Yeah, it's me, Dylan. I think DJ, Chek, and Tanner are trying to catch up with Uncle Cory and Uncle Sean! Just a warning though, this time I think even Uncle Cory's gonna be confused, because Finn is just like DJ. Same hard head, and if he decides he wants something, he gets it one way or another.
(Don't give me that look, Deej; ask Tanner, I'm right!)
What was I sayin'? Oh, yeah; Uncle ACFan transcribed a Christmas story that I helped with, one that technically should be outside our reality. I guess I should explain, or this will be even weirder that it is already. Ya see, when humans dream, sometimes we're actually seeing what another version of us is doing. Normally, that is all there is to it. Sometimes the conscious mind steps in and affects the outcome, kinda helping the other us along. The person dreaming doesn't know this though, they just think it is part of their dream.
This is where it gets twisted into knots. Uncle Vincent was visiting with Brakkii over in the Dream Realms while we were working with Uncle ACFan, and somehow his powers of affecting Fate kicked in. That made things really weird, because now the parts that were supposed to be just a dream are turning into reality, and I get stuck trying to sort it out. Uncle ACFan promised to give a link or something like that so you're not too confused, but he says that fixing this is above his pay grade (whatever that means) and I'm on my own.
Wish me luck!
DJ stretched as he began to wake up, a smile on his face at the dream he'd just had. 'Too bad it wasn't real; I think Finn would really benefit from having someone to be responsible for again.' DJ thought.
As he finally opened his eyes, his smile turned into a look of confusion. Sitting on the couch watching the sleeping family were Cory, Sean, Kyle, Tyler, Dylan, his husband Thomas, and their son Jimmy. "Dad? Pop? What's wrong?" DJ groaned as he tried to finish waking up.
Kyle waved his hand, signaling that he'd answer the question. "Your eldest son met your Uncle Vincent in the Dream Realm. Somehow, when Finn was telling Vincent about his life and the dream he'd just had, Vincent's gift kicked in. We now know his gift can cross dimensions and universes, because you just became a grandpa times six."
DJ was suddenly wide awake, staring at the unfamiliar heads cuddled up to Finn. Three identical heads with greenish-blond hair were cuddled behind someone the same size with aquamarine hair. A smaller head with the same aquamarine hair was spooned between the boy with hair like him and Finn, while there was another young boy on the other side with orangish-red hair that had an unnatural sheen to it, cuddled with Rollie directly behind him. "There ain't no way my dream was real!" DJ exclaimed.
"Welcome to my reality, Deej," Kyle quipped. "It took Dilly a lot longer to explain it to me."
"I'm keeping everyone else asleep," Tyler added. "You're gonna need to help us explain this to everyone else; good news is that they all shared in the dream you had."
"Dilly, please tell me you managed to try to keep things somewhat sane?" DJ begged. "Just you being here tells me you were involved."
Dylan half-smiled. "It was actually us after you arrived at the restaurant in the dream. We got pulled in, even though we don't normally dream like you do."
"In that case, I'll tell you what I said in my dream," DJ replied. "You did good, and I'm proud of you."
After a pause, DJ added "You can wake up Chek and Tanner too, they're already caught up with everything."
"I figured that was what you were doing," Cory grinned. "One thing, if you haven't noticed it already, Finn needs your approval more than anyone else's. He's latched onto you like Timmy's latched onto me."
"Gotcha, Dad," DJ replied with a smile. "I think I can guess why, too. I bet that he believes I saved his life by talking him out of suicide, so it's kinda like how you saved Timmy."
"You're probably right," Cory nodded. "If you need help understanding how it affects the relationship between the two of you, get with me right away. You're going to notice that he's going to respond a lot differently than the rest of your family, and he's going to try to copy you a lot more than the rest will."
"Thanks," DJ replied honestly. "Being a parent is really weird."
"You'll forget about the weird the first time one of your kids climbs on your lap and cuddles, just because they want to," Cory admitted. "I've watched you and Tanner with your brothers; I know that these boys have parents that they are going to be very proud of."
"Now you did it!" Sean giggled. "Deej is gonna self-combust if you keep it up, Hon."
"Nope," Kyle giggled, "he ain't glowing like Ty does... yet!"
"Dilly, control your parents!" DJ quipped as he tried to bring his blush under control.
"I've got it!" Jimmy stated as he slipped over onto Kyle's lap and snuggled into him. "Cuddle me, Grandpa!" he ordered with a giggle.
By this time, Tanner and Chek were also wide awake, both grinning as they watched Kyle willfully submit to the 'request' of his grandson. "Ty?" Chek queried, "Are you having trouble indexing what's going to happen too?"
Tyler nodded. "Yeah, I think we're inna fixed point that's being created as we live it. I've felt something like this before, when we were in Naples; that time we were inna bubble from Higher than we can do. This don't feel exactly like that, but it's close enough to probably be the same kinda thing."
Tanner, meanwhile, was studying their apparent new grandsons. "Does anyone know if we had the same dream, and how accurate it was?"
"All of you from here had exactly the same dream" Thomas answered. "From the point Finn went over to the table for the triplets, theirs was the same too, and the rest are matched up after they arrived. We have some parts from picking up Tarsee and Syam that you guys don't, and none of us has anything about Sylys before he arrived. The thing about their old home timeline being locked after we saved them must be right, because none of us can see their past besides what we'd already seen in our dreams."
"Leev says it's because we'd get hurt right now by the reset," Dylan added. "He says we'd get caught in the reversal, and it would kill us. He asked Uncle Galli for me, since they're out playing with some asteroids along with Uncle Quint."
"Anything that you actually remember from the dream really happened," Thomas continued after a smile of thanks at Dylan. "I still don't know what we're going to need a Volkswagen Bug limo for, though!"
"Probably for the dozen or so brothers you two are going to make for Jimmy," Tanner joked. "So, that means we really met Santa, and Sylys is really Vifer?"
"Yeah," Thomas nodded. "Santa does actually exist in a few of the more magical timelines. That was one of them. Not only is Sylys a Vifer conversion, but the comment about all of your family being related to you now should be right too; we'll have to see what Antonio finds out."
"We should probably wake Finn up," Sean interrupted. "He needs to have time to process this before his new sons are allowed to wake up; I don't think that shock is going to be what they need to see from their new Dad."
"I'll do it," DJ offered as he shuffled over to the side of the pile that Finn was on. Once he was within arm's reach, he softly shook Finn's free shoulder as he said "Finn, time to wake up son."
"I don't wanna," Finn muttered.
"C'mon," DJ coaxed, ignoring Tanner's muttered 'like father, like son' comment. "We've got a big day ahead of us."
"Just one more dream," Finn grumbled.
"If you get up, you'll see that dreams are real," DJ replied softly. "C'mon, your grandparents are waiting to spend some time with you."
Finn cracked his eyes open, sleepily checking to see who was using him as a pillow. Seconds later, he was wide awake, his eyes bulging in shock. "Dad?"
"There's an explanation... kinda," DJ reassured Finn. "Your Mom just got back from the bathroom. While your Pop's peeing, I'll help dig you out. After both of us have taken care of our morning business too, we'll sit down and it can be explained to you. Don't worry about waking your sons up; your Uncle Tyler is helping keep them asleep until the rest of us are ready for them."
Once DJ managed to get Finn dug out of the puppy pile, Finn stood up and latched onto DJ like his life depended on it. Realizing that he had a very scared son on his hands, DJ whispered "Don't worry, all of us had the same dream according to your Uncles. That means I know what you did in the dream, and I'm very proud of you. Pop and Mom know too, and they're just as proud as I am."
"But I'm only ten," Finn whimpered.
"Your Uncle Kyle and Uncle Tyler are only eight, and they have more sons than you do," DJ pointed out. "Even though you had a good Dad, you still were another Dad to Rollie, even if neither of you realized it. Now you have six boys who get to experience the great Dad that you're gonna be because of everything you learned already."
DJ had been slowly guiding Finn towards the bathroom as they talked, arriving just as Tanner came out. To DJ's surprise, Finn latched onto his hand with a vise-like grip and pulled DJ into the bathroom with him. When they reached the facilities, Finn wrapping one arm around DJ's back made it clear that they were going to share the toilet while emptying their bladders.
Noticing that even though he was done, Finn was not moving to leave, DJ asked "What's on your mind, son?"
Finn unconsciously pulled at himself as he whispered "I'm thinking bad things."
DJ guided Finn onto his lap as he sat down. "Why don't you tell me about them, and let me decide how bad they are?"
Finn nodded as he pulled DJ's arms tight across his belly. "When I see you naked I think about what it would be like to do sex stuff with you since you're older but not nasty like our old neighbor." he rattled off before he could chicken out.
DJ gave Finn a squeeze of support. "Those thoughts are normal after what you lived through," DJ explained. "I think it would ruin the trust that you have in me if we were to do that, though. I'll make a bet that there's someone back home that you find that you'll feel the same about, and you won't feel guilty after doing things with them. I just asked your Mom and Pop, and they agree that there is one thing you can do that won't cross any lines, but it will help you start your recovery. As long as you don't mind me possibly getting a stiffie just from being here, you could make yourself feel good while I hold you, that way you know for sure that I'm not going to take advantage of you."
Finn nodded, not really trusting his voice as he risked the security he felt with DJ. As his subconscious accepted that DJ was being good at his word, not doing anything other than holding him, Finn relaxed and for the first time in his life enjoyed self-pleasure with another person present. After he was done, he wiggled around to give DJ a hug of thanks, unintentionally causing DJ to go off as well. Finn leaned back and looked down, giggling as he said "I've never seen one do that without playing with it!"
As DJ listened to Tyler in his head, who was explaining the emotional changes that he'd seen in Finn from the interaction, DJ replied "At my age, it gets stiff for no reason. it doesn't go off like that usually, but I think it knows that you needed to learn that not all sex stuff is bad, so it showed you how proud it is of how you just learned to trust someone."
Finn giggled, then proceeded to give DJ a heartfelt chest-to-chest hug. "You were right, I feel a lot better now, and I don't feel like I wanna do sex stuff with you no more," Finn whispered. "I hope someday I can be as good of a daddy as you."
"After watching Rollie, I think you're already there," DJ assured Finn. "You just need to prove it to your new sons. Most of the time, what we just did would be wrong, but you had some special issues from your past that made it what needed to be done. Always do what I did; ask for advice from people who understand the situation, and let them help you to decide if it is really the right thing to do."
After a few minutes of cuddles, DJ and Finn made sure they were cleaned up, then returned to the rest of the family. Cory caught Finn up on everything that had been discussed before he was woke up, then asked Finn if he had any questions or comments.
Finn thought for a minute, then with a serious expression asked, "Grandpa? Is there ever a time that something normal happens in your family?"
Cory did an amazing impression of a deer caught in headlights, while the rest of the group that were awake failed at suppressing their giggles. "That's what I thought," Finn deadpanned, which shifted the giggles to outright laughter.
Once the laughter settled down to occasional outbursts at the expression on Cory's face, Sean commented "We should probably get all of the new uncles caught up before we wake up Finn's sons. Kyle? If the boys agree to it, could you fill them in?"
"Finn's gotta hear what I tell his brothers too," Kyle stated. "Ty and me'll wake them up, but any of them that say no get to sleep through you telling them, bro."
"I love you too, brat!" Sean quipped, earning him a grin from Kyle.
To Sean's relief, all of his grandsons chose the mental briefing once they were awake and had taken care of their morning business. As they prepared to go to the last step, Finn held up his hand. "Dad, Mom, Pop? Do you think we should get Doc 'Tonio and Doc Chris over here to make sure my boys are okay?"
"Can Grandma and Grandpa Russ come too?" Warren asked hesitantly.
"Great idea, Finn," Kyle answered with a mischievous grin, "I'll get them!"
Sean took care of answering Warren before any of his parents could. "They're already up here with your aunt and uncles, Warren. Cam's been keeping them updated on how things are going. If Finn thinks his new sons can handle it, I'm sure they'd like to be here in person. Russ didn't think it would be too smart for Finn and Rollie to wake up to two adults they don't know."
"They can come over, I'll give them a chance since my little bro trusts them," Finn stated.
"Already taking after his parents!" Sean mumbled, earning him a playful slap from Cory.
"I'll get 'em!" Tyler offered, with Russ and Sara appearing before he'd completed speaking.
After a second to get their bearings, Russ reached over and tousled Tyler's hair as he stated "You know, your son used to do that. Dilly learned that anything less than five seconds warning was cause for an insta-dip. Cam, would you please do the honors?"
Using the certified Mikyvis-Safe teleportation system built to Ark specs, Cam gleefully complied with the request, leaving a thoroughly-soaked Tyler sitting there a second later. "You do realize, this means war?" Ty giggled as he insta-dried himself.
"Yes, but Dylan's on my side!" Russ grinned before turning to see what Sara was up to. When he saw that she was collecting a mass hug from Finn's younger brothers, he joined Finn to see why he was still standing back.
"Finn," Russ said softly as he offered a hug with one arm, "I'm your Grandpa Russ, and that's your Grandma Sara. There's a reason you're not joining your brothers, would you mind telling me about it?"
"I gotta make sure they're safe," Finn replied, his eyes fixed on the mass hug.
"That's what I thought," Russ replied. "Do you think your parents would hurt them or let them get hurt?"
"NO!" Finn stated as he shifted his gaze to give Russ a death-glare.
"Then let them protect you and your brothers; you only need to step in when they don't or can't," Russ explained in a soothing voice. "You're a lot like your new parents, which tells me you're going to do well as a parent too. You need to learn the same thing they did, though; when to let others accept the responsibility to care for someone, and when to do it for themselves. You're about to start the hardest job in the Universe, being a parent. You've got a really large family tree that is looking forward to helping you with advice and support, just like we're all doing for your Dad, Pop, and Mom. You still need to be a kid at least part of the time, and all of us are watching to make sure that you get time to do just that."
Russ saw a look flash across his grandson's face, and immediately recognized the underlying problem. "Let me guess, you don't remember how to be a kid," Russ stated. "Since you and your sons will most likely be touring with your parents when we go out for concerts, I've already been given a briefing on your history. If you don't mind hanging out with the Tzar of Russia, your Grandpa Cory has been helping him with the same problem recently. You're not alone, there are a lot of Clan members who never got to be kids. We'll help you fix that, if you let us."
Finn turned his head to look at Cory, only to find him watching. When Cory gave Finn a nod and a thumbs-up. Finn turned back to Russ. "Why does everyone care here, but nobody cared when my parents were alive?" Finn whispered as tears threatened to escape.
"Come here, Grandson; you don't have to be a little boy to cry." Russ offered, opening both arms to prove his intentions. "You need to let that pain out before it eats you up inside."
At that point, Finn's subconscious decided enough was enough. Crashing into Russ' chest, Finn latched on as if his life depended on it, his tears now a flowing river down both cheeks.
Over with his Mom, DJ smiled as he saw Finn finally give in. "Dad did it again," he commented as he made sure his Mom was not being smothered by the mass hug.
"Of course," Tanner giggled, "He learned trying to get through your thick head!"
Deciding a subject change was needed, DJ asked "Uncle Kyle? Did you find 'Tonio yet?"
Kyle giggled. "Yep, just waitin' for the perfect time to get him and Chris!"
DJ, Tanner, and Chek exchanged glances as they stated in unison "Oh CRAP!"
With Finn now recovered as much as could be expected, and hugs completed with ALL of their new grandchildren, Russ and Sara decided to join Cory and Sean on the couch. As Russ was taking his seat, Cory softly stated "Thanks, Russ; no matter how good Deej and Tanner are, I think Finn needed an adult to get him to let go of his feelings."
Russ nodded. "I think you're right. If I understand Dan's mumbo-jumbo right, he probably wasn't opening up to his parents, probably because they broke his unconscious trust by not protecting him, and more importantly Rollie, from his former neighbor. I saw the little hurt boy inside of him trying to reach out, and I gave the little push that Dan tells us to do so that the little boy gets to resolve his pain by having an adult to trust."
"Now you know why we trusted you with DJ, Tanner, Toby, and Beau," Cory smiled. "You listen and learn."
"And all this time, I thought it was because you thought it was funny when DJ made my drinks come out my nose!" Russ quipped.
"Well, that too!" Cory laughed.
Meanwhile, Kyle's grin that had been plastered on his face since offering to get the doctors was now a constant stream of giggles. "INCOMING DOCS!" he suddenly announced before breaking into outright laughter.
The reason for his mirth appeared in the center of the empty area between both groups. The two new arrivals were covered in soap suds, obviously mid-shower. "KYLE!" both boys exclaimed as they spun to face the laughing eight-year-old.
"That's for what you're gonna do next week!" Kyle sputtered.
"Sorry, it's my fault he brought you here," Finn said with a grin. "Cam, we need someplace to rinse them off!"
"Gotcha!" Cam replied as Finn, Antonio, and Chris vanished. "He said 'we', so I sent all three!" Cam giggled in self-defense.
Shaking his head, Dylan announced "I'll go get them, Deej."
"Thanks Dilly," DJ replied. "Tell them we'll plot paybacks later."
"Okay," Dylan said before vanishing. A second later, he returned with Antonio and a small pile of medical equipment.
Antonio smiled at the watching group. "Finn and Chris are gonna be a minute; they're discussing some biology homework I assigned them."
"Are you sure that this is the right time for that?" Sara asked.
Antonio nodded. "Having a Founder as a son has perks. Yist and Byron are up here too, and Yist picked up on something when he joined me to check on Finn while he was in recovery. I just did my part to set the stage, now it is all them."
"Aunt Sara?" Dylan added, "We're in a time point that is shifting the future based on what happens here. Even if the timing seems wrong, some things gotta happen for Time to get back to normal flow."
"Since Yist is tied in with Timmy and Ricky," Sean stated, "that means he very well could have passed on a key to 'Tonio."
"I think so," Antonio acknowledged. "There's no way he could have had the details he did of when I was supposed to do this otherwise."
"Do y'all ever get the feeling we're all pawns in a huge 3-D chess game?" Russ quipped.
"Every day!" Cory, Sean, Kyle, and Tyler exclaimed in unison.
"Okay, time's up, I'll be right back!" Dylan announced. A few seconds later, he returned with the missing pair, who were holding hands with small smiles on their faces.
Instantly recognizing the situation, DJ walked over and pulled the pair into a hug. "The two of you have a lot of work ahead of you to heal the past," DJ instructed. "Concentrate on that, and let the rest happen naturally. If you can do that, you'll stop a lot of problems that would drive you apart before they have a chance at becoming a problem. Congratulations, guys."
Chris and Finn both nodded, immediately knowing that DJ's advice was from his own experiences. Still holding hands, they collected hugs from the rest of the group, then joined Antonio by the medical equipment he was pre-staging.
"Okay, here's the plan," Antonio stated as he checked power levels. "We'll get the basics and do compatibility checks on your sons now, plus have Kyle, Ty, Dylan, and Thomas do the checks on things we can't see or fix. Dylan already warned me that they're not from here, so run initial scans as new lifeforms. Finn, if you're gonna be my brother's partner, you're gonna learn at least the basics; that way you can back Chris up the same way Byron backs me up in emergencies."
"I think I like your brother better in Elf mode," Finn quipped to Chris.
"Oh, you're a smartass," Antonio deadpanned. "Great, you'll fit right in. Get over here, I want to see if you can press a power button without written instructions!"
"You asked for that!" Chris grinned. "We taking everyone to the Med Center for full scans, bro?"
"Yeah, Dylan says there's a possibility of genetics being screwed with on the entire group."
Chris leaned over and kissed Finn's cheek. "While 'Tonio's showing you how to use a tricorder, I'll get the initial scans we need from your parents and brothers, okay?"
"Sounds great," Finn replied as he returned the kiss. "Okay Doctor Grinch, whadda I need to do?"
"First, you need to forget every time you were told that you were too young to learn or do something ..." Antonio began.
Now that everything was ready, DJ stood behind Finn and Chris with one hand on each boy's shoulder. All three of them were looking at the six sleeping boys on the remnants of the overnight nest. Chris smiled as he looked over the sleeping boys. "Now I know why I was dreaming about you guys at Denny's in some weird place!"
"I think this needs to be all handled by you guys," DJ advised. "Chris, I don't know if they've had any extra dreams that included you, so it might be best if you guys woke them up as a team. I'm pretty sure that all of them are going to recognize Finn, going by all of us knowing them from our dreams."
Chris nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense. I know I kinda had a fuzzy dream after the one I remember, but I can't remember anything about it."
"We're all here if you two need us," DJ reassured them before stepping back.
Finn and Chris headed over to the apparently seven-year-old triplets first. All three had greenish-blond hair, with facial and proportional differences that, while not outright non-human, were just different enough to make them stand out when all added together. The most obvious features, other than hair color, were the limb-to-torso ration leaning towards limbs noticeably more than for an Alpha Prime human, and ears that rode slightly but noticeably higher on their heads.
While silently praying that the dream interactions would carry over into reality, Finn softy said "Gyakk, Klauzen, Zamzoon? Time to wake up guys, we got a lotta stuff to do."
Three matching sets of aquamarine eyes instantly popped open, growing wide as they darted back and forth between the two hopeful faces hovering over them. Seconds later, Finn and Chris found themselves on the ground with three boys latched onto them for dear life, all three repeating "It's REAL!"
"Who's gonna tell Timmy that he's got competition?" Antonio quipped. "Pouncing from a prone position is a new one!"
From somewhere under the pile, Chris asked "Hey guys, that was your Uncle Antonio. Why don't you give him a few cuddles while we wake up your brothers, then we'll introduce you to everyone?"
"Sure, Pop!" all three exclaimed in unison as they jumped to their feet to acquire their next target.
"CHRIS!" Antonio exclaimed as he tossed his tricorder to Cory for safety. Unknowingly identifying himself to his new nephews, Antonio found himself on the floor, in the middle of a triplet hug, just a few seconds later.
Grinning at Antonio's predicament, Finn and Chris made their way over to the remaining three boys. The eldest appeared seven, with aquamarine hair, and was securely holding one of the two apparent five-year-olds, who was obviously his genetic little brother and shared the same hair color. The last boy had a silverish hue to his skin, and his orangish-red hair seemed unusually reflective. Chris gave Finn a quick hug then said "I'll get Tarsee and his little brother Syam, I think Sylys is gonna need his Daddy to wake him up."
"Okay," Finn agreed. "You first, just in case."
Chris nodded, then said "Tarsee, Syam? Time to get up guys." He reached down and touched their shoulders, his efforts rewarded with two sets of aquamarine eyes opening up and focusing on the face above them, After noticing Finn off to the side, both boys smiled as Tarsee softly stated "We did it, Syam; we're out of that place and have a real home!"
Syam just smiled as he wiggled free of his brother and maneuvered himself to where he could put his head on Chris' shoulder. With one word, Syam expressed everything that needed to be said, as he stated "Poppa" in a contented voice then rested his head against the neck of Chris.
"I've still got one free arm, so get over here!" Cris prodded with a smile, causing Tarsee to grin as he took the unoccupied side of his new poppa.
Finn now took his turn, knowing that this boy, going by the dream, quite probably shared more than a trace of a genetic link to him. Without consciously knowing why, he picked up the slight five-year-old, pulling him to his chest as he said "Sylys, time to get up little buddy."
Sylys instinctively wrapped his arms around Finn, then as he woke up he leaned back to see if his eyes registered what he thought he'd heard. Once assured it was real by seeing Finn's face, Sylys touched his little nose to Finn's, locking his blued-chrome eyes into a gaze deep into Finn's eyes. "Daddy," Sylys stated, as if sealing the fact.
"Son," Finn responded, which turned out to be just what Sylys needed to hear. With that solved, Sylys shifted his head and rested it on Finn's shoulder.
Antonio watched with a smile as he cuddled three of his new nephews. "Looks like Finn found his version of Timmy," Antonio whispered more to himself than anything.
"What do you mean?" Gyakk asked curiously.
"I can't really explain it," Antonio said softly. "Your Great-Grandpa Cory might be able to, though; he's the one that has the bond with Timmy."
"What are you getting me stuck with now, 'Tonio?" Cory asked with a grin as he decided that he didn't want to wait to meet some of his new great-grandkids.
"I think Finn's bonding with Sylys like you're bonded with Timmy," Antonio explained. "These guys want more details than I can give, though."
Cory glanced at the new parents, then smiled. "Yeah, you had to be there. Gyakk, am I right thinking that you're asking for all three of you?"
Gyakk's eyes grew wide. "How'd you know my name?"
"Being one of Dylan's favorite uncles has advantages," Cory replied. "One of them is that he makes sure that I've got all the details anytime one of my family does something that has a chance of needing me to step in. He wasn't sure how this would go, so he gave me all of your emotional fingerprints so I'd know who was who. I also know pretty much most of what he does that led to you guys being here, that way I can help if you guys need it."
Recognizing that none of the three totally believed him, Cory shifted gears. "You guys have something in common with Thomas; he's not from this timeline either. I was told that you met his identical copy that comes from here, Vincent, when you were in the Dream Realms. If I understand Dylan right, Vincent's probably the reason you were able to arrive here, because he can affect Fate no matter where or when the subject is from. Vincent is a son of Family Clan Short, which means all of us as a group are legally considered his parents. If you had decided that you didn't want Finn and Chris as parents, that would be one of the options I would have offered you, since I'm the Patriarch of the family."
Gyakk nodded. "Okay, I guess you're telling the truth. What was Uncle Antonio talking about?"
Cory smiled as he replied "He's talking about the first son that Sean and I adopted; your Grandpa DJ's little brother Timmy. I unknowingly saved Timmy when he was five from being killed by a bomb when we rescued him, and that caused him to latch onto me as his hero. As much as I love all of my kids, there is a special bond between me and Timmy that his sister and all of his brothers recognize and honor. Dylan says that in the dream Santa told all of you that something from Finn was used to save Sylys. From the looks of it, Sylys is unconsciously acknowledging that by forming a special bond with your Dad. You need to remember that Sylys is probably going to take more of Finn's time than the rest of you, only because he needs that time until he feels secure that your Dad won't abandon him. Your Grandpa DJ is going to be able to help Finn with making sure that you guys get time with him too, but sometimes that will be giving you time but Sylys is there with you and your Dad. Instead of getting jealous, take the chance to spend some time with your little brother too, because at first he's not going to spend as much time getting to know his new brothers as Syam is going to do."
DJ had joined the group, and giggled as he announced "Stop while you're ahead, Dad. They just woke up, I don't need you putting my grandsons back to sleep!"
"Bite me, Deej!" Cory replied as he stuck out his tongue.
"That's Pop's job," DJ giggled. "Guys, your great-grandpa's right, though. Everyone needs a different amount of time to bond with new parents, and usually you'll have a closer bond with one or the other. Don't try to make it a competition, you'll just hurt feelings if you do."
"Why are you just telling us this?" Zamzoon asked softly.
"Because as the first three, you guys will probably be looked at as the 'big brothers' of your family," DJ explained. "If you need help with being big brothers, just ask me or your Grandpa Tanner; we've been doing it for a few months and have learned a couple of tricks."
"I thought Timmy was your little brother?" Klauzen asked, confusion obvious on his face, "If he's five, that means you've been doing it forever."
DJ grinned. "Good catch, but Timmy's kinda my big little brother. Our Mom got pregnant by his Dad while his Dad was part of a time travel experiment being done by the Federation. He was born before me, but came back with his Dad when he returned to normal time. I didn't even know he was alive until I was rescued by Dad and Pop. He's six now, and we agreed that he's gonna be considered my little brother to keep from confusing everyone."
"That's weird, even though it makes sense kinda," Klauzen replied. "When do we have to register with the Federation to get our work details?"
"It doesn't work that way here," DJ explained, the knowledge that their old home was no more keeping his temper in check. "If you guys want to just be kids, that's all we expect of you. If you see something that interests you, the rest of us will help you learn about it. If you do something really well naturally, one of us will see that and encourage you to look into it more. If a kid or teen has a job, it's because they started doing it without being asked, and they did so good that someone gave them an official title to go with what they were already doing anyway."
Noticing the looks on the faces of the triplets, Cory interjected "Guys, don't try to figure everything out all at once. You'll have plenty of time to ask questions and get used to how things are different here; all of us understand that you're gonna need some help adapting. Peter just told me that he's working on the new house that you're all going to be living in; it'll be your Grandpa DJ, Grandpa Tanner, all six of your uncles, and your Dad and Pop along with your brothers and you. Your Grandpa Matt is moving in with your uncles on his side, that way the family has on-site security, which means your Uncle Antonio and his family will be there too." Anticipating the question forming over the triplet's mind link, Cory added "Your Grandpa DJ and Grandpa Tanner are really important people in Family Clan Short, so that means that all of their family gets security to protect them from idiots."
Finn made his presence known as he stated "I think you guys got all of your brother's questions answered for now. You did great; they were listening while you took care of getting the answers they needed. Come on over with your Pop and me, we'll officially introduce everyone, then your Pop and Uncle Antonio can start checking to make sure all of us are healthy."
Antonio and Chris had taken the opportunity to update their medical history on everyone, starting with Cory, Sean, Russ, and Sara then working their way through the families. After a comical demonstration as they scanned each other, the two doctors prepared to get their initial readings on Chris and Finn's new sons.
Chris took a second to talk to his new sons before they started. "Okay guys, don't be worried if we seem surprised or mad about something. I'm pretty sure that we're going to see things that are normal for you, but new to us; that's okay and we expect it just because of your hair and eye colors being different. We'll probably see damage from your old life too, and that might make us mad. There are enough of you that we should be able to figure out what is normal for you, so we won't be guessing about what any of you guys need."
"Thanks, Pop," Tarsee answered for the group.
"You're welcome," Chris replied before turning to join Antonio, who was recalibrating the scanners for new life forms. "We about ready, bro?"
"Yep," Antonio replied. "Let's see what kind of surprises your sons have in store for us." Pausing to look over the boys, Antoni decided, "Chris, you take Gyakk, Klauzen, and Zamzoon. I'll take Tarsee, Syam, and Sylys. We should be able to build a default profile off of everyone but Sylys, and then we can ask Ark to merge that with the Vifer maps to find the normal for Sylys."
"Makes sense," Chris replied. "Gyakk, you're first."
To the surprise of all that knew them, neither Chris nor Antonio made any comments as they made their way through the boys. Once they had completed their tricorder scans, they began compiling the data, with Antonio providing an uplink to Ark through the CSNIC network. Once they were satisfied with the results of their scans, Antonio came over and took a seat by the boys.
"Okay, we've got a lot of things to cover, so I'll just hit the important stuff for now and I'll get with each of you for the little stuff later today," Antonio began. "First, even though it is impossible, every single person here is somehow now showing genetic markers that make their adoptive parents their genetic parents. Since that would mean that Cory, Sean, Russ, and Sara would have had to have a foursome before Sean was even born, I'm not even gonna try to figure that one out."
"Cory, Sean, get his legs!" Russ exclaimed as he reached out and grabbed Antonio's arms. "Cam, once we've got him, pop us to the nearest beach!"
Seconds later, Antonio and his captors vanished. With a wide grin on his face, Chris took over, "I knew that'd happen, that's why I let him start! The good news is that none of you, and that includes all of my future in-laws, have anything major wrong with you. Finn and I's new sons are close enough genetically that they are being classified as a branch of Humanity instead of an alien. Physically, all the standard organs are there, but they are different sizes and a few of them perform a little different than what we are used to. The biggest difference is in their blood; they have a whole new blood type. While it is iron based like ours, due to higher levels of iron phosphate, manganese, magnesium, and calcium their blood contains Vivianite, which leads to the turquoise tendency in their hair and eye colors. From what we can tell, that means Sylys is their former timeline's equivalent of an albino. Ark says that he's stabilized due to the Viferization that someone did, so it's not a terminal issue like it would have been. For food, there isn't going to be any issues that we can find; Doc McCoy's formulating some shakes that should handle the extra nutrients they'll need."
Focusing his attention on his sons, Chris added "Guys, I'm sure there's food that you loved from back where you came from. If you want to try, you could let Dylan look in your heads to see if he can find enough information to see if we can make something like it. Sometimes you have details in your head that you can't consciously pull up, but you saw enough that someone who knows what they are doing can duplicate it. I want you to remember one very important thing, though. I just listed the short list of how you are different so that everyone would be prepared if you need help; the list of how you're the same as all of the rest of us is so long I couldn't remember all of it to tell you."
"The most important part," Finn added, "is that you're our sons forever. Not because someone let us adopt you, but because we're really your parents. I think that means you can't call yourselves aliens, since your parents are from this time on Earth."
"Yep, we've got the best looking kids in Alpha Prime!" Chris stated.
All six boys decided that there was only one response possible to the public statements of their new Dad and Pop; seconds later Finn and Chris found themselves buried in a group cuddle as their sons expressed their gratitude for the new family they were now part of.
Russ smiled as he watched the mayhem onstage from the safety of his control booth. Timmy, Ricky, Pauly, and Joey had wasted no time, quickly ensuring their new nephews and grand-nephews were included in the normal play that the Tribe was famous for. Finn and Rollie were the only exceptions, due to their ages, but they were far from being left out. CD had picked up on the interest Rollie was showing in the various instruments onstage, and was now giving him the grand tour, explaining each of them and helping his new nephew with giving each a test run. Finn, on the other hand, had been invited by DJ, KC, and Danny to have his first skateboard lessons, and was having a blast. Chris was watching and cheering on Finn, tricorder and medical kit at his side, just in case one of the four hurt themselves.
Just then, there was a tapping sound from one of the percussion mics. After a pause, Rollie's young voice shyly said "Uncle CD says that we gotta make some music before Uncle Crash breaks something again."
"He learns quick!" Jerry shouted from where him, Cory, and Sean were plotting suitable restitution for DJ and Tanner adding six more great-grandkids to their families while supposedly on their honeymoon.
"I'll get you later, Dad!" KC shouted back with a grin.
"Pack a lunch!" Jerry quipped.
Russ shook his head, but then became serious as his subvocal let him know what the band was going to start off with. As he watched them get into position, it was obvious that they were taking this seriously, as none of the expected playing around was occurring. Russ watched CD, who was preparing to conduct the mini-orchestra, taking his cue from CD's actions.
Tanner stood front center stage, Timmy on one side and DJ on the other. His new sons and grandsons were seated on the front edge of the stage facing him, and the arena was rapidly filling with Archnanians who had heard that a practice was starting.
"Guys, CD says we have a green light," Russ instructed as he received the signal that the rest of the band was ready. "Tanner, you're live."
Tanner gave a slight nod. "Hi everyone. I know I don't have to tell you what this first song means to us, but today it is gaining a second meaning. If you didn't hear, DJ and I became Daddies recently, and last night we became grandads. Our new grandsons escaped a timeline that was hell to kids, and today we're letting them know that their suffering is over. I know most of you know the chorus, please sing along so our new family knows just how many people care.
With that, DJ and Timmy began the classical guitar intro to "When The Children Cry", with Tanner maintaining eye contact with their family as he sang.
As the song progressed, an unnatural dark fell over the arena, the ever-present light of the Archnanian sky somehow being filtered out by someone. When the entire crowd held up glowing light sticks, Russ gave a soft smile; it seemed their hosts had decided to give proper honors to those the song was being sung for, both dead and alive.
As the arena went black after the song finished, Finn found DJ in the soft glow of the stage monitors. "Dad?" Finn asked hesitantly.
"Wazzup, son?" DJ replied, concerned about the tone of Finn's voice.
"You know that song you guys covered on your music disk, "Somebody's Out There"? I used to sing along with it, could you play it for me?"
DJ pulled Finn into a hug. "I think we can do better. We have practice so we can try new things, so why don't you sing it?"
"But I'll mess up," Finn argued.
"That just means that you'll be like the rest of us," DJ calmly assured Finn. "Just remember, even if you mess up, keep going until the song ends. All of us goof, even during concerts. The reason that you don't notice it is the rest of us try to cover it. That's what being a band means, we're all in this together."
"But I'm not in the band," Finn argued.
"You, your brothers, and your sons became part of Time Touched the second you joined the family, the rest of us are just waiting for you all to decide where you fit in, even if it's not on stage." DJ explained.
"Are you sure?" Finn asked.
"I'm sure," DJ assured his son. "In fact, we'll do it like we do when we are learning a new song, the first time will be a practice, so everyone can figure out your pace, then we keep trying until we're all comfortable. Just remember that it's not your job to be loud; your Grandpa Russ handles that, and he'll be adjusting things to match your voice."
"Okay," Finn replied, obviously unsure but willing to try due to the assurances of his new Dad.
"Finn," Russ interrupted over the subvocals, "remind me to show you the film I showed your parents and uncles when they were just starting out. You'll see what your Dad means about bands covering each other."
"Okay," Finn replied, starting to realize that DJ was giving him a chance to live a dream.
As DJ stepped back to let the rest of the band know the plan, Chris walked up to Finn and gave him a hug. "I'm ready when you are, cutie!" Chris giggled.
"I didn't know you were in the band!" Finn exclaimed.
"I wasn't," Chris replied, "Not until you hijacked my heart. I'm not gonna let you have all the fun; if we're gonna mess up we need to do it epic, no little goofs allowed!"
Chris achieved his goal, his humor about messing up causing Finn to relax. "C'mon goofball, let's hit it!" Finn sniggered as Tanner handed them both a headset.
The two boys stepped to the front, Finn giving Russ a wave to show they were ready. "Hey everyone," Finn began. "I'm Finn, my new Dad, Pop, and Mom are DJ, Tanner, and Chek. Before I became their son, I used to sing one of the songs they'd published. I tried to get Dad to play it for you, but he said I gotta sing it. Chris is gonna be my husband soon, so he's gonna suffer with me, and he'll provide medical attention if I sing too bad."
Finn had to pause as the arena broke out in laughter. When he saw the thumbs-up from Russ, he relaxed even more; his humor causing the laughter helping his confidence. As the laughter faded, he added "Dad says I have to keep trying until I get it right, but I bet he gives up when his ears start bleeding!"
DJ and Tanner exchanged grins as they watched Finn. "He's a natural, he just don't realize it!" DJ commented softly.
Tanner nodded. "Yeah, he's getting the crowd fired up before his first note!"
Having waited again for the cheering to die down, Finn finished his announcements with "This song's called "Somebody's Out There", it was originally done before I was born, but it's still kewl. If there are any dogs out there, once you hear my singing, could you please howl on-key so it don't mess me up more?"
Ever the helpful uncle, Timmy gave a demonstration, which was quickly picked up by the audience. Chris and Finn took a bow, fighting to keep on their feet while laughing. Once they'd composed themselves, Finn nodded his head and Chance dimmed the lights, leaving a soft spotlight on Finn and Chris. After clearing his head the way he'd been taught in the school choir, Finn stated on his subvocal "I'm ready."
DJ and Timmy started the lead-in, both watching their new singer closely, just in case he froze. Their faces broke into huge grins as they heard Finn begin; obviously he'd paid attention to some type of vocal lessons in his recent past.
"Is it Fate, or random chance?
How can I decide?"
"Are we victims of circumstance,
when Destinies collide?"
Chris joined in for the chorus, his pride at Finn's singing obvious. As they wound down, the crowd came to their feet, cheering the first attempt. Both were surprised, however, to see Fife jogging across the stage to join them.
"Great job!" Fife grinned as he came to a stop. "The talking to the crowd and making them laugh was awesome, you had them looking forward to you singing before you even started."
"I was just trying not to sound stupid," Finn admitted.
"If that's you trying to not sound stupid, keep it up," Fife stated. "Even if you'd totally screwed up singing, you've already shown that you're a natural talking to the crowd and firing them up. Since you sing great too, that means you're in the band if you want it. The only thing I saw is that you need to move around while you're singing, show the words as you sing them."
Finn smiled at his furry uncle's advice. "I used to get in trouble in the school choir for doing that."
"You won't get in trouble with us," Fife replied. "We're here to have fun while we make people happy with our music. You wanna try again, but really have fun?"
"Okay," Finn shrugged.
Fife smiled as he saw Finn roll his eyes. 'He's just like DJ, he'll fit in great!' Fife giggled to himself as he turned and headed backstage to watch.
Finn headed back to the front of the stage, where Chris was already waiting. He waved to Russ, then as soon as he knew he was live he began speaking. "We're back! Uncle Fife says I was too stiff last time; I guess he ain't never had a boyfriend as hot as Chris!"
After verifying that Chris wasn't going to catch fire from his blush, Finn continued. "Uncle Fife wants us to have more fun. If we're gonna have fun, you gotta have fun too! I wanna hear some howling along with the music, do you think you can keep the beat?"
His answer came in the form of a loud cheer, punctuated by occasional barks and yips. As him and Chris made their way through the song, the crowd howled every time they had to hold a note. By the end of the song, the rest of the band was barely holding it together, collapsing in laughter as they hit their final notes. Trying to look innocent, Finn giggled "Was that fun enough, Uncle Fife?"
"Less than a day and you're already pulling your Dad's tricks!" Fife replied, his answer going out over the arena speakers as well.
"That's my boy!" DJ laughed as he came up to join Finn and Chris. "That sounded great guys; I think you two make a great pair singing. You want to try one more?"
Finn nodded. "I'm Still Standing" he replied with a chill to his words.
"I know why," DJ replied. "You want Rollie with you?"
Finn nodded, his mood changed as he grabbed the chance to release some pain.
A few seconds later, Rollie joined them, instantly grabbing onto Finn with both arms. Finn gave his little brother a squeeze, then asked "Do you wanna help me sing that song that Daddy used to play all the time?"
Rollie nodded, then shyly turned to Chris. "Are you gonna take Finn away from me?"
"No," Chris replied, "I'm moving into your new house so that all of us can be together. I'm bringing my Dad and brothers with me, so you'll have lots of us to help Finn protect you from bad guys."
Rollie gave a small smile, then let go of Finn long enough to give Chris a quick hug. "When we gonna sing?"
"After the music starts," Finn replied. "I gotta say something first."
"Okay," Rollie replied.
Finn waved to Russ, then said "This next song is dedicated to the butthole that killed Rollie and I's parents after molesting us and blackmailing our parents. He almost killed us too, but Doc Antonio doesn't give up that easy. I think I know now why Dad liked this song, and I'm proud to pass the word into Hell that "I'm Still Standing!"
With Rollie and Chris backing him up, Finn put a tone into the song that only someone who was recovering from abuse could convey. By the time they finished, it was clear to all just how Finn felt about the person that murdered his parents.