After Dave and Hal explained the possible blood relation of Oliver, the Sheriff agreed to release him into their custody, pending verification of relationship. Dave and Hal had already agreed that regardless, they were going to do what they needed to do to keep Oliver with them.
They arrived at 'Mama' Tietokone's home and entered. Hal made a motion with his finger covering his lips to let Oliver know to be quiet as Dave entered the family room where Lars was entertaining Inga with stories of his 'adventures' on the Sooloo.
"Mama," Dave interrupted, "there was a bit of an incident while we were Christmas shopping."
Inga's expression belied her concern as she asked, "What happened? Was anyone hurt? Where's Hal?"
Dave smiled, "No, nobody was hurt, but let's just say we got a very special Christmas present... and didn't have to pay for it."
Seeing Inga's puzzled expression, Dave continued, "Do you know an Olga Tietokone?"
Inga's eyes widened as she replied, "She is a cousin of mine. I've been looking for her for years. Last I heard she was pregnant, but I never heard from her again."
Dave called for Hal, who then entered with Oliver. Dave stated, "Mama, this is Oliver Tietokone. He is the son of Olga Tietokone who went missing about a week ago. Lars, this is Oliver. He's going to be staying with us and we will probably officially adopt him… so he'll be your brother."
Inga then grabbed Oliver and wrapped him in a tight hug, kissing the top of his head. "I've been so worried about Olga. What happened to her?"
Oliver actually enjoyed the hug, he wasn't used to getting them from his mother. His face was buried in Inga's ample bosom so he pulled away to answer her question.
"I last saw her a week ago. She disappeared after leaving me to score drugs. It wasn't the first time she'd disappeared, but usually she returned within a day or so. This time, she hadn't paid the motel we were staying at, and they made me leave after a day or two. I've been on the streets or staying with friends since. I've been scared that something bad happened to her."
Inga looked up at Dave as she took Oliver back into her arms. Dave didn't need her to describe what she was thinking; he walked into the other room to make a call. Hal was holding Lars so he wouldn't feel left out.
After a time, Inga released Oliver and Hal allowed Lars to go to his soon-to-be brother. The two of them went off to the other side of the room to get to know each other as Hal and Inga left to find Dave.
Lars and Oliver began talking. They found that Oliver was about 8 months older than Lars and that his 9th birthday would be on January 16. Oliver was surprised to find out that Lars had been born on another planet and the two talked about how things were different for Lars and himself growing up.
In the other room, Dave had just finished his call. He turned to his husband and mother-in-law and gave them the news he'd just learned. "Olga Tietokone was found dead after an apparent overdose two days ago. I have let it be known that we would be petitioning for custody and eventual adoption of Oliver. Space Fleet will help move things along so this can be accomplished while we are still on Earth."
Inga was about to speak when Hal beat her to it, "I am happy you were able to get that started. I know we talked about it, and Oliver was happy when we told him that if we couldn't find his mother he'd live with us. He and Lars seem to be getting along pretty well."
In the end, Inga was happy with the way things were turning out. She would have two grandsons to spoil this Christmas!
Randy was quaking with excitement as he looked down at the snow-covered field. His plane was approaching the outer edge of the Twin Cities; he would be landing within minutes. While he was flying on a public transport, Space Fleet was not only paying for his transportation, but was also springing for a first-class seat.
The landing procedure seemed to take forever, even though Randy had done it before and knew it was quick and efficient. When the plane finally came to a stop and was ready for disembarking, Randy took his carry-ons out of the compartment. Both bags contained the Christmas presents he'd purchased; he had checked his own luggage. He found it amusing that for all the increase in speed in air and rail travel since the early twenty-first century, nobody had been able to figure out a quicker way to load or unload an aircraft or train since that time.
He walked into the waiting area looking for his family. Before he saw anybody, he heard Gordy's high-pitched voice screeching out his name. He wanted to drop his packages and run to him and his parents, but he maintained his cool until Gordy almost bowled him over with a hug.
"Are those presents?" Gordy asked excitedly.
"Well, it is almost Christmas," Randy grinned.
By then his parents finally caught up to their younger son. "I was surprised to see you disembarking with the passengers," his father, Fred, said. "I thought they would have the space explorer flying that transport."
Randy shook his head. "Dad, I'm a cook. The only things I fly are the pancakes and omelets I flip at breakfast."
His mother, Carla, gave Randy a long hug and shed the tears of happiness that are reserved for mothers. As they started for baggage claim, she began asking a string of questions, competing with Gordy for Randy's time. Fred simply shook his head with amusement.
When they finally got to the family car, Randy was happy to be almost home, but exhausted by the emotional day. After Randy settled in the backseat, Gordy scooted in close to his big brother, looked up at him with a wide grin, wiggled his ears, and lay his head on his shoulder. On the drive to north St. Paul and home, Randy knew he was with his family as his mother continued to jabber and his father cut in a couple of times saying, "Give the boy a rest, sweetheart," with each interruption.
After taking Randy's baggage into the house, they headed out for dinner. Reality made their real dinner plans different than the plans discussed on the phone.
Randy found himself getting emotional as he looked at the Christmas tree and the decorations around the house. He truly was home. At dinner, Carla managed to calm down, and the family listened to Gordy talk about school, basketball, and Lindy, his new girlfriend. Randy smiled and nodded, giving his brother the ear wiggles he had been waiting for.
Returning home after dinner, Randy enjoyed some more family time. Carla brought the subject up of Whit, waiting for them to be settled at home before discussing Randy's friend.
She asked why his friend Whit hadn't come with him. "He wanted to be with his own family," Randy replied. "He's going to call Christmas morning, so you can see him on the phone."
"But he's your boyfriend, isn't he?" Gordy asked.
"No, we're just close friends. Whit is straight, which doesn't seem to be the case with most of the Sooloo crew, but he enjoys our… um… well, our closeness. He's hoping his old girlfriend will be willing to see him."
"You mean most of the explorers are gay?" Fred asked. "Heck of a deal, everybody gets on a spaceship, gets married, and lives happily ever after. Well, except for the having kids part. But then, you're all a bit young for that."
"To answer your question, that seems to be the case on the Sooloo, but not in Space Fleet overall. But gay or straight, we're horny boys, so you get the picture."
"Randy, be a bit more gentile around your brother. He's only twelve after all."
And a very experienced twelve at that, Randy thought. He ignored his mother's comment and set his dad straight on the kids part. "We have so many adopted kids on the Sooloo we actually have a full-time school?"
"Adopted, huh?" Fred snorted. "Makes sense, since it was unlikely any of your crewmates could get pregnant."
Gordy's giggle led to Carla admonishing her husband to keep things clean.
"What? I'm simply stating the truth. Gordy and I have spoken more than once about the facts of life, so give us some slack. He's not your cuddly little five-year- old anymore."
"Nope, I'm a big boy and I know where babies come from." He patted his belly and said, "and it sure ain't from here."
Randy decided to turn in early and went to his old bedroom, which hadn't changed much since he left home. The posters were down and there were some odds and ends stored against one wall, but it was essentially the same place he'd slept in since he was seven.
After all of the ear wiggling, he wasn't surprised when Gordy came into the room a few minutes later. It had been a regular routine before Randy left: wiggle ears, head for bed, sneak into one of their rooms, have wild sex. Fred was well aware of what went on between his two sons, but Carla refused to believe her boys would be so crass as to be sexual with each other.
Gordy pulled off his underoos and went under the covers with his big brother, who was already naked. He scooted, happy to have this unexpected time with the brother he worshipped, until after New Year's.
"You said at dinner you had twenty-two points in your team's last game," Randy said. "I thought you were the point guard, which means passing over shooting."
"Coach had me and Cody switch roles. We're both really good passers and know how to run the offense, but we found out I was a better shooter."
"Still, that's a lot of points for a seventh-grade game."
"Well, I'm averaging nine point five, but damn, the other team kept leaving me open and I kept shooting and driving. And speaking of shooting I can shoot now."
"Excellent. I'm looking forward to tasting it. But, I see you still don't have any hair down there."
"It'll be coming real soon—I can feel it. Oh, and one more thing about Cody—he sucks a mean dick and fucks me almost as good as you do. But I like you doing it better because you're my brother, you were my first, and your dick is bigger than his. Still, we do it a lot." Randy had taken his brother's cherry when he was twelve and Gordy was ten, and their relationship was never the same after that.
"Both ways?" Randy asked.
"Of course, both ways. Wouldn't do it otherwise."
"What's with this new girlfriend of yours?"
"You mean Lindy? I hope she'll be my first time with a girl. We've made out naked in my bed and she'll suck my dick but won't let me shoot in her mouth, which makes Cody, Blaine and Vic way sexier than her. But I did eat her out, which is almost as good as rimming those three dudes."
Gordy had succeeded in getting Randy harder and hornier than he already was. The result was what one would expect from two randy boys, one of whom was always Randy. Gordy was more than happy to be his brother's girl that night, knowing he'd get his turn to top. The brothers slept together after they finished. Before Randy had left for space training, their fun was nightly, and they didn't always sleep together, but when they did, Carla thought they were cute.
Dave sent Lars and Oliver up to take a bath before going to bed. When the boys got upstairs, they agreed that they would bathe together since they were likely going to be brothers. They retrieved clean underwear and went into the bathroom.
When Lars removed his underwear, Oliver took a look and asked, "Did something happen to yours? You're not the same as me." He then removed his underwear.
"Oh, I see, you're circumspected... I think that's the word for it." Oliver went to Lars and reached to touch it, then looked up at Lars' eyes for approval. Once it was given he took Lars' soft member between his fingers and started moving them up and down.
He was amazed how the foreskin moved up and down covering and uncovering the head. When it was fully retracted, Oliver said, "When it's like this you look the same as me."
The boys played in the tub until Hal came up to tell them it was time to get out of the tub and get dressed. Oliver told Hal about his discovery that he was circumspected and Lars wasn't. Hal explained that the word is circumcised, and he told them that it was a common practice on Earth. Where Lars is from, it was still done, but not as frequently. "We will have a more detailed discussion about this soon, but for now, get out of the tub, dry yourselves and get to bed."
Hal then left the bathroom with a grin on his face. He was going to enjoy explaining this to Dave. When the boys got out of the tub, they dried off and Lars started walking out of the bathroom naked. Oliver asked, "Aren't we going to put on our underwear?"
Lars laughed, "Papa didn't tell us to... he said to get out, get dried off, and get to bed. Jonas and I sleep naked together all the time."
Oliver had heard from Lars earlier about the special relationship Lars shared with Jonas. In his mind, he hoped to find someone on the ship to have a similar relationship with.
Brad was a bit disoriented when he woke up. The person next to him in bed wasn't Steve, Kyle or Danny, who were the only people he slept with on the Sooloo, so who was it? He shook his head, turned on his side to get a closer look in the dark room. He didn't need the look; as soon as he felt the ample breasts against his chest, he remembered who he was in bed with; it was his fifteen-year old cousin Makena.
The night before had been crazy—cousins, siblings and friends were almost standing in line for the privilege of sleeping with the famous visitor. Brad picked Makena because she was a sweet girl, was beautiful and had cooed in his ear, "I really love having sex with younger men." The fact that he had had successful sex with her on his last leave before leaving on the Sooloo was another factor.
His orgasm with Makena had been his sixth of the day, tying his all-time record. But this was the first time he had cum with somebody else each time—the other time had been just after he turned twelve. Four of his orgasms were from solo masturbation, the other two from trading blow jobs with his then ten-year-old adopted brother Sajan. Sajan had shared one of his orgasms with him the day before.
One thing that worried Brad when he went to bed with Makena was not being able to perform, even though he was a healthy thirteen. His cock felt tired, but after being around boys almost all day, the change of being with a girl helped him get up for the task.
"Good morning, Brad," Makena said as he slid out of bed. "You're up early. Didn't I give you enough exercise last night? Did not having any girls on your starship mean you don't want a morning cuddle and maybe more exercise with me?"
"You were wonderful, Makena, we all have much to do today since it is Christmas Eve. I want to be ready when Steve and Shasho come tomorrow morning."
"I understand. You were good last night for such an inexperienced boy, but as I told you, I do love sex with younger men." Brad gave her a quick grateful kiss on the lips and left the bed. Makena enjoyed watching the movement of his young, muscular ass as he left the bedroom.
Brad worked with his parents and Sajan to wrap presents and check to make sure everything was orderly and tidy. He knew his family wasn't up to Steve's organizational standards, but he wanted everything as orderly as possible. He even warned Sajan and his other siblings about ripping open presents.
"My boyfriend and our son are neat freaks. They'll go bonkers if even a ribbon is left on the floor."
"I wouldn't want to live with anybody like that," Sajan mused.
"They are two of the most wonderful guys you'd ever want to meet, and I love them both with all my heart. Living with them is my life."
"Okay, that's good for you. But your son better not yell at me for ripping my presents open."
"Don't worry, he won't, because I'll be the one doing the yelling," Brad told him.
"That's going to take the fun out of Christmas," Sajan said to a chorus of agreement.
"I think the presents I got you guys will leave most of the fun in Christmas."
"We sure hope so, because it only comes once a year," Brad's fourteen-year-old cousin Kelvin said.
Brad had forgotten the dynamics of his family while on the Sooloo. He was worried he had stepped on too many toes and that Steve and Shasho wouldn't be accepted. He wished he'd just kept his mouth shut and let the wrapping paper fall where it fell.
"What time is Will flying to be with his family?" Adam Luke asked as his son was eating breakfast.
John finished the bite he had in his mouth, swallowed and replied, "He would like to leave about thirteen hundred, or, I mean one, Papa. That flight is about half an hour via shuttle. I would like to take him and be back in an hour."
"Nonsense, Son." Adam stated. "Momma and I have been talking. Christmas can't be contained to one day out of the year. No, we feel like it is Christmas every day we get to spend with our boys, whether it is December or July."
"Thanks for telling me, Papa," John started to tear up, "but why can't I take Will to his family and come back? Do you have something planned during that hour?"
"Just finish your breakfast and come out to the living room," Adam told his oldest son.
After finishing his breakfast, John sat beside Will in the living room. Matthew started passing out presents. Sarah looked at the two boys, "Papa and I believe the two of you should spend the entire holiday together, so we are doing presents a day early."
"We love you, Momma," Will stated, "and you too, Papa."
For lunch, Momma fixed what she had planned for their Christmas dinner. Papa told them to let him know the date of the wedding as soon as they knew. Matthew walked with them to the shuttle.
John gave his brother a hug. "I'm sorry that I won't be here to help you celebrate your birthday tomorrow," John apologized. Handing him a present, he warned, "Open this in the privacy of your bedroom."
"What is it, the dildo I wanted?" Matthew laughed.
"Close, Squirt," John smiled, "it's a butt plug with a dog tail. The butt plug is self-inflating, making itself tight, but stretching just a little."
Matthew wasn't sure that John was telling him the truth but was hoping. "I'll wear it all the time, even when I go to school," he chuckled.
Greg Robinson parked in front of the officer's billet which was a block from Space Fleet Headquarters. It was Christmas Eve morning and he was eager to get his new family settled into his house, which he was seeing as their home. The family was new in the sense that a son-in-law and a grandson were added to the family, which meant he had three boys to bring home.
Greg had flown into Vegas from the Vandenburg Space Port late last night where he represented headquarters for a special satellite launch. He arrived home just before midnight. He wished now he had let the boys move in when they were at his house a couple of days ago. He was reluctant to leave them in the house alone, forgetting that Kyle and Danny were Space Fleet officers—senior officer in the case of his son. He vowed not to forget whom he was dealing with again.
The boys were waiting in the foyer with their gear when he arrived. He noticed shopping bags mixed in with their gear, filled with the Christmas presents they had purchased the day before.
Koji ran up and gave him a wild hug. This time he was prepared for the onslaught and his grandson met an irresistible force. Koji laughed and asked, "How did you get so strong, Grandpa Admiral?"
"Years of hard work," Greg replied as he helped the boys load the back of his utility vehicle.
"What's for breakfast?" Danny asked.
"Good morning to you, too, Son," Greg grinned.
"Well, I'm hungry. Food comes first."
"Good morning, Dad," Kyle broke in. "Beware that my husband is a bottomless pit." Damn, it seems strange calling Danny "my husband" in front of my dad, Kyle thought.
"Good morning, Son. And Alicia assures me that there will be a filling breakfast waiting when we get to my… when we get home."
"Is she living with you?"
"No. She came over on her own to prepare this feast. She said she'll prepare a casserole for dinner tonight and will be gone by one. She'll be off until after New Year's."
The boys weren't disappointed when they arrived home. A feast of waffles, eggs, mixed fruit, and fried shimmy was served.
"This is shimmy!" Koji squealed with delight.
"How did you get shimmy?" Kyle asked.
"It appears the head chef of the Sooloo is a good friend of yours," Alicia grinned. He dropped it off at my house yesterday. He felt you three would be pleased and the Admiral will end up loving it." She looked at Greg. "I tried some, and it is truly delicious."
"Was the chef's name Randy?"
"Yes, it was."
"He just got promoted to head chef," Kyle informed her. "And, yes, he is a good friend, and now he's an even better one."
Alicia was on the mark with her predictions. Koji was ecstatic about having shimmy to eat and Kyle and Danny enjoyed the meat that they had once despised and now had learned to love. After a couple of hesitant bites, Greg declared that the shimmy was heavenly.
"Speaking of friends, Steve will be coming with Shasho and Steve's parents to pick me and Koji up soon," Danny reminded his father-in-law. Danny and Koji would be visiting Magic Desert, a large amusement park a few miles out of Vegas, with Steve, Shasho and the accompanying parents.
When the arrangements were made, Kyle had told them he wasn't going, so he could spend some time with his father. "I'll go on day two," he said, knowing their passes were good for two visits. Kyle and his father knew that, despite the cheerfulness of their impromptu pool party a couple of days earlier, there were some matters hanging between them that needed to be discussed before their Christmas celebration. Since the next day was Christmas Day, the issues needed to be settled, if they could be settled, for them to thoroughly enjoy Christmas.
A van pulled up about twenty minutes after breakfast was finished. Kyle gave Koji and Danny each a hug and told them to have a "kickass time."
"You better be coming with us on the second trip," Danny said for show. He knew exactly what Kyle would be talking about with Greg and understood that the talk had to happen that day. He felt badly about leaving his husband behind, but Kyle had convinced him it was for the best.
Danny and Koji skipped out to the van like the young boys they were. Kyle watched them get into the van and drive away. He felt a surge of sadness at staying behind and missing the fun. He had become a serious and responsible person in many different ways, but deep down in his core he was still a twelve-year-old boy wanting to have the fun twelve-year-old boys loved to have.
Kyle walked into the living room where his father was sitting in an overstuffed chair. Alicia saw the drawn look on Kyle's face and wondered what was so important that Kyle couldn't go to the amusement park. Greg had told her the story of how hard he had been on Kyle and Danny, and as she cleared off the breakfast table, she blamed the Admiral for not having learned his lessons.
"Sit down, Son," Greg said in a measured tone. "I'm truly sorry you're not going to Magic."
"It's not your fault, Dad. I'm the one that asked for the meeting this morning. I want us to not have anything between us tomorrow. I'll just have twice as much fun on the second trip there."
"You've grown up to be a remarkable young man," Greg beamed with more than a hint of pride.
Kyle gave his father an expressionless nod; he was looking for answers, not praise. He sat silently, deciding what to say first. Even after all of the positives that had happened between him and his father over the last few months, the Admiral could still intimidate him.
"The fact that you stayed home from Magic tells me how important this is to you. I am pretty sure what you want to talk about, but I need for you to tell me what you want."
Kyle took a deep breath and surprised himself by what he said. "Right now, when I look at you, I see your uniform." That was not what he had intended to talk about, but it was true. He knew it sounded weird since his father was wearing lounge pants and a tee shirt.
Greg was surprised as well. The next surprise was his. "Did you see my uniform in the swimming pool melee?" he asked.
"No, I just saw you—it was hard to see your uniform when you were naked." Kyle tried to bury a giggle, but he couldn't. "It's a little cool out this morning, but the water in the hot tub is comfortably warm."
"Are you saying…?" Kyle paused. He didn't quite believe what his father, his father the Admiral, was hinting at.
His father's reply was to rise from his chair and walk over to the credenza next to the sliding glass door. It was then that Kyle noticed the two towels laid out on the top. He watched his father grab one of them and step outside.
For the second time in three days Kyle muttered, "When in the Admiral's house, do as the Admiral does." He grabbed the other towel and stepped onto the patio where his father was stripping. Kyle followed his lead and they were quickly stripped and sitting in the hot tub. He was surprised to see and feel a heat radiator that kept them warm above water.
"Okay, Son, we're naked. There is nothing between us except the water we're sitting in. Let's talk. I promise to be totally honest with you and to help you accept the happenings with your mother."
Alicia glanced out the window at the two bodies in the hot tub. She realized she had read the Admiral wrong—he was using some intriguing creativity to bridge the communication gap between his son and himself.
Kyle decided it was time for him to quit being a wuss and face his father. "This is all about Mom."
Greg had, of course, surmised that, but said nothing. It was now time to give his son the time he needed and not the time to make his son feel inferior in any way. The stage was set. He simply nodded and waited for Kyle to go on.
"I have a couple of questions. My first one is how come you never told me that mom was Draconian. It was weird having to find that out from someone else and then begin to wonder if that was why you didn't like me—because I was part Draconian." Kyle knew he had done a poor job of expressing himself but was sure it was good enough that his father could understand him. For a moment he wished the stars would give him some guidance, and then realized that, like his father, the stars were putting the onus on him. It was going to be up to him to bring closure to the business with his father. It wasn't going to be up to the stars or up to his father; it was going to be up to him.
"Son, my answer to that is that I didn't know. Unless you know what to look for, we are very much alike, especially those of mixed race. Your mother never told me—not when we were dating, not when we were engaged, and not when we were married. And, as you know, she didn't live long after she left, so I obviously didn't know then. An autopsy after the accident may have revealed something, but there was no need to perform one."
That wasn't the answer Kyle expected. Sure, Danny and Aiden, among others, speculated that may have been the reason, but Kyle wasn't ready to accept it. Even though he and his father had healed a lot of wounds, there was still enough pain left to cause him to believe his father may have had unknown reasons for keeping his bloodlines secret.
"Wasn't I different in some way when I was born?"
"Not that anyone could see, including the obstetrician who took care of your mother and delivered you. The only difference I could detect was the whole business between you and the stars, and I never equated that with you being part alien."
Kyle digested the information for a few moments before responding. "Why did Mom hate you?"
"What makes you think she hated me?"
"She told me you were an evil man or something like that."
Now it was Greg's turn to digest information before speaking. "We could find little in common after you were born. We didn't agree on child raising; she thought I was too tough on you. In retrospect she was right. After the battles over how to handle the star business and how to handle your budding misbehavior, the incident with Danny happened."
"What you did was beyond mean, but we've talked about that and you've apologized, even if I never knew why you did it."
"Because I didn't understand you. I didn't understand why you wouldn't do what I wanted you do to do. I didn't understand the business with the stars. Hell, I didn't understand why your mother said she understood about the stars but wouldn't tell me why.
"She finally had enough and left. Before I could figure out how to get her back, or if I even wanted her back, she was killed in the accident."
Kyle knew it was time for the kicker. He worked to maintain control of himself and not let his temper govern him. Finally, he spit out what had been bothering him most of all. "You never told me about her getting killed. Why didn't you FUCKING TELL ME?" Kyle screamed out the last part fast and hard because he felt his entire being wanting to scream with the pain he was feeling.
His anger rose as his father stared at him as if he'd lost his mind. Tears and sobs were bubbling up in him and he realized he was never going to control any of it. Even though he wanted to hate his father more than he had ever hated him, he needed to be held before what little control he had was gone.
Greg Robinson read his son perfectly. He scooted down the bench, placed a strong arm around the boy's shoulder and squeezed him tightly to his chest. The feel of his father's arm, of his father's manly chest, and the comforting sound of his beating heart had the effect of calming him.
"Son," Greg said in a near whisper, "I did tell you. I was about to call you when you called me to complain about whatever your complaint of the day was. In between your rants and your raves, I told you your mother had been killed."
Once again Danny and Aiden and the others had been right. He was told, but the bratty asswaffle he was at the time made no attempt to listen to his father and ignored what he had said.
"I made a terrible error," Greg admitted. "Like I said, I didn't understand you. In fact, you think you were intimidated by me, I was equally intimidated by you. I think that's why I enabled you in your quest to break as many prep school rules as you could find—I didn't want to go face to face with you and deal with your behavior. Give me a mutinous ensign anytime over an arrogant young adolescent."
Greg knew the wetness on his chest wasn't from the water in the hot but from the boy who, part alien or not, was still his own flesh and blood. He continued to hug his son closely and kneed the smooth soft skin over the tight muscles of his back and shoulders.
"My error was thinking you had taken the time to be outside of yourself and listen to what I had just told you, even though you didn't acknowledge it. Hell, as I told you before you launched, my biggest error was not listening to you and your cry for help."
"I never cried for help," Kyle mumbled.
"Every rule you broke was a cry for help. And I enabled you in your rule breaking instead of talking to you and listening to you. I gave you all the reason you needed to up the ante. What I know now tells me that listening by a parent means not only listening to what your child is saying, but also listening for what he is not saying."
Kyle continued to enjoy the secure feeling of love his father was giving him. The urge to scream and yell and cry had left him. All he wanted now was one hundred percent of his father, which was exactly what he was getting.
"I've been rambling too much, haven't I?" Greg asked.
"No. You've been loving me. And telling me to listen to Koji and to understand Danny and to kick the ass of any mutinous ensign."
Greg laughed and kissed Kyle's forehead. "I have been loving you. Even when our relationship was in shambles, I never stopped loving you, I just didn't know how to be a good father. It was because I always loved you that I started to listen to you and try to understand you and to be one thing I never really was before."
"What was that?"
"Proud of you," Admiral Gregory Robinson told his son as his own tears started to form—tears that he was not ashamed of showing. "I am proud of what you've accomplished as an officer, but even more importantly as a human being. I'm proud of how you went on the verge of being expelled from the prep school more than once to a highly respected and decorated officer. I'm proud of how you're tackling being a good husband to the person you've loved since primary school to being a father to a son who would be a challenge for any person. To sum it all up, I'm proud of how, at the tender age of twelve, you're not afraid to love with every fiber of your being. Whoa, that ended up being another speech."
A couple of minutes of silence passed before Kyle untangled himself from his father and sat straight up on the hot tub's bench. "Two things, Dad."
"Go for it, Son."
"First, you left out one other major thing I'm proud of."
"I am proud, and I mean REALLY, REALLY proud to be your son."
Greg felt more tears welling up. "And the other?"
Kyle flashed the mischievous grin his father knew all too well, "The other is that I am turning into a prune and need to get out of the water."
Greg's roar of laughter told the world that all was right between his son and himself. Alicia Gordon was the first to understand the meaning of Greg's loud laughter. She smiled as she finished cleaning up the kitchen. It was time for her to get ready for her to enjoy Christmas with her own family.
"What are we going to do now, Dad?" Kyle asked as he dried off under the warmth of the radiant lamp.
"Well, it's not even eleven yet, and I hear the corn dogs at Magic Desert are hard to beat and that The Niagara is wetter than ever."
Kyle's radiant smile made the morning worth every word and every tear. Greg was ready to enjoy every second he could with his son and his family during their stay on Earth.
"It looks like you boys got a lot accomplished," Alicia said as Greg and Kyle entered the house carrying their clothes and wearing only their towels.
"It's going to be a great Christmas," Kyle grinned. "We're going to go to Magic Desert to find our family and eat and ride the rides ," he said with the unbridled enthusiasm of a preteen boy ready for a new adventure.
He and Alicia noticed that Greg had disappeared. "He probably went to get dressed," Kyle said. "I'm gonna do the same thing." He scooted out of the living room and into the kitchen.
Greg reappeared dressed in his morning garb, carrying a wrapped present and handed it to Alicia. "Merry Christmas," he said. "Hiring you was the best hiring decision I ever made. You're a special lady."
Alicia accepted the package. "You're pretty special yourself. Merry Christmas to you as well."
Kyle reappeared, somewhat sloppily dressed. "Merry Christmas, Alicia." He gave the housekeeper a hug.
"Merry Christmas to you as well, young man. Now, you boys get moving. Time's a’ wasting and those rides won't wait for you."
Ten minutes later father and son were ready for an outing. Kyle grabbed his dad's hand and tugged on it. "Come on Dad, like Alicia said, time's a' wasting and I want a corn dog."
"Not to mention a soaking from The Niagara," Greg laughed as father and son went hand-in-hand out the front door and into the outdoors, ready to share an adventure together.
A surprise arrived after breakfast on Christmas Eve morning when an express delivery truck pulled up in front of the Jenkins' residence. Although she wasn't sure what it was, she signed for it knowing it was something Randy had ordered. Randy had volunteered to cook his famous lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner. Before leaving Vegas, he called his mother and asked her to get the ingredients he needed to make his specialty except for the meat.
"That will be arriving in the morning by express delivery," he told her. "Dad is going to be working, right?"
"Just a half-day," his mother replied.
"Then I'll make sure it is delivered in the morning." Randy had received Dave's okay to ship the shimmy to his house. Dave turned the logistics of the delivery over to Steve. Knowing Steve, Randy knew his package would arrive within minutes of the expected time.
The mystery surrounding the meat gave Carla an idea of what that meat might be, but she also couldn't believe that her son would really follow through on what he'd said during his earlier phone call from space.
After signing for the package, she placed it in the refrigerator. Randy grinned and said, "I bet you can guess what it is." Carla nodded as she finally realized her son really was going to follow through on his promise to use meat from that alien planet. "Don't tell dad until after dinner."
"Randy, your father has the right to know what it is he is eating."
"Yep, only he will find out what it was he ate."
Carla sighed. "I'm not bailing you out of the doghouse."
Gordy entered the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of underoos. "Randy's in the doghouse already?" he asked. "Damn, that was fast, even for him."
"Gordon get dressed and mind your language."
"I am dressed just right. Randy is wearing too much (he had on a pair of lounge pants and a t-shirt) and I'm sorry I said damn—but it was a better word than I wanted to say."
"You boys are going to be the ruination of me yet. How is it when you two get together, dust and dirt flies everywhere?"
"I don't know, Ma, but it's kind of hard to kick up dirt when the ground's covered with snow," Randy offered. He stepped over to his mother and gave her a big hug. "I love you and thanks for getting everything I need for my dinner."
"Except the meat," Carla said pointedly.
"Meat? What about the meat?" Gordy asked. Nobody answered… after a pause, a grin lit up the twelve-year-old's face. "Oh, I get it… the meat. Yeah, I can see Randy in the doghouse and not because we're going to be eating dog meat. What's it called again?"
"Shimmy," Randy replied.
"Will it make me grow scales or claws or something?"
"No, but it could make your pecker shrivel up."
"RANDY!" came Carla's screech. Then she looked at the smiles on the faces of her two beautiful sons. "I'm so glad you're home—things were getting awful boring around here."
Fred came home from work in time for lunch. He was warned not to eat too much since Randy would be cooking a special dinner.
"You mean, Randy's galaxy famous lasagna?" he asked.
"One and the same," Randy grinned.
"Why on the day before a big Christmas dinner? Where am I going to get the room for all of this?"
"Isn't that what the gym is for honey?" Carla asked.
"Yeah, Dad, let's go get in shape to eat," Gordy added.
Randy looked at the kitchen clock and said, "If we all go now, we can be back long before I need to get started cooking."
"You boys have fun," Carla said. "I'm going to start my prep for tomorrow's dinner. With your Uncle George and Uncle Lou here for dinner, I have a lot to prepare." George was Fred's brother who was married to Lou, who was Carla's brother. It was an interesting family dynamic. The boys both worshipped their gay uncles, not because they were gay, but because they were wonderful, caring men. The uncles would be arriving from Chicago and were scheduled to arrive just before Christmas Eve dinner. Randy felt that his uncles coming for the three days would make the holiday time perfect.
One thing that Randy noticed when he saw his brother in the locker room at the gym that he hadn't really noticed in his bedroom the night before, was that Gordy's body was obviously in much better shape than his. On top of that, his little brother was five inches shorter than him (five foot versus five foot five) he was undoubtedly the stronger of the two. Randy made a mental note to work out more when he got back to the Sooloo. What he didn't miss was that his brother's hair was the same brilliant blond as his own.
After getting home, Randy set to work on his lasagna. He handed an apron to Gordy, who was more than willing to be assistant cook. When it came time to bring out the meat Gordy looked surprised. "That looks just like hamburger," he noted.
"Not when you look at the color and texture carefully," Randy told him. "And when you taste it, it will blow you away."
"I will listen to the expert."
When dinner was cooked, the family started eating and Randy watched everyone's reactions. The first one came from Gordy. "Wow, you're right Randy, this shim…er…shit, is amazing."
"GORDY!" All eyes looked at Carla who shook her head.
"Sorry, mom, slip of the tongue."
"Gordy is right, though, this is the best lasagna I've ever had," Lou gushed.
"Agreed," George complimented. "The flavor is almost unworldly." Gordy and Randy both stifled giggles.
"My son, the space explorer, should be made Captain on the basis of this meal alone. His crew would follow him anywhere after a meal like this," Fred exclaimed.
"How did you get such an interesting flavor in the meat?" Lou asked. "Was it special herbs and spices?"
Randy held up his hand, faking chewing a mouthful of food. Carla rescued him by going off on an entirely different tangent. Randy mouthed a thank you the first chance he got.
After everyone finished eating, Carla announced that no dessert would be served, but if anyone felt the need for any, there was ice cream in the freezer. "There will be plenty of dessert tomorrow," she reminded the family.
"Now, son, about that meat flavor? I've had your lasagna many times before, and it's always great, but as George said, the flavor of this meal was unworldly." Fred gave his son a suspicious look. Gordy looked on expecting to soon witness Randy's trip to the doghouse.
Randy decided there was no use beating around the bush. Everyone had eaten and the worst that could happen was that somebody would lose his dinner; it had happened to a few Sooloo crew members the first time they learned they had eaten shimmy.
"The meat is called shimmy, and it's a specialty of the Draconians."
There was a gasp of surprise from the three men. "I knew it. After our phone talk, I suspected your lasagna would contain something different." He pulled a small container out of his right pants pocket. "But I did bring my antacids to the table with me."
"Is Randy in the doghouse?" Gordy asked.
"He shouldn't be," George said. "That meal was truly amazing, and the fact that it really was otherworldly makes it even more so."
"No worries, gentlemen." Fred stuck the container back into his pocket. "I'm not going to be needing these." He stood up and walked to Randy's seat, putting his hand on his son's shoulder. "That meal was exactly what I said it was, your best lasagna ever, if not your best meal ever, at least as far as I'm concerned. I love you son and am proud of you."
Randy beamed with pride.
After breakfast, Tom and Christian took a walk around the woods surrounding Dr. Tom's home. Unlike many in Space Fleet, Tom decided not to have his home in Vegas. Instead, since just about any place was not more than an hour away by shuttle, he kept his large family ranch in Wyoming, not far from the town of Cody. He had inherited it and built a house there, but much of the land had been devoted to a home for orphaned or abandoned boys to give them another chance. He didn't have any day-to-day responsibilities for the Ranch, he merely allowed them to use his property, free of charge.
He enjoyed spending time with the boys at the Ranch, and the boys were very interested in meeting Christian. Most of the boys at the ranch were gay, and many were about the same age as Christian, so they hit it off pretty well. After spending some time with the boys, Christian and Tom returned to Tom's house.
Once inside, they ended up in the bedroom. "I do believe it's your birthday, so I thought you might like to do something..."
Tom chuckled and raised and lowered his eyebrows as he lowered his trousers. "I will never refuse such a pleasurable activity with you, Christian."
Christian continued, "I am happy you agreed to celebrate mine on the date half-way between mine and Ronald's; it's the way we've always done it. Which reminds me, are we going to be going to my parent's house for Christmas? I would like to spend it with my family."
Tom agreed that it would be fitting. "I don't really have any family left, so spending it with yours would be a welcome change. In previous years, I spent it with the boys of the Ranch."
Christian never asked Tom about what happened to his family, deciding that when Tom was ready he'd tell him.
After a couple of hours in bed, the pair got up and showered together. Christian then kissed Tom and wished him a happy birthday. Once they dressed, Tom called for a shuttle to take the pair to Vegas, so they could go to the Abernathy home for Christmas.
John landed the shuttle as close to Will's home as he could. It was within walking distance, so they set off on foot. As they approached the house, Robby came running out. Will held his arms out for a hug, but Robby ran past him and hugged John. "Don't I get a hug?" Will asked.
"Ewww, no, you're gay," Robby teased.
Will laughed, "But so is John, he IS marrying me."
Robby jumped onto Will's back, "I was just teasing you, Bro. I love you." Robby stretched his neck as much as he could and gave Will a kiss on the cheek. Will carried him on his back all the way to the house, where Danielle was waiting.
Danielle was surprised to see John with Will, "I thought John wasn't coming until tomorrow."
"His parents thought he should spend the entire holiday with me, and pushed him out," Will explained.
"That's fine, but I hope you don't mind. He will have to sleep with you or Robby."
Robby was quick to respond, "He can sleep in my room with me."
"Ummm, I think he will sleep with me, thank you very much," Will confirmed, feigning a scowl. Robby stuck his tongue out at Will and then laughed.
"Well, John," Danielle chuckled, "it seems you have your choice of where you sleep, but remember, Robby is too young for you."
Hearing this, Robby whined, "Mom…"
"Robby and my brother would make a cute couple, though," John chuckled.
Robby was quick, "Ewww, I don't wanna be a couple with anyone. I'm only gonna be twelve." Danielle was pregnant with Robby when her husband's shuttle crashed.
"He's only twelve, well, as of tomorrow, so neither of you are ready for anything like that," John responded. "I was merely making an observation."
Dave and Hal had spent most of the morning in meetings starting the debriefing process. The meetings ended at 1400 with plans to reconvene on the 26th. Oliver and Lars had stayed with Mama.
That morning, Mama had a special breakfast consisting of all of Dave's favorite foods. The boys had wished their father a happy birthday and told them they would love to spend the day with Mama... Lars added that Dave and Hal should spend some alone time. He'd been around his parents long enough to know that they loved each other, and even though they didn't really hide it, he knew they didn't like him knowing that they needed some 'special' time every now and again.
Dave and Hal spent a couple of hours making good use of their 'alone' time... Hal had given Dave his present which happened to be very similar to the present that Dave had received at the Sooloo Christmas celebration before they reached Earth. The difference was, this time, Dave used the 'toy' he'd received from his husband.
That evening, Dave and Hal returned to Mama Tietokone's home with smiles on their faces. Lars whispered to Oliver... 'They had sex.' This caused Oliver to giggle, but he said nothing.
The family sat down to the Christmas Eve dinner Mama had prepared. About 2200, Dave told the boys to go to bed, so Santa could come as they slept. Once the boys were asleep, Dave, Hal, and Mama started bringing the presents they'd hidden around the house and placed them under the tree.
So Steve could spend Christmas with Brad, his parents had their Christmas after supper on Christmas Eve. Steve handed Shasho a present, then grabbed one for himself as his parents watched the two boys. Shasho was trying to be as neat as possible with his wrapping, but Steve half-jokingly said, "No, Shasho, just rip the wrapping off. That's half the fun of Christmas." Then Steve ripped his wrapping and threw a piece in the air.
Shasho finally ripped into the wrapping and threw it in the air. He watched it fall, then went to pick it up. Steve just shook his head and tossed more wrapping.
A few presents later, Steve grabbed all the wrapping, including what Shasho had already cleaned up, and he piled it onto the floor. He grabbed Shasho and sat him into the mess, then started tickling him. Once Shasho was giggling, Steve ripped the wrapping paper and threw it, so it would snow down on Shasho.
"Dad, you are making a mess," Shasho chuckled.
Steve tickled Shasho some more, "I told you, THAT is half the fun of Christmas."
Steve's parents were watching their teenage son play with his son, like the little boy they had raised and loved--the little boy they knew he still was at heart. His mom looked at his dad, "The one time of the year when Steve lets himself make a mess and have fun. I love Christmas."
The opening of Christmas presents was over; Steve and Shasho helped clean up the wrapping and boxes that they'd strewn around the room. They had packed for their stay with Brad in Nairobi.
"Boys, it's 2000," Andrew Boyer, Steve's dad, told the boys, even though he knew they had been watching the clock like a pair of hawk chicks. "It's time to load up and get to the spaceport."
"We know, Dad, and we're ready to go," Steve said with the impatience inherent in a fourteen-year-old. It was an impatience he rarely showed on the Sooloo, but he found being with his parents, as wonderful as they were, to be somewhat stressful. He knew it was mostly because he wasn't used to being parented anymore, but that didn't keep him from feeling strained.
"We're just trying to help you, Steven," his mother said with her usual calm demeanor.
"I know and I'm sorry. Things have been happening so fast, especially today, that I'm still trying to get used to it. It's been a really great day, and I'm thankful to you and Dad for the day at Magic and the presents and for letting us make a mess and now for taking us to the spaceport." Steve could see that Shasho was nodding in approval. Shasho knew that his opsola was following one of the many rules he had been drilling into him, and that was apologizing to him and Brad when he was wrong without having to be asked.
"That was quite a speech, Son," Andrew chuckled.
"You, Shasho and Brad will be back on the twenty-eighth, correct?" Steve's mother asked.
"That's right Mom, but I still don't know what time. As soon as I know, I'll tell you and Dad."
When they arrived at the gate to the spaceport, Steve presented his ID. The guard told Steve he was to report to Hangar C to board his shuttle. He gave Steve's dad directions and sent them on their way. Steve wondered which of the shuttles stationed at the base they would be taking. He remembered being flown to the Sooloo in the Challenger IV from the base to the starship. He figured it would be a similar shuttle with a pilot stationed at the port flying them. Instead, he saw the Raphael parked in front of Hangar C.
"There's your flight," Steve's dad said.
"That's a Sooloo shuttle," Steve remarked. "We wouldn't be taking one of those since almost the entire crew is on leave. But I don't see anything else parked on the tarmac."
The car stopped in front of the hangar. "What do we do now, Son?" Andrew asked.
Before Steve could open his door, the door to the building's office opened and a boy wearing coveralls stepped out. Steve couldn't make out who it was in the available light but knew it couldn't be a port pilot since they were all men. As soon as the figure stepped into the bright lights, Steve saw that the boy was Danny.
He opened his window and yelled, "Hey, Danny, what are you doing here? I thought you went home with Kyle's dad after we left the park."
"I did, and he drove me here. I'm your pilot tonight."
"But, it's Christmas Eve and we're all on leave, what are you doing piloting me. You'll miss Christmas morning and…"
"Steve, why don't you and Shasho get out of the car, grab your bags, and follow Danny. I'm sure he will tell you everything."
Steve couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this disoriented, except it was way back in his days as the nerdy kid at the Academy. He and Shasho grabbed their bags and followed Danny to the Raphael. "I finished my preflight inspection just before you arrived, so we can climb the stairs and board this baby," Danny said.
When they entered the cabin, they were greeted by an Asian man who appeared to be in his late teens or early twenties. Like Danny, he was wearing a pair of regulation coveralls over a regulation work shirt. His insignia indicated he was a lieutenant. Danny introduced him as Jae-Ho, who was a pilot from Korea.
"I will be doing the flying, but I've never planet hopped here at Earth and the powers that be felt having someone experienced aboard to answer any questions that come up would be a good idea."
Planet hopping was essentially the act of taking off into space, aligning with one's destination, and coming back down again. The maneuver was a simple one for a pilot with experience, but Earth had its rules and regulations which required study. Landing and taking off from the Vegas spaceport was under the auspices of Space Fleet and Danny was well-versed in the procedure, but they would be coming into a civilian airfield in Nairobi, which is where the regulations got complicated.
"You still haven't told me why you're giving up your Christmas Eve and morning to do this," Steve said.
"I'm doing it because I had a great time with you at Magic today, because you were so great with Koji and Shasho today, because I love you as a friend, and because this was the best present I could think of giving you. The Raphael is a way better ship than the old rattletraps they have at the spaceport and I'm as good as any pilot, so there you have it."
"I'm good with it," Steve grinned. "But I don't have a present to give you that makes up for missing Christmas morning."
"I'll tell you two things really quick, and then we gotta get going to stay in the window of my flight plan. First, right now it's 2045. As long as I get us out of here in the window, we should be setting down in Nairobi between 2145 and 2200... which, by the way, will be about 0900 tomorrow morning there. I drop you guys off at the airfield, fly back here and will be back between 2300 and 2330, depending on Air Traffic Control.
"Damn, I know that. My mind is so out of synch today. I'd like to blame it on the Mountain Monster, but I think I just have too much going on," Steve moaned.
"I will make sure Opsola Uncle gets things right when we are with Opsola Brad," Shasho promised.
It was rare for Steve to be rattled, Danny thought, but it had been a long, busy day. He had to admit he was feeling the effects too—he was more than ready to get into bed with Kyle. "Anyway, I'll be home around midnight, and I will not miss any of my Christmas morning. You and Shasho have it tough since you'll be arriving Christmas morning in Nairobi and will be opening presents when you've barely put your feet on the ground." Danny leaned close to Steve and, in a tone barely above a whisper, said, "Your payback is simple. I know I can't get it on Christmas, but I'd love one of your specialties before we leave Earth for the Sooloo."
"You mean a BJ," Steve whispered back.
Danny nodded and turned to the front of the shuttle. Everyone took their seats, buckled in, and waited for Danny to send the Raphael racing down the runway, ready to point her vertically once she cleared the runway, and give it full throttle, sending the shuttle streaking into space, its rockets surprisingly quiet due to advanced noise suppression technology.
The Raphael was within its window, Air Traffic Control gave it priority on its trip up into the edge of space, across half the planet, and then back down into the Nairobi airport. It all went so smoothly Danny didn't need Jae-Ho's help at all. Danny thought Jae-Ho had been drooling over the Raphael from the time they did the preflight check together, and he was going to offer the pilot's seat to him for the return journey. He will have done what he had set out to do, which was give his friend and his friend's son a first-class ride in one of the best shuttles available.
Brad and his father stood at the observation window of the private aircraft terminal at Nairobi Airport. They watched as a transport from New York and one from Beijing landed, after which came a much different looking aircraft, the Raphael.
"That's them!" Brad shouted with glee. "That's Steve and Shasho!" Even though it had only been a couple of days since he had seen them, he was bubbling over with happiness knowing they would be with him for Christmas. "And Danny is the pilot," he added, even though he had mentioned that fact to his father at least five times since Steve had told him in a message. Brad's father had never seen his normally reserved son so overcome with enthusiasm.
Brad's father had his arm around his son as they watched the Raphael follow the path the two transports had followed. Air Traffic Control insisted on all incoming and outgoing traffic being in line. Instead of touching down on the runway and then taxiing, which was close to impossible for a shuttle like the Raphael, Danny kept the shuttle just above ground and maneuvered it to the terminal.
Brad got impatient watching the shuttle move slowly toward the terminal in what seemed like an indirect path. He wished Danny could forget all of the rules and take the Raphael straight to the terminal as fast as it was capable of going. After what seemed like hours, the shuttle finally came to a stop on the tarmac and lowered so that it sat on its landing struts. The terminal didn't have a jetway that would connect to the shuttle, so the passengers would have to deboard onto the tarmac.
As soon as Steve and Shasho came through the waiting room door, Brad was all over them, hugging one three times, and then the other, before trading a long kiss with his lover. Brad's father and Danny looked on with amusement, each understanding in his own way what he was seeing. Jae-Ho had remained behind on the Raphael to prepare it for a quick takeoff.
"Merry Christmas, Danny," Brad called out and then he gave his good friend a hug and a kiss. "Thank you for being a great friend and bringing those two here. I know it is a bit tough on you."
"You and Steve are my best friends on the Sooloo, at least after my hubby. I had to give you a Christmas present, and here it is," Danny grinned. He didn't bother to mention that Jae-Ho had originally been assigned to fly Steve and Shasho in one of the spaceport's shuttles.
"Well, Steve and I love you and Shasho loves you…" he looked over at his father… "and Dad loves you." Robert Kanye smiled and nodded to indicate his agreement. "It's so great that Dave set up shuttle service for us so we can see our families over the holidays."
"Dave's the best Captain in the fleet, and I dare anybody to argue with that," Steve remarked. "We have to thank Admiral Mirah for approving the plan, too."
"I'd love to stay with you guys" Danny said, "but I have a family that will probably be waiting up until I get home. Since it's Christmas morning here, I know you're going straight to present opening." Danny then made the statement that had been agreed upon as they entered the holding pattern, waiting to land, "Remember, Shasho, be very careful opening your presents. Keep the paper and ribbons neat and orderly."
"I will be very careful to do things the way my Opsola Uncle taught me," Shasho responded as he tried hard to keep a straight face.
Brad knew Shasho and Steve well enough that he could see in their expressions that something was up, but he couldn't figure out what it was.
An hour later, they reached the Kanye residence; it was just past nine in the morning. Brad had ascertained on the ride home that Steve and Shasho were very tired, but also very eager to open their presents and to see the presents they brought with them opened.
After being introduced to Brad's parents and siblings, they gathered in the dining room for Christmas breakfast. Steve wasn't sure what he wanted most, sleep or breakfast, but once the breakfast of waffles, ham and eggs was placed in front of him, he had no doubt it was breakfast.
In the excitement of the event, no one noticed the looks that passed between Sajan and Shasho from the first moment they saw each other. The two young boys sat in adjoining chairs and went right to work getting to know each other. When they learned they were both orphans, the bond between them became even tighter. Sajan was intrigued by Shasho being an alien, while Shasho was fascinated by Sajan's chocolate skin, which was even darker than Opsola Brad's.
Steve and Brad noticed quickly that there were sparks flying between the two younger boys. It was obvious to everyone at the table that the boys had become instant friends, but only Steve and Brad could see that there was something even more than friendship bonding them.
"Is it true that you and Unka Steve don't make a mess when you open your presents?" Sajan asked Shasho.
Shasho wasn't sure how to answer that. He looked to Steve for help and grinned when his Unka smiled and nodded. He gave Sajan and everyone else the same line he had given Brad and Naflopsola Robert. "I will do what my Unka Opsola Steve taught me to do."
"That takes all the fun out of opening packagers," Sajan protested.
"Oh, you'd be surprised," Steve smirked. "We had a lot of fun opening presents."
Over eighty percent of Kenyans were Christian which made Christmas a big event in the country. Since the family had held off opening presents until Steve and Shasho arrived, all of them, even the adults, were eager to start opening packages.
"Let's see Steve and Shasho give us a lesson on the proper and neat way to open packages," Robert suggested.
Steve's answer was to set a present in front of his son to open. "Tell them how to do it, Shasho," Steve said.
Shasho placed his fingers on the red ribbon. "One must be careful opening the ribbon. If it is done too fast, it could break the ribbon and maybe even put a tear in the paper."
"Just do it, so we can get started," Sajan demanded.
Shasho ignored Sajan and went on. "So, the best way to keep things neat is to pull the ribbon with your thumb and index fingers like this." Then, without warning, he jerked hard on the ribbon, tearing it at the same time his hand grabbed the seam in the package and RIPPED the paper off the gift, rending it into shreds, revealing a Space Fleet uniform shirt.
"What are you doing?" Steve asked in mock anger as Brad looked on in disbelief.
"Opening my present and having FUN," Shasho screeched as he ripped the paper into shreds. "Just like you showed me."
"You mean like this?" Steve yelped as he tore the paper off his gift from Brad. The Kanye family cheered wildly as paper and ribbon flew into the air.
Brad decided to join in and ripped one of his own presents open. "Come on everybody," he yelled, "what are you waiting for? Open your presents and show them off!"
The room broke into chaos, with paper and ribbon flying everywhere as the kids yelled and hollered while they showed off their presents and hollered out "thank you's," or gave hugs for them. The adults tried to be gentler, but they failed miserably.
"You were fooling us, weren't you?" Sajan said to Shasho. "This is more fun than I've ever had."
"Yes, I was fooling you and look at my new PADD," Shasho called out. "This is going to replace that old used one I had, and I know will be way better." Since the present was from both of them, he gave Steve and Brad big hugs with kisses on their cheeks.
After the excitement died down, the lack of sleep caught up with Shasho, who fell asleep with his head on his new shirt. Robert carried him to the bed he would be using. Steve followed and without undressing dropped on the bed next to his son and instantly joined him in a deep sleep.
At first, Kyle was upset that Danny volunteered to fly Steve and Shasho to Nairobi. But, after pausing, he realized that Danny was being the boy he married—a boy who was loyal to his friends and ready to do the right thing. And once he gave it some thought, Kyle realized that Danny would be gone for only a couple of hours and they'd be spending Christmas Eve night together in bed just like he had envisioned it.
That ended up not quite being the case. Koji wanted comfort and loving on his first night before Christmas and slept between his two daddies. So, while there was no sex that night, there was an overflowing of love between the preteen daddies and their precocious son.
On Christmas morning they enjoyed bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast. Greg had become adept at basic cooking. Although he wasn't used to cooking for four people, he managed to cook up a passable breakfast. He knew Alicia wanted to spend the day with family, and she had a lot of family to spend it with.
If not for his own family being home, he would have spent the morning with Alicia and her family. One thing he would be telling Kyle the next time Alicia was together with them was that the two of them had been dating. They enjoyed some dinners out, a couple of plays, a night at the opera and some nights by the fireside followed by an evening in bed.
It was time to let his son know he would probably be getting a new mother soon. He didn't want to break the news right away because he knew Kyle had a lot of things to digest and he didn't want to put the boy on overload.
He knew that he had held the secret long enough. The fact that Alicia had told him how much she loved Kyle, Danny, and Koji told him what he needed to do. After he had talked to the boys about his plans, he would pop the question. It was unlikely a wedding would take place before the Sooloo returned to duty, but he couldn't say for sure. He didn't even know if Alicia would accept his proposal, but he did know he had to make it.
After they all cleaned the dining area and the kitchen, Greg announced it was time to open presents. Koji, who had been unable to sit still the entire morning, almost burst out of his clothes with excitement.
While Greg insisted they open the presents one at a time so they could be admired and thanked for appropriately, the directive did not include opening things neatly. Koji was unanimously picked to open his first. He chose the largest package to start. His hand worked on the wrapping so quickly, it was like the paper and ribbon had been vacuumed off. Koji smiled as he held up the backpack, which he knew was for the Mars trip.
"This is for hiking on Marsh, right?" he grinned.
"Exactly," Kyle answered. "And it's pronounced Mars, not Marsh."
"They why are the people who live there called Martians?" Koji asked seriously.
"Because words can change pronunciations when they take different forms."
"I'm going to Marsh, so I won't need change anything."
Kyle opened a present that was obviously a book. He grinned when he read the title: Parenting for Dummies. It was the fifteenth edition of the classic parenting book.
"Thanks, Dad. Danny and I need all the help we can get."
"I wish somebody had given it to me when you were born. I might not have made so many mistakes," Greg lamented.
"Does that mean I'm a dummy?" Koji asked, somewhat chagrined.
"No, it means we're the dummies," Danny laughed. "The book is to help dummy parents like me and Daddy Kyle raise a really smart boy like you."
Koji nodded and said, "Koji's daddies are not dummies. Koji is very smart and will help them be smart parents, then you can get a book called Parenting for Smarty-pants."
Greg was laughing so hard he was struggling to get his breath. He reached down and grabbed a present that looked like it was also a book. Since the kids were ripping off the packaging, he did the same, revealing a book entitled Grandparenting for Dummies, which sent him into paroxysms of laughter yet again.
"I have a feeling this will not explain how to teach why the people on Mars are called Martians," Greg uttered once he gained control.
"That's because Koji is smarter than the book," Koji stated flatly. "He can teach Grandpa Admiral."
The present Koji ended up liking the most was a star finder. "It can be used on any known planet once it is calibrated," Greg told him. "Right now, it's set for Earth, but when we leave for your trip, it will be calibrated for Mars."
"Marsh," Koji insisted. "We will be going to Marsh." Kyle could see the twinkle in his son's eyes, which told him that his son was now playing with his Grandpa Admiral. "And we can call everybody Martins."
After opening all of the presents, everyone helped to clean up the mess and line up the presents under the tree. Since it was Koji's first Christmas, it was obviously his best one ever. Kyle, Danny and Greg felt the same way—it was the best Christmas ever.
But there was still a little bit more. Danny, Kyle and Koji had lunch with Danny's parents. It was an anticlimax after the revelry of the morning celebration. But lunch was good, Danny's father was sociable, Koji behaved himself, and each boy received what they had asked for from Danny's mother and father. While it wasn't great, Danny and Kyle were both happy to have spent some time with the Harper family. Koji couldn't wait to get back to his beloved Grandpa Admiral.
Dave and Hal were awakened by two underwear clad boys hopping onto their bed. Lars excitedly bellowed, "Get up! Santa left presents under the tree!"
Dave chuckled and replied, "We will open presents after breakfast... and it's only six in the morning. Go to your room and either talk or play a game until about seven when Mama will have breakfast made. AFTER that we will open the presents."
The two boys looked downtrodden but quietly left the room. Hal turned to his husband and scolded him for talking to the boys the way he did.
"I wasn't terse. I simply told them that they had to wait until after breakfast and Mama would have it ready at seven."
"This really IS Lars' first Christmas, as far as we know. They may have celebrated something similar on New Earth, but we don't really know that. Also, I would assume that Oliver hasn't had many nice Christmases in his short life."
Dave thought about it, got out of bed and pulled on some clothes. He went to the boys' room and knocked. Oliver opened the door and Dave entered.
"Guys, I'm sorry if I sounded like I was mad, I really wasn't. It was just a little too early. When you come down for breakfast, please be wearing more than just your underwear, I'm not sure Mama would appreciate you wearing so little."
The boys each gave Dave a hug and agreed. Dave went back to Hal who had dressed while he was gone. The two of them went down to the kitchen where Mama was busy preparing a huge Christmas breakfast. They were having pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, orange juice and coffee. Mama even prepared five small omelets with the shimmy meat Hal had brought for her to try.
Just before seven in the morning, the boys came downstairs wearing shirts and shorts. Dave decided not to comment on their bare feet. The family sat down and enjoyed the breakfast. Mama actually mentioned that the shimmy had a very distinct flavor and she really liked it.
When breakfast was finished, and the boys had cleared the table (without being told), Oliver asked, "Can we open presents now?"
Dave smiled at the light in the boy's eyes as he asked and no sooner than he had said, "Yes!" the boys had run out of the kitchen. Hal chuckled and said he thought he saw a jet stream following the two.
The boys were over by the tree gawking at the sheer number of presents there. Oliver volunteered that he hadn't ever had a real Christmas. Usually his mother would take him to a restaurant, which was a very rare treat, but he never got any presents. This caused a lump in the 'adults' throats.
Dave had the boys sit on the couch and he went to the tree and pulled out two presents. He handed one to Oliver and one to Lars. The cards said respectively, To Oliver, From Santa, and To Lars, From Santa.
Lars started tearing open his gift, as Oliver was a bit more sedate, trying to be careful not to tear the paper. Hal softly said, "Oliver, just tear it open... that's half of the fun."
Oliver then started tearing open his present. Oliver received a necklace very similar to the one Hal had given Lars. It had a runic symbol on it that meant Protection.
"It looks like a snowflake," Oliver commented.
Hal smiled, "It is actually the Viking rune for protection making a circle, but you are right. It does look like a snowflake."
Over the next hour, Lars and Oliver opened all their presents and were ecstatic at all they had received. Dave and Hal gave Mama a present that they would find out later is similar to presents given by other Sooloo crew members to their parents. A framed picture of their family. Hal and Dave had taken the boys out on the twenty-third and had a new picture made. The boys were wearing uniforms of Space Fleet, one seated on the lap of one of their fathers, who were also wearing their dress uniforms.
Christmas morning was the usual chaos of passing presents around, tearing off wrapping, whooping with joy, yelling out "thank you's," trying on shirts, loading up games and sharing love.
Randy thought it was his best Christmas ever. Gordy loved the newest update of the World Basketball Federation game. "It has all the newest guys in it," he said. He liked the present he received that night in Randy's bedroom even better. "Wow, my own dildo," he gushed. "I just hope Mom never finds it."
Randy enjoyed the family time for the next week. He was sad when his uncles left; they had been their usual loving funny selves. He enjoyed getting together with Gordy's friends, Cody and Blaine; Vic was away with his family for the holidays. He was amazed by how much they had grown, how Blaine was as tall as he was and how sexy they'd become. The afternoon the four of them spent in Cody's bedroom was one he would never forget. He even met Gordy's girlfriend, Lindy. He liked her, thought she was cute, but was much more enamored with Cody and Blaine.
Jonas and Jason were at the dining room table eating pancakes when Jordan and Jace woke up. "Com'on Daddy and Pappy, you have to eat breakfast before we can open presents, and Santa brought more."
"Wow, I guess he did. I've never seen that many presents under the tree before." Then Jordan looked at his mom as she was putting another pancake on Jason's plate, "Are Aunt Juanita and Uncle Paul coming over?"
"Yes, they and your cousin will be here for lunch. Too bad you didn't get home a few days earlier. Your cousin just graduated from the Academy last Friday, top of his class, too."
"What was his major, do you know?" Jordan asked.
Grandma Jessica replied, "He wants to follow in his favorite cousin's footsteps. He said that Fleet Admiral Mirah has a possible duty station waiting for him, but he's not allowed to tell us where just yet."
"Seeing how I am his only cousin, I'm guessing he took Ship Operations as his major. It's a shame he isn't available. We have an opening for a Chief of Operations. I think he would be perfect."
"I thought you were the Chief of Operations," Grandpa James declared as he entered the kitchen.
"Tell him, FO," Jace commented. "Tell your dad why you will no longer be the Chief of Operations."
"Foe? Are you boys fighting?" Grandma Heather was concerned.
"No, Momma Heather, Jace has been calling me that ever since we found out… I was the Chief of Operations, Dad, but Captain Bowman will be made a Commodore in January, then Commander Tietokone will be promoted to Captain, and I will be the First Officer. Jace has been calling me FO ever since. Or, I may be given command of my own ship. I haven't decided which I will do yet, but either way, I will no longer be the Chief of Operations. Our Assistant Chief of Operations was recently promoted to his position, so he thinks being promoted to Chief is too soon."
Heather was relieved.
After waking up and eating breakfast, everyone got dressed and headed over to the Collins' residence. Connor was surprised when Javier just opened the door and called out, "We are here!"
"You and Tom are almost like brothers," Connor commented.
Phil chuckled, "Be glad they are not, or Aiden would be like your cousin."
Aiden and Connor said in unison, "Ewwwwwwww."
Javier chuckled, "Kissing cousins."
Juro then giggled before saying quietly, "They do more than just kiss."
"TMI," Darla called out, turned to Aiden and Connor, laughed and added, "They're so cute when they blush like that!"
Phil brought out a tray with summer sausage, cheese and crackers.
Juro, unsure if he should, asked, "When do we open presents?"
"After my father arrives," Javier informed him.
No sooner had Javier explained, the door chimed. Juro rushed to answer it. Upon seeing the General, Juro declared, "I had fun playing Shadow Ops with you. Can we play again while we are here?"
The General smiled, "I certainly hope so, but I want you on MY team."
After some time chatting, Tom suggested that they exchange gifts. Juro hopped up and ran to the tree and grabbed two gifts. He brought one over to Tom and Phil, and the other to Javier and Darla. "These are from me and my parents."
Tom opened the gift, revealing a framed picture of Aiden, Connor, Juro and Kallie. Darla discovered an identical present for her and her husband.
The General handed Juro a present. Juro looked at it and inquired, "Who is Grandpa Pierre?"
"That is me, I guessed I should have said Great Grandpa Pierre."
Juro smiled, "I like Grandpa Pierre."
Juro opened the present and inside was a black military uniform like on the box of Shadow Ops. This one had Guyya Vrak for the name. "I love this, Grandpa Pierre, thank you." Juro gave the general a big hug.
Before getting Juro the presents they have for him, Javier and Tom handed Connor and Aiden manila envelopes. The boys opened the envelopes at the same time and uncovered adoption papers.
Javier spoke up, "With you being on the Sooloo, we know this won't really make much of a difference, but we want to officially adopt both of you."
Connor started to cry, "You have no idea how much this means to us. I mean, you two, Mom and Daddy Phil have always made the two of us feel wanted, but this… The other day, I almost said you weren't officially my parents, but stopped because as far as I was concerned, Mom and Dad ARE my parents. This makes it official."
Handing Connor a tissue, Darla told Javier, "I think he likes his gift." Connor hugged and kissed Javier and Darla while Aiden hugged and kissed Tom and Phil.
"Opsola, do you think I can call Tomo later to wish him a Merry Christmas?"
Javier asked, "Is Tomo your boyfriend?"
"Yes, Grandpa Javier."
"Which would you rather do right now, open your presents or talk to your boyfriend?"
Juro thought for several minutes, "That's a tough question."
Tom laughed, "What if you called him so you can show him your presents as you open them."
"I like that idea," Juro grinned.
Scott woke up to an empty bed, so he went downstairs. His mother greeted him, "Did you sleep well, Dear? I was relieved not to hear you screaming in your sleep like before you left."
"I slept great, Mom, until I woke up to an empty bed. As for the nightmares, Łuke was a big help in them going away. I haven't had them ever since he lovingly…" Scott felt too embarrassed to tell his mom about their sex life. "Where is he?"
Tonya Trevor patted her son's hand to let him know she understood what he was saying. He smiled at her as she answered, "He and Sukotto are outside playing in the snow. Sukotto has never seen snow before?"
"No," Scott laughed, "the coldest it gets on Draconia is 33c (91.4˚), so they don't get snow. They do have a mist season, but we visited during their dry season, and let me tell you… it was rather warm but didn't feel as warm as it really was."
"What would you like for breakfast? After you've eaten, we'll open presents."
"Do you remember what I usually eat?" Scott tested his mom.
"A mother never forgets what her youngest likes," Tonya stated as fact. "I have a pound of bacon frying…"
Scott interrupted, "A pound, who else is eating?"
"Robert just got home from the University of Colorado this morning, but you shouldn't interrupt your mother," Tonya smiled to show she was only teasing, then she tapped her cheek.
"Sorry, Mom," Scott kissed her on the cheek.
Scott waited for Robert to come into the kitchen, so they could eat together. He poured them each a glass of orange juice and a glass of milk. When Robert came in he said, "Hey, Bro, who are the cute guy and the boy playing in the field?"
"The cute guy," Scott smiled, "is my husband. And the kid is our adopted son, Sukotto."
"I wish I knew they were here before I left. I didn't get them anything for Christmas."
"They'll understand. Sukotto is just learning about Christmas, he grew up on the planet we know as Draconia."
"So, how are you?" Scott could see concern in his brother's eyes. "I wish Uncle Harry would have raped me instead of you."
"No…" Scott insisted, "you don't, or at least I am glad he didn't rape you. I am past that part of my life and Łuke has been a big help. I know he loves me as much as I love him, and we both fell in love with Sukotto. We say that he was meant to be our son; his name, Sukotto Ruukaso, means Scott Luke."
"That is so cool. I see you watching them as you eat. You do truly love them, and I am happy for you."
"Yeah, I know, you always did look after me," Scott looked at Robert.
Robert quit smiling, "Not always, not the night…"
"For the last time, THAT wasn't your fault, you didn't even know Uncle Harry came into my room," Scott argued, then he smiled as he watched Sukotto pelting Łuke with snowballs. He heard his mom yell for them to come inside. She handed each of them a cup of hot cocoa and told them to warm up.
"Opsola, did you see me beating Dad in a snowball fight?"
"I did, did you have fun?" Sukotto answered Scott with a nod and a smile; Scott pulled Sukotto in for a hug. Then Scott asked, "Are you ready to open presents?"
"Dad said that half the fun of opening presents is ripping the wrapping off and making a mess. I wish I could see Shasho doing that."
"Dad is correct. Let's call Shasho after opening presents to see how neat they kept the wrapping. I bet between Steve and Shasho, they have the cleanest house on Christmas morning." Scott joked, then Scott looked at Łuke, "Babe, I would like for you to meet my older brother."
Łuke looked at Robert, "Scott really loves you, and he is proud of you. So, what are you studying at the University of Colorado?"
Robert shook hands with Łuke, "Nice grip, I'm taking Behavioral Science. I'm trying to figure out why people like our Uncle Harry do what they do."
"Scott told me that you felt guilty for what happened… you know, you're not much older than Scott, and you may not have been able to stop him, even if you knew."
"Scott has told me that so many times but hearing it from you…" Robert began crying. "Why did Uncle Harry attack my brother?"
"Scott is lucky to have an older brother who loves him like you do."
Robert hugged Łuke, "Thanks, and he's lucky to have you as his husband. Do you have any older single gay brothers?" Robert wiped his face as he tried to joke.
Łuke chuckled, "No, I was an only child and Dad was killed during an archeological dig last year. Only you and Scott know besides my family and those higher up in Space Fleet. Fleet Admiral Mirah took me personally to the funeral and told me to call him when I was ready to return. Mom doesn't want to celebrate the holidays, but Scott, Sukotto and I will visit her before New Year's."
"Well, let's turn this into a happy time and…" Robert grabbed Sukotto and threw the eleven-year-old over his shoulder as he yelled using his "Gonzo" (" Gonzo is a Muppet character owned by The Muppets Studio, a division of The Walt Disney Company, since 2004 when Disney acquired the characters from The Jim Henson Company. ")voice, "LET'S GO OPEN PRESENTS!!!" Robert carried a giggling boy to the living room and gently flopped him onto the couch. Scott laughed at the antics of his older brother with his son.
Jon Kohl had just returned home. He had been helping to build the new star base that will be orbiting Neptune. Several admirals had argued it should orbit Jupiter, but only about thirty-three percent of them. The general consensus, including the top admirals, thought Neptune was better. As he entered his home, he looked at Tom, "Who are you? You look like my son, but he's off on a star ship making me proud."
Tom got up and hugged his dad, "You make me proud, Dad. We had to escort two Draconian ships to Earth, so we get to spend Christmas with you."
"I wish I had known, I would have tried to be home sooner. Has Mom been treating you right?"
"Gosh, if she has her way, none of our uniforms will fit when we leave here," Tom chuckled. "Dad, I would like for you to meet my husband, Randy Kohl,"
"Kohl, are we related, or…" Jon held out his hand as Randy reached to shake it.
Randy smiled as Jon had a firm grip, "Tom and I wanted to have the same last name, and he didn't want to be Tom Thompson, so I took his last name. Besides…"
Jon interrupted, "Won't your parents be upset that you didn't include your last name?"
"Mom died giving birth to me, and Jax Thompson, well…" Again, Randy was interrupted.
"Jax Thompson was your father? No wonder you gave up your last name, and I noticed you didn't call him dad or father."
"I disowned him when he went to prison and I was sent to the Academy. I was given a choice of the Academy or an orphanage, and they warned me that at my age, I would have probably been there until I aged out, so I selected the Academy. I wanted to change my name then," Randy looked like he was on the verge of tears, "but I was only twelve, so they wouldn't let me. I was told Jax will never get out."
"Dad, I can assure you, Randy is nothing like his father. He is loving and caring, and he treats our son, Tomo…"
This time, Jon interrupted his son, but not with speaking, he pulled Randy in for a hug, but then he did whisper, "If my son loves you and you love him just as much, that is all that matters to me. I am happy to have you as a part of my family. You can call me Dad, if you like."
"Thanks, Dad," Randy cried as he hugged his father-in-law.
"Now, can I introduce Tomo?" Tom chuckled.
"Which boy is he?" Jon asked, looking at Tomo and Jinzo.
Tomo raised his hand, "Me, Grandpa, and this is Jinzo."
"Are you my Great Grandpa?" Jinzo asked.
Jon looked like a deer in headlights, "Ummmm,"
"Dad, Tomo is our son, he built Jinzo, so Jinzo is like his son. He calls Tom and me Grandpa," Randy chuckled as he explained. "He also calls Tomo's boyfriend's dads grandpa.
"Well, if these two are your grandpa, then I guess I am your great grandpa. Imagine, I am a great grandpa at the age of thirty-six," Jon laughed. "Who would have thunk it? So, your name is Jinzo and Tomo built you?"
"Yes, I am an android, but Opsola Tomo and Opsola Juro treat me like I am their child. I can feel their love and I love them. I feel the love of all my grandpas, too."
"You look truly amazing. I will be proud to be your great grandpa."
Tasha Kohl called them to the living room, "Boys, remember, though your dad may not have helped pick out the presents, his credits did pay for them."
Tom looked at his dad, "He accepted my husband, son and grandson into the family. He is my dad and is as proud of me as I am to be his son, I've already got my present. I love you, Dad."
"I love you, too, now open your presents so I can see what we got you."
As Tomo started to open his present, his comm went off. "Who's that, Bud, Juro?" Tom asked.
"Yeah, Dad, can I answer it?"
Randy chuckled, "I think you better. I'm sure your grandpa would like to say hi."
"Darn tootin'," Jon chuckled.
"Hey Juro, I have someone who wants to meet you."
They had just finished a traditional Nairobi Christmas feast when Steve's comm went off. It was Scott Trevor. "Merry Christmas, Scott."
"Merry Christmas, Steve. Sukotto was wanting to know how neat Shasho was with his presents."
"To be honest, he started out neat, but I convinced him that making a mess was half the fun. You should see the mess we had, but it was cleaned up before we headed to Nairobi."
"That's right, you are with Brad and his family."
"Yeah, we just had Christmas dinner here, and you probably just finished opening your presents."
"That would be correct."
"You should have seen Brad's face when Shasho started ripping his first present open, after a little piece of award-winning acting. Brad's family cheered, and the fun was on." Scott just laughed.
"It will be tomorrow morning when you have your Christmas dinner," Steve chuckled.
"Yeah, you're right. You really are a long way off."
"Don't worry, I got confused, too, but I blame it on being tired. We'll see you guys in a couple of days. Enjoy your Christmas Day—mine is almost over."
They broke the connection and returned their attention to their families.
Shasho woke up and looked at the boy sleeping next to him. Even though he had special feelings for Akage, he found himself with many of those same feelings for Sajan. He knew that the right thing to do was to tell Akage about his friendship with Sajan, and he planned to do just that. In fact, after what they had learned yesterday afternoon, it was very likely his two friends would meet each other soon, making it more important for him to be honest with everybody, especially after the fun he and Sajan had enjoyed last night. He had told Sajan all about Akage before they made their special plans and asked for permission to carry them out.
Shasho and Sajan had gone to bed the night before very happy. Sajan's parents, along with Steve and Brad, had pulled a lot of strings throughout the day to arrange for Sajan to get his first shuttle flight and to stay with Shasho and his dads through New Year's.
The Kanyes were able to combine the visit with something that had been in the works for a couple of months, and that was Sajan interviewing to enroll in the Space Academy's Prep School at the start of the second semester. The interview would take place after the New Year holiday ended. Robert was booked to fly to Vegas on January third for the interview, since a parent or guardian had to be present.
The two young boys had been bed buddies for the three nights Shasho had been visiting. Shasho showed Sajan the erotic play he had learned in the orphanage and from his new friends on the Sooloo. Sajan showed Shasho what he had learned from his cousins and friends, not to mention Brad before he left. Although he was adopted, Sajan was never in an orphanage. His parents were killed in a pleasure boating accident when he was four. The Kanyes had been close friends to Sajan's parents and immediately took him in as a foster parent and officially adopted him a year later.
Last night had been their most erotic yet, and they were happy that they would have at least another week together. Even though they probably wouldn't have as much privacy as they had in the Kanye home, just being able to be together as friends made them happy. Shasho hoped that Akage and Sajan would like each other and become friends.
Shasho woke up Sajan so they could shower, eat breakfast, and be ready to go to the airport. Other than a couple of last-minute items, they were packed and ready to travel.
Just as they got out of bed there was a knock at the bedroom door. "Wake up, guys," came Steve's voice. "There's been a change in plans, and we have to be ready way sooner."
"What is going on?" Shasho asked.
"Storms are coming in. The Raphael is already on its way here, so we can board it and take off before they hit Nairobi." Another piece of good news was that Danny would be their pilot. "How else am I going to have this much fun?" Danny had asked when he sought Dave's approval.
Robert drove the four boys to the airport; and they arrived by ten. They could see storm clouds along the western horizon and knew they would have to take off before they reached the city. The meteorologists felt the Raphael would have an open window for takeoff until at least noon.
The Raphael arrived at 1015. The four boys hugged Robert good-bye. Brad and Sajan had gotten their big hugs from Mom and Dad at home. Danny entered the terminal with a boy following him through the door. As soon as Brad and Steve could see that the boy was Kyle, they cheered and raced to greet their friends.
Danny and Kyle received hugs from Brad and Steve. Danny wasn't prepared for Steve's hug including a quick grope of his cock and balls, but he wasn't surprised either. Nerdy Steve was a champion horn dog as far as Danny was concerned. Steve confirmed that when he gave Kyle the same attention and grinned when he felt Kyle's hands speedily returning the favor.
Danny still wasn't certified to fly in and out of public airports, so he still needed a copilot. He had a different one this time, Lieutenant Commander Tim Roberts, who was one of the senior shuttle pilots at Tiberius Base. Tim had been impressed with Danny's flying ability; he found him to be as good or better than his reputation.
"Why are we afraid of a storm?" Sajan asked as everyone settled into a seat on the Raphael. "Aren't we a powerful spaceship?"
Danny elected to answer the question. "We are powerful enough to go into space, but in reality, we aren't that big. Electrical storms and high winds are not nice to any aircraft and can really affect us when we go shooting straight up toward space. That's why we want to get going as soon as we can."
The boys said their good-byes to Robert and hurriedly boarded the Raphael. The shuttle rocketed out of the airport in plenty of time and in just over an hour they were landing at the Tiberius Space Port. "That went by really fast," Sajan observed, "but it was really fun." His gaze had never left the window from the time they took off to the time they landed.
Steve's parents met them at the waiting area where introductions were made, and hugs, handshakes and kisses were exchanged, depending on who was meeting whom. Steve was pleased that his parents liked Brad right away and that Sajan was made to feel welcome. Shasho liked how his grandparents made his new friend feel welcome. In other words, everyone was happy.
"Where's Koji?" Shasho asked.
"He's sick," Kyle replied. "He's learning what an Earth cold is like. The doctor gave him some medication and said he should be good in a couple of days. I'm sure Dad is playing nurse right now and loving it." Colds were not so common any longer. They had all but been eliminated but Koji had not been given any preventative medication and hadn't built up very much resistance. The good news was, modern medicine was able to conquer a cold in two days or less.
The family went out to eat, taking Danny and Kyle with them. The six boys jabbered, and the two parents listened and commented when they could. After dinner, Danny and Kyle were dropped off at Greg's house and Steve's parents took the rest of the boys to the Magic Desert Resort, where they were all staying.
That evening everyone showed off or told about the presents they'd received in the two Christmas celebrations and the jet lagged boys dropped off to bed earlier than normal.
The 29th was spent swimming at the resort, hot tubbing, playing with new and old games, and getting in some sexual play when possible. While the temperature was a little higher than average, the 18.33c (65˚) high was deemed a bit cool for swimming by Steve and Brad, especially when the resort had such a great indoor pool. Shasho and Sajan followed the lead of the older boys.
The next day was spent at the Magic Desert theme park. Steve, Brad, Shasho, Sajan, Danny, Koji and Kyle, along with Greg, Alicia and Steve's parents went to the park as a group and enjoyed the rides, exhibits, food and everything else there was to enjoy. While Koji wasn't totally over his cold, he felt good enough to go at close to full speed.
"I still owe you payment for your Christmas Eve flight," Steve told Danny while they waited in line for a spaceship ride, complete with firing at alien fighters.
"Not here," Danny said.
"No, of course not, Silly. I was just reminding you. You'll get it at the New Year's Eve party or the week after, I promise."
"Like you know what our schedule is going to be. I'll be happy to get it whenever you can deliver it with your talented mouth." Danny saw that they were close to boarding the ride. "This is gonna seem really boring after doing the real thing."
"For you, maybe. But not for the rest of us, especially Steve the Nerd, and the three little ones."
Danny ended up having more fun on the ride than he thought he would and not because he hit the targets 99% of the time. The reason he had so much fun was that the fun his friends and family were having was contagious and the love created an energy that Danny soaked right through his skin.
Africa had four theme parks, one of which was in Nairobi, which Brad and Sajan had enjoyed more than once. The other three were in Cairo, Egypt; Lagos, Nigeria; and Johannesburg, South Africa. As result, the only boys attending a theme park with its rides and thrills for the first time were Shasho (whose first time was actually the week before), Koji (same as Shasho), and, surprisingly, Kyle, who had never been to a theme park. Kyle let totally loose of his inhibitions and found the rides and the experiences almost as good as avoiding a collision with a planet while piloting a starship.
The boys were exhausted (as were the adults) by the time their day was over. They crashed early, wanting to be prepared to stay awake long enough the next night to see the New Year in.
Lars and Oliver were laying naked in bed as they had been doing for the week Oliver had been with them. On this night, Oliver had several things going through his mind.
"Lars? Are you sleeping?" Oliver quietly asked, barely above a whisper.
"Yes. Is everything okay?" Lars responded, concern for his future brother apparent.
"Yeah, but I can't get out of my mind some of the things you said you've done with Jonas and the other boys on the Sooloo."
Lars was grinning, but in the dark, it was unlikely that Oliver could see it. "Have you done anything with any of your friends?"
"Not really. The boy who tried to pick Dad's pocket and I jerked off together once, but that's it."
Lars rolled over to be closer to Oliver and wrapped his arm over Oliver's chest, gently caressing the skin between his nipples. Quietly, Lars whispered, "Would you like me to show you some of the things we do?"
Oliver was nervous, but at least part of him was definitely in favor of it. His nearly four-inch circumcised penis was fully engorged. "Are you sure it's okay with Jonas? Do you need to ask him first?"
"I know him well enough to know he won't be upset. He and his brother do stuff together all the time and I doubt very much, they haven't done anything since we've been on Earth. And since we're gonna be brothers... what's the difference?"
Oliver swallowed his nerves and barely gasped out his approval. This was all Lars needed to show him several of the things they'd done on the Sooloo.
When they were finished, Oliver was exhausted. He had experienced things and feelings he never imagined... the activities he was shown were definitely things he wanted to do again... frequently. He just hoped he could find a special someone to share it with.
New Year's Eve was spent as a family. To mark the special occasion, Randy and Gordy were allowed to drink their first champagne. Neither one was impressed with the taste, but they both enjoyed the effect.
They went to bed not long after midnight listening to Dave's New Year's message. They decided to start the New Year on even ground and do oral. They weren't sure if the champagne made the sex better, but it certainly didn't hurt.
As Randy snuggled with his little brother, he was hit by the only negative of his visit home—he would soon have to leave his family again. But until that happened, he was going to love his brother, father, and mother with all his heart. He was also determined to cook a farewell meal that would be even better than the lasagna had been.
Jonas looked up at his daddy, "What's this drink called?"
"Who gave that to you?" Jordan was surprised when one of his boys was carrying what looked like a mixed drink.
"Pappy made it for me. He said it was orange juice with very little sake. He gave Jason one, too, but said we had to drink them slow, so we had some for when the New Year comes."
"Well, if Pappy gave it to you, then I guess, it's alright. Have you ever heard of the drink called a screwdriver?"
"Daddy and Mommy used to drink them all the time on New Year's. We only got a sip because Mommy said it had vodka in it."
"Right," Jordan acknowledged. "Well, a screwdriver is orange juice and vodka, so what you have is called a Japanese screw. Pappy has family in Japan that sends his daddy a couple of bottles every year. This time, we sent a bottle to Dave for his birthday, and we are sharing a bottle tonight."
"It tastes just like orange juice to me."
"Because Pappy made yours weak since you are so young. Mine is a little stronger, but not as strong as Grandpa Jason's. You should ask him for a taste of his," Jordan smiled.
Jonas walked up to Grandpa Jason, "Daddy said I should ask you for a taste of your Japanese screw, so I can really taste what it tastes like. Mine tastes just like orange juice."
"He did, did he?" Grandpa Jason looked over at Jordan, who motioned, "just a small sip."
"Uh huh, so can I taste yours?"
"Just a small sip so you can taste it. If you drink too much, as small as you are, you'll fall asleep before midnight."
Jonas took a small sip and coughed, "That definitely tastes different than mine. Did you put any orange juice in it?"
"Yeah, I have a fifty–fifty mixture. I think you have a five–ninety-five mixture. Your dads are drinking twenty-five–seventy-five mix."
Jonas wrinkled his nose, "I'll stick with mine."
Dave and Hal had allowed the boys to stay up to ring in the New Year. Hal had reminded Dave of the bottle of Sake that Jordan, Jace and the twins had sent for his birthday, but he decided to save that for his promotion ceremony in early January.
Dave had invited his entire Senior Staff to his celebration in one of the ballrooms of the Stratosphere. Princes Zarek and Zifaa attended as did Aiden, Connor, Tom and Randy Kohl, and their children. Tomo also brought Jinzo. As each boy from the Sooloo arrived, Dave made sure to introduce Oliver. "This is Oliver, he is Hal's and my newest son, maybe not officially yet, but he is our son and Lars' older brother." Oliver smiled at Dave.
Kyle, Danny, Koji, Steve, Brad, Shasho and Sajan arrived with Grandpa Admiral. Greg had invited Alicia, but she declined, saying she wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with her family. They arrived around 2330. Dave met the hoard as they came through the door. He introduced Oliver to them and he was introduced to Sajan. Dave observed Kyle and Admiral Robinson and noticed that all of the tension between father and son seemed to have vanished. "You two look like you've worked everything out."
Koji took a quick liking to Oliver and at his first opportunity, while Kyle and Dave were speaking, Koji left the group to join Oliver and Lars, wanting to make sure Oliver noticed him. "Well," Kyle began, "we've had some good talks. I know now that much of it was as much my fault as Dad's. So, yeah… we're good."
"I'm glad to hear it. Enjoy the party."
Shasho saw Akage and walked across the room to greet him and introduce him to Sajan. While this wasn’t the time to talk about relationships, Shasho didn’t want Akage to think he was hiding anything.
Earlier that day, Dave had recorded a message that would be sent to every member of the Sooloo crew and their families. It was timed to be broadcast so that it would end exactly at midnight, ringing in the New Year.
The message showed Dave, Hal, Lars, Oliver and Admiral Mirah sitting in a room earlier that day. Dave opened his remarks.
"I wanted to send this message to everyone on the crew of the Sooloo and their families. The year 2121 has been an amazing one for everyone involved. To the families, you should all be proud of your sons, grandsons, nephews and brothers; not to mention, for some of you, your fathers."
"In just a few moments, we will enter into the year 2122. This year will see the Sooloo embarking once again on its mission of exploration. Some of the crew will be different, with new faces joining the extended Sooloo family. But, I have no doubt that each member of that crew will show the kind of responsibility to duty that we've seen in the few short months we've already been in space."
"So, on behalf of myself, Hal, Lars and Oliver. In addition to the rest of Space Fleet, I want to wish you all the happiest and healthiest of the New Year."
Fleet Admiral Mirah merely said, "You said it all, Zippy... I couldn't have said it better. Happy New Year all, in 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1! HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
This concludes Book I ~ Voyagers. Keep tuned for Voyagers, Book 2 after a short hiatus.
[Universe Creator’s Note: It’s hard to believe it’s been over 30 months since we started writing Voyagers. In that time, we’ve amassed a very loyal following of readers. To you, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The mission is far from over. Zarek, DouglasDD and I have already started work on Book ][ of Voyagers. You can look forward to continuing the journey for a long time to come. We will be taking a short hiatus while putting the finishing touches on our plans for moving forward, but I wouldn’t expect it to be that long a delay. The three of us have already written several scenes that will appear in the next few chapters… it’s an exciting prospect continuing this journey. On behalf of Zarek Dragon, DouglasDD and myself, we’re looking forward to seeing where the crew of the Sooloo ends up in Book ]
Chapter Forty is the last chapter for Voyagers. With that said, we plan to take a hiatus as we discuss details and work on Voyagers Book II. Book II will begin New Year's Day 2122. Watch the Latest News on the Home Page for details. We will let you know in advance of when we begin again. Is the Sooloo and her crew ready for what is to come? Continue reading and find out.