One Door Closes

By MultiMapper
Copyright ©2002-2009 MultiMapper and CSU Productions.
All Rights Reserved.

For full disclaimer and Copyright information visit Copyright/Disclaimer Page. Continuation of viewing this document is deemed acceptance of all terms on the preceding link. While these stories are provided for free, I would appreciate it if those who were able would consider contributing to this artist via my Patreon.

CHAPTER 17

After a long, disbelieving minute looking into the box, Allen shook his head and began to chuckle.

"What's wrong?" JC asked, worried by Allen's strange combination of tears and laughter.

"It's from Carl; Kenny and Kevin's dad." Allen said as he walked to the table carrying the box.

"What is it?" Jake asked, trying to get a peek.

"Xain will probably be able to explain it better than I can." Allen said as he carefully pulled the delicate object from the box.

"It is a replica of an ancient asenoi." Xain said speculatively.

"What's that?" Jake asked as he studied the thing that looked like a clay oil lamp.

"It's used to center one's thoughts during meditation, but I'm willing to bet that it isn't a replica." Allen said quietly.

"To remove such an artifact from Vulcan is illegal." Xain said as he moved his gaze from the asenoi to Allen.

"I know." Allen said quietly, then looked Xain in the eyes as he said with an ironic chuckle, "You'd just have to know Carl to understand."

Xain raised an eyebrow as a prompt for more information.

"If I had told Carl that I admired the beauty of the American Bald Eagle, he might go out and kill one and have it stuffed for me, believing it would please me. It wouldn't matter to him that it's endangered or illegal. Things like grace, freedom and symbolism were lost on him. He saw the surface of things and took everything at face value." Allen said carefully.

"Such an amoral mindset is difficult for me to understand." Xain said carefully.

"It's just as difficult for me Xain. But by understanding that his motive was to give me a gift that he thought I'd cherish, I can't be mad at him. Carl was blunt, honest and sometimes misguided, but because of that, there's no denying that this was a true expression of his love." Allen said as tears began to form in his eyes.

"I believe I understand. What are you going to do with the asenoi?" Xain asked quietly.

"I'll notify the Vulcan authorities and return it to where it belongs. This is a piece of Vulcan history and doesn't belong here." Allen said seriously.

"That is logical." Xain said calmly.

"Come into the family room and let's call them now. Your father may be able to take it back to Vulcan with him when he leaves." Allen said as he stood and picked up the asenoi.

Xain and Jake followed Allen out of the kitchen.

* * * * *

Allen composed his features carefully before establishing a link with Vulcan High Command.

"How may I be of assistance?" A young Vulcan woman asked in passable English without expression.

"I have come into possession of an object which I believe to be an ancient Vulcan artifact. I wish to report it's location and inquire of proper procedure for it's return." Allen said carefully in formal Vulcan.

The woman gave a single nod, then the screen changed to show an elderly Vulcan gentleman in civilian clothing.

"Greetings. I have come into possession of what I believe is an ancient asenoi. It is my wish to return it to it's rightful place." Allen said in calmness.

"May I see the object?" The man asked in an unusual dialect of the Vulcan language.

Allen held up the asenoi and rotated it slowly so it could clearly be seen.

The man looked at the object carefully, then started pushing buttons on his terminal.

Finally the Vulcan man looked at Allen and said seriously, "There is no match in our archive of this object. But given it's probable age, it may predate visual archive records. Your terminal ID reports that you are of Clan Short, located on Earth. How did you come into possession of this artifact?"

"I am not of Clan Short, my children are. The artifact was delivered to me by a courier as part of the estate of my deceased partner, therefore I cannot speculate how it came to be on Earth." Allen said carefully.

"May I speak with a member of Clan Short?" The Vulcan man asked without inflection.

Allen was a little surprised by the question, but motioned for Xain to take his place before the terminal.

"Greetings. I am Xain Thompson, Son of Solak of the House of Suvak, and a member of Clan Short." Xain said formally.

The elderly gentleman's eyebrow went up in an expression of surprise, but his voice didn't reflect it as he asked, "Can you verify the claims that the Human made regarding the asenoi?"

"The Human's name is Allen Thompson, he is my legal guardian and acknowledged as k'war'ma'khon. I was witness to him receiving the asenoi and verify all claims he has made to you." Xain said with a firm voice.

The elderly gentleman sat motionless for a moment, then said, "The artifact must be returned to Vulcan. Instruct the Human to have the artifact delivered to this office and to exercise the necessary precautions for the artifact's safety."

Xain pressed the keys on the terminal to record the location of the transmission before responding, "K'war'ma'khon Allen has heard your instructions and will act diligently."

"Your Clan will be recognized for restoring this piece of our physical historic record." the elderly gentleman said seriously.

"You are in error. K'war'ma'khon Allen has stated that the asenoi was given to him. The only service Clan Short has provided in this circumstance is the use of the terminal we are using to hold this conversation. Any recognition is due him alone." Xain said firmly.

"Acknowledged. I will await receipt of the artifact." The elderly gentleman said and terminated the transmission.

Silence filled the room until it was broken by Jake asking, "I couldn't understand what was being said, but was that a Vulcan thing or was that guy an asshole?"

Xain looked at Jake questioningly.

"It's a Human figure of speech..." Allen began to say.

"I believe I understand the metaphor." Xain said, preempting Allen's explanation.

"The expulsion of feces from the anus is analogous to the purposeful inaccuracies expelled by the official who did not exhibit the courtesy of identifying himself." Xain said in thought.

Allen smiled and said, "You're exactly right Xain, although I have to say that this particular figure of speech is considered crude and offensive and is not to be used in polite company."

Xain nodded once in acceptance.

"Sorry Dad." Jake said shyly.

"It's okay Jake. I'd rather you not use language like that when we have company, but I think we're old enough to be able to speak freely amongst ourselves. Just take it easy around the younger guys, they may not be able to tell when it's inappropriate to swear." Allen said gently.

"Yeah. I'll watch it. Thanks." Jake said with gratitude.

Xain thought seriously for a moment before asking, "May I ask a question for the purpose of clarification?"

"Proceed." Allen said, slipping flawlessly into his Vulcan demeanor.

"I am closer in age to Kevin and Kenny, yet you treat me as you do Jake. Will you explain your reasoning?" Xain asked slowly.

"I choose to think of you as individuals rather than by your ages. You and Jake appear to me to be at a similar level of maturity in most things. Kevin is close to Kenny in some ways and close to Reuben in others. Do you believe that I am mistaken?" Allen asked with concern.

"No. Now that I understand your reasoning, I find your logic to be sound. Thank you for your clarification." Xain said peacefully.

"Does that mean I'm immature or that Xain is grown up for his age?" Jake asked cautiously.

"I don't have those answers. Honestly, I believe that there are some adults that haven't reached your level of maturity and age has nothing to do with it. But if you're worried about it, ask Dan when he comes over, he's the expert." Allen said frankly.

"Yeah, I can live with that." Jake said with a considering nod.

"I should return to meal preparation. Father, the time is nearing when I will need certain of the listed ingredients." Xain said seriously.

"I'll go now. Would either of you like to go with me?" Allen asked casually.

"I must prepare the vegetables." Xain stated tonelessly.

"Do you need my help with anything?" Jake asked Xain without pretense.

"No. The preparation of the vegetables will complete those tasks that must be accomplished before cooking." Xain said seriously.

"Okay, we won't be gone long. If Chip and Brady get back before we do, let them know that I'll be right back." Allen said as he checked to see that he had his car keys.

Xain nodded once and left the room.

"Then let's go shopping." Allen said and led the way out of the room.

* * * * *

"Jake, I'm glad we've got a few minutes to talk privately." Allen said as they pulled out of the driveway.

Unknowingly, Jake gave a Vulcanesque raise of one eyebrow, prompting Allen to expound on his statement.

Allen smiled at the gesture and said, "A lot of things have happened all of a sudden and I don't want you to get the feeling that I'm too busy to listen to you."

Jake thought about the statement before saying, "I don't feel that way. It's just... I don't know... It's like I'm in a whole new world. Maybe that's why Xain and I are getting along so well."

"Maybe it is. I'm glad you're becoming friends. You two will be discovering this new world together, but if you find out that you need some help, I want you to know that I'm here for you, no matter what it is." Allen said seriously.

Jake turned his head and stared at the passing scenery as he thought.

"Does that mean you have something you'd like to talk about?" Allen asked quietly.

Jake hesitantly nodded.

"Whenever you're ready to talk about it, I'm here for you son." Allen said seriously.

Jake nodded again.

Silence fell over the car as Allen turned his attention back to the traffic.

"Why are you doing this?" Jake asked quietly.

"Which this are you talking about?" Allen asked seriously.

"Taking us in. Being a father to all of us."

Allen considered the question as he pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store.

Jake opened his door and started to get out of the car when he noticed that Allen wasn't moving.

"Because you needed me." Allen said in deep thought.

Jake pulled his legs back into the car and turned his attention back to Allen.

"I grew up without a father. Even though Mona was as good a mother as anyone could ask for, I always felt like I missed out on something by not having a father. I guess I wanted to give you guys something I never had." Allen continued.

"So it doesn't have anything to do with trying to hold on to part of your lover by taking in his kids?" Jake asked seriously.

Allen looked at Jake with surprise, then looked off in the distance as he considered the question.

"No, I don't think so. If that were the case I think I'd feel closer to Kevin and Kenny than the rest of you." Allen said in a distant voice.

"Yeah, I noticed that you don't play favorites. Thanks for that." Jake mumbled.

Allen broke out of his deep thought and smiled as he focused on Jake.

"No problem Sport. I feel so incredibly blessed that I'm being given this opportunity. Even though I've only been a father for a few days... It's like everything before was leading to this." Allen said peacefully.

Jake looked at Allen with question.

"Everything I went through before, the money I earned, the lessons I've learned, everything was just preparation for being your father. It's like when I adopted you guys, my life officially started." Allen said with a grand smile.

Jake looked into Allen's eyes for a long moment, then looked away.

"Something's really eating you up. If you can't tell me, I'll understand. But I promise that whatever it is won't change things between us." Allen said seriously.

Jake closed his eyes as he took a deep inhale.

Allen cautiously put an arm around Jake's shoulder, sensing that he needed some assurance.

Jake turned and pulled himself into Allen, burying his face into Allen's chest.

"Whatever it is, I'll help you however I can. If you can't tell me, maybe you can tell Dan. He'll be coming over tonight." Allen whispered.

"No. I think I can tell you. It's just hard... I've never said the words." Jake said into Allen's chest.

"Go ahead. Whatever it is, I can handle it." Allen said as he rubbed Jake's back.

"I think... I mean, I'm not sure but... there's a chance..." Jake stammered.

"Just say it. It's okay." Allen soothed.

"Edovina might be my daughter." Jake said in a barely audible voice.

Allen froze and sat stunned at the statement.

"Dad?" Jake asked with a note of fear.

Allen snapped out of his shock and started rubbing Jake's back again.

"What am I going to do?" Jake asked with a whimper.

"I don't know son. But whatever it is, I'll be right there with you to help you however I can." Allen said as his mind whirled.

* * * * *

"Look what I got!" Kenny said with excitement as he raced into the kitchen carrying a huge box.

"What is it?" Reuben asked, ignited by Kenny's excitement.

"Uncle Chip bought me a model of the Enterprise!" Kenny said with unrestrained glee.

Chip walked into the kitchen more slowly with his arm around Kevin.

Brady walked in next and asked, "Where's Allen?"

"Father and Jake have gone to purchase supplies for this evenings meal. Father requested that I tell you that he does not intend to be away for an extended period of time." Xain said, not moving his gaze from his vegetable slicing.

"Oh. Well, I guess we can get to work on the shelf. Are you ready to work Kenny?" Brady asked, not sure if Kenny even remembered that he existed after receiving the model.

"Um... Yeah. Let me put this in my room, then I'll be ready." Kenny said quickly.

"I'll meet you at the car." Brady said as he headed toward the front door.

"It is a good thing you do. You make the child happy." Juana said as she mixed a bowl of dough.

"It's worth the price of a model to see him so happy." Chip said with forced cheer.

Xain stopped his slicing and gave Chip a knowing look.

Chip turned in time to see the exact same look on JC's face.

"Yeah, well... It was the one he really wanted." Chip said weakly.

Xain raised an eyebrow, then turned and continued his vegetable slicing.

JC nodded, then went back to loading the lunch dishes into the dishwasher.

* * * * *

Allen and Jake had been shopping in silence for nearly five minutes when Allen asked, "What do you want to do?"

Jake considered playing dumb and avoiding the true meaning of Allen's question, but one look into Allen's eyes made him think otherwise.

"It depends." Jake said and looked away.

"On what?" Allen asked and stopped in the aisle to await a response.

"On whether she's mine or not." Jake said in thought.

Allen nodded and started pushing the cart again.

After a minute of silence, Allen asked, "What if she isn't?"

Jake turned to answer Allen and was caught off guard by the look of intensity in his eyes.

After a moment to think about it, Jake finally said, "It doesn't matter, does it?"

"That's up to you son. I can't tell you how you should think or feel." Allen said seriously.

Jake nodded and began thinking in a way he hadn't considered before that day.

Finally Jake asked, "What should I do Dad?"

"I can't answer that. This is a decision that you have to make for yourself. Whatever you decide, I'll be right there with you." Allen said seriously.

"I guess I should talk to Mamacita about it... she may not even want me to have anything to do with Edovina." Jake said apprehensively.

"This isn't about Juana. You need to decide what you want to do first. Once you've decided, then you can discuss things with Juana." Allen said firmly.

"I'm fifteen, I can't support a child." Jake said helplessly.

"That isn't part of this decision. Edovina will be taken care of no matter what you decide. If you decide that you want to be her father, then you can talk with Juana about how's the best way to do that. If not, then be her cousin and let Juana raise her alone. I'm not going to push you one way or the other and no matter what you decide, I'll support you completely. The question you have to answer is, do you want to be a father to this little girl who may or may not be your child?" Allen asked seriously.

Jake looked off into the distance in thought.

"Come on, we've got everything on the list. Let's check out. You don't have to decide this minute." Allen said, forcing cheer into his voice.

Jake nodded and followed silently.

* * * * *

"Are you ready to go?" Chip asked quietly, causing JC to jump in surprise.

After a second to catch his breath, JC looked around and asked, "Where's Kevin?"

"Upstairs teaching himself to read. It took some doing, but I finally distracted him enough to get away." Chip said seriously.

JC smiled, then the smiled dropped and he shook his head.

"What's wrong Angel?" Chip asked with concern.

"Sneaking out isn't a solution. That boy has a crush on you and you need to deal with it." JC said firmly.

"But he's been through so much. If we just leave him be, maybe it will die down in its own time." Chip said with hope.

"Or maybe it won't. Causing him a little heartbreak now may prevent a much bigger heartbreak later." JC said with compassion in his voice.

"I understand what you're saying. Can we give it a week to see what happens? If his feelings don't die down naturally, we can sit down and have a serious talk with him." Chip said hopefully.

JC looked into Chip's eyes and said, "I think that's a good idea. Let's say our good-byes and go home... if we hurry, we'll have some time before the boys get home from school."

"Mmmm, I like the way you think." Chip said in a low voice filled with desire.

* * * * *

"I think we've got everything you asked for." Allen announced as he walked into the kitchen carrying shopping bags.

Xain nodded in acknowledgment as he arranged sliced vegetables on a platter.

"Is there anything we can do to help?" Jake asked as he walked into the kitchen, carrying more bags.

"Perhaps Mrs. Vasquez can use your assistance with the desserts she is preparing. All preparation for the meal is complete." Xain said as he moved the platter to the refrigerator.

"Is there anything I can do to help you Mamacita?" Jake asked shyly.

"No. All is good for now. Muchas gracias." Juana said with a smile.

"De nada." Jake said, then walked to Allen's side.

"Did Josh and Chip leave already?" Allen asked as he looked around.

"Yes. I believe they left in anticipation of engaging in intercourse before their children return to their home." Xain said as he rinsed off his cutting board.

Allen stood stunned at the statement as Jake chuckled to himself.

"Um... Xain, that's kind of a private thing that they probably wouldn't want you to share." Allen said carefully.

Xain tilted his head in thought for an instant before saying, "Yes, I recall the taboo of discussing sexual intimacy. My apologies Father, I did not intend to cause offense."

"That's fine Xain. The more you're around Humans the easier it will be to know what is inappropriate to discuss. Do you know what time your father is going to arrive?" Allen finished quickly, hoping to change the subject.

"No. However, I can access his itinerary if you would like." Xain said as he dried his hands.

"Yes. If you can find out when he's going to arrive, we can go pick him up." Allen said with a smile.

Xain nodded and walked out of the kitchen.

"I'm going to go check on Kev." Jake said as he followed Xain and Allen out of the room.

"Thanks Jake." Allen said as they parted company outside the kitchen.

* * * * *

"How are you doing?" Jake asked as he walked into the bedroom.

"I'm stuck... I can't get this word." Kevin said in frustration.

"What do you think it is?" Jake asked as he took a seat beside Kevin on his bed.

"When I tried to put the sounds together it was 'sayer' but I don't think that's right." Kevin said in frustration.

"Well, the 'ch' sounds different when it's put together." Jake said, then made the appropriate sound.

"Oh... ch... ah... no, ay... r... chair." Kevin finished suddenly.

"That's it Kev. You got it. That was a hard one." Jake said happily.

"Yeah. This is really tough. 'C' sounds like 'S' sometimes and sounds like 'K' sometimes and now it sounds different when it's with an 'H'. It's a lot to remember." Kevin said seriously.

"I know. But it gets easier with practice. Pretty soon you'll be reading without even thinking about it." Jake said with assurance.

"That's what Uncle Chip said too."

"Have you already been through this one?" Jake asked as he picked up a book from beside Kevin on the bed.

"Yeah. That one wasn't as hard as this one." Kevin said as he glanced at the book Jake was holding.

"Why don't you read this one to me so you can get some practice on what you've already learned?" Jake asked quietly.

Kevin smiled and said, "Okay."

Jake moved farther onto the bed and rested his back against the wall.

Kevin snuggled in beside Jake and began to read.

"The... boy sat in the red... car..."

* * * * *

"Good, it looks like we have plenty of time before your father arrives at the spaceport." Allen said as he read the screen over Xain's shoulder.

Xain nodded in acknowledgement.

"How are you doing? Do you need to talk about anything?" Allen asked slowly.

Xain considered the question, then said, "Logically, I know that he who is my father is coming to deliver the remainder of my possessions. However I have a feeling that I do not understand."

"Can you describe it?" Allen asked as he rested a hand on Xain's shoulder.

"Not precisely. It seems to originate in my abdominal cavity and gives the sensation of vibration." Xain said in thought.

"I think that's the sensation Humans describe as 'butterflies in the stomach'." Allen said slowly.

Xain thought about the statement, then said, "An apt description, can you identify the source of the sensation?"

"I can't be sure, but I think it's anticipation of your father's arrival. Regardless of species, I believe all children want to feel the acceptance and approval of their parents. In a situation such as this, your father's reaction is uncertain and may be causing a little anxiety." Allen said in thought.

Xain got a distant look before saying, "He who is my Father would not approve."

"From what I understand of the process of Vulcan control, when an emotion is recognized, it is consciously isolated and restrained, then the subconscious processes the emotion with little or no outward manifestation. Upon reaching a certain level of control, the process becomes so automatic that the conscious mind no longer plays an active role." Allen said carefully.

"A succinct and accurate description." Xain said as he devoted his full attention toward Allen.

"I think that since you're part Human, the subconscious process may not work the same. I'm just guessing, but I think you may need to identify and process the emotion consciously when you encounter it, as Human's do. If that's the case, you may need to accept the emotion and 'deal with it' before you have control over it." Allen said in thought.

"Upon what do you base your supposition?" Xain asked curiously.

"Observation. When I see you evoke an emotional response, you seem to struggle with it until you understand what it is. Once you achieve understanding, you quickly regain control." Allen said seriously.

Xain considered the statement, then said, "It is an intriguing idea. I will consider what you have said."

"I hope it helps. Back to the subject of your father. You said that your father would not approve. Maybe if you outline your accomplishments since you arrived, you could find some things that your father would find acceptable." Allen said carefully.

Xain nodded and thought.

"You've learned to speak English." Allen said seriously.

"That was accomplished through a mind-meld and therefore is not a notable achievement." Xain said seriously.

"I think you're underestimating your achievement. If it were so easy to do, why doesn't everyone learn languages via mind-meld?' Allen asked in challenge.

"The process requires understanding of the mnemo complex structures of the mind and the skill to isolate the proper complex in both individuals. It is not common to develop the skill since it is only used by elders who specialize in memory transference and restoration." Xain said carefully.

"Then how do you have this skill?" Allen asked quietly.

"My mental structure is not typical of Vulcans. It was necessary for me to understand the mnemo complexes of Humans and Vulcans to begin to understand the organization of my own mind." Xain said as if it were nothing.

"So you've developed a specialized skill that is uncommon to Vulcans and probably unheard of in Humans. Am I correct?" Allen asked carefully.

A glimpse of a surprised expression fell across Xain's face as he said, "Correct."

"Earlier you understood the colorful metaphor that Jake used to describe the gentleman from the Vulcan Historical Archive. In case you weren't aware of it, that was a leap of reasoning that most Vulcans could not have made."

"When you asked me to cover my ears this morning, I felt something. It was an emotion that I do not have a name for. When the official treated you as a lesser being because you are Human, I felt the same sensation on your behalf. When Jake made his statement, the thoughts seemed to fall into a logical progression until I found a probable meaning to his metaphor." Xain explained slowly.

"I'm not sure, but I think the emotion you were feeling was 'indignity'. I'm sorry if I made you feel that way." Allen said quietly.

"I understand your true motive and thank you for your foresight." Xain said seriously.

"You're very welcome. Now tell me what you think about being part of our family. I think your father might have reason to be proud of the way you've been able to fit in here." Allen said carefully.

Xain considered the question and finally said, "With the exception of the preparation of food, I can think of  no significant contribution that I've made."

"Then tell me how you think Jake would be doing right now if you weren't here?" Allen asked firmly.

"Perhaps he would spend more time interacting with Kevin and Kenny." Xain said speculatively.

"Or he might be listening to his stereo, drowning in his own thoughts." Allen said in return.

Xain remembered the distress that he had witnessed and nodded slowly.

"You give him someone on his own level to share with. This place is as alien to him as it is to you. Without you to share this experience, he'd have to face it alone. I don't know if you've noticed, but the other boys look at you and Jake equally as their big brothers. They respect and admire you. You may still have occasional difficulties in social etiquette, but in all the ways that count, you've been accepted. I believe that's an achievement beyond what anyone could expect, your father included." Allen said seriously.

"How is it you were able to attain such knowledge and insight?" Xain asked curiously.

Allen smiled and said, "Because I've had ten years of working among a group of Vulcans and Humans to see the similarities and differences. Almost any difficulty you could have, I've probably been through myself or witnessed over the years. It's something that comes with age, it's called experience."

"I thank you once again for your guidance Father." Xain said with appreciation.

Allen gave into his illogical urge and pulled Xain into a hug.

After a moment of hugging, Xain said, "I have one further question."

"What is it son?" Allen said automatically.

"I am unsure if I am behaving appropriately when I engage in physical displays of affection such as hugging. In a circumstance such as this, it seems to be the proper way, but I am Vulcan and should not behave so." Xain said with concern.

"Xain, you are an individual. Not just because of your mixed heritage, but because of who you are. Here, among your family, you aren't expected to behave as a Human or a Vulcan, but just be yourself. We will accept you for who you are and support whatever choices you make." Allen said sincerely.

Xain pulled out of the hug and nodded before saying, "He who is my father expected me to behave as a Vulcan. It was his wish for me to be other than who I am."

"I disagree." Allen said as he looked into Xain's eyes.

Xain tilted his head and waited for Allen's explanation.

"If that were truly your father's motivation, you would not be on Earth." Allen said as he tried to put his thoughts into logical order.

"His decision to present Captain Spock as a role model was to give you an example of another person of mixed heritage who has achieved great things. And if he were determined for you to behave as a Vulcan he would not have allowed you to legally take my family name. I believe that the culmination of his decisions gives evidence to the fact that he has the same expectation that I have of you." Allen said in thought.

"Which is?" Xain prompted.

"To grow into a stable and self assured adult." Allen said with certainty.

Xain nodded slowly and said, "I find your logic to be sound. But if that is the case, why did he try to force me to master the Vulcan disciplines?"

"What tools can a Vulcan man give his son to assure his success?" Allen asked quietly.

"Logic, control and knowledge." Xain said without hesitation.

"He provided the things he thought you would need to the best of his ability. Tradition and his own upbringing were his only clues on how to properly raise a son into a successful man. I believe he did what he thought was best." Allen said softly.

"Your insights have provided me much to consider. If you will excuse me, I believe meditation would be beneficial at this time." Xain said in thought.

"You're probably right. I'll be ready to leave for the spaceport at 2:25."

"I will join you then." Xain said and left the room.

Allen gave a sad smile before walking to the front door to check on Kenny and Brady.

* * * * *

"Hey guys, how's it going?" Allen asked as he saw Brady standing aside while Kenny drilled a small hole through a long piece of finished wood.

"I'm making the holes that we're going to use to screw the shelf together." Kenny said in deep concentration.

"I'm supervising." Brady said with a smile.

"Are you going to have enough time to build it before you have to leave?" Allen asked as he looked around at the wood and tools scattered around the lawn.

"It won't be a problem. As soon as Kenny's done with the pilot holes, it will only take a few minutes for us to assemble all the pieces. And since we bought finished wood, all we'll have to do is hang it when it's done." Brady said happily.

"Well, it looks like you have it under control. I can't wait to see the finished product." Allen said with a smile.

"It's going to be great. This is so cool." Kenny said as he looked across the wood for the pencil mark to start the next pilot hole.

"I think you're right. Let me know when it's done." Allen said as he turned to leave.

* * * * *

"Dad, Kevin's got something to show you." Jake said quickly as he and Kevin ran down the stairs.

"Hmmm. Could this something have anything to do with the book he's holding?" Allen asked with a smile.

"Come on." Kevin said as he took hold of Allen's hand and led him into the living room.

Allen sat in a wing back chair and promptly had Kevin perched in his lap.

Jake was all smiles as he took a seat on the nearby couch.

"The boy sat in the red car." Kevin said with confidence as he ran his finger along the page to each word as he said it.

To Be Continued...