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Jake awoke to a feeling of apprehension and began to search for the source.
After a moment, he realized that the blanket was pulled down and Xain was looking at his morning erection.
"What's wrong Xain?" Jake asked quietly.
"I was considering the size of your penis." Xain said in a whisper filled with concern.
Jake pulled Xain to rest against him and said, "It's just over six inches, that's okay; I've probably got a little growth left in me."
"But my penis is small in comparison. You said I was 'well hung' and I find that to be inaccurate." Xain said quietly.
Jake gave Xain a quick kiss before saying, "You've got about four inches there when it's hard. That is 'well hung' for a twelve year old. I've seen a lot of naked guys so I know what I'm talking about. Come on."
Jake urged Xain out of the bed to walk to the bathroom.
* * * * *
The insistent buzzing of the alarm clock shook Allen out of a peaceful sleep.
Reluctantly Allen got out of bed and dragged himself to the bathroom to start his morning ablutions.
Deciding that he could change into something more proper later, Allen pulled on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt before exiting the bedroom.
After a moment to consider his plan for the morning, Allen decided to wake Xain and Jake.
He opened the outer bedroom door of their room and entered the dressing room that divided the bathroom from the bedroom.
Allen gave a gentle knock on the bedroom door and was surprised when the bathroom door behind him opened.
"Dad, could you come in here for a second? We need your advice." Jake said seriously from the bathroom.
Allen walked into the bathroom to find Jake and Xain standing side by side, completely naked.
"We need you to look at Xain and tell him what you think." Jake said seriously.
Allen had a momentary expression of surprise, but Jake's serious tone drew him fully into his concerned father role.
"What am I looking for?" Allen asked as he looked at his sons standing side by side.
"Jake says that my penis is appropriate for my age and body development. I feel that it may be inadequate." Xain said in his Vulcan demeanor.
Allen nodded at the seriousness of the situation and looked at Xain with a critical eye.
"Considering your age and the shape and size of your body, I'd estimate that you've just entered puberty. I can see the beginning of muscle definition in your chest. As far as your penis, I'd have to say that it's exactly what I would expect for a twelve year old boy. The size and shape seem perfectly normal and in proportion with? your body size." Allen said seriously, then looked into Xain's eyes.
"Thank you Father." Xain said with a slight smile.
"It's no problem Xain. It's common for boys your age to be concerned about their development. Just realize that Jake recently went through this himself, if he tells you something is normal, he's speaking from experience." Allen said with a smile.
"Thanks Dad. I just didn't want Xain to feel like he was too small or something like that." Jake said honestly.
"Well, that's obviously not a problem. Xain is perfectly developed for his age. Come into your bedroom for a second, I have something I need to talk to you about." Allen finished in a serious voice as he left the bathroom.
* * * * *
"Don't worry about getting dressed yet unless you want to." Allen said as he sat on the foot of Jake's bed.
"What's wrong Dad?" Jake asked as he and Xain sat beside Allen.
"This is one of those things a father has to do, well, should do, and it's hard to find the right way to say it." Allen said in thought.
"If you're about to tell us about 'the birds and the bees' I think we've got it covered." Jake said with a gentle smile.
"No, I'm not worried about that. What I want to tell you about is how to perform a self examination for testicular cancer." Allen said frankly.
Jake and Xain looked at Allen curiously.
"First off, I'm not going to demonstrate unless you absolutely need me to. Basically what you need to do is get familiar with the shape and feel of your testicles. You can either do this for yourself or each other. The reason this is important is because if there are any dramatic changes, it may be the indication of a problem." Allen said seriously.
"So you want us to feel each other's balls?" Jake asked cautiously.
"Or feel your own, which ever is more comfortable to you. The important thing is to perform the examination occasionally to be sure that everything is normal. Testicular cancer strikes young men and now is the time you start watching out for it. If something is out of the ordinary, we can take you to a doctor to have it looked at." Allen said as he looked at his sons with honest concern.
"So if we find something wrong... what happens?" Jake asked cautiously.
"It may be something as simple as removing a small lump; a simple outpatient surgery. The thing is, that same lump left untreated could kill you. Guys, a friend of mine named Paul had testicular cancer a few years ago. He was always told that touching himself was something wrong and dirty. He had no idea that anything was wrong until the cancer spread to his lymph nodes. By that time it was too far gone to do anything about it. He was twenty-six. Before he died, he told me what the doctors said about how important self-examination is." Allen said seriously.
"So how often should we do it?" Jake asked quietly.
"About once a month should be fine. I'm not trying to scare you guys, I just want you to both have long healthy lives." Allen said frankly.
"Thank you Father." Xain said with a small smile of gratitude.
"I'm just trying to share the things I've learned along the way. But for now, get dressed so you can help me set up Deacon's birthday party." Allen said with a smile as he stood.
Both Jake and Xain pulled Allen into a firm hug.
"I love you guys." Allen said as he returned the hug.
"As we love you Father." Xain said in a voice filled with emotion.
Allen gave each boy a kiss on the cheek before leaving the room to wake the other boys.
Author's Note: For more information about Testicular Cancer and self exam: http://tcrc.acor.org/
* * * * *
"Good morning Juana, I didn't realize you were here already." Allen said as he walked into the kitchen.
"Yes, I wanted to make tortillas to go with breakfast. Reuben and Ricardo are watching a cartoon video in the living room, I hope that isn't a problem.
"No, that's fine, but I think we'll be getting their help in a few minutes. We decided to have a birthday party for Deacon this morning so we'll need all the help we can get decorating and wrapping presents." Allen said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
"It is his birthday? I didn't know, I would have bought him a gift." Juana said with concern.
"I picked up something from the both of us. It's a small video game." Allen said with a smile.
"Thank you Allen, that was very considerate." Juana said with a gentle smile.
"Deacon's birthday was a few days ago... his parents forgot. That's why he ran away from home. I can't understand parents who could forget their child's birthday..." Allen trailed off.
Juana stopped her food preparation and shook her head.
"Such people lose sight of what's important." Juana said distantly.
"You're probably right, they're probably not evil, just misguided." Allen said before taking a sip of his coffee.
Juana nodded at the statement and continued to work on her tortillas.
"What do you want us to do Dad?" Jake asked as he hurried into the kitchen, followed by Xain, Kevin and Kenny.
"I think Jake should be in charge of the decorations, you can ask Reuben and Ricardo to help you with balloons and streamers. Xain, Kenny and Kevin can work on wrapping presents. I'll be here if anyone needs help." Allen said with a smile.
"What about a cake?" Kenny asked with concern.
Juana looked at the clock, then raced to the cabinet to look around.
"Well, I got the candles and things for decorating a cake last night, but I thought we could just have the cake with lunch. I don't know if a birthday cake at breakfast would be a good idea." Allen said seriously.
"There is time to prepare a cake, but it would delay breakfast. Perhaps Xain could prepare the cake." Juana said seriously.
"Yeah Pop, it's not a real birthday party without a cake. Kev and I can wrap the presents." Kenny said in an imploring tone.
Allen smiled at his sons and said, "I guess you guys are right. We *need* a cake to make it a real birthday party. What do you say Xain? Will you be able to get it done in time?"
Xain walked to look at the cake mixes Juana had pulled from the cabinet and froze in concentration.
Allen looked curiously at Jake who was standing between Kevin and Kenny, also frozen in thought.
"There is sufficient time if I begin immediately." Xain said seriously and walked to the refrigerator.
"Then I guess it's time to get to work." Allen said with a smile.
* * * * *
"Good morning." Allen said happily as he opened the front door.
"Hey, how's it going?" Billy asked casually.
"Everything's fine. How are you this morning Deacon?" Allen asked with a smile.
"Um, good. Billy's place is really neat. He's got lots of really old stuff." Deacon said happily.
"Benny collected antiques. It kind of makes it feel like a home." Billy said shyly as Allen led them into the kitchen.
"Is everyone else asleep?" Deacon asked as he looked around the empty kitchen.
"No, they're in the dining room waiting on us." Allen said and indicated the closed dining room door.
Billy started to walk toward the door, but stopped at the feeling of a hand on his shoulder.
Allen held Billy back so Deacon would be the first one through the dining room door.
Deacon froze in his tracks at the sight and sound.
There were balloons and streamers throughout the room and a large banner draped above the windows that said, 'Happy Birthday Deacon'.
"What?" Deacon asked in a small voice.
"Happy birthday Deacon. We decided that since you didn't get to have a party on your birthday, we'd have one for you now." Allen said with a smile.
Tears were falling down Deacon's cheeks as he whispered, "Thank you."
"Go on, your presents are on the buffet right over there." Allen said as he coaxed Deacon further into the room.
Billy leaned into Allen's side and whispered, "Thanks Allen."
Allen smiled at Billy and nodded, then turned his attention back to Deacon.
"This one's from Allen and Juana." Deacon said with excitement as he looked at the label.
"Go ahead, open it." Kenny said with excitement.
Deacon quickly tore off the paper and looked at the hand-held game.
"This is so awesome! Some of the guys at school used to have this, I always wanted to play it." Deacon said with excitement.
Allen smiled at Jake who was beaming with happiness.
"This one's from Kenny." Deacon said happily and opened the gift to find a model Jaguar.
"Oh, this is so cool, you don't have one like this do you Ken?" Deacon asked with a delighted smile.
"I have an older Jag, but I don't have the new one." Kenny said with a smile.
"Thanks Ken, this is great." Deacon said and walked over to give Kenny a quick hug.
Deacon hurried back to the presents and picked up the next one.
"This one is from Kevin and Reuben." Deacon said with excitement at the large package and opened it to reveal a Monopoly game.
"Billy and I used to play this all the time! Thank you!" Deacon said as he put down the game and ran to hug Kevin and Reuben.
"I thought it'd be good to get you something we could all play together." Kevin said from the hug.
"Yeah, all of us can play. Thank you guys." Deacon said as he hugged Reuben tightly.
Allen noticed that Juana's eyes were shining with tears at the happy sight.
"This one's from Ricardo." Deacon said and opened the gift quickly to find a model ship.
"It's great Ricardo. Thank you." Deacon said and quickly hugged the three year old.
Billy smiled at the sight and couldn't help but give Allen a quick hug to express his happiness and gratitude.
"This one's from Jake and Xain and Edovina." Deacon said happily as he opened the strangely flexible present.
Deacon's eyes went wide and he fell silent as he looked at the casual charcoal gray blazer and teal button-up shirt.
"We thought that since you're officially a 'teenager' now, you'd like to have something kind of grown-up to wear." Jake said hesitantly, not knowing how to interpret Deacon's expression.
"It's..." Deacon whispered, then ran to hug Jake.
"No one's ever given me anything like this before. Thank you." Deacon said with joy as he changed from hugging Jake to Xain.
"There's one more thing." Allen said as he walked to the buffet and took out a small box.
Deacon looked at Allen with anticipation.
"This gift is from the whole family." Allen said and handed the box to Deacon.
With shaking hands, Deacon opened the hinged lid to reveal a golden chain with a small angel pendant.
"It's beautiful, thank you." Deacon said in awe.
All the boys gathered around to see the necklace that they didn't know Allen had bought.
"It's Mikey!" Kevin said in surprise.
"That's what I thought too. That's why I bought it." Allen said with a smile.
"Mikey?" Deacon asked curiously as he examined the charm.
"He's our guardian angel. I guess this means he's watching over you too." Kevin said happily.
"Let me put this on you so we can have breakfast." Allen said with a smile and took the necklace from the box.
After fastening the necklace, Allen stood back to look at Deacon.
"It looks great Deke. I didn't realize how grown up you're getting." Billy said in a voice of wonder.
Deacon smiled and hugged Billy tightly.
"Boys, come and help me bring in the food." Juana said quietly.
The boys followed Juana out of the room to get the breakfast food that was keeping warm in the oven.
* * * * *
"That was the best breakfast I've had in... ever." Deacon said in appreciation.
"I'm glad you liked it. It is the type of breakfast we would have when I was a child." Juana said, beaming with pride.
"I've been all over the world and this is the best breakfast I've had." Billy said with a smile as he sat back in his chair.
Juana looked at Xain with question and received a nod in return.
Xain hurried out of the room as Juana moved to the window to draw the blinds.
"What's going on?" Billy asked curiously.
"It's just getting bright outside." Allen said with a smile.
Billy looked at Allen suspiciously, not buying it for a second.
Allen smiled at Billy and glanced at Deacon.
Billy followed Allen's glance and saw Deacon looking at his video game.
Suddenly the lights in the dining room went out and the glow of a cake covered with thirteen lighted candles came into the room.
Allen started singing 'Happy Birthday' and was joined by the rest of his family.
Deacon stared at the cake in wonder as it blazed before him.
"Go ahead Deke, make a wish and blow out the candles." Billy finally prompted.
Deacon closed his eyes for a second in thought, then opened them and blew out the candles in one great gust of breath.
Everyone clapped as Juana turned the lights back on.
"I couldn't eat another bite." Billy said looking regretfully at the cake.
"Me either. I thought we could have the cake after lunch. But we had to bring it out at the official birthday party." Allen said with a smile.
"Thank you." Deacon said with tears of happiness gliding down his cheeks.
Allen walked to Deacon and pulled him into a gentle hug.
"Today is your day Deacon."
* * * * *
Billy, Allen and Juana were standing and watching as the boys were throwing the Frisbee around the yard.
"I've never seen Deke so happy." Billy said in a distant voice.
"Well, we're going to do whatever it takes to make sure he stays this happy." Allen said seriously.
Billy thought about the words and finally said, "The career, bank accounts, fame, and all those other things don't mean anything when you compare them to this... This is success."
Xain left the group and walked to the adults with a hesitant expression.
"What's wrong Xain?" Allen asked curiously.
"I believe I have performed sufficient 'Frisbee' for today." Xain said seriously.
Allen smiled at the statement and said, "I'm glad you got your daily dose. What would you like to do now?"
"May I hold Edovina?" Xain asked and looked at Juana.
"Yes, of course." Juana said and gently transferred Edovina to Xain's arms.
"When Sean and Cory arrive, we will know what steps must be taken for me to become a'nirih to Edovina." Xain said seriously as he held Edovina close to his chest.
"A what?" Billy asked curiously.
" A'nirih, it means nurturing Father. We got the test results last night and Jake was confirmed to be Edovina's biological father." Allen said gently.
"So Zane and Jake are going to be the baby's parents?" Billy asked curiously.
"Yes. Due to their ages, Juana will probably be taking care of Edovina the majority of the time, but as Jake and Xain grow older, I expect that they will assume more and more of a parental role as Juana and I take on the role of grandparents." Allen said in thought.
"That is so weird, you're what? Thirty?" Billy asked curiously.
"Yes, good guess." Allen said with a smile.
"It's weird thinking of you being thirty and a grandfather." Billy said seriously.
"Deacon is older than Xain, if he adopted a child like Xain's doing... it would basically be the same thing for you." Allen said seriously.
"Yeah, I guess." Billy said in thought.
"What's wrong?" Allen asked in concern.
"I just don't know if I'm ready for the whole parent thing... I mean, you're good at it, but... I still feel like a kid." Billy said helplessly.
"You want to know the secret?" Allen asked in a whisper.
Billy looked at him and hesitantly nodded.
"I still feel like a kid too." Allen said in a conspiratorial whisper.
Billy laughed and said, "That explains how you thought of having a party for Deke... I can't thank you enough for that Allen. I can't believe my parents were such assholes. They still haven't called to tell me he's missing, they might not even know."
The smile fell off Allen's face as he said, "As satisfying as it might be to let them worry when they find out, it would be the wrong thing to do. We'll find out your legal options in just a little while, then no matter which way that goes, you need to let your parents know that he's here."
"I guess you're right. I just feel like I want to hurt them for the way they hurt Deke." Billy said with a hint of anger in his voice.
"I can't think of any way that this could turn out that your parents will feel anything but hurt." Allen said seriously.
"They might not care." Billy said quietly.
"If that's the case, then Deacon being here is the best possible thing that could happen to him." Allen said sincerely.
"It already is. Trust me Allen. Deacon has never been this happy before." Billy said as he looked at the boys throwing the Frisbee.
"Just hang on, in less than an hour Teri and her sons will be here. Then we'll have all the information we need to work out what to do next." Allen said seriously.
"Thanks Allen. I'd be freaking out about what to do right now if you weren't here." Billy said with a smile.
"I'm sure you would have done fine. It's just easier when you have friends to help you." Allen said, thinking of JC and Chip.
Billy gave a grand smile and said, "Yeah, friends."
* * * * *
"How's my little angel doing?" Jake asked in baby talk as he approached Xain and Edovina.
"I am well." Xain said with his Vulcan facade fully in place.
Allen and Billy started laughing at the statement as Jake looked stunned.
"Good one." Jake finally said in amazement.
Xain allowed a small smile to fall across his face as he offered Edovina to Jake.
Jake gently kissed Edovina on the forehead, then whispered, "Thanks."
Xain initiated their link and merged his emotions with Jake's so they could share their love for Edovina.
"Okay, I see it now." Billy said as he watched Jake and Xain.
"They're a family." Allen said simply.
* * * * *
The car pulled into the driveway as all the boys watched.
"Hey guys." Cory said happily as he got out.
"Hi Cory, do you have Clan business today?" Kenny asked as he ran to the car.
"I have a little with Jake and Xain, nothing you guys need to worry about." Cory said as Teri and Sean joined him.
"Then maybe you can play Frisbee with us when you're done?" Kenny asked hopefully.
"Mom's already not happy with us taking a day off from school, if it looked like we were having fun... I'm afraid not." Cory said, then glanced at Teri.
"They showed me what needed to be done, so I agreed. But I'm not completely happy." Teri said to Allen and Billy as they approached.
"Teri, Sean and Cory Short, this is Billy Pierce and... over there with Kevin is his brother Deacon." Allen finished, pointing.
"Nice to meet you Billy." Teri said automatically.
"You too." Billy said as he shook her hand.
Kenny immediately noticed what was wrong and said, "Billy, I'd like to introduce Cory Short, the Patriarch of Clan Short and Sean Short, Historian of Clan Short."
"Nice to meet you." Billy said as he shook each boy's hand in turn, then asked, "What does that mean?"
"If we can go somewhere we can sit down and talk, I'll explain it. Thanks Kenny." Cory finished with a smile.
Kenny gave a smile of pride as Allen guided the group into the house.
* * * * *
Billy nervously took a seat at the kitchen table as he looked at the strangers who were about to change his life.
"Billy, we've done some investigation into the matter of Deacon and found that your parents have not filed a missing person's report or taken any action that would indicate that they know Deacon is missing." Cory said seriously.
Teri then said, "Your brother doesn't show any signs of physical abuse or neglect, but I have been assured by Clan Short's intelligence team that he has been psychologically neglected to a point that is quite dangerous."
Billy considered the words and had to ask, "How? I mean, they ignored him. How is that dangerous?"
"When someone feels ignored, unloved... in the way, there are ways they have of getting attention." Cory said carefully.
"Cries for help." Sean interjected.
"A person in Deacon's situation might easily become suicidal, or abusive. He could resort to just about any type of criminal behavior in an effort to gain attention and acceptance." Cory said firmly.
"Deke wouldn't do anything like that." Billy said seriously.
"He just ran away from home and traveled halfway across the United States by himself. Even though everything turned out for the best, that was his good luck, not his good judgment." Teri said seriously.
"Okay, I'll give you that one." Billy said in thought.
"We're just making the point so you understand what choices you have before you." Teri said seriously.
"Okay. Lay it on me." Billy said seriously.
"I am the Director of Federation Child Services. I have the authority to remove Deacon from the custody of your parents and place him with someone who would look after his interests. I have found sufficient grounds to invoke the Federation's Safe Haven Act stating psychological neglect and abandonment as cause." Teri said seriously.
"Clan Short was charged by Ambassador Sarek with the duty of rescuing and protecting neglected and abandoned children. In accordance with that primary function of the Clan, it would be possible for us to assume custody of Deacon. We founded Camp Little Eagle as a place where boys like Deacon can grow up in a safe and encouraging environment." Cory said as he looked into Billy's eyes.
"You want to take Deacon away from me?" Billy asked with a note of fear.
"No Billy. Just listen. What we're telling you are the choices you have." Sean said firmly.
"That's right. Mom can invoke Safe Haven and name you as Deacon's guardian if that's what you want to do. But it's important that you understand that you have other choices. Think about what you want and what's best for Deacon and then make your decision." Cory said seriously.
"Yeah. So that's it? Me or the Camp?" Billy asked hesitantly.
"Well, there is always the chance that someone might want to adopt Deacon." Cory said and glanced at Allen.
"I would be willing if Billy thought that would be best for Deacon." Allen said seriously.
"Okay. Can I have a few minutes to think about this? It's kind of a big step no matter how it goes." Billy said in an overwhelmed tone.
"Sure. And you might think about asking Deacon what he thinks. It *is* his future we're deciding." Sean said frankly.
"Yeah. Um, thanks for giving it to me like this. I appreciate you being honest about my choices." Billy said as he stood.
"Would you mind sending in Xain and Jake, we need to talk to them for a few minutes." Cory asked quietly.
"Yeah, sure." Billy said absently as he left the room.
* * * * *
Billy walked outside in a daze of thought when he encountered Jake and Xain's concerned looks.
"They want to talk to you guys next." Billy said absently.
"Are you well?" Xain asked Billy with concern.
"I've just got to decide what's best for Deacon. It's a lot of responsibility." Billy said in thought.
Jake looked at Edovina in his arms and said, "I know what you mean. We've got to do the same thing for Vina."
"What are you going to do?" Billy asked, momentarily broken out of his daze.
"We will envision the best possible future for Edovina, then make the choices that are most likely to provide it." Xain said seriously.
"Even if it means you aren't going to be her parents?" Billy asked cautiously.
"I think the most important thing for Vina is to have someone who loves her. I already said that I would adopt her even if the test proved I wasn't her biological father. I *am* her father now, no matter what." Jake said firmly.
"But I'm not Deacon's father... he needs a father, doesn't he?" Billy asked in turmoil.
"When Deacon is hurting, who does he turn to for comfort? When he is in need of guidance, who does he ask for answers? When he is alone, who does he turn to for companionship? Who is his example? Perhaps being a father is not a matter of biology as much as a matter of love." Xain said speculatively.
Billy thought about the words, then gave a big smile as he said, "Thanks guys, that's one lucky little girl you've got there. She's got some smart daddies."
"I think Deacon is pretty lucky too." Jake said as he motioned to Xain that they should be going.
"We're about to find out." Billy said as he looked across the yard to find Deacon watching him apprehensively.
* * * * *
"Can I? hold her?" Teri asked with a grand smile.
"Of course." Jake said as he handed Edovina to Teri.
"What a beautiful little girl." Teri said as she looked deeply into Edovina's dark green, almost brown eyes.
"That's my granddaughter." Allen said with pride.
Cory motioned for Xain and Jake to take their seats and opened a folder.
"Xain, he who is your father has appended the official records to reflect Edovina's change in status. As Patriarch of Clan Short it is my duty to see that the steps you are about to take are logical and in the best interest of all involved." Cory said firmly.
Xain gave a nod of acknowledgement.
"I would like for you to define how you see the roles and relationships of the members of your family." Cory said carefully.
"Jake is T'hy'la to me as I am to him. I am a'nirih to Edovina as Jake is sa-mekh ." Xain said simply.
Cory looked at Xain speculatively, then asked Jake, "Do you agree with Xain?"
"Yes. In our extended family, Mamacita... I'm sorry, Juana, Allen and Solak will be recognized as grandparents to Edovina. Kenny, Kevin, Reuben and Ricardo will be Uncles." Jake said seriously.
"What do you see as the role of Edovina's mother, should she return?" Sean asked cautiously.
"Right now, I don't think she should have any parental rights. She ran away and left Vina with her mother. If Lupe gets treatment for her addictions... then maybe she could share in Edovina's life." Jake said seriously.
"Is there anything else we need to know before we make everything official?" Cory asked carefully.
"Yes. It would be preferable for Edovina's name to be changed to match that of her father's." Xain said seriously.
Cory arched an eyebrow as a prompt to continue.
"It is Human custom for a child to carry the surname of the father. I believe it will lend to Edovina's emotional well-being to be assured that she is part of our family by carrying our name." Xain said in his most logical tone.
Cory thought about the fact that his own name had been changed to Short and tried to imagine how his life might have been effected if Teri had not taken that step.
"Mom? You get along well with Judge Robison, do you think he can squeeze us in?" Cory asked casually.
"Give me a minute." Teri said as she tried to dial her cell phone one handed.
Xain immediately went to Teri's aid and took Edovina from her, leaving her free to make her call.
Cory and Sean both watched with tender smiles as Xain cuddled Edovina close to his chest.
"That should take care of any doubts you had." Allen said with a smile.
"We didn't have any doubts. We just had to ask the questions to make it official. If Sarek has a question about anything later, we can honestly say that we followed the prescribed method." Sean said quietly.
"Thanks Officer Bridges, I appreciate it." Teri said happily and rang off.
"Good news?" Allen asked hopefully.
"Two o'clock in Judge Robison's chambers. The clerk is going to squeeze us in so we have to have everything ready to go." Teri said seriously.
"No problem. Once we get Deacon's situation sorted out, we just have to swing by Starfleet, the Vulcan Embassy and the bicycle shop." Cory said in thought.
"The bicycle shop?" Allen asked with a smile.
"Calen got a flat tire, so we need to pick up a new tube. It's a dad thing. You understand." Cory said with an impish grin.
"Yes I do." Allen said with a smile.
"I guess we'll give Billy and Deacon a few more minutes, then go get them." Cory said in a considering voice.
"Would you guys like something to drink while you're waiting?"
* * * * *
"The guys said you were going to decide what to do with me." Deacon said in a fearful voice.
"Yeah. But I need to know what you want me to do first." Billy said honestly.
"I want you to let me live with you!" Deacon said desperately.
"I want that too Deke, but this isn't just for a week or two. We're talking about at least until you're eighteen. How are you going to handle it when I have to leave for a few weeks to do a shoot in Venezuela or Australia?" Billy asked with concern.
"Allen already said I could stay with him when you have to go away." Deacon said seriously.
"I know. We can find a place for you to stay. I mean inside, how are you going to feel about it? I don't want you to ever have to feel like you did with mom and dad. If you can't handle me being away sometimes, then it might be best if I let Allen adopt you. He already said he would if that's what we wanted." Billy said with tears in his eyes.
"You don't want me?" Deacon asked in a small voice as tears started falling down his cheeks.
Billy pulled his brother into a tight hug and said, "Of course I want you, you little dipshit. I just want to be sure you're not going to feel like I'm abandoning you when I have to go to work."
Deacon sniffed back his tears and said, "As long as I know that you really want me, and you're going to come back and be with me as soon as you can, I want to live with you... I love you Billy."
Billy hugged Deacon even tighter as he said, "I'll always come back just as soon as I can. I grew up with the same shit you did Deke, I won't ever leave you if I don't absolutely have to, and I promise I'll take you with me whenever I can."
"Thank you Billy. You're the only one who ever loved me. That's why I had to come here." Deacon said as he sniffed again.
"You're the only reason I made all those trips back home. Hell, the last time I visited, I only saw Mom ten minutes the whole week I was there." Billy said quietly.
"You remember what Dan said last night about both of us talking to him?" Deacon asked in a timid voice.
"Yeah." Billy replied, matching his brother's tone.
"I think I need to... I've been, kind of, thinking some bad things." Deacon said hesitantly.
"I know bro. I did too when I was living there." Billy said in a soothing voice.
"No. I mean really bad. Like I thought about killing myself. I thought about it a lot." Deacon said more loudly.
"Shhh. I know Deke. I did too." Billy said as he hugged even more tightly.
"Really?" Deacon asked in a whisper.
"Yeah. You want to know a secret?" Billy asked as he bent a little to be even with Deacon's ear.
Deacon nodded quickly.
"You're the reason I didn't do it. I couldn't hurt you like that." Billy said in a whisper.
Deacon started crying as he said, "Me too."
Billy held Deacon through his tears. When he finally started to quiet, Billy said, "As soon as we're done here, I'll take you home and we'll call Dan."
Deacon nodded into Billy's chest.
"Come on. Let's tell these guys what we've decided to do." Billy said quietly.