Meagear Endou came to escort the Sooloo with Lt. Harper joining him. Takumi was flying The Harper and Danny flew The Endou.
Kyle had his day in court; with insufficient evidence due to Kyle not committing the crime he was accused of, charges were dropped.
After the trial, Dave, Hal, Jordan, Jace and Kyle boarded the Leonardo and went down to Draconia. Dave met his new liaison and his younger brother. Meanwhile, the boys were watching an episode of an ancient TV series, called "Star Trek."
Danny and Takumi flew in The Endou and did a flyover of the ceremony honoring the return of the Artifact and the message from King Kairu.
Scott and Łuke went to the orphanage where they met two boys, one was a mini-Steve. Łuke went to meet Danny and Takumi while Scott took the boys back to the guest room and to meet Steve.
While flying, The Harper and The Endou flew over Niedhousen Sea and Niedy raised his head to attack. Takumi took shots at it, but couldn't get a lock; Juro, who had sneaked into The Endou's gunnery seat, shot and killed the creature that killed Tomo's family.
Haimono Jaku took his brother up to the Sooloo and met Enzan Kage. It was almost love at first sight, and Jaku asked Kage to adopt a boy name Akage. Kage agreed to meet with the boy, but made no other promises.
Zedrick suggested that the Sooloo escort the Kaisokusen back to Earth with Prince Zifaa. The Kaisokusen will be donated to Earth and their new ship, the RDS Shouryou, will be going as a means of Zifaa returning to Draconia.
After they landed, Danny was going to march Juro to Aiden and Connor, but Łuke offered to take him. Danny offered, "Make sure you tell them that while Juro shouldn't have sneaked aboard, he did kill that creature."
"I will," Łuke assured. As he took Juro to the guest quarters, Danny went with Meagear Endou to inform the King about the creature.
As Łuke and Juro approached, Connor ran up to them, "Juro!!! There you are; Dad and I were worried about you."
"I'm sorry, Opsola. I was wanting to check out the gunnery position of the new fighter," Juro explained, tears forming in his eyes.
"It proved to be a good thing," Łuke added. "He killed the creature in the Niedhousen Sea. Meagear Endou said that was the creature which killed Koji's father and Tomo's family." Then Łuke took his leave.
"I'm proud of you, Juro, but we need to talk about what you did."
"I know Opsola, I'm sorry."
"Dad and I were a bit worried when we couldn't find you after the celebration. We would have been more worried, but we figured you know this area."
"That is true. Is there any place you would like to visit?"
"Not right now, Juro. What you did was wrong, but something good did come out of it."
Aiden added, "Not that it negates what you did."
"Please don't stop loving me because of it."
"What?" Connor was shocked. "I can't believe your dad ever stopped loving you for doing something wrong and neither will we."
"No, not my dad, but Shasho's dad took him to the orphanage when he was four because he made a mess. King Zedrick was very displeased and told Seizen Hidoi to either take Shasho back or be sent to mine on Liza. Hidoi looked at Shasho and said, 'I'd rather work in the mines than have a messy brat around.'" Juro began crying, "I was only two when that happened, but I remember it. And for as long as I can remember, Shasho has done his best to make sure everything is perfect."
"Before giving us permission to adopt you, King Zedrick asked if we could truly love you. To truly love you means to love you unconditionally. That means, no matter what you do, we will love you. We will punish you if you do something wrong, but that's because we love you. We don't like having to punish you, but..." Connor was on the verge of tears, himself.
Aiden looked at Juro, "Why don't you spend an hour in your room, thinking about why you were wrong to sneak into the fighter. As Opsola said, we don't want to punish you, but when you do something wrong, we need to correct you. This will be your punishment, this time."
"Thank you, Dad; thank you, Opsola; I love you both."
"And we love you."
As Juro went into his room, Aiden looked at Connor, "I think I need to share what Juro told us about Shasho with Steve."
Connor agreed, "I think you are right."
With the time difference, Kage chose to wait until the following morning Draconian time, to go see Akage. He found the redheaded half Draconian playing by himself, and commented, "You must be Akage, Jaku asked me to meet with you."
"Jaku wanted to adopt me, but when his parents asked him to take guardianship of his brother, Michi said no."
"That is what Jaku told me, too. Jaku also told me that you get bullied."
"Every day almost, just because I have red hair."
"Jaku was hoping I would adopt you since he can't. I told him that I wouldn't promise until I met you. You seem like a good kid, and I think I would enjoy having you as a son, what do you think?"
Akage acknowledged, "If Jaku recommended it, I think I would like it."
"There is one catch, though," Kage started to chuckle, "I just started dating Jaku, and hopefully you can get along with him."
Akage threw his arms around Kage, "I love Jaku, and we get along great. I can tell, I will love being your son."
Brad and Steve lay in their bed, their arms around each other. The quarters were quiet and dark; if they listened closely they could hear the rhythmic breathing of their new ward, Shasho. The young teens were naked, the heads of their hard cocks barely touching.
"At least we're able to sleep naked," Steve whispered.
"And touch like this." Brad's voice was barely audible, and Steve had to strain to make out what he said. But when Brad pressed his cock just a bit harder against Steve's, Steve had no doubt what it was his lover had said.
"Oh, yeah," Steve said, trying as hard as he could to keep from calling out. They were barely moving, their touch was light and delicate, and yet Brad's touch was more erotic than anyone else’s Steve had enjoyed sex with. He wondered how much the love he felt for Brad was a factor in that.
"Are you having second thoughts about our decision?" Brad asked.
"Why do you think that?"
"Because of what you said about sleeping naked, hinting that we wouldn't be able to have sex the way we like."
"No, no, you misunderstood what I meant. It's still something we can do until the work on our quarters is completed, which will be in two days at most considering the priority I gave to the work order."
Shasho had his own bed with a temporary privacy screen separating him from the rest of the quarters. In the morning, a work crew would install a more permanent setup, similar to what the other family quarters were like. The walls would divide the quarters into two bedrooms, being virtually soundproof. Steve didn't think extra soundproofing would be necessary.
"So, you're still okay with it."
"Bradley, have you been taking worrywart lessons from Kyle?"
Brad answered by rubbing his dick along Steve's.
"I figured as much. So, yeah, we did the right thing. I can be Uncle Steve, you can be Uncle Brad, and we can give Shasho the best four months of his life."
"What if things change in four months?"
"Damn, your worry meter is in the red. Let's live this a day at a time and enjoy it along with our boy. I mean did you see him when we showed him my office? The little bastard's eyes lit up; and how organized it was and then his brain went into overdrive and he showed me how his rotating cabinet could fit in and how he could make Jace's section more organized. Don't get me wrong here, aside from Jordan and myself, Jace is, or was, the most organized person I know, that is until I met Shasho, but there is room for improvement. I think I could end up loving the little shit."
"Shh, we don't have any soundproofing."
"He was so tired when we tucked him in he was asleep before we left his little cubby," Steve said. "I was worried he wouldn't like being tucked in at his age, but then thought screw it, we needed to let him know he was welcome and were glad he was here. You heard what Aiden told us."
Brad nodded, hearing Steve's comment, "Damn, Steve, aren't you becoming the serious Uncle."
"Hey, I might not have been keen on being a dad, but I take my role as Unka Steve seriously. When I become a kid's uncle, it should mean something special. And I know you're no different."
"Whatever. Unka Brad doesn't have the ring of Unka Steve." Brad used his hard cock to give Steve another rub. "But, yeah, I think he really liked it. He looked really stressed out while we were talking about what do to, but well, I thought he looked at home when we took the time to say good night."
"From what I could see, he has a nice body. Kid's in shape."
Brad exhaled a deep sigh. "How about us shutting up so I can squirt my seed over your gorgeous body."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
Brad accelerated his movements to a more intense level. As much as the two Unkas tried to make no noise, the rubbing of cocks led to stifled squeaks and grunts, especially when they simultaneously shot loads on their partner.
Shasho had fallen asleep, but the unfamiliar environment coupled with the whispers coming from Brad and Steve, caused him to drift in and out of sleep. He wondered if they were talking about him and if so, was it good or bad? He worried that they resented his presence because it disturbed their privacy. When he heard the moans, groans, squeaks, and movement on the bed he thought he knew what was going on between his two uncles. When they issued a stifled, throaty moan, he knew exactly what had been going on.
Shasho didn't know why he had this feeling, but he felt that if his uncles could do what they did, even though there was only a screen between them, he felt like their actions were proof that he was being accepted. In his mind there was no way they would have done what they did if either one resented him. He closed his eyes and smiled contentedly to himself. Shasho had no doubt… he was home.
Admirals Mirah and Robinson were in Mirah's office when the call came from Zorn that there was an urgent communication from the Sooloo. Zorn relayed the transmission to the Admiral's office.
"Zippy? What's the emergency?" Mirah asked with concern.
"Well Sir, there have been some developments here on Darastix... er, I mean Draconia. It seems the King wants to present Earth with a gift and send an envoy to Earth. They have asked the Sooloo to escort their envoy. I need permission for the Sooloo to put the schedule for our mission on hold and return to Earth to honor that request."
Mirah looked over at Robinson and tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his mirth. "Dave, you have no idea how eager I am to grant your request. We were actually going to contact you later today to request you return to Earth. We feel Crewman Hole's trial needs to be done on Earth, not on the ship. Our only concern is that the only eyewitness to the events is a Draconian. Is there any way he can accompany you also?"
Now it was Dave's turn to unsuccessfully hide his smile. "Sirs, the individual you mentioned is already aboard the Sooloo. He has been assigned as a liaison between Space Fleet and Draconia. He is also the person who upgraded our communications. He could easily do that to Earth's communications array as well."
"Grand. Our people believe it will take you about two months to get here." Mirah stated.
"Sir, with the upgrades to our engines and hull, we'll be there in about half that time. We could be there quicker if we were to push the engines a bit, without even going to our 'critical' point." Dave boasted.
"Amazing, truly amazing." Mirah looked over at Greg Robinson and noticed a look of awe on his face as well.
"Dave, I want you to know that your visit to Earth will only be a temporary one. I would expect it to be no more than four to six weeks, with possible extensions based on what happens once you're here. That will give us a chance to debrief on your mission so far, assess the modifications made to the Sooloo, have Crewman Hole's trial and give your people a week or two of R&R."
"Sir, I expect there may be some members of the crew who will want to leave the ship and stay on Earth. We will try to assess who those people are and give you ample time to find replacements for them."
"Sounds like you and your staff have thought this through. That's fine. I also expect that some of the other Admirals will have something to say about the children you have on board."
Dave got a little defensive as he replied, "Sir, they will stay with their parents. It will be the decision of those individuals if they remain on the Sooloo or stay on Earth. I will not allow them to be coerced or ordered to leave the ship. It's my ship and my crew, Sir, and Regulation Twenty-Eight states..."
Mirah had mirth in his voice as he interrupted, "Hold on there, Zippy... I didn't say that to infer that I would support them over your people. I just wanted you to know it will likely come up."
Dave looked down as he said, "I'm sorry, Sir. I overreacted."
"Don't worry about it. We will look forward to your arrival before Christmas. I know at least one grandfather who will be spending a bit of his savings to spoil a small child."
Dave smiled as he saw the grin on Admiral Robinson's face. "Sir, if I may be so bold; Admiral Robinson, I wanted to say to you that your son is the best surprise I have had in this mission so far. I was reluctant to accept him as my Astrogator and I know now that had he not been here, the Sooloo would have been lost more than once. You have every right to be proud of him, we here are very much so."
Greg Robinson wiped a tear as he thanked Captain Bowman for his comments, "Please tell Kyle I am proud of him and I look forward to seeing him in a month."
"I will, Sir. Admiral Mirah, if there is nothing else, we have preparations to make." Dave replied.
"Very well, Captain. Godspeed and we'll see you in about a month."
Kyle grunted when a flying body landed on him, waking him from a sound sleep. His first instinct was to protect himself from whatever it was that was attacking him, but that quickly changed when the attacker screeched, "Koji and his daddies are going to the zoo and seeing Kaldakas and Burutaigas (" Blue Royal Tigers ") and Guyyas (" Draconian two-headed bear ") and Kyozous (" Draconian elephant ") and all kinds of animals. We need to get up!"
Kyle rolled Koji's naked body on top of Danny. "What the fuck is going on?" Danny mumbled as Koji crawled under the covers and snuggled between his daddies.
"Some little wyvern is kind of overeager," Kyle groused. Since it was still dark, Kyle knew that it was nowhere near time to get out of bed. He picked his comm off the dresser and saw that it was just after 0400. "Jeez, Koji, it's not even light out yet."
"When are we going?" Koji asked eagerly.
"I'll tell you WHERE we're going right now, we're going back to sleep."
"Amen to that," Danny muttered sleepily.
"Did Koji do bad?" their little son asked.
"No, I just think you lost track of time and got excited. You forgot to think first. What do you think?"
Koji said nothing. Instead he dropped his little arm onto Kyle's chest, snuggled in close to the warm naked body of his daddy who was barely older than he was, and was instantly asleep.
Kyle looked up at the ceiling of the dark room. They were in the same room of the Draconian guest quarters they had occupied the day Koji had become his son. He and Danny had no clue what a bundle of explosive energy they had brought into their lives. Kyle sometimes wondered if they would have made the same decision if they knew then what they know now. Then he remembered that living with 'what ifs' was futile and solved nothing.
The simple truth was, Kyle loved the little bundle who had just jumped out of his own bed, ran around his privacy screen, and jumped on top of him with uncontrolled joy and a heart full of love. Kyle knew that he and Danny had made the right decision, he just wished he knew more about being a parent, especially as one of two preteen boys trying to raise a younger preteen boy.
Kyle wrapped an arm around Koji and sniffed the sweet smells of his son. In the short time they had been a family, Kyle knew that Koji had added something special to their lives—a son with a big heart who was bursting not only with energy, but also with love. "I love you my little Koji, my sweet Deevdru," Kyle whispered in his son's ear, using the Draconian word for son, before he drifted back to sleep as well.
When Koji woke up again, the time was more appropriate, as was his behavior. He had to pee and tried to get out of bed without waking either of his daddies. While he remembered jumping on Kyle Daddy to wake him up for the zoo trip, he wasn't quite sure how he ended up sleeping between his two daddies in their bed.
Kyle woke up as Koji scooted down the bed in an attempt to get out of it without crawling over anybody. "Good morning, my little wyvern."
The room was now lit up by the sunlight leaking around the window shades. "Daddy, I am Koji boy. Wyverns are wild things."
"Oh, and you're not wild?"
"No, or I would be in the zoo." He thought for a moment, and then added, "And I am sorry I jumped on you and woke you up."
"You just need to think before you act and not be wild so wild things don't happen to you."
"What kind of wild things?"
Kyle scooted down, turned Koji on his back, and started tickling his son's belly, quickly sending him into screeches of hysterical laughter. "What the fuck is going on?" Danny mumbled for the second time that morning.
"Koji has to pee," Koji said between peals of laughter.
"Let him go, Kyle, before he wets the bed," Danny pleaded. Kyle let Koji go. The boy fought for self-control and crawled over Kyle's legs and out of bed.
As Koji started for the bathroom, Danny crawled over Kyle and chased after his son, caught him, and resumed the tickling.
"Eeek, no!" Koji screeched. "Stop or Koji pees everywhere!"
"Just don't do it on me," Danny laughed, but he let go and watched Koji hustle into the bathroom, making it to the toilet just in time.
Danny wondered if he and Kyle played with Koji too much. He and Kyle had discussed with each other and with their mentors, with the consensus being that if they didn't play they weren't being their true selves, which was something Koji, who was an astute reader of people, would pick up on it quickly. The key was to learn when it was appropriate and how far they could go and keep Koji's respect. It was important for Koji to remember that even though he and Kyle were still boys, when things got serious, they were also the bosses.
Now that everyone was up, they showered, dressed and headed to the dining hall for breakfast. Of course, Koji talked incessantly about going to the zoo, not only with his daddies, but also with anyone else he saw and was willing to listen (or even not so willing as the case may be).
The planning meeting had been scheduled to finalize the plans for the crew complements for the two Draconian ships that would be accompanying the Sooloo on its trip back to Earth. In attendance were Dave, Hal, Jordan, Meagear Endou, Prince Zarek, King Zedrick, the new Ambassador to Earth Shinzen Koushi, and to keep track of everything, Dave had asked Steve Boyer to attend as well.
Zedrick opened the meeting and asked Meagear Endou to outline his plan for the crew for each of the Darastixian ships.
"The Kaisokusen typically has a crew complement of two hundred, but the Shouryou only has a usual complement of a hundred. The Shouryou will be leaving a few days after the other two ships depart and will have a crew of fifty. Prince Zarek will be in command as Gensui (Fleet Admiral). I will be in command of the Kaisokusen. The Shouryou will rendezvous with the other ships enroute to Earth. I had planned on a crew complement of fifty as well for this ship, but in addition, we will have Ambassador Shinzen, a team of thirty diplomatic officers who will staff the Embassy. Also, we will have a team of Engineers who will be going to assist Space Fleet in understanding our technology and teaching their engineering people what they will need to know. Some of those have expressed a desire to remain on Earth. They would like, with your approval, Zedrick, to join Space Fleet and be assigned to the SS Darastix; the new name for the Kaisokusen."
"Providing Admiral Mirah approves, I do not see a reason to deny their request," Zedrick replied.
Dave looked over at Hal and seeing his husband's nod stated, "I will make sure that Admiral Mirah is aware of their request. I agree that there shouldn't be a problem with it, as a matter of fact, I think it's a good idea."
Endou then continued, "On the return trip, The Shouryou will have more than just the usual crew, there will be, in addition to myself and Zifaa, between twenty and thirty of the engineers who will be returning to Darastix. For emergency purposes, the ship is capable of holding up to one hundred and fifty, so I believe we can make it work. By doubling up some of the rooms that normally only have one occupant, we can ease that stress."
"Zifaa will share my quarters for the return, Endou," Zarek stated as fact rather than a suggestion. He also noticed the look of approval on his father's face.
Ambassador Shinzen then asked, "Captain Bowman, have arrangements been made for an embassy on Earth for my delegation?"
"I have spoken to Admiral Mirah, and initially, you will be given a building at Space Fleet Headquarters. This will allow you to get the diplomatic process started and then find a location where you would like to have your Embassy constructed, perhaps Consulates in key locations on Earth. Mirah said Earth's government is willing to work with you on that, and this way, the actual Embassy will be set up as you feel it best fits your needs."
"That will work out perfectly." Shinzen was very pleased with this and was happy that Captain Bowman had taken the initiative to arrange this.
The group continued discussing various other minor details. Just before the meeting was to end, Steve reminded Dave of the request that Logan Kristoff and Randy Jenkins had made. "Sir, remember that the cooking staff had requested a number of native Draconian food items be brought back to Earth. They also stated that there would be a similar order of Earth foods that would be sent back on the Shouryou to Darastix."
Endou replied that he had already been given a list of the food items and they will be loaded onto the ships tomorrow, the 19th of November on the Terran calendar. Due to the quantity requested, they will be divided among all three ships. The Sooloo would have what they will need for the return voyage and those items that are to be left on Earth would be on the other two ships.
Zedrick stated, "I only have one other piece of business to attend to, Dave. I would like Admiral Mirah to start looking for someone to be assigned as the Terran Ambassador to Darastix. There is time for the person to be identified. Maybe the SS Darastix could bring this person and his staff after the crew for that ship has been trained."
Dave was certain Admiral Mirah would have no problem doing this. It would be the ship's first official mission. Dave also had someone in mind to recommend to Admiral Mirah. He could discuss his thoughts with Jace and Jordan then with the Admiral during their return voyage.
The meeting concluded by Steve reviewing the various items they had discussed. He said he would have a report sent to each person in attendance by the end of the day.
Those in attendance were satisfied that they'd covered the logistics for the return voyage. Zedrick invited Dave, Hal, Jordan and Steve to join him for lunch before returning to the Sooloo.
The zoo trip had been arranged after Danny and Kyle talked to Koji about what they could do during their brief leave time on the planet. This had been Koji's home, after all; Danny and Kyle thought that made Koji the perfect guide.
"The zoo," Koji suggested almost instantly. "Koji went there when he was in the orphanage with many others. Now I want to go with my daddies, and that will be the best way ever."
That resulted in Kyle talking to Prince Zack and having a trip arranged. Zack made out an itinerary, procured passes for them and arranged transportation, which consisted of getting them passes to ride the underground line to the zoo. He offered to let them ride in his private transport, but Kyle and Danny wanted to experience Koji's planet with him.
The day at the zoo was everything they had hoped for and then some. While they had to hold Koji in check a couple of times, he was mostly a model of good behavior. He usually held the hand of one or both of his fathers and was entranced by the animals as well as the crowd of people visiting the zoo.
The zoo was laid out like a park, with the animals in their natural habitats. They were separated from the zoo patrons by an invisible barrier, which added an aura of danger even though it was totally safe. The lack of a visible barrier gave the feeling of being with the animals. Some of the animals seemed to get a perverse pleasure from threatening the patrons and watching them jump and scream. Koji was one of their victims.
One of the occurrences happened at the guyya cage. A guyya was a bear-like mammal with two heads. Koji was disappointed that the only guyya visible was near a small stand of trees on a berm about 100 meters from the barrier.
"How do they know which way to go?" Koji asked his dad.
"Years of evolution and experience, I guess," Kyle answered.
Koji looked at the berm, placed his thumb at the end of his nose and wiggled his fingers. "Come and get me, you dumb guyya," he yelled. "You can't catch me because Koji will run in two directions. So, naaaaaaaaaaaaaay naayyyyyyyyyy, naaaaaaaay."
While the guyya on the berm didn't react, her mate, who was in a den to the left, did. Suddenly he came charging out of the lair and straight at Koji, roaring a double growl. Koji screeched and jumped back as the guyya ran into the barrier. The barrier was made to give when an animal charged into it to keep the animal from injuring itself. Even though the animals knew where the barriers were situated, they enjoyed running into it and seeing the humanoid creatures on the other side jump and yell. Koji put on a good show for them as he ran behind Danny, who had jumped a little. Kyle, on the other hand, had somehow ended up retreating ten meters back on his heels before falling on his butt. He felt sheepish as the big bear stepped back from the barrier. Kyle could swear the guyya was laughing at him.
"Come on back and join us, Kyle," Danny laughed.
"You have to admit that seeing that for the first time is kind of scary," Kyle said. "Right Koji?"
Koji was now standing next to Danny. "Koji was protecting Daddy Danny."
"In your dreams," Danny laughed. "You were standing behind me."
"That was so the guyya wouldn't go after Daddy Kyle."
A man who was carrying photographic apparatus approached them and introduced himself as Masahiro. "Prince Zakku asked me to take pictures for you to remember this. I got here just in time to video the guyya attack."
"You mean I'll have to watch me run away backwards?"
"Yep," Danny laughed. "And Koji will love watching it repeatedly forever, too."
"I can delete the video," Masahiro said apologetically.
"Don't you dare!" Danny exclaimed.
Kyle found himself agreeing. This was a family outing and having videos of the good, the bad and the ugly was all part of the family bonding process. "Okay, I'm good with it, but if you show it to Steve or Brad, or even worse, Dave, you will go without for a month," he told Danny.
"Without what?" Koji asked, even though he knew what the answer was.
"Something we do when you're not in our bedroom," Kyle replied.
"But you do it when I'm in the living room," Koji said, causing Kyle and Danny both to turn beet red.
Kyle was happy when Koji spied the enclosure of a hastras (" Draconian mustached monkey ") and grabbed his hand to drag him to it. Kyle looked at the animal and its long, curly whiskers, who stared back with a look that said, 'I wish you could pet me.'
"He would make a nice pet," Koji said. "Lars and Jonas, and Jason and me, and everybody would love it."
"And you'd all be willing to feed it and clean its mess up from the corridors?" Danny asked.
"We let the robo-cleaners follow it."
Kyle took a picture of the information sign and ran it through his translator. "Hmm, it says here on the sign that the hastras likes to eat little boys," Kyle said seriously, "so we might want to leave it here."
"It really says that?" Koji asked as he came over to the sign and read it. "That's not true. It says nothing here."
"Oh, but it could be true," Danny chimed in. "We'd better move on, in case it gets hungry."
They started off but after a few steps, Koji stopped and looked back warily. He turned back and caught up with his parents.
"Oh look, there's a kyozou," Koji pointed out. The big animal was about the size and shape of an elephant. Kyle thought it could easily be the ugliest animal in the galaxy.
Apparently, Danny and Koji agreed. The three boys stood side-by-side at the barrier, placed their thumbs in their ears, stuck out their tongues and wiggled their fingers, and called out, "Ugly, ugly, ugly," their laughter shaking their bodies. It was one of those much-needed moments when Kyle and Danny forgot they were officers on a starship and acted like the twelve-year-old boys they were.
The kyozou looked at the silly boys with studious boredom, until he got tired of them and banged his head against the invisible barrier in an attempt to scare them off.
Masahiro chuckled as he took videos of the three boys teasing the kyozou. He wondered how their starship could possibly function with two immature little boys as part of its officer corps. The Prince had to be pulling his leg; surely the two older boys were like Koji, young adoptees of officers. But he also loved young children and was having a great time documenting their family fun.
When they came to the enclosure of the burutaiga, two of the tiger-like animals were pacing along the barrier, staring warily at the human spectators on the other side. Kyle thought that if the blue striping was changed to orange, it would look exactly like a Bengal tiger on Earth.
Masahiro took some pictures of Koji and a colorful vyklade (" A type of snake "). His picture was shot at an angle that made it appear that Koji and the snake were side-by-side. Anyone looking at the photos would not be able to tell there was an invisible energy barrier separating them.
The last pictures Masahiro took of the family was of them standing on the other side of the barrier with a kiga (" A blue Penguin ") standing on the rocks in the space between Koji and Kyle. The best description of the kiga would be a blue penguin with a white breast. "He is like a big Megrez," Koji said, "only bigger and he walks."
"And I talk, too," the kiga declared. The three boys screeched in surprise and grabbed each other. They looked around to see if anyone else heard it, but no one had reacted to the kiga. Masahiro looked at the three boys as if they had taken total leave of their senses, wondering one more time how the Earth starship functioned with two silly boys like the Danny and the Kyle as officers.
Kyle took a deep breath. "That had to be Megrez talking," he chuckled.
"Well, I heard it and it sure surprised me," Danny said.
"It scared me," Koji added.
"I have an idea for a picture," Danny said. After telling him what it was, Kyle said he liked it and added his idea for another one.
Danny's idea was used first. Kyle stood facing the kiga, then bent at the waist and extended his arms toward the bird in a gesture of worship and respect. The kiga stood, moved into position and posed as if it knew exactly what it was expected to do. The second picture was of all three boys doing the same along with a video of their bending up and down at the waist. They didn't notice it at the time, but when they watched the video later they noticed that the kiga had bowed its head in return. It turned out they posed for the pictures just in time as the kiga turned around and walked back to the pond where his fellow kigas were congregated. Kyle saw that as a hint that it was time to leave the zoo. "Are you ready to go?" Kyle asked Koji, expecting the little boy to say no.
Instead, he was surprised by Koji saying he was tired and hungry, but he still wanted to see the dachou first. "Maybe he'll lay an egg for me to eat," he grinned.
"That would be quite a trick, since he would need to be a she to lay an egg," Danny observed.
"Then he would lay a bigger egg than she would if he was a she."
"I think you two have succeeded in totally confusing me," Kyle said.
"And me," Masahiro grinned.
They walked past the dachou enclosure but saw no eggs, big, small or gigantic. As they approached the front exit to the zoo, Masahiro informed the boys he had been instructed to give them a ride to Prince Zakku's (Zack) suite, where they would be served dinner with him, Zypher (Prince Zifaa), and Prince Zarek. The Castle was laid out with the business aspect of the royal family being on the first floor. The second floor was six suites forming a circle. The Princes each had their own suite on the back side of the castle, with Zarek's being between Zakku's and Zifaa's. The King and Queen's suite was in the middle of the front of the castle. The two extra suites were used by the most trusted advisors and guards. "You will be treated as honored guests with a special feast," Masahiro told them.
"Will you show them the pictures and videos?" Kyle asked.
"I am sure the Princes will love to see how you enjoyed our wonderful zoo."
"Will they even see the video of me and the guyya?"
"It will be your payment for dinner," Masahiro laughed.
The dinner ended up being a big success. The laughter was the kind one heard from good friends enjoying themselves and their guests. Even the Princes watching video of him falling on his ass wasn't as horrid as he imagined it would be.
After the boys left, Masahiro asked Prince Zarek if Kyle and Danny were really ship's officers or if the Prince was playing a joke on him. "They seem much too silly and immature to be officers."
The Prince smiled and said, "There was no joking involved, my good friend Masahiro. Our first new fighter is named The Harper for an incredibly courageous young man who is a true hero of Draconia. And it was Kyle Robinson who kept his presence of mind and saved the Sooloo from destruction when it activated the artifact in the orbit of the Star Megrez."
He went on to give the details of the heroics of both boys to Masahiro, who was awestruck by what he heard. "Don't confuse two still young boys enjoying every moment of a trip to Letthalar Doubutsuen in the same way you and I did as young boys. When there are perils to deal with, those two boys face them head on with courage and determination. And, as you noted in your wonderful photographs and videos, they don't take themselves so seriously that they are afraid to have a good time with each other and with their son, Koji."
Masahiro nodded, apologized for being judgmental, and asked the Prince if he could keep copies of his pictures to remember the afternoon by.
"Of course, you may. I know I sent the right man to guide the boys in the zoo. You were their guardian without their ever realizing it. You're a good man, Masahiro."
That night, when they were sure Koji was asleep, Danny and Kyle made out on their bed. They couldn't do as much as they wanted, since the privacy screen was set around Koji's bed, leaving theirs exposed if Koji should wake up and get out of bed. That prevented them from going all the way, but they managed to face each other, rubbing their pubescent cocks together as they kissed and petted each other's naked skin. As far as they knew, Koji didn't wake up. They quickly fell asleep after a satisfactory ending to their sexual encounter in bed.
Kage, Akage, Jaku, Tei, Scott, Łuke, Sukotto, Steve, Brad and Shasho went together to the Hall of Records. Michi greeted them, "Glalkat, I'm happy to see more boys being adopted, but I wonder, are you slowly taking our people away, or are the boys slowly invading the Sooloo?"
Being the senior officer, Brad declared, slightly defensively, "King Zedrick agreed to us adopting, but Steve and I are only taking guardianship."
"I was only teasing," Michi chuckled. "The adoptions are easy, so let me take care of them. The guardianship requires more "paper work," though we don't actually use paper. Who is first?"
"Łuke and I would like to adopt Sukotto."
"Are you sure you wish to adopt Sukotto? Will you treat him as though he is your flesh and blood, and meet all his needs?" Michi gets tired of asking this question every time she handles filing an adoption, but she knows it is important for the children's sake.
"More than anything, especially after we discovered Sukotto means Scott and Ruukaso means Luke. Then as we got to know him more, it would break our hearts if we couldn't have him as part of our lives. Sukotto may not be flesh and blood, but I assure you, we couldn't love him any more if he were."
"And I love you, Opsola."
Michi chuckled, "I think Sukotto answered my question for him. If one of you will place your thumb here…"
"Before they do, can my name be Sukotto Ruukaso Trevor and not just drop the Ruukaso? Since my given name means Scott and my surname means Luke and that is my new dads' given names, I would like to keep both."
"I'm glad you asked before they pressed their thumbs. Yes, it can be done." Michi made the necessary modifications. You really do care about them, don't you?" Sukotto responded by skilling and nodding his head.
Luke gave Sukotto a big hug before pressing his thumb. He was proud that Sukotto wanted to keep both his names to honor them. Scott gave Sukotto a hug, too.
Kage stepped forward, holding Jaku's hand, "I would like to adopt Akage, but I will be a single parent. Jaku and I just started dating, so we don't know where our relationship will go, but Akage and I did talk about Jaku being in our lives."
Michi didn't like this part of the adoption, "Just so you know, if you are adopting Akage so you can give him to Jaku later, you must retain custody for five years." Hearing her say that, Steve gulped some air…
Kage declared, "No ma'am, just so you know, I believe once you adopt, it is forever. The only way Jaku will become Akage's father is if he marries me." Jaku squeezed Kage's hand.
"Then I am happy to file this adoption. Jaku, as you know, since he will be a single parent, he needs a Draconian to vouch for him. I know you were instrumental in his wanting to adopt Akage; are you willing to vouch that he will make a good parent?"
"Akage, you heard what Kage said about adoptions. How do you feel? I know you had your heart set on Jaku adopting you."
"But you said he can't, I love Jaku, but I believe Kage loves me just as much. He refused to promise Jaku that he would adopt me until he met me. I love him."
"Very good, Kage, if you will press your thumb here."
After the adoptions were out of the way, Steve and Brad stepped forward with Shasho. Steve hoped he wasn't going to be forced to keep Shasho for a minimum of five years, but at the same time, he was falling in love with the boy, and even had a thought more than once that he considered adoption. Still, he wanted to have the final say in how long he kept Shasho.
"Okay, when we grant guardianship, unless the couple are married, we have one primary guardian and then a secondary. Which one of you will be the primary?"
"That would be me," Steve said proudly. Shasho smiled at him.
"I hope you understand, being a kouken ("Draconian for guardian ") last a minimum of…" Steve thought here it comes, she's going to tell me five years, "six months. The only way to end it sooner is if you adopt the child."
Steve thought, Well, that's only two months longer, at least it wasn't the five years I was expecting her to say. "What happens after six months?" Steve asked.
"Then you can either adopt, bring the child back or renew your guardianship for another six months to a year. If you adopt or renew, you can just video-conference with us. If you wish to bring the child back, you will need to return here with the child."
Steve avowed, "I can tell you, I have no desire to bring Shasho back here unless he wants to come visit, but suppose another couple on the Sooloo wanted to adopt Shasho, not that anyone is considering it right now, but suppose they do and Shasho likes them. I'm only asking because I want Shasho happy." Shasho's emotions were up and down. Part of the time, it seemed as if Steve wanted him, but there were times that it seemed as though Steve didn't want to keep him but didn't want to let go of him. Shasho determined that he would do whatever it takes to get Steve to want to keep him.
Michi confirmed, "They would be required to wait until the first six months are up."
"But say in two weeks, if I want to make Shasho my son and not my ward…"
"You can do that any time starting today up until the six months are up. If you bring Shasho back, someone else may adopt him, or he may age out of adoption."
"Okay, now that I have all my facts, let's do this." Steve's comment made Shasho smile and feel more at ease.
"I think we've discussed everything we need to cover, Dave. Why don't we contact Fleet Admiral Mirah?" King Zedrick was impressed with the way Dave handled the diplomacy needed to make this request happen.
"Very good, Zedrick." Dave then used the communications device in the King's office and put through a call to Zorn. Zorn then connected them to Admiral Mirah.
"Zippy, I wasn't expecting to talk to you until you were on your way."
"Sir, King Zedrick asked to speak to you directly."
King Zedrick then sat next to Dave so he could be seen on the comm-link. "Admiral, I am King Zedrick, ruler of the planet Darastix. I want to give you our thanks. The crew of the Sooloo have performed something that will live in the history books of our people. They are a credit to your race. As such, I have asked them to escort one of our battle ships to Earth as a gift from my people to yours."
"Your Majesty, thank you for your kind words. We are very proud of the job Captain Bowman has done so far on his mission. I would like to thank you for the repairs and upgrades you have done to our ship. Captain Bowman also mentioned an Envoy you wanted to send?"
"That is true. My youngest son, Zifaa has requested to accompany the Sooloo to Earth. He will travel there on the Sooloo. In addition, we have appointed one of our communications specialists as a liaison between Space Fleet and Darastix. I am told however, that he wishes to remain with the Sooloo when it leaves. As such, the ship we are sending to Earth, will be commanded by one of our highest-ranking military officers, Meagear Endou, and will also carry a permanent Kashe, or as you call them - Ambassador, to Earth. His name is Shinzen Koushi, he is unmarried and twenty-one of our years old. He has trained as a diplomat and has volunteered to move to Earth. He will arrive with the Kaisokusen, our battle ship gift to you. Captain Bowman also mentioned he would like to rename the ship in honor of our planet and the relationship he would like us to forge. I wanted you to know that once it arrives there and is officially given to your Space Fleet, I have given my blessing to renaming it. Captain Bowman has suggested two names. The SS Draconia or the SS Darastix. Both names have the same meaning; Darastix is known on Earth as Draconia."
"I believe we'd rather use your word for the name of the ship, it will be known as the SS Darastix. Your ambassador will be the one to officially make the gift?"
"Actually, Admiral, my eldest son will be going to Earth on our newest battleship. Prince Zarek is nearly of the age to join our military, so it would be a good thing for him to get the experience commanding one of our ships. Our middle son, Zakku, will accompany my wife and me at some point in the near future when we visit Earth."
"Thank you, Your Majesty. We are truly honored." Admiral Mirah then stood and bowed to the King.
"Admiral, please... let us dispense with the formalities. As I have told Dave, I prefer to be less formal when dealing with friends. I hope I can include you in that as well."
"Zedrick, thank you, you may call me Bill."
Zedrick smiled and replied, "I look forward to our friendship, Bill, and a long and fruitful relationship between our peoples and planets."
The communications ended with Admiral Mirah wishing Dave a safe and speedy trip home.
"Juro, what's that and how did it get onto the ship?"
"It's a kaldaka cub, and I'd rather not say how it came aboard."
"Please, Opsola, Jippu was going to get me one. We were just talking about it the night before he was killed."
"Did you bring this one aboard the ship?"
"No sir, but please don't ask me who did."
"Opsola, please," Juro started crying.
"Fine, you and Tomo are not allowed to see each other until you tell me who brought the cub aboard the ship. That is, except in school."
"What about when we have watch together?"
"When he is in Engineering, you will be on the bridge. When you are in engineering, he will be in the science labs. Honestly Juro, why are you acting up like this? First you sneaked into the fighter, and now this. Go to bed and we will talk tomorrow, with Dad, after I let Dave know the cub is aboard the ship."
Connor reported to Dave's ready room with the kaldaka cub. When he hit the chime, Dave came up behind him, "Enter." Dave chuckled when Connor jumped. "What can I do for you?"
"Dave, Juro had this cub in our quarters. I wanted to make you aware before we leave, just in case you wanted him to return it to the planet."
"Where did Juro get it? Was it wild, or did he get it already domesticated?"
"I have no idea, Sir. Juro won't tell me anything except he didn't bring it onto to the ship. I suspect Tomo, but Juro won't confirm it. And I'm sure you heard about him sneaking onto the fighter."
"Yes, I heard about that, fortunately, it was a good thing. Meagear Endou said that Juro saved his life. And since they had the remains of the creature, King Zedrick said they were able to scan for any more of its life signs. The Sea is clear."
Connor was surprised, "No one, not even Juro, told me that he saved anyone's life. I'm glad Aiden and I weren't too hard on him, but this is a different matter."
"Leave the cub with me and I will talk with Juro and Tomo during their recess."
Roger opened his eyes at his nightstand to check the time. The clocks auto set to the ship's time, so seeing it was 0625, Roger thought he might as well get up. His first instinct was to roll over and go back to sleep; after all, it was his fourteenth birthday. Brad thought he had done him a favor by not scheduling him any watches on his birthday, but that was not the case at all. Not having a watch or two was a guarantee that he would be royally bored.
He stretched and yawned, wondering if he should deal with his morning wood. While a good morning jerk-off would solve his immediate problem, he had stayed celibate for the past two days in order to have a mega-orgasm at some time during his birthday. Morning masturbations never seemed to give him the charge he desired.
He thought about his situation. Sure, he was in an important position as the Assistant Chief of Information Services. It allowed him to stand bridge watches, deal with the operation and programming of the ship's computers, and even do some detective work like he had done the day before.
For some reason, Holodeck Two would only create a cactus-filled desert scene when just the A section of the deck was programmed. That had been a fun problem to work on. The issue ended up being a software issue caused by an improper shutdown. It didn't take him long to figure out the problem and once he found out what had gone wrong, the fix was easy. He gave Dave the name of the perpetrator so he could get a refresher course on shutting down a program, which essentially meant not trying to override the auto-shutdown. He wondered if IS should install better failsafes on the shutdown program to prevent the riffraff from messing with it, but understood it was important to have a manual shutdown available in case of an emergency.
He sighed, rose from his bed and made his way to the shower. Right now, he needed breakfast worse than he needed sexual relief. While showering, his thoughts returned to his situation. While he considered himself to be mostly straight and was attracted to girls, he also knew from the personal relations workshops at the academy that during the long voyage horny boys would end up in sexual relationships with other horny boys. What he wasn't told was the number of horny boys who would end up in marital bliss. Are there really that many gay boys on the Sooloo? he thought. He wondered to himself if he could be more bisexual than straight. He also wondered if any of the boys found him attractive.
And then there were all the children. Hell, who would have thought that the ship would actually have a school? Roger wasn't all that upset about the school—programming the computer system to serve the school had been a challenging job that he had enjoyed immensely.
What bothered him most about the social environment on the Sooloo was that he wasn't really a part of it. He had friends, but none who were close. They were more what the relationship instructor had called professional friendships as opposed to social friendships.
The closest he came to social friendships were the music sessions in the officers' lounge when he got his guitar out and joined in with some of the other musically inclined crewmembers. Brad, the Chief of Information Systems, had told him that the boy they had taken in as their ward played a Sami, a popular Draconian instrument that was a three-string guitar-like instrument. Roger hoped the boy would be allowed to join the little music sessions.
Roger turned off the shower and thought about his other favorite social event, and that was card night. The night varied from week to week and it was another time for him to shine. He was, without a doubt, one of the best card players on the ship, no matter what the game was.
He loved the music and card sessions and wished they happened more often. While they provided casual friends, they didn't provide what he really wished for on his birthday, a close friend which just about everyone else on the Sooloo seemed to have, whether a best friend, a boyfriend, or a husband. I'd settle for a best friend, he thought, but who would want to hook up with the straight computer geek who kicked their asses at cards? 'I'd be happy to give up being totally straight, if only to have a friend who wouldn't mind jerking me off. Hell, I'd even return the favor.'
Roger dressed and headed for the officers' mess, wondering if anyone would note that it was his birthday. When he walked into the mess, he was surprised when Tai Fujima left his seat and came up to him. "Happy Birthday, Roger," Tai said. In light of his earlier ruminations about his orientation, Roger couldn't help but think about how cute the little Ensign was.
"Thanks, Tai. How did you know it was my birthday?"
Tai became tongue tied as his nerves took hold, "Brad told me and he told me to tell you that, well, I, um… yesterday, I was supposed to… um… to tell you… that there was, like, going to be a party and a cake and ice cream and everything at 1200 hundred and I'm sorry I forgot to tell you because I was… well… I was dumb."
Roger wasn't sure he completely understood what Tai had just said, but he understood enough to know he had just received an apology for something; he just wasn't sure what. Roger surprised himself by draping his arm around the smaller boy's shoulder. "I don't think you could ever be dumb, Tai. You're one of the smartest people I know."
"Yeah. You know a lot more about the ship's computers, hell, about any computers than I do, and I know a lot."
"No buts until I get me some breakfast." Tai slid out from Roger's shoulder hug and obeyed his request like it was an order from a superior officer. Roger got a breakfast of eggs, ham, along with biscuits and gravy, went to the four-person table Tai had to himself and sat across from him. "I'm hungry," he said as if he was a fourteen-year-old who had to justify his plate stacked with food.
Tai forced a grin, took a deep breath, and went back to trying to explain himself. "I am dumb around people. I've gotta to be the shyest person on the Sooloo."
"I don't know, I think I'm right there with you."
"You're not shy. You're the Assistant Chief of IS and you have to give orders sometimes. You even figured out why the holodeck computer went bonkers yesterday. Plus, you're awesome when you play the guitar."
"That has nothing to do with being shy. Except for music and cards, hardly anybody knows me outside of you guys in IS. That's why I guess everybody forgot my birthday." Roger saw Tai's face drop. "Hey, why the sad look."
"Like I tried to say except I got too nervous to say it, Brad told me yesterday to tell you that… um… I was supposed to say and… well, I forgot… and…"
"Tai, I promise I won't throw you off the ship for making a mistake. Just tell me what you want to tell me and get it over with."
"I was supposed to tell you that there will be a birthday party for you today in the officer's lounge and there will be cake and ice cream. It's from 1200 to 1800 so guys can leave cards or presents or something."
"Yeah, for real. I just didn't find you to tell you and, well, I was scared to talk to you."
"Why? We talk all the time."
"I know. But we're always talking about computers and our duties." Tai took a deep breath and said what it was he really wanted to say. "You see, I've wanted at least to be your friend but was afraid because you're like six months older than me and you're my superior officer. But you're also really nice and you like playing music and have really good friends who also play music and I guess I've said too much."
Roger was amazed that somebody wanted to be his friend, especially somebody as sweet and cute and smart as Tai Fujima. "Well, if you want to be my friend, then let's be friends."
"You really want to be my friend? I mean you've got music friends and card playing friends, so why do you want me to be your friend?"
'I want you to be my friend because those friends aren't my real friends,' is what Roger wanted to say. Instead he gave Tai the most truthful answer he could. "I want to be your friend because I really like you," he said with quiet sincerity.
Tai yawned and took a final swallow of orange juice. "I have to get going. I'm on the 0800 watch and I didn't get much sleep," he said as he stifled another yawn.
"What kept you awake?"
"I had the graveyard watch."
"That's not right," Roger said, even though he knew right away why Tai had two watches so close together, something that was rarely done.
"I know what Brad said and I know why he said it." He yanked his comm out of his pocket and fingered in Brad's code.
"Commander Kanye," Brad answered crisply.
"Requesting permission to take Ensign Fujima's watch, sir," Roger said with the necessary formality needed for the request he was making. "He doesn't appear to be feeling well."
"I changed his watch so you could…"
Roger interrupted finishing Brad's sentence, "…have my birthday off, which would give me four hours wondering what to do since the ship is sitting in orbit."
"It's a standard birthday present when it's possible to give no watches."
"My birthday present from you can be allowing Tai to catch up on his sleep," Roger stated, dropping the formality.
"Very well, Lieutenant. I will see you to relieve me in ten minutes. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Roger." Brad logged off.
"You didn't need to do that, I can still go," Tai protested.
"You can go right to bed. That will be your birthday present to me, now go." Roger shoved another quick mouthful of food into his maw and got up to leave. No matter what the circumstances, it was not a good idea to be late for watch.
As he watched Roger bus his breakfast dishes, Tai felt a wave of warmth flow through him that was so strong it made him shake. He wasn't aware of it, but that was the first signal that said he had fallen in love with Roger Duncan.
When Roger relieved Brad, he received a big hug from his superior. "Happy Birthday, Roger. You're a good man." The hug didn't surprise Roger, everybody knew that Brad was very tactile.
Before class, Juro told Tomo what had happened, and both boys look depressed. "You should have told your opsola that it was me; then maybe you wouldn't be in trouble."
Koji walked up to them, "What's wrong?"
"Please, Koji, not now. I got Juro in trouble and will probably be in trouble myself."
"I'm sorry," Koji offered.
"It's not your fault. I did something wrong."
Thinking back to their discussion about Christmas, Koji giggled, "No presents for you."
That brought a smile to Tomo's face, "Thanks Koji, I needed that." Tomo gave Koji a big hug.
Dave and Hal were in the shuttle bay as the Darastixian royal shuttle was arriving. Several others had wanted to be there to greet the King and his youngest son, Zifaa, when they arrived, but Dave felt that too large a crowd would cause too much confusion.
Dave had decided that since this was the last day they'd be at Darastix prior to their departure, and that afternoon a party celebrating Roger Duncan's 14th birthday would be starting within an hour, everyone could see the King at that time. Zifaa would be staying on the Sooloo when his father left that evening since he'd be going with them to Earth.
Dave instructed Crewman Jesse Gross to make sure the Prince's luggage was delivered to the VIP quarters nearest to Dave and Hal's quarters as Dave led Zedrick and Zifaa to his ready room.
Once in the ready room, Dave turned to Zifaa and asked, "So, are you ready for your adventure? I am looking forward to having you on board."
Zifaa smiled and said, "I'm really excited to be going to see Earth. I am also excited to be able to spend some more time with Juro, Tomo, and Koji. I will miss them when I have to go back home."
They talked for a short time when Jesse Gross contacted Dave to let him know that Zifaa's luggage had been delivered.
"So, would you like to see your room, Zifaa? I am sure your father would like to see where you'll be living for the next month."
Zifaa nodded so Dave and Hal led the King and Zifaa out of the ready room and escorted them to the VIP quarters. When Zifaa walked in he was surprised at the size of his room. It was furnished much nicer than the quarters on the Kaisokusen.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go to the classroom and have a chat with a couple of boys."
Zifaa got excited and asked, "Can I come so I can see Tomo and Juro?"
Dave hung his head before replying, "I don't think this is a good time for that, but I will be happy to take you to see them after classes. I'm sure they will be happy to see you, too."
Roger's four-hour watch was routine. Not much happened when the starship was parked in orbit, somebody not following holodeck shutdown protocol notwithstanding. At 1200 Roger was relieved by Ensign Benjamin Kennedy, his red hair almost glowing when he entered the bridge. Roger always thought Ben and Tai would make a cute couple, but there didn't seem to be any sparks between them. When Roger entered the officers' lounge he noted that Tai, Brad, and Aiden were the senior officers among those in the room. He knew some of the senior officers were still on the planet or in transit. He also knew how these parties had worked in the past. The cake and ice cream were available for a few hours because of varying duty and work schedules. Even the birthday celebrants didn't usually hang around for the duration.
"That cake is amazing," Roger said to no one in particular. The cake was made by Ben Maxey, aka the Cake Fairy or the King of Cakes depending on who you listened to. Roger wished they'd settle on one or the other, but if Ben kept baking works of art, what difference did it make? This one was shaped like an acoustic guitar. "Happy 14th, Roger" written in red script. Four aces were on the "strings" of the guitar.
The group sang Happy Birthday, Roger blew out the candles, and the party was officially on. Roger couldn't remember when he had felt so happy. Presents were rare on birthdays for anybody, but he was surprised by the many thoughtful cards he received and by the black tank top he received from Brad.
"Perfect for my workouts in the holodeck," Roger grinned.
"That was the idea," Brad told him.
Ensign Brandon Cox gave Roger a deck of cards. The backing was a picture of the Sooloo. "This is from all of us card guys," Brandon told Roger.
"You probably marked them," Roger teased him.
"We would never think of doing that," Brandon replied. "If we beat you when we use that deck, it's all coincidental," he smirked.
Aiden escorted Ben Maxey out of the kitchen to the applause, cheers and whistles. Roger squeezed his shoulder and thanked him for the beauty on the table. Aiden and Brad both took pictures of the cake and of Roger cutting the cake. Roger also noted Tai hanging close to him wherever he went.
Roger took the first taste of the cake, smacked his lips, and said to Ben, "I guess somebody told you I love lemon cake."
"There are spies everywhere on the Sooloo," Ben grinned as Roger tried to remember whom he had told.
King Zedrick and Zifaa arrived shortly later. They spent some time talking with the various members of the Sooloo's crew. Zedrick made sure to go to Roger, who was quietly talking with Tai Fujima, to wish him a happy birthday. Zifaa said, "Today is your 14th Terran birthday. By our calendar you would be 12.91 years old."
Roger laughed when Zifaa made this comment and replied, "I'm happy being 14 and not just under 13. Thank you both for the birthday wishes. Zifaa, while you are on board, maybe we can get together and talk for a bit. I understand you are pretty good with computers."
Zifaa's grin defied his feelings toward that invitation. Excitedly, he replied, "I would like that. Maybe we can teach each other a few tricks."
Roger smiled before excusing himself and without even realizing he was doing it, took Tai Fujima's hand and led him to another part of the room. King Zedrick smiled seeing this, thinking the two would make a cute couple.
When the party finally ended, Roger had lost track of whom he had seen and hadn't seen. What he did know, it was the greatest birthday party he had ever had, especially considering that when he woke up that morning, he was not expecting anything.
Roger ate dinner with Brad and Tai. Brad enjoyed the sparkle in the eyes of his normally serious chief. There was no doubt that Roger had enjoyed his day. After Brad left the table, Roger asked Tai to stay. "I want to ask you for a favor," he said.
"Ask away," Tai replied. "I mean, I got a huge favor from you today. Thanks for doing that—I slept really great. Sorry I didn't give you a present."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. You and Brad both know I kind of keep to myself a lot, except maybe for music and card nights."
"I don't do much either," Tai confessed.
"Back when I was little, at least until I was nine, I'd sleep with my mom and dad on my birthday. It was like I really needed to touch them and get their love for another year." Tai nodded. "Well, I miss that. Not just the birthday thing, but all of their hugs."
"Hugs are good," Tai said, even though he knew he sounded lame.
"I would really appreciate if you slept with me tonight. I really like you and if you slept with me, well, that could be your present to me."
Once again Tai felt a shiver go through him. It was a shiver of love with a helping of lust tossed in. "I'm just a little ensign."
"What you are is a big friend. Somehow, your being around me all day made my birthday even better. I really, truly want to enjoy a long hug and cuddle. I'm not talking about sex (a wave of disappointment shot through Tai), I just want a friend to cuddle with tonight. Please."
"Yeah, cool, I'll do it."
"Before you get too eager, I gotta warn you that I have 0400 watch in the morning."
"That's okay if I can stay in your bed."
"You're a greedy little fucker, aren't you?" The hurt look on Tai's face was like a slap in Roger's face. "I was just kidding you—you're totally right."
"Even if it's not my quarters?"
"Sleep to your heart's contents."
When they got to Roger's quarters, they sat on the small sofa and talked a bit. They each spoke a little history about where and how they grew up and how they ended up at the Prep School, the Academy, and in the Explorer program.
"If you gotta get up early, we'd better get to bed," Tai finally said.
"I was having fun talking to you. I haven't talked like this with someone in forever. But, you're right."
When Roger removed his uniform shirt, Tai started drooling. Roger had a great build for a young teen. He had good muscle definition in his chest, a developing six pack, and powerful looking arms. Tai had no doubt about what Roger did during his exercise time. "Wow, you're really buff," Tai observed. His little cock had sprung to attention.
Tai removed his shirt, feeling embarrassed about his puny little body. "I don't see any fat on you," Roger said.
"I'm little and skinny."
"I was too when I turned thirteen. Do you mind if I just sleep in my underpants?" Roger had considered asking if he could sleep as he usually did, naked, but was afraid he'd be pushing Tai too far… besides, he wasn't totally sure that was what he really wanted. In reality, he wasn't sure of his own feelings… it would take some time until he came to understand his feelings.
"Not if I can do it, too."
The boys were quickly stripped down to their underpants and were soon in Roger's bed. Roger snuggled up to the smaller boy. "I told you I wanted to snuggle."
Tai answered him by moving in closer. Roger placed his arm around Tai's bare torso. "Thanks for being here. And thanks for making this my best birthday ever, and I've had some good ones. Oh, and before I forget, you're welcome to sleep here any time and I hope you'll be here often." He kissed Tai on his smooth cheek.
Tai was now firmly in love with the older boy, even if he didn't know it yet. Neither boy saw himself as gay, really, but both knew that this wasn't going to be their last time sleeping together. Their hard-teen cocks carried the message that the future would hold more than a snuggle and a chaste kiss.
As the boys were leaving the classroom to go to lunch and then recess, Dave pulled Juro and Tomo aside. He looked at Sukotto, "I believe you are the oldest, I'm placing you in charge."
Tomo looked at Dave, "If this is about the kaldaka cub, I brought it onboard, Juro didn't even know about it until last night."
"That is what Connor suspected. Walk with me," Dave ordered as he headed toward his Ready Room. As they walked in, Che Sisitsky, one of the Cook's Assistants, was just finishing setting up a table and meals for three. Dave told the boys, sit and enjoy your lunch. You'll be missing your recess, but I can't let you skip lunch."
"Thank you, Captain."
"While you eat, Tomo, why did you get the cub for Juro?"
Tomo looked down, "He killed the creature that killed my family. I feel like I owed him, and I knew he and his jippu were planning to get one."
"I see, didn't you think you should have asked Aiden, Connor or me?"
"I thought about it, Sir, but I know Juro really wanted a cub, and I thought it would be easier to ask forgiveness than permission."
"Yes, that old line is over a century old. What if I told you that had you asked, I would have given permission, now I am thinking you should return it."
"I'm so sorry, Captain, but please punish me but let Juro keep it. When I gave him the cub, he told me that I should have asked, but I told him to keep it hidden. I know you let Commanders Blackwell and Rivers keep a pup." Tomo was genuinely crying.
"They were given the pup as a wedding present and asked right away. They already had a plan to give the pup away if I had said no." Turning to Juro, Dave asked, "Juro, why didn't you come ask?"
"Tomo gave me the cub five minutes before Opsola came in. I was waiting to say something to him, and he didn't give me a chance. It seemed as though he was more concerned with how the cub got aboard than letting me ask if I could keep him."
"I believe that is about as good of an excuse as you could give. Are you willing to take care of this cub, feeding it, walking it and cleaning up after it with the help of Tomo?"
Crying, Juro nodded his head, "Yes sir, I am. I will do all of it, if you allow me to keep the cub."
"No, Tomo brought the cub aboard, so he can help. Tomo, I am disappointed in you for not asking. That isn't Space Fleet's way. For one week, you will not be allowed any watches, after that, the matter will be dropped and forgotten, but you ever pull a stunt like this again…"
"Understood, Sir and I truly am sorry."
"I understand that you are still learning, take the week off and then don't let this haunt you. Got it?"
"Yes, Sir and thank you."
"Boys, finish your lunch." Dave went to his desk, "Connor, can you come to my Ready Room ASAP? Tomo and Juro need to return to class soon."
"On my way."
It was just a few minutes before Connor was pressing the chime. Dave told him to enter, then announced, "Tomo admitted he is the one who brought the cub aboard. He will not be allowed any watches for a week as punishment. Where was Juro and the cub when you found him?"
"Juro was on the couch, facing the door, the cub was on his lap," Connor replied.
"Juro wasn't hiding him?"
Connor looked surprised by Dave's questions, "No, and he knew… oh my goodness, I overreacted, Juro, I am sorry. You were waiting to ask if you could keep the cub, weren't you?"
"Yes Opsola," Juro cried.
"The boys have agreed to take care of the cub; will you allow them to keep it? They already have my permission."
"Yes, as long as you don't have a problem with it, I don't. Juro, you and Tomo can work watches together, once Tomo may have watches again."
"Thank you, Opsola, I love you."
Dave looked around the bridge. Kyle was at the Astrogation table, the rest of the stations were manned by the Senior Staff. Behind Dave stood the cadre of adopted boys that had brought so much life to the ship. Dave stood and asked Prince Zifaa to sit in his chair.
Dave called out, "I need a final go/no-go from each station."
After hearing each station report in-turn that all was ready, Dave asked Scott Trevor, who was manning the communications and tactical station, to open a channel to the Kaisokusen. Dave verified that all was in readiness there, then, leaving the channel open, turned to Prince Zifaa and said, "We're ready for your order to depart, Sir."
Zifaa's smile nearly split his face as he realized what Dave was doing. In his unbroken voice he called out loud and clear, "Commander Robinson, Meagear Endou, set course for Earth and engage."
As they watched the screen, the planet began slowly getting smaller. A few moments later, there was applause on the bridge. Dave turned to Zifaa and said, "Sir, I relieve you."
Zifaa stood and replied, "I stand relieved." He then wrapped his arms around Dave's waist and gave him a hug.
The Sooloo and the Kaisokusen were on their way... home.