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"Are you getting tired Little One?" Allen asked gently as Kevin swam to his side.
"Yeah." Kevin said quietly.
"Then let's get out for a while. I think Reuben is swimming well enough now that I can get out of the water." Allen said gently as he moved Kevin to pick him up.
A squeal of childish laughter sounded in the air as Kenny pushed off from the side of the pool with Ricardo held tightly to his back.
"Kenny will probably be tired soon too. He's been towing Ricardo since we got in the water." Allen said as he carefully climbed out of the pool with Kevin clung to his side.
Allen carefully laid out two beach towels and rested back to soak in the sun's warmth.
Finally Kevin asked in a small voice, "Poppa, will I ever be able to do stuff like Kenny?"
Allen looked beside him and met Kevin's worried gaze before saying, "Of course you will Little One. It's just going to take time for you to build up your strength. In fact, I bet you wouldn't have lasted for fifteen minutes in the pool when you arrived here."
"But what if I don't get stronger?" Kevin asked in a voice of concern.
"You will get stronger. But even if you didn't for some reason, it wouldn't make any difference. I love you for who you are, not what you can do." Allen said seriously.
"I love you too Poppa." Kevin said in such a sincere tone that Allen felt it in his heart.
Allen couldn't resist the pull of the words and scooted over to give Kevin a quick hug.
* * * * *
"You guys better enjoy the sunshine while you can." Billy said from the walkway as he walked out of the house.
"What time is it?" Allen asked in surprise.
"12:30, Juana wants to know if you'd like to have your lunch out here." Billy said with a snicker as he looked appreciatively at Allen in his swimming trunks.
Allen got a distant look, then said, "Actually, that sounds like a good idea. Would you guys mind?"
"No, it sounds good to me. Like I said, we need to enjoy the sunshine while we can. I saw the weather and we're supposed to be getting a storm this afternoon." Billy said as he took a seat on the nearby patio furniture.
Allen got up from his towel and called to the boys, "Everyone out of the pool. We're about to have lunch."
To Allen's surprise, none of the boys made a complaint. They all looked to be tired out by their morning's activity.
"Where are Xain and Jake?" Deacon asked curiously.
"Upstairs. I'll go and tell them lunch is ready, then help Juana carry it out." Allen said with a smile.
* * * * *
"I'll be back in just a minute to help you carry lunch out to the patio." Allen said as he passed through the kitchen.
"I wasn't being serious." Juana said in surprise.
"Well, it was a great idea anyway. It's a beautiful day Juana. We should enjoy it." Allen said before leaving the room.
* * * * *
"Guys, it's lunch time." Allen said after gently knocking on the bedroom door.
"You can come in Dad." Jake said in a peaceful voice.
Allen hesitantly opened the door to find both boys cuddled in Jake's bed.
The sound of Backstreet's 'Shape of My Heart' was playing softly in the background accompanied by the sound of the waterfall.
"Did everything go okay?" Allen asked hesitantly.
"Yeah. It was great." Jake said with a contented smile.
"I too am pleased with the experience." Xain said gently.
"So you didn't have any problems?" Allen asked cautiously.
"No. We felt each others feelings... it was... better than anything." Jake said, having difficulty finding words.
"Jake is now my T'hy'la in every sense of the word." Xain said with a look of love directed at Jake.
Allen smiled warmly and said, "I'm really happy for you. Billy and Deacon are here for lunch, so it's time to come downstairs."
"Okay Dad. We'll be down in a minute." Jake said with a grand smile.
Allen couldn't resist the urge and walked to the bed to give each of his sons a kiss on the forehead.
Xain looked at Allen curiously.
"You've just achieved something wonderful in your life. It's my way of saying that I'm proud of you both." Allen said gently.
"Thank you Father. What we achieve is due in large part to your encouragement and approval." Xain said seriously.
As Allen walked to the door he said, "Well, if either of you feel like talking to me, just let me know."
"I think we're okay Dad, but I promise that we'll tell you if we have any problems." Jake said with a peaceful smile.
Allen nodded as he closed their bedroom door.
* * * * *
"I can't believe how you guys eat. I can't remember the last time I had home cooked food like this." Billy said as he filled his plate.
"You can thank Juana and Xain for that. I haven't cooked a real meal since we moved in." Allen said with a smile.
"I'm used to cooking for myself, but it doesn't taste as good as this." Deacon said seriously.
"I think Juana and Xain use something besides the microwave to cook." Billy said in a teasing voice.
"Oh... what else is there?" Deacon asked with a playful smile.
Allen motioned to Kevin to come over to him.
Allen leaned in to whisper, "Juana needs a place to sit."
Kevin looked around and saw that all the seats were filled.
"Deacon, would you and Kenny like to sit in the grass with me and Reuben and Ricardo?" Kevin asked hopefully.
Kenny looked at Kevin curiously, then glanced at Juana who was watching them.
"Come on Deacon. We don't get to sit in the grass and eat very often." Kenny said with a smile.
Deacon looked at Kevin and Kenny and smiled, then grabbed his plate to follow.
"Not very subtle, but it worked." Billy said with a chuckle.
Allen gave a shrug, then smiled as Juana timidly took a seat.
"Will Xain and Jake be joining us for lunch?" Juana asked quietly.
"Yes. They'll be right down." Allen said with a smile.
"This is so nice. I'm always running around and doing things, I can't remember the last time I was able to just sit and enjoy a meal like this." Billy said happily.
Allen looked at Billy carefully, then cautiously asked, "How did your phone calls go?"
Billy smiled and said, "Dan is going to try and schedule us around the same time as you so we can, I don't know, keep each other company or support each other or something."
"And the other call?" Allen asked seriously.
"Voice-mail. I left a message for my mom to call me back. I told her it was important, so Deke says it will probably be Saturday before she calls me back." Billy said with a shrug.
"I'm sorry Billy. I had hoped you would have been able to get this resolved." Allen said quietly.
"It is. Deke's staying. I'm just going to let her know, that's all." Billy said frankly.
Allen nodded, then noticed Jake and Xain walk out of the house.
"You didn't tell us you were eating outside." Jake said with a chuckle.
"Oops." Allen said with a giggle.
"We looked all over the house for you. When Xain mentioned that you were wearing swim trunks, we thought about checking out here." Jake said as he filled his plate.
Xain looked around, trying to decide where to sit.
Jake looked at Xain seriously as everyone watched.
"It's rude to communicate telepathically in front of company." Allen said with a smile.
"Billy and Deacon are not company. They are family." Xain said seriously.
"And it would be more rude for me to say out loud what I was thinking." Jake said in a matching tone.
"Okay guys, you win on both counts." Allen said with a chuckle and noticed that Billy was trying to stifle a laugh.
Jake took a seat in the empty chair, then motioned for Xain to sit on his right knee.
Billy watched with amusement as Jake and Xain tried to behave in a dignified manner.
A whimpering cry came from the stroller beside Juana.
"I believe Edovina is also ready for her lunch." Juana said as she stood.
"I can prepare her bottle Mamacita." Xain said seriously.
"Thank you Xain. That is very nice of you." Juana said with a fond smile.
"It is a pleasure to attend to she who is my daughter." Xain said simply as he walked to the house.
"I can hold her until her bottle is ready." Jake said as he walked to the stroller.
"You guys are really good at this." Billy said seriously.
"Not really. Without Mamacita I don't think we would do very well. But we love doing things for Vina when she needs it." Jake said as he cradled Edovina in his arms.
"So I heard Teri say something about going to court at 2:00, is something wrong?" Billy asked with concern.
"No. Now that we have proof that Vina is my daughter, we're going to get her name changed to Thompson." Jake said with a warm smiled directed at Allen.
"Oh good. I was afraid there was a problem." Billy said with relief.
"No, we just want Vina to always know that her daddies love her and want her." Jake said as he looked into his daughters eyes.
"I don't think there will be any problem with that." Billy said with a tender smile.
"Look at that." Juana said in wonder as she pointed at the darkening sky.
"The storms do come up quick around here. Let's take the food inside before it starts raining." Allen said as he stood.
"Boys, come to help carry in the food." Juana said to the boys who were sitting in the grass.
* * * * *
The next few minutes were a flurry of activity as everyone rushed to get everything into the house before the rain started falling.
"Lookit." Reuben said as the rain started to fall.
"Wow. It's really raining hard." Kevin said with wide eyes.
"Get used to it boys. We're in Florida. We have some beautiful weather, but when it storms, it storms with a vengeance." Allen said seriously.
A crack of thunder caused all the boys to line up at the window to stare at the storm with fascination.
"We can continue to eat now." Juana said quietly.
"It's okay Juana. They haven't seen a Florida storm before. The worst of it will probably be over in a few minutes." Allen said as he watched the boys at the window, looking out over the lake.
"I bet you can see more from the windows in the family room." Allen said more loudly to the boys.
The boys fought between the urges to stay and watch and to run to the family room and take the chance of missing a moment of the dramatic storm.
Allen watched as if on cue, all the boys ran as a pack from the kitchen to the family room.
"I guess Kenny got caught up in the excitement. He's seen storms like this a hundred times." Allen said with a smile, then noticed Xain standing behind him, holding Edovina.
"Would you like me to hold Edovina so you can watch the storm?" Allen asked gently.
"Yes. Thank you Father." Xain said with a small, hesitant smile.
Allen happily accepted Edovina into his arms and watched as Xain walked calmly to the family room.
"You have a really cool family." Billy said with a smile at the door Xain had just passed through.
"So do you." Allen said warmly.
"Thanks Allen. I guess I do." Billy said in thought.
"We're thinking of doing something this weekend, maybe going out of town. Do you think you and Deacon would be able to join us?" Allen asked hopefully.
"What are? you going to do?" Billy asked curiously.
"We haven't decided yet. I told the boys about it Saturday and we haven't discussed it yet." Allen said frankly.
"You're going to let them decide?" Billy asked with surprise.
"I'm letting them make suggestions. If they come up with something that we can all do in the space of a weekend, then we'll do it." Allen said seriously.
"And you want me and Deacon in on this too?" Billy asked in confirmation.
"Yes. Xain was right. You're a part of our family now." Allen said with a tender smile.
Billy got a strange look, then put his hand under the table. A moment later he had his cell phone in his hand.
"I swear, every time that thing vibrates it freaks me out." Billy said with a hint of a blush as he looked at the caller ID.
Allen couldn't restrain a laugh at the statement.
"Hey Petey, what's up?" Billy said as he answered the phone.
"I'm having lunch with some friends, what are you up to?" Billy asked casually.
"No, I didn't really have a chance..." Billy began to say.
"Hold on Pete. Deke's here, he's fine. Don't worry." Billy said in an assuring voice.
"Yeah. I bet. Thanks for helping him out Pete and thanks for making sure he's okay. I really appreciate it." Billy said honestly.
"No shit? Well, tell Jono that he has a place down here anytime he needs it, and that goes for you too." Billy said with concern.
"All you got to do is call me and you'll have plane tickets waiting on you at the airport. It's that simple. Tell him. Okay?" Billy said seriously.
"Yeah. Thanks again Pete. Tell your mom and dad I said 'hi' and smack Frankie up side the head for me." Billy finished with a smile.
"Yeah. Later. Bye." Billy said and disconnected.
"Sorry about that. It was my friend Pete from Minneapolis. He's the one who bought Deke the bus ticket. He said that Deke was such a mess, he thought it would be best for him to come here right away. He freaked out when he couldn't get in touch with me and let me know Deke was coming." Billy said simply.
"It's good to know you have friends who'll watch out for Deacon like that." Allen said seriously.
"Yeah. Pete and Jono are the best... It sounds like the company Jono works for may be about to close down." Billy said with concern.
"They know you're here when they need you. That's probably all you can do for now." Allen said frankly.
"Yeah. You're right. I just feel like I should be able to do more since I have all this money." Billy said seriously.
Allen nodded and said, "It's hard to know when you should use it to try and help and when to stand back and let things happen."
"Yeah. I've learned that." Billy said quietly.
"Speaking of money, I have to remember to make a few calls. I've got to get the cable turned on and talk to a realtor about selling a house." Allen said seriously.
"You've got another house?" Billy asked curiously.
"Yes, the one that I lived in before I bought this one. It's a really nice little two bedroom." Allen said with a peaceful smile.
"Before you put it on the market, I'd like to see it." Billy said seriously.
"Of course, but why do you need another house?" Allen asked curiously.
"For Pete and Jono if they end up coming down here. I love those guys, they're my best friends. But there really isn't room for them at my place if they decide to move down here and besides that... I don't think I could live with them." Billy said with an uneasy look.
"Why not?" Allen asked curiously.
"Well, like I said, they're my best friends, but Pete is really... um, aggressive. I don't mean like violent or anything but more like pushy. He's a really good guy, but he kind of takes charge, like, all the time." Billy said with difficulty.
"That can really put people off. I'm glad you can see past it and appreciate the person inside." Allen said in thought.
"Yeah. It would just be really tough to be around him all the time. And Jono is kind of... he never shuts up. He's interesting and funny and cool as shit but it just gets old after a few hours. I swear that my ears are still buzzing a half hour after he leaves from his constant chatter... I kind of miss it now." Billy said with a fond smile.
"So what irritating habit do you have to fit in with your friends?" Allen asked curiously.
Billy smiled a big smile and said, "I'm the quiet one."
Allen gave Billy an incredulous look.
"Seriously! When I met Pete and Jono in school, I probably didn't say ten words to them the first two weeks I hung around with them. They just kind of adopted me into their group and I went along with it." Billy said in explanation.
"Sorry, but I just have trouble seeing you as timid and quiet. You seem perfectly able to voice your thoughts and feelings." Allen said speculatively.
"Well I had to while I was hanging around with those guys. If I didn't learn to speak up, Petey would have walked all over me. And if I didn't learn to interrupt Jono he'd never have a chance to take a breath." Billy finished with a smile.
"Well, from the way you describe them, I think you're right about finding a separate place for them to live. Tomorrow I'll probably be taking the boys to look at schools. Maybe you and Deacon would like to come along. Afterward we could look at my old house and you can decide if you like it." Allen said seriously.
"Yeah, that sounds cool. Are you thinking about sending the guys to private school?" Billy asked curiously.
"No. Kenny will probably go to the public school he attended last year. Reuben may decide to go there too. Xain, Jake and Kevin will most likely be going to 'Camp Little Eagle'." Allen said carefully.
"Sean and Cory told me about the camp. But I thought it was like a boy's home." Billy said with concern.
"Not exactly. I mean it is a boy's home, but from what I've been told, it's a whole lot more. It's not a place to put problem boys to keep them out of trouble. It's a place to help boys who need individual attention. I haven't seen it myself but from everything I've heard, it sounds really nice." Allen said honestly.
"Well, it sounds like it's worth looking at. And I'd like to get Deke's school stuff started as soon as possible so he's not too far behind." Billy said in thought.
"Good. I'll talk to Sean and Cory about it when they get here to see when's the best time to visit." Allen said seriously.
The group of boys walked into the kitchen and took their places around the table.
"I guess the best part of the storm is over." Allen said with a smile.
"Yeah. It was really cool. Kenny says you have storms like that all the time." Kevin said with excitement.
"That's right. We have some of the most beautiful weather in the world. But when it storms, it really storms." Allen said with a smile.
* * * * *
"Are you going to get married?" Kevin asked Jake and Xain curiously.
"What?" Jake asked as he nearly choked on his food.
"Poppa said you and Xain are T'hy'la are you going to get married now?" Kevin asked seriously.
"When I reach the age of fourteen, I will return to Vulcan and stand before my family to declare my mate." Xain said seriously.
Allen thought about the statement, then asked, "So you plan to follow the traditional pon'farr ritual?"
"Yes, although due to my unique physiology it is not a foregone conclusion that I will experience pon'farr ." Xain said logically.
"I hadn't thought of that. Well, either way I think it's a good idea." Allen said with a gentle smile.
"Um, what's a ponfar?" Billy asked curiously.
"Sometime around Xain's fourteenth birthday he will feel an instinctive need to select a mate. The first Pon Far is comparatively weak and would normally be suppressed to allow Xain seven more years to reach his full maturity. However, it is acceptable for him to select a mate during the first pon'farr ." Allen said in thought.
Xain and Jake were obviously communicating telepathically.
Allen noticed and waited for them to be done.
Jake glanced at his Dad and shyly said, "Xain was just filling me in on the ceremony. It sounds kinda cool."
Allen smiled and said, "I think it will be wonderful.
* * * * *
"That was a great lunch Juana. I think we're all ready to enjoy some birthday cake for dessert." Allen said with a smile at Deacon.
"Yeah." Deacon said as he rushed to the dining room.
"Would you like some coffee with your cake?" Juana asked as she cleared the dishes from the table.
"Yes. That sounds great Juana." Allen said with a contented smile.
"Deke and I are going to go shopping to get him some new clothes this afternoon." Billy said casually as he rested back in his chair.
"That should be fun. I was wondering if you and Deacon would like to come with us to the courthouse for the name change. It won't be too long before we leave and it should only take a few minutes." Allen asked as he also rested back.
"Um, okay, I guess." Billy said with confusion at the invitation.
"It's kind of a family moment, I thought you and Deacon would like to share in it." Allen said in explanation.
Deacon walked carefully into the kitchen carrying his cake and sat it in the center of the table.
Billy looked at his brother, then said, "I guess we're not used to being included in stuff like that. Yeah, we'd love to go."
"Where are we going?" Deacon asked as he took his seat.
"Allen invited us to be there when Edovina gets her name changed." Billy said with a smile.
Juana approached the table with a stack of dessert plates and a knife to cut the cake.
"It is Deacon's cake so he gets the honor of cutting it." Juana said as she handed him the knife.
Deacon looked at the cake and said, "It's too pretty to cut."
Allen smiled and said, "Just go ahead and do it Deacon. It's meant to be eaten."
Deacon hesitantly brought the knife up to cut the cake when Billy said, "Hold on a second Deke."
Deacon stopped and looked at Billy in question.
"Would you mind if we moved the cake back into the dining room and I took some pictures before we cut it?" Billy asked Allen quickly.
Allen smiled and said, "Leave it to the photographer to think of that."
"Put your cake back in the dining room and I'll get my camera." Billy said as he stood.
"Yeah, thanks Billy." Deacon said happily and carefully picked the cake up again.
Allen grabbed the knife and said, "Come on guys. We're going to have our cake in the dining room."
All the boys gathered the plates and forks to carry them into the dining room.
* * * * *
"Okay Deke, would you stand by your presents for a picture?" Billy asked hopefully.
Deacon happily moved to the buffet where his collection of presents sat.
"Good... I guess I don't have to tell you to smile." Billy said happily as he snapped the picture.
"Now if everyone will stand in front of the window, I'll get one with the banner." Billy said as he quickly checked the light with his light meter.
"Good, Jake, turn Edovina a little so I can get her face... that's it." Billy said as he snapped the picture.
"While you've got it set up, would you like me to take one of you and Deacon?" Allen asked with a gentle smile.
"Yeah, thanks Allen." Billy said happily.
* * * * *
"Thompson residence." Allen said as he answered the phone.
"Sure Teri, in fact I already invited him." Allen said with a smile.
"Yes, don't worry, we'll be there. Thanks for calling. Bye." Allen said quickly.
"What was that all about?" Billy asked curiously.
"That was Teri. It seems that they got thrown behind schedule and need for us to meet them at the courthouse." Allen said seriously.
"Oh, okay. That's no problem." Billy said with a smile.
"And she asked me to invite you along, she didn't say why." Allen said in thought.
"Okay, well, since we were planning to go with you anyway, that's fine." Billy said simply.
"Let's get everyone together and head down there now. I'd rather have to wait a few minutes than take the chance of being late due to traffic problems." Allen said to the group.
"I think we'll need to take both cars for this trip." Allen said as he returned to the dining room.
"Well, I'm going to take my car so we can go shopping when we leave the courthouse." Billy said frankly.
"We're still going to need to take two cars. There are just too many of us. Juana, you drive the Beamer, I'll drive the Caravan. You guys can split up any way you want." Allen said seriously.
"I think it's easier to take care of Vina in the Caravan." Jake said seriously.
"Can I ride there with Deacon and Billy?" Kenny asked hopefully.
"Do you guys mind?" Allen asked with a smile.
"No prob." Billy said casually.
"Okay, then Kenny, grab your gameboy and headphones. Kevin, get your smallest sketchpad. Jake, if you'll go upstairs to my bedroom, you'll find a portable CD player on my nightstand. Grab it and a few CDs to listen to." Allen said, then looked curiously at Xain.
"I do not need distraction." Xain said seriously.
Allen nodded, then looked at Juana.
"Reuben, find a coloring book for Ricardo and a book for yourself." Juana said in her motherly voice.
"Kenny, can I borrow one of your books?" Reuben asked hopefully.
"Sure, come on while I get my gameboy." Kenny said quickly and ran out of the room.
"Vamanos Ricardo." Kevin said quickly and hurried out with Ricardo on his heels.
Billy looked at Deacon, trying to figure out what he should do.
"I have my new game." Deacon said with a smile.
Billy nodded with relief.
Allen looked at Xain again, then hurried out of the room to the family room.
* * * * *
"We'll meet you at the main doors of the courthouse." Allen said as the three groups went out the front door.
"Yeah, we'll see you there." Billy said happily as he, Deacon and Kenny walked toward their house.
"Do you have everything for Edovina?" Juana asked with concern.
"I stocked the stroller full of everything she'll need, I've got a bottle of formula and a bottle of juice and Xain has the car seat." Jake said seriously.
"Not many fathers have such foresight." Juana said with a smile.
Jake felt a boost of pride at the compliment.
* * * * *
"Hey guys. How's it going?" Teri asked as they entered the courthouse.
"Just fine. Did you get all your errands run?" Allen asked casually.
"Yes, even the bicycle shop. It just took longer at Starfleet than we expected." Teri said with a smile.
"I have your birthday cake in the car. I will give it to you when we leave." Juana said quietly.
"Thank you so much Juana. I really am looking forward to it." Teri said with a grateful smile.
Kenny looked at Cory and said, "Dad had us bring books and games because it's probably going to be really boring."
Cory smiled and said, "I bet he's right. Sean and I got enough paperwork between Starfleet and the Vulcan Embassy that we'll have plenty to keep us busy."
* * * * *
"How much longer?" Kenny asked curiously.
"Fifteen minutes." Allen said without looking up from his book.
Kenny nodded, then went back to playing his video game.
"Are you sure you wouldn't like to listen to music with me? I'll share." Jake said with concern.
"No. Thank? you." Xain said seriously.
Allen looked up from his book and said, "I brought something for you if you would like Xain."
After a long silent moment, Xain looked at Allen curiously.
"Here. This should keep you busy for a while." Allen said as he handed Xain a small piece of paper.
Teri and Billy watched Xain read the paper, then Teri noticed that Jake had a distant look in his eyes.
Billy silently watched as Xain's expression became more and more focused.
Cory looked up from his paperwork and was surprised to see the look of intense concentration on Xain's face.
Finally Teri looked at Allen with question.
Allen smiled at her, then started reading his book again.
* * * * *
"Okay Allen, he's been reading that little piece of paper for ten minutes. What could you have possibly given him that would absorb him and Jake so completely?" Teri finally asked in wonder.
"Xain, would you like to read it to Teri?" Allen asked with a smile.
Xain blinked, then in a distracted tone, said, "Yes Father."
anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Teri, Cory and Billy all sat staring in wonder.
"I thought it might occupy his mind." Allen said with a shrug.
Teri began to chuckle and finally said, "That was just mean."
"No. Not at all. The dynamics of this poetry are... fascinating." Xain finished and began to read the poem again.
Allen nodded with a smile, then went back to reading his book.
Deacon looked up from his game to see Billy looking at Allen with admiration.
With a happy smile, Deacon went back to playing his game.
* * * * *
"I didn't expect to see you all again so soon." Judge Robison said as he walked into his chambers.
"Neither did we your honor." Allen said honestly.
"Please, call me Jamie while we're in here. What can I do for you today?" Judge Robison asked as he relaxed into his chair.
Teri stood and handed the Judge a stack of papers.
"Would you like to give me the condensed version of this?" Jamie asked as he began to look over the papers.
"We were able to get a DNA test proving that Jake Thompson is the biological father of Edovina Vasquez. Since Jake is a member of Clan Short, she can be officially recognized as Jake's daughter by Vulcan law. But we still need to go before a judge to change her name." Teri said as simply as she was able.
Judge Robison looked through the paperwork quickly and said, "This all seems to be in order, there only seems to be one problem."
"What's that?" Teri asked in panic.
"Since you're operating under Vulcan law in the matter of the child's paternity, it takes precedence." Jamie said in thought.
"Judge Robison is correct. Edovina is officially recognized as a dependent child of two Clan members. Vulcan law has precedent in this instance." Xain said seriously.
"Does that mean we can't change her name?" Jake asked in confusion.
"No, it means that no official change can be made to Edovina's legal status without the approval of the Clan Patriarch." Xain said and looked at Cory.
"Well, that's no problem. I'm right here. I approve." Cory said simply.
"May I see your credentials so I may continue?" Judge Robison asked in a respectful voice.
Cory handed his Vulcan ID to the Judge and waited.
"Then it's done. I'll have the clerk file this immediately." Judge Robison said as he signed the document.
Everyone looked at Judge Robison curiously.
"Oh yes. Jake and Xain, please bring Edovina over here." Judge Robison said as he stood.
Jake took Edovina from Juana and hurried with Xain to stand beside the Judge.
"Jake and Xain, may I present to you and everyone present Edovina Vasquez Thompson." Judge Robison said in a formal, booming voice.
A brief but heartfelt applause rose up from all in the room.
"I really should have a group rate for families like the Dodds, Thompsons and the Shorts." Judge Robison said as he took his seat again.
"You might want to add the Pierces to that." Teri said as she handed Judge Robison the custody papers for Deacon.
"What did you need me to do with these?" Judge Robison asked as he looked them over.
"Actually, nothing. I just wanted to introduce you to Deacon and Billy; the latest additions to our family. I just thought you might like to keep abreast of the latest developments since we seem to see each other so much." Teri finished with a shy smile.
Jamie laughed and said, "Thank you Teri. You know, I think you're the first person who actually thought to include me as an interested party in something like this. It's a good feeling."
"You know how families come together when there's a birth, death, or a marriage. It seems like you're there for every major event we have... it sort of makes you like part of the family." Sean said in thought.
Teri nodded at Sean's statement, then said, "Judge Jamie Robison, I'd like to introduce William Pierce."
Jamie walked to stand before Billy and said, "It's nice to meet you Mr. Pierce."
"Please call me Billy." He said shyly as he shook the judges hand.
"As long as you call me Jamie." The Judge said with a gentle smile.
"And you must be Deacon." Jamie said and shook Deacon's hand.
"Y... yes sir." Deacon said shyly.
"Don't worry Deacon, I'm just meeting you as a friend of the family. You're not in any trouble." Jamie said in a gentle voice.
Deacon gave a sigh of relief.
Jamie noticed and smiled as he went back to his desk.
"So what else is going on with the family?" Jamie asked as he sat down in his chair.
"Well, Chip is back on Earth at the moment...."
* * * * *
"Cory, I was thinking of taking the boys to see Camp Little Eagle tomorrow. Is there anything I need to do?" Allen asked as they filed out of Judge Robison's chambers.
"When I get home I'll call Chief Tecumseh and set it up. I'll send you the details on your terminal." Cory said seriously.
"Thanks. Would it be any problem if Deacon came too?" Allen asked as an afterthought.
"I can't think of any reason why it would be, but I'll check to be sure." Cory said in thought.
"Thanks. I just want to get everything taken care of before I have to go back to work." Allen said with a smile.
"Well if you need something official done when you're at work, you can always give me a call. I work from home so it wouldn't be a problem." Teri said as they walked out of the courthouse.
"Thanks Teri, I think Juana can handle almost anything. But if it comes to it, I'll call." Allen said gently as Teri pulled out her car keys.
"If you will wait a moment, I will get your birthday cake." Juana said and rushed away from the group.
Teri smiled at Juana and said, "I'm so glad the boys thought to invite Juana and her family to live here. I think it's the best possible thing for everyone."
"I have to agree. Juana is incredible." Allen said with a gentle smile.
"Me too." Jake said with a smile as he looked into the stroller where Edovina slept.
"What's wrong Ricardo?" Allen asked at the worried look on Ricardo's face.
"Sleepy." Ricardo said in a cranky voice.
"Oh, it's past your nap time isn't it?" Allen asked with a smile as he squatted down to hug Ricardo.
"If you would like, I can take Ricardo to the Caravan where he can lay down on the rear seat." Xain said seriously.
"Thank you very much Xain, that's a good idea. Here are the keys, we'll be there in just a few minutes." Allen said with a smile.
Xain accepted the keys and led Ricardo away by the hand.
"He's really amazing." Teri said with astonishment.
"All my boys are." Allen said with a loving smile at Jake, Kevin and Kenny.
Teri laughed as she said, "I know what you mean."
"Here, the cake was made by Xain. I know you will enjoy it." Juana said as she hurried back to the group.
"Thank you very much Juana. Do you think you'll be available to come over to visit while Allen and the boys look at the camp?" Teri asked casually.
Juana looked stunned by the request.
"We live just across the street from Camp Little Eagle, so it won't be out of your way." Teri said carefully.
"Yes, yes of course." Juana said happily.
"Good. Don't be surprised if Kayla or Helen is there too." Teri said gently.
"I will have Ricardo and Edovina with me." Juana said in thought.
"That's fine. I'm sure Kayla and Helen will just fuss over them like crazy." Teri said happily.
"May I bring anything? A coffee cake perhaps?" Juana asked hopefully.
"Only if you want to. We'll probably end up sitting around and talking about our kids." Teri finished with a smile.
"I'm going to take Vina to the car. I think she needs to be changed." Jake said to Allen in a whisper.
"Go on, we'll be right there." Allen said in return.
"Well, I have to be going. See you all tomorrow." Teri said happily as she climbed into her car.
"Goodbye Teri." Allen said gently.
"Bye Cory, Bye Sean." Kenny said quickly as they also got into the car.
"Tell Xain to be near the terminal tonight. We'll be calling." Cory said from his open window.
"We will." Kevin said with assurance.
* * * * *
As Allen inched forward in the impossibly slow traffic jam, he thanked God, Mikey and whoever else he could think of that he had asked the boys to bring things to keep them entertained.
Just when he thought the traffic couldn't get any slower, it did.
"I think there's an accident up there." Kenny said from the passenger seat.
"That would explain why the traffic is nearly stopped. Some people don't have anything better to do than slow down to look at an accident." Allen said with irritation.
"Pop! It looks like Dad's car!" Kenny said in nearly a scream.
Allen inched impossibly closer to the car in front of him, trying to see the accident.
"Oh my God!" Allen said as he looked at the BMW turned completely over, blocking one lane of traffic.
"Where's Mamacita?" Jake said as he frantically looked at the car through tear filled eyes.
"And Reuben." Kevin said in a whimper as he squeezed in beside Kenny in the passenger seat and hugged him tightly.