Sentenced to Life

Chapter 10E - Dark Vacation

From the Authors of:
Memories & Sentenced to Life

This chapter is actually a bridge between chapters in both of the above mentioned stories. In our own way, proving to our readers and even to readers of GFD that this truly is a small world, or universe as the case may be. The idea spawned shortly after our friend and fellow author Comicality voiced his desire to design a place to become home to fan created work of what we think could be one of the most powerful stories on the web. Once that home was obtained, and Comsie had his team to take the wheel, we started this tribute. Pending the approval of Comicality and his Archivist, we are proud to bring you a Clan Short "Dark Vacation".

Chapter 1

Cory Groaned as they finally landed. "Dudes, why is it even when we try to take a break we end up having to work?"

Danny rubbed his eyes as the sun blinded him on his way out of the shuttle. "You tell me, I'm the rookie here. Remember?"

"Some rookie!" Sean said as he joined them. "You sure didn't show it; I'm not sure who was worse. You or Cory. Both of y'all need to take a break."

Danny nodded his head and sighed. "No joke. Since my activation I don't think there has been one minute that something hasn't come up. I am kinda worn out."

Sean giggled as he felt Timmy suddenly latch on to his right leg, causing him to almost fall over. "You're worn out? Try being a kid transport for a day!" he said as he reached down and ruffled Timmy's hair.

Danny began to laugh before intentionally creating some distance between himself and Sean. "Why Bro? Oh yeah, I guess once you become a parent you're just too old and worn out to keep up!" he laughed as he broke out into a run for the house.

"I'll get you later!" Sean yelled after Danny as he noticed CD laughing hysterically. "CD! Take a good look at Uncle Danny. Cause when I get my hands on him he is soooo dead."

CD giggled as he stepped off the shuttle's ramp with Calen on his heels. "He just likes playin with you, Papa! He luvs ya just like we do!"

Sean rolled his eyes. "I know, he's still gonna get it though!" he continued as he reached over and gave both Calen and CD's heads a quick rub. "C'mon guys; lets catch up with your Uncle Danny."

As a group, the boys hurried over to Danny, who was almost to the house.

"Awful quiet." Danny said as he reached the door. "Wonder if everyone is still at the hospital."

"Could be." Cory replied. "Marc's been such a slave driver lately."

"Hello!" Danny shouted as he slid open the door and stepped into the living room. "Anyone home?"

"NO!" a voice responded, apparently from upstairs. "We all moved to the Virgin Islands while y'all were out playing!"

"Sweet!" Danny shouted up the stairs. "Send us a post card!" he added as he plopped down on the couch. "Maybe that's where we should go, get some rest and some sun." he added in Sean's direction with a smile.

Cory grinned. "There ain't no way I'm letting you near anything even remotely associated with virgins! It's been what, almost a century since you got any?"

Danny twisted his expression as he thought about it. "Oh man. Never thought of it that way. Thanks a lot dude!" he grumbled as he threw one of the pillows at Cory.

The sound of footsteps careening down the stairs caused everyone to turn and look. Their jaws dropped when Caleb came into view.

Calen was the first to speak. "Uncle Caleb, why is it so dark under your eyes?"

"I kinda didn't sleep last night. The wiring we THOUGHT would be compatible with the new network just isn't. So I spent last night replacing it. You guys have fun?" Caleb finished as he plopped down on the couch with a sigh.

"Yeah, they are an awesome family. You'll love em." Danny added as the rest of the group filtered in from outside with their bags, all looking tired from the previous day's events.

Cory looked around at the group. "Guys, we're too young to be lookin' like this. You know, for an obsolete model you had the right idea Danny; I think we ALL need to take a break. The hard part is figuring out where to go; it's gotta be somewhere that we ain't gonna get roped into working our butts off instead of relaxing. Someplace where nobody will find us."

"Good point, you know... coming from a blond and all." Danny replied with an evil grin. "Cal, is the main system working?"

"Oh yeah, it's functional. Just not operating like we planned yet." Caleb replied through a yawn. "Cory, one of your legs looks just like Timmy." he added as he managed to focus his eyes.

"Yeah." Cory giggled weakly. "He finally caught me." he said as Timmy started to giggle.

"C'mere giggle box!" Caleb said as he reached out and hefted Timmy up and into his lap.

"Okay." Danny said as he stretched his arms above his head and groaned. "Report Mr. Barnes; then you are officially off duty before you fall on your face."

Caleb sat back and yawned as Timmy cuddled into his chest. "Well, Marc, Eli, Benji, Austin, Antonio and Byron are at the old Naval Hospital since equipment has been getting shipped in from Starfleet and deliveries from the Vision Industries storage facility. They've been there all morning. Jerry's at school I think, Joey is still offline, prosthetic devices for Eli and Benji should be just about ready." he said as another yawn escaped. "There was some problem with the Panda unit. You'll have to talk to Marc about it. I know he's been working with Jerry and Billy on it."

"Billy?" Danny asked, tilting his head.

"Marc'll fill you in." Caleb continued;"Main terminals are online, but the network is not. Omigod!" Caleb said as he grasped Timmy tighter and literally jumped off the couch and ran into the hall, throwing the basement door open. "JR! Dude I'm so sorry. You can come up. We're done for the day!"

A few seconds later, an obviously tired JR came stomping up the stairs. "I'm gonna strangle your sorry butt! I'm standin' down there waitin' for you to pull the friggin' cables an' you're up here playin' with your little twig!" Just then JR noticed everyone else sitting there. "Oh shit! Ummm ... hey guys, how was the trip?"

Danny chuckled. "Not bad, JR. Why don't you and 'twig boy' have a seat? Looks like you need it."

Sean chuckled as the two red-faced boys found a seat. "Like you're one to talk, Danny!"

"Ha!" Danny said as most of the group started to plop down all over the room and he leaned against the arm of the couch. "You're just sayin that to make up for the whole 'Tower of Terror' scene. Admit it." he finished with a giggle.

"Bite me, 'bot boy!" Sean giggled. "Unlike y'all, I have some common sense!"

"Common sense he calls it." Danny replied, elbowing Caleb in the side and laughing.

Caleb gave Danny a confused look.

"I'll explain later." Danny explained with a grin.

"Leave him alone Danny!" Cory giggled. "It's not his fault he's got a weak stomach! Anybody got any ideas for a way to actually relax?"

"Yeah, some sort of a break." Danny said as he almost melted into the couch.

"No kiddin." Caleb added as he and JR did the same with Timmy now sprawled across both boys laps.

Everyone jumped as Cory yelped and put his hand to his ear. "Whoa!! What's wrong now Ark?" Cory grumbled.

Cory listened to the earbud for a second then commented "Okay, put him through to all of us."

Caleb and JR watched with confused faces as the rest of the guys obviously began listening to a conversation.

"This is Cory."

"Cor, Kyle. We found my old father!"

Cory's eyes turned dark. "You found your father? Where is that useless piece of crap hiding at? I've got a promise to keep."

"You ain't gotta do that, bro. Y'all gave me a family; can we just turn him into the cops?"

"No way Kyle; you know that your big bro and Sean and I keep our promises. Tell JJ to grab Jamie and Jacob. Have them come with you to AIHQ; it's time for that piece of crap to face the music, and time for you to close out that part of your past. See ya' in a few minutes."

"Okay Cory; I guess you're right. Tyne is going to have Ark take care of getting us there. We'll be right there."

"Okay bro; see you soon." Cory replied before looking around the group. "Guys, it looks like Chicago as soon as we handle some personal business. Anyone know the area?"

"I've read about it." Danny replied.

Caleb held up his hand. "Hold on a minute! What the heck just happened? Y'all were talking to Kyle without communicators?"

Danny motioned to Cory that he'd answer. "Settle down; we have subvocal communication devices in our ears. Technically we don't have to talk out loud; it just is easier. It's a long story how and why we got them; lets just say that for now we need to stay hidden from the Federation."

"I'll fill you in once everyone is here." Cory added. "You think you can figure out some stuff to do; we're going on a field trip after we settle a debt for Kyle."

"I'll call Dad to pick me up." JR commented as he began to stand up.

Cory reached over and pulled JR back down. "Actually, I'm gonna call your Dad and let him know you have business to do in Chicago."

"Why?" JR responded with a puzzled look. "You guys got work to do there; you don't need me."

Sean grinned. "Dude! You are part of the Clan now. It's time you got to actually do some Clan work besides running wires. Besides, right now its best if you stay with us for your own safety."

Cory interrupted. "Caleb, you didn't kill the terminal did you?"

"Thought about it, but no. It lives." Caleb said with a grin.

"Good deal bro; otherwise you were gonna learn Morse code really fast." Cory giggled as he stood up. "I'll be right back; I need to call JR's dad."

"Hold on." Danny stated. "You're not here bro; I'll make the call, you stay hidden."

Cory nodded. "I almost forgot. Thanks Danny."

Danny came back a couple of minutes later. "You're set, JR. He says you've got enough clothes here, so go pack up and get ready to roll."

Just then JJ, Kyle, Jamie and Jacob popped into the room. As soon as he got his bearings, JJ turned to Cory. "Ready when you are, bro. Tyne sent two extra subvocals for JR and Caleb. All I have to do is fit them and tell the guys how they work."

"One sec JJ. Danny, you wanna let Marc know what's going on?"

"Sure, no prob. Are we all going?" Danny replied.

"Everyone in this room is." Cory commented seriously as he watched JJ instruct JR and Caleb on the use of the subvocal devices..

Danny thought for a second then mouthed "Ark; can you give me a secure connection to Marc at the old Naval Hospital?"

< I can route you through the primitive wired telephone network. I have routes available which the Federation is not able to monitor. >

"That'll work. Thanks Ark."

A few seconds later Danny heard a familiar voice in his ear. "Marc here, wassap bro? You home?"

"Are you where nobody can hear you?" Danny replied seriously.

"Yes. What's wrong? You sound wiped out." Marc answered with concern.

Danny sat back in his seat and sighed. "I'm fine, just a little wiped out. Unfortunately we've got a call to answer in Chicago and have to head right back out. Are you okay or do you need me to stay behind?"

"You kidding? With the backup I've got right now and how things have gone the past day or so, It's like we can move mountains bro. We're fine, lose the worried tone." Marc giggled. "What's up with using the landline; did Caleb cut the wrong wire again?"

Danny laughed outloud and grinned at Caleb. "No, he didn't, as far as I know. So, should I take that answer as a 'I'm not needed' then?"

"No, you'll take that as all is well at the AI division. You help our brothers if it's needed. You'll just owe me a nice dinner and a quiet sanity break when you get home, that's all."

Danny smiled and replied;"Deal, I'll need the break too. I guess we're leavin right away and so you know we have Caleb and JR with us." He suddenly became serious. "The landline thing is a long story; a certain organization is hunting Cory and his family. I'm being patched through to your phone; basically just in case they are trying to find Cory we set up a diversion by flying the shuttle here. All of us are going so that nobody is in danger. Keep everyone else at the hospital until I give you an 'all clear', okay?"

"You got it. No worries okay? We're doing fine; you look out for Cory and I'll stand guard here. I'll have a full report for ya when you get back."

"Great, just make sure to pick the place you want to go for dinner." Danny replied with a grin. "We'll handle the report after a full night of R&R."

"Sounds great. Love ya bro!"

"Love you too, bro." Danny replied as he sank the rest of the way into the chair and stared at Caleb with a questioning glare. "What?"

Caleb was obviously trying to stifle a laugh once Danny turned his attention toward him. "You two would make a better couple than brothers." he got out as Danny grabbed the pillow and hit him in the head starting Timmy's giggle fit back up.

"Oh please." He laughed as Sean and Cory came back into the room. "Everything is fine here guys. We're clear to leave whenever you're ready."

Cory grinned. "Sounds good. Grab your stuff guys, Chicago here we come!" He then mouthed to his subvocal "Ark, we're almost ready to go. Everyone in this room is going."

< Understood Cory. I have found a safe destination point when you are ready. >

Chapter 2

Cory looked around him in shock. As he was trying to figure out where they had ended up. Timmy insistently began pulling on his arm. "DADDY! Look! Sharks! C'mon, let's go see them!"

Before Cory could respond, Kyle joined them. "Relax Cor; it looks like Ark dropped us in Shedds. I've not been here in ages; let's check out the new exhibits while we are here. I know that Timmy, CD, and Calen will love it."

"What about... ?" Cory began to ask.

Kyle smiled as he interrupted. "He can wait. Right now there are sharks to check out! Chill bro; we've got time."

Cory glanced at Danny for help. Danny giggled at Cory's expression. "I'm on their side! Just roll with it Cory; it's kid time."

Cory finally grinned. "I guess so; let's go guys!"

As a group, the boys headed over to the glass wall which separated them from the shark tank. Almost immediately, a baby zebra shark came over to where they were standing with its mother. As they were admiring the sharks, CD giggled. "Look down Pop; you gotta friend under you."

Sean glanced down to find a stingray swimming around directly under his feet. "Wow; this is awesome! We're walking on the water!"

They explored the room; enjoying the chance to see the sharks in a natural habitat. Once they had seen everything they could at least twice, they wandered around and checked out the other exhibits. After about five hours of exploring, they finally decided to head out into daylight. They turned north and headed into the park alongside Lake Michigan. They stopped and stared out over the lake, entranced by the peacefulness of the waves crashing into the shoreline.

Sean put his arm around Cory's waist. "This is awesome." he whispered.

Cory leaned his head so it rested on Sean's. "Yeah. I guess it really is a good thing that Ark put us here. I love you babe."

"I love you too." Sean purred.

Danny pointed to the north. "Guys, I think thats Navy Pier up there. Lets go check it out."

Sean gave a huge grin. "Yeah; I've wanted to see it for forever!" He looked around and added "I think that trail goes up there."

Cory looked around and noticed a sign. "That says it's 'Lakefront Trail'; I guess it might go that way."

They slowly started heading up the trail, taking in the sights and making plans as they went. After about two hours they came to the Chicago river and entered the walkway going underneath the bridge. As they exited the tunnel, they came to a stop as they got their first view down the length of Navy Pier. Calen pointed down the pier. "Dad! Pop! Can we ride the ferris wheel?"

Cory stuck his hand in his pocket. "One second son." He then switched to subvocal. 'Ark; I think it might help if we had some money here. I can't use my credit card without being traced and we used the last of my cash back at the aquarium.'

< Then we shall have to fix that problem. Give me a second.&gt A few seconds later a wad of cash appeared in Cory's pocket. < Do not spend that all in one place. If you need more then ask. Just do not ask where I am borrowing it from. >

Cory grinned. 'Thanks Ark' he mouthed. He looked around to make sure that nobody was watching, then pulled the roll of bills out of his pocket. "JR, JJ, Sean, Danny; let's split this up." Cory's eyes went wide as he looked at the three inch roll of bills and realized they were all fifties. He quickly split the money five ways and the boys shoved it in their pockets before anyone could see.

As they headed toward the pier, the smell of shrimp cooking assaulted their noses. JR 's stomach growled loudly just as he commented "I don' know 'bout y'all, but I'm getting hungry."

Danny chuckled. "So we hear! That does smell good though."

JR took the lead and they followed their noses to the source of the aroma. Shortly they found themselves at the entry to the 'Bubba Gump Shrimp Company'. They all broke out in huge grins as they walked inside and waited for a seat. The waitress came up and smiled as she addressed them. "Hey sweeties! Are your parents on their way?"

Once Danny stopped laughing, he replied. "Parents?? Aww Mann! Cory, it was YOUR turn to keep track of them!"

Cory slapped Sean playfully. "I told ya to remind me!"

Sean looked over at JR. "JR, have you seen them?"

JR shook his head. "Last I saw they were in South Carolina. Jamie, have you seen 'em."

Jamie shook his head. "Nope; Jacob and I had kid watch, remember? What about you Caleb?"

"I was catching up on sleep! Jeeze! Thats what you get for putting Cory in charge of something!" Caleb snickered. "Calen, did you see them?"

Calen shook his head. "You're weird."

Danny started to look at CD to get him involved. CD frowned "Don't even think about it goofball."

Timmy looked around at all of them in confusion. "What are y'all talkin' 'bout? Pop's right there!" he announced before pointing at Sean and beginning to giggle.

Danny smiled at the confused waitress as he stifled his laughter. "Sorry about that; we couldn't resist. Seriously, our parents hate seafood so they gave us some cash and headed over to Charlie's Ale House."

The waitress shook her head. "If you guys are always like this I'll bet they just needed a strong drink! If you promise to keep it down, I've got a table towards the back that you can use."

Cory smiled. "We'll be quiet. You don't know how much trouble we'll get in if we cause problems in here. The back actually sounds good."

"Okay; follow me." the waitress replied as she turned and grabbed a pile of menus. She guided the boys to their table and passed out menus once they were all seated. "I hate to sound like I don't trust you, but what kind of limit did your parents set for your meal?"

Danny reached into his pocket and pulled out four bills. "This should pretty much cover it; but if we go over let me know and I will cover it out of the spending cash they gave us."

The waitress looked down at the four bills Danny was holding low enough to keep out of view of the surrounding tables. When she saw that there were four $50.00 bills in his hand she nodded. "That should cover it. What would you guys like to drink?"

Cory glanced at the menu and said "I'd like to try a 'Lotsa Lava'." Sean nodded as he said "That sounds good; I'll try one too."

Timmy pointed at the menu in front of him. "Can I have this one? It looks good!"

Cory looked over. "A PB&J smoothie? Sure munchkin."

CD and Calen both announced at the same time "I want a Cookie Crumb smoothie!"

Caleb grinned at Danny as he asked for coffee.

Danny groaned "That poor coffee!" as Caleb giggled softly. When Danny saw the waitress's confused look he expanded on his comment. "That boy murders coffee with all the junk he puts in it!"

She smiled at Danny's obvious disgust. "I'm glad it's not me. What will you have?"

Danny smiled. "Coffee; and unlike him I don't want mine so thick with stuff that you can chew it!"

That made the waitress giggle. "Not a problem." She turned to the twins, and asked them for their choices.

Jamie replied first. "I think we'll both try ..."

Jacob giggled as he added "... the Run ..."

Jamie: "... Forest ..."

"... Run." Jacob finished as both dissolved into giggles.

The waitress gave them a knowing grin. "That's so cute! You two are adorable."

Jamie and Jacob turned beet red as they tried to make themselves as small as possible.

Kyle stifled his giggles enough to comment. "You asked for it bros! Ma'am; could I please have an Iced Tea?"

The waitress ruffled Kyle's hair. "Sure thing cutie."

Kyle giggled at the attention as she turned to JR. "And what will you have sir?"

JR smiled. "I'd like an Iced Tea too, please Ma'am. Sweet tea if you have it."

The waitress nodded with a smile. "I'll see what we can do. I'll be right back with your drinks and will take your orders as soon as you are ready."

About fifteen minutes later, Danny looked up from the Shrimper's Net Catch appetizer he was just finishing. "Hey Kyle; there's a kid sitting a couple of tables behind you that's been sitting there by himself. He's been crying on and off since we got here; you think you can see if anything is wrong?"

Kyle shook his head. "Not a good idea yet, Danny. I'm still adjusting to the stuff Tyne taught me. Maybe the twins could do it."

"For some reason we can't get a lock on him." Jamie replied with a confused look.

Danny nodded as he noticed the kid's foot sticking out into the aisle. "Only one way to find out then." He grinned as he looked around the table, deciding to pick up his glass of water with an evil grin. "The old fashioned way." He added earning an amused grin from Kyle as he stood up, and headed towards the young boy's table.

Danny walked as if he was going somewhere past the other table. As he passed the kid, he 'accidentally' tripped over the kid's foot and 'spilled' the water on the front of his own shirt.

"I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to trip you!" the kid exclaimed as fresh tears started rolling down his face.

"It was my fault." Danny replied. "Can I borrow some napkins?"

The boy slid as far away from Danny as he could. "Yeah." he replied as he cringed.

"This was definitely my fault dude; relax." Danny commented as he started patting his shirt dry. "I really need to watch where I'm going. Can I sit down?"

The boy just nodded as he still kept his distance from Danny.

"What's your name?" Danny asked with a smile.

"Daniel." the boy replied in a small voice.

"No way!" Danny replied.

"Uh huh."

"My name's Danny!" Danny exclaimed with a smile.

"Uh uh." Daniel replied in disbelief.

Just then, Danny heard Jamie pushing a thought into his head. 'All we can tell is he's not as old as he looks.'

"Yes it is!" Danny replied. In his head, he replied to Jamie. 'Ohhh, that changes things. Plan B; send Timmy over.'

"Nuh uh!" Daniel replied.

Timmy came running over. As soon as he saw Danny he started giggling. "You're all wet Unca' Danny!"

"Yeah, thanks munchkin; I noticed that." Danny replied. He turned to Daniel. "This is my nephew Timmy. Timmy, this is Daniel."

"No way!" Timmy exclaimed as he looked at Daniel. As soon as he noticed Daniel's face his tone softened. "You've been cryin'." Timmy then held out the stuffed shrimp that he had got earlier. "My Daddy got this 'cuz it made me feel good; do you want it so that you feel better?"

Daniel's eyes brightened as he wiped his tears. "Really? For me?"

Timmy slid in and cuddled up to Daniel's side as he handed the stuffed shrimp to him. "You need this more than I do."

Danny looked at the empty tabletop. "Daniel; are you waiting for somebody?"

Daniel looked up from inspecting the stuffed shrimp. "Yeah; Mommy and Daddy told me to get a table and wait for them. They've never took this long before."

Danny cocked his head. "Why don't you come over and sit with us while you are waiting?"

Before anything could be said Timmy grinned and wrapped his arms around Daniel. "Yeah! Pweezzee! I wanna in'roduce my new friend to ALLLL my brothers!!! C'mon Daniel!"

"But they said if I move I'll be in big trouble." Daniel replied with a dejected look.

"Don't worry Daniel, I'll talk to your parents for you ... when they show up." Danny replied.

Daniel looked between Timmy and Danny a few times then made his choice. "Promise? They'll yell at me; I don't want them to yell at me again."

"I promise." Danny replied as he held out his hand. "We'll look out for you."

Daniel slid out with Timmy glued to his side. He took Danny's hand and followed meekly as Danny led them back to the rest of the boys.

It was obvious the twins had kept everyone else filled in. Cory led the group as they all stood to welcome Daniel. "Hi Daniel; I'm Cory. I see you've made Timmy's 'cuddle list'. Look out; once you're on it you never have to worry about someone to cuddle with ever again."

Timmy stuck out his tongue at Cory then giggled. "I'll get you later!"

Sean noticed Daniel's confused look. "Don't worry about it Daniel; if Timmy likes you it means you are a good person. I'm Sean by the way."

Kyle stepped forward. "Nice to meet you Daniel." he said as he held out his hand.

Daniel took Kyle's hand and gave it a weak shake. Kyle got a momentary look of surprise on his face, then tilted his head before smiling. "You can relax Daniel; nobody's gonna yell at you ever again."

Daniel gave Kyle a small smile then waited as he was introduced to the rest of the boys. He took a seat between Timmy and Kyle and looked around the table in wonder. "Go ahead and pick something out to eat and drink; I'm buying." Danny announced.

"I'm not allowed to pick out my food." Daniel stated simply.

"Now you are." Kyle replied as he opened a menu and leaned over to go over it with Daniel. "Tell me what looks good, we'll get it for you."

"Really?" Daniel said in awe as he began scanning the entire menu happily.

"Really." Kyle replied as he put an arm over Daniel's shoulder.

Once Daniel had picked out his order, Kyle flipped the license plate on the table over to indicate they needed service. He then leaned over to Daniel and whispered "No matter what you hear anyone say to the waitress just agree with them. We're gonna tell a few fibs so that nobody gets in trouble. I'll explain it to you later."

Daniel nodded his head as he leaned into Kyle's snuggle. Just as he got comfortable the waitress came over. She noticed Daniel sitting there and gave Danny a questioning look.

Danny smiled. "I think Daniel's parents got sidetracked. He's staying in the room next to me at our hotel, so we invited him over to eat with us. If they don't make it by the time we're done we'll let him come with us and leave a message for them that we'll meet them at the hotel later."

The waitress stared at Danny in thought then replied. "I guess that will be okay. All week they've been sending him in to get a table then showing up afterwards. I was starting to get worried. What will you have sweetie?"

Daniel grinned as he pointed to a picture on the menu. "I want the ribs!" he announced happily.

She nodded and noted it down. "You want your usual drink?"

Daniel shook his head. "I want what he's got." he replied as he pointed at Timmy's drink.

"One PB&J smoothie coming up!" she replied with a smile. "I'll tell them to hurry up so all of the orders come up at the same time."

As she flipped the license plate over and headed off to enter the additional order, Jamie got Kyle's attention. "Hey Kyle; you need to get in my head. We just found out something."

Kyle nodded and paused what he was doing for a second. He scowled and gave Daniel a squeeze. "Mentally report to Cory and Danny. That stops right now; I can't allow it."

Cory gave Kyle a puzzled look then sat back as the information from the twins flooded into his head. "Daniel is 14 yrs. old but according to the doctors is mentally only eight or nine. His parents told him this morning 'You're too much trouble to take care of; you are worthless and were never wanted to begin with." He's teased by the neighborhood kids and is constantly picked on with no intervention by any responsible adults. His parents would tell him "get away kid, you're bothering me" when Daniel asked them why nobody liked him. He always ended up going to his room crying. All he's got to talk to is a big stuffed yellow duck he calls 'Howard'. He had very few toys to play with and a small TV to watch. Daniel's lonely. He just wants someone to love him, cuddle him,and talk to him; someone that will let him know that he is wanted and is important. He wants friends and brothers or sisters who won't make fun of him but who will play with him and let him know that he is important and worth getting to know and love. He was fed and clothed only because his parents were afraid of going to jail if they didn't." The thought stream paused before the twins continued. "I know we are undercover right now to protect you guys; but we gotta do something to help him."

"SHA." Cory muttered so only those at the table could hear.

Kyle nodded as he replied. "Mine Cor."

Kyle glanced over at Daniel and saw his puzzled look. "I'll explain later when we're munching on pizza and watching TV, okay?"

Daniel gave a huge grin. "Okay!"

An hour later, the boys finally finished eating and began preparing to leave. Cory nodded his head down to hide his actions as he mouthed for the subvocal "Ark, can you please get me the phone number for the Chicago Police youth division?"

< Of course Cory, just be careful not to give yourself away. Let me know when and I'll give you the number. >

"Go ahead any time, Ark. I'm gonna put John Martin's name as a contact name; since he is Federation Security he should be a safe decoy." Cory mouthed.

< Very well, that will be fine. The number you want is 312-747-8385. >

"Thanks Ark." Cory replied as he wrote the number down. He then added as an afterthought "How hard would it be to rescue Daniel's stuffed duck from his old home so he has it when we get to the hotel?"

< Stuffed duck? I assume this is a yellow stuffed duck, am I correct? >

Cory giggled softly. "Yep, I think that's the one."

< I have it in the teleport buffer now, later when you have lodging I will give it to you. >

"Really! Sweet, thanks Ark. That didn't take long."

< That is the advantage of being me as well as listening to your conversations. >

Cory got serious as he replied. "I'm glad you are listening in. Any time you have a suggestion please let me know. It will make me feel a lot better knowing that you are there to give me advice when I'm having to guess at what the right thing to do is. Even if I don't agree totally with you all the time, I will still consider your input before I make a choice."

< If you need the help then you know that I will help you. But input is all I will ever give you, advice is all I have to offer, for the difference between right and wrong is your choice and yours alone. You are their Patriarch, you are their guidance, just always choose wisely. You will always have all of us to give you help if you need it though. >

"That's more than I had before." Cory replied. "It takes a lot of pressure off knowing that I have someone I can trust who has seen a lot more than I have though. Thank you to you and the rest of the guys."

< You are most welcome. Now good luck, I will be here listening if you need me again. >

"Thanks; I'll need it!" Cory replied before looking up. "Okay guys; we've got a pier to conquer! Lets hit it!"

Danny tossed a fifty on the table as they left to pay their bill. As the rest of the boys raided the gift shop again, Danny settled up the bill and left the note Cory had written. He joined the rest of the crew and picked out something for himself and Marc, then they all headed out to investigate what else the pier had to offer.

Just after nightfall, they all gathered near the anchor at the end of the pier. Danny looked around and giggled when he saw that just about everyone in the group was carrying a teddy bear.

Daniel held his up proudly. "Danny! Look what Timmy made for me!"

Danny looked closely at the teddy bear that Daniel was holding up. "Oh wow; that's cool. He must really like you!"

Daniel's grin got even bigger at hearing Danny's approval. "I like him too!"

Timmy tugged on Danny's arm. "Unca Danny?"

"Yeah munchkin?" Danny replied as he looked down.

"Unca Marc is gonna fix Joey ain't he?" Timmy asked seriously.

"Of course Timmy; Joey's gonna be as good as new." Danny replied.

"Can you hold this? I made it 'specially for Joey." Timmy asked as he held up one of the two bears in his arms.

Danny looked at the bear and gave a small smile. "One blue eye and one green eye." he whispered. "He's gonna love it munchkin. Is the other one for you?"

Timmy shook his head. "No; it's for Matty. I got Ricky to cuddle with."

"Maybe I should get one." Danny replied with a smile.

"Why? You got Unca Marc to cuddle." Timmy replied innocently.

Caleb busted out laughing. "I told ya so, bro!" he managed to squeak out.

Danny rolled his eyes. "You guys are impossible!" he groaned as the rest of the group softly giggled.

As a group, they looked out over the lake from the railing; all of their stress melting away at the soothing sounds of the waves lapping against the pilings of the pier. About fifteen minutes later, Jamie and Jacob got strange looks on their faces and looked over their shoulders. Sitting on the Anchor was an extremely hot kid of about 14; he appeared to have reddish-brown hair that just about covered his cheekbones when it was not being displaced by the unseasonably warm breeze. The boy turned his head towards Jamie and Jacob, and for a split second the moonlight caught in his eyes and revealed an unnatural deep green that set off his flawless features.

'Don't try to read Kyle; it'll mess up your head!' Jamie pushed towards the stranger in thought. The boy smiled in response and nodded his head; acknowledging the advice.

The rest of the boys turned to see what had distracted the twins. Kyle tilted his head for a moment as he concentrated, then a small smile came across his face. He broke away from the group and walked up to the stranger, pulling him into a hug. "Relax." Kyle said softly. "Your secret is safe with us; I can see that you are really a good person. If you ever need us I know you know how to find us. That goes for your family too. Once we are alone I'll fill in the guys who are not 'readers' so that they will know to help you if you ever need it."

The boy looked down at the eight-year-old hugging him. "You don't know what that means." he replied softly.

Cory joined the pair as they were talking. "Trust me dude; he knows. Kyle is one in a trillion; by now he knows more about you than you do. If he says you have our support, then you have it."

The boy looked around the group. his gaze stopping on Sean. Suddenly his eyes got wide for a second, then he recovered and just nodded. "I guess you do know. Thanks guys."

The boy joined the rest of the group looking out over the water for a few more minutes, then gave each boy a quick hug before slipping off into the darkness of the pier. They gave him a chance to disappear gracefully before they turned and started heading up the pier. As they reached the ferris wheel, Kyle pulled them off to the side. "Guys; have you noticed that some of the people on the Pier have been paying a lot of attention to us?"

Cory nodded his head. "Yeah; whats up with that?"

Kyle smiled. "Sean and Danny know if they think about it. Even you should be able to figure it out bro. That story that you three have been reading on the Shack wasn't a story; it was actual Scripture."

Cory, Sean and Danny all looked at each other in shock. Sean was the first to speak. "Danny? You've been surfing the Shack? Dooooode! You shoulda said something!"

Danny giggled. "Hey! I had to have something to do while Marc was forcing me to stay out of the lab!"

Cory shook his head. "You guys can discuss favorite sites later. Kyle, are you saying ...?"

Kyle nodded. "Yeah. GFD is for real."

Sean and Danny's smiles dropped from their faces. "You mean I was just hugged by ...?" Sean whispered; unable to say the name.

Kyle nodded. "Yes Sean; that was him."

They were distracted by Timmy kneeling down and clucking to a seagull who had landed nearby. A few seconds later Timmy screwed up his face then stood up. "Poppa, I think seagulls are blond. All they'll talk about is food!"

"TIMMY!" Cory exclaimed as the rest of the group broke out in laughter. "Watch it, munchkin."

Timmy giggled. "Sorry Daddy." he exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around Cory's legs. "You're a smart blond."

Daniel and JR got Kyle's attention. "What are you talking about Kyle?" Daniel asked.

Kyle looked Daniel in the eye. "The kid who hugged you was a good vampire. There are a bunch of them walking around here."

Everyone fell silent as Kyle's words sunk in. Daniel tilted his head then smiled. "He was sad and needed a hug. We made him feel happier. I don't feel anyone wanting to hurt me, so they gotta be all okay."

JR glanced between Kyle and Daniel. "Y'all gotta teach me howta get inna peoples heads like that! I sure know I ain't gonna tell noone to bite me until we's back down home! Daddy always said these dang Yankees were bloodsuckers!"

Cory laughed. "Chill, Johnny Reb; you're in enemy territory!"

JR stuck out his tongue at Cory. Cory just laughed. "Thanks for the offer dude; but I'm taken! Sean might get pissed if I take you up on that!"

JR turned beet red as he realized how Cory was taking his actions. Daniel giggled and pulled JR into a hug. "You're goofy Cory!"

As the boys finally left the pier, Cory looked around and noticed a motel a couple of blocks north. "Guys, let's get some rooms then find some dinner." he announced.

Danny looked to where Cory was gazing. "Dude; that's the West Chicago Lakeshore! I know we can afford it, but there ain't no way they're gonna let a bunch of kids check in there! I've heard about that place; it's supposed to be sweeet!"

Cory thought for a second. 'Ark, I have an idea' he mouthed.

< Go ahead Cory. >

Cory continued the conversation on his subvocal. 'Most hotels require an adult to check in. If I use my Starfleet ID that should get us in, but we would need you to intercept their verification and respond as if you were the Federation's computer. We'll probably have to show a credit card too; can you figure out a way to cover that?'

< The hotel in question uses the telephone network for verification. You may proceed with checking in; I will ensure your identity remains hidden. >

Cory smiled. 'Thanks Ark.'

A few minutes later, the boys found themselves in the lobby of the W Chicago Lakeshore. Cory took out his Starfleet ID and laid it on the desk. The clerk looked at the group before picking up Cory's ID and looking it over closely. "I will be right back." the clerk stated as he took the ID into the back room. A minute later, he returned and handed the card back to Cory after triple-checking the picture matched Cory. "I'm sorry about the delay, Sir. I'm sure you understand that due to your age additional verification was required. How may we help you?"

Cory smiled. "That's okay; at least you handled it professionally. We would like two adjoining suites for two nights if possible."

The clerk nodded. "I'm sure you understand that we will require a major credit card to provide those accommodations."

Cory extracted his credit card and passed it to the clerk. "I am sure you will find this suitable." he replied.

A minute later; the clerk handed the card back to Cory with a receipt to sign. "You are all set, Sir. Please sign here."

Cory signed the receipt, then dug in his pocket and retrieved a pair of fifty dollar bills that he passed back with the hotel's copy. "Thank you; my brothers and I are on a PRIVATE vacation."

The clerk smiled as the money disappeared into his pocket. "Understood Sir; discretion will be observed. The bellboy will show you to your suites; do you have any additional baggage?"

Cory smiled. "We have arranged for our baggage to be delivered once we are in our rooms. Thank you Sir."

"You are very welcome. Enjoy your stay in Chicago Sir."

Cory smiled and nodded as he turned and led his group behind the bellboy to the elevators. A few minutes later, they exited on the 32nd floor and were shown to their suites. Once the bellboy was assured they were satisfied with the rooms and received his tip from Cory, he left them alone to settle in.

Cory looked around and then mouthed 'Ark, could you please make sure these rooms are secure? I've heard of hotels having video and audio taps in rooms for security purposes.'

< I anticipated your request Cory. The only monitoring devices are in the hallway. The signal to the hotel's digital storage device will appear to be corrupted so no record of your presence here will be maintained. There are no audio monitoring devices present. On another subject, I believe Daniel would be interested in the contents of the closet in the east bedroom. You will find a subvocal device in the top drawer in the same room. I took the liberty of providing everyone with suitable clothing for the area you are in; Daniel's clothing selection was unacceptable so I provided his clothes from the Clan's emergency supply. >

"Thanks Ark. There's no way we'd pull this off without you; I owe you one!" Cory replied as he relaxed his defenses. "Guys, Ark says we're secure. Daniel; could you come with me? I think there's something in the bedroom that might belong to you."

Daniel gave Cory a curious look before standing up and following him. A few seconds later, everyone heard a joyous shout. "Howard?? HOWARD!!!!!" Daniel came running out of the bedroom with a big grin on his face clutching a huge yellow duck in his arms. Once he had shown everyone that he had his one prized possession back, he hopped into a chair holding the well-worn duck securely.

Danny watched as Timmy, CD, and Calen piled into the chair with Daniel and created a big cuddle pile. "That's the way to welcome him, guys." he whispered.

Cory turned to Sean. "Looks like room service time; you wanna take care of orders while I try to get this subvocal on Daniel?"

Sean nodded. "Sure hon; I'll even try to keep it under a thousand dollars! Caleb, you mind giving me a hand?"

Caleb grinned as he looked up from the video game menu. "Sure; after we eat though I'm gonna whip your butt at some of these games!"

Chapter 3

After lunch the next day:

Daniel was all smiles as the boys left McDonalds. Timmy was perched on Daniel's back giggling madly at his impression of a horse, while Cory and Sean led the group as they headed out to explore the streets of Chicago. They had just started to pass a stand of trees in a park they had decided to cut across when a large dog came bounding towards them. "The doggy wants to play!" Timmy exclaimed as he scrambled off of Daniel's shoulders.

Kyle turned to see what Timmy was talking about. At the sight of the dog, he turned pale and squeaked "nooooooooo" as he fell to the ground and rolled into a tight sobbing ball.

Daniel dropped down and pulled Kyle onto his lap as Danny, Cory, Sean, CD, Calen, Jamie, Jacob and JR formed a human shield around them. "KYLE! What's wrong?" Cory exclaimed in a panicked voice.

"He didn't tell you did he?" Danny asked as he reached out and caressed Kyle's forehead.

"Didn't tell me what?" Cory asked. "Am I the only one who has no idea whats going on here?"

Jamie looked up. "Relax Cor; Danny is the only other one to know besides us. Kyle swore us all to secrecy. We've got another problem though; since Tyne opened up his Founder skills we can't go in his head and help him."

Cory was about to demand more information when a bone-chilling growl from behind him made him spin around. He brought his arm up in anticipation of needing to stun the offending dog who had ran up; but froze when he realized that the growl was coming from Timmy, who was standing there with clenched fists in full warpaint. William glided in to take his perch on Timmy's right shoulder; the state of his feathers indicated that he too was extremely less than pleased.

Timmy began to fill Cory in before he could even ask. "Slider says he ain't been told to keep no secrets. Slider used to play with Uncle Kyle when he was a puppy. Slider's daddy used to have to do sex stuff with Uncle Kyle before Uncle Kyle was taken to the home you was in. Slider was just happy to see Uncle Kyle again; they used'd to have lots of fun."

William clucked in Timmy's ear. Timmy nodded then looked up at the sky. "Unca Mikey; get your butt down here now! Unca' Kyle needs ya!"

"Whoa kiddo!" Cory said quickly. "That's no way to call for help!"

"It works though little brother." Mikey said as he appeared next to Timmy. "I think munchkin here is getting more like his Daddy every day. Come with me Timmy; I need you and Slider to help me."

Cory watched as Mikey led Timmy and Slider through a gap which suddenly appeared in the wall of boys around Kyle and Daniel. Daniel just stared in awe as Mikey levitated the pair before sitting underneath them and bringing them down onto his lap. "Relax little Daniel; you have worked your magic with your cuddles and Kyle will be okay." Mikey whispered as he wrapped his wings around them. After a couple of minutes, a gap appeared in the wings. "Timmy; it is time for you and Slider to join us." Mikey stated.

The next time the wings opened; the boys were shocked to see Kyle and Timmy sharing Daniel's lap. On their laps, Slider was carefully balanced as he slowly licked all evidence of Kyle's tears from his face. "You know what must be done Kyle." Mikey said cryptically. "Your companion will assist you in controlling the thoughts when the time comes." Mikey then turned to the rest of the boys. "You guys did right in not trying to get into Kyle's head; his memories of what happened before scrambled his circuits for a bit. He'll be fine now; Slider has agreed to become to him what William is to Timmy, so now Kyle has the final piece of the puzzle needed to prepare him for the future."

Mikey separated himself from the boys on his lap, then moved to Cory's side while motioning for Sean to join them. Once they were each under one of his arms, Mikey began. "The people who were chosen to try to kill you are no longer a threat. The ones that survived have asked for and received asylum; can you separate what they were hired to do from the person?"

Cory gave a sigh of relief. "Thanks bro. You want me to ignore what they were sent to do just because they were 'doing their job'?"

Mikey nodded. "Forgiveness little brother. There is more to their story than you realize; once you have seen their side you will understand."

Cory nodded. "If you say so bro; I'll trust you. Why is it so urgent that you tell me now instead of waiting until we go back or are told about it by Tyne?"

Mikey grinned. "At least one of them is already slated to make your life easier if you approve the position he is about to be offered."

Sean reached out and took Cory's hand. "Hon; I think Mikey's trying to tell us not to punish the weapon for the actions of the weapon's operator."

Cory nodded. "Yeah; that's kinda stupid. Okay Mikey; we'll do it. Thanks for helping out bro."

Mikey grinned as he began to fade away. "That's why I'm here little bros; someone's got to protect you guys!"

Once Mikey was gone, Cory engaged his subvocal. [Ark; could you pass a message to Tyne and Nyo for me?]

< What is the message Cory? >

[Tell them that whatever they decide will help the guys who were sent to try to kill us fit in is okay with me. Our Guardian Angel filled me in enough to trust them to make the right choices; I'll just catch up when I get home.]

< Very well Cory, I will pass along the message as soon as I determine that it is safe to tell them such. Tyne and Nyo are tied up at the moment. >

Cory giggled. [Thanks Ark; I guess I should have warned you not to let my guys near rope!]

< Cory I would not give your brothers rope unless as you might say 'hell freezes over'. After reading your history I know better. >

[C'mon Ark; my bros are angels! Oh; just so you know, Kyle's got a dog now. Tell Tyne he might want to check to make sure Kyle's head is okay; he just had a meltdown and my brother Mikey had to come fix it.]

< Sure, if they are angels then I am God. I will inform Tyne about Kyle though. >

[Thanks Ark. You know; you're sounding more and more like my Mom every day!]

< Then at least one human has the right idea. >

Cory giggled. [Bite me Ark. I'll talk to you later!]

< When you least expect it. Good luck. >

Later that evening:

The boys were wandering through Olive Park when Sean came to a halt and pointed to a figure sitting at the fountain.

"Oh my Gawd; that's Divinity James!" Sean said in awe.

The figure looked directly at the group and motioned for them to come over. Once the boys were within hearing distance, Divinity James spoke. "C'mon over here you little cuties! Don't worry; I won't do much more than nibble!"

Sean giggled as they gathered around the cross-dressing vampire. "I don't think Chicago's biggest gossip is gonna take on an entire group of kids without witnesses!"

Divinity nodded. "Actually are you cuties sure you don't want to join our side? All of you qualify for looks!" Divinity preened himself before adding "You're almost as cute as me; I don't think you'll ever touch this though!"

Cory smiled. "If our info is right, you're the person to ask; is there any news we need to be aware of?"

"You've come to the right person." Divinity replied proudly. "You boys ain't got nothing to worry about. You've been marked by the locals; you're on the no-touch list because of how you're helping out all the homeless kids. I wouldn't want to be the vampire that tries to feed on any of you; it could very well be a death sentence."

Sean tilted his head. "I thought only Elders could mark someone untouchable?"

"That might come someday; right now it's just a common courtesy agreement. You are being watched; you are safer here than in your own bed." Divinity replied. "Your 'other problem' that caused you to have to leave home so quickly has been noted as well; you will not be found as long as you are here."

"Why are you all protecting us like that?" Danny asked.

"That is easy, sweetie. There are two reasons; one is that your work keeps kids from becoming half-lifes. The other is that very few humans would try to read a section of the Scriptures; even less than that would accept what they have read. You are a unique group which has gained the respect of the community; that is a rare occurrence."

The group bantered back and forth for about fifteen minutes more before the boys separated and began exploring Chicago's nighttime scene. They had just walked by a Kinkos when a dark form sprang out of an alley and grabbed Kyle. They rest of the boys spun just in time to see a kid jump on top of the figure who was poised over Kyle. The kid pulled the figure off of Kyle and with glowing eyes slammed him against a nearby wall. They watched in shock as the first attacker's body seemed to become a pretzel; arms and legs bending uncontrollably into positions which there was no way possible for the bones to allow. The final straw was when the figure who attacked Kyle tilted his head forward then with a resounding 'CRACK' flipped it back until it rested loosely against his spine between his shoulder blades.

"Ummmm ... oh shit!" Sean muttered.

"You can say that again." Danny replied in shock.

"Oh shit." Sean echoed; gaining him dirty looks from the rest of the boys.

Kyle stood and dusted himself off. "Thanks dude." he commented while keeping a safe distance away from the new kid.

The kid took a moment to calm down, then turned to Kyle. "I'm Brandar. Did he bite you?"

Kyle got a good look at the boy in front of him. He was a real cutie; about twelve years old, with short brown hair and striking gray eyes underneath almost invisible eyebrows. "No; you got him in time. I'm Kyle; thanks Brandar."

"Nice extra!" Cory said as the boys joined Kyle. "Thanks for stepping in." Cory paused to point out everyone as he introduced them. "I'm Cory; this is Sean, Danny, Daniel, CD, Calen, Timmy, Caleb, JR, Jamie, Jacob, William, and Slider. What all can you do with that extra?"

Brandar shrugged. "It's nothing special. Pretty much someone pisses me off I turn it against them and mess up their bodies."

"Nothin' special!" JR exclaimed. "Dude; you just made that jerks head go places it's never went before!"

"Too bad he'll heal." Sean muttered.

"He won't." Brandar stated. "The brain controls the heart; I destroyed the connection between his head and his heart. NOBODY feeds on a kid if I can help it; it's bad enough having to feed period."

Sean motioned towards a nearby bus bench. "Let's have a seat over there; I'm still waiting for my legs to stop shaking." Everyone agreed, and shortly they were piled on and around the bench in a circle.

"How long ago were you 'turned'?" Cory asked Brandar once everyone was comfortable.

"About four months." Brandar replied. He heard the questions in almost everyone's heads and continued. "I know you guys have heard stories like mine before with all of the kids you have helped. My mother was a bitch and my father was a bastard. I ran away nine months ago to get away from the constant beatings and being told I was a worthless piece of crap. I was on the street for about a month when this guy picked me up and took me to his place. We had just pulled into his garage when Greg attacked him and fed on him. After he was done feeding, Greg told me what the guy was planning on doing to me; he was going to rape me until I bled to death just like he had done to three other kids that month. Greg brought me back to his place and let me hang around with him. I guess I had been there for about a month when I realized that I was beginning to actually love Greg. About a month before he turned me, our love became physical; once we were both sure that I really understood what I was asking for Greg agreed to turn me. Things went really great; he warned me ahead of time what it was going to be like to be turned and explained feeding long before we did it. Between my first and second feedings some raiders hit our place; Greg woke up and was stabbed in the heart trying to protect our stuff. I was able to keep him alive long enough to say goodbye and send him off on a sun quest. I promised him that I would not try to join him unless I had taken care of the trash that ruined our lives. That promise was fulfilled last night."

"Friggin Raider Scum; they got what they deserved." Sean stated.

"How do you know about Raiders?" Brandar asked in shock.

"Comicality has a section of his Scriptures available for reading online." Sean replied. "Me, Cory, and Danny have all read at least some of them; I know myself that I'm up to date on all of the posted work. I've even exchanged emails with Comicality a few times."

"You've WHAT!" Brandar exclaimed in shock. "No way; NOBODY talks to Him!"

Cory giggled. "Trust me; even by email you're taking a chance as to if you'll get a reply before time for a sun quest."

"Thanks for the warning blondie! I just sent him an email before we left!" Danny commented as he slapped the back of Cory's head.

JR giggled. "Y'all are downright nuts." He then turned serious. "What's your plans now Brandar?"

Brandar looked around the group seriously. "My purpose is done; I've avenged the murderers of my mate." He grimaced as his stomach rumbled, then continued. "I'm just glad I was able to meet you guys before I head into the Sun; maybe things would have been different if I'd met you earlier."

"What happens if you head into the sun?" Timmy asked in wonder.

"It's nothing." Brandar replied, trying to keep from touchy situations in front of the youngsters.

"Bullshit it's nothing." Danny exclaimed.

Sean knelt in front of Timmy. "When someone like Brandar has decided that they have fulfilled their life they stay outside until the Sun comes out. When the sun shines on them it makes them burn real bad and allows them to go to the afterlife."

Timmy turned and looked at Brandar. As tears began rolling down his face, he broke away from Sean and ran to Brandar. As Timmy wrapped his arms tightly around the boy, he shifted into warpaint and exclaimed "NOOOO! You can't go yet! You just met us!"

Within seconds, Timmy was joined by Daniel, CD, and Calen. Brandar looked down at the boys surrounding him with glowing tears running down his face. "If you knew what I have to do to live you wouldn't feel that way; you'd hate me." Brandar sobbed.

"What you gotta do that's so bad?" Timmy asked.

Brandar caressed the back of Timmy's head. "I've got to kill people. I have to drink their blood."

Timmy looked up at Brandar. "But you only kill bad guys don't you? Unka Kyle wouldn't like ya if you killed good people, and he knows that stuff."

Brandar looked over at Kyle and was surprised to see him nod. "I know everything about you." Kyle commented. "I know that every time you've fed so far you have made sure that the person you chose was a menace to society. I also know that for every single time you've had to do it you feel bad about it. If you enjoyed it I would have killed you myself to protect my brothers; just the fact that you are still here proves that no matter what changes have happened to your body you are still a good person inside."

Timmy looked up at Brandar. "It's okay to kill bad guys; Daddy does it and Uncle Mikey says he's still goin to Heaven."

"It's not that easy, little guy." Brandar sobbed. "Vampires don't go to Heaven."

Timmy got a determined look on his face. "Do too! Do I gotta get Uncle Mikey to prove it?"

"Who is this 'Uncle Mikey'?" Brandar asked. "You talk about him like he's some kind of Saint."

Cory chuckled. "He's our dead big brother; and yes he is a Saint. He's Saint Mikey of Urbandale, Protector of Gay and Abandoned Youth. Timmy, don't go bugging Uncle Mikey right now; if Brandar wants to discuss it with him later he can."

Just then Brandar's stomach rumbled again. Timmy looked up at Brandar then over at Cory. "Daddy; Brandar's hungry."

Kyle nodded. "Yes he is Timmy; it's been a month since he fed last. Brant; how close are you to losing control?"

Brandar looked at Kyle in shock. "How'd you know my human name? Nobody calls me that anymore."

"People that care what happens to you do, Brant." Kyle stated with assurance.

"Will you be one of my Unkas, Brant?" Timmy asked.

"You don't really want that Timmy; vampires are not good uncles."

Daniel squeezed Brant tightly. "You're good though Brant; you only think you're bad."

Brant sobbed before whispering "I gotta go; I don't wanna hurt you guys. Thanks for at least making me feel wanted for once."

Danny stepped up to block Brant leaving. "You're fighting the need to feed ain't you? We're not gonna let you give up this easily."

"I'm not gonna take another innocent li ..." Brant exclaimed before doubling over in pain.

Cory and Sean rushed forward and began pulling the boys away from Brant. "What's wrong with him?" CD asked.

Cory glanced up at Brant as he made sure the boys were a safe distance away. "He's having hunger pains; his body is telling him he needs to feed on someone. If he keeps fighting it his body can take over and he'll feed on the closest person no matter who it is. If that happens he has no way to control who he attacks or if he kills them."

"We need to find him someone to feed on now!" Sean commented to Kyle, Jamie, and Jacob.

"NO." Brant interjected as he began to recover from the pains. "Nobody is worth killing just so I can survive."

Caleb stepped forward and got right into Brant's face before anyone could stop him. "That's bullshit." he almost shouted. "One innocent human being survived tonight because of you." As Danny dragged Caleb back to a safe distance, Caleb added "How many innocent people will die because you gave up?"

"Who am I to decide who deserves to live and who deserves to die?" Brant argued.

"Who am I to decide that?" Cory retorted. "I've had to do it plenty of times in the last few months. You are no different than me; you just have a different way of achieving the same goal."

"Wait a minute." Sean interrupted. "What if we gave you someone who is going to be put to death anyways; would you feed then?"

"My father?" Kyle asked.

Brant interrupted. "No way; I'm not going to be responsible for taking out a member of your family. No; that's final."

"No, you don't unders ..." Danny started to say before Kyle interrupted him.

"Brant; I know you can't read me. Would it be okay with you if I put the details in your head?" Kyle asked.

Brant looked Kyle in the eye. "Yeah; good luck with that. Humans can't put thoughts in vampire's heads. Give it a try if you want; you won't change my mind."

As Kyle began transferring his history into Brant's head, Cory crossed his arms and asked "Why are you so insistent on giving up? You just saved my brother's life tonight; won't you at least give us until your next feeding to prove to you that you really do have a purpose for staying alive?"

Brant started to respond to Cory, but then froze and looked down at Kyle. The optrix that normally hid the glow of Brant's eyes were overcome by the tears now flowing freely from them, causing an unnatural yellow glow. "Oh my God; that was your FATHER?" Brant whispered; his pain at the images he just received evident in his voice and his expression.

Kyle nodded. "Yes, that was him. He is going to die; the question is are you going to do it or is Cory?"

Danny could see that Brant was starting to consider the option. "Brant; give us a month to prove you still have a purpose. If we haven't convinced you in that month, we'll sit with you as you go out on the sun quest."

Brant grabbed on to the bench to keep from falling as another attack hit him.

Cory shook his head. "Screw this!" He switched to subvocal. [Ark; do you have an exact location on that scum that pretended to be Kyle's father?]

< I do. Do you need the address again? >

[No; I need everyone here transported outside his door. That includes Brant and the animals. It's open season on scumbags and he's about to become a trophy.]

< Very well. I am standing by to teleport you then. Just say when. >

[Now.] Cory said with a concerned look at Brant.

A split second later the boys found themselves standing in a hallway outside a beat up wooden door. Kyle looked around at the group then motioned for them to stand back. He gathered his courage then yelled "Daddy! I'm home!" as a blast of electricity from the Phasenmorph on his arm turned the door into flying splinters.

The boys froze at the sight in front of them. A five year old boy was on his hands and knees on the floor, tightly gagged with a dog furiously humping him. A forty-ish man was standing there holding himself; from the evidence running off of the child's back it was obvious he had just ejaculated on the boy. It took the boys a split second to take all of this in; then everyone started to move. Brant was the first through the now-open doorway; he tackled the man, knocking him into a chair on the far side of the room. Kyle and Timmy rushed to the boy on the floor; Timmy mentally forcing the dog to lose it's erection so that they could separate it from the boy. The second that the boy was free Slider went into action. Before anyone realized it, Slider had ripped the other dog's throat out and was standing guard over the dying animal.

"Move Slider." Timmy announced seriously. "That man trained that dog to do that whenever it saw a naked kid. I'm not gonna let him suffer for something the bad guy taught him."

Slider moved out of the way, and Timmy raised his left arm. {Full power Red?}

{I agree Timmy; let's end his suffering.} Red thought back.

{Fire.} Timmy thought solemnly. A bright blast left his arm, and suddenly the dog had become a pile of dust.

Brant laughed as the man pissed himself at Timmy's demonstration of power. "Just wait you bastard; you ain't seen nothing yet!" Brant announced as he lifted the man out of the chair and tossed him to the other side of the room.

Cory turned to Caleb. "Get the kids out now, bro. They don't need to see this."

"Gotcha Cor." Caleb replied. Most of the group turned to follow Caleb without question; Jamie and Jacob were the only exceptions.

Cory looked at them and motioned for them to follow just as Brant slammed the man into another wall. "Go guys; we'll handle this."

"No." both boys replied in unison. "We've been carrying this crap in our heads since the day we met Kyle. If he stays we stay."

"You're talking to Dan when we get home then." Cory replied. "Owwww ... that had to hurt!" he added as Brant used the man to bowl over a row of steel barstools.

Cory looked around to see who was left. As he expected, Kyle, Danny and Sean had stayed to witness along with the twins. To his surprise, the little boy who had been being raped was securely nestled in Sean's arms.

"Sean?" Cory asked, nodding at the boy.

Before Sean could reply, Kyle spoke up. "He's my stepbrother; he needs to see this as much as I do."

"Okay." Cory replied in an unsure tone before turning back to business. His tone became serious as he turned towards the corner the man had just slid into. "Christopher George Hodges; you have been found ..."

"Vampire one, wall zero." Sean announced as Brant tossed Christopher through a nearby half-wall.

Cory turned to face the man again. "You have been found guilty of multiple violations of the Safe Haven Act."

"Vampire two!" Danny chimed in as Christopher was thrown onto the couch so hard that it flipped onto its back.

"Dang it Brant; could you at least play with your food in one place!" Cory said as he turned once again.

"He's just tenderizing him." Sean stated.

"That's okay Cory; he's not putting up a fight anymore." Brant announced before jumping on top of Christopher. "Listen to the nice man." he added as his eyes began to glow red and his fangs descended.

Cory quickly continued. "You have violated sections 11.1, 11.4, and 68.1 concerning physical abuse and ..."

The bloodcurdling scream from Christopher as Brant sunk his fangs into the man's neck caused everyone else in the room to jump. Cory gathered his wits again. "I guess you can still hear me." Cory knelt down and cleared his throat. "You also violated sections 13.1 and 13.5; sexual abuse of a minor. As granted under section 200.4 I hereby sentence you to death."

"I think he's figured that last part out already." Sean said with a groan. "Dang; this is a lot messier than it looks when you read about it."

A minute later; Brant broke free and turned towards Cory, his eyes slowly returning to normal. "I can't do it; I swore I'd never kill. I know he deserves it, but I just can't do it."

Cory smiled. "That's okay; did you get enough to hold you for a month?"

Brant nodded. "Yeah; I thought maybe this guy would be bad enough that I could take it all the way. I guess not though; I can't go through with killing."

Kyle moved over and took the boy out of Sean's arms. "There is nothing wrong with that. You don't need to do my duty." Kyle shifted the boy onto his side. "Hold on Paul; we need to punish him for hurting us." he added in a whisper.

The boy nodded and held on tightly, watching intently as Kyle raised his free arm. "Die you sick son-of-a-bitch." Kyle stated angrily as a bright bolt shot from his arm and vaporized Christopher on the spot.

Danny immediately moved over and wrapped his arms around Kyle and Paul as they both broke into tears of relief. Cory and Sean joined the hug along with the twins. Cory looked over his shoulder and tilted his head to signal Brant to join them.

Brant slowly moved over and joined the group. Danny reached out an arm and pulled him in tightly. "Relax Brant; you did what was needed."

A minute later, the boys headed out into the hallway and met up with the rest of the group downstairs. "It's over." Cory announced with relief.

Timmy walked over to where Sean was holding Paul once again. "Do you want to hold my eagle? His name is William." he asked Paul softly.

Paul nodded eagerly, smiling for the first time that evening. Sean glanced down at the little blond haired blue eyed five year old in his arms. "I think you've got a friend little one."

Timmy giggled. "Of course he's my friend Poppa; he's my little brother!"

Sean glanced over at Kyle and was surprised to see a smile on his face. "You heard Timmy!" Kyle giggled. "I did a quick future check; Paul will always be my step-brother but he's gonna be your kid. Cory helped me through my demons; now it's time for Paul to learn to live."

Cory looked at his watch. "Shoot! It's getting a little too early in the morning guys! I think we've got just enough time to get to the hotel and get the windows blocked before the sun comes up."

Brant looked at Cory curiously. "Why do you need the windows covered?"

Cory giggled. "I really don't want my newest brother turning to dust. C'mon; let's get back there." Cory then hit his subvocal. [Ark; tell Tyne that Kyle's father is no longer an issue. Could you put us in our hotel room please? And if you've got any ideas for a way to block all sunlight from the rooms it'd be a big help.]

< Very well, one trip to your room. I will inform Tyne of Kyle's father's departure. As far at the windows go I could either give you very thick sheets or I could send you Josiah to seal them off until you leave and then he can put the windows back. >

[Josiah?] Cory giggled. [Who is adding Clan members without telling me this time? I like that idea though if he can really block it all out. I trust your judgment there Ark; go ahead and send him. I can't wait to meet him.]

< He will arrive right after you do then. I am ready to teleport you, just say when. >

[Go ahead Ark.] Cory replied. A second later, they found themselves in the hotel suite. A few seconds later, Gavin and someone Cory had never seen before popped in. The new kid was about thirteen with black hair and black eyes. "Hey Gavin; who's your friend bro?"

Gavin giggled. "Cory, this is my boyfriend Josiah. Josiah; this is my big brother Cory."

Josiah waved excitedly, "Hi Cory, it's nice to finally meet you in person. I've heard a lot and yet so little about ya. I was one of the assassins that could have been assigned to go after your family although the order never fell to me. So did someone call for a room restructure?"

Cory saw JR jump up out of the corner of his eye and waved for him to relax. "Chill JR; Ark would not have let him come here if there was any danger. I'm glad to meet you Josiah; really glad that it's this way! So you managed to steal my little brother's heart huh? Way to go; you're the first person I've heard of him even expressing interest in! We've kinda got an issue, Brant here can't be exposed to sunlight; it'd kill him. Could you figure out a way to block all of the windows?"

Josiah grinned, "Well I'm lucky he likes me. So okay, yeah I can get rid of your windows altogether. Which windows to you want fixed? Just the ones in this room or all of them just to be sure? If you don't know I'll get rid of them all, I don't want anyone to get killed over some sunlight that we missed."

Cory looked over at Timmy and Paul cuddled in a nearby chair. "With the munchkins here we better block all of them; I can't expect them to remember to be careful."

"Okay cool," said Josiah as he walked towards one of the windows, stopping about six feet from it, and then closing his eyes. "Anyone near a window, this is your warning to stand at least four feet from it." Josiah waited a few seconds just in case someone had to move. Then he reached his hands out towards the window and almost instantly the windows and about a foot of wall on each side of every window in the suite turned to a fine dust leaving huge holes in the walls. Josiah tilted his head a little and all the dust started to reform and fill in the holes that he had made. Seconds later there was nothing but solid wall where all the windows had been. Josiah walked up to the wall in front of him and felt it, and then he turned around, "Will that work?"

Cory picked his jaw up off of the floor. "Dude; that was awesome! We really need to talk when we get home; it seems I've picked up a new son and I think I'll need a new bedroom! Have a seat; you really need to meet the rest of the guys."

"Umm okay, we can sit," said Josiah as he sat Gavin down in the nearest chair and then sat in his lap. "I think that'll work for keeping the sun out."

"Me too." Cory replied. He walked over to the pair and asked "Is it okay if I give your boyfriend a welcome to the family hug bro?"

Gavin giggled. "Yeah; just don't try to steal him; this cutie is all MINE. As long as it's okay with him its okay with me."

"I don't have a problem hugging a greenish blue cute guy like you," giggled Josiah as he jumped up and hugged Cory. "I belong to silvery gold here though, I think he's cuter."

Cory giggled as he returned the hug. "Greenish-blue? I can't wait to hear about that. Seriously; welcome to the family. I'm glad you joined us." As the hug broke, Cory noticed two little bodies hovering around his legs. "Josiah; these are Sean and I's two youngest sons, Timmy and Paul. Timmy's the oldest of the two."

Josiah knelt down and smiled, "Hey guys it's great to meet ya." Josiah then closed his eyes and acted like he was still looking at them. "Paul, you're a very pretty green with a streak of purple. Purples a very special color, I've only seen it four times and all of the people that had it were awesome people, well one of them is me so I can't speak for that one though." Josiah then looked at Timmy and smiled, "I'm not sure what to make of you Timmy, you're mostly green but then you've got blue marks on ya, like Indian paint or something. On top of that you've got a little bit of red and orange all over your pattern and the red seems to stem from your arm with your little Phasenmorph on it. He must be different from other 'morphs that I've seen." Josiah then looked over both boys again before opening his eyes and smiling, "I'd say you're both very special guys, again it's really great to meet ya."

Timmy grinned. "Told ya' you was special Paul! Would you like to see my Indian paint Unka' Josiah?"

"Uncle? I think I can live with that. I think I might of just seen your paint but you're welcome to show it to me if you'd like," grinned Josiah. "We'd better hurry up though, your dad looks like he might pee himself if he doesn't finish introductions."

Timmy turned on his warpaint as he replied with a giggle. "Don't worry 'bout Daddy; he only pees on Pop. It's spermies but it comes outta the same hole."

"TIMMY!" Sean and Cory both exclaimed as they turned a deep red.

Josiah smiled, "That's a big difference though Timmy; one comes from a good feeling the other is a waste product that no one wants. If I meant the one with a good feeling then I would of said he was going to cream himself not pee himself. Your parents probably don't want you telling me that kinda stuff though; that's private info."

Timmy giggled. "Okay Unka Josiah. Does that mean they gotta stop pickin' on me for streakin'?"

"Whats 'streakin' Timmy?" Paul asked quietly.

Timmy put his arm over Paul's shoulder. "It's runnin' 'round with no clothes." He then looked at Josiah. "Did you like my warpaint? I'm a real Indian brave; I get to use it to let Daddy and Pop know when bad stuff is gonna happen."

"That's awesome Timmy, now I can say I've met an Indian brave then," said Josiah. "If they're picking on ya for streakin' though then I guess you can keep on them about other stuff then."

"You're nice." Timmy replied. "Can we cuddle with you an' Unka Gavin while you meet ever'one?"

Josiah looked back at Gavin and eyed his lap, "I'm not sure if Gavin has enough lap for all three of us but we can try. If it's too much for him though we gotta find a different way to sit, okay?"

Timmy and Paul scrambled onto the pair's laps once Josiah had regained his favorite seat. After some wiggling around, they found a comfortable position for all of them and snuggled their heads into Josiah's chest. Cory ran through the introductions of Sean and most of the rest of the boys.

"This is Danny; he's the head of the AI Division." Cory said.

Josiah giggled, "Danny, I don't know if you know this; but you're mostly dead! You're all green and, well, grey. Normally inanimate or dead objects are grey."

Danny gave Josiah a shocked look then giggled. "Duhhhh ... I'm an android! Nice catch though dude; I'm glad to hear at least part of me is still alive!"

"Unless I closed my eyes I never would have guessed." replied Josiah. "Oh, and you're cute too just in case you didn't know that."

Danny blushed. "Thanks. I'll tell my brother you think so!"

"Okay...I'm not sure I want to know right now what that means," said Josiah as he looked to Cory to continue.

Cory giggled. "When you meet Marc you'll understand; they're actually a pair of cuties. Next up is Kyle."

"It's nice to meet you Kyle. Oh, your pattern looks kinda like Tyne's," remarked Josiah. "Only your neon purple and orange has got a few green strips in it."

Kyle grinned. "Kewl! I like that color combo!" He then put his arm out and pulled Daniel over to him. "This is my new big brother Daniel."

"Oh wow, a bright yellow," smiled Josiah. "You're the brightest yellow I've ever seen Daniel, maybe just a little green in there somewhere. That's a good color; it shows a lot of honesty from what I've seen."

Daniel gave Josiah a huge smile. "Wow; that's kewl! I like yellow!"

Cory grinned as Kyle led Daniel to sit down; both comparing notes on their colors. "Last but not least is the person that saved Kyle's life tonight, then assisted us in disabling Kyle and Paul's ex-father so that Kyle could punish him for the pain they suffered at his hands. This is Brant."

"That's a pretty long intro he's giving ya Brant," giggled Josiah. "I'm kinda worried though, you don't look like Danny for a pattern but you're more then half gray. The rest of you is red, a dark red."

Brant nodded as the blush from Cory's introduction faded from his cheeks. "I kinda expected that. Technically I'm dead even though I'm not dead. It's a long story."

Cory suddenly gasped. "Brant; let me see your arm!"

"What?" Brant asked as he held both arms out.

Cory took a close look at the markings surrounding Brant's left wrist. "Is that from a bond bracelet?"

Brant gave Cory a sad smile. "Yeah; Greg and I tried it when he finally agreed to turn me. He told me it probably wouldn't work; he was so happy when it actually did." Brant gave out a soft sob as he added "That's all I have left of him now."

Cory pulled Brant into a hug. "No it's not; it's just the only visual sign you have. You've got him in your head and your heart; you'll have that forever if you want to."

"Why?" Brant sobbed into Cory's shirt. "Why is it when I finally find someone who loved me he got taken from me?"

"I don't know." Cory replied softly. "I asked the same question when my big brother was killed by a drunk. I know now that it was his time to move on; there was nothing anyone could have done to stop it. It must have been Greg's time; he was able to do something Mikey wasn't able to do before he died though. Greg left you with the ultimate proof that his love for you will never die right on your arm. That is something that only vampires can do; I don't know of anything comparable for any other race. Tell me something; what would Greg want you to do after everything that happened today? Think about that really good; I bet I know from how you described him."

Cory held Brant as he finally released the pent-up emotions of losing Greg. Off to the side, Timmy nudged Josiah after a glance at Paul, who had fell asleep against Josiah's chest. "Unka Josiah?"

"Yeah Timmy?"

"Paul needs a teddy bear to cuddle. Can you make one like you made dem walls?"

"What do you want him to be like? Really overly soft just for sleeping with or more durable to be taken everywhere?" asked Josiah as he looked around for something he could use to make the bear out of.

"He needs a cuddle buddy." Timmy stated.

Sean giggled as he saw Josiah looking around. "Josiah; just use Timmy's clothes! It's not like he uses them very often!"

"You're evil Sean." JR said as he came in from the other room. "What kind of stuff would you need Josiah?"

"Anything you don't want," replied Josiah. "I'd use that table over there but you guys might get charged for a missing table if that's the case."

"I'd suggest Caleb; but you couldn't make him soft enough." Danny giggled as he started gathering trash from around the room. "C'mon JR; see what you can dig up. I'm sure since we didn't let room service in there's got to be some trash in the bedroom."

Caleb chucked an empty soda bottle at Danny, then helped gather the normal trash generated by a group of hungry teens into a pile in front of Josiah. "Will that be enough, or do I need to toss Danny onto the pile?" he asked with a grin.

Josiah chuckled, "Let's see what I can do with that." Josiah tilted his head and suddenly all the trash they had gathered turned to dust and a few seconds later it pulled together and started to form what looked like a teddy bear. Josiah smiled as the bear continued to form and started to look like it should. Another few seconds passed and then Josiah reached out and grabbed it. He looked it over before he looked down at Paul. "Hmm, well it's soft and cute but I think it might be just a little too big. What do you think Timmy?"

"Mine's bigger; ask Daddy!" Timmy replied as the room broke into giggles.

Josiah looked over at Cory, "Well I guess you would know Dad, he streaks and lives with what do you think?"

Cory looked over from where he was still holding a now-giggling Brant. "Yep; his is bigger and whiter. You should have seen him lugging it out of the pizza place!"

"Yeah, I had to help him carry it." Sean added with a grin. "He would have drug it in the dirt without help."

"I didn't know you could get one of those at a pizza place," giggled Josiah. "If that's the case I should go get me one; not sure if I could make one of THAT quality."

"What about me?" Gavin giggled from underneath Josiah. "Ain't I big enough?"

"Yeah you'd make a good teddy bear too," grinned Josiah. "I can't say you ARE one, but you'll make a good replacement."

"As long as I'm YOUR teddy bear I don't care!" Gavin replied as he leaned forward and nibbled on Josiah's earlobe.

Josiah let out a long sigh followed by a moan, "Oooh that feels goooood..."

Brant gave Cory an extra squeeze. "Thanks; I feel a little better now." he whispered. "I know the answer to your question now; Greg would want me to protect other kids from going through what I did. That was his big thing; using his extra to get kids out of bad situations."

Cory nodded. "That's what I thought. Can you handle that?"

Brant nodded. "I'll try."

Just then, Paul stretched then gasped. "Whose teddy bear is dat?" he asked sleepily.

"He's your teddy bear," replied Josiah as he offered the bear to Paul. "Timmy said you didn't have one; so I made you one in kinda the same way I made the windows go away. I've never made a teddy bear before though, so I hope I got him right. You can be my official teddy bear tester since you get to keep him."

Paul's eyes got wide as he slowly reached out and pulled the bear towards him. He ran his hands over the bear, giving it a couple of test squeezes before pulling it tightly against his chest. "Really Unka Josiah? Is it really mine?"

"Of course he's yours," Josiah said softly. "Everyone needs a teddy bear at some point, he'll keep ya company if you need him to, he'll always listen to you when you talk to him, and he'll always let you cry on his shoulder if you don't want anyone else to see you cry. Since you didn't have a teddy bear it's only right that this teddy bear goes only to you, he needs you to cuddle him just as much as you might need to have him around to cuddle."

Paul looked at the bear then up at Josiah. After a brief pause, he twisted and sandwiched the bear between them as he latched onto Josiah's chest. "Thank you! Thank You! He's the bestest bear ever! You're the awesomest Unka in the WHOLE UNIVERSE!"

Josiah blushed, "You're welcome. I don't know about awesomest. But if you wanna think I am that's okay with me."

"You are the most awesomest ever." Paul stated with assurance as he stretched up and gave Josiah a kiss on the cheek. "I'm NEVER gonna get rid of him!"

"I'll agree on both points." Gavin whispered as he gave Josiah a squeeze of his own.

"You guys are too much," whispered Josiah as he reached up to wipe away a few tears. Josiah kissed the top of Gavin's head, then gently pulled Paul into a tight hug and continued to cry softly. "I love you both."

"I wuv you too." Paul replied as he snuggled into Josiah's hug.

A few minutes later, Sean picked the sleeping boy up off of Josiah's lap carefully. "Thanks dude; after what this poor little guy has been through, your generosity has just brought some light into his short life. Do me a favor; tell Ark that we'll need to borrow the medical facilities. There's nothing critical done to this little angel according to Kyle; but I think the med bots could restore certain sections of his body to what they should be instead of the stretched scar tissue that he has now."

"Stretched scar tissue?" Josiah said in an almost angry tone. "Who would have hurt...maybe I don't want to know. I don't wanna get worked up or I could lose control. I'll let Ark know so it's ready when you guys get there."

"Thanks." Sean replied. "If it makes you feel any better, Brant made sure the guy who did it felt more pain than Paul ever did before Kyle turned the guy to dust."

"Good," said Josiah as he got up and then helped Gavin to his feet. "If he wasn't dead then he would have been getting a visit. I'm glad to know you guys took care of it. If ya don't need anything else then we'll see you guys later."

Cory smiled. "Thanks for all of your help Josiah. Welcome to the family; you and my little bro really do make a great pair. Tell everyone we'll see them tomorrow night."

"Thanks Cory, I think we do too," grinned Josiah. "I'll pass on the message about your arrival, take care." Josiah then pulled Gavin into a loose hug and looked deep into his eyes. "Ark, you can take us home now. I've got a teddy bear to cuddle."

As the two boys disappeared, Cory looked around the room. He noticed that Kyle was sitting off to the side being uncharacteristically quiet. He walked over and placed a hand on Kyle's shoulder. "What's the matter bro?" Cory asked softly.

Kyle looked up at Cory with sad eyes. "Why? Paul is such a great little guy. You don't understand what it's like to be violated by an animal on command. Or how's about having to make sure you are near a bathroom after you eat because you are so screwed up back there that you can only hold it for a little bit? According to the doctors I'm gonna have to live with that for the rest of my life; if Paul's had this done to him for very long he'll be the same way. He wasn't bleeding or nothin back there, but I know he's gotta be at least a little messed up inside."

Cory sat down next to Kyle and put his arm around him. "You are right on one point; I honestly don't know what it's like, and I wish you didn't either. Why didn't you say something earlier so we could help you?"

"I didn't want you to hate me for doin stuff with animals." Kyle replied softly as he hung his head.

Cory lifted Kyle's chin to look him in the eyes. "Little bro, do you remember that day in the shower the first night you stayed over?"

"Yeah ..."

"That day we swore to be brothers no matter what. I meant it bro; nothing you could tell me about what was done to you would ever change that. Please don't hide things from me any more lil' bro; I can't fix it if I don't know about it."

Kyle nodded his head. "Okay, I guess. It was just so nasty ..."

Cory pulled Kyle into a hug, cutting him off. "I don't care how nasty it was Kyle; all I care about is if you are happy."

A few minutes later, Sean came out of the bedroom. "Babe, Brant just passed out and the munchkins are getting ready for bed." he said softly to Cory.

Cory looked down at Kyle, who had fallen asleep against his chest. "Can you handle the kids tonight Sean? I think Kyle needs me more than they do."

Sean nodded. "No problem; I kinda figured that. I'll give you a hand getting him into bed; y'all are gonna be sore tomorrow if you sleep like that."

The next afternoon:

Sean was rudely awakened by two panicked boys shaking him violently. "Poppa! Wake up!"

"Easy guys; whats wrong?" Sean replied as he sat up and tried to clear his head.

"Brant's dead!" Timmy replied frantically. "We pounced him an' he's all cold an' not breathin'."

Sean glanced over at Brant. "Hold on a minute guys; it's not what you think. Have you ever heard of hibernating?"

"Uh uh." both boys replied as they shook their heads.

Sean reached out and pulled Timmy and Paul up next to him. "Some animals, like bears, go to sleep during the winter since there is less food. Their bodies slow down inside so that they don't need to eat. During the day, Brant does the same thing; his body slows way down so that it looks like he's dead but he's really just hibernating. When the sun goes down he'll wake up just like the rest of us."

"You sure Poppa?" Timmy asked cautiously.

"I'm sure munchkin." Sean replied. He glanced around the room and saw the relieved looks on the sleepy faces of the rest of the crew. "He'll be fine, trust me." Sean then tried changing the subject. "Hey Paul; how's your big brothers treating ya?"

Paul looked up at Sean. "They're nice; but they ain't really my brothers. Where is their real daddy? I don't see no grownups."

Sean smiled. "I've got a surprise for you; Timmy, CD, Calen, and now you are mine and Cory's sons. Cory and me are considered adults by Starfleet so we are allowed to have kids. You've got a new family munchkin; enjoy it."

Paul stared at Sean for a minute until he was sure that Sean was not lying to him. "Do I still gotta play wrestlin' with the doggy?" Paul asked in a worried tone after glancing over to the other side of the room where Slider was guarding Cory and Kyle.

Sean shook his head. "You'll never have to do the stuff you used to have to do with dogs ever again. I bet Slider will hurt any dog that tries to do that with you."

Timmy spoke up. "I'll teach ya how ya are 'posed to play with doggies! Doggies are fun when they ain't doin' bad stuff 'cuz some mean old guy told them to do it!"

Sean smiled. "That's great Gizmo! Why don't you grab the rest of your brothers and get a shower. You might as well start training Paul now; I know you'll do it sooner or later."

Timmy nodded his head with a big grin on his face. "C'mon Paul! This is FUN!" he exclaimed as he dragged Paul off the bed. "CD! Calen! We gotta teach Paul how to shower!" Timmy yelled excitedly as he led Paul to the bathroom.

Once the group of giggling boys shut the door behind them, Danny came over and whispered to Sean. "You are so full of shit! Bears hibernating?"

Sean smiled as he replied under his breath. "I wasn't about to explain that he dies every day; I figured that little stretch of the truth would keep them from freaking out. Technically I was right; hibernation is just a temporary partial shutdown of the body. His just shuts down completely instead."

"Nice try." Danny replied. "You get to explain to Brant what the story is; I'm sure the rugrats are going to bug him about it."

Four hours later:

Cory led the group of boys out of the elevator to check out of the hotel. Josiah and Gavin had just left with most of their belongings after Josiah returned the windows in the suites to normal, so all that the boys were carrying were the teddy bears that had been collected on the trip. They were about half way across the lobby when Brant grabbed Cory's arm. "I know that kid!" Brant whispered.

Cory looked to where Brant was pointing. The boy had his back to them, but appeared to be about thirteen with long white hair down to his shoulder blades. The posture of the boy made it obvious he was trying to make himself unnoticeable next to the chunky late-forties man next to him.

"That's Jordy; I went to school with his little brother." Brant added. He paused for a second then added "Oh shit; I never heard about that! About the time I was recovering from being turned his parents and little brother were killed in a car wreck on their way to see him in a school play." Brant paused as he stared at the man, then growled. "That bastard there just bought Jordy from the group home. He raped him right in the parking lot and is taking him to use for porn films."

"Jamie! Jacob!" Cory exclaimed quickly.

"Already on it bro." they chorused as they joined Cory and Brant. "We back Brant; that piece of trash is an agent for a porn ring and really enjoys his 'job'."

"You got everything you need?" Cory asked the twins.

"Yeah; take the trash out. His name is Walter Fraggins." Jacob replied seriously.

Before anyone could respond; Brant growled in anger. Suddenly the man fell to the floor with a high-pitched scream, rolling into a ball while clutching his genitals.

"Move!" Cory ordered as he started towards the desk. He was glad to see that the clerk was the same one that had checked them in. "Sir; that man will not be checking in. Mr. Fraggins is wanted on multiple Federation Warrants. We will insure his young charge is safe. Please check us out, and then we will clear this trash from your lobby."

"What is wrong with him?" the clerk asked. "Why did he just collapse like someone kicked him?"

"A mental suggestion was placed in his head." Cory replied. "He honestly believes that he was just injured down there."

"Oh ..." The clerk replied as he quickly completed their checkout. "Thank you for visiting Chicago. I hope you enjoyed your stay and we'll see you again sometime."

"We'll definitely stay here next time." Cory replied. He looked over to see Brant consoling Jordy. "Brant; bring your friend with you; let's get this guy out of here."

A few minutes later, the group had reassembled in a nearby dark alley. Cory pulled Brant and Jordy off to the side. "Guys; he's gotta be punished for what he's done. From the reports I got from the twins I can have him killed or sentenced to life on a prison planet. Jordy; I need to know which one would make you feel that justice was done."

Jordy looked at the man lying on the ground, then at Brant. "I don't know." he replied softly.

Brant turned to Cory. "If he is executed I'd kinda feel responsible; I think Jordy would too. You know how I feel about killing; since Jordy was the only kid he ever did anything to before passing him on I think prison will work. It's not like his nuts are ever gonna work again."

Cory nodded. "Since you saved Jordy it's your choice as to the punishment. Do you think that will be enough Jordy?"

Jordy nodded. "Yeah. Whats gonna happen to me? Do I gotta go back to the group home?"

"No; you get to come home with us. We'll sort out where you stay once we get there; but you're never gonna be left without family ever again." Cory replied. "Excuse me for a second; I've got to make this official."

Cory quickly sentenced Walter, then contacted Ark on his subvocal. [Ark; are you able to hold someone in a buffer like we do with transporters?]

< Of course Cory, if that is what you would like me to do. Who would I be holding in the buffer? >

Cory giggled. [You mean you were not listening for once! We have a Mr. Walter Fraggins here who seems to think that buying and selling kids for porn rings is a good idea. We've decided that he will be much better off on a prison planet; thing is I kinda need you to hold him in your buffers until we get things sorted out and I can send him there.]

< I am always listening, just not always paying attention. I will hold him forever if you need me to, just tell me when and I will buffer him. Will you be returning soon? >

[You can take him now; just as soon as I'm sure Brant has prepared his first recovery for what is about to happen the rest of us here will be ready to come back there.]

< Cory, I do have one concern. > said Ark as Mr. Fraggins suddenly disappeared. < Tyne is not going to be happy with one of your newest additions. >

[Why? Which one?] Cory asked with concern.

< Brant, he is a Moroi. Tyne, unlike the rest of his species, has a personal vendetta against all Moroi. They are responsible for the downfall and death of his species. More specifically, what caused the most damage to Tyne was when they killed his Father and his Husband. That was the day that he turned from his Founder views on killing and took all fourteen Moroi soldiers down by himself. He will not be happy with who you are bringing back. >

Cory thought for a second. [If that's the case we might need to prepare him so he doesn't freak totally; I can't abandon Brant after promising to help him. Do you think if you somewhat prepared him by telling him how Brant saved Kyle's life and how Brant just saved a boy from becoming a sex slave it might help? I had no idea vampires were descended from Moroi; maybe even telling Tyne that Brant disabled Kyle's ex-father so that Kyle could kill him without actually saying Brant is a vampire might make Tyne pause enough to listen.]

< Tyne already knows whatever you told Josiah earlier. As far as the rest of what you want me to tell him, I suggest that you prepare Brant and tell him not to take anything Tyne says to heart. I can not bring up too much without Tyne getting concerned as to why I keep telling him facts about this boy. If he suspects that Brant is a Moroi then he will order that he be kept in the buffer as well, and I would rather not keep the boy's data anywhere near who's data I am currently holding. Oh, and as a correction, vampires did not descend from the Moroi, vampires ARE Moroi. They haven't changed since their creation. >

[Will do Ark; thanks for the heads-up. I better explain the racial name too so that Brant does not argue it; I've got a pretty good idea about what Tyne might do if there is any arguing while he's pissed.]

< You are welcome. An explanation is probably a good idea. Just let me know when you are ready to come back. >

[Thanks Ark; give me a few minutes.] Cory replied. He went over to where Brant and the rest of the group were waiting. "Brant; I just found out that one of the guys back at the Ark compound might make some comments that you might not like. You really need to not take it personally; it's not directly aimed at you. I think you might understand why though; you just went through the same thing. Tyne's father and husband were killed by your predecessors about sixty thousand years ago. They were known as 'Moroi' back then. He is one of the few of his race that survived the Moroi trying to exterminate them; so he holds a grudge for a really good reason."

Brant tilted his head. "Yeah; I think I can see why he might hate me. I'll be okay; I think I understand how he feels better than you do. I promise not to take his response personally."

Cory smiled. "Thank you; I was hoping you'd understand. I refuse to abandon you, but I'm not going to lead you into something you are not prepared for either."

Brant nodded. "Thanks. It helps to know you see me as a person; I'm still getting used to that but I like it."

"Get used to it already!" Cory giggled. "Is everyone ready?"

The entire group acknowledged that they were ready. "Okay then," Cory replied, "Ark, whenever you think it's safe go ahead and bring us home."

To Be Continued...