For those who did not read my submission for the Christmas 2021 story challenge, I am reposting it here to help make Honeymoon Chapter 3 make more sense. Yes, despite the disclaimer, there are things that carry over into the storyline, so it's a good thing to be aware of them!
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: The characters, locations, and situations portrayed in this story are entirely fictional in the Universe that you are currently residing in. Any similarity to people, places, things, or activities in your parent universe are solely a figment of your imagination, and have no correspondence to such things in what you perceive as real life. While this story contains elements of the Clan Short Universe, according to my local Mikyvis, it doesn't exist there either, even though Pablito has been known to change things like this on occasion when his charges get too comfortable. No characters or places, fictional or otherwise, were harmed in the writing of this story, no matter how tempting it became during the writing process. Cookies and tranquilizers are to be sent to email@example.com to compensate for having to edit this before submission.
DJ, Tanner, Chekrolo, and their sons Warren, Wesley, Hank, Pierce, Finn, Davner, and Rollie were just sitting back on Christmas Eve enjoying an extended viewing of "Home Alone Twenty Seven: The Great Grandkids." The viewing was extended by the incessant rewinds and slow-motion replays repeatedly requested by the munchkin brigade, not to mention the restroom breaks for tiny bladders that wanted to release due to laughter.
Just as the credits started to roll, Dylan appeared along with his husband Thomas and their son Jimmy. The fact Dylan and Thomas were both sporting purple halos before they even said a word was more than enough warning that they were up to something. "Hey Uncle Deej, we were just heading out for a snack, and was wondering if all y'all'd like to join us?" Dylan asked quickly.
"What'd you do to piss off ACFan THIS time, Pop?" Finn asked, looking around for an escape hatch.
"I drew the short straw after your Uncle Josh threatened to kill ACFan if he tried to use his family again this year," Tanner shrugged. "Something about his house being rebuilt three times in forty-eight hours because AC decided to make last year's story partially canonical."
"Adults are chickens!" Jimmy giggled. "AC knows better than to do that too much!"
((AC sniggers as he opens the new character development form...))
"Careful, Uncle AC; Dad and Pop gave me a key to the room in your head!" Dylan threatened. "This is supposed to be our story; get back on your side of the wall!"
"ANYWAYS!" DJ giggled, "I think this is where I'm supposed to say that we haven't ate yet either, and going out as a family sounds good. What's the dress code?"
"Most people there don't wear dresses," Thomas quipped. "You can if you want to, though; you'll just stand out."
Trying not to laugh at DJ's look he was giving Thomas, Dylan offered, "Clan Polos and shorts will work; I hate going places that make you dress up, because then they expect Jimmy to be a mini-adult instead of a kid."
"Sounds good," DJ replied. "You want to get ready too, and meet us back here in ten minutes?"
"Deal!" Dylan and Thomas chorused before all three popped back out.
Precisely ten minutes later to the microsecond, DJ heard a knock at their front door. "Okay, guys! It looks like your cousin's back; let's get moving!"
DJ answered the door, and almost fell over when he saw the vehicle Dylan acquired. Sitting in the driveway was a metallic purple, eight-door, stretched 1960's Volkswagen Beetle, said vehicle covered with a rainbow of cartoonish flowers. To top off the insanity, the engine at idle was clearly repeating the chorus beat of the song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
"Don't look at me," Dylan shrugged as he saw the look on DJ's face. "I think our author's having flashbacks or something. I'm having fun, so I'm just rolling with it!"
"Sounds like a plan," DJ snickered. "Hey, guys! Hurry up and get loaded in the car before things get any weirder!"
"Whoa! Kewl car, Dilly!" Finn commented as he led his brothers running past DJ in the race to get the best seats. Naturally, that left the seats in the front for the parents, as their sons followed instinctual processes and sat as far in the back as possible.
Once all the kids were accounted for, DJ, Tanner, and Chek climbed into the seats behind Dylan and Thomas. Tanner giggled as he noticed that Dylan could barely see over the steering wheel until the driver's seat elevated itself to put his eyes at a normal level. "Hey, Dilly? You know how to get to where we're going?"
Dylan turned his head to answer. "Not really, but the car's supposed to be equipped with a UPS system." As he mentioned the system, a six-inch-long plushie UPS truck appeared on the dashboard.
"AC!" every occupant of the vehicle groaned.
Once Thomas grabbed the plushie off the dashboard and tossed it towards the back, a holographic 3-D interface for the Universal Positioning System appeared and initialized.
After a quick call to the Character Union Steward to file an official complaint about working conditions, Dylan stated, "Directions to the nearest Denny's with immediate seating, please."
There was a moment of silence, then the UPS replied, "Select fourth gear, and turn on your left turn signal. Estimated travel time ten time-units."
As Dylan followed the directions, Chek asked, "Just what time unit is it using?"
Dylan shrugged as he released the parking brake and prepared to let off the clutch. "Don't ask me; I'm a Mikyvis; they're all the same!"
A few seconds later, the crew found themselves travelling through an interdimensional tunnel. All of the boys in the back were glued to the windows, oohing and ahhing as they watched the colors shift and swirl around them while the car travelled across timelines and universal boundaries. Occasionally, there would be a few seconds where they'd get to see a universe as the car crossed it.
In the front, all five parents had decided that now was the time to take up the habit of praying the Rosary, with Dylan setting the autopilot to allow himself to join in. Just as they finished the thirtieth pass, the UPS chimed and announced, "Arrival at the Denny's® at the West Southeast corner of the Beginning of the End of the Finish of the Universe. Please park manually inside atmospheric barrier."
"Looks like a little bit of a crowd tonight!" Dylan giggled as he weaved between assorted vehicles. He finally found a spot between a Borg Cube and a beat-up spaceship with a large bumper sticker that read "I Love Uranus!"
"We're here!" Thomas announced.
"We're still stuck!" all the boys in back whined.
Dylan rolled his eyes, then asked, "Thomas, could you get the glue remover out of the glovebox? Some authors take things too literally."
"Tell me about it!" Thomas muttered as he retrieved five economy-sized cans of Acme 'Glue-B-Gone'. "This ain't a cartoon, so no crazy ideas, AC!"
While the five parents unglued their sons from the car windows, the author polished his halo and considered just what they had in store next. Since it is a Christmas story, the glue remover actually worked as designed with no ill effects on any of the boys.
Knowing better than to press their luck, all five parents quickly herded their families into the entry foyer of the Denny's. Once the foyer AI automatically verified their optimum native environment, they were guided to what appeared to be a turbo-lift and whisked to a comfortable dining area for humans.
Once they stepped out into the greeting area, they spotted a small group of skeletons sitting on a waiting bench that was enclosed by a four-inch-tall retaining wall. The reason for the wall became obvious when one of them took a drink of his coffee, which obviously literally went right through him.
"Hey, guys!" Dylan stated with a wave. "Told ya you'd get your coffee! How's the drinks tonight?"
All of the boney group waved, then the largest one pointed at his cup and then gave a thumbs-up.
Dylan smiled. "Thanks! I'll swing by to chat in a few; we've got hungry kids here. Great knowing they're having a good coffee night, though!"
Semi-comatose from seeing Dylan having a conversation with living skeletons, the rest of the group followed him and the waiter to a table next to a large viewport with a stunning view of the nearby galaxy. After verifying they wouldn't get glued to the window again, the younger boys all quickly grabbed window-side seats so that they could twist around and enjoy the view.
"I think the kids'll be occupied until the food appears," Tanner giggled. "Does that mean we get to order for them?"
Dylan smiled. "I've got it covered; they do a Christmas Brunch special all day and night out here over the holiday week. They'll bring out platters with a bunch of food, and then we all take what we want. They'll refill if a couple of things run low because of a lot of us wanting it."
"Works for me," DJ acknowledged. "Hey, y'all, did you see those three little guys sitting at the table about halfway down the wall to your left?"
"The ones just sitting there with water?" Tanner asked.
Not realizing that their waiter had walked up and overheard, DJ and Tanner jumped when he informed them, "The youngsters that you are enquiring of were discovered as stowaways on one of our patron's vessels. They were abandoned here three of your days ago. They are currently being provided food by patrons such as yourselves who have noticed them."
Finn interrupted. "So, they just sit around until someone feels sorry for them and gives them some food?"
"You would be correct, young man."
"That ain't right," Finn stated with a shake of his head as he wiggled past his little brothers. "I'll be right back."
As Finn headed towards the other table, Chek commented, "Deej, I warned you that he was starting to emulate you!"
"We'll see," DJ replied. "Let him take the lead; I think this might help prove that we trust him."
"I agree," Tanner added. "Dad, Mom, Dad, and Pop did that with us, and it helped our confidence a lot."
Meanwhile, Finn had reached the table. "Can you guys understand me?" he asked.
"Yes," all three replied warily.
Unconsciously making himself less threatening to the seemingly seven-year-old triplet boys, Finn pulled a chair from behind him as he took a closer look at them. All three had greenish-blond hair and aquamarine eyes, which currently expressed their distrust of Finn. While they looked human, the proportions of their bodies were slightly off, just enough to be noticed up close; arms that were just a little too long, facial features that didn't quite fit, ears a little higher on the sides of their heads, and more that couldn't be identified on first glance.
"My name's Finn, and Dad, Pop, and Mom brought me and my brothers out for dinner. Our waiter told us what happened to you, and it's bullshit that nobody's tried to really help you. I'd like for y'all to come over and join us for something besides leftovers, and maybe we can figure out a way to really help you while you and us get to know each other."
"What's in it for you?" one of the boys asked.
"I get to sleep tonight knowing that at least I tried," Finn admitted.
"Why would you care?" one of the others asked.
"Because my little brother is alive due to Dad and Pop taking a chance on me," Finn stated. "It would be wrong if I didn't do the same thing."
"You'll dump us," the last boy stated.
"Can't happen in my family," Finn countered. "My family is into the multi-thousands of members, and if one of us can't help, someone else will step in that can."
Finn didn't need to read minds to know that all three boys firmly believed that he was abusing some serious mind-altering drugs; the looks they were giving him communicated that quite clearly. After a few mumbled threats to the author's life, he added, "We can sit here and argue, or we can go eat; you gotta tell me your names, though, or Pop'll tickle me until I pee!"
One of the boys reached into the pouch around his waist, pulled out a flat blue disc that was about an inch wide, then flipped it in the air. After catching it, he slapped it onto the back of his other hand and looked at the brother to his left.
"Castles, we tell him our names," the brother stated.
The boy with the coin-like object lifted his hand, revealing that the side of the disc facing up had an etching of what looked like a medieval castle.
"Dang it, I wanted to see if he'd really pee!" the one who called it exclaimed.
"You would, weirdo," the one with the disc taunted. "Fair's fair; I'm Gyakk, and these are my brothers; the pervert's Klauzen, and the quiet one is Zamzoon."
Finn nodded with a smile. "Thanks! I think I can tell you apart, but let me know if I mess up. Dad says grownups are fair game for confusing them, though." After a pause, he added, "Gyakk, I'm guessing that you got stuck speaking for your brothers; whadda you say to waiting until we're with the rest of the family for you to tell us how you guys ended up in this situation? I know I hate repeating what happened to me, so I ain't gonna ask you to suffer through it."
"Thanks," Gyakk replied. "I guess that means that you were serious about us joining your family for dinner?"
"Our family wouldn't allow it any other way," Finn replied, earning him curious looks from all three boys.
All three stood up, deciding that this weird kid didn't seem to be a threat. To their surprise, each of them received a hug from Finn before he led them back to join the rest of his family.
Just as they reached the table, DJ and Tanner turned to greet the new additions to the meal. Zamzoon's eyes grew wide as he recognized them, exclaiming, "You guys are on the cover of that music holodisk that Tarsee had! Finn, you didn't tell us you knew music stars!"
"That's because they're just Dad and Pop to me," Finn shrugged. "We're all the same, so I don't really consider the Time Touched stuff making them any different."
"If Tarsee's a fan, maybe we can arrange for him to get a special pass to our next concert," Tanner offered.
"I doubt it," Gyakk stated. "His keepers found the disk; they destroyed it and told him they would space him if he even mentioned it ever again. We only saw him once after that."
Finn twisted around towards Dylan, his stare wordlessly giving Dylan his marching orders.
Dylan nodded. "C'mon Jimmy, Pop and I might need a judge."
As Dylan and his family popped out, Gyakk asked, "Why does he need a judge?"
Finn pulled Gyakk into a cuddle. "Because there are some crimes that are universal in any universe, and the type of people that Dylan and Thomas are can't judge others due to the way they grow. Their son Jimmy is adopted, and he IS allowed to judge."
"You mean things like our sires abandoning us on that ship?" Zamzoon asked, earning him glares from his brothers.
"Exactly," Finn replied as he reached out and gave Zamzoon's shoulder a squeeze. "I bet when Dilly gets back, we'll know a lot about your sires."
"What makes you say that, Finn?" Chek asked seriously.
"I asked Dilly to follow up on a hunch I had," Finn shrugged. "C'mon, guys, you're sitting with me over here."
DJ, Tanner, and Chek exchanged curious looks as they tried to evaluate their eldest son's actions. What was most interesting was how the rest of their sons seemed to pick up on their big brother's plot, their welcomes genuine, but seemingly missing something that none of the three parents could put their finger on.
Dylan, Thomas, and Jimmy returned just as Finn finally introduced his parents. As soon as he saw the two new kids with the group, Finn stated, "You must be Tarsee! Come on over and join your new brothers, and you can introduce your little brother to us."
DJ suddenly realized what was different, but decided it was best to let things keep going as they were. As he watched, Tarsee introduced the boy, who was obviously just a smaller version of him; both had aquamarine eyes with hair that almost matched them. Tarsee seemed to be the same age as the triplets, and the boy he introduced as Syam appeared to be two years younger.
After another round of introducing his brothers, Finn stated, "We'll discuss what you guys went through after we eat; I want to give you guys a special Christmas present, but you have to tell me if you want it. After we eat, each of you needs to let me know if you want the three big goofs to be your grandparents, your parents, or just friends as we help you find a new family." Pointing at each as he finally introduced them, Finn said, "That's my Dad, DJ. That's my Pop, Tanner. That's my Mom, Chekrolo."
Tanner smiled at the looks the four eldest were giving Finn; Syam decided to make his vote known by climbing onto Finn's lap and making himself comfortable. Deciding it was time to back his son, Tanner added, "Not only can Finn make any of those happen, but all five of you will have our full support no matter what you decide."
As with any group of youth in any universe, the arrival of food at that moment halted any serious conversation. The table was quickly filled with various types of food, some of which were familiar to at least a couple of the boys, others unfamiliar but presented in a way that drew interest in them. The snippets of conversation around the table were light, mostly centering around opinions as new foods were tried.
As the group was just finishing their feast, Dylan spotted a man walking towards him that seemed to be shifting among various forms. Knowing that each of his tablemates would only see the form that was given to the legend in their birth culture, Dylan kept his observations to himself as he waved and shouted, "Hi Santa!"
The Universe's most famous inter-dimensional living being waved back and quickened his pace towards the amazed kids at the table. "Ho ... Ho ... Hooo! You've been busy, little elf!"
"I can't let you have all the fun, Santa!" Dylan giggled. "I did save the best part for you, though!"
"Yes, you did, Little One," Santa chuckled. "All of you boys are getting one of your gifts tonight, and I will bring the rest after you are asleep at home." Santa paused until he could place a hand on Finn's shoulder. "Finn, tonight you worked to give five boys from a totally different universe a chance at the new life that you were recently given. You need to understand just what you really saved them from, as even they have no idea of just what was happening. They were residents of a galaxy on the outer edges of a Universe that was in the process of a Reset. Their branch of Humanity was trying to outrun the wave that began at the core of their Universe, the wave which starts the process of building anew. When Dylan and his family left, the Seal was placed to block all but the Highest from entering until the process is complete."
Santa looked around the table, the serious looks he received in return confirming that everyone understood. "All who have tried to escape to other universes are being drawn back into their origin to complete the reset... all but five. Those five are Protected, Protected by a young man who used a Mandate that he was just beginning to understand to do what no other physical being could have done. Finn, you need to have your Grandpa Cory explain it to you, but you invoked the power of the Nexus. First with the three boys that you decided were going to have a Joyful Christmas if they wanted to or not, then with the ones that Dylan was able to bring back despite the blocks in place to prevent such a thing."
"Dad and Pop were told those two and no more," Jimmy interrupted. "We were even guided to a spot when the two of them were alone to get them."
"You did good, little Jimmy," Santa smiled. "There is one more, one that the Angel Pablito personally delivered to me with strict instructions as to how to proceed. Finn, Destiny awaits your words; speak of what is in your heart, not what is in your head, as the Miracle of Christmas works Its Magic."
Finn looked around the table, unsure as to what he was expected to do next. Tanner caught his eyes, and softly said, "You saved Rollie by letting your heart talk; just do it again, Son."
Finn nodded, then closed his eyes as he cleared his thoughts and doubts. Drawing strength from holding the newest munchkin on his lap, Finn took a deep breath then said, "I wanna make them all my sons so that they always know that I'm there for them and I can protect them from ever getting hurt; like Rollie, and I were."
DJ barely gave time for Finn's lips to stop moving before he stated, "Dylan, log Finn's request as approved pending acceptance of the indicated youth."
"Too late, Granddad," Gyakk giggled. "We all accepted when Syam camped out on Dad's lap!"
Santa's patented belly laugh at the response was contagious, as the table broke into giggles and chuckles. Once he'd settled back down into his jolly smile, Santa stated, "You have spoken your heart, and as a reward, your new family has been granted a gift from the Angels. One who was at the door of Death, due to events that he could not control which damaged his genetic structure, has been given Life by the sharing of the genetics which saved 'he who shall be his Father.' Finn, it is your choice as to if this child passes on to Heaven as he was about to do, or if he joins you as your genetic son."
Unconsciously rolling his eyes, Finn replied, "That means he's already my son; he's just not here yet."
Santa reached into his pocket with a chuckle, pulling out a glowing bag. He measured a small amount of what looked like dust into his gloved hand, then tossed the dust into the air. As the dust spread out and seemingly floated in place, it began sparkling in all of the colors of the rainbow. "Sylys, your father wants you to come home!" Santa exclaimed.
At Santa's words, the dust cloud flashed, then was replaced by a five-year-old boy that was obviously from the same universe as his big brothers going by his body structure. Nobody at the table needed to ask where the genetics matched, as the chrome tint to the boy's orangish-red hair and the eyes that looked like blued chrome quickly showed that he was partially Vifer.
Picking up the boy's name from Santa's words, Finn immediately said, "Come on over and grab a seat, Sylys! Syam's going to help me give you welcome cuddles!"
"Yeah, an' I'll introduce all of our brothers, uncles, and grandparents too!" Syam giggled.
Not needing to be asked twice, Sylys quickly took Finn up on his offer, a happy smile on his face as Finn wrapped an arm around him and pulled him in close. The four oldest brothers, not wanting to miss the fun, crowded around their new dad and two youngest brothers to give Sylys a proper welcome.
After allowing a full fifteen seconds for the family to bond, all six of the new uncles mobbed the pile, giving their own welcome to their new nephews.
Watching the mayhem with a smile, Santa made his final declaration regarding the boys. "My Gift to all of you is the one thing you were missing. To the Sons and Grandsons of DJ, Tanner, and Chekrolo, you are as blood to your parents forevermore. Medical tests will show the parentage, so you no longer are considered adopted; you are their sons and grandsons. Your wishes are granted!"
DJ glanced over at Dylan's family, and grinned when he saw all three were sporting purple halos. "Get over here," DJ snickered as he motioned for them to join him.
Once all three were standing next to them, DJ said, "I know this is the first Alpha Prime Christmas for two of you, and the first Christmas ever for Dylan. All three of you outdid yourselves with giving our boys what they needed the most, proof that they were really family. For all of your work, you're sentenced to cuddles until we head over to Dad and Pop's place tomorrow morning. Dylan, you made me really proud of you because you did the one thing most of your brothers are still learning; you used your human love to guide you in making things right with your Mikyvis gifts. Thanks to the three of you, our family will remember this for the rest of our lives."
The only response any of the three could think of was to pick a lap and start cuddling; no words could express their thoughts. As Santa watched the final piece of his puzzle fall into place, he exclaimed, "Merry Christmas to All, and to All a good night!"