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"Uncle Allen?" Ricardo asked from the doorway of the kitchen.
"Yes Ricardo?" Allen asked curiously.
"Uncle Brady said he was gonna send me a letter this morning." Ricardo said shyly.
Allen smiled at Ricardo and said, "There's a message waiting for you in the family room. Let me get some drinks for everyone then I'll play the message for you."
Ricardo took this as an invitation and hopped up on a kitchen chair to get his drink.
"Does your mother know where you are?" Allen asked casually as he poured drinks for everyone.
Ricardo nodded seriously.
"Do you like living here Ricardo?" Teri asked gently.
"Uh huh. It's fun here." Ricardo said with a big smile.
"How old are you sweetie?" Teri asked, entranced by Ricardo's youth and innocence.
"I'm this many." Ricardo said as he proudly held up three fingers.
"Oh my, that's old." Teri said with a radiant smile.
Ricardo nodded seriously at her statement, then smiled as Allen placed a glass of fruit punch before him.
"Thank you Allen." Teri said quietly as she also accepted a drink.
"Can we go get Uncle Brady's letter now?" Ricardo asked hopefully.
"As soon as you finish your drink." Allen said gently.
Ricardo dutifully took a long drink of his punch.
Billy and Deacon entered the Kitchen and took places at the table.
"This is my brother Deacon." Billy said with a smile.
"It's nice to meet you Deacon." Teri said warmly, then her eyes were drawn to the necklace he was wearing.
Deacon noticed her interest and proudly said, "Allen and his family gave me this for my birthday."
"It's beautiful." Teri said in a whisper.
Sean and Cory got up from their chairs to get a closer look at the necklace.
"Wow, it looks like Mikey." Cory said in wonder.
"Kenny said that Mikey was our guardian angel." Deacon said cautiously at the interest they were showing.
"Yeah. He is." Sean said quietly as he walked back to his seat.
"I'm finished." Ricardo said happily as he presented his empty glass to Allen.
"Well let's go and get your message." Allen said as he picked up Ricardo.
"Have you decided what you want to do?" Teri asked Billy quietly.
"Yeah. Deke and I both want him to live with me." Billy said with absolute certainty.
"Good. I think that will be best for everyone involved." Teri said seriously.
Billy looked at her curiously.
"It had to be your choice. If we came here and tried to influence your decision in any way, then you might have felt railroaded into it. This way both you and Deacon know that he is here because you want him to be, we're just making it happen." Cory said honestly.
"Yeah. Thanks for that." Billy said in thought.
Teri picked up a folder and opened it.
"I had some paperwork made up in case this is what you decided. If you'll just sign these, you shouldn't have anything to worry about." Teri said in a professional voice.
"What are these?" Billy asked as he looked at the papers.
"Well, the actual custody paperwork is just waiting for me to file it. These papers are to request Deacon's medical and dental records and school records. The last page is a limited guardianship paper for you to keep. Since you're going to basically be a single parent you may need to find someone to care for Deacon while you're away. Just fill in the name and you both sign it and they'll be able to make medical decisions on Deacon's behalf in the event of an emergency... in fact, I have one for Allen and Juana to sign too." Teri said as an afterthought and pulled another folder from her briefcase.
"Oh, um, Allen and I already discussed it and he's going to take care of Deke when I have to go out of town, so I guess I'll need him to sign this." Billy said in thought.
"That'll work. Cory and Sean can sign off as witnesses. It's as good as having it notarized." Teri said seriously.
"Really?" Billy asked curiously.
"We're Starfleet officers. That's one of the perks." Cory said with a smile.
"So you're head of that Clan thing AND a Starfleet officer?" Billy asked in wonder.
"Yeah, Kenny told me all about it. Cory is an engineer on the USS Enterprise and Sean is a helmsman." Deacon said with excitement.
"And the Clan thing is a Vulcan Clan. We are all officially recognized as grandsons to Ambassador Sarek. Cory is the Patriarch of Clan Short, all the other members are recognized as our brothers." Sean said seriously.
"Kevin and Kenny and Xain and Jake are all part of the Clan." Deacon said with a smile.
Billy smiled at Deacon and said, "Then the Clan must be a really good thing because those guys are great."
"Yeah. Do you want to see my birthday presents? They had a birthday party for me this morning, it was like the coolest thing ever!" Deacon said, nearly bouncing with his excitement.
Teri, Sean, Cory and Billy all got up from the table at Deacon's urging as he drew them up by shear will.
"It's in here." Deacon said impatiently from the dining room doorway.
"Good morning Ricardo. I'm here in San Francisco." Brady's image said from the terminal.
"Hi Uncle Brady." Ricardo said with excitement from Allen's lap.
"This is a recording, like a movie. Listen to what Uncle Brady says, then you can record a message back to him." Allen said gently as he paused the video.
"Okay." Ricardo said in thought.
Allen pressed the play button and the message continued.
"I hope you've been thinking about what you want to do when I visit next time." Brady said with a gentle smile as Ricardo nodded seriously.
"I'll send you another message tomorrow and let you know what's been going on. You be good for your mother and take good care of your brother." Brady said gently.
Ricardo nodded again.
"I love you Ricardo. Have a good day." Brady said and ended the transmission.
Ricardo turned in Allen's lap to hug him tightly.
"Do you want to send a message to Uncle Brady?" Allen asked quietly.
Ricardo nodded into Allen's chest.
"Okay, sit facing the screen and I'll set it up to record for you." Allen said with a happy smile.
Ricardo sat facing foreword and watched carefully as Allen sat the controls to record.
"Wow, they really went all out." Cory said as he entered the room with balloons and streamers.
"Yeah. It was so awesome. Me and Billy came over for breakfast this morning and I didn't have any idea that they were going to do this!" Deacon said as he raced ahead of the group to proudly display his presents.
"This is from Allen and Juana." Deacon said as he presented the video game to Sean.
"Oh, Justy has this one. In fact I think I remember Uncle Chip saying he had to buy Justy a second one because he wore the first one out." Sean said as he handed the game to Cory.
"These models are from Reuben and Kenny." Deacon said as he handed both boxes to Sean.
"I have this ship at home, but I think this is the new Jaguar. It's really nice." Sean said as he carefully looked at the package.
"Kevin and Reuben bought me this game so we can play it together." Deacon said as he held up the game for everyone to see.
"That's really great. Presents you can share are the best." Cory said with a smile at Deacon's enthusiasm.
"And this is the coolest thing ever. Jake and Xain and Edovina got me some really nice clothes." Deacon said as he handed the jacket and shirt to Teri.
"I think this is the first time I've ever seen anyone excited to get clothes for their birthday." Teri said in surprise.
"It's not the same as getting socks Mom. This jacket is something really nice he can wear when he goes somewhere. Deacon will have something kind of grown up to wear. It's kind of like when I wear my uniform." Sean tried to explain.
"Oh, I get it." Teri said with a smile at her son.
"And they sang 'Happy Birthday' to me and we even had a cake!" Deacon said with joy as he moved to show off his birthday cake.
"As birthday's go, this looks like a really good one." Teri said as she looked around.
"It was the best ever! I never, ever expected that anyone would ever do something like this for me!" Deacon beamed with absolute joy.
Cory smiled and said, "I've had some really great birthdays Deacon, but I don't think I've ever had one as good as this."
"I doubt that anyone has ever enjoyed a birthday this much." Billy said from behind Cory.
"I'm willing to bet his next birthday will be even better." Cory said over his shoulder.
Billy looked at Cory curiously.
"I have no doubt that in the next year Deacon is going to make lots of friends and by the time his birthday comes around you may need to rent a hall to hold them all." Cory said seriously.
Billy looked at his brother and smiled as he thought about the words.
"Here you are." Allen said as he walked into the dining room, carrying Ricardo on his hip.
"Deacon was just showing us the wonderful birthday party he had this morning." Teri said with a peaceful smile.
Allen smiled at the sight of Cory and Sean showing Deacon how to play the video game.
"I have a few papers for you and Billy to sign. I don't think the guys will miss us." Teri said with a smile at the chattering boys.
"Somehow, I think you're right." Allen said with a chuckle as he led the way out of the dining room.
"Hey Dad, have you seen Vina's stroller? She needs to be changed." Jake asked as he walked into the kitchen carrying Edovina.
"I think I remember seeing it in the dining room." Allen said in thought.
"Thanks." Jake said quickly and detoured into the dining room.
Xain walked into the kitchen a moment later, then after a momentary distant look, walked into the dining room.
"Telepaths." Allen said as he noticed Teri's curious expression.
A nod of understanding was Teri's only response.
Xain held the dining room door open as Jake hurried past him with the stroller.
"Cory, I wish to inquire of my duties to Clan Short." Xain said seriously as he approached Cory, Sean and Deacon.
"Oh, yeah. It looks like you've adjusted to your new family. When I get home I'll talk to the guys about what we need as far as a database and they can send the specs to your terminal." Cory said seriously.
"Would it be desirable for me to be on site to perform my duties?" Xain asked in thought.
"I don't think so. You'll have access to everything you need through the terminal. You can video conference with us if you have any questions about required fields or design specifications. There isn't any urgency so you can work on this project in your spare time. Make sure the needs of your family come first." Cory said firmly.
"As you say, my Patriarch." Xain said reverently.
"T'hy'la, Vina needs her A'nirih." Jake said as he entered the room.
Xain took Edovina into his arms and held her gently.
"I need to restock her diaper bag. I'll be back in a few minutes." Jake said with a smile.
"Jake seems to have a talent for picking up languages." Cory said speculatively.
"I was able to transfer my knowledge of Vulcan to Jake in the same manner I acquired English from him." Xain said as he shifted Edovina in his arms.
"Jacob said that was nearly impossible to do." Cory said seriously.
"It is a specialized skill that I have acquired. With the assistance of he who is my father, I was able to transfer Jake's knowledge of English to Mamacita and Ricardo." Xain said seriously.
"That's a really handy talent." Sean said in thought.
"With a telepath to facilitate the transfer, it would be possible to repeat the process if there is a need." Xain said seriously.
Cory and Sean looked at each other in thought, looking as though they were communicating telepathically.
"I'll talk it over with the others and see what they think about it. This could actually solve quite a few communication problems. We've had to be really careful about misunderstandings." Cory said in thought.
"Kevin knows a lot of languages, would it be possible for you to transfer those?" Sean asked curiously.
"I have not examined the mnemo structures of my brother, so I cannot say with certainty. But it would be a reasonable assumption." Xain said carefully.
"We'll get back with you later Xain. If this works, you will be able to perform a much needed service for your Clan." Cory said seriously.
"It will be an honor to serve." Xain said reverently.
"Guys, signature time." Teri said from the doorway.
"Okay Mom. We've got to go Deacon." Cory said quickly.
"Thanks for showing me how to play guys." Deacon said as he focused on his game.
"No problem. Maybe you can come over with the guys sometime and check out our game collection, it's pretty cool." Sean said with a smile.
"Yeah, I'd like that." Deacon said as he turned off the game and looked at Cory and Sean.
Cory and Sean left the room and a minute later Deacon followed.
"That's it. As soon as everything is filed, it's all official." Teri said as she gathered her copies of the paperwork.
"Thank you Mrs. Short for all you've done." Juana said with appreciation.
"Please call me Teri. I'm glad to be able to help." Teri said honestly.
"Will you be able to join us for lunch?" Allen asked hopefully.
"I'm sorry but we can't, but if you'll save us a few slices of birthday cake, we'll have some before we go with you to court at 2:00." Teri said as she stood.
"We'll make sure to save three pieces for you." Allen said with a smile.
"What about us?" Cory asked with a wounded expression.
Teri shook her head in exasperation at her son as Cory and Sean giggled at her expression.
As the group walked outside, Billy said, "It was nice to meet all of you. Thank you for all your help."
"We were glad to do it Billy. Remember to call us if you need anything." Teri said seriously.
"That goes for me too Teri. If you ever need my help with anything, all you have to do is ask." Billy said sincerely.
"You'd better be careful, she will." Cory said with a teasing smile.
Billy smiled and put an arm around Deacon as he watched them get into their car.
"So is everything okay?" Kenny asked as he ran up to the group, followed by Reuben and Kevin.
"Yeah. I get to stay with Billy, and when he goes out of town for his job I get to stay with you guys." Deacon said happily.
"Really?" Kenny asked and looked at Allen in disbelief.
"That's right. It's all been settled." Allen said with a smile at the boys' enthusiasm.
"Come on Deke, we've got some calls to make." Billy said quietly.
"Calls?" Deacon asked curiously.
"Yeah. We need to get things set up with Dan... then we need to call Mom & Dad." Billy finished quietly.
"Why?" Deacon asked, refusing to move until he had a satisfactory answer.
"Because they need to know what's going on. It's all settled, you're staying with me... We're just letting them know where you are." Billy said seriously.
"They don't care." Deacon said darkly.
"I wish I could tell you that they did, but I really don't know. This isn't about them, it's about us doing what's right." Billy said reasonably.
"He's right Deacon. It's the right thing to do." Allen said seriously.
Deacon nodded, then suddenly walked to Allen and gave him a tight hug.
"Thanks for my birthday party." Deacon said passionately.
Allen smiled and gave Deacon a gentle hug in return as he said, "Remember that we still get to have birthday cake after lunch. For that to happen, you two have to be here. Will 12:30 be okay?"
"Whatever you say Allen. After all this I know better than to argue. We'll be here." Billy said with a smile.
"I'll see you guys later then." Allen said as he released Deacon from the hug.
As Deacon walked back to Billy's side, Billy and Allen shared a momentary look that assured them both of each other's feelings.
"Will you tell me what is concerning you?" Xain asked Jake in a quiet tone.
"It's something that's kind of tough to talk about." Jake said honestly as he made sure Edovina was sleeping in a comfortable position in her stroller.
Xain took a seat on the couch and watched as Jake finally finished seeing to Edovina.
Jake looked at Xain seriously, then nodded and took a seat beside him.
"I don't know how much you know about my life before I came here, but let's just say I was sexually active." Jake said in thought.
"As evidenced by the presence of your daughter." Xain said logically.
Jake smiled and said, "Yeah, I guess that could be a hint."
Xain quirked an eyebrow as a prompt for Jake to continue.
"Yeah, I'm getting to it." Jake said in thought.
Xain gave a slight nod as acknowledgement.
"Okay, it's like this. I feel like I need to, um..." Jake trailed off in frustration.
"Bust a nut?" Xain asked in his most logical Vulcan tone of voice.
Jake broke out in laughter and quickly restrained it, so as not to wake Edovina.
"Yeah, but... where did you come up with that?" Jake asked through his chuckles.
"I possess your language skills. Some of the phrases you employ are... colorful." Xain said seriously.
Jake nodded then became serious as he said, "Well, like I was saying, I feel like I need to get off, but I don't want to do it without you because... It would just feel like I wasn't really your T'hy'la. But you're too young to be doing sex stuff... do you see my problem?"
"I understand your reason for concern. I believe I know of a way to allow you to attain release without adverse consequences." Xain said in thought.
"How's that?" Jake asked hopefully.
"I am familiar with the mechanics of 'self-pleasuring', on an intellectual level. I propose that you instruct me in your preferred method and that we share your experience." Xain said seriously.
Jake looked at Xain for a moment before asking, "So you want me to jerk off in front of you?"
"Yes, initially. When the time comes that I am ready to begin self-exploration, I will also engage in the activity." Xain said carefully.
"Oh. If you're sure it won't upset you or make you feel weird..." Jake said hesitantly.
"We have the ability to share our feelings. If the activity causes any response that is of concern, we can desist immediately." Xain said calmly.
"Yeah. I guess that would be okay... but I think we should let Dad know." Jake said in thought.
Xain quirked an eyebrow in question.
"You remember how he freaked on the telepathy thing? I think this might be kind of like that. He'll want to know what's going on so he can make sure we're both okay with it." Jake said seriously.
"I agree with your logic T'hy'la. To my knowledge, we have no scheduled activities at this time, nor any before the midday meal. I would like to pursue this activity immediately. Let us find father now." Xain said with a small smile.
Jake raised an eyebrow, then smiled and stood as he said, "Come on you horney little Vulcan."
"Hey Dad, do you have a few minutes to talk?" Jake asked hesitantly.
"Sure. Juana, will you keep an eye on the boys while I talk with Xain and Jake?" Allen asked casually.
"It would be my pleasure." Juana said with a smile.
"Would you mind taking care of Vina too?" Jake asked hopefully.
"I would like that Jake. It may be hard to believe, but in the short time you have had her with you, I have missed her." Juana said as she looked into the stroller.
"I believe it." Jake said seriously.
"Is the living room okay?" Allen asked as they walked into the house.
Xain and Jake shared a look and Xain finally said, "Perhaps a place more private to minimize the possibility of interruption."
"How about my room?" Allen asked cautiously.
Jake and Xain nodded simultaneously.
Allen led the way upstairs, feeling the beginnings of concern at their behavior.
"Jake and I would like to engage in sexual intimacy." Xain said as soon as the door was closed.
Allen froze at the words and his mind raced.
"Not like all the way. We just wanted to... explore." Jake said cautiously.
Allen nodded in thought as he walked to sit on the window seat.
"We thought you'd want to know before we did anything." Jake said with concern at Allen's lack of response.
"Thank you. If you wouldn't mind telling me, just how far are you planning on going?" Allen asked quietly.
"Well, we kind of thought I might just... um, jerk off." Jake said with a flush of embarrassment.
"Although my probable emotional response is uncertain at this point, it is possible that I might also choose to engage in the activity." Xain said seriously.
"Good. I'm glad you've thought this out and have reasonable expectations." Allen said in thought.
Jake gave a sigh of relief at Allen's words.
"You guys take it slow and be extra gentle with Xain. Even the slightest touch can be overwhelming when you aren't used to it." Allen said in concentration.
"We figured that we would each just take care of ourselves for now." Jake said uncomfortably.
"Even better. I'm not going to intrude on your privacy by asking any specifics, but I'd appreciate it if you'd talk to me before you take any major steps, I may have some advice to give." Allen said seriously.
"Yeah, that's why we're here." Jake said with a timid smile.
"I really appreciate that Jake. That's why I'm not worried about you taking this step." Allen said carefully.
Xain quirked an eyebrow at Allen's words.
"Well, of course I'm a little worried, but it's a dad thing. I'll worry about every new thing you experience in your lives." Allen finished with a smile.
"Thanks Dad." Jake said peacefully.
"Hang on a second." Allen said quickly and ran into his bathroom only to return a moment later.
"This should make things easier." Allen said and handed a tube of KY to Jake.
"Thanks Dad, I can't even tell you how incredibly cool you're being." Jake said with a smile.
"If I wasn't sure you were both ready for this I'd be fighting you every step of the way. I just need you to promise me one thing." Allen said as he looked at both boys.
"What's that?" Jake asked cautiously.
"If either of you have any problems with this, I want you to come and talk to me. Xain, you may need help dealing with the emotions associated with this new experience. Jake may need to deal with old memories and associations that this awakens. I'm serious about this guys, even if it's embarrassing, you need to deal with any problems now before they can compound into something that will prevent you from progressing in your relationship." Allen said seriously.
"I promise Dad." Jake said as a vow.
"As do I." Xain said formally.
"Good. Now you guys go have fun. I'll make sure to keep your brothers busy for a while." Allen said as he pulled Xain and Jake into a full hug.
"You are so completely cool Dad. Thanks for trusting us." Jake said as he hugged Allen tightly.
Allen smiled at the words and said, "Thanks for talking with me about it first. You make it easy to give my trust when you trust me too."
"Dan said that he's going to check his schedule and let us know on Thursday night when we visit." Billy said in thought.
"Okay." Deacon said with apprehension.
"He's going to work it out so we're scheduled right before or right after Allen, that way we can wait together if we want." Billy said as he watched Deacon with concern.
"Just make the call Billy. I'll be fine." Deacon said seriously.
"Yeah." Billy said quietly and picked up the phone.
After a minute of listening, he said, "Dad's got his voice mail on, I guess he's not taking any calls."
"You're going to get the same thing with Mom." Deacon said in a tired voice.
"Oh, I guess I haven't tried to call them for a while." Billy said quietly.
"I've learned not to bother. It took Dad four days to get back to me last time I called him, and then he just bitched at me for leaving the message on his business phone." Deacon said seriously.
"I hope it wasn't something important." Billy said with concern.
"Not really. This guy in my class, Gus, he invited me over to hang out at his place. You know, to have dinner and watch movies and stuff. His parents wanted to talk to Mom or Dad to be sure it was okay first. By the time Dad got my message, it was too late. Anyway, that was almost five months ago." Deacon said sadly.
"Don't worry Deke, you've got all the guys across the street that you can visit with or invite over whenever you want. Everything is going to be better here." Billy said with a hopeful smile.
"It already is." Deacon said with a smile in return.
"I guess I'll leave Mom a message. But there's no way in hell I'm going to tell her machine that you're here." Billy said as he hit the speed-dial to call his mother.
"This is Billy... your son, I need you to call me as soon as you get this message. It's important. Bye." Billy said firmly, then hung up the phone.
"Today's Tuesday? I'm guessing she'll call on Saturday." Deacon said in thought.
"Shit Deke! I didn't have a clue it had gotten this bad. I mean, I know I stopped calling because they always made me feel like I was interrupting something more important, but... I swear that if I knew it was like this I would have come and got you." Billy said in anguish.
"I know. It's not like they got this way overnight. It's been getting worse and worse for a long time and I didn't notice. I didn't even really think about it until my birthday was coming up and I realized that they were going to forget me." Deacon said seriously.
"Well it's over now. We don't need them. They can just go to work and do their jobs and meet with their clients. While they're doing all that, we'll be having fun and living." Billy said seriously.
"That sounds awesome. Did you really mean it about me being able to invite the guys over to spend the night sometime?" Deacon asked hopefully.
"Sure, just let me know a little ahead of time so I can lay in supplies. I don't think I have enough chips and popcorn for the whole squad." Billy said with a smile.
"Well, I thought I could just invite Kenny over." Deacon said hesitantly.
"Do you think Kevin is going to have a problem with that?" Billy said in thought.
"No. But I'll ask him to be sure. I'll probably invite him next time anyway." Deacon said with a smile.
"That sounds cool. What about Zane? He's about your age too isn't he?" Billy asked curiously.
"Yeah, but he acts a lot more grown up than me. I don't think we would have too much fun if he came over. But if I dressed up in my new clothes, then I think it would be really fun to go out and do something with Xain." Deacon finished with a smile.
"Well let's do that. Find out when he has some spare time and invite him out to go to a movie or an arcade or something." Billy said with a smile.
"Yeah, and Kenny says that Jake really likes music, so if we go to a concert or something like that, we can invite Jake." Deacon said in thought.
"Or The Hard Rock Cafe." Billy said with a smile.
"That would be so awesome! I bet Jake would love it!" Deacon said happily.
"It sounds like you're going to be really busy when you consider that they're probably going to want to invite you to do things with them too." Billy said with a smile.
"Not just me. You and Allen have to go and do stuff too." Deacon said seriously.
"We do?" Billy asked hesitantly.
"Yeah. Kyle said that if you guys spend some time together, you can be really good friends. Pete and Jono are the only friends I've ever seen you with and they're back in Minneapolis." Deacon said with strength.
"It's hard for me to make friends Deke, but you're right. Me and Allen seem to get along really well. He treats me like an equal, not like some skater punk who lucked into a bunch of money." Billy said in thought.
"Then you need to spend time with him. Just go somewhere and do something fun. Us kids can stay with Juana for one night so you won't have to worry about me." Deacon said seriously.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were trying to set me up on a date." Billy said with a teasing smile.
"Well, if you guys kiss, it's a date, but if you shake hands, it's two friends going out to have fun. I'll be happy either way, just as long as you don't screw it up and make Allen think you're not interested." Deacon said firmly.
"Shit! You'd really be okay with that Deke?" Billy asked quietly.
"Yeah, sure. As long as you're with someone you like... well, and I like, then I'll be very okay with it." Deacon said honestly.
"Thanks Bro, I don't know if things are going to go that way between me and Allen, but it's good to know if they do, you'll be cool with it." Billy said in relief.
"I love you Billy. I just want you to be happy." Deacon said in a quieter voice.
"Same here Deke. Now that I know how grown up you are about things, I feel a lot better about you staying here." Billy said with relief.
"What do you mean?" Deacon asked curiously.
"Well, I kinda remember you as an eight year old kid. I always kinda had to watch what I said and did around you. I mean I couldn't really talk about sex stuff, or much about dating. I guess I figured that with you living here it'd be like that again." Billy said in thought.
"I'm a teenager now. I know a lot of that stuff already and what I don't know, I need you to teach me so I learn it right." Deacon said seriously.
Billy looked at Deacon with surprise, then said, "You got it Deke. I think this is going to be really cool. What do you say if after lunch we go shopping and get you some clothes and stuff."
"Yeah, that would be great. I've just got these clothes and the ones I was wearing yesterday." Deacon said seriously.
"Did you need any of your stuff from back home?" Billy asked in thought.
"No. I've got everything that's important in my backpack. It's kinda funny. The only thing I wanted to bring that I couldn't was the Monopoly game." Deacon finished with a smile.
"I think we just about wore the other one out anyway." Billy said with a chuckle.
"I remember one time when we were about to play and Jono called you. I think he wanted you two to go and do something. You told him that you were going to stay home with me and that you'd do it another night... that made me feel so important." Deacon said with the beginnings of tears in his eyes.
"Deke, I stayed home because I enjoy doing stuff with you. Pete and Jono knew that and never gave me any shit for it. Hell, I think Pete was jealous of me because I had a great brother like you and he was stuck with that little buttwad, Frankie." Billy said with a smile.
"Frankie's changed a lot since you left... he's a big buttwad now." Deacon finished with a giggle.
Billy chuckled and shook his head as he dialed the phone, then said, "Okay, now if anyone calls, it will transfer to my cell phone. Let's go shoot some nine ball."
Deacon looked at Billy in question.
"Do you mean I didn't show you the game room last night?" Billy asked with a grand smile.
"You have a game room?" Deacon asked with excitement.
"No." Billy said flatly.
Deacon looked at Billy with complete confusion.
"WE have a game room." Billy said happily.
"Where is it?" Deacon asked with excitement.
"Did you notice the garage? I thought I'd enjoy a pool table more than a dry car." Billy said with a smile.
"What are you waiting for? Come on!" Deacon said as he ran out of the office.
Allen walked into the living room to find Kevin and Kenny in a deep discussion.
"What's up guys?" Allen asked curiously.
"Mamacita had to come in to start lunch." Kenny said simply.
"Well, if you want to go back outside, I could go with you." Allen said with a gentle smile.
"I'm kind of tired of Frisbee. It was fun with everyone. But it's not as good with just me and Kev." Kenny said frankly.
"Oh, well I guess we'll have to find something that *would* be fun then." Allen said seriously.
Kevin and Kenny both looked at Allen with question.
"Well, if you guys wanted, we could try out the pool." Allen said with a smile.
"Really?" Kevin asked with wide eyes.
"Really. You two go and get your swimming trunks on, and make sure you don't bother Xain and Jake. They need some private time." Allen said seriously.
Kevin looked at Allen curiously as Kenny ran out of the room.
"You remember when you said that you need privacy sometimes?" Allen asked Kevin seriously.
"Yeah." Kevin said quietly.
"Jake and Xain need privacy sometimes too." Allen said slowly.
"But how can it be private if you're not alone?" Kevin asked in thought.
Allen smiled at Kevin's ability to see through half-answers and challenge what he was told.
"Please just trust me when I tell you that they need privacy."
"Oh. They're fucking." Kevin said in realization.
Allen had to fight down a chuckle as he said, "No Kevin, but you're close."
Kevin looked at Allen with question.
"Xain and Jake like each other very much. They need this time together to share their feelings. They may do some things that are sexual, or they may not, it's none of our business. But when they told me they needed private time, I said I would be sure that no one bothered them, just the same as I would do if you told me that you needed private time." Allen said calmly.
"So are Xain and Jake boyfriends now?" Kevin asked curiously.
"Sort of, they are T'hy'la." Allen said, realizing that Kevin would understand what that meant.
"Oh. Okay. Can Reuben and Ricardo swim with us too?" Kevin asked hopefully.
"If you can tell me where they are." Allen said seriously.
"They went to the kitchen with Mamacita." Kevin said seriously.
"I'll go ask them. Go on and get into your swimming trunks." Allen said gently.
"Would you mind if Reuben and Ricardo went swimming?" Allen asked as he entered the kitchen.
"They do not know how to swim." Juana said regretfully.
"I'll be right there with them and I can show them the basics." Allen said with a smile.
"Yes, that would be good." Juana said happily as she was gathering ingredients.
"You could join us if you want. Lunch isn't for a while and we can just have sandwiches." Allen said carefully.
"No, thank you. Even if you did not pay me to care for the family, this is what I would want to be doing. To care for the children is what makes me happy." Juana said peacefully.
"Okay, this time. But very soon we're going to have to discuss you taking some time off to get away from this house. I can watch the boys for a while so you can go to church or play bingo or just go out to a movie, whatever you enjoy." Allen said seriously.
Juana smiled happily and said, "It has been many years since I have been able to do such things. I think that I would like very much to attend church this Sunday."
"We may be going out of town this weekend, but either way we'll work it out so you'll be free to attend church." Allen said with certainty.
"Thank you Allen. Would you mind if I invite the children?" Juana asked cautiously.
"That would be fine. I don't believe in requiring children to attend church, but if they want to go I think it's a good idea." Allen said with a smile.
Juana nodded happily in agreement.
"Reuben, do you and Ricardo have swimming trunks?" Allen asked carefully.
Reuben thought for a second, then he shook his head.
"Well, we'll just have to get some for you next time we go shopping. Go up to your apartment and get a pair of short pants for each of you." Allen said gently.
Reuben smiled a full smile and ran out the utility room door.
As Kenny ran into the kitchen wearing a baggy pair of swim trunks, Allen held up his hand in a 'stop' gesture.
"I've still got to change. Stay out of the pool until I'm out there with you." Allen said seriously.
"Can't we just get in the shallow end?" Kenny asked hopefully.
"Not this time Cute Stuff. You're the only one who knows how to swim. Go on, I'll be right out." Allen said seriously.
Kevin walked slowly into the kitchen wearing his new Speedo swim suit.
As soon as Kevin's timid glance met Allen's eyes, a blush started from just above his nipples and carried up his face. Even the tips of his ears were blazing red.
Allen smiled as he said, "I think the milkshakes are working."
Kevin looked down at his concave stomach, then up at Allen in question.
"You look healthier than you did Sunday night. Your skin is a much better color. Go on outside with Kenny while I get changed. I'll bring out some sun block for you so you won't burn." Allen said with a smile.
Kevin ran to Allen and hugged him quickly as he said, "Thanks Poppa. You make me feel like I'm not little and skinny."
Allen ruffled Kevin's hair and said, "As long as you're healthy, you're perfect to me. Now go on."
Kevin gave one final squeeze of his hug, then ran past Reuben as he went out the utility room door
Reuben walked into the room carrying two pairs of short pants.
"Reuben, if you'll help Ricardo get changed, I'll meet you out at the pool." Allen said as he walked toward the kitchen door.
"Okay, come on Ricardo." Reuben said quickly.
Allen noticed Juana's contented look directed at him before he hurried upstairs to change.