Harris ran to the door of his new penthouse, yanking the door open before Jeff could warn him to stop.
“Daddy Vanek!” Harris crowed happily, throwing himself into the blue-eyed Vulcan’s arms. “You should totally see my new room!”
Then, Harris noticed that his father wasn’t returning the embrace like he expected and stepped back warily from the man. Only then, did Harris notice that the man was in the garb of a visiting Vulcan Dignitary, and there was a young boy with his own set of blue eyes, staring at Harris with a raised eyebrow. The corner of the boy’s lips twitched as he seemed to study Harris, making the human blush. Harris slowly raised his gaze to where he found the blue-eyed man studying him, as well.
“My apologies, sir,” Harris apologized nervously, resisting the urge to shrink beneath the man’s scrutiny. “I mistook you for somebody else. You have a remarkable resemblance to my sa’mekh.”
“I find that to be a common occurrence among humans, as my brother and I share external features,” the Vulcan replied.
“You’re my Uncle Vanok?” Harris asked curiously, not sure of what the Vulcan word was for the human title.
“That is a satisfactory assumption,” Vanok replied.
“My sa’mekh is not home, yet,” Harris told the man, trying to regain as much dignity as he could. “You are more than welcome to come inside if my Guard approves?”
“Greetings, gentlemen,” the seventeen-year-old said as he stepped up to the door. “May I see your credentials, sir?”
“Assuredly,” Vanok replied as the requested documents were produced.
Jeff quickly checked the document before he handed it back to Vanok.
“I appreciate your cooperation, sir,” Jeff told the man. “You and your guest are more than welcome to enter the Director’s home.”
“Director?” The Vulcan boy quipped, his blue eyes studying Harris, again.
This time, Harris didn’t blush. He found himself feeling proud, for a change.
“Yes,” Harris spoke up before anybody else could say anything. “I am the Director of the Ohio Valley Division of Family Clan Short of Vulcan, appointed by Julio Hernadez, Director of the Des Moines Division of Family Clan Short of Vulcan. Welcome to my home, gentlemen.”
Then, Harris stepped aside, holding the door open for the two Vulcans.
“Please,” Harris motioned to the chairs in the main room, “have a seat. My sa’mekh and my father should be returning from Charleston at any moment. They are currently away on Clan business. I am Harris, son of Harold Conner and Vanek, son of Vilnar, son of Salik, of the Family Vilnar, of the House of Surak.”
“Greetings, Harris Conner,” Vanok returned before he motioned to the boy beside him that was the same height as Harris. The boy had the same dark hair as his father and his eyes were a deep blue in color. “This is my youngest son, Vanez.”
“I am honored to have met the both of you,” Harris tried to respond, but Vanok corrected the boy.
“I surmise that your acquaintance shall be mutually beneficial to myself and my son,” Vanok stated.
“Thank you, Vanok,” Harris replied with a slight incline of his head. “I have only been in this realm for a few days, so I am still learning the different cultures that are here.”
“Are you able to expand on the use of the term “realm”, Director Harris?” Vanok queried with a raised eyebrow.
Harris was about to reply, when Vanek appeared in the center of the room, with a very frightened looking boy beside him.
“Hi, Stefan!” Harris greeted the boy warmly, quickly crossing the room to hug the boy. “This is our new house! Amazing, isn’t it?”
Stefan nodded timidly while Vanek turned to greet his brother and his nephew.
“Greetings, brother,” Vanek stated with a slight nod of his head. “Would you care for some tea?”
“Do you want me to show you to your room, Stefan?” Arys asked his new brother. Stefan nodded again, and Harris happily took the boy’s hand and pulled him along towards the hallway. “This will only take a few minutes, man. Plus, you can change into your costume, too.”
“Okay, Harris,” Stefan said quietly. Then, Harris turned his attention to the younger boy. “Vanez, would you like to join us? It would give us a chance to get to know each other, while the adults talk.”
“May I join Harris and Stefan, sa’mekh?” Vanez asked in an even tone.
Vanok responded with a single nod. “You may, Vanez,” the blue-eyed man stated before the younger Vulcan joined the other two boys. “I will send for you when it is time to depart.”
“This is a great day, guys!” Harris observed excitedly, as he walked between the two boys. “I can’t believe that it all turned out the way it did!”
“Am I dreaming?” Stefan asked nervously.
“No,” Harris told the boy seriously, not noticing the fact that Vanez was studying his interaction with the timid boy. “You’re not dreaming. If you’re dreaming, then, I’m dreaming, too. Trust me, I don’t think I could ever have dreamt up what I’ve been through, today.”
“Pardon the interruption, Director Conner,” Vanez broke in before Harris could continue. “Would you explain your reasoning behind your statement about it being a great day?”
“Gladly, cousin,” Harris stated with a subtle grin. “It was just the other day that my life changed, forever. I was being chased by this really bad man. . .”
Isaac couldn’t help but smile as he looked around the lobby of their building to see the boys in their different Halloween costumes. Isaac was about to go in search of Alexander, when a tiny little boy dressed as a lion ran up to him, and quickly latched onto his waist. Isaac smiled down at the seven-year-old.
“Hey, Julian,” he greeted his little brother. “What’s up?”
“Nuffin, Ithaac,” Julian replied with a grin that revealed he was missing his two front teeth. “Daddy told me I thhould come wait with you while he helpth William and Trithtan put on their cothtumeth. I’m a lion!” The boy added proudly. “Are you a zombie?”
“Yeah,” Isaac responded, smiling as he motioned to the dirty outfit he was wearing. His dad had helped him paint his face to make him look like he was slowly rotting away, and there was fake blood dripping from the side of his mouth. “Your costume looks really cool, Julian,” Isaac told his little brother. “I can’t wait to see William and Tristan’s costumes.”
“William’th gonna be a Tharfweet Offither and Trithtan ith a doctor,” Julian informed Isaac with a grin.
“Awesome, Julian,” Isaac told the grinning boy. Then, amongst all of the thoughts that he was hearing from the room around him, Isaac heard a voice that sounded slightly familiar to him. A voice that only earlier, sounded like it belonged to a being on the verge of death.
‘I have to find the boy that held me, Phil,’ the voice stated. ‘He had hazel eyes and he could hear my thoughts, but I was too weak to even pick up a glimmer from him. I only heard his name once. I think it started with an ‘I’.’
Isaac immediately started scanning the room until he saw a boy wearing red shorts with large white buttons on them, and oversized mouse ears on his head. The boy had a long-sleeved black shirt on, was wearing black leggings that were stuffed into white sneakers. The boy’s face was pale, but his blue eyes were practically glowing as his face searched the room. Isaac and Chase both smiled when their eyes met. Isaac didn’t even flinch when Chase suddenly appeared in front of him and hugged him tightly.
“You’re welcome,” Isaac whispered softly to the trembling boy. He knew he didn’t need to say anything else to Chase. Isaac just needed to be there as a friend. The thoughts of love and appreciation were enough to let Isaac know that he had done the right thing by holding Chase when the boy was on the verge of starving himself to death.
‘Why didn’t you tell anybody that I was thirsty?’ Chase asked with his thoughts.
“I didn’t want to freak anybody out,” Isaac whispered back. “Adults are quick to assume the worst about something, so I handled it the way that I thought was best.”
‘I’ll love you forever, Isaac,’ Chase swore. ‘I’ll never let anybody or anything hurt you, ever again.’
Then, a boy with blond hair and green eyes, dressed as Donald Duck, was suddenly standing in front of them. “You’re a cute lion,” the newcomer told Julian with a smile before he introduced himself to Isaac. “Hi, I’m Phil Dawson. I’m Chase’s older brother, now.”
Isaac smiled as he returned the greeting. “I’m Isaac. This is my little brother Julian. I like your costume, Phil,” Isaac told the twelve-year-old with a blush. Phil was wearing a blue shirt that came down to his waist with a red bow tie on it, a blue beret with a black stripe around it, yellow leggings with yellow shoes, and a pair of white speedos that looked like they had a tuft of feather glued to the back of them.
“Thanks, Isaac,” Phil responded, not noticing the ogling looks he was getting from the younger boy. “You look like a cool zombie. I should go switch my costume really quick!”
“I think you look – ummm – really good like that,” Isaac replied with a blush, barely able to keep his eyes from the speedo wearing boy in front of him.
“His heart is beating like crazy,” Chase observed with a giggle as he finally released Isaac from the hug.
Isaac blushed even further.
“Chase, you look so much better, dude!” Tristan said as he and William joined the group. Julian immediately ran over to the boy dressed as doctor and begged for him to pick him up.
“Thanks, Tristan,” Chase stated. “I feel tons better! Who are you guys going to be living with?”
“Me, actually,” Isaac responded happily. “They’re my new brothers.” Then, Isaac frowned as a stray thought crossed his mind. ‘What if I’m not a good brother? I don’t even know how to be a brother. I’m just going to let them down. My mom was right. I’m not good enough to have brothers.’
Luckily for Isaac, only two boys were able to pick up on the blond-haired boy’s thought, and they both began to smother Isaac in hugs without any hesitation.
“Why would you think something like that?” Phil demanded.
“What’th wwong?” Julian demanded as he saw the two Moroi holding his brother. Tears were beginning to form in his brown eyes as his worry grew. “Ithaac?”
“What’s going on?” William asked.
“He’s worried that he’s not going to be a very good brother to you guys,” Chase told them quietly.
“What?” Tristan asked in disbelief. “Isaac’s already proven himself to be a great brother! The way he begged his dad to take us in. . .”
“He’s your dad, too,” Isaac replied.
“Then, why did you have to beg him?” Tristan demanded.
“I. . .” Isaac hesitated. “I think it’s because he wanted me to prove to him that I was willing to be your brother. I think he wanted me to show that I wanted our family to grow, and that I wouldn’t get jealous about any of you guys spending time with him.”
Tristan and William both smiled as they reached in to hug their little brother. “Perfect answer,” William stated. “That’s what your dad said, too.”
“You can call him ‘dad’, too,” Isaac protested softly. “He wouldn’t care.”
“Are you sure?” Tristan asked hesitantly.
“He letth me call him daddy,” Julian observed.
“Yeah, but you’re seven, Jules,” William countered.
“Tho?” Julian asked. “We’we awl hith boyth, now. He told uth tho, wemembew?”
“He’s right,” Isaac added. “He’s your dad, from this day forward.”
“I hope you’re right about this, Isaac,” Tristan said hopefully as tears filled his own brown eyes. “I just want a family, again.”
“He’s right, boys,” Dalton said, barely holding onto his own emotions as he joined his sons and the two Moroi. He knelt near the group, and Julian moved almost as fast as a Moroi as he leapt into the man’s arms. The man chuckled happily as he barely kept himself from falling backwards from the force of the boy’s jump. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
William and Tristan both ran to Dalton and succeeded in knocking the man to the ground as they joined julian in hugging their new father. Isaac sniffled happily as he watched his brothers and dad interact with each other. Phillip and Chase each hugged the boy from both sides, sharing their love and happiness with him. Isaac, enjoying the new sensations flooding through his mind, simply let himself melt into the feelings without a care in the world.
Then, Harris climbed up onto the security desk with a microphone in his hand. He was dressed as a Pirate Captain, with a large black hat on his head, and an eye patch over his left eye. Someone had drawn a fake mustache over the boy’s lip, and it looked as if they had shaded his cheeks to look like he had stubble from not shaving. He wore a loose white shirt with only the bottom two buttons fastened, exposing the center of his pale chest to the group. A black leather strap held a scabbard against the boy’s back as he held his fake sword above his head in a lofty manner. He wore tight-black pants that were tucked into the tops of dark-leather boots. He had a belt strapped around his waist on the outside of his shirt that completed the outfit. The boy’s tiny voice echoed through the atrium as he greeted everyone with a warm smile on his face. “Happy Halloween, maties! I know we’ve all had really – ummm – hectic days, but now it’s time for us to have a little fun and celebrate the wealth that we’ve all acquired today!” Harris paused for a moment as the other boys started giggling and talking amongst themselves. “So, we were going to go ‘Trick-or-Treat’ as a massive group, tonight, but as you can see for most of us, it’s kind of late. Instead, my dad and uncle suggested that we have a huge party down in the Commons! If you guys all head back the hallway that leads between the elevators to the Pavilion, you’ll find the Commons has already been set up for us by a few Clan Short members from other divisions. I wasn’t told who we had to thank for the party, though.” Harris paused as he giggled. “I was only told, “Welcome to the Club, Ohio!”. So, let’s go party, guys? We’re all safe, now that we’ve found each other. Plus, Starfleet provided us with security until we can get our own security team established. Did I miss anything, Aunt Melissa?” Harris glanced back to where the young-looking woman was dressed as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North from “The Wizard of Oz”.
“I think that covered everything, Harris,” Melissa replied with a smile and a wave. “Have fun tonight, guys!” She added before Harris released the boys to their party.
“Your brother is such a dork,” Phil said with a sideways glance towards Chase. He only held the straight face for a moment before he started giggling.
“Is it too late to change brothers?” Chase asked with a grin.
“Hey!” Isaac protested. “Don’t pick on Harris! If it wasn’t for his courage to runaway from a Monster, none of us would be together.”
“Really?” Phillip asked curiously as he glanced over to where the young director was sitting on the top of the desk, talking to someone in front of him. “It seems as though my brother and I need to have a long talk with each other.”
“We’ve got all night, Phillip,” Chase stated.
“He doesn’t,” Phillip frowned. “We’ll wait until after the party, though.”
“What happened to him?” Chase asked.
“It’s not my story to tell, unfortunately,” Isaac told the Moroi without taking his eyes away from Harris. “I will tell you, he’s a true hero. He sacrificed himself, to save somebody that he barely knew.”
“What do you mean?” Phillip asked curiously. Even Tristan, William, and Julian were beginning to listen to the three boys.
“Do you see the Vulcan that is standing beside the man with the brown hair?” Isaac asked, motioning towards the far side of the lobby where Vanek and Harold were talking to each other.
“That’s our Sa’mekh,” Phillip said proudly.
“Arys pushed him out of the way of a car, yesterday evening,” Isaac nearly whispered. “The car that my mom was driving. She was purposefully trying to run him down with her car, when Arys threw himself into the back of Vanek and pushed him out of the way.”
“What?” Chase gasped in horror. “But he succeeded, though. There’s not a mark on him.”
“No,” Isaac corrected Chase softly. “He didn’t succeed. Harris was only able to push Vanek out of the way. The car struck Vanek’s leg but Harris took the full force of the impact.”
“That’s not possible,” Phillip frowned.
“No, it’s true,” the younger boy replied. “Harris was in a coma until this morning, paralyzed from the neck down.”
“But. . .” Phillip began before he scowled. “Did Kyle heal him?”
“He wanted to, but Davie wouldn’t let him,” Isaac told them. “They almost fought over it, until Alexander turned into an angel and healed him.”
“Bull shit,” Phillip scoffed.
“Ask him yourself,” Isaac said with a shrug. “I know what angels look like.”
“Then, why isn’t Alexander an angel, now?” Chase asked.
“It had something to do with Harris’s mother,” Isaac answered. “That’s really all I know. I haven’t gotten a chance to ask Alex, yet.”
Chase looked over at Phillip. “I believe it, completely,” he told the older boy. “I keep catching glimpses of him living on the street, and there’s been images of Alexander holding Harris with Alexander’s wings around them both.”
“I’m going to have to teach you how to block out the thoughts, Chase,” Phillip chuckled.
“Can you teach me, too?” Isaac asked hopefully.
“I didn’t know you were a mind reader, Isaac?” Phillip smiled at the small boy.
“It developed, today,” Isaac grinned. “It’s been a busy day.”
“If you guys will excuse me,” Phillip said, his eyes drawn to where Harris was still perched. “I need to go speak with my brother.”
“Do you care if I come along, Phillip?” Chase asked. “I would also like to speak with Harris. It seems as though we have both misjudged our new brother.”
“I don’t think that our Sa’mekh would be very proud of our actions, tonight,” Phillip added.
“So, go apologize,” Isaac giggled before he pushed the boys away from him. “Geez, Phillip. Wear more clothes next time.”
“I’d rather wear less when I’m around you,” Phillip teased before he and Chase disappeared into the dwindling crowd.
Once they were gone, Tristan was hugging Isaac tightly.
“I wouldn’t want either of us to shirk any of our duties as brothers,” the twelve-year-old giggled as he held the smaller boy. Isaac quickly hugged the boy back with his own giggle.
“I love you, too, Tristan.”
“Come on, let’s go pounce on dad,” the older boy suggested conspiratorially. “I hear it helps the old guys stay young.”
“We have to perform our own experiments on the matter, brother,” Isaac agreed. “On the count of three?”
Harris padded softly through the quiet suite. The boy didn’t know what had woken him from his peaceful slumber, but it was enough to send chills down his spine. Samy and Stefan had cuddled up with Harris in his bed after the Halloween party, until all three of them fell asleep. Chase and Phillip had made themselves scarce once the other three were down for the count. The boy glanced at a clock as he strolled past and noticed that it was only half-past three. Harris was almost to the front door of his new home when two boys appeared on either side of him.
“Hey, guys,” he greeted Chase and Phillip. “What are you guys doing?”
“Just checking on our little brother,” Chase stated casually as he pulled the boy into his side. “Couldn’t you sleep, tonight?”
“I had a bad dream, I think.” Harris told them. It was pointless to lie to them when they could hear his thoughts.
“I don’t do it on purpose, Arys,” Chase told him. “I’m still new at this.”
“I’m not worried about it, Chase,” Harris told him honestly. “I just knew it was pointless to lie to you guys. Plus, that wouldn’t make me a very good leader if I did. Now, would it?”
“Nope,” Phillip agreed. “So, do you want to talk about it? The dream, I mean.”
“Not yet,” Harris shrugged. “I don’t even know what it was that woke me up.”
“Let’s go take a walk in the atrium,” Phillip suggested. “It’s really pretty with the way the moon is shining in and making everything glow.”
“Are we allowed?” Harris asked with a nervous glance towards the hallway that led towards the bedrooms. “Will our dads get mad?”
“Nope,” Phillip replied. “All we have to do is leave them a note on the front door.”
“What about Jeff?”
“Jeff is daytime security,” Chase told as if he should have known. “Me and Phillip are the night shift, around here. Geez, Phillip. You would think that he doesn’t want to hang out with his two favorite brothers?”
“I should, at least, put some more clothes on,” Harris giggled as he motioned to the fact he was wearing a size of boxer-briefs that were a size too small, and white ankle socks that he had found in his room.
“Nah, you look better like that,” Phillip quipped with a grin. “We’ll join you.”
Harris could only giggle as the two older boys stripped down to their underwear. Phillip was wearing green boxers, while Chase was wearing skimpy blue briefs that left little to the imagination. Harris couldn’t suppress the thoughts that were flying through his mind as he took in the sight of the Moroi.
“You’re not the only one, Harris,” Chase giggled, making Harris blush in embarrassment.
“What?” Phillip asked with a knowing smirk.
“Nothing,” Chase replied nonchalantly as he pushed the front door open. “Just our little brother being a perv.”
Harris blushed harder as the two boys laughed and hugged the brown-haired boy standing between them.
“Don’t forget to leave a note,” Harris told Chase as he followed Phillip out the door.
“On it, boss!” Chase replied with a quick salute before he disappeared into the over-sized apartment. He was back before Harris even made it to the elevators, though the boy continued onto the balcony as Phillip pressed one of the buttons.
Harris only smiled as he stared out over the moon lit atrium below. “It’s beautiful,” the tiny boy whispered, afraid that the sound of his voice would disturb the peacefulness of the scene. The sound of the fountains that stood on both sides of the security desk muffled the man’s small television that was currently sitting there. Harris was about to ask Phillip why the guard was watching television, when the boy noticed that the officer wasn’t even paying attention to the set on the corner of his desk. The man was instead, studying the different camera monitors very closely. The guard would study each camera position before he moved onto the next, then the man would scribble something down on the piece of paper in front of him. As the elevator dinged behind him to single its arrival, Harris made certain that Chase heard his thoughts, loud and clear.
‘That guard is acting suspicious, Chase,’ Harris told his brother. ‘He’s making notes as he watches the cameras.’
“I’ll go tell Daryl,” Chase whispered, barely loud enough for Harris to hear. “Don’t leave his side, Phillip.”
The doors to the elevator slid closed as Harris and Phillip stepped inside and Chase ran for the stairs, leaving Harris alone with the older boy.
“What’s going on?” Phillip whispered.
“The security guard at the desk,” Harris whispered back. “He’s acting weird. I just. . . I have a weird feeling about him.”
Phillip nodded silently. “Daryl will figure it out, little brother.”
The elevator came to a stop and the doors slid open, shortly after. Phillip made Harris wait inside the elevator until he made sure that there were no threats waiting on them. The Moroi waved Harris to join him, and both boys stared in confusion at the empty security desk.
“Come on,” Phillip said, grabbing Harris’s hand in his own as he walked towards the front desk. Only a few lights added to the glow of the moon light coming in from the massive ceiling of glass, but Harris could plainly see that the desk was unoccupied.
“You said that he was taking notes?” Phillip asked as both boys studied the desk.
“Yeah,” Harris replied. “He was studying the cameras and taking notes, at the same time.” Harris noticed something else. “His television is gone.”
“What?” Phil asked in confusion.
“He had a T.V. sitting there on the corner of the desk,” Harris pointed to the empty spot. “It’s gone, now.”
“Get Harris back to his suite, Phillip,” Daryl commanded as he entered the lobby with Chase at his side. Then, the man tapped his radio. “Lock down facility. Initiate ‘Code-Red’ sequence!”
There was no reply, though.
“Greyson to Central,” the man called into his radio, urgently. Again, there was no response. “What the fuck?” Daryl mumbled under his breath. “Boys, go wake up all of the security personnel after you get Harris back to his suite. They should all be in the second-floor dorms.”
“Yes, sir!” Chase and Phillip both acknowledged before they escorted a very nervous looking Harris back to his apartment. “Come with us, brother. We’ll keep you safe!”
Harris frowned as he let the two Moroi lead him away. Something felt strange to him about the entire situation. The building should have already been in lockdown mode since everyone returned from the party, but it had not remained so. Somehow, an unknown man had gotten into their building without an issue and then, had managed to access their security system.
“We’ll figure it out, baby brother,” Chase reassured him as they led him to his front door.
“Welcome home, Chase Conner!” The Mickey Mouse voice said as the system recognized Chase’s voice imprint and the double doors swung outwards towards the trio.
“Go on, Harris,” Phillip urged the boy into their home. “We’ve got this under control.”
“Do you promise?” Harris asked, fighting off flashbacks of the Monster.
“We do,” Chase said quickly as he pulled Arys into a tight hug. “Love you to the moon and back!”
“Don’t get hurt,” Harris warned Chase softly. “I love you guys, too.”
Then, Harris turned and slipped into the front room of the suite. He turned and watched his brothers disappear from sight as the doors slowly closed.
‘Good luck, Chase,’ Harris thought before he turned and returned to his bed where Samy and Stefan were cuddling together with dreamy smiles on their young faces. Harris smiled before he finally slipped under the covers with the two boys. Stefan woke up and pulled Harris to where he was lying between the two boys. Samy cuddled into Harris’s other side while Stefan kissed Harris’s cheek.
“Welcome back, baby brother,” the black-haired boy whispered dreamily. Then, he let out a soft sigh as he fell back to sleep with his arms wrapped around Harris.
Harris smiled as he stared up at the ceiling, feeling the gentle breaths of the two boys on either side of him as he too, slowly fell asleep.
Alexander watched with a shy smile as Enon and Orez danced happily around their mom and dad. Fritz was sitting on the bench next to Alex, with his head on the boy’s shoulder as the family waited for the arrival of their oldest sibling. Fifteen year old Geoff Conner was due back at any minute, an event that had Melissa and Charles both clearly excited.
“Do you think they love us like that?” Fritz asked in a hushed whisper.
Alexander froze for a moment until he remembered how Melissa and Charles had both made it a point to come around and spend time with each boy before they were tucked into bed. Each parent would hug and kiss the boys, showing them the love that they already felt for each of their new children. Alexander doubted that he and his new brothers were loved any less than Geoff.
“Without a doubt, Fritz,” Alexander told the hazel-eyed boy. “I don’t think it’s possible for either of them to love us any different than the other. Even Enon and Orez are being shown the same love that we are being shown. Just give her time and faith, and I’m certain that you’ll see what I mean, brother.”
“That’s a nice word,” Fritz said with a blush. Then, he tried it out for himself with a thoughtful grin on his face. “Brother.”
“It is a nice word,” Alexander told the twelve-year-old. “I used to have an older sister, but I think I’d rather have two older brothers instead, Fritz.”
“Hell, yeah!” Alex said cheerfully. “If I had to go back and do it all over again, I don’t think that I would change a thing.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Everybody got their happy ending,” Alexander stated without any doubts as he watched Enon jump onto Charles’s back. Melissa had taken to holding Orez in her arms while the two parents waited patiently.
“Did they, though?” Fritz asked.
“What do you mean, Fritz?”
“Don’t you feel the negative energy that’s been building all morning, Alex?” Fritz glanced around before leaning in close to Alex so they wouldn’t be overheard. “Something bad is coming, Alex. I can feel it. I only wish I knew what it was, but I can see something coming.”
Alex studied the older boy for a moment before he nodded. “We should tell someone, Fritz,” Alexander suggested.
“No!” Fritz nearly shouted, making Enon glance over at the two brother. Fritz quickly lowered his voice. “Please, don’t. They’ll think I’m crazy, Alex! Nobody can feel another person’s emotions like that. They’ll send me away!”
Alexander smiled and pulled Fritz into a hug. “You’re wrong, ya’ know? On both things.”
“What do you mean?” Fritz sniffled into Alex’s ear.
“For one, nobody would ever send you away, Fritz,” Alexander reassured the twelve-year-old. “Not for any reason. Besides, they’d have to get through me, first.”
“And me,” Enon said from in front of the boys, his cheeks were streaked with tears.
“And me,” Orez joined in as he stepped up next to his twin. Alexander glanced up to see Melissa and Charles were watching the brothers with worried looks on their faces. “You’re not the only one, Fritz.”
“What?” The brown-haired boy asked in confusion.
“I can feel your emotions,” Orez stated proudly before he slid onto Fritz’s lap and hugged the boy. “You never have to be afraid with us around.”
“We’ll always protect you,” Enon confirmed just before he slid onto Alex’s lap and grabbed Felix’s hand. Alexander felt a sense of peace come over him for a moment before it faded away. “I can help you to feel better, too.”
“That’s an awesome gift, Enon,” Alexander told the twin. Then, the boy hugged his brothers tightly. “Now. . .” Alexander was about to continue when a voice echoed over the speakers in the terminal.
“Now arriving at Gate-3; all inbound lanes from Starfleet Academy and Sector-3!” A feminine voice said in a flat tone.
“Come overe here, boys,” Melissa called out with a smile. “Your brother is coming.”
Alexander and Fritz each smiled at each other, forgetting the looks they were getting from the other people in the terminal, before they grabbed the twins by the hand and pulled them towards their mom and dad. Orez seemed to grow nervous and started to pull back against Alexander’s hand. Alex glanced back at the black-haired boy and frowned when he saw the look of fear on the boy’s face.
“Orez?” Alexander asked quietly.
Orez was trembling.
“What’s wrong, Orez?”
“What if he doesn’t like us?” Orez asked in a whisper. His blue eyes were filled with worry as they darted past Alexander towards where the new arrivals would be coming from. “What if he thinks we’re trying to take away his mom and dad?”
“Who? Geoff?” Alex asked in confusion. He noticed the fear was real in the boy’s blue eyes. So, Alexander did the only thing that he could think of to do. Alexander pulled the skinny boy into his arms and held him tightly. “Mom and dad told me that the only people Geoff is mad at, is them.”
“Yeah,” Alexander continued. “Do you wanna’ know why?”
Orez nodded slowly making Alexander smile.
“He was mad at them because they didn’t tell him that he has new brothers, Orez,” Alex replied. “Geoff wants to meet all of us. He wants us to be his family.”
“Yes,” the former angel stated. “Geoff wants a bunch of little brothers so he can be our big brother. Mom told me that he’s been begging them to give him some siblings, but they were never able to conceive another child. It’s one of the few things that mom and dad regret.”
“Oh,” Orez said softly, his face falling as he seemed lost in thought. Then, the boy grinned at Alexander. “I guess I need to go meet my new brother.”
Alexander smile back at his brother. “Let’s go. I want to meet him just as bad as you do!”
None of the boys had anything to fear from Geoff, though. The older Conner child had skipped his parents completely and went straight to his new brothers with his arms held open.
“I can’t believe that I’ve finally got brothers!” The brown-haired boy said excitedly with a quick glance towards where Melissa and Charles were smiling proudly at the boys. “I knew that my patience would pay off, eventually!”
“Patience?” Charles asked with a snort. “Is that what we’re calling it when you ask twice a month if you’re going to have a new brother, yet?”
“Ignore him,” Geoff told the younger boys with a grin. “He’s getting senile in his old age.”
“I heard that!” Charles chided his son.
“I hope so,” Geoff said cheekily. “You’re finally making use of the hearing aids that I bought you.”
“Did you tell him about the surprise yet, Melissa?” Charles asked his wife.
“Nope,” Melissa replied with a smug grin. “I decided that it can wait until we get home.”
“What surprise?” Geoff asked, suddenly full of curiosity. The teenager’s attention was solely focused on his mother and father as he started to pester them for ideas. Then, Geoff grinned and turned back towards the other four boys. Enon and Orez both exchanged nervous looks. “I could always ask my new and adorable little brothers what the surprise might be. . .”
“They’ve been sworn to secrecy,” Charles gloated. “Besides, I’m certain that you can wait the five minutes that it’s going to take for us to get home.”
“It’s worth the wait, Geoff,” Alexander stated with his own smile as he stepped forward and slipped his hand into Geoff’s. “I promise.”
“For you, I’ll wait, but only if you tell me your name,” the brown-haired boy agreed. Geoff cocked his head to the side as he looked at Alexander in confusion. “Why do you look so familiar to me?”
“What do you mean?” Alexander asked hesitantly. The younger boy looked away from Geoff, hoping that the boy had never caught sight of him when he was an angel. ‘What else could I have screwed up? What do I do if he doesn’t want me as a brother?’
A wave of sadness hit Alexander at that thought and he felt several tears slide down his cheeks. It was Fritz who noticed the sudden change in Alexander’s demeanor and the hazel-eyed boy quickly rushed to the younger boy’s side. “Alexander?”
Alexander tensed slightly as he felt Fritz’s arms wrap around his body. “I’m sorry,” he whimpered quietly.
“Why are you crying, Alex?” Geoff asked as he wrapped his arms around both of the boys. He slipped his finger under the younger boy’s chin and lifted Alexander’s gaze to meet his own. “You have nothing to fear from me, brother. You’ve already won my heart and you’re never going to get rid of me.”
“I’m sorry,” Alexander sniffled. “I can’t help it. I’m scared.”
“Scared of what?”
“I’m scared about what you’re going to find out about my past,” the younger boy admitted.
“You’re eleven, Alexander,” Geoff told the boy pointedly. “There is nothing about you that would ever change my opinion about you. If you ever see me react differently to your presence, you can be assured that it’s not me!”
“Do you promise?” Alexander asked hesitantly.
“I’d be willing to bet my life on it, little brother,” Geoff stated without any hesitation.
“I’m going to hold you to that, Geoff,” Alexander said only loud enough for Fritz and Geoff to hear.
“I hope you do, Alex,” the older boy agreed. “Now, let’s go home. I can’t wait to sleep in my own room, again.”
“Oh, about that,” Melissa cut in.
Geoff frowned as he turned to look at the woman. Then, Geoff seemed to notice the change in his mother and father. “What happened to you guys? You look like your in your twenties, now.”
“I wish I could tell you, son,” Charles shrugged. “We’ve been through more than you could ever imagine in the last twenty-four hours alone.”
“Well, you’ve got plenty of time to tell me about it,” Geoff informed his father. “I was put on permanent reassignment to an undisclosed unit. I’m not going to find out until after I get home.”
“That explains the letter that was sitting at the receptionist’s desk before we left,” Melissa said thoughtfully.
“Did you just say “receptionist”, mother?”
“You’ll see,” Melissa grinned smugly.
Geoff rolled his eyes but nodded. “Fine. You owe me, though.”
“Four little brothers isn’t enough, Geoff?” Charles asked with an arched eyebrow.
“That’s just making up for lost time,” the teenager chuckled. “Now, how about we head home?”
“This place is beginning to give me the willies, anyway,” Fritz mumbled only loud enough for Alexander to hear. “Too many people are angry and hateful in this place.”
“Starfleet has always been strange,” Geoff tried to explain, but the younger boy merely shook his head.
“No,” the twelve-year-old said. “It’s not that. I was involved in a program before I was sold to the slavers that took us to Exa as cattle. In the program, they kept injecting us with different stuff.” The hazel-eyed boy shrugged for a moment. “Whatever they gave me made me feel whatever the people around me are feeling. Ever since the Moroi bit me, the feelings I’ve been getting have been growing stronger.”
“Oh,” Geoff replied with a nod. “You’re an empath. I can see why this place would bother you. The anger you feel is probably the people that are commuting to work or to do their daily errands. They’re not the people that are being reunited with loved ones, like we are. Look around for a moment. If you focus on the people you see hugging, I’m sure that you’ll feel the same love and happiness that we are all sharing with each other. Focus on that, little bro, and you’ll feel better.”
Alexander watched as Fritz studied the people moving about the terminal until the boy visibly relaxed and smiled. He had clearly found the emotional relief he needed.
“Better now?” Geoff asked. When Fritz nodded, Geoff relaxed and motioned for his brothers to join him. “Now, how about some introductions?”
Isaac sat on one of the couches in the atrium, idly listening to the conversations around himself as he tried to hear what wasn’t being said. The nine-year-old frowned as he heard the different tidbits being passed around between the adults. They were all afraid and were still trying to figure out how the man had gotten into the headquarters facility when Julian walked up to the new Assistant Director of the Ohio Valley Division. The hazel-eyed boy fidgeted sheepishly with his hands as Isaac directed his attention to the seven-year-old.
“What’s up, little brother?” Isaac asked, making Julian blush.
“Can I go outthide, Ithaac?” The boy hesitantly asked. “It’th been a wong time thinthe we were outthide during the nowmaw daywight.”
“Same here, baby brother,” Isaac grinned at the smaller boy. “Let’s go ask dad, and see if it’s okay. I’m sure he won’t mind if we take a security guard with us. Plus, we should see if Tristan and William want to come along, too. ”
Julian grinned and nodded in agreement with his brother. Isaac held Julian’s hand as he listened to the boy describe the ever-changing environment that the boys had experienced while being stranded on Exa. There was something else that Isaac had caught in the boy’s mind. How did the slavers have the technology to get from galaxy to galaxy within just a few short hours?
Deciding that he could worry about that later; Isaac focused on his little brother as the boy bounced between various topics. Isaac found that he didn’t even need to add any additional monologue to what Julian was saying. Julian would ask a question, and before Isaac could even formulate an answer, Julian had moved on like it was no big deal to him.
“Hey, dad!” Isaac greeted the man who was currently talking to Melissa Conner. Isaac politely smiled and nodded at the woman. “Good morning, Mrs. Conner.”
“Good morning, boys,” Dalton greeted his sons. the man quickly scooped both of the boys up, one at a time, and planted firm kisses on their cheeks. “Are we settling in okay, this morning?”
Julian nodded, “Yes, daddy.” Then, the boy quickly blushed and hid behind Isaac. “Sorry, sir.”
‘I have my work cut out for me with this one,’ Isaac heard his father think, a smile never leaving the man’s face as he held out his hand towards Julian. He spoke in a soft tone that would have even made a stray dog come to the man. “Come here, Julian.”
Isaac felt the boy clench onto the back of his shirt, and he could hear the panic-induced thoughts that were running through the boy’s mind.
“Dad?” Isaac spoke in a near whisper.
“Yes, son?” Dalton frowned as he heard the tone in Isaac’s voice. ‘Just use your head to reply, son. Can you still hear my thoughts?’
Isaac nodded once.
‘Good,’ Dalton acknowledged. ‘Now, what I need you to do, is to remember every little detail that Julian remembers, and I need you to tell them to me, as soon as possible. Don’t do it around him, though. Okay?’
Isaac nodded before he asked the question that Julian had wanted him to ask. “We were wondering if we could go outside, daddy?” Isaac asked in a firm voice, reaching behind himself and pulling Julian back to his side. “Julian spent too much time on Exa and would like to remind himself what a blue sky looks like. Plus, I think it would be good for us to get some fresh air.”
‘Make sure that you don’t let him out of your sight, Isaac,’ Dalton instructed with his thoughts. “I think it would be a great idea for you guys to go outside. Why don’t you see if your brothers would like to join you?”
“Yes, sir,” Isaac replied for both statements. “We’ll see if the security team will go with us, too.”
“Good idea, Isaac.”
Isaac and Julian found Tristan and William sitting in the commons, both of the older boys were hunched over a bowl of ice cream and smiled happily when they saw Isaac and Julian enter the massive room.
“Hey, brothers,” Tristan greeted the newcomers. He offered his spoon to Julian as he pulled the seven year old onto his lap. “Want some, Jules?”
The brown-haired boy nodded happily as he accepted the offered spoon. Not to be outdone, William pulled Isaac onto his lap before the boy could take his own seat. “We gotta’ take care of our little bros,” William said with a giggle as he handed Isaac his spoon. “We’re surprised that it took you this long to find us, Isaac.”
Isaac grinned as he dug into the bowl with his spoon. “We had to make sure that you old guys didn’t get lost in the new building,” Isaac laughed just before he shoved the spoonful of ice cream into his mouth. “Mmmm. Stwawbewwy ith mah favorite.”
“Mawn, too!” Julian agreed, his face already covered in the treat. Then, a stray thought passed through the boy’s mind that nearly made Isaac lose his composure.
The Director of the Ohio Valley Division of Clan Short of Vulcan listened intently as the Director of Security for the local office of the Federation Youth Services finished up his report of the early morning break-in. “I’ve doubled security for the facility, as well as added more roving patrols to the perimeter of the property. We’ve put in a request to the Vulcan Council to acquire better equipment to fill the security needs for the compound.”
“Approved,” Harris interrupted the man.
“Sir?” Daryl asked politely.
“Your request is approved, Lieutenant,” the boy clarified himself. “It will be installed by this evening.”
“Thank you, Director,” Daryl Greyson replied with a brief nod of his head. “Your assistance is appreciated.”
“Of course, Daryl,” Harris acknowledged. “I’ll have the order shipped in Joey’s name, so you will both be aware of when it arrives and the work begins. Are there any clues as to what group is responsible for this crap? We were just made a division last night! There’s no possible way anybody could have known. Unless there’s a leak, but that still doesn’t explain how they were able to move on us so quickly.”
“Unless, they knew they needed to move quickly, Director,” Daryl pointed out. “If there is someone on the inside feeding this new group information, then they may have panicked and threw a mission together not knowing if it would succeed or not. Maybe, they just wanted to see who was part of our division?”
“I apologize for the interruption, gentlemen,” Vanek responded from the entryway. The Vulcan held up a manila folder in his hand. “I believe I have located all of the systems that our visitor was able to access.”
“Please,” Daryl motioned towards one of the empty chairs at the small table. “Join us, Vanek.”
The Vulcan nodded before he took one of the remaining empty seats across from Daryl. Then, the Vulcan slid the folder across the table to Daryl so the man could study it for a moment. “Your cousin would like an opportunity to speak with you when you are finished with your meeting, Harris,” Vanek told his son. “I also believe that your aunt and uncle are on their way back with their entire family.”
“Thank you, Daddy Vanek,” Harris replied with a firm nod. Then, the boy looked confused for a moment. “Entire family? Did Uncle Charles adopt a bunch of kids this morning that I don’t know about?”
“Not that I am aware of,” Vanek responded. “But, it has been said to me that your uncle seems to be trying to break your Patriarch’s record.”
Harris giggled, but it was Daryl’s response to the report Vanek had handed to him that sobered the mood in the small room.
“Jesus Christ! Is there anything they didn’t touch?” Daryl exclaimed.
“They were not able to get a personnel file from what I can tell, Lieutenant Greyson,” Vanek informed the man. “It seems to me as though they were looking for something specific.”
“So,” Harris finally said after several moments of contemplation. “Clan Short has a mole. How do we ferret them out?”
“First, we need to figure out who is behind this incident,” Daryl stated. “I’ve had my men combing the building since the intruder was discovered, and it has been determined that he slipped in with one of the vendor deliveries that were arriving during the party. The man hid until he could slip into the security office and kill the guard stationed there.”
“What was the guard’s name, Lieutenant?” Harris asked softly.
“It was Corporal Adam Thomas,” Daryl replied hesitantly.
“Thank you, Daryl,” Harris thanked the man. “I am sorry for your loss and I wish there was something I could do for his family.”
“There is something that you can do, Director Conner,” Daryl replied.
“Name it,” Harris stated confidently.
“Adam had two younger brothers that he was taking care of,” Daryl told him. “One of them is fourteen and the other one is twelve. Their names are Anthony and Nathan.”
“Daddy Vanek?” Harris looked at his father with a questioning look, only to receive a slight nod in response. “Let me talk to the brothers, Daryl. As far as I’m concerned, I just got two new brothers.”
“Excellent, sir,” Daryl replied gratefully. “I will go and talk to the boys as soon as Melissa has returned.”
“We’re back, already,” Melissa said with a smile as she entered the room, followed by five very chatty boys. “Sorry, but Charles insisted on checking on the store before coming back here. . .”
“Holy shit!” Geoff explained as he froze just inside the doorway, his green eyes were set on Harris alone. “This isn’t possible.”
Harris looked at the boy in confusion, not being able to remember who he was. Geoff didn’t need any confirmation from the others in the room as he started walking towards the boy at the end of the table.
“It really is you,” the teenager finally said in disbelief as he stopped next to Harris. His green eyes were full of tears as he turned to look at his mother. Melissa could only nod as her own brown eyes were moist with tears. Geoff turned back to the boy and quickly pulled him from the chair and into his arms. Harris let out a small yelp of surprise until Geoff proceeded to hug the boy. “I’ve missed you so much, Arys.”
Geoff sank to the floor as his entire body trembled from his sobs of happiness; refusing to let go of his younger cousin. Then, Melissa was kneeling next to the two boys as she started rubbing Geoff’s back with the palm of her hand. “Arys, this is your cousin Geoff. He’s my oldest son. He was the one that started calling you Arys when you were a baby. Your mom and I loved it so much, that it kind of stuck.” The woman smiled as the look of realization came over Harris’s face and the younger boy began returning the older boy’s hug. “Geoff was always begging us to go see you and when we thought you had died – it nearly killed him. We had to take him to see a specialist from Vulcan just so his mind could be healed.”
“And now, you’re back,” Geoff whispered happily, still embracing his cousin. “I’m never going to let go of you, again.”
“We are going to have to come up with a cuddling schedule for Harris, Melissa,” Vanek stated. “It is obvious that all of the appointments for the first week will be full by this evening.”
Melissa couldn’t help but laugh at the Vulcan’s humor before she proceeded to hug both of the boys. The boys didn’t even care that she was smothering them with affection, knowing that all three of them needed this moment together. Without a sound, Vanek ushered everyone from the room, leaving the woman to celebrate with her son and nephew as they finally reunited.