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 35

"So what are they doing in there?" Joe asked with concern.

"The Clan is having a meeting. I can't tell you exactly what they're doing, but it's nothing to worry about." Chip said with assurance.

"Yeah, and unless I miss my guess, Lawrence and Deacon are about to gain more family than they ever imagined." Allen said with a smile.

Joe looked at Allen with question.

"Just wait for it. I don't want to say too much in case I'm wrong. But Chip's right, they're all good boys. There's nothing to worry about." Allen said gently.

"I can't help but worry about Deke." Billy said quietly.

"You know how kids in a group tend to put 'peer pressure' on each other?" JC asked seriously.

Billy nodded cautiously, looking even more concerned.

"Not all peer pressure is bad. Every single one of those boys is a loving and genuinely good person. As a group, they inspire the best in each other. It's easy to look at Cory as the leader and think that everything the Clan accomplishes is 'his' accomplishment. But even though he's in charge, everything they do really is a group effort. Every single one of the boys plays their part and contributes." JC said in deep thought.

"You sound like you really understand what they're feeling." Billy said as he looked at JC consideringly.

JC looked into Billy's eyes an gave a timid smile as he said, "Well, I do. At least to a point. I guess my clan is N*Sync. We inspire each other and support each other. We don't go out and rescue kids in trouble... well, maybe we do. I like to think that our music inspires kids who need hope."

"My clan is the command staff of the Enterprise. It's exactly like what Josh is saying. We inspire and bring out the best qualities of each other." Chip said in distant thought.

"My brother is correct in his assessment. Likening the command staff of the Enterprise to a Vulcan Clan serves to explain why the Enterprise has been able to make achievements far beyond those of other ships." Spock said seriously.

"So you see, Lawrence and Deacon are in there and probably about to be asked to become part of Clan Short. Just think of it as taking whatever natural potential they have and multiplying it by about thirty. Because if they join, they'll be able to draw on the strength, advice and motivation of all their clan brothers." Allen said instructively.

"Wow. You just sent a shiver right up my spine." Billy said with an astonished look.

"Oh. I thought your phone was ringing." Allen said with a teasing smile.

* * * * *

"Deacon, you've heard how we all came together and became a Clan. Now I need to know if you want to join us." Cory said seriously, letting his solemn tone convey the seriousness of the situation.

Deacon looked at Lawrence beside him, then at Kenny on his other side before standing.

"To tell you the truth, it sounds wonderful. I've felt alone most of my life and knowing that I'd never be alone again sounds better than just about anything I can imagine... but..." Deacon stopped in thought.

A look of surprise came over Cory's face, but he remained silent, waiting for Deacon to continue.

"I can't join you... well, not without Lawrence." Deacon said shyly.

"Well Lawrence, would you like to join us? We were going to ask you next." Cory said simply.

"Really?" Lawrence asked with disbelief.

Cory smiled at the genuine surprise on Lawrence's face.

"Why is it such a surprise? That's why we invited you to the meeting." Cory said gently.

"I thought I was just here so I could see Deacon join." Lawrence said as he accepted Deacon's hand and stood up.

"Why would you think we'd want Deacon and not you?" Cory asked curiously.

"Well, all you guys went through some terrible stuff. I never would have guessed it to look at you now. I've gone through some stuff too... but..." Lawrence trailed off shyly.

"Is it about the cross dressing?" Cory asked, honestly not sure if that was the source of Lawrence's problem.

Lawrence looked at Cory with surprise, then around the room at the reactions of everyone gathered.

Not one person in the room looked at Lawrence with anything but concern or curiosity. No accusation or disapproval showed in their eyes.

"Yeah." Lawrence finally mumbled as his eyes met Cory's.

"Do you think you're the only one who's ever had questions about their gender identity?" Sean asked from Cory's side.

Lawrence looked at Sean with question.

"I get the feeling that you think we might not want you because you're different. The truth of the matter is... we need you." Sean said seriously.

"Why?" Lawrence asked cautiously.

"Because sooner or later... probably sooner... we'll run into a kid who's struggling with their gender identity. All of us would want to be there to help him or her however we can. We'd all try to say the right things and offer our help, but there's something none of us can do that you can." Sean said as he looked into Lawrence's eyes.

"Understand." Lawrence muttered, deep in thought.

"That's right. We can only guess what they're going through but you've been there." Sean said seriously.

"But I can't help. I don't know the answers to their questions. I don't even know the answers to my own." Lawrence said helplessly.

"That doesn't matter. You understand the questions. That's more than the rest of us can do. Besides, even if you knew the answers, they would be *your* answers. Everyone has to find their own answers. What's most important is having someone there who understands the questions and can help make sense of everything." Cory said as he discretely put an arm around Sean.

"It's the difference between feeling alone and feeling like someone really knows what you're going through." Sean said softly.

Lawrence thought about his meltdown in the dining room at Allen's house and how Mona's explanation of how she understood his feelings made all the difference.

Finally, Lawrence turned to look at Deacon and whispered, "Deke, I really want to do this. I could help kids who are like me and let them know that they're not alone."

"I want to do it too." Deacon whispered in return.

Lawrence turned to face Cory and Sean and said in a somewhat firm voice, "Deacon and I would like to join you."

Cory got a peaceful smile and said, "Then it's done. You are both members of Clan Short now. All that's left to do is tell us your story."

* * * * *

"I think that's everything." Teri said as she looked around the kitchen.

"Yes. When Mr. Chip begins to prepare the meats, the rest of the food can be moved outside." Hazel said as she looked around.

"Let's go check on the men-folk and see what they're up to." Mona said with a teasing smile.

"I'm scared to think of it. You leave a group of men alone for any length of time and anything could happen." Helen said with a shake of her head.

"Yeah. I wouldn't be surprised to find the whole group of them gathered around the front of the Explorer, looking at the engine." Teri said with a chuckle.

"I'd pay to see that." Christine said with a laugh.

Juana looked at Christine curiously.

"I work with Commander Dodds for months at a time and he's always in uniform... even when he isn't." Christine said with difficulty.

"Okay, back up and explain that." Helen said with a wide eyed look.

"He's always in his Commander persona when he's on the ship. I mean, he loosens up when he's off duty, but he still carries that 'Commander' presence with him. To see him doing something so... typically male... it would just be interesting to see." Christine said in thought.

"Well, I can't guarantee that they'll all get under the hood of a car tonight. But since Chip is going to be running the Bar-B-Que grill... well, how much more *male* can you get?" Teri asked with a smile.

"You've got a point. This is going to be a fun day." Christine said with a grand smile.

"It already is." Mona said happily from Christine's side as the group of women left the kitchen.

* * * * *

"Do you want me to go first?" Deacon asked quietly from Lawrence's side.

"No, I want to get it over with." Lawrence whispered, then took hold of Deacon's hand for assurance.

After a deep breath for courage, Lawrence looked around the gathering and said, "I guess most of you know that I sometimes dress like a girl."

Lawrence noticed a few nods and even a couple of shaking heads, but no one had a disapproving look.

"A couple years ago my dad got the idea that I wasn't a *real* boy." Lawrence said in thought.

"Before that, everything was okay I guess. I mean, he always kind of treated me different but I never really thought too much about it. I thought he just loved my brother Vince more than me."

"The first time I can remember him saying anything about it, he was really pissed about something. I guess it was something at work, I don't know. Anyway, he was really in a bad mood and when he noticed me sitting in the living room reading my history book he just started calling me names." Lawrence said in a distant voice of remembrance.

"He called me a sissy and a fag. He said that a 'real' boy would be outside playing football and hanging around with friends." Lawrence said as tears started to form in his eyes.

Deacon released his hold on Lawrence's hand and put an arm around him to give him a gentle hug.

"I'm not sure if that was the day he told me I was adopted, but I guess it doesn't matter. After that it seems like every day he would come home and scream at me, telling me how much of a disappointment I was and how sorry he was that he ever adopted me..."

Lawrence chuckled and said, "The closest he came to saying something nice to me was when he said he was glad I was a fag because at least I wouldn't have any kids to further disgrace the Winters family name."

Deacon noticed a tear slowly falling down Lawrence's cheek and gently reached up and wiped it away.

Lawrence smiled at the gesture and continued, "He hit me sometimes. It was like he was looking for any excuse to hit me... It wasn't as bad as what happened to some of you guys but... I don't even care about that. His words hurt worse than anything else."

"After a year or so of being told that I wasn't a *real boy* and that I was prissy and feminine I guess I finally... listened."

"At first, I just thought about dressing like a girl. I mean, it was like, I tried everything I could for over a year to try and be a boy like what my dad wanted me to be and nothing was ever good enough. Somehow, I figured that if I couldn't be a boy, I'd be a girl and maybe... he'd love me again." Lawrence said, and another tear fell.

Deacon pulled Lawrence into a full hug and whispered, "It's okay. You're here with me now and I love you just the way you are."

Lawrence pulled back with surprise and looked into Deacon's eyes with question.

Deacon gave a gentle smile at the questioning, hopeful look and repeated, "I love you."

Lawrence smiled and pulled Deacon back into the hug.

Suddenly Lawrence remembered that they were standing in the middle of a room full of people.

He straightened and sniffed back his tears.

Lawrence looked around the room and said, "My dad caught me ... "

He stopped in mid sentence and turned to face Deacon again.

Lawrence pulled Deacon into a quick but firm kiss, then said, "I love you too."

Deacon looked at Lawrence in shock as Lawrence faced the group again and said in a strong voice, "My dad walked into my room one night and caught me wearing a dress that I'd been secretly wearing for about a month."

The group was amazed by the contrast between the timid, crying boy of a moment before and the strong young man who was speaking after the kiss.

"He beat me pretty bad and threw me out. The son-of-a-bitch actually picked me up and threw me out the front door. At least he was stupid enough to throw my clothes and stuff out the window of my room when he got back in. That actually helped me since I had the money I saved in my pants pocket." Lawrence finished with a chuckle.

"I lived on the streets for a couple weeks. I made my way downtown and met a few other cross-dressers... um, they were hookers. They were way older than me, but they told me some things to help me get by." Lawrence said in thought.

"Well, when my money ran out I..." Lawrence trailed off, then took Deacon's hand again for strength.

"I did a few things for money. I mean... well, I blew a few old guys to get money for food." Lawrence said with difficulty, feeling shame at saying the words.

"A couple nights ago this guy offered me fifty bucks for my ass." Lawrence said in a shaky voice.

Deacon brought Lawrence's hand to his lips and kissed it gently.

Lawrence smiled at the gesture and said, "I said no, but said I'd blow him for twenty."

"We went into the alley so I could do it."

"Another guy who I didn't notice before followed us, but the guy I was with told him to get lost for fifteen minutes." Lawrence said with distraction.

"Anyway, when I was about to do it. He grabbed me by the hair and told me he was going to get my ass anyway."

Lawrence paused to collect his thoughts and realized that there wasn't another sound in the room as everyone there was listening intently.

"Well, he hit me a few times... the next thing I know, there's a kid tackling the guy." Lawrence said, then glanced at Kenny.

"A few seconds later there were four guys beating the crap out of the guy. And a really cute guy was asking me if I needed an ambulance." Lawrence finished with a loving look directed at Deacon.

"I guess I thought I'd found the perfect life after that. Everyone has been so nice to me and willing to accept me... I thought I had everything I would ever need to be happy. And it was great because that was what I needed right then." Lawrence said, then looked around the room.

"But you guys just made me realize that there was one more thing I was needing... and you gave that to me too." Lawrence finished with a smile.

"A purpose."

* * * * *

The women stood in the doorway leading to the patio and watched the men engrossed in animated conversation.

"All the snacks are gone." Hazel said in amazement as she looked at the snack table.

"I guess that means the boys are home." Helen said with a smile as she walked with Hazel to the snack table to clear away the last evidence that there had once been food on the table.

"I will help." Juana said as she walked to join Hazel and Helen.

"Jackie?" Teri asked with surprise as she finally noticed her sitting amongst the men.

"Teri, oh, how nice to see you again." Jackie said as she stood.

"No one told me you were coming. It's great to see you again." Teri said as she offered Jackie a warm hug.

"How are your boys doing? I think I might have seen them pass by on their way to the snack table, but I can't be sure." Jackie said with a teasing smile.

"All the boys are fine. I hope we can find some time to sit down and talk so I can tell you everything that's happened since last time we talked. It's been like a whirlwind." Teri said as she finally released Jackie from the hug.

"Well, I'll be here all evening, so I'm sure we'll have a chance to catch up." Jackie said fondly, then looked at the women behind Teri, who seemed to be looking a little lost.

"Won't you introduce me to your friends?" Jackie asked casually.

"Oh yes. This is Dr. Christine Chapel, she works with Chip on the Enterprise." Teri said as she indicated Christine.

"Yes, we've met a few times before. How is Dr. McCoy these days?" Jackie asked with a knowing smile.

"Oh, he's arrogant, opinionated, grouchy, rude, overbearing..." Christine said in an unconcerned voice.

"So he's normal." Jackie said with a smile.

"For him." Christine said with a shrug.

"Jackie Littrell, this is Mona Bridson. She's Allen's mother." Teri said as she indicated Mona beside her.

"Goodness. They sure do grow'em big wherever you're from." Jackie said as she looked up and up to meet Mona's eyes.

Mona looked down at the tiny, elderly woman and saw the mischief and strength in her eyes.

"I'm guessing they grow them feisty where you're from." Mona said with a chuckle.

"You got that right." Chip said with a laugh.

Jackie flashed a look at Chip that silenced him in an instant.

"You need to show me how you do that. I never could get 'the look' to work on Allen." Mona said in an impressed voice.

"Oh, you have to start working on it when they're young. By this age they're untrainable." Jackie said in a serious voice.

Mona nodded in agreement as she glanced at Allen who was just shaking his head.

"You know Helen and Hazel at the snack table, the woman with them is Juana Vasquez. She takes care of the Thompson family." Teri said gently.

"She's also Edovina's grandmother." Allen interjected, wanting everyone to know that Juana was more than just a housekeeper, she was family.

"Well, if everyone is here, it must be about time to start the cookout." Jackie said as she turned her attention to Chip.

"There are still a few more people coming." Chip said with a secretive smile.

"The parents of every single one of the boys in the family room." JC interjected.

Jackie thought about the statement, then asked, "Do you ladies need any help in the kitchen?"

"No. Hazel has everything under control. In fact, that's why we're out here now. There's nothing left to do." Teri said and took a seat at the neighboring table.

"Chip, whatever you're paying Hazel can't be enough." Jackie said as she took her seat.

Chip glanced over at Hazel wiping down the, now cleared, snack table and said, "You may be right."

* * * * *

"Well, after hearing what everyone else went through, I feel kind of stupid complaining about what happened to me." Deacon said shyly.

Lawrence immediately took Deacon's hand and gave a firm squeeze of encouragement.

Deacon smiled at Lawrence and said, "My parents never hit me or screamed at me much."

"In fact, I could go for weeks at a time without even seeing them. They had a housekeeper come in twice a week while I was at school to clean up the place, stock the cupboards and do laundry. I had a credit card that was on their account so I could buy whatever else I needed." Deacon said absently.

"I'd get up in the morning and nuke something for breakfast and get ready for school. When I'd get home, I'd nuke something for dinner and watch some TV or play video games."

"That's about it." Deacon finished with a shrug.

"What about friends?" Lawrence asked quietly.

Deacon just shook his head 'no' at the question.

"So you'd go for weeks at a time without talking to anyone?" Eli asked hesitantly.

"Yeah. Sometimes I thought I was going to forget how to talk." Deacon said with a weak chuckle.

"I couldn't do it." Benji said in a soft, pained voice.

Deacon looked at him with question.

"I don't think I could have lived like that. I'd go nuts." Benji said honestly.

"That's right. Don't think that your pain was any less real because it wasn't physical Deacon. You were hurt just as much as any of us." Jacob said from the other side of the room.

Deacon nodded slowly.

"And you have me now. You'll always have me." Lawrence whispered.

"Thanks." Deacon said with a watery smile.

"So you just sat alone in your house day after day?" Kelly asked quietly.

"Yeah. The TV and games got boring really quick. I'd just sit there and listen to music sometimes. Sometimes I'd just sit there in the silence." Deacon said in a distant voice.

"So you finally had enough of all that and came here?" Kelly asked, feeling like Deacon was leaving something out.

"Yeah. I figured that I'd see if Billy, my brother, would let me live with him. I figured that it was worth a try since I had nothing to lose." Deacon said quietly.

"You wanted to die." Kelly finally said in realization.

Deacon looked at Kelly with surprise, then thought about the words and finally nodded and said, "If Billy didn't want me, then... yeah."

"Deacon, do you think you're the only kid who ever felt completely alone in the world?" Justy asked quietly.

Deacon shook his head, not trusting his voice to answer.

"Then it's just like with Lawrence. Your pain is different from ours, that's why we need you." Kelly said firmly.

"But I wouldn't know what to tell someone who was feeling like I did." Deacon said in a shaky voice.

"Tell them what's waiting on the other side of all that pain. Tell them that it's worth living." Kelly said seriously.

Deacon looked at Lawrence and gave a gentle smile as he said, "Yeah, it really is."

Cory smiled at the tender sight of Lawrence and Deacon staring into each other's eyes, then glanced at Reuben.

"Reuben, what do you think? Would you like to join us?" Cory asked gently.

"Uh huh. Ricardo says he wants to help people too." Reuben said somewhat shyly.

"Do you want to tell us anything about what it was like before you came here?" Cory asked in a soft voice that wasn't insisting.

"Uh huh." Reuben said as he stood. Reuben put out his hand for Ricardo and waited until he got off the couch and stood beside him.

Reuben put a hand on Ricardo's shoulder before saying, "When I was just little, about Ricardo's age, my daddy left us."

Everyone devoted their full attention to the six year-old and waited for him to continue.

"Manny, my brother was older than me. Momma was sad and cried a lot so Manny would come into my room and hold me at night. He said that he'd take care of me and make sure that nothing bad happened to me." Reuben said quietly.

Reuben shifted to stand behind Ricardo and hugged him from behind, then said, "Manny was really nice and had lots of friends. Kevin and Jake were both his friends, they can tell you how nice he was."

Kevin and Jake both nodded sadly in agreement with Reuben's statement.

"Last spring a bunch of us were coming home from school and a car drove by and shot Manny and killed him." Reuben said as tears filled his eyes.

"I lost my Daddy and then I lost my big brother. Momma was sad and cried a lot but I didn't know what to do." Reuben said in a lost voice.

"But then one night I heard Ricardo crying at night and I remembered how I cried at night when Daddy left."

"Reuben got in bed with me and held me and said he'd take care of me and he'd make sure nothing bad would happen to me and then he fell asleep and he snored in my ear." Ricardo said quickly.

A small round of chuckles went around the room at the statement.

Reuben gave his brother a squeeze and said, "I figured all I could do is be a big brother to Ricardo like Manny was to me. Somehow it made me feel good. Like I was keeping part of Manny alive by being like him."

"And Reuben is really nice to me and always has time for me and plays with me and even stays with me while Mama is doing stuff and I need to take my nap." Ricardo said happily.

"So when I got here, Kevin and Kenny showed me the ways that they show they like being brothers. And whenever I find a new way to show Ricardo that I love him, I show him so he'll always have me to watch over him... even if I die like Manny did. Ricardo will always have me there like I have Manny and then he can be the big brother for Edovina." Reuben said as tears filled his eyes and he hugged Ricardo even tighter.

Jake walked to Reuben and Ricardo and pulled them into a hug.

"There's just one thing you forgot." Jake said softly as he hugged the two boys.

"What?" Reuben asked as the tears streaked down his cheeks.

"You've got a whole bunch of big brothers to watch over you now." Jake said seriously.

Reuben looked up at Jake with question.

"Me, Xain, Ken and Kev are just like your brothers and we'll be there to watch over you and protect you and love you just like Manny did." Jake said softly.

"Don't forget us." JJ said from the other side of the room.

Jake looked at JJ with question.

"It's like what Kevin was saying. We're all brothers. All of us. Everyone in this room is your brother now and we'll all watch out for you." JJ said firmly.

There was a murmur of agreement from around the room.

"Ricardo too?" Reuben asked cautiously.

"Yeah, Ricardo too." JJ said in a definite voice.

Reuben nodded, then quietly asked, "And Edovina?"

"And Edovina." JJ said with a smile.

Reuben smiled and finally returned Jake's hug for real.

* * * * *

"So Allen, are you having any problems settling in with your new family?" Teri asked casually.

"No. Actually, everything is great. There are one or two small things that still need to be taken care of, but everything should be ironed out by the weekend." Allen said in thought.

"What kind of things? Maybe it's something I can help with." Teri said with interest.

"Oh, let's see... I need to get the cable and Internet connected. I have to get a household bank account set up for Juana so she doesn't have to carry cash when she goes shopping, and I'd like to get Jake a new bed." Allen said in thought.

"Jake needs a new bed already? What has he been doing to wear out the old one in four days?" JC asked with a chuckle.

Allen smiled at JC's insinuation and said, "Nothing. I'm just afraid that he and Xain are going to start feeling cramped in Jake's bed. They would be more comfortable if they had a full bed, or maybe a queen."

"So it doesn't bother you that they're... um, you know. Messing around?" Joe asked with concern.

"Not really. I mean, I remember being that age and fooling around..." Allen said, then trailed off as he looked at Mona.

"As if I didn't know." Mona said with a roll of her eyes.

Allen looked at her with disbelief.

"Come on Allen. It didn't take a genius to figure out what you and Doug were doing in your room. Besides, if you really didn't want me to know, you could have hid the evidence a little better." Mona said frankly.

Allen didn't say a word, his eyes just got wider.

"I swear, if I would have dropped one of his socks on the way to the laundry room it would have shattered." Mona said to the group.

"Mona, I think you'd better ease off before he has a seizure." Billy said with concern as he looked at Allen's almost purple blush.

"Kids." Mona said as she shook her head and rolled her eyes again.

Teri giggled and said, "Joe. If that's what the boys decide they want to do, they'll do it no matter what we think. Our reactions will just determine whether they do it with love and commitment to each other or with shame and dishonesty as they try to hide it."

Joe thought about the words and hesitantly nodded.

"I've already had the 'safe sex' talk with Lawrence and Deacon, so you don't have to worry about that." Billy told Joe quietly.

"Thanks, I didn't even think of that." Joe said with concern.

"I'd really like to find a way to give Lawrence and Deacon some time together. I think they need to be somewhere away from the house and away from me where they can just concentrate on each other for a while." Billy said in thought.

"Maybe you could rent them a hotel room. I bet they'd jump at the chance." Allen said in thought.

"I'll ask them after dinner. Kids seem to listen better when their stomachs are full." Billy said decisively.

Mona and Teri looked at each other and considered how this would impact their plans.

* * * * *

"Jacob, would you like to explain about what you've come up with?" Cory asked seriously.

"Yes. Jamie and I have been researching how we might be able to use Xain's skill at transferring language so that we can all share languages." Jacob began.

"The process is actually fairly simple and won't take very long." Jamie said in a confident voice.

"Would we have time to do it now?" Sean asked curiously.

"Yes. If Xain is willing." Jacob said as he turned to look at Xain.

"It will be an honor to serve my Clan. What is required of me?" Xain asked as he stood.

"All the telepaths are going to join to make this as simple as possible. One by one we will touch all the non-telepathic minds in the room and you will copy their language skills into something like a language pool. Then when that's done, we'll kind of touch everyone's mind at once and give everyone a copy of what's in the pool." Jacob said to Xain, then looked at Cory with question.

"Are you sure Xain?" Cory asked carefully.

Xain gave a single nod of approval.

"Then let's do it." Cory said, and waited to see what was going to happen.

After a long moment of silence, Sean finally said, "When are you going to start?"

"We're coming up on one third done right now." Jacob said in concentration.

"You mean, you don't have to touch us or anything like that?" Sean asked in confusion.

"There need be no physical manifestation of the procedure. However, we could simulate a response if that would make the process more comfortable." Xain said seriously.

"No, that's okay. I just thought it would be... more... like a ritual or something." Sean said in a disillusioned voice.

"You can light a candle and chant if it'll make you feel better." Justy said as he seemed to be looking off into the distance.

"No that's alright. Besides, you guys will probably be done before I could get the candle lit anyway." Sean said as he absently reached over and hugged Calen who was sitting beside him.

"Okay guys, here it comes." Jacob said with a determined look in his eyes.

There was a cluck and a few small screeches from one of the Eagles on the back of the couch.

"Wait, Duke and William don't want to be in here for this part." Timmy said quickly as he ran to the door of the family room.

After the birds had left, he ran back to his place between Cory and CD and said, "Okay."

"Is everyone in?" Jacob asked cautiously.

"I'm checking, give me a sec." Jamie said in thought.

"All present and accounted for." Kyle said from beside Gabe.

"Let'er rip." Justy said in thought.

Everyone waited, and nothing seemed to happen.

"You guys really need to work on your act if you expect to hold an audience." Sean said seriously.

"If we did this through the conscious mind, it would take a couple days and we'd have to do everyone separately." Jacob said firmly.

"Next time we'll get some sparklers or something to keep you entertained." Jamie said sarcastically.

"Okay. Sparklers will work." Sean said with a teasing smile.

"Sean, Le réalité et toi, vous ne vous entendez pas, n'est-ce pas?" Jacob asked seriously.

Sean gave Jacob an 'oh yeah?' look and responded, "On t'a bercé trop près du mur?"

Sean broke into a smile as he realized what had just happened.

"That's it? Whoa, when you spoke to me in French I just... understood. And I knew just how to answer!" Sean said with excitement.

"Do you still need sparklers?" Jamie asked with a smile.

"I think you just provided more sparklers than I was expecting." Sean said happily.

To Be Continued...