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Once both boys were dressed, Kel led the way through a second door out of the bathroom, which took them to the living room.
H'Ree looked curiously back at the door behind him, then over to the bedroom door.
"It won't be long before my parents go off duty. We can sit here and talk for a few minutes in the living room while we wait." Kel said with a smile.
Dohn and H'Ree followed silently and hesitantly took seats on the low, well cushioned furniture.
"This is very nice." H'Ree said, as he immediately snuggled down into the couch at Kel's side, leaning close to Kel.
"I think so too." Kel said as he draped an arm around H'Ree, then he looked over at Dohn to see how he was doing.
"This is so comfortable, I might just fall asleep right here." Dohn said as he relaxed back into the cushioned chair.
"Reach down to your right and push the lever forward." Kel said with a gentle smile, then he shifted Angel on his chest, so she was sleeping in a more comfortable position.
Dohn looked over the side of the chair, then hesitantly pushed the lever which was sticking out.
The back reclined and a footrest came up, lifting his feet.
Dohn looked around in surprise, then hesitantly lay back relaxing completely into the recliner.
"My father mentioned that one of his grandparents had one of these chairs when he was young, and how much he liked it. We had to talk to many other people on the ship to understand what he was talking about, but once we knew what it was, my dad and I gathered the materials and constructed this for him." Kel said happily.
"It is... amazing." Dohn said, peacefully, as he began to yawn.
"Oh Dohn, Before you fall asleep, I still need to give you the package that I got for you from Daggin." Kel said seriously.
"Oh yes... That's right. How do I restore this to it's original form?" Dohn asked, as he tried in vain to sit up.
"Just pull the lever back like it was originally." Kel said simply.
Dohn reached over the side of the chair, then pulled the lever back to restore the chair to an upright position. As he sat up, he felt the chair lean forward.
"Are you ready?" Kel asked quietly.
Dohn took a deep breath to brace himself, then nodded, still a little apprehensive. "I'm ready."
Kel carefully transferred the mental bundle he had been holding, over to Dohn.
"What do I do now?" Dohn asked, when the transfer was complete.
"Just open it. At least that's what Daggin told me." Kel said with a small amount of apprehension in his voice.
Dohn closed his eyes, then a curious look came over his face.
"What is it?" H'Ree asked with concern.
"Nothing. It was sort of like a wisp. I opened the bundle, and it seemed to be empty." Dohn said with some confusion.
"H'Ree didn't feel anything when Daggin gave him the Federation language either." Kel said quietly.
"Say something to me in Federation, so I can see if it worked." Dohn said in thought.
H'Ree and Kel both giggled at the statement.
"What's so funny?" Dohn asked defensively.
"Silly, We've been speaking in the federation language since you opened the package." H'Ree said with a chuckle.
"We have?" Dohn asked, then thought about the words he had just used.
"Yes. It's very easy when you don't have to learn the language a word at a time, isn't it?" Kel said with a fond smile.
Dohn considered for a moment, then said, "Maybe it won't be so bad living here among the aliens, now."
"I can't think of anyone I'd rather live with. My Father is Human, and my Dad is half Cardassian and half Betazoid. Because of that, I don't feel like I'm among aliens, because we're all different." Kel said happily.
"I don't know exactly what those words mean, but I think I understand what you're saying." Dohn said, as he relaxed back into the comfortable chair.
"Just don't be too surprised by my Dad when you see him. He looks kind of reptilian." Kel said hesitantly.
"Like the creatures by the caves?" H'Ree asked with surprise.
"That's sorta right. But that's just how he looks, not how he acts. In fact, everyone here has been very nice to me, so I don't think you'll have any problems either." Kel said seriously.
Before Kel could say more, all the boys turned their attention to the cabin door as it opened.
Kel gently shifted H'Ree from his side and hurried to greet his fathers.
"This is my Father; his name is Paris, and this is my Dad, Bey." Kel said quickly, as he indicated each one.
Dohn and H'Ree both stood and stared at the pair of newcomers.
"Dads, this is H'Ree and Dohn." Kel said, as he motioned to the boys.
"It's very nice to meet you both. I'm glad you're going to be staying with us." Bey said, as he gently took Angel out of Kel's arms.
"Thank you." Dohn said quietly, as he stared at Bey.
"Please sit down and be comfortable. It's going to be about an hour before we go to eat, so we have a bit of time to make some decisions." Paris said as he glanced at Angel in Bey's arms.
"Kel said this was your chair." Dohn said as he stepped away from the recliner toward the couch.
"It's our chair. Anything here in the living room belongs to all of us, and we're all free to use it." Paris said with assurance as he walked to the couch.
"H'Ree, why don't you come over here with me. I want to show you the best way to sit in this chair." Kel said with a cheerful smile.
H'Ree walked to Kel's side and waited.
Kel sat down in the chair, then patted the open cushion beside him.
"Come on, H'Ree, there's plenty of room for both of us. I sit like this with Dad sometimes, and it's the best. It's real nice to cuddle together." Kel said happily.
H'Ree hesitantly sat down beside Kel, not quite sure if he was going to crowd him.
"Sit back and relax." Kel said easily.
H'Ree cautiously sat back and realized that Kel had put his arm around him and his head was resting on Kel's shoulder.
"I like this. It's really nice." H'Ree said happily as he snuggled tightly against Kel.
"Me too." Kel said peacefully.
Bey and Paris were sitting together on one end of the couch while Dohn was sitting on the other end, looking distinctly uncomfortable and uncertain of what to do.
"Have you boys discussed anything about the room assignments for tonight?" Paris asked casually.
"No. We didn't get around to that. The shower took a lot longer than I thought it would." Kel said honestly.
Bey chuckled and said, "Ah yes, I remember when you took your first shower. I was beginning to think you might just decide to live in the bathroom."
Kel smiled and said, "I actually thought about doing just that."
"I was thinking that since you boys are new on the ship and probably are feeling a little bit out of place, that you could stay here with us, until you get settled in and are feeling more comfortable." Paris said casually.
"Where?" Kel asked curiously.
"Well, Angel doesn't really need her own room yet. So one or both of the boys could sleep in there, if they wanted to. And we have a perfectly good couch right here that could easily serve as a bed, if we need it to. I just thought that you three might want to kind of stick together until you've gotten to know people around the ship." Paris said carefully.
"You mean we can stay here, with you?" H'Ree asked quietly.
"Yes. Of course you can, for as long as you want to." Bey said with a loving smile at the boy being held so tenderly by Kel.
"Do you want to sleep in your own bed or would you like to sleep with someone else?" Kel asked H'Ree quietly.
"I get to sleep in a bed?" H'Ree asked with a huge smile.
"That's right. You saw the bed in my room. You could sleep in there with me, or you could sleep in Angel's room, or you could sleep out here on the couch." Kel said gently.
"Where do you want to sleep, Dohn?" H'Ree asked, as he turned to look at Dohn with concern.
"You said that I can sleep alone?" Dohn asked in confirmation.
"Yeah, sure, if you want to. If you don't want to be alone, you can sleep with me or H'Ree." Kel said quietly.
"I think... I mean, if you wouldn't mind, I think I'd like to try sleeping by myself. My former master made me sleep with him every night..." Dohn trailed off with an obvious look of revulsion.
"What about you H'Ree? Would you like to sleep with someone or sleep alone?" Kel asked quietly.
"I really want to sleep in a bed... with you, Kel." H'Ree finished hesitantly, then he turned to look at Kel to see if maybe he was asking for too much.
Kel smiled and said, "Then H'Ree can sleep with me in my room, and Dohn can have Angel's room, all by himself."
"It sounds like a plan to me. Have you filled them in on the rules yet?" Paris asked softly, as he snuggled against Bey at his side.
"No. We didn't have time to talk about too much." Kel said quietly.
Paris noticed that H'Ree and Dohn were both looking at him with caution.
"These aren't going to be anything like the rules of the elders, Guys. It's just that it's important that you know how you're expected to act here in this new place." Kel hurried to explain.
"That's right. I guess the main thing that we ask is that you respect a closed door. That means If you want to talk to someone, and their door is closed, just ask permission before entering." Bey said quietly.
Dohn and H'Ree exchanged a look of confusion at the strange rule.
"It's something called privacy. It's something I never had while I was a slave, and I never even thought about it when I was living on the home world." Kel said seriously.
"So, while I am sleeping, that means that no one will enter the room without permission?" Dohn asked quietly as he watched Bey and Paris carefully.
"That's right. But Kel can show you how to work the lock that is on the door, if you want to be sure. If your privacy lock is engaged, then no one can open the door without it raising an alarm and waking you." Paris said with assurance.
Dohn thought about the words for a moment, then quietly said, "I think I would like to learn how to use the lock, please."
Bey smiled at Dohn and said, "That's what Kel said too, when he first came here. Well, after he got used to sleeping in his own room. It makes him feel safer to have his door locked when he's sleeping."
"I don't lock it anymore. I feel completely safe without it now." Kel said as he looked Bey straight in the eyes.
Bey smiled at the statement and nodded.
"Then I suppose the next thing will be to get clothes for everyone. I think that Chell can probably provide Dohn with a good supply of clothes from storage, but we'll most likely need to have some clothes made for H'Ree." Paris said in thought.
"H'Ree can share my clothes for now, and I'll take him to Blain to get measured for new clothes tomorrow." Kel said quickly.
"Who is Blain?" H'Ree asked quietly.
"He makes most of our clothes on the ship. One of his parents was experienced in making clothing, so when he's not doing his job in security, he makes clothes for people who need them." Paris said informatively.
"Yeah. He made all my clothes. He does a really good job." Kel said with a smile.
H'Ree looked down at the clothes he was wearing, then nodded at Kel with agreement.
"I'll probably be as big as Dohn in about two months, so I won't need very many." H'Ree said quietly.
"Oh, the aging thing." Bey said with a concerned look at Paris.
"Later." Paris whispered to his husband.
Angel started fussing in Bey's lap and drew everyone's attention.
"I think Angel's about ready for her dinner." Paris said with a loving smile at his daughter.
"She's not the only one." Kel said seriously.
"You're always ready for dinner, Old Man." Bey said with a teasing smile.
Dohn and H'Ree looked at Kel with question at the unusual name.
"I'm older than both of them." Kel said with a smug smile.
Dohn and H'Ree then looked at Paris and Bey with matching questioning expressions.
"It's a long story, and Angel needs to eat. Let's all go to the mess hall and we can tell you about it over dinner." Paris said as he slowly stood.
"We already ate today." Dohn said hesitantly.
Kel smiled at the statement and said, "You can eat whenever you want here. That's why we have a dining area that's open all the time. But even if you don't feel like eating, you can still come with us and sit and talk with us while we eat."
Dohn looked around the room and finally nodded.
"Get up, H'Ree, it's time for dinner." Kel said gently.
"Can we sit here like this again later?" H'Ree asked hopefully.
"Sure. I don't think we're going to be doing anything else tonight." Kel said, then looked at his parents with question.
"We're not planning on anything, but of course, if we encounter anything dangerous in space, we may be called back to duty." Paris said, then stepped into his bedroom.
A moment later he walked out of the bedroom with Angel's carrier and a diaper bag.
"Thanks for getting that, Love." Bey said with a gentle smile.
Paris winked at his husband, then made a sweeping gesture toward the door.
* * * * *
"Hi Chell, are you finally off duty?" Paris asked, as he led the way into the mess hall.
"Yes. I was just showing Brook what I had prepared for dinner for the beta crew." Chell said, as he walked away from the kitchen.
"Would you like to have dinner with us, then?" Paris asked, as he accepted Angel from Bey.
Chell looked at H'Ree and Dohn, then said, "I would be delighted to join you, that is, if you wouldn't mind if Vorik joins us too."
"Chell, any invitation to you automatically includes Vorik." Paris said, as he finally took a seat at one of the larger tables in the room.
The rest of the family settled into chairs as Bey walked toward the kitchen.
Dohn and H'Ree looked at Kel with question.
"Angel cannot eat the same food that we do. She is too young, so Dad will prepare something for her." Kel said quietly.
"We have some formula made up in the stasis unit, he'll just have to heat it. It won't take a minute." Chell said with a smile.
"You really are on top of things, Chell. I don't know how you keep up with so much at once." Paris said with sincere admiration.
"I delegate a lot. Now that I have a steady rotation of helpers in the kitchen, I just need to supervise and do the menu planning. That leaves me plenty of free time to oversee the supply room and my other duties." Chell said happily.
"Speaking of which, we are going to need to get Dohn some clothes of his own." Paris said seriously.
Chell looked at Dohn consideringly for a moment, then said, "I don't think that will be a problem. I'll need to get his measurements to be sure, but I think I can outfit him quite easily with everything he'll need, right off the shelf."
"I thought so too. H'Ree is the one who will need tailor made clothing." Paris said, as he looked at the younger boy.
"Actually, I think I might have a few things in storage that will fit him." Chell said in thought.
"Really?" Paris asked with surprise.
"Yes, the things that Kel outgrew before he started his treatments. I don't think Blain has used any of them for scrap material yet. I'll have to check to be sure."
"What treatments?" Dohn asked curiously.
Kel looked at Paris with question, not sure if he should talk about it.
"Do you want to be the one to tell them or should I?" Paris asked quietly.
"Tell them what?" Bey asked as he took his seat and sat a prepared bottle of formula on the table before him.
Paris made a 'gimme' motion with his hand, then accepted the bottle from Bey.
"The subject of Kel's treatments just came up and I thought Kel could probably explain it better than we could." Paris said, as he brought the bottle to Angel's lips.
"You know that we don't age the same way as most other humanoid species do, right?" Kel asked as he turned his attention to Dohn and H'Ree.
"Yeah. We age a lot faster than they do." H'Ree said immediately.
Kel nodded slowly, then said, "Well, they found a way to change me so I could age at the same rate as they do."
"Why?" Dohn asked cautiously.
"Because I'm a part of their family now. I want to be able to age at the same rate as they do so I can really share in their lives." Kel said carefully.
"We didn't want to mention this to you earlier because you might think that we expected you to undergo the treatments too." Bey said quietly.
"But we also didn't want you to think we were hiding something from you, so that's why we're telling you now." Paris said frankly.
Dohn looked from one man to the other and realized that they were both serious.
"It's not something that you have to think about right now. Once you've settled in and gotten comfortable with your new situation, we can talk about it if you're interested." Paris said with assurance.
"How old are you going to get?" H'Ree asked Kel curiously.
Kel smiled at H'Ree's blunt question and said, "I don't know for sure, but Aunt Janeway says that I'll probably live to be between a hundred and sixty and two hundred years old if I don't get sick or injured before that."
"Two hundred... years?" H'Ree asked with wide eyes.
"There's no way to really be sure about that. We're just making an estimate based on Human physiology." Bey said seriously.
"Does it hurt?" H'Ree asked curiously.
"No. It just made me sleepy for the first four or five times. After that I didn't feel anything." Kel said in thought.
"Except hungry." Bey said with a smile.
"Oh yeah. It made me really hungry. For about six weeks, all I wanted to do was eat." Kel said with a chuckle.
"And he had some unusual cravings too, as I recall." Chell said with a gentle smile at Kel.
"Well, from what Aunt Janeway said, my body wanted different building materials, vitamins and minerals and stuff, to adjust to the changes, so it caused me to crave what it needed." Kel said with a considering look.
"If you two decide to have the treatments, just let me know in advance so I can prepare the foods you're likely to crave. I don't think any of my helpers will know what to do if you come to them asking for something sour and chalky." Chell said with a chuckle.
"Or cheesy and bitter." Kel said with a fond smile at Chell.
"Yeah I remember; that one was fun." Chell said with a nod.
"I want to do it." H'Ree said seriously.
Paris and Bey looked at each other with concern.
"What?" H'Ree asked, as he looked from one to the other.
"It's too soon for you to make this kind of decision, H'Ree. You were just rescued today and now you have come to live with a whole new group of people. Let's give it a week, then we can talk about it again, if you're still interested." Paris said seriously.
"Why do I have to wait? You let me decide to come with you, why won't you let me decide this too?" H'Ree asked as he looked around the table.
"Because this is something that can't be undone." Bey said quietly.
H'Ree turned his curious gaze on Bey, silently asking for more of an explanation.
"Let me see if I can explain it.�If you changed your mind right now or even in a week, and decided that you really did want to go back to the Ocampan home world, it might not be easy, but it could be done. But if you changed your mind about having the treatments after they had started, we couldn't reverse it. If you make this decision, the consequences are permanent and those consequences will effect the rest of your life, maybe even two hundred years of life. Imagine living for two hundred years, feeling that you'd made a mistake." Bey said gently.
"I think they're right, H'Ree. There's no reason we have to do this right now, but there are very good reasons for us not to jump into it blindly. If you really want to do it, maybe we could learn more about the procedure to see just what it is and how we would be changed." Dohn said carefully.
"That's a very good idea. I'm sure that Janeway would be able to answer those questions for you and could show you exactly how the process works." Paris said with a smile of approval at Dohn.
"Okay, I guess. I still think I should be allowed to decide right now if I want to, but I'll wait." H'Ree said with resignation.
"We're just trying to make sure you have all the time you need, and all the information as well, so you can make an informed decision." Bey said with a gentle smile.
"Sorry it took so long, but there are six of you." A woman said, as she carried a heavily laden tray to the table.
"I would have helped you, if you'd asked." Chell said quickly.
"One more person, and I might have. But I've got this." The woman said honestly.
"Brook, I'd like you to meet Dohn and H'Ree. This is Brook, she works in the kitchen when Chell is off duty." Kel said formally.
Brook smiled and said, "My formal name is Brooks Celes, but I go by Brook."
"It's a pleasure to meet you Brook. My formal name is Dohn, son of Thoran." Dohn said as he stood and bowed to her.
"And I'm H'Ree, son of Shalah. This is good." H'Ree said, then took another bite of his food.
"I'm glad you like it, but Chell is the one who prepared the meal, I simply served it." Brook said modestly.
"I don't recall making this cake." Chell said, as he glanced at Brook curiously.
"Well, I did do a little cooking." Brook said with a chuckle.
H'Ree took a bite of the cake, then his eyes went wide with wonder.
He tried to say something, but his mouth was too full for him to speak. So he patted Dohn on the arm urgently, then pointed at the cake.
Dohn hesitantly took a small bite of the cake, watching H'Ree out of the corner of his eye to see that he didn't choke.
When the taste finally registered, Dohn looked at Brook with amazement and said, "This is the most wonderful thing I have ever tasted."
Brook giggled and said, "I'm glad you like it. Chell has been teaching me how to cook."
"The student has surpassed the teacher. You blended the flavors perfectly." Chell said with a huge smile at her.
Brook saw another group enter the room and hurried to say, "I have other guests to attend to, enjoy your meals."
Everyone watched as Brook hurried away.
* * * * *
Dohn and H'Ree watched as the new group sat down at a smaller table.
"It won't take long for you to get to know everyone." Bey said quietly.
Dohn looked at Bey curiously for a moment, then nodded and turned his attention back to his food.
"Do you need for me to find accommodations for our new guests? I happen to have two cabins that are just about ready to be moved into." Chell said with a smile.
"They'll be staying with us for a few days, until they get used to being here. After that, maybe." Paris said consideringly, then he set Angel's empty bottle aside.
"Let me burp her so you can eat." Bey said gently.
Paris handed Angel to his husband, then started to eat his meal.
"I suppose that's a good idea. But if you two decide that you'd like to have your own quarters, just come to me and I'll get you taken care of." Chell said happily.
"Thank you, Chell, I will." Dohn said as he looked at Chell carefully.
The door opened and Chell smiled when he saw who it was.
"I had started to think that you were going to be in Engineering all night, Love." Chell said with a smile of delight as he stood.
"There were a few minor systems problems to take care of after using the main weapon. I think we have everything worked out now." Vorik said as he hugged Chell happily.
"Vorik, this is Dohn and H'Ree. They'll be staying on the ship with us." Chell said, as he led Vorik to sit beside him at the table.
"It's a pleasure to meet you. I hope you like it here." Vorik said gently.
"I already like it here. I'm glad I decided to stay. I like your ears." H'Ree said quickly, then turned his full attention back to his food.
Vorik smiled at the statement, then turned to Paris and asked, "So, are we on course to the Alpha quadrant?"
"No, not yet. We're actually headed away at the moment." Paris said seriously.
"Really? May I ask why?" Vorik asked with interest.
"There is a considerable concentration of Kazon vessels assembled in the most direct path. So we decided that it would be better to get out of this system as quickly as possible, then head toward the Alpha quadrant when we're ready to hit high warp." Paris said casually.
"I'm surprised that you're not on the bridge then. I would think you would want to be piloting the ship until we were safely underway." Vorik said thoughtfully.
Paris smiled and said, "If I had a choice in the matter, I probably would be, but Janeway was very insistent about us sticking to our duty schedules unless we're urgently needed for something."
"And our family needs you at least as much as the ship does." Bey added with a gentle loving smile at his husband.
"Right." Paris said with a wink.
"Paris and Bey, report to the bridge." Sounded loudly over the comm system.
"There, you see what happens when you talk about it?" Bey said with a chuckle.
"That was Kim. She probably picked up something on her scans. I doubt that we'll be gone very long. Will you boys be okay while we check?" Bey asked, as he handed Angel to Kel.
"We'll be just fine.�Call us if you need us to do anything." Kel said with a bright and loving smile at his sister.
"Angel will probably be ready for sleep by the time you get back to the cabin. So just lay her down in her bed when you get there, and you should leave the bedroom door open, so you can hear her if she wakes up and needs anything." Bey said, as he started toward the door.
He stopped in the doorway and turned back toward the boys. "Oh yeah, I just thought of something; you could hold her for a few minutes, rocking her gently like I sometimes do. That reclining chair is also a rocking chair. Rocking her will most likely lull her to sleep pretty quickly, and she will nod off almost as soon as you lay her down. She is so sweet and such a good baby."
"Don't worry, I'll get her to go to sleep... And I'll be sure to call if I have any problems or questions. You guys better go." Kel said with amusement at his Dad's reluctance to leave Angel.
"We'll see you later." Paris said quickly, before taking hold of Bey's arm and guiding him out the door.
Well that does it for another chapter.
Once again we have been presented with a very informative narrative. We have learned more about our new passengers, and some things about what their lives have been like; not all that pleasant, it would seem.�From now on, I think they will be much happier and probably much healthier as well. Just as in other stories from MultiMapper, we very quickly learn to love the people we meet. Dohn and H'Ree are already filling places in my heart. I love them both. This story is quickly grabbing me and holding on with a death grip, one that I will not soon be able to release or want to for that matter. I really have enjoyed it, and I am ready for new chapters when ever MM is ready to give us more.
With the pace of chapters being sent to me for editing,�I thought that I would have a lot more of them to edit, but I was informed when I received this chapter that this was, in fact, the last chapter that had been waiting in the pipeline, so to speak. Now the pace will probably slow down a little, and I am hoping that it won't slow down too much. I am totally addicted to the stories of MultiMapper, and I have no intention of even looking for a cure for that addiction.
See you next time.
Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher