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"Would you like some more to drink?" Robert asked Wesley as he made his way around the Professor's table.
"Yes, thank you... are you one of the non-humans like Trey?" Wesley asked as he looked at Robert's ocular implant.
"Yes, Trey is my older brother. What were you drinking? I am not familiar with this beverage." Robert asked seriously.
"Oolong tea. That young woman brought it for me." Wesley said, pointing at Dawn.
"I will ask Aunt Dawn how to prepare another. Would you like a second portion of any of the food?" Robert asked as he took the empty cup.
"A small portion of salad, if you wouldn't mind." Wesley said timidly.
"I do not mind, that is why I offer. We have not met, my name is Robert Summers, what is yours?" Robert asked politely.
"Wesley Wyndom-Price, it is a pleasure to meet you Robert." Wesley said with an honest smile.
"For me as well, I will return shortly." Robert said and picked up Wesley's empty salad plate.
* * * * *
Janine and the others were chattering when Artie asked, "Aren't you going to eat anything Janine?"
"I do not eat." Janine said simply.
"Ever?" Rachel asked with fascination.
"Ever. I am Borg and Borg do not eat." Janine said in a serious tone.
"Oh. Okay." Rachel said and went back to her meal.
"Don't you get hungry?" Artie asked with concern.
"No. My body doesn't work like yours. Mine recharges at night." Janine said simply.
"Oh, my cell phone does that too." Artie said and went back to his food.
* * * * *
"Would anyone care for another portion of food?" William asked Warren and Kurt's table as he walked around filling tea and water glasses.
"No thank you. But I am curious to know why you are doing this." Orroro asked with confusion.
"This is the job that we had where we lived before. It provides us a sense of continuity to be able to do the same here." William said as he finished filling the last glass.
"Why did you have jobs?" Orroro asked, feeling a twinge of concern.
"Our fathers felt that we would benefit from contact with the most people possible. So they arranged for us to work in the mess hall to aid Mr. Neelix as well as provide us an opportunity to interact with people outside our family." William said as he stood by the table, waiting for more questions.
"If you did not wish to do this job, what would happen?" Orroro asked quietly.
"We would tell our fathers. Then we would not do it anymore." William said simply.
"Thank you... William?" Orroro asked, not sure of his name.
"Yes. And you're welcome." William said as Robert approached.
"Would you take a small salad to the gentleman beside Aunt Tara? I am going to prepare him some more tea." Robert asked quickly.
"Of course, which dressing?" William asked quietly.
"The white dressing that smells of fish." Robert said and turned to leave.
"Robert?" Orroro called.
"Yes, may I help you?" Robert asked as he stopped by Orroro's chair.
"Did you say you were going to prepare Wesley some more tea?" She asked carefully.
"Yes, would you like some too?" Robert asked kindly.
"I would. Thank you for offering." Orroro said with a smile.
"I will return shortly." Robert said and went to the kitchen.
As Robert and William walked off in opposite directions Orroro said to the table, "I was concerned that they were being asked to toil while others relaxed."
"This is their way of contributing to our community. It brings them pleasure to help, it allows them to talk with many people in a favorable atmosphere and gives them purpose." Jimmy said in reply.
"When you look at it that way, it seems a good thing. Do you also have a job?" Orroro asked Jimmy.
"Not as yet. But my fathers assure me that I will soon find a way to contribute. On Voyager I was a writer and reporter for the ship's news program. Icheb would read my articles to the rest of the crew." Jimmy said with pride.
"What did you report?" Warren asked with interest.
"Each week I would interview a different person and feature a story about them on the news program. I would tell about their home, their life and about their interests. It seemed to bring people closer together by letting them know each other in a non-threatening way." Jimmy said pleasantly.
"That sounds entertaining. So you write biographies?" Orroro asked.
"Yes, but I also write about my experiences and feelings. My fathers have allowed me many opportunities to do things that most people do not get to do... Uncle Warren, could I see the data pad for a moment?" Jimmy asked.
Warren handed the padd to Jimmy. After pressing a few buttons, Jimmy handed the padd to Orroro.
"The story is written in Kiswahili?" Orroro asked in puzzlement.
"Did I choose the wrong language? I was trying to accommodate you by translating to your native language." Jimmy said timidly.
"No child. This is perfect, I have not read in my own language for far too long." Orroro said and began to read.
"So you're a writer and reporter? Is that what you want to do when you grow up?" Warren asked.
"I am unsure. My fathers have exposed me to many professions in the course of my writing. It was their intention to give me as many varied experiences as possible so I might choose what I would like to do. At this point, writing continues to be my primary focus." Jimmy said happily.
"If I understand this correctly, your ship was disabled while traversing a passage that collapsed. You were alone in the medical area and had to close an incision on your fathers leg." Orroro said in amazement.
"Yes, but that was before he was my Dad." Jimmy said with a fond smile.
"You must have been terrified." Orroro said as she looked up from the writing.
"I was. But my Father came as quickly as he could and saved many lives... including Robert's." Jimmy said proudly.
Orroro continued to read and would occasionally look up at either Jimmy or Andrew.
* * * * *
"Bobby, did I do wrong by bringing Icheb to you today?" Peter asked timidly.
"No Pete, it was just a little awkward. But it's no problem." Bobby said honestly.
"Do you like Icheb?" Peter asked carefully.
"I don't know. I haven't spent any time talking with him. He's a good kisser, but that's all I really know about him... were you hoping that I would?" Bobby asked suspiciously.
Peter nodded without saying a word.
"Thanks for the thought Pete, but I need to get to know a person before I can get involved with him. It's just like if I brought a girl that I thought you'd like to kiss you... how would you feel?" Bobby asked.
After a long silence Peter said honestly, "I would be more angry than you seem to be."
"To tell the truth, I was never angry. I know that you wouldn't try to embarrass me or hurt me. I was confused, but Robert helped with that. He's good at getting to the heart of a problem." Bobby said simply.
"I am glad, he seems to be a nice child." Peter said in a considering tone.
"I never thought of him as a child the whole time we were talking. He's a good person and he's easy to talk with." Bobby said and relaxed back in his chair.
"Perhaps I should get to know him." Peter said thoughtfully.
"I hope you mean that, I invited him to run with us tomorrow morning." Bobby said with a smile.
"Good, we will talk then." Peter said and went back to eating.
* * * * *
"Here is your salad, I did not know how much dressing you would like so I brought it on the side." William said as he placed the salad and the dressing in front of Wesley.
"Thank you Robert." Wesley said with gratitude.
"I am William. Robert is my twin brother." William said without offense.
"William Summers?" Wesley asked.
"Yes, and you are?" William prompted.
"Wesley Wyndom-Price." Wesley said and extended a hand to shake.
Wesley was surprised at William's firm handshake.
"A pleasure to meet you. My brother will return with your tea momentarily. Would you like anything else?" William asked politely.
"No, thank you William." Wesley answered, impressed by William's manors.
"I will return in a moment to refresh your drinks." William said to the others at the table, then returned to the kitchen.
* * * * *
//Andrew, why are your children filling drinks and bussing tables?// the Professor thought to Andrew.
//Because they like to help. Robert asked if they could do this and I told him it would be okay. You don't mind do you?// Andrew thought in reply.
//Not at all, it just seemed unusual behavior. As long as they are doing this because they want to, they are welcomed to continue.// the Professor thought with a smile.
//Thank you Professor. It makes them feel good to be able to help. Being children in a new place, there is little that they know how to do.// Andrew sent and returned the smile.
The link fell silent as Alan asked, "Are you using telepathy?"
"Yes, and you aren't going to withhold cookies from me this time." Andrew answered with a teasing smile.
"Why don't we have cookies and milk tonight? We haven't done that since you've been back." Scott asked with enthusiasm.
"That sounds like a great idea. Will you join us Alex?" Andrew asked, noticing Alex's dark mood.
"Yeah, sure." Alex said as he tried to put on a happy face.
"Alex, will you come with me for a minute?" Andrew asked and stood.
"Uh, sure." Alex said with worry and stood to follow.
* * * * *
"Here is your tea Mr. Wyndom-Price. You may wish to wait a moment, it is very hot." Robert said with concern.
"Yes, thank you Robert. And you may call me Wesley if you wish." Wesley said with a smile.
"Very well. Can I get you anything else Wesley?" Robert asked.
"No, thank you." Wesley said and Robert looked over the table.
"Please allow me to clear your plates." Robert said and took an empty plate from Dawn's hand.
"Thank you Robert, I could have done that." Dawn said and sat back down.
"I am up, there is no need for you to interrupt your conversation." Robert said as he cleared empty plates from in front of the others.
The Professor looked to the other tables to find William also clearing dishes.
"Robert, I would like for you and William to come here for a moment." The Professor said in a polite tone.
"Yes Professor." Robert said and went to William.
A moment later the two boys were standing expectantly before the Professor.
"Everyone, may I have your attention for a moment." The Professor called to the room.
Everyone quieted and turned their attention to the Professor.
"Robert and William have volunteered to help us during mealtime, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize them for their efforts, please join me in a round of applause." The Professor said and began clapping.
There was a brief but hearty round of applause from everyone in the dining room.
"Thank you both for helping us. Your courtesy and hard work has made the meal much more enjoyable for everyone." The Professor said to William and Robert.
"It is only our way of contributing to our community. Thank you for the recognition." Robert said in a strong voice.
"You're very welcome. I won't keep you any longer." The Professor said with a smile.
Robert and William went back to work clearing dishes and filling drinks.
* * * * *
"Alex, what's wrong?" Andrew asked when they were in the hallway.
"It's nothing. Really." Alex said distractedly.
"Come on Alex. I know something is bothering you. Is it something you don't feel comfortable talking with *me* about?" Andrew asked with concern.
"I guess you'll find out anyway. It's about the living arrangements... As much as I like living with all you guys, Scott needs his own space. He's been getting quieter and more distant the last few days and I think it's because I'm sharing his room." Alex said sadly.
"I've noticed it too. And I don't think you two sharing a room is part of his problem, but you're right, we do need to do something about that. Will you do something for me Alex?" Andrew asked while looking Alex in the eyes.
"What?" Alex asked with worry.
"Just hang on for a day or two more. Let me see what I can do to fix this before you do anything drastic like moving out. Will you do that?" Andrew asked in a pleading voice.
"Yeah, I can do that... Do you really want me to stay?" Alex asked shyly.
Andrew pulled Alex into a hug and said, "You're part of my family. Of course I want you to stay. The kids love you, Scott and Alan love you and I love you like the younger brother I always wanted. Please help me make this work. I know that if we can get the wrinkles worked out, it's going to be great for all of us."
"I hope so, I'm just worried that Scott is feeling cramped with me around." Alex said, enjoying the hug.
"I'll talk to Scott. We're close enough that he'll open up to me and let me know what's up." Andrew said as he released Alex from the hug.
"Thanks Andrew, you're a good brother-in-law." Alex said with a smile.
"I'll only ever think of you as a brother Alex. Now let's get back in there, something's happening." Andrew said at the sound of the clapping.
* * * * *
As Andrew and Alex walked back into the dining room, Bobby jumped up from his table and quickly said, "Andrew, do you have a minute?"
"Um, sure." Andrew said and walked back into the hall.
Once they were both in the hall, Bobby said, "I'm worried about Ronny. Is there any way you can send me where he is so I can tell him what's going on?"
"I guess so... I guess it would be scary if you didn't know what was happening." Andrew said sheepishly.
"Good, I just need to know that he's okay." Bobby said quietly.
"I'm glad you're a part of my family Bobby. You make me proud." Andrew said and patted Bobby on the shoulder.
"Thanks Andrew, you have no idea how long it's been since anyone's been proud of me." Bobby said shyly.
"You'd better get used to it, because I plan to be proud of you a lot." Andrew said with a smile.
"Can we do it now?" Bobby asked with concern in his voice.
"Yeah, let me find him... he's in the common room. I'll phase you here and you can go in and talk to him. Come in the dining room when you're done and I'll port you back. Okay?" Andrew asked and waited for confirmation.
"Yeah, and thanks again." Bobby said quietly.
"Anytime Bobby." Andrew said and let his power loose.
* * * * *
"Father. Where is Bobby?" Robert asked as Andrew walked back into the dining room.
Andrew looked around the dining room and decided that this would be better said privately.
"Follow me." Andrew said and went back into the hallway.
"What is it Father?" Robert asked with concern.
"Why do you need to talk to Bobby?" Andrew asked quietly.
"I told him I would speak with him at the conclusion of my duties. Most people are finished and William said that he will continue alone. But when I went to the table, Peter said that he went to talk with you." Robert said with concern.
"I phased Bobby into a parallel dimension so he could speak with his brother." Andrew said hesitantly.
"Why would you not bring his brother here?" Robert asked simply.
"Bobby's brother is not welcomed here. He is a bad person and is being kept in the alternate dimension until we can decide what to do with him." Andrew said as he looked into Robert's eyes.
"A bad person? Why would Bobby choose a bad person to be his brother?" Robert asked with puzzlement.
Andrew chuckled and said, "Ronny is Bobby's brother like William is your brother. They were born into the same family, not chosen."
"Then Bobby is concerned for his brother, and that is why he wishes to visit him?" Robert asked slowly.
"Yes. That's right." Andrew said with relief.
"May I go as well?" Robert asked with strength.
"Because if Bobby's brother is a bad person, he may cause Bobby harm. Bobby is my friend and I wish to help him if I can." Robert said honestly.
"I don't think it's such a good idea. Ronny is mean and hateful. He made Icheb and Bobby cry earlier today. I don't want you to be around someone like that." Andrew said seriously.
"And I do not want Bobby to be around someone like that. Please Father, allow me to do this to help Bobby. If he does not wish my help, I will return immediately." Robert said with a pleading tone.
"Alright. But return to the dining room as soon as you're ready to come back... and tell Bobby to be back within half an hour, I don't want to be sitting in the dining room all night." Andrew said in a fatherly tone.
"Thank you Father." Robert said and pulled his father in for a hug.
"It's okay. But if he hurts your feelings, just come to the dining room and I'll phase you back here." Andrew said as he enjoyed the hug.
"I will Father. I am ready." Robert said as he stood back.
"They're in the common room. I love you son." Andrew said and phased Robert out of existence.
* * * * *
Bobby stood and waited for a long minute as he decided if he really wanted to face Ronny again. He had been so cruel earlier... but he was alone here and at least needed to know what was going on.
Bobby braced himself and began to walk toward the common room when he heard something behind him.
"I came to help if you would allow me." Robert said shyly.
"My father said you were going to visit with your brother, and that your brother is a bad person. You are my friend, and I didn't want you to face him alone." Robert said with concern.
"Thanks Robert. I can really use a friend right now. Let's go.
To Be Continued...