any idea why Adrian and Cody are out of uniform?"

"They're not out of..." George began to reply over Cory's commbadge. "CRAP! When did this come in? Ohhhh, I see ... Patriarch, I wish to officially request all AI systems be Mikyvis-proofed!"

"Request denied!" Cory giggled, "Now fix it before I call the Don!"

"MEANIE!" every AI in the Clan replied at once.

Cory watched as both Adrian and Cody flickered. When Cody reappeared, he was outfitted in a Clan Short Fleet Intel uniform matching Adrian's, the only difference being the rank insignia. Both boys now sported an emblem of a rat on their left breast, above the location reserved for awards.

"What the hell?" Cody exclaimed in shock. "Where'd this come from?"

Cory smiled as he stepped over. "Congrats, Cody. Mom's not the only one who's been watching you; you earned this, lil bro. You are officially second-in-command of the Rat Pack, Clan Short Fleet Intel."

Cody stared at his big brother, then glared, then burst into tears.

Cory was nonplussed. What was this about?

"Now I have to BEHAVE!" Cody sobbed. "I CAN'T GO WILD AND FREAKY WITH MY BOYFRIENDS NO MORES IN CIC TO SHOCK THAT PRUDE, SETH!"

Cory's eyes widened so much that he though they would bug right out of his skull.

Then the sobbing stopped and Adrian, Ezra and Cody burst into peels of laughter at the faces all were pulling around them.

With his hand clutching his chest as he had pains in his heart, Cory released his breath. "God, bro... your sense of humor... I need to sit down... I was going to be expecting some rather interesting stories from Set..."

"Seth to Cory... can you tell those perverted little shits to not have a three way GANG BANG by my favourite console?"

Cory nearly passed out, and Sean's jaw was on his chest as he looked at the three suddenly innocent looking faces before him. Steve Jobs walked up next to the now hyperventilating Patriarch and shocked Historian, glaring at the 'butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth' expression on his youngest's face.

Seth's voice came back again, this time with giggles, "So... have the funds been wired to my account yet, Ezzy?"

"Yup!" Ezra giggled as his two boyfriends collapsed in gales of laughter at the huge prank they had achieved on the others. "They bought it, alright!"

Even Stevie was laughing, his tears drying. "Emmy!" he gasped, "Get me my uniform please before the rats kill me!"

"Gotcha, Dad!" Adrian giggled.

"We'll talk later, all THREE of you!" Steve replied with a slight smile. "Now where was I? Oh yeah, my GOOD son's soon-to-be-husband was about to introduce his brothers and sister to me."

"HEY!" Adrian protested. "I'm good! Just ask Ezzy and Cody!"

"He's good, alright!" Ezra smirked.

Cody just let his eyes go dreamy. "Sooooo good!"

"As I said, we'll talk later," Steve replied, hiding his smirk by turning back towards Stevie and his other family.

"Boc boc boc!" Ezzy giggled, while Cody made flapping gestures with his arms.

"... hehehehee... chicken!..." Adrian giggled.

"Turkeys!" Steve replied without turning his head.

"Plucked turkeys... grab them!" Cory finally managed as he lunged for and caught Ezra with one arm, and Cody with his other. Sean had Adrian over his shoulder and was attacking the inside of his knees. "Where's the ice cubes?!" Cory yelled, as he rubbed his brother's head on the young Mikyvis' head.

< We have cleaned out one of the phasenmorph pools today, Patriarch. Would you like to use it to dunk them? It is currently filled with the cleaning agent, which will chill any skin to about 5 degrees centigrade... >

"Thanks, Ark!" Cory grinned. "Do it!"

The three laughing and squealing boys vanished, only to pop back five seconds later. Nude, shivering and hooting with laughter.

"George! I thought we told you to dress them!" Kyle giggled.

< I decided against... the agent shrank their clothing to this... > Ark supplied helpfully as clothes that could only fit on a Ken Doll suddenly rained down on the three still shivering boys' heads. < They might require new clothing... and their own 'shrinkage' this time will take an hour or so to rectify... >

"That's okay, they won't be needing those for a while!" Steve commented over his shoulder.

Cody and Adrian were now checking their 'equipment', their laughter now gone. They almost looked like Ken-dolls themselves! Ezra was about to help them 'recover', but found that his abilities to do so had stopped. And then he noticed that he himself was in the same condition!

"What the HELL!" all three yelled.

"It's good to be queen," Tyler giggled to Kyle. Kyle grinned and nodded.

Shaking his head at the madness, Steve rejoined Stevie and Dustin, who were holding each other up. "Okay guys, you about ready to carry on with introductions while the nudists find some clothes?" he chuckled.

"Sure!" Dustin giggled. "First is our big bro, Trent!"

Trent came over and held out his hand to shake, saying "Glad to meet you, Sir." He was surprised to have Steve ignore the hand, pulling him into a hug.

"Welcome home, Trent," Steve whispered, "Relax, it's time to forget the past and make a future."

"Thanks, Steve," Trent replied as he began to return the hug. All of the years of being told he was worthless started fading from his mind as he felt the acceptance of one of his idols. As the hug broke, his confidence was visually apparent; with one hug Steve had accelerated the work of Tony and Diane to warp speed.

Smiling at the effect Steve had unknowingly had on his big brother, Dustin continued. "Now for our little brother, Carter."

Carter didn't bother waiting, he pounced Steve before Dustin finished speaking. Laughing, Steve said "Hey Carter, you think you'll like it here?"

"Yeppers, Uncle Steve! You're FUN!" Carter giggled.

"Yep, and I hear you're ticklish!" Steve replied as he started poking and prodding the giggling boy in his arms.

After a few minutes of happy screams, Steve let Carter free. Carter gave Steve one last hug, then perched himself on Stevie's lap.

"Okay, last up is our little sister, Connie!" Dustin finished, escorting the little seven year old over to Steve.

"Your Dad is right, you're a little princess! Welcome to your new house, Connie." Steve said softly.

"You're silly, Uncle Steve!" Connie giggled sweetly. "I like you!"

"I like you too, I'm glad all of you are going to live here now." Steve replied.

To Be Continued...