Castle Roland

Book I

by MultiMapper


Chapter 34

Posted: 16 Jul 15


Copyright © 2012 - 2015 by MultiMapper and The Revolutions Universe Partnership

All Rights Reserved

What We've Gained

Metamorphosis Logo"Just a heads up." Courtney said from the doorway, announcing her presence.

Everyone turned to pay her their full attention.

"I've been doing some checking, and it looks like you forgot to lay in any feminine hygiene supplies when you were stocking up. You'd better get on it or this could get messy." Courtney said from the doorway, then dashed away.

There was a long moment of silence.

"What's she talking about?" Seth finally asked.

"Riding the cotton pony." Bug said seriously.

When he only saw vacant stares of non-comprehension, he tried again, "You know, putting out the welcome mat for Aunt Flo."

Again, he received only vacant stares.

"She's talking about them needing stuff for being on the rag!" Bug finally spat with irritation.

Jay leaned down and whispered something, then Carson said with a grimace, "Oh, eww."

"I don't get it." Seth said honestly.

"Yeah, well shit... Fuck. Um, you all know where babies come from, right?" Bug asked nervously.

"Well, duh!" Seth said, sounding somewhat offended by the question.

"Even I know that." Oleksandr proclaimed.

"Good, well, the thing is, every month, a woman's body gets ready to have a baby, making a good place for a baby to grow. But if she drops her egg and don't get pregnant, then all that shit ain't good for nothin no more, so she's gotta get rid of it and start fresh." Bug said with difficulty.

"Huh?" Seth asked in confusion.

"Basically, over a couple days, the whole inside of her cooter just kinda sludges out." Bug explained.

Seth and Hobie looked uncomfortable, but Carson looked green.

"Yeah, so, then there's like all this blood and goo and shit that's leaking out for, like, days. When the cat's got a nosebleed, ya gotta do something to sop that shit up." Bug said frankly.

"What about a cat?" Oleksandr asked in complete confusion.

"Pussy cat... never mind. When the shit starts coming out, they need, like, plugs and pads and shit like that. Lots of people are really grossed out or ashamed about that stuff, so they don't talk about it. But from what Courtney was saying, we ain't got the shit that women need to deal with it. So, like it or not, we gotta do somethin about it." Bug said seriously.

"What do they need?" Hobie asked cautiously, pretty sure he didn't want to know.

"I don't really know a lot about it, but I know that there's a ton of that shit, they got all kinds of tampons and pads from wee little sizes for if they're only doing a little drop at a time, to things that can suck up a half a gallon of catsup in one go." Bug said frankly.

"Can't we just get a whole bunch of the biggest ones and tell them all to use it?" Seth asked curiously.

"Yeah. I know it sounds like that should work, but there's two things wrong with it. First, you wouldn't want to walk around one week a month with a pillow stuffed up between your legs. They probably don't want that either. And second is, you gotta respect the bitch maker. I'm talking about PMS. I guess when a cooter starts yacking that shit out, it don't feel too nice. Then there's, like, hormones and shit that goes all crazy and... it's bad. No matter what you do, it's wrong. No matter what you say, she don't want to hear it. She'll get all sad or mad at stupid shit that she wouldn't care about any other time. Trust me, we need to get them every size, every style, fresh scented, with wings, without wings, even the goddamned things that breathe. Also, while we're at it, we need to be sure that we've got lots of Midols and shit like that. Get the president to air drop them in if you have to." Bug said firmly.

"Is that why my mom..." Carson began to ask.

"Douche!" Bug said suddenly.

"Excuse me?" Carson said cautiously.

"Whatever you do, don't forget to order douche. Lots of it." Bug said urgently.

"What... never mind. I don't want to know. I'll just order it." Carson said weakly.

"I don't understand." Oleksandr said in a small voice. Ben hugged the boy, then said, "What Bug is saying is that a few days each month, women have what's called a period. At that time, they need special things to keep clean and tidy. None of us thought to order those things for all the women who will be coming to Kettle Falls, so that's what we're going to do now."

"Right. I'll see if I can get a rush order in from any of our suppliers. Hopefully, one of them's got a bunch of that stuff in one of their warehouses. If not, then I'll start trying Canadian suppliers." Carson said in a rush as he began to type furiously.

As everyone was getting back to work, Ben suddenly announced, "I just got a message that Zane's on his way here. I need to go."

"Then go. We've got this covered." Bug said simply.

Ben looked at Oleksandr with concern and indecision.

"I can call you if I need something." Oleksandr said seriously.

"I'll be back as soon as I'm sure that Zane's alright. Call me if you need anything at all." Ben said gently as he stood.

Oleksandr gave him a quick hug, then took the chair Ben had vacated, so that he could watch the incoming news reports.

"What's wrong?" JD asked when Allen had stopped typing for what seemed like a moment too long.

It took a moment for Allen to draw his attention away from his screen, but he finally said, "The more I look at these schematics, the more I'm convinced that this isn't real."

"Do you mean that someone's playing a joke on you?" JD asked curiously.

"No. Not unless it's a joke by a genius who's well versed in theoretical physics as well as at least a dozen cutting edge technologies. What I'm seeing here is so far beyond our capabilities that it can't possibly be real." Allen said helplessly.

"Do you mean that it doesn't work?" JD asked slowly.

"From what Ryan said in his email, it works. But at our current level of technology, there's no possible way that something like this could have been created." Allen said in confusion.

"And a bumblebee can't fly." JD said simply.


"I read this thing a while back that from the size and shape of a bumblebee and how big it's wings are and stuff, that it's impossible for a bumblebee to fly." JD said seriously.

"I think I remember reading that, too. Years later, they finally figured it out." Allen said thoughtfully.

"Right, but the important thing is that for a while, they were stuck with 'what is' conflicting with 'what should be'. It sounds like you have something like that in front of you." JD said seriously.

After a moment to consider, Allen carefully said, "So, the most productive way to proceed is to disregard the fact that it can't possibly exist and accept that it does. Then get to work on cataloging the parts and trying to duplicate their functions with our current level of technology."

"Um, yeah. That's just what I was saying." JD said with a smile.

"Thanks, JD..." Allen began to say when a ringing phone interrupted him.

"Thompson residence." Allen said as he answered the phone.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, he's right here. Hold on." Allen said pleasantly, then turned to JD and said, "It's your brother."

JD accepted the phone from Allen and quickly said, "How you doin, Squid?"

Allen looked at JD with surprise, but the expression turned into a tender smile when he saw the contentment in JD's eyes.

"Good. Thanks for calling to let me know that you're doing okay." JD said warmly.

After another moment of listening, JD quietly said, "Allen was talking about all of us going into town to check out the pop-up restaurants and shows. Why don't you talk to Jorry and Nick about that and see if they're interested?"

"No, we'll be staying right here until you're done babysitting. But if it isn't too much trouble, maybe you can call us when you're done there so we can stop by and get you, or maybe you can meet us in town?" JD asked hopefully.

"Yeah. We'll figure it out, then. Love you, Squid." JD finished with a tender smile.

He gave a laugh, then turned off the phone.

"Jody's at that age where he gets embarrassed when I tell him that I love him." JD said as he placed the handset of the phone by Allen's laptop.

"Even so, he probably still needs to hear it." Allen said warmly.

"Yeah. Especially with us being worried about our dads." JD said softly.

"Try not to worry. They'll be fine." Allen said gently as he cautiously put an arm around the boy.

JD resisted for a moment, but finally returned the hug.



"Got it in one. Who the fuck is this?"

"It is you! Bug, it's Amber!"

"Amber? You're here?"

"Yeah, I just got in. I'm here with Lawrence at the special needs check-in."

"How are you doing? Do you have everything you need?"

"I'm fine, but Mr. Mann's in the hospital, right now. They're still checking him out, but they told me to get checked in so that he'd have a place to go when he's released."

"Listen, I got a fuck of a lot of work to do here. But if you or Mr. Mann need anything at all, you be sure and call me."

"They told me at the checkpoint that you're the one who's running this whole refugee center thing."

"No. But I'm helping out the guy who's running it. I hate like fuck to do this, but I've got to go. Call if you need anything."

"I will. Thanks for what you're doing."

"Yeah. Bye."

When the door opened, Keil walked out and noticed Agent Cole waiting for him, just outside.

"Can you tell me about my son, now?" Keil asked hopefully.

"Yes. But not here. Follow me and we'll go where we can talk more privately." Agent Cole said seriously as he began to walk.

The agent who had accompanied Keil to the door gave a slight nod to Agent Cole, then withdrew into the room that was serving as a security office/barracks.

"Is it something bad?" Keil asked anxiously as he followed.

"No. Not at all. But from what I understand, your son has some emotionally charged things happening in his life at the moment. It's not my place to discuss his situation with you, but I'm going to ask for you to trust in my judgement for a short time." Agent Cole said carefully as they walked down the stairs.

"How long are we talking about?" Keil asked anxiously.

Agent Cole gestured toward the front door, where they had entered.

Keil saw a group of mostly children surrounding a boy holding a tiny baby. For just a moment, he flashed back to a memory of when his son was that age, and how much joy he had felt while holding him.

Once they were outside, Agent Cole quietly said, "When the events in your son's life have had a chance to settle a bit, I'll work with you to initiate contact with him."

"So he's going through something right now?" Keil asked with concern as he noticed the tents in the front yard.

"Aren't we all?" Agent Cole asked frankly.

Keil gave a reluctant smile, then said, "I guess we are."

"It won't be any longer than necessary, I promise." Agent Cole said earnestly.

Before Keil could respond, he turned at a sound and they watched as an ambulance approached.

Neither said anything as they watched the ambulance turn into the driveway, then veer off and continue on around the side of the house.

Keil looked at Agent Cole and found that he had one hand on his earpiece and seemed to be listening intently to something.

When Agent Cole noticed, he quietly asked, "Are we agreed?"

"Yeah. It sounds like you're doing what's best for Jake, so I'll follow your lead." Keil reluctantly said.

"Then remain quiet and follow me." Agent Cole said as he started to walk around the house, where the ambulance had gone.

"What's up?" Keil asked with concern.

"Just keep quiet and watch." Agent Cole said quietly as he reached the corner of the house, then peeked around it quickly.

"What's going on?" Keil asked anxiously.

"Look over there, at the ambulance. Just watch." Agent Cole said as he urged Keil to step forward.

As Keil looked around the corner, he could see one of the ambulance workers securing the doors.

"Wait for it." Agent Cole whispered.

Keil continued to watch as a thin young man with 'dirty blond' hair and dressed in nearly all black, stepped out of the ambulance and waited.

A few seconds later, he saw the ambulance workers pulling a bed out of the ambulance with someone on it.

Keil felt a twinge of sympathy as he saw the thin young man immediately take the hand of the man on the ambulance bed and hold it tenderly.

Keil and Agent Cole watched in silence until the ambulance workers had guided the bed inside.

"That's a little of what your son is dealing with right now." Agent Cole finally said.

"My son?" Keil gasped.

"He's the one dressed in black." Agent Cole said softly.

Keil had to fight the urge to run to the house and find his son, but finally, his thinking mind seemed to take over and he quietly said, "I thought he'd be back in Chicago."

"I know. And I hope that seeing him has helped to ease your mind a bit." Agent Cole said as he motioned for Keil to follow him back around to the front of the house.

"There's so many things that I want to know..." Keil said quietly.

"And I'd like to be able to tell you what I know about him, but I feel that it's best that your son tell you in his own time and his own way." Agent Cole said as he came to a stop.

"Thank you. I'm sure you're right." Keil said regretfully.

"What I can tell you is that your son is known to most people around here as 'Brother Jacques'." Agent Cole said carefully.

"He's a priest?" Keil asked in shock.

"No. I don't think so. I can't really say that I understand how that works, but I thought that you should know that if someone mentions 'Brother Jacques' that they're talking about your son." Agent Cole said seriously.

"Brother Jacques." Keil said with the beginning of a smile, then continued, "Over the past ten years I've imagined about a million different ways that his life might have turned out. Never once, did I ever imagine something like this."

"Just give him some time to adjust to what's going on. When things seem to have calmed down, I'll take you to talk to him." Agent Cole promised.

"What should I do until then?" Keil asked cautiously.

"Why don't I take you inside so that we can have an early lunch? Once we've eaten, we can reevaluate and make our decision from there?" Agent Cole suggested with a smile.

"Yeah. Thanks." Keil said sincerely, then quietly asked, "Do you mind if I ask you your first name?"

"Damion." Agent Cole said simply.

"Thank you, Damion. I really appreciate the fact that you've gone out of your way to help me and my son." Keil said honestly.

"You realize that I'm also keeping you under surveillance while you're in a high security area." Agent Cole said cautiously.

"Yeah. I get that. But you didn't have to be nice about it. I appreciate that you are."

As soon as Zane was off the elevator, Brother Jacques was again at his side, holding his hand.

"Is the moving around hurting you too much?" Brother Jacques asked anxiously.

"It hurts, but it's okay." Zane said as he squeezed Jacques' hand in assurance.

"Well, just as soon as we get you into your bed, you won't have to move around any more." Brother Jacques said softly.

"That will be nice." Zane said with a weak smile.

As they walked into their bedroom, Brother Jacques was surprised to see Ben waiting for them.

"I'm sorry I didn't get to the hospital today to visit with you." Ben said as he stood aside, so the ambulance workers could pull the wheeled bed along side the hospital bed in the room.

"I'm glad you're here, Ben." Zane said honestly.

"Do you have your pillow? We're about to move you, just like before." One of the ambulance workers said seriously.

Brother Jacques released Zane's hand and got the small beanbag pillow for him.

Zane clutched the pillow to his chest, then nodded that he was ready.

As gently as possible, they shifted Zane onto the hospital bed.

From the expression on Zane's face, being moved was painful for him, but not so much that it made him cry out.

"Good. You look like you're going to be fine. There should be a nurse visiting in the next hour or so to check on you. If you need anything before then, be sure to call the hospital right away." The ambulance worker said professionally.

"Thank you. I will." Zane said tiredly.

"Do you need anything right now?" Ben asked quietly.

"I just need to close my eyes for a few minutes. Thanks for being here, Ben." Zane said as his eyes drifted shut.

At Ben's look of concern, Brother Jacques said, "The doctor gave him something to help him deal with the pain he was going to feel on the trip. He said that Zane might be sleepy for a while."

"Okay. Do you need to do anything, while I'm here?" Ben asked gently.

"I'm fine." Brother Jacques said automatically.

"Jacques, you've been with Zane every minute since the surgery. I can stay here with him while he's asleep so you can get a shower or a bite to eat if you need it." Ben said seriously.

Brother Jacques fought within himself over the decision for a moment, but finally said, "Thank you, Ben. If you don't mind, I'm going to go check on the kids, then get a shower."

"I'll be right here." Ben assured him.

As soon as Brother Jacques left the room, Ben was surprised to hear Zane quietly say, "Thank you for doing that, Ben."

"It's no problem. I'm right here whenever you guys need me." Ben said as he moved closer to Zane's bedside.

"I've never been in love before. I didn't think it would be this scary." Zane said softly.

"What has you scared?" Ben asked curiously.

"It's like I'm his whole world. I'm not good enough for someone to feel that way about me." Zane said as he tiredly looked up at Ben with concern.

Ben smiled at the comment, then whispered, "You don't have to be good enough. He loves you just the way you are."

"I don't know what to do to make him happy." Zane said anxiously.

"You don't have to do anything, just let him share in your life. That's what makes him happy." Ben said with a smile.

"I don't know how." Zane said seriously.

"You're over thinking it. Just let it happen and deal with each new thing together." Ben said gently.

"Okay. Thanks Ben." Zane whispered as he finally gave in to the sleep trying to overtake him.

As Brother Jacques walked down the stairs to the first floor, he saw the twins walking in from outside.

"How's Zane?" Ken asked immediately.

"He's resting. He's up in our room. Ben's staying with him right now, so I can check on the kids." Brother Jacques said as he joined them.

"We had to go out for a few minutes, so we can check on them with you." Kev said as he gave Brother Jacques a quick hug.

"Thanks for watching after the kids the past few days. I'm sorry I laid that on you." Brother Jacques said honestly as he switched from hugging one twin to the other.

"It really hasn't been any problem. All the kids have made new friends and have been accepted by the families here. All we've really done is kept an eye on things in case we were needed for something." Ken said frankly.

Once the hugging was finished, the trio walked through the first floor common area toward the main house.

"Excuse me." Mr. Crante said as he intercepted Brother Jacques, Ken and Kev on their way to the living room.

"Yes?" Brother Jacques asked cautiously.

"It has come to my attention that the children you brought with you have very little in the way of clothing. I hope you don't think it too forward of me to ask, but would you consider permitting me to buy a few things to round out their wardrobes?" Mr. Crante asked carefully.

"I hadn't thought about that." Brother Jacques said with concern, then noticed that Mr. Crante was waiting for his answer. "Yeah. I don't know if Father Doherty has planned to do anything about that, but if you want to, I think that would be great."

"Very well. I will see to it." Mr. Crante said respectfully, then withdrew.

Brother Jacques and the twins watched him go, then proceeded to the living room to begin their search for the kids.

As Brother Jacques and the twins entered the living room, they noticed that everyone seemed to have their attention focused on Colton, being held by Nick.

"Oh, thank goodness that you're back." Gordon said when he spotted the twins.

"Is there a problem?" Ken asked with immediate concern.

"No. There haven't been any problems at all, but Lucas called and he wants for me to bring the girls to the school so that they can help with taking care of the younger children. He feels that it could end up being a significant experience for them, allowing them to contribute to the overall refugee effort." Gordon said quickly.

"That sounds like a good idea." Brother Jacques said frankly, then smiled when he saw Jamiah walking toward them.

"So you wouldn't mind if Loquicia went with us?" Gordon asked to be sure.

Before Brother Jacques could answer, he was pulled into a hug from Jamiah.

"Is everything okay?" Jamiah asked as he held on tight.

"Everything's fine. I'm sorry I wasn't here to take care of you and Loquicia." Brother Jacques said gently.

"We're alright. We just missed you." Jamiah said quietly, and it was evident that the boy was fighting back his tears.

After holding Jamiah for a minute to give him time to collect himself, Brother Jacques quietly asked, "Do you think that Loquicia would like to go into town with Gordon to help take care of some babies?"

"Yeah. I think she'd like that." Jamiah said softly.

"While she's gone, you could stay here with me, if you want." Brother Jacques said gently.

"No. Quicia might need me. But if I go... will you still be here when we get back?" Jamiah asked hopefully.

"Yes. Zane's out of the hospital now, so I'll be right here." Brother Jacques said with a smile.

"Okay. I'll go then." Jamiah said decisively.

"Are you going to be staying around here, today?" Gordon asked cautiously, directing his question mostly toward the twins.

"Yeah. As far as I know. We just had the one errand that we wanted to do while it was still early." Ken answered cautiously.

"Then, would you mind keeping an ear open for our boys. Lazlo's in town doing something for Carson right now, but he might turn up later. Both Jay and Lazlo have been very self sufficient, but I'd feel a lot better about leaving if I knew that there were an adult nearby."

"Yeah. We'll be here if they need anything." Ken said seriously.

"In fact, I'll let Jay know that he can come to us, just in case something comes up." Kev said casually, then broke into a smile as he continued, "I assume that he's in with Carson."

"I wouldn't expect to find him anywhere else." Gordon said with a grin, then turned to Jamiah and asked, "Are you ready to go?"

Jamiah looked up at Gordon and quietly said, "Yeah."

"Good afternoon." Mr. Crante said as he answered the front door.

"Hi. When I was checking in, they asked if I were interested in a paralegal job. I'm supposed to ask for Debra Brown." A young woman said nervously.

"May I tell her who is calling?" Mr. Crante asked slowly.

"Oh, yeah. Sorry. I haven't interviewed for a job for a few years, I've been staying home, taking care of my family. My name is Janet Hayes."

Mr. Crante gestured toward the living room as he said, "If you would care to come in, I will inform Mrs. Brown that you have arrived."

"Um, yeah. Do you think she'll mind if we have some company in the interview?" Janet asked cautiously as she looked down and behind her at her two young children.

"I will inquire of Mrs. Brown when I announce you. Please, do come in." Mr. Crante said as he held the door open for her to enter.

"Thank you."

When Brother Jacques walked into Carson's room, he was surprised to see Oleksandr, sitting at a computer, by himself, apparently diligently working on something.

"How are you doing, Oleksandr?" He asked quietly.

"Brother Jacques!" Oleksandr said happily as he ran across the room to pull Brother Jacques into a hug.

"Are you doing alright?" Brother Jacques asked as he returned the hug.

"Yeah. I got adopted." Oleksandr said happily.

"The twins told me about that. I'm really happy for you Oleksandr." Brother Jacques said sincerely.

"I gotta watch the computer for Ben right now, but if you want to know where Ty or Dax are, you can ask Carson and he can find them or call them for you." Oleksandr said as he moved back to his chair in front of the computer.

"It looks like you're really busy, here." Brother Jacques said as he walked behind Oleksandr to see the computer screen.

"Yeah. It's Ben's job to watch the news and stuff, so we'll know what's going on. But since he's with Zane, I'm getting to watch it for him." Oleksandr said seriously.

"It looks like you're doing a great job. I'll leave you to it." Brother Jacques said with a smile.

Mr. Crante led Janet and her children into the living room, then excused himself before leaving the room.

"Baby!" One of her children said happily as she tottered toward the collection of boys.

"Destiny, come back here!" Janet whispered harshly as she tried to catch the little girl.

While she was doing that, her three year old boy was wandering off in a different direction, looking around at the new surroundings.

Kev watched the happenings curiously for a moment, but when the boy started toward the hallway, he hurried over to get him.

"No you don't, little guy." Kev said as he approached.

The little boy giggled and took off like a shot in a different direction.

"Destiny!" Janet said as the little girl scampered over and tried to climb into the chair where Nick was holding Colton.

"She's fine. She's not hurting anything." Ken said warmly.

"I'm gonna get you!" Kev said as he chased the little boy back into the living room.

The boy giggled again as he changed directions and ducked behind the couch.

"Aiden Benjamin!" Janet said sternly, but it was no use. The little boy was so caught up in the fun of 'catch me if you can' that he didn't even hear.

Janet looked back to her daughter and couldn't restrain her smile.

Destiny was snuggled in beside Nick, quietly cooing to the baby in his arms.

"Gotcha!" Kev said from behind the couch and emerged with a squirming and giggling boy.

"Thank you." Janet said in relief.

"Janet?" Deb asked from the living room doorway.

"Oh, yes. Are you Mrs. Brown?" Janet asked quickly.

"That's right, please call me Deb."

"I don't know if that man asked you, but is it okay if I bring my kids in while we talk?" Janet asked hopefully.

"Guys, do you think you could keep an eye on the kids for a few minutes while we do an interview?" Deb asked seriously.

"We're going to want hazard pay." Ken said playfully.

"How about extra dessert tonight at dinner?" Deb asked with a smile.

"We have a deal." Ken said happily.

Deb turned to Janet and asked, "Will that be alright with you?"

"Sure. I guess. I don't want to be a problem." Janet said uncertainly.

"The guys are in here with the baby anyway, so it's no inconvenience." Deb said warmly, then gestured for Janet to follow.

After getting a quick update from Carson about what Ty and Dax were doing, Brother Jacques quietly said, "I'd better get back to Zane."

"Hang on a second and I'll go with you." Bug said as he stood from his computer.

At Brother Jacques' curious look, Bug continued, "I've been sitting all morning. Things are quiet at the moment, so I need to get up and move around while I have the chance."

"Do you have your subvocal on?" Carson asked seriously.

"Yes, mom." Bug said in a sing song voice as he walked to Brother Jacques' side.

Everyone watched as Bug and Brother Jacques left the room.

"...although he had been told to stay behind, Benny Bear had to know where his new friend had gone. He was careful to hide, so he wouldn't frighten anyone. He hunched down behind hedges and fences, creeping closer and closer, until he found the great big building. It was filled with lots and lots of people. There were no bears, like him, but they were all young like he was and like his friend Elijah." Jody said slowly to the children gathered around him.

"Was it a school?" Aiden asked in wonder.

"That's right! Benny Bear had found the preschool where his new friend Elijah had gone." Jody said happily.

Ken had the little boy cuddled between him and Jody. Kev was on the other side of Nick and Colton, holding the boy's younger sister. Jorry was sitting away from the others, but seemed to be as caught up in the storytelling as any of them.

"Benny Bear wanted to go into the school, to find Elijah, but he knew if he did, people would be afraid. So he waited outside and watched the building, waiting for Elijah to come out so that they could play." Jody continued dramatically.

Ken glanced toward the door and noticed that Bug and Brother Jacques were standing there, watching. He quickly extricated himself from the couch and hurried to Bug's side to give him a hug.

As he was hugging, Bug leaned close to Ken's ear and whispered, "We need to have kids."

Ken was stunned by the pronouncement and released Bug so he could step back and see his face.

"You mean 'someday', right?" Ken cautiously asked.

"I don't believe in someday." Bug responded seriously.

Ken was stunned and didn't have a clue of what to say to that.

"I can see what you're feeling when you're with the kids, and I want for you to be able to feel that every day." Bug said gently.

"But..." Ken stammered.

"We've never talked about it and I thought you should know how I feel. Talk with Kev and we'll discuss it later." Bug said seriously.

"I love you." Ken chuckled, then moved in to give Bug a firm kiss.

Brother Jacques watched the scene unfold before him with a tender smile.

When it appeared that Ken and Bug had everything settled, he quietly started to back away to return to his room.

"Hang on, Jacques. I want to see how Zane's doing before I get back to work." Bug said quickly.

"I need to stay here with the kids." Ken said quietly.

"Yeah." Bug said with a smile, then added, "Remember what I said."

Ken chuckled and said, "I probably won't be able to think of much else."

Bug flashed him a quick grin, then left the room with Brother Jacques at his side.

"How's he doing?" Brother Jacques asked with concern as he entered the room.

"He's been sleeping most of the time that you've been gone. Are the kids alright?" Ben asked curiously.

"They're all good. I saw Oleksandr down there working on a computer, just like an old pro." Brother Jacques chuckled.

"I should get back to him." Ben said regretfully as he looked at his cousin.

"Stay for a minute." Zane said as he slowly opened his eyes.

"You're awake. Did you sleep well?" Ben asked gently.

"Yeah. Nice nap." Zane said with a weak smile, then looked at Bug and Brother Jacques gathered around his bed.

"What are you doing here, Bug?" Zane asked curiously.

"I was needing to take a break, so I decided to come up here and see how you're doing." Bug said simply.

"Thanks." Zane said sincerely. Given the isolated life that he'd lived so far, it amazed him that he had so many people, virtual strangers, who were concerned about him.

A knock on the door drew their attention and Bug quickly said, "I'll get it."

Zane couldn't imagine who it could be, but somehow he felt like a kid on Christmas morning, having one wonderful, glorious surprise heaped on top of another.

"Excuse me if this is a bad time, we were wondering if Brother Jacques is available to talk with us for a few minutes." A man in a nondescript suit said professionally.

"It's the Feds, ditch the stash." Bug called into the room, then with a grin he told the strangers at the door, "Come on in."

Everyone in the room watched silently as the strangers entered.

"Please forgive us for intruding. I'm Agent Cole..."

"Just spit it out. What do you need?" Bug said in a bored tone.

Brother Jacques stepped away from Zane's side as he stared at the man standing silently at Agent Cole's side.

"Brother Jacques, there's no easy way for me to say this..."

"But you're going to take half the day to do it anyway. For fuck's sake, just say it!" Bug said irritably.

Agent Cole spared a glance of annoyance at Bug, then continued, "Brother Jacques, this is your father."

"Dad?" Brother Jacques asked hesitantly.

"Hi, Jake." Keil said quietly.

"When did you get out? I thought you were in for another year?" Brother Jacques asked cautiously.

"They released me a few days ago. It's a long story." Keil said carefully, then hesitantly asked, "How are you doing?"

"Right this minute... I don't know." Brother Jacques said honestly.

"Hold up. What the fuck is going on?" Bug asked sternly.

Brother Jacques broke out of his racing thoughts at the question and he absently responded, "My dad's been in prison for the last ten years. Now he's here."

Bug looked from Brother Jacques to Keil for a moment, then asked, "Is that a good thing?"

Brother Jacques looked past the tears welled in his eyes at his father and quietly responded, "Yeah."

"Then get the fuck over here and let him know it. God!" Bug said with a roll of his eyes.

Brother Jacques walked on shaking legs across the room and pulled his father into a tight, desperate hug.

After watching for a moment, Bug turned to Ben and said, "I gotta get back to work. You keep an eye on them?"

"Yeah. I've got it." Ben said with a smile.

"Keil, I'll be right outside." Agent Cole said as he fell into step beside Bug.

"Thanks, Damion." Keil responded as he continued to hug his son.

"Secret Service?" Bug asked curiously.

"Yeah." Agent Cole said shortly.

"I never thought you guys'd do something like reuniting a guy with his dad, like that." Bug said honestly.

"We're not known for our good deeds, but that doesn't mean that we don't do them." Agent Cole said frankly as he stopped outside the door.

"Can I call you Damion?" Bug asked as he also stopped.

"Sure, I guess." Agent Cole said cautiously.

"Okay. I gotta get back to work, Damion. I'll see you around." Bug said with a grin before turning to leave.

"Yeah. See you around." Agent Cole responded automatically.

As he waited outside the door, he had time to consider just what his interaction with Bug actually meant.

"I'm sorry, Jake. I'm so sorry things worked out the way they did." Keil said as he held his son close.

"It's okay, Dad. I always knew you loved me and that you didn't mean for things to happen that way." Brother Jacques said reassuringly.

"I didn't mean..." Keil began to say, but was interrupted.

"I know, Dad. You don't have to explain. You lost it. I get that." Brother Jacques said gently.

"For the past ten years, I've been trying to figure out how I was going to explain it to you when I didn't even understand it myself." Keil said frankly.

"She pushed you too far and you snapped. That doesn't make it right but I understand that you didn't mean for things to turn out the way they did." Brother Jacques said softly.

"While I was in there, I got help." Keil said seriously.

"Good." Brother Jacques said as he pulled back enough to look his father in the eyes, then continued, "Dad, there's someone that I'd like for you to meet."

Keil smiled, simply at the fact that his son wanted to include him in his life.

"Dad, this is my boyfriend, Zane." Brother Jacques said as he turned, keeping one arm around his father.

"It's nice to meet you, Zane. You can call me Keil, if you like."

"Thank you, Keil. It's a pleasure to meet you." Zane said warmly.

"I can see that you've been hurt, are you going to be alright?" Keil asked cautiously.

"He's going to be fine. According to the doctor, all he needs now is lots of sleep. Everything else will take care of itself, given enough time." Brother Jacques said confidently.

"Guys, I need to get back to work, too. I just wanted to be sure that you had everything you needed." Ben said quickly, before the conversation took off on another tangent.

"Thanks, Ben. I'm glad you were here." Zane said sincerely.

Ben smiled at his cousin for a moment, then quietly made his way out of the room.

"So, Dad, how long have you been here?" Brother Jacques asked cautiously.

"Just a few hours." Keil answered honestly, not knowing how much he 'should' say about his reason for coming.

"Do you have a place to stay?" Zane asked curiously.

"Are you going to stay?" Brother Jacques asked before Keil could answer.

"No. I don't know. Things are kind of up in the air for me at the moment." Keil said cautiously.

"Are you in trouble? Is that why you've got an agent waiting outside the door for you?" Brother Jacques asked with concern that could be seen in his eyes.

"It's complicated. I really don't have any plans yet." Keil said frankly.

"My dad can help." Zane said suddenly.

Brother Jacques looked at Zane with surprise at the suggestion, then broke into a smile as he said, "Yeah. Between him and Bug and Ben, I bet we can get everything worked out for you."

"I don't want to be any trouble." Keil said quietly.

"Don't worry about that. These guys take care of things like this all day long. None of them will even think twice about helping and it'll make them happy to be able to do something." Brother Jacques said confidently.

"Let me see how things work out with the Secret Service before I start making plans." Keil said thoughtfully.

"Secret Service? What are you into, Dad?" Brother Jacques asked anxiously.

"Don't worry, Jake. I'm doing what's right. That doesn't mean that things will necessarily turn out right for me, but I have the peace of mind of knowing, going into it, that no matter what happens, that I'm going to be helping people." Keil said sincerely.

"That wasn't anything like an answer, was it? What are you into, Dad?" Brother Jacques asked again.

"There are things that I can't discuss, and other things that I don't care to. Please let me get things sorted out, then I'll talk to you about what I'm doing here." Keil said frankly.

"Okay, Dad. But just remember that Zane and I have some really important friends. If you find yourself in trouble, just let one of us know. We'll be able to help." Brother Jacques said seriously.

"I feel like right this minute that I have everything that I need, everything that I've been dreaming of for the past ten years." Keil said with a watery smile.

"Yeah, well that won't keep you warm at night or put food in your belly. When you're ready, come to us and we'll get everything worked out for you." Brother Jacques said seriously.

"Okay. I'll do that. I promise. But right now, I need to get back to Agent Cole, so I can see what I need to do next." Keil said regretfully.

"We'll be right here whenever you need us." Brother Jacques said as a vow.

"I love you, Jake. I'm sorry about everything." Keil said as his tears welled again.

"I know. I'm sorry, too. But I love you, too, Dad."

After a long minute of hugging, Keil reluctantly pulled away, so that he could see what Agent Cole had in store for him next.

"I don't know if you thought about this, but we probably need to be thinking about setting this up to be more like the 1940's." Jingo said frankly.

"Like how?" Dax asked curiously as they walked down a quiet avenue.

"Milkmen, bakeries, tailors, shoemakers, butchers... things like that. If things keep going the way they are, the twenty-first century may be going away for a while. But if we already have a bakery set up when the factories stop producing, we'll be a lot better off." Jingo said frankly.

"I see what you mean. I need to talk to Bug and Carson about that." Dax said thoughtfully.

"If we can get all this set up before we need it, then our people who are staying will be able to help the people who are passing through." Jingo said seriously.

"And until they're needed, we'd still have our community here where people can go to shop and get fresh bread or freshly butchered meat." Dax said with a nod.

"We're going to need help building the shops and storefronts. With all the construction that's been going on around here, it shouldn't take too much to arrange that. But after that we're going to need tools, equipment, and raw materials. Then we may need to think about spinning wheels and looms, and stuff like that, just in case it comes to that." Jingo added.

"Well, I think I overheard that either Hobie or Seth's father was in charge of the new construction. I can ask around about that and see what we can do about the store fronts and shops. As far as the rest, I don't know. I'll see what I can do." Dax said seriously.

"Excuse me, do you know what's going on around here?" A woman asked as she approached.

"Did you need some help with something?" Dax asked curiously.

"I don't know. I drove in here this morning and when the people at the check in found out that I was from Chicago, they said that I didn't have to move on. They said that I could stay here, if I wanted to. What's up with that?" She asked seriously.

"When all of this started, the mayor of Chicago set this up. He wanted for his people to have a safe place where they could go. He has buses of people from Chicago heading this way, right now, so we're trying to get things ready for them." Dax said carefully.

Jingo looked at Dax for a moment, to see if he were going to say more. When it was obvious that he was finished, she turned to the woman and said, "This is Dax, he's Mayor Cappo's son. He's the one who's set things up on this end. If you need anything, he's the guy who can make it happen."

Dax looked at Jingo with surprise, then said, "I wasn't going to tell anyone."

"It'll help people to know that their mayor is still taking care of them, and that his son is in charge here." Jingo said seriously.

"You're Mayor Cappo's son?" The woman asked incredulously.

"Yeah. Up to now, it wasn't something that I told people. I didn't want to sound like I was bragging." Dax said shyly, then thought to ask, "What was your name?"

"Connie Lorenta." She said cautiously.

"Did they give you some directions to where you'll be staying?" Dax asked professionally.

"Yeah. I've got a map and street directions." Connie said as she took the folded papers out of her purse.

"Great. When you get to your house, you should already have food and the basic furniture that you'll be needing. If you need something that you don't have, you can ask anyone wearing a volunteer sash and they'll help you. If they can't help you, then call me." Dax said seriously.

"You really are in charge here, aren't you?" Connie asked in realization.

"For better or worse." Dax said with a weary chuckle.

"And you really are Mayor Cappo's son?" Connie asked to be sure.

"For better or worse." Dax said with a soft smile.

"You and your father are going to make this work. You're good people, more than that you're Chicagoans. We know how to get things done." Connie said proudly.

With a smile, Dax said, "Yes we do."

"Come on, honey. We're almost done." The woman said as she tried to coax her four year old off the bus. He wasn't cooperating, but at least he was being quiet.

"Did you need some help?" A woman wearing a volunteer sash asked as she approached.

"Yes. Please."

"My name is Erika. What can I do to help you?" She asked pleasantly.

"Hi Erika, my name's Hope. And, if you wouldn't mind, could you hold on to Roman for a few minutes? I need to get our things off the bus."

"Of course. Give him here." Erika said with a chuckle.

Once Hope had transferred Roman into Erika's arms, she began walking down the side of the bus, where the luggage was being unloaded.

"They said something on the bus about childcare, do you happen to know anything about that?" Hope asked as she searched for her bags.

"Yes. It's right over there, almost across the street." Erika said simply.

"Do you know how much it costs?" Hope asked with a look of dread.

"It's free. As much as we can, we're trying to make the services free for the people who are passing through." Erika said as she cuddled the boy to her side.

"Yeah. They told us that after a stop here, we'd be moving on to Canada." Hope said anxiously.

"Is that a problem?" Erika asked curiously.

Hope finally spotted her luggage and hurried to pick it up.

When she returned to Erika's side, she said, "My husband, Ian, was in Saudi when everything went crazy. I don't know how he's going to find me if I stay here, much less if I keep on moving."

"All you'll need to do is tell them your husband's name when you check in and you'll be in the database. If he's looking for you, we'll be able to tell him where you are, right away." Erika said pleasantly.

"Oh, that's wonderful. I didn't know how he would be able to find me, half a world away." Hope said with a relieved smile.

"From what I've seen, they've done an amazing job setting all this up on such short notice." Erika said frankly.

"If you'll give Roman to me..." Hope trailed off as she realized that she didn't have nearly enough hands to do what she wanted to.

"I'll walk over with you, if you're ready for the child care." Erika said with a smile.

"Thanks. You're a lifesaver." Hope said as she started walking around the back of the bus, then stopped to look for traffic.

"I think that Roman will do very well in here." An older woman said as she led the women and child to the doorway. Once Hope and Roman were in the room, she quietly left.

"I won't be gone long. I just want to get checked in and get our things put away." Hope said quickly to the elderly woman surrounded by children of various ages.

"Just take as long as you need. We've been having a wonderful time reading the Benny Bear books." Oma Shoupe said warmly.

"Benny Bear?" Roman asked with interest.

"He loves those books." Hope said as she watched her son race across the room to join several other children.

"Mindy, Mandy, stop that." A woman hissed as she herded her twin daughters into the room.

"I'm sure your daughters will have a good time in here, Mrs. Evans.." Another volunteer said as she followed.

"Thank you, Mrs. Rand. But I don't remember what I'm supposed to do next." The woman said as she started swaying unsteadily.

"Why don't you come over here and have a seat?" Erika asked as she hurried to the woman's side.

"I don't have time... theresh shtoo mush to do..." Mrs. Evans said as she more collapsed than sat.

"Call an ambulance." Oma Shoupe said as she scooted a child off her lap.

"Let's just get her some water and give her a minute. I'm sure she'll be fine." Mrs. Rand said nervously.

"Shut the fuck up and call this woman a goddamned ambulance! RIGHT NOW! She looks like she's having a stroke!" Oma Shoupe barked as she approached.

Mrs. Rand stopped in shock for a moment, then ran out of the room.

"Would you mind taking the children into the other room for a moment? I wouldn't want for them to get in the way, and things might get a bit exciting in here." Oma Shoupe asked Hope and Erika hopefully.

"Yes, of course." Erika said immediately, then looked around.

She spotted a teenage boy, sitting quietly across the room and asked, "Would you come over here and help me?"

"Yeah. What do you need?" He asked as he ran across the room.

"I need for you to take one or two of the younger kids into the next room with you and stay with them while we get the rest." Erika said calmly.

"Quicia, Misti, Annie, each of you grab a kid and let's go." Jamiah said firmly.

Erika and Hope were surprised when three of the older children each took a younger one and started guiding them to the door at the back of the room.

"Come on everyone. We need to go to the next room." Hope said in her best imitation of a cheerful voice.

"We'll read some more to you in there." Erika promised as she tried to herd the children as quickly as possible.

"It's alright dear. I hear the ambulance. Just try to stay calm." Oma Shoupe said as she held Mrs. Evans' hand.

"My girlssss." Mrs. Evans slurred anxiously.

"Don't you worry about them one little bit. I'll see to it that they're taken care of." Oma Shoupe said gently, then looked up when she heard feet scurrying up the hallway.

"In here." Mrs. Rand said as she ushered the EMTs into the room.

"She seemed to be confused, then she lost her balance and started slurring her speech." Oma Shoupe said firmly as the EMTs moved Mrs. Evans onto the bed and started checking her vital signs.

"If there's nothing else, I'm going to go into the next room and see to the children." Oma Shoupe said calmly.

"Thank you, Mrs. Shoupe." Mrs. Rand said to her sincerely.

"I'll do my best to watch my language in front of the children for the remainder of the evening." Oma Shoupe said with a slight blush before slowly walking toward the back of the room.

"Bug, have you had a chance to look at the trinary yet?" Carson asked into the otherwise quiet room.

"Yeah. I've been going over it in between things here. It's confusing as fuck, but I think I'm starting to get it." Bug said as he kept the majority of his attention on his laptop screen.

"I just got a message from the Canadian border, things are running smooth there. Us prepping the people before they leave here is speeding things up for them." Carson said quickly.

"Good. Anyone who leaves here should have everything they'll need all ready to go when they hit the border." Bug said as he divided his attention between his conversation with Carson and what was going on on his screen.

"What about..." Carson began to say, when Bug interrupted.

"Hold on, I've got a call." Bug said quickly, then typed a quick command before saying, "Yeah."

"I'm trying to get in touch with someone named Bug."

"You got 'im. What's up?"

"The guy at the checkpoint said that since we're from Orlando, that we should check with you about maybe getting jobs so we can stay here."

"What's your names?"

"I'm Donald Marcus. We've also got Steven Long, Arlan Cavanaugh and Ron Szabo."

"Hang on a second, Donald."

"Please, call me Mal."

After some typing, Bug quietly asked, "Malchijah?"

"That was a long time ago. I don't do that anymore." Mal finished in a mutter.

"So what do you do now?" Bug asked as he started typing quickly.

"I did modeling for a while, but then I moved on to working as a bartender and DJ at a nightclub." Mal said cautiously.

"That'll work. Who've we got next?"

"Ron's a bartender, too. Arlan's been in college and working in the tutoring center for... ever. He's really smart, but he's never had an actual job. And Steven..."

"Hold up, what's Arlan been going to college for? I'm trying to find you guys jobs." Bug said quickly.

"Engineering." Mal responded.

"Okay, I've got that, what about Steven?" Bug asked seriously.

"Well, you see, Steven's got some problems. He hasn't been able to work for quite a while." Mal said uncomfortably.

"Like what kind of problem? I need to know so I can get things set up for you."

"He's really phobic about certain things, the biggest one is that he can't stand for anyone to touch him. It freaks him out." Mal said quietly.

"Okay. Does he have any skills, like on the computer maybe?" Bug asked without pausing.

"Yeah. I guess he knows some stuff. In fact, that's how we knew to come to Kettle Falls." Mal said frankly.

"Hang on." Bug said, then called over his shoulder and said, "Carson, I've got one of yours."

"Who is it?" Carson asked curiously.

"Would you ask Steven what his name is in the kingdom?"


"Really? Wow. Yeah, we've definitely got a place for him. Tell him that Y2K-Bug, Studmffn and Blue Vulcan welcome him to Kettle Falls and look forward to meeting him."

After a moment, Mal said, "Steven says 'Thanks'."

"Now, down to business. Mal and Ron, if you want to stay here in Kettle Falls, I can get you jobs with a guy named Lucas. He's in charge of lots of pop-up restaurants and bands and stuff like that. I bet he'll be able to find good jobs for you both." Bug said seriously.

"Before we get our hopes up too much, you should know that I'm gay and Ron's transgendered. There have been times when people have suddenly not had any openings when we've applied for jobs." Mal said reluctantly.

"Not a problem, and if it is, you call ME and I'll take care of it." Bug said simply, then continued, "I'd like for Arlan to meet with a man named Allen Thompson, on Monday. I can't promise him a job, but Allen's a good guy and he's in charge of a lot of brilliant people. I bet he'll figure out what to do with him."

"What about Steven?" Mal asked cautiously.

"That's easy. I want him to work for us, as part of our team." Bug said happily.

"I don't know how that will work. His condition is kind of... debilitating." Mal said regretfully.

"What the fuck ever. He can come here and work, he can go to the lab and work or we can get him set up to work from home. It doesn't matter where he does it, but Cherrybomb has some mad computer skills that we can put to good use." Bug said seriously.

"Steven says that he's looking forward to meeting you." Mal said happily.

"I can hear a lot of noise in the background, are you at the stadium?" Bug asked curiously.

"Yeah. We figured we'd talk to you before we tried to check in." Mal said seriously.

"I got you all set up in the system. Just tell 'em your names and they'll give you an address and a map and directions about where to go and who to talk to for jobs. If you need anything else, you can just ask a volunteer or call me and we'll get you all squared away." Bug said pleasantly.

"Thanks, Bug! I was really worried about us coming here, but... Wow! Thanks!"

"That's what we're doing here. Bye." Bug said, then disconnected the call.

"Who was it?" Carson asked curiously.

"Cherrybomb." Bug said with a smile.

"I thought she was from Maine." Carson said cautiously.

"Nope. It appears that he's from Orlando." Bug said with a grin.

"Lazlo?" Bax called toward a group of young teenagers as he got off his gator.

"He's back there." A boy close to his own age said as he pointed.

Bax picked up the large, heavy envelope he was supposed to deliver and hurried toward the small park building.

"Lazlo?" Bax called again.

"That's me." Lazlo said as he peeked around the corner.

"I've got a delivery for you." Bax said as he held out the package.

"You're one of Max's friends, aren't you?" Lazlo asked curiously.

"Yeah. I'm Bax, from Florida." Bax said with a grin.

"Right." Lazlo said as he fought to open the envelope.

"Do you need some help with that?" Bax asked as he watched.

"No. I've got it." Lazlo said as he finally got the flap peeled away.

Bax watched and was surprised to find that Lazlo had received a tablet, much like his own.

"Do you know how to work one of these things?" Lazlo asked as he looked it over, apparently trying to figure out how to turn it on.

"Yeah. I use one for my job. Give it here and I'll show you." Bax said seriously.

Lazlo watched as Bax turned on the tablet, then he asked, "How do I make it do things?"

"What kind of things?" Bax asked cautiously.

"Well, Dad told me to get a tablet so he could send me lists of supplies that he was going to be sending over. So I need to figure out how to make it do that." Lazlo said carefully.

"Do you know how he was going to send the list?" Bax asked slowly.

"No. I don't think he said." Lazlo said weakly.

Bax keyed his microphone and said, "Dizzy, I've got a tablet computer here for Lazlo. Is there any way I can set it up to connect to you from here?"

After a moment of listening, Bax began to tap and drag one screen after another as Lazlo watched.

"Yeah. Thanks." Bax finally said, then released the microphone button.

"Did you get it to work?" Lazlo asked hopefully.

"Yeah. Well, at least it will be in a few minutes. Dizzy's access program is downloading now. Once it's done, you can just ask Dizzy for whatever you want and he can bring it up on your tablet." Bax said seriously.

"Thanks..." Lazlo began to say when a girl ran up to him.

"Vikki wants to know if you've got a better sound system coming."

"Bax, this is Rhonda." Lazlo said quickly, then turned to Rhonda and said, "Tell Vikki that it should be here in less than half an hour. But I talked to my dad and he said that we should have a live band showing up at around six."

"I'll tell her. Thanks, Lazlo." Rhonda said with a timid smile, then hurried away.

Bax glanced at Lazlo and realized that he was completely oblivious.

"She likes you." Bax said simply.

"What?" Lazlo asked in confusion.

"That girl, Rhonda, she likes you." Bax said again.

"Really?" Lazlo asked as he looked where she had gone.

"Yeah. Really." Bax said, then looked down to find that the tablet had almost finished the download.

"When this finishes up, just say your name and then it will show you whatever you need it to. I've got to get going we're really busy..."

"Hey, Laz. Did you get it cleared for us to use the walking path?" A boy asked as he approached.

"Yeah. Dalton, this is Bax. Dad said that you can use it, but you gotta put up orange cones at every entrance. If you want to get a couple of the guys to help you, the cones are inside here." Lazlo said as he motioned to the building.

"Thanks, Laz. This is gonna be awesome!" Dalton said before dashing away.

"Are you in charge?" Bax asked curiously.

"Yeah. I guess I am." Lazlo said shyly.

"Do you think you could help me out with something?" Bax asked hopefully.

"Sure. What can I do?" Lazlo asked immediately.

"The Gophers are needing some more help. We've been out delivering stuff all over the place and we haven't been able to talk to people and find anyone else to help us. Do you think you could find a few people who might want to help out?" Bax asked hopefully.

"Sure. I have people coming up to me every few minutes asking for something to do. You guys get to ride gators all over the place, right?" Lazlo asked curiously.

"Yeah. It's great!" Bax said with a smile.

"When I've got you some volunteers, where do you want me to send them?" Lazlo asked simply.

"Just tell Dizzy that you need a Gopher for an interview and he'll get whoever's closest to come and talk to them." Bax said happily.

"Okay. And if I don't get too many people before six, I'll have the band ask from the stage. I bet anyone under regular driving age will jump at the chance to get a job where they can ride the gators." Lazlo finished with a smile.

"Thanks, Lazlo. That'll help a lot." Bax said gratefully, then quickly added, "I've got to go. I've got people waiting to have stuff delivered."

Bax handed the tablet to Lazlo, then hurried back to his gator.

"Hey, Bug." Hobie said into a silence that had fallen over the command center.

"What you were talking about before, you know, that thing with the lady parts, where'd you learn all that stuff?" Hobie asked curiously.

"My grandmother told me." Bug said simply.

"Really?" Hobie asked in surprise.

"Yeah. She said that when I got old enough to start thinking about girls, that I should know how the equipment works. I guess from what she said, that there's nothing worse than a guy getting down there and not knowing what the hell he's doing." Bug said frankly.

"I guess that makes sense." Hobie said distantly.

"They taught us stuff in health class. They had this picture that kinda looked like a drawing of a deformed moose and said that it was a woman's privates. I never really understood what they were talking about." Seth reluctantly admitted.

"There's a whole lotta shit you need to know because, if you can get in there and do it right... let me tell you, word gets around. You won't ever have to worry about getting a date."

"Will you teach us?" Hobie asked hopefully.

"I'm kinda busy right now, guys." Bug began to say, then saw both boys expressions as their hopes started to fall.

"Fuck. Okay. I can't do it right now, but remind me later and I'll teach you some basics." Bug said with a reluctant smile.

"Thanks!" Hobie said gratefully.

"Yeah. You're awesome!" Seth added happily.

To Be Continued...

Editor's Notes:

Oh, God, Sex education Bug style. That should be quite an experience.

Now I think we have a better idea where he learned some of his colourful metaphors.

Oma Schoup sure doesn't beat around the bush, when there's an emergency, does she?

I was so tickled that Jaque's dad found him and I hope they can get things worked out so they can get to know one another better, after all these years.

Zane is sure surprised how many people actually care about him.

Oh, Yeah, I almost forgot. I saw a name that I recognized, closer to the beginning of the chapter; a lady whose name was Janet Hayes. Somehow that name seems familiar. I wonder if I should know her. I guess we will just have to see, won't we? but it's funny, she seems a lot younger than I thought she'd be.

I wonder what will happen when they put her name in the database. I suspect there will be some interesting conversations started.

Well I have probably already said more than I should, so I will go take a nap and wait for the fallout. grin.

Great chapter, by the way, MultiMapper, as always.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

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