Parting of the Ways Part 1- Moving On

I am trying my hardest but these stories are boring people. I'll try to make them interesting but it's clear that there is only one series on this site that people tolerate being long, having a plot that you can't follow without having read everything before, and has rich characters who toss money around. I'm sorry if it's not Bike but I am my own person but it's clear that this isn't what the site wants. Sorry.

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The week before Memorial Day weekend brought all seniors at Winnisimmet High School together for the annual awards night. The seniors knew this was the big moment, for many this was the one that would decide who went to college and who sought out employment. For the 14 "Finn Family" seniors it was just a formality as they had their college paid for by John Finn as well as shrewd investments by their parents and friends' parents so whatever you actually were awarded would be redirected to others out of courtesy and respect.

The crowd sat in silence as award after award was given out. The most anticipated award was the race for valedictorian, a tight race between Jaimie Finn and Stacy Lopez. The two had their reasons for not wanting to win it with both being selfless and ambivalent towards it.

Jaimie didn't want to win it because doing so would put the spotlight on her yet again. The media had taken a keen interest in her life as she was the most famous transgender person in the region and graduating at the top of her class would cause them to swarm around her trying to get her story. She would rather it went to her cousin, someone who deserved recognition and who worked hard to earn the top spot especially as she had done so in Jaimie's constant shadow.

Stacy wanted Jaimie to win because she earned it outright. She knew Jaimie told the school not to give it to her but Stacy refused to accept it because it wasn't earned. Jaimie deserved it, she was the best student and the one who embodied the school through and through.

The announcement came as a surprise, the award was won by Scott Nelson. Jake Bollinger grinned as he presented the award to Scott, the girls both shocked and relieved. Neither could complain as Scott had done just as well as them and had gone the extra mile in taking on additional credits by helping mentor and tutor students their senior year while the ladies were busy with student government and their various clubs.

Scott was speechless and accepted the award without saying anything. The school named both Stacy and Jaimie as the salutatorian due to their tying for highest GPA behind Scott. The two hugged Scott and thanked the faculty for doing the right thing as well as ensuring that graduation went without a hitch or scrutiny that would have happened if Jaimie won.

The next awards were various scholarships to colleges. Michael Finn was awarded a full 4-year scholarship to Boston-Cambridge University thanks to the strong recommendation from his employers who were graduates of their school of business and law school. Several of the alumni donated large sums to the school and pointed out having a Finn as a student was something to brag about to the other schools in Boston, Boston-Cambridge was lacking in this field as all the older "Finn Family" members attended the larger state schools.

Miles Finn was offered an athletic scholarship to the same school but declined on behalf of attending UMass-Amherst as a regular student. That wasn't a shock to anyone at the school, Miles was done with sports as he wanted to focus on his career. He enjoyed football but he didn't feel he wanted to play especially for a school that saw the sport as a moneymaker instead of a regular sport.

Jessica Nelson, Jenna and Christina Connors, and Courtney Bollinger each received offers of various amounts but all decided due to their own families being able to afford to send them to school and wanting them to go to those in need. Scott Nelson was offered a full 4-year scholarship from MIT but opted to pay for it himself through his mother, he knew she would be disappointed if he took the money from the school when someone else could use it.

The three least-known of the "Finn Family" received the least amount of scholarships and offers but they declined them just as well. Will Bollinger, Eric Vincent, and George Daniels were above average students but great athletes who shined bright and received offers from the state schools to attend as student athletes. The trio declined, they and Scott were going into the National Guard just after graduation and would not need to pay tuition and fees as those were free for them at state schools. Scott had to pay but it was a small price to pay in his eyes compared with the experience gained.

Jaimie Finn had offers from various schools but they were all due to her notoriety rather than her academic achievement. She didn't want to be the poster child for the schools, she just wanted to be a typical student. They tried to make it like it was because she was a good student but their actions showed otherwise especially as they introduced her as transgender every chance they had whenever she visited the campuses and spoke with potential professors and advisers.

She declined the various ivy league schools and opted to join Miles and Christina at UMass-Amherst. She was going with her boyfriend Rick Samuels who tried to dissuade her but saw her determination. The four were the only ones attending school away from the Winnisimmet area but were doing so together rather than at separate universities like the other ten.

With the 14 refusing any scholarships the school was able to give something to everyone with several who were borderline due to financial struggles being able to attend school even if it wasn't the prestigious private colleges. It was a chance to better themselves, they jumped at the chance and thanked the 14 for their thoughtfulness.

Two weeks later the 14 gathered together for their final exam, hugging and crying as they each entered the auditorium to take their last test as students. They were feeling the gravity of the situation, they were just over 100 minutes from being adults without any more obligations. They were graduating, and with the exception of Eric and George, they were 18-years-old now thus ready to take on the world.

Time passed quickly for them. Their test was government, a simple test for all of them as they knew the work inside and out and had spent a lot of time reviewing before the test. And fittingly it was a class taught by John Finn, father to three, uncle to three, surrogate uncle to the remaining eight.

Once the test was completed each filed out in silence, more tears streaming down their cheeks. They were met by John and Jake. The 14 hugged both tight as they said goodbye to the school, with John kissing the seven ladies on their cheeks as they parted.

Jake ushered them outside and gave Courtney and Will deep hugs as he bid them goodbye. They were met outside by the other parents, each hugging their respective children and each shedding tears over the group completing their schooling. Ever the joker, Will happily said he hoped to not see the inside of that place again which earned a needed laugh as the 14 teens broke up for the day.

At home Miles, Michael, and Jaimie put away their school clothes for the final time. Michael went one step further by packing up his possessions into boxes to prepare for his upcoming move into his own home, purchased a mere two months before from a close family friend and done with his own money earned through hard work and solid investments. He worked for three years to accumulate over $2 million in returns on his investments, buying his own home was the biggest expense he had made and the one that set himself apart from all others.

He wasn't alone in moving out, he just happened to be the first to do so. He would be joined in his new home by his fiance, Courtney, as the two chose to stop acting like children and start being a couple with full intent on becoming married. He knew that she was risking pregnancy as he was finding it harder to avoid sex with her but the two decided that if need be they'd accept the consequences and should she become pregnant he was man enough to support them.

Their friends were avoiding this situation by moving in together but sticking to the same sex in each house. Will, Eric, George, and Scott opted to share a house but only after they returned from basic and advanced training with the US Army. Conversely, their fiances Claire, Jessica, Jenna, and Stacy shared a house but were moving in after they returned from California where Jaimie was set to undergo her long-awaited gender reassignment surgery.

The next week was a rush as everyone got packed and helped Michael and Courtney move into their new home while helping stock the house with necessities that made it "home". Valerie Finn was in tears as she realized her little boy was now a man and was ready to be his own person. Her parents Evelyn and Joseph Johnson were having trouble keeping their own pride in check as their grandson jumped into manhood with both feet and boldly proclaimed his independence from his parents.

The others in the family worked hard as the 14 rested and awaited their graduation. Their younger counterparts, nine sophomores, a junior, and two freshmen, were jealous but had to feel for them as the anxiety was tough to contain. The 14 gladly helped the 12 younger high schoolers work on their finals and keep busy as they themselves started to get anxious about the finals.

Reed Pena had it dawn on him that he was going to be the oldest in the neighborhood once Michael, Miles, and Jaimie moved out. He was the one everyone would look up to now, the one the youngest came to and the one the nine sophomores saw as being their guide through the next year until they themselves became seniors. He had to smile at that, he wasn't used to being seen that way but it felt right to him especially as he loved the nine like brothers and sisters.

The graduation ceremony was a large event for the city and the biggest event for the school. This would be the largest audience the school had ever had attend, the 14 were part of a large extended family whose members were all going to attend in support of the 14. They would have the single biggest contingent not only in the stands but among invited guests, faculty, principals, and dignitaries up on the stage.

John was among the crowd onstage as dignitaries. Louis Reagan, the unofficial uncle for the adults, was there with the city council; Jake was joined by fellow principals and "Finn Family" members Alice Porter, Dorothy Vega, and Yvette Prince; John was joined by colleagues and family members Sean Kelly and Ben and Beth Herman.

The family even had their own VIPs in attendance as the Attorney General and the Governor attended with each happily being low-key for the benefit of the 14. The Attorney General herself was there to offer Miles an internship with her office as an assistant investigator with the governor offering Jaimie his heartfelt affection as he knew she'd never accept his offer of an internship.

The family took up one side of the stadium. The rest of the families took up the other side. The graduates, faculty, and dignitaries took up a large chunk of the football field in front of the stage.

There were complaints about the Finns getting special treatment until they realized that how things were set up favored their own families best. The side with the Finns was the side that students lined up on allowing families to take better pictures of their graduates as they received their diplomas and walked down off the stage while moving their tassel to the "graduate" side of their cap. The Finns simply took shots as normal, they were content to long shots of the graduates knowing that they had more chances of good pictures among the dozens of cameras among the group as well as having longer distance cameras with better lenses allowing decent shots from their distances away.

The ceremony itself was your normal ceremony. Jake had to hold back tears as he happily pronounced the class as being his personal favorite thanks to all of the great things the students had done in their four years as well as the growth they had helped him achieve in his personal life. The fact that Will was graduating and through the 14 he had met, married, and conceived a child with his wife Beverly as well as adopted Will as his own son made them stand above all other classes before them. Nobody could argue against that as it was the truth.

Louis had the longest speech as he was the one who knew the graduates best outside of the classroom and away from family. Being their onetime boss as well as their confidant he happily told the crowd how he had been pleased to see so many grow into fine adults thanks to their classmates and the strength they showed. He happily told them that they were not going to be topped but nobody would try, they were special and others would just be happy to follow their example as nobody could match their achievements.

John was elected by his colleagues to speak on behalf of the faculty. He did his usual shtick of using the "how" of what they learned not the "what" as they went through life which got the graduates laughing and agreeing. He added that in 20 years several would be back there as parents with many nodding in understanding as it was inevitable for several of them.

He looked towards his group and shed a tear as he talked about seeing them grow up in the past six years from kids to teens to adults. He smiled as he told about the little boys and girls who had stolen his heart as 6th graders and who sat before him on the cusp of adulthood and who were going their own way. It was tough but he admitted that they were the greatest people he knew, people who had survived tragedy, heartbreak, abuse, and upended lives only to come out better people.

The crowd applauded John as Beth hugged him allowing him to calm down. Jake gave him a few seconds before starting the most anticipated part of the event. He called up Sean who for the first time showed the crowd his Army uniform complete with green beret, something few parents actually knew about and even surprised many of the graduates themselves.

Sean stood proudly as he handed the diplomas to the graduates. The 14 were hugged tightly by him with Jake taking the opportunity to hug Will and Courtney as they received theirs first among the group. Sean got a surprise as Will, Eric, George, and Scott saluted him as they appeared in front of him, with Sean happily returning it and wishing them luck in the next few weeks.

With the last recipients being given their diplomas the students in unison tossed their caps into the air giving a sea of red, white, and black caps. Jake happily told the faculty and city officials that changing to three colors and basing the colors on where the student was sitting was miles ahead of the old system of one color for males and another for females. They thought it was due to Jaimie but Jake complained that it was a change that needed to happen long ago due to simple uniformity and aesthetics. He suggested it years ago but it was ignored until other schools started doing it.

Jaimie ended up in black, Michael in Red, and Miles in white. Red was reserved for females, black for males, and white was unused but in truth, it was a nice addition as it was the school's third team color. None of the students complained, in fact, they loved it as it made a great look overall. Will even joked that he looked better in the "girl's" red than the girls did getting a laugh and smile from the ladies as the most masculine of their classmates had no response to it without sounding sexist.

The Finns spent quite a bit of time taking pictures with one another with Jaimie knowing they were doing that on purpose to let the other families leave. Governor Christian James happily took photos with everyone and hugged Jaimie tight as he shed a tear over her being the person who shined brightest that day. She was simply a graduate, for the first time in a long time Jaimie was just another person and everyone there that day treated her like everyone else which he happily pointed out to her.

Miles received his internship offer which he agreed to, provided they ensure that what he worked on was not going to harm the state's cases. His new boss just smirked, Miles shook his head and complained: "Aunt Kennedy researched the laws, didn't she?" The nod confirmed it, Miles was legally in the clear and the state was using him in the best way possible with his new bosses being eager to see what he could do especially with his pre-existing reputation for troubleshooting and research.

Christina kissed him then hugged him tightly. Miles was getting a big leap into his future career, it wasn't quite as in-depth as Michael's work but it was a huge step in the right direction. With proper schooling, he could be on the job just as soon as he finished his degree and with Kennedy and the Attorney General giving their recommendation he was all but assured a job with them.

Jaimie politely declined her job offer. Christian nodded but added "you are going to have to work eventually. I just had to make a final offer, I know you will need a while to recover. Just as long as I can talk with you about tough choices I'm happy." Jaimie nodded silently, while Rick added "she will need something to keep her mind off her recovery so a simple talk every now and then about what you are considering is a big help. Plus you know how she is, if she isn't doing something she will be going stir crazy and helping others through you will be the best way to keep her mind occupied."

The families went home soon after. The 14 put away their caps and gowns for the future while relaxing for several hours. That evening they were going to party and they wanted to be rested, the energy of that morning was sapped as the seriousness of the small, padded, gold colored booklet hit them.

The ones who seemed the most ambivalent about the 14 graduating were the youngest family members. The preschoolers and toddlers sat through the graduation out of respect and discipline but didn't grasp that the 14 had done something major. They saw the 14 crying and thought someone was hurt or died, it took everything their parents had to make them grasp that this was a happy event and not a sad one that they had unfortunately experienced twice in the past year.

The kids kept close to the 14, with DJ Lopez and Marcus Sylvester keeping their cousins close to the point of not wanting them to even go to the bathroom. It was cute and touching, especially as Jack Bollinger asked if they were leaving for good. Will hugged him tight and explained "we don't have to go to school anymore, we aren't leaving you or mom or dad. You and Benny and Nigel and Billy will have this same thing happen to you in 16 years."

The toddlers didn't fully understand until Will explained further "you know how JD, Cat, Willow, and Julio go to big kid's school? Well, we are done with that. DJ and TJ are going to big kid's school next year, you will go to it in two years. We are still going to be around, it's just that we won't be around as often so you will have mom and dad to yourself more."

After a long rest and having the youngsters calm themselves once they realized they were telling the truth the group came together at their usual gathering spot at the upscale function hall. The 14 were the center of attention with everyone crowding them and offering them advice on what to do. It was really just good fun as the 14 accepted that they were doing it for their own feelings of anxiety as the 14's feelings.

The party lasted three hours, only breaking up when it was time for the youngest to go to bed. The 14 went to their respective new homes, with Jaimie, Rick, Christina, and Miles heading home as if it was a normal night. They, being the only ones required to live on-campus in the dorms their freshman year, were stuck officially living with their parents until move-in day in August.

The parents knew what the 10 were going to do once they arrived but kept their joking and concerns to themselves due to younger siblings. It was expected that they'd finally go the distance with one another after between four and six years of pent up sexual energy. They had protection, whether they opted to use it and accept the consequences was something else entirely. They were adults now, they'd deal with the outcomes eventually.

Michael and Courtney actually did do what their parents expected them to do. They waited five and a half years as a couple, they were ready for sex. The two went at it all night and much of the next day until the novelty wore off. They did the deed, it wasn't taboo anymore and they still loved one another despite giving in to the urges. It was just sharing their love with one another's body.

The others didn't do a thing. They fell asleep after kissing their fiances for an hour. The guys drove to their own new home leaving the ladies to enjoy their own home and their new neighbors.

Hannah and Pete Smith grinned widely as they watched the guys leave, not needing to say a word to the ladies about what just happened. Hannah did cause Claire to blush as she raised an eyebrow but the cousins laughed it off as Pete gritted his teeth and told them "don't even think of saying anything. Don't even joke about pregnancies. I love her and she loves me and as a married couple it is possible."

Hannah shook her head and happily told him "I would be happy to have your baby. We are old enough now if it happens it happens but I love you." The ladies let out a collective "aw" as she said that, he kissed her cheek but added "be that as it may, I still think we should wait. Your dad might not want to be a grandfather again and Bryan may think I am upstaging him."

The four ladies hugged Hannah who whispered to them "I'm late" getting a shocked expression but understanding nods. It was something that they couldn't tell anyone but they understood the significance of. Hannah may be the second of their generation to get pregnant but knowing Courtney and Hannah's best friend/sister-in-law Paige she may not be the last that summer. The others had no intentions of having sex anytime soon, they were content to be aunts to the trio's kids for the time being.

The four guys had reason to leave quickly. They were trying to rest up and save their energy for their upcoming basic training and didn't want to leave their girlfriends potentially pregnant or leave themselves exhausted. Plus in their minds sex was private and none of the four wanted to do it yet especially with Stacy and Claire being cousins and Scott and Jessica being siblings. It would be too weird doing it around one another.

The next two weeks were spent helping the 1st and 5th graders get ready for their "moving-on" ceremonies. The teens and tweens loved helping the youngsters out with Jaimie, Michael, Jessica, and Scott getting to experience the ceremony for the first time as they hadn't had anything like it when they were their age. Their elementary school only held an 8th-grade graduation due to the elementary and middle school being combined making a ceremony pointless.

Before any of this could occur the family had to have a special meeting. Mia Flynn needed to have a special hearing to account for herself since her expulsion back in February and what happened during her hearing would determine if she was allowed back into Winnisimmet Public Schools as a student. It was standard procedure for expelled students, but for her, it was something much bigger.

Mia's case was read and her academic achievements done during the past three and a half months were looked at with close scrutiny. Her grandmother, Peggy Raymond, stated she was a changed student and who was actually more advanced than a normal 5th grader but needed structure that only a normal school could give. Her previous principal, Yvette, stated she was no danger to others and acted solely under a demonstrated and adjudicated threat to her life.

The fact that she was transgender was irrelevant and to Mia's relief was not mentioned except as a note that her school records prior to her expulsion were in her dead name. She sat quietly and endured the questioning of those around her while thinking closely about how she got there and why she was such a horrible student before. The state representative reviewing her case noted her contemplation and observed her wincing at the actions of her past self being mentioned, keeping his reaction stoic but to the trained eyes of Yvette and Dorothy, it was clear she had an impact.

Alice and Dorothy stated their opinions with both agreeing that they believed Mia was no danger to re-offend and just needed a fresh start in life. Both eagerly wanted her as a student with Dorothy winning out thanks to Mia's pre-existing closeness with six incoming 6th graders as well as teachers who were used to transgender students. The state representative asked about that, he was simply told "their 6th-grade teacher had a transgender girl two years ago and we have had multiple transgender girls who transferred in and graduated with high praise in the past six years."

There was little argument against Mia attending. The only one who would have anything to say against her were seeking Mia as a student due to financial as well as diversity reasons. Mia was only a dollar sign to them, her academic performance didn't matter. The schools wanted her solely because she was transgender and would pad to their budget and allow them to tout her as a student instead of helping her socially and academically.

It took less than an hour before Mia was given the all clear. The alternative schools cried foul but the state representative happily pointed out that they were demanding that she be placed in their school without a reason and as she was a valid resident of the city and had successfully completed 5th grade in an alternative form of education there was no reason to deny her the right to attend middle school alongside her peers. With a stroke of the pen, Mia was cleared to attend middle school alongside her sister and friends.

They then tried to prey on the bigotry of the representative but that backfired as he noted their claims and happily told them "I'll be sure to inform the Secretary of Education about your attempts to circumvent the rights of students by immorally placing them in your school simply because they are transgender. Know this: that young lady's family is heavily involved in her city's education system and will not let you get away with this. As previously stated her grandmother is a retired teacher but her grandfather's cousin is a longstanding city councilor and her friends' families contain multiple lawyers who have rewritten the laws of this state regarding the treatment of transgender children. Be glad Valerie Finn wasn't here or you'd be begging for your boss to accept your resignation instead of firing you outright with a permanent black mark against you."

Mia joined her friends at the middle school for their tour with her former classmates not noticing or realizing who she was, only noticing that she was close to the six and Nancy was calling her her sister. Her friends simply told the others that she was home-schooled by her grandmother after trouble at her old school and was going to attend alongside them. It was the truth, maybe not the direct truth but it was not a lie either.

Kylie Pena and Nichole Smith were transgender like Mia but both had years of being girls under their belts so didn't have the fears that Mia had. Middle school would be their defining moments as both were unsure about themselves while their friends were maturing at a fast rate and finding who they were as people. The two girls joined Mia in sharing this uneasiness but Mia at least knew her sexuality while the duo was uncertain and only knew that they loved their friends without question.

Their friends Nancy Flynn, Margaret Douglas, Dante Kelly, and Stephan Pierce were so close to one another that it was almost puppy love. The four had steadily grown closer to the point that Dante and Steven were frequently over girls' houses helping them with their schoolwork and doing anything to get their affection. To their parents it was sweet but to their friends' families, it was clear that the four were more than friends but not quite ready to admit that they had feelings for one another.

In contrast to the new 6th graders, the kids at the early learning center enjoyed an easier time regarding their moving-on. They treated it like a party as they were now going to be "big kids" instead of little kids. To the soon-to-be 2nd graders it was sad for them as they were leaving the comforts behind in favor of a bigger school with more classes and more students as well as more responsibilities.

Trinity Eliza was sad to leave her mother's classroom but knew that she needed to do this for her own good. She would miss her mother teaching her but she had cousins who were going to the school as well. Her upcoming teacher didn't have experience with transgender children but would happily help Trinity out and with her two cousins/classmates she would have a chance to thrive as her own person without the looming influence of her mother close by.

Virgil York and Tyler Reagan saw the moving-on as their chance to break out of their "little kid" phase and be bigger boys like the new 5th graders. The school was their chance to be themselves more, without their aunt keeping close watch on them or the younger girls and boys being around them. They would be their own men, or as close to that as a seven-year-old can get.

The trio met their new teacher and was surprised that she was their older cousins' teacher. Yvette carefully explained "your class is split up due to the number of students. Your classes here are bigger so your old class was split in two with half going with you and the other half going with another teacher. She sadly is not of the belief that she can teach girls like Trinity so we chose to assign your friends with you while your other classmates were sent to her class. It's not a punishment, it's the best for all around and if she doesn't like that Trinity is special then she will not be a teacher here anymore."

The kids understood. As long as their friends were with them then they could endure not having all of their classmates with them. Yvette added a happy "you are well known already so your teacher is ready for all of you. The girls certainly know how to make you three out to be great students."

The "moving-on" ceremonies were boring to the kids but they endured the speeches and pictures and welcomes from their new principals. Dorothy, in particular, loved pointing out that his was the first time that the ceremony had been done for members of the family with Yvette happily pointing out "it'll be commonplace soon" getting a laugh as the kids knew all too well how many of the "Finn Family" were in school.

After the ceremony at the elementary school Ms. Shriner, the kids' new 6th-grade teacher, asked to speak with her new students. She looked over the group and saw a diverse group who had a lot in common but a lot of differences. She was happy that they were taking after the older kids but cautioned them to be their own people as they were now on the verge of being tween thus would be able to start finding their own identities.

As she was introduced one by one she recognized several names and asked about them. Dorothy smirked as she pointed out "Steven is Oscar Pierce's younger brother, Margaret is Kyle Douglas' younger sister. Steven was adopted last year so you never had the pleasure of meeting him until now.

Dorothy steeled herself for the next question. She carefully explained "Kylie is Reed Pena's little sister. You knew him as Reed Clarence when he was your student." Ms. Shriner gasped and asked "you were little Kevin?" to which Kylie nodded at.

Ms. Shriner cringed as she recalled the quiet, scared Reed. Dorothy nodded, adding a somber "she is what her mother hated most but found a loving family who has given her a new life. The rumors are true and through her, you get to see just how her brother should have been as a student, one who doesn't have to put up with hate-filled rants and constant physical abuse at home."

Kylie smiled at her to which Dorothy added "it gets even more complicated. Kylie's father is John Finn's cousin and Nichole is John's niece. You get the pleasure of having taught all of his nieces along with his nephews. The only one you haven't had the pleasure of teaching was Diego Vincent and Stacy Lopez."

Ms. Shriner's eyes lit up at the knowledge. She chuckled "I guess the only one who can truly lay claim to teaching them all when he retires will be John." That got the kids snickering as they knew it to be true.

Ms. Shriner hated to do it but Kylie and Mia were told that they would have to use the disabled bathrooms and staff locker room with Nichole, Nancy, and Margaret refusing to use the girl's bathrooms and locker room without them. The solidarity made Ms. Shriner smile while Dorothy added a happy "we knew they'd act that way but we had to make it known already. They are true friends through and through, almost as tightly bound as their 8th-grade counterparts. You are in for an interesting year."

The kids went home happy and helped their families pack for the upcoming California trip. They were still young enough to enjoy the sights but not yet old enough to want to go on their own. The only younger kids not going were Nichole and her brother Ethan Smith who were instead going with their mother and younger brother Nigel Jr. to England to visit their grandparents for the summer.

The family as a whole wasn't going. Nigel Smith couldn't get the time off and what time he did get off he was spending in England. Melanie Lopez and Leslie Sylvester were going away for just the weekend as they were going to be there before and after Jaimie had her surgery and had to return home to run their preschool.

The new juniors were reluctant to go but did so at Jaimie's request. Jaimie didn't want them to miss out on a fun trip due to their perceived maturity. They couldn't refuse her request, it was rare for her to ask for something and given the seriousness of the situation they felt they had to comply.

The family gave the four heading to Missouri for basic training a tearful send off with their fiances telling them to be careful. Sean gave them deep hugs, he was feeling like a proud grandfather even if they weren't related to him. The four left with their heads held high and visions of tough exercises, grueling heat, and hundreds of rounds of rifle shots fired.

The day after the departure the family set out for California in force. The chartered plane took off with the family happily talking about where they were going to visit and what the kids would do in their downtime. John had to be coaxed into admitting that he was scared but he knew this day was coming and it was inevitable that his little girl would finally become the woman she needed to be even if nobody felt she needed it.

Jaimie was quiet throughout the flight. Rick held her hand and kissed her cheek when he saw her shed a tear, knowing she was thinking about tough things. Jaimie softly admitted "it's finally happening. Six years I dreamed of this day, now it's only four days away. I can't believe it. I'm going to be whole. I am going to finally be a woman."



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