~ After the Storm – Chapter 2 ~


Over the next few weeks, cleanup had gone…alright. Cleaning through the rubble and recovering several belongings.

"I'm tired, sweaty, and hungry." Kid said, sipping his water bottle.

"Yeah – how about we take a break?" Mickey asked Billy, stepping over from the new cleanly swept porch steps, and grabbing his canteen.

"Sure, eat your lunch." Billy said, not turning towards the others. "I'm going to go sweep the steps again." He said, grabbing the broom from Mickey and getting to work on the newly roofed house.

Ryan stepped up the porch steps and grabbed the broom from Billy. "It was nice of Mr. Astley to help us roof the house." Ryan said, Billy didn't reply. "Billy, tell me what's wrong, now." He demanded sweetly.

"Listen – just, go and eat." Billy said, grabbing the broom back.

"Billy, I know what you're thinking, and it's wrong." Ryan confronted.

"And what is that?" Billy replied, slightly offended at his brother-in-law's words.

"You think that it's all your fault for moving here to begin with. And it's no one else's fault. A tornado is just force of nature, period." Ryan said.

"You're right." Billy sighed, slumping over slightly. "I can't feel down in the dumps. We have to move, get it done, no time for losing. At all." He said with a grin.

"Attaboy!" Ryan exclaimed, throwing his arms around Billy.

Meanwhile, far enough away from Billy and company, the girls were formulating a plan of sorts.

"I just had the best idea!" Renee exclaimed, catching Stacy and Gloria's attention.

"What?" Stacy asked, slightly less enthusiastic, but growing every moment.

"Well – I just read the newspaper and saw that several places are going to have benefit concerts…" Renee began Gloria bit her lip and began to think. "and I figured that we should throw one for Billy, next Saturday. We'll sing some patriotic songs, some old pop songs, and maybe even take requests." Renee said, excitedly.

"Perfect!" Gloria smiled, grasping hands with the other two girls.

"Yeah!" Stacy exclaimed. "Let's plot out the song list!" she said, slipping the notepad from her pocket and grabbing a pen.

"Whoa whoa whoa!" Gloria stopped her. "Don't you think we ought to tell the other Kids or adults or whatever before we make full plans for a concert?" she asked.

"By the way, what do you think we should call ourselves? We have to put it on our poster and introduce ourselves with. We can't do something stupid like, Adults Incorporated…" Renee asked, biting her lip slightly.

"Let's just stick with Kids Inc." Stacy reassured.

"Yeah – why change what's already been popular for ages, and ages, and ages!" Gloria said with a smirk.

"Perfect." Renee finished, beginning her walk to Mickey, Kid, and Ryan. "Hey, guys – we need to talk to you." Renee said, the guys began to walk over to the girls. "Whoa! Not you Billy, you have to stay here." Renee said in her big sister tone.

"Why not?" Billy asked. "What are talking about?"

"It's a secret." Renee said, walking back over behind the guys.

"I can't allow this on my own property!" Billy exclaimed.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" Renee said, slapping the air with her hand.

When she got over to the group, Stacy had just finished telling the guys their plan. "So, then we'll play some patriotic songs, old pop songs, and then take some requests."

"Sounds great!" Ryan exclaimed, always quick to approve a good idea.

"It does sound great." Mickey said with a smile.

"I agree with Mickey and Ryan. Sounds awesome!" Kid said.

"Then we're on!" Gloria said, putting her hand in the pile. "Saturday."

*'*'*'*'*'*'*'*'*'*'*

Finally Saturday had come. A location had been picked, the song list had been prepared (thanks to Stacy), and the kids had gotten dressed. Grabbing Billy and wife, they headed out.

"Please, Renee!" Billy begged. "Tell me where you're taking us!"

"Billy, you're so whiny! You'll see when you get there." Renee replied.

"And why are you and Stacy wearing matching outfits?" he asked again.

"Billy, please be quiet, I could crash and kill us all and then you won't ever see the place if you don't shh!" Renee retorted.

Billy sunk back in his seat as they drove into the parking lot. The stage was set and the other kids stood on it, preparing to begin performing their number in front of the seated crowd. Stacy and Renee got out of the car and walked to the back doors, escorting the guests of honor to their seats in the front and center.

Renee and Stacy jumped on stage with the others as Ryan began to play the guitar.

First, Kid wooed the crowd with his cover of James Brown's Living in America followed by Ryan's original song In That Dream. Gloria sang her version of Its Only Love followed by Stacy's Goodbye to You and Renee's medley of Into the Groove/Dress You Up/Over and Over. Mickey sang Hello Again as his solo. The group sang She's Fresh and Ryan and Stacy performed a medley of Call Me/Go Your Own Way.

As their last planned song, they performed That's America.

"Do we have any requests?" Mickey asked.

"Could you guys do That's What Friends Are For?" they heard a voice asked. Riley stood up in the crowd.

"Riley!" the kids exclaimed. Riley smiled. "Just sing the song."

"Wait – how did you get here?" Mickey asked.

"I took a plane?" Riley said sarcastically. "But seriously, I had to come. Not only for Billy – but it was a Kids Inc reunion!" Riley exclaimed as the crowd cheered.

The guys started the music and Stacy began to hit tambourine quietly, adding a interesting twist to the tune.

Gloria stepped to the front of the stage, "And I never thought I'd feel this way, and as far as I'm concerned," she sang, directing the lyrics at Billy.

"I'm glad I got the chance to say," Mickey sang, stepping beside Gloria and wrapping his arm around her, "That I do believe I love you," he sang to Gloria.

Kid and Ryan stepped from the back and joined in with the lyrics "And if I should ever go away,"

"You should close your eyes and try, to feel the way we do today and then if you don't remember," they sang, Renee coming up and joining. "Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me," Stacy stepped from the back and sang the next lyric. "For sure,"

Gloria motioned for Billy, his wife, and Riley to join them on stage. After a lot of convincing, they all finally came up to join on the chorus, "That's what friends are for, for good times and bad times, I'll be on your side forever more, you know, that's what friends are for, keep smiling (smiling), keep shining (shining), knowing you can always count on me, for sure, that's what friends are for, for good times (good times), and bad times, I'll be on your side forever more, that's what friends are for,"

They all embraced each other closer. "That's what friends are for." They finished. Billy and wife in tears and the crowd going wild, Gloria handed the microphone to Billy.

"Thank you guys, I know I'll get through this with you guys." He said with a smile.

"What else? THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR!" They yelled in unison. With friends like this, Billy knew he was going to be alright after the storm.