The Truth is Stranger Part 1 - 2 by Ouroboros

At 23, Allen was doing all right for himself. He had just found himself a girlfriend and had landed a job that allowed him to make ends meet, and then some. His best friend, Dan, was his roommate. Dan was just a year younger than Allen, but they had been best friends since preschool. When they graduated high school, they had a plan. They would both attend the same college and live off campus in a small apartment while both of them worked to pay the rent. It was hard for a while, but they managed. Allen had already gotten his degree, but Dan had a way to go yet. To tell the truth, Dan was a bit jealous of Allen who would sit in the apartment at night with his girlfriend, Alice, while Dan had to study and write long papers. Dan could remember back when he and Allen were just kids and would hang out all day together and play with their GI Joes or video games. He felt sorry for Allen, though. After all, Allen never really knew his father.

The last memory Allen had of his father was when he left the house for the last time. Allen was about 5 years old, but he never forgot that day. That morning, his father had left and kissed Allen's forehead and his mom as he had always done. Then that afternoon, his mom got a call saying that her husband had been killed in a lab accident. His father was a brilliant scientist and was always inventing something. Sometimes he would even invent new toys for Allen to play with. His mother never remarried, and the life insurance money was enough to last them well into the future. Young Allen was sad that his father would never be coming home again, but his mind was not really ready to handle such a predicament. Dan was allowed to come over and play often, which helped Allen to cope with his loss better. He and Dan would always make up stories about how his dad was really a secret agent and that he just couldn't come home because the enemy spies would come get them. They often dreamed of being GI Joes and helping his dad out on a few of his missions. Dan and Allen still talked about his dad every now and then, but Allen would change the subject. He knew the truth now, and didn't want to pretend anymore.

Soon, Dan didn't see much of Allen at all. He was either at work or out with his girlfriend. Whenever he would get home, he would just say, "Hey Dan! Boy what a night! I can barely keep my eyes open I'm so tired. I'm going straight to bed." and Dan would just nod and continue his work on his computer or watch TV. Dan had been taking many computer courses at the college trying to get his degree in computer science. Allen had taken a few of the same, but settled for a smaller degree in quicker time so that he could work at the new insurance company in town. He had been lucky to catch that job. They needed someone to manage databases and do general tech support. Both Dan and Allen had applied, but Allen was the one who got hired. This made Dan more jealous, but he didn't want to say anything. He thought he should be happy for Allen, but just became bitter. Dan missed the old days, and wanted things to be like they were, but he didn't quite know how to do it. Then one rainy day, Allen got a phone call.

"Allen I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. You had better prepare yourself." said the voice on the phone. Allen sat down and prepared himself for the worst. "Allen, I'm afraid your mother has passed away. I'm sorry." Allen was devastated and unable to say anything. A tear rolled down his cheek when he finally managed, "How did it happen?" Dan could see the pain on Allen's face as he listened. "She had a heart attack while working in the yard. A neighbor saw and called the hospital, but it was too late. By the time they got her here, she had passed on." Allen just fell silent. He couldn't believe it. He knew it would happen one day, but he had no idea it would be today. "Listen Allen, I know how you must be feeling, but she left everything to you in her will. You need to come down here so we can get everything finalized. I'm very sorry Allen."

Allen managed to talk out the details with the lawyer on the phone. After the funeral, there was no consoling him for a while. He stayed him from work a few days and mainly stayed in bed. Whenever Dan would see him, he would have tears in his eyes. He really missed her. Alice would come by a few times and enter his bedroom. They would stay back there for a long time in silence. A day or two later, Dan finally had a long talk with Allen and the discussion ended with talk of a vacation. Spring break was coming up and Allen had already scheduled the time off, so they agreed that the best way to make Allen feel better was to stay in his old house for a few days. He had to go there to clean it out anyway if he was going to sell it. He didn't want to sell it, but he couldn't afford to keep it up and live in his apartment too. Alice couldn't get time off immediately, so she said she would come and help when she could. Allen and Dan packed up a few things and made their way to Allen's childhood home.

Allen hadn't been there in three years, but it was all too familiar. The instant he entered the house, the familiar scents and sights brought back old memories. "Hey, let's go check out your old room." said Dan, trying to cheer Allen up a bit. They were both surprised to see that it had been pretty much untouched since he last saw it. He had expected his mom to turn it into some sort of storage room or something. "Heh, remember the time we used to spend in here playing video games and watching cheesy horror movies?" Dan asked. A smile crossed Allen's face.

"Yeah, as I remember, I used to whomp you in Street Fighter." Dan smiled back when he realized that Allen had begun to open up a bit.

"Aren't those games still here somewhere? Why don't we find them and see who can beat who now." Dan winked. Allen knew his old toys and games were packed away in the basement. He agreed and they ventured down stairs. There were tons of boxes down there. It was just a good thing that his mom had labeled them.

"Let's see... we've got clothes, pictures, clothes, knick knacks, clothes, baby toys, ahh.. here it is. Games." Allen said as he opened the box. "Looks like they're all here. Let's get to gaming."

"Your mom never threw anything away did she? I mean, look at all the clothes. You've got stuff down here from since you were born. My mom never kept any of that stuff. It got passed around the family or sent to Good Will." said Dan.

"Yeah, she insisted that we 'hang on to our memories' rather than let them go. In a way, I'm glad she did keep all that stuff. Going through it used to help me feel better." Allen explained as he hooked up the game. They both sat down and played various two-player games such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Mario. Allen was out of practice, but Dan had been playing computer games for so long, he was able to beat Allen this time.

"Haha! I beat you! You're not even trying man." Dan gloated over his victory, as he had done in days long past the very few times he had managed to beat Allen.

"Heh, those games are for little kids anyway. Still, they are kind of fun." Allen's memories were flooding back. "Remember our GI Joes?"

Dan could hardly believe Allen said that. "Do I?! Let's go get them!" They ran excitedly back into the basement and sorted through the boxes until they came across some toys. "Yeah! Here we go!" Dan said as he took out a few figures from the box. Allen was going through everything when he noticed the door that had everything locked away. He still remembered the secret to opening it, even though his mom always told him never to mess with it. He had, on occasion, taken a peek. Now that she's not here, he decided to see just what she was trying to hide.

"Hey! Now I can finally show you all that cool stuff my dad made for me!" He pressed on a spot near the door and it opened. Inside were more boxes. Some had words written on them, others had strange symbols and some had no writing at all. Allen found a box labeled "For Allen" and opened it. Inside were all kinds of toy ray guns and flashing robots that his dad had made for him. They were exciting to have as a five year old, but now they looked kind of boring. Still they were impressive for home made toys. Allen took them out and arranged them on the floor as he had done when he was little.

"Wow, he was creative, I'll give him that. I wonder why your mom put these away." Dan suddenly remembered that he had just brought up unpleasant memories, but Allen didn't seem to mind. "Oh hey, what's in these boxes?" he finally said pointing at the boxes with the strange markings on them. Allen's attention was directed towards the forbidden boxes and he opened them. Inside was just a bunch of papers with what looked like blueprints and formulas on them. Then they opened a few other boxes and discovered a few pieces of circuit board and what looked like parts to some sort of device. The last box they opened had the infinity symbol on it. He opened it up and saw a crystal with two lead wires coming out of it. There was also some documentation under it. He couldn't figure out what it all meant, but there was a picture of his toy ray gun and the crystal being put together. "Some sort of weapon?" Allen thought to himself. It did look like a weapon, but then why would his dad let him play with it if it was dangerous?

"Hey, that looks like this gun. Why don't we put them together and see what they do?" Dan suggested.

"Do you know how dangerous that could be? I don't know what it does. It could kill the both of us." responded Allen.

"Nah, your dad wouldn't have let you play with it if it was that dangerous. We'll be careful with it. Come on, aren't you at least a little curious?" Dan begged.

"Fine, but if it blasts a hole in something, we're taking it apart." Allen said finally. Dan agreed and they put the crystal in the gun as the picture showed. Dan took the gun and pointed it at an empty box and fired. A light in the gun's barrel lit up and flashed as it made a sort of buzzing electrical noise, but nothing happened to the box. Dan fired again, still nothing. He tried it a third time, but this time it didn't flash or make any noise. He inspected the gun closely to make sure the crystal was still connected properly. Not realizing that he was now pointing the gun toward Allen, Dan accidentally fired the gun again. This time it flashed brightly into Allen's eyes. Allen was in a trance, staring at the flash and listening to the sound it made. Dan realized what had happened and tried to stop the gun but it wouldn't turn off. He watched in amazement as Allen seemed to shrink. His clothes became loose and his body lost definition. The hair on his arms slowly disappeared and his hands became smaller as they drew up into his sleeves. His pants no longer fit and slid down to the floor. The gun finally stopped and Dan couldn't believe what he saw. It was the 10-year-old version of Allen!

"Allen?" Dan asked as he bent down to look into Allen's eyes. "Allen are you okay? Are you still you?" He snapped his fingers and Allen jumped to attention.

"Wha-what happened to me?" said Allen in a childish voice. "What's the matter with my voice? How come everything's so big?" Allen looked at the gun in Dan's hands. "That gun! It shrunk me! My dad made a shrinking gun?!"

"Uh.. Allen? It did more than just shrink you bud. It made you younger. You look like you can't be much older than 10!" Dan said, still not able to fully believe what just happened.

"Younger?! 10 years old?! That's impossible!" Allen protested. Dan found an old mirror that had been covered up with a blanket. He uncovered it and Allen stared at his childish image. He stepped out of his shoes and clothing that lay on the floor. His shirt hung to his knees and provided enough cover. He felt the cold concrete floor of the basement on his bare feet as he got closer to the mirror. He still couldn't believe what happened. Tears began to flow as he finally shouted, "Nooooo! I can't be a little boy again!"

Dan watched his friend collapse onto his knees as he sobbed uncontrollably. "Well, maybe there's a way to undo it." Dan said while looking at the plans.

Allen sniffled, "You think so?" Allen wiped the tears from his face and walked over to Dan who was huge in comparison now.

"Well, I can't make much sense of these plans, but there must be a way." Dan looked at the gun and back and the plans several times. "Maybe if I just switch the leads on the gun." Dan switched the leads and prepared to fire again.

"Whoa! Hold it! If you fire that thing and you were wrong, I'll get even younger!" Allen protested.

"Well, I think I have it figured out now. I can stop it if it starts making you younger."

"No way! I don't want to be any younger! I've got a better idea. Let's try it out on you. That way if you get just a little younger, it won't be as big a deal." Dan didn't want to, but he gave the gun to Allen. It was sort of his fault that his best friend was now a 10 year old. Allen smirked a bit as he fired. Dan became mesmerized by the gun as Allen had. At first, nothing seemed to be happening, but then Allen noticed Dan's clothing getting a bit loose. He stopped firing, though he thought of letting it go until Dan was as young as him. It wouldn't have helped the situation.

"Well?" Dan said, not noticing that his voice was just a bit off.

"It didn't work." Allen said defeated. "You got younger."

Dan walked over to the mirror. Sure enough, he was suddenly looking at himself at 18 years old. "Man! You couldn't have stopped it sooner?!"

"Hey! At least you're not 10! Be happy!" Allen said angrily.

"I guess you're right. We should put the gun away until we can figure it out. In the meantime, let's find something that fits you better. You can't go around in just that shirt all day." Dan took the gun and put it back in it's box, then looked through the clothing boxes until he found one that had "Allen, age 10" written on it. Allen picked out what he wanted to wear. A GI Joe T-shirt and red shorts. Allen dressed, then took the plans and climbed the stairs. They were higher than he was used to.

After reading through the plans a few times, Allen became tired. He decided to take a nap on his bed and Dan continued the research. Dan soon became bored, though, and began to watch TV. He soon fell asleep as well. He woke up a while later after hearing Allen say, "I'm hungry! I wanna eat something!"

Dan thought it had all been a dream, but then saw 10 year old Allen standing there looking at him. "Yeah, me too. Let's see what there is to eat." Dan looked in the cabinet. To his surprise there was food there still left over. Mostly instant stuff. "How about some macaroni?"

"That sounds good!" said Allen excitedly. Dan noticed that he seemed to be acting more like he looked now. He guessed it was just a side effect. Dan made the mac and cheese while Allen went into the basement. He came back a minute later with a few toys. Mostly GI Joes. "Wanna play?"

"Uhh.. okay." Dan was a bit confused, but decided to sit down and play with Allen anyway while the food cooked. He wanted to have fun like the old days, but it wasn't as fun as he remembered for some reason. Allen seemed to be having a blast, but Dan figured that he was just too old to really enjoy it like he used to. Allen seemed to be having too good a time when Dan finally asked, "Allen? You do remember that you're not really a kid right? You're 23."

Allen looked up at Dan. "Hmm? Oh yeah. I remember, but being sent back to my childhood has brought out so many fun memories. I went down and grabbed these toys almost instinctively. Just seemed like the thing to do." Dan was puzzled, but then remembered the food. He would worry about Allen later. He got the macaroni and mixed the cheese sauce into it and made a bowl for himself and Allen. After eating, Dan and Allen went into the living room to watch TV. Allen wanted to watch Nickelodeon, but Dan wanted to watch MTV. They settled on the Simpsons. Afterwards, Dan attempted to read the plans again. The problem was that the plans had all kinds of complicated formulas on them. He was always bad at math. Allen couldn't pay attention long enough, and eventually went back to playing with his toys. When he rubbed his eyes, Dan knew it was time for bed.

Allen took a bath while Dan went down into the basement to find some PJs that would fit his friend's 10-year-old frame. He finally found some that had Spiderman on them and underoos to match. The pictures of Spidey were a little faded, but it was still good. Allen seemed happy to see them and put them on in a hurry. Beaming, he went straight to his room and got into bed. "Read me a story?" Allen asked Dan.

Dan stopped. "Do what? A story? Are you serious? You're acting like you really are 10!"

"I am 10 aren't I? You can tell just by looking at me." Allen said, a little confused.

"No! You're 23, remember? You got zapped by that gun thingy and it turned you into a little boy." Dan explained.

Allen seemed to remember something about a gun and being taller before, but it was as if it were a dream. He decided to humor Dan. "Oh yeah. That's right. I was uhh.. just testin' ya."

"Okay, just make sure you don't scare me like that again. Good night." Dan shut the door.

"Good night." Allen replied. He was a little scared of the dark, but he remembered that he had to be a big boy.

Dan got into one of the other beds in the house and eventually fell asleep. The next morning, he awoke to the sounds of cartoons on TV. "Allen! What are you doing up so early?!"

"Shhh! Cartoons!" was Allen's only response.

Dan just stared for a minute. He felt like he should be concerned, but he couldn't quite remember why. "Alright then kiddo. Just keep it down would ya?" Dan tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. He got up and made some breakfast. Cereal and juice. After the cartoons were over, Allen went down into the basement again. He came back up with some more toys. He put on a plastic space helmet and had a "laser gun" in one hand. There was something about the gun the got Dan's attention. What was it about that gun?

"Prepare to die you aliens! Pow! Zap! Boom!" Allen shot at imaginary targets all around the room. The gun was making too much noise for Dan's taste.

"Allen, please keep it down okay?" Dan asked calmly. Just then, Allen jumped in front of where Dan was sitting and pointed the gun right at him.

"It's the evil alien master! I must destroy him!" With that, Allen fired. Dan's attention was focused on the gun's light and sound. He suddenly remembered everything that had happened, but it was too late. All too soon, he began to shrink. His feet slowly rose up out of his bedroom slippers and pulled in under his robe. His hands became chubbier and retreated into the cavernous sleeves. His five-o-clock shadow was now gone and even the last trace of "peach fuzz" was starting to disappear. His hair became shorter and his head retreated into his robe. As soon as his eyes were no longer in contact with the gun's light, he stopped shrinking. Allen stopped firing and looked at the 8 year old in front of him. "Cool!" he finally exclaimed.

"Cool?!" little Danny said in a small voice. "This isn't cool! Look at me!" Dan stood up, trying to hold his robe on. He now had to look up at Allen. "I'm even smaller than you now! Why did you do that?!"

Allen just kind of smiled. "I don't know. I was just playin'. I didn't know it would shrink you. Honest! At least now I have someone I can play with! Wanna play GI Joes?" Allen asked.

"What?! Are you crazy?! We've got to figure a way out of this mess!" Though playing with GI Joes was awful tempting. "Let me have that gun!" Dan took the gun from Allen and put it on a nearby table. "Don't touch it again, okay?" Allen nodded. Dan looked around the room. Everything was so big. It was almost terrifying. He realized the hopelessness of his situation. He couldn't figure out the plans as an adult, how would he be able to as a little kid? Even worse, he and Allen both were now to little to even drive. Dan's emotions got the better of him and he began to cry.

Just then, the boys heard a car pull up. Dan padded over to the window and looked out. It was Alice! What was she going to say about all this?! He had no choice. After all, at least she could drive. Dan opened the door and blushed.

To be continued...

The Truth is Stranger Part 2 by Ouroboros

The first thing Alice saw was a small, brown haired child dressed only in an oversized blue robe. She looked over and saw another child dressed in Spiderman pajamas, wearing a space helmet. They both looked somewhat familiar. Confused, she asked "Who are you? Where are Allen and Dan? Are you their cousins or something?"

"No, I'm Dan and that's Allen." Dan said looking down.

Alice looked puzzled, then laughed. "No, really little boy. Stop playing tricks. Where are they?"

"It's really us Alice! Take a good look!" Dan shouted.

Alice took a closer look at Allen. He did resemble her boyfriend a bit. The same dark brown hair, the same brown eyes. Allen looked back at her. She seemed familiar to him. He knew her name was Alice before Dan said it. He didn't know how he knew her, but he did. Suddenly Alice took a few steps back. "Allen?! What happened to you?!"

"What are you talkin' about? You're weird lady." Allen answered. Horrified, Alice turned her attention to Dan.

"You're standing over there in Spiderman pajamas, wearing a space helmet, and you're telling her SHE'S the weird one?" Dan retorted.

"Shut up stupid!" shouted Allen. Dan just smiled and stuck his tongue out at Allen.

"What's going on here?! Why do you both look like little kids?!" Alice demanded. Dan suddenly came to his senses.

"It's a long story, better sit down." Dan explained how he and Allen came across the ray gun and how he accidentally shrank Allen who in turn shrank him just before she drove up. Although he could no longer remember all of it, he was able to piece things together enough for her. Dan showed Alice the plans and explained how they had tried to reverse the gun's effects but couldn't figure it out. Alice sure had no idea what it all meant and the whole situation gave her a headache. She went to the medicine cabinet only to discover just a minimum of aspirin and a few first aid remedies.

"Well, it looks like we need to make a trip to the store to get a few things." Alice stated. "Dan, you and Allen need to get dressed. You can't go to town looking like that." and with that Alice went down into the basement and returned minutes later with proper fitting outfits for both kids. She dressed Allen in an orange shirt with the faded yellow numbers, "55," on the front and back, jeans and Keds shoes. Dan was dressed in an old white T-shirt with blue sleeves, jeans, and gray He-Man velcro sneakers.

"Hey! How come he gets the He-Man shoes?!" Allen demanded. After all, they had plastic He-Man decals on them and you didn't have to bother to tie them.

"Because only the cool kids get to wear He-Man stuff!" Dan answered giving Allen another raspberry.

"Cut it out the both of you!" Alice yelled. "He's wearing them because they're the only shoes down there in his size." After explaining, Alice hurried the boys into the backseat of her car, buckled them in and headed to the store. Most of the drive consisted of Allen punching Dan in the arm each time he saw a VW Bug driving by.

"Punch bug!" Allen would exclaim before hitting Dan in the arm again.

"Ow! Alice! He hit me again!" Dan tattled.

"The next person to hit or bother another person while in this car doesn't get a treat from the store!" Alice stated attempting to calm the two boys down. It only lasted until they got inside the store. The minute Alice got a cart and headed down an isle, Allen poked Dan in the back then quickly hid his hands as if he was innocent.

"Stop it!" Dan yelled. Everyone in the immediate area could hear. This only made Allen want to pick on his little friend more. Soon they were running around the entire store playing tag.

"Tag! You're it shrimp!" Allen would exclaim. Dan would get angry and immediately turn around to chase Allen down another isle. This game continued around Alice the entire time. She just had a defeated look on her face as the other customers looked in her direction. The game was only interrupted by requests from the two boys.

"Oooh! Can we get some of this? Please, please, please! Pretty please! Can we, huh?" they would both chant grabbing various boxes of cereal, candy, and sodas.

"No! I don't have enough money to get EVERYTHING you guys ask for you know?!" Alice would finally answer. Defeated, the boys would continue their game. At one point, Dan got control of Alice's cart and ran around the store with it pretending he was driving a car. Allen would jump on the front and dare Dan to go faster. Of course, the inevitable happened, they soon slammed into a display of Barnum's Animal Crackers, knocking it over. Pretending that nothing happened, the two boys ran the cart back to Alice and left it with her, trying to dump the evidence.

Somehow, Alice managed to check out with just a few of the treats Allen and Dan had thrown into the cart. She thought that the boys would be tired after running around so much, but she thought wrong. The minute they got home, the two boys leaped out of the car and ran around to the back to play on the old tire swing that was still there after all these years.

"Race ya!" Dan said, who was actually ahead of Allen. Allen then picked up speed and overtook Dan who tried to trip him up. It wasn't the most comfortable swing, but it was loads of fun for them. Allen beat Dan to it and jumped on the tire swing.

"Beat ya! Now you gotta push me!" Allen gloated. Dan got around behind Allen and pushed as hard as he could then moved out of the way. Each time the swing came back, Dan would add more speed to it until Allen was getting some good distance between him and the ground. The cool breeze blew Allen's hair around and made it a mess. Dan was getting impatient.

"It's my turn! Lemme have a turn! Come on!" Dan pleaded.

"No way squirt! Not until I finish!" Allen was able to use his own momentum to continue swinging, then began to spin around. "Wheeee!" Allen exclaimed as he jumped off.

"Okay." Dan said as he was getting on the swing. "Now you push me!" Allen got around behind Dan and pushed with all his might. Each time Dan passed by he would add more power behind it and soon Dan was going really high. So high, in fact, that Dan was getting a bit scared. "Not so high!" he whined. Allen just ignored him and kept on pushing. Dan was getting nervous. He didn't like being up so high. "Stop it! I'm gonna fall! Whaaaaaaa!" Dan started to bawl.

"Oh stop it ya big baby!" Allen told Dan as he was letting him back down to a safer speed. As soon as he slowed down enough, Dan jumped off and ran inside wiping the tears from his eyes. He ran past Alice who had just finished putting the groceries away.

"Alice!" Dan sniffled. "Allen pushed me too hard on the swing!"

"Did not!" Allen replied coming in the back door.

"Did too!" Dan argued back.

"Did not! Did too! Did not! Did too!" the boys argued back and fourth until finally Alice stopped them.

"That's enough! You boys go wash up before dinner. We're having pizza." she said trying to please them.

"Pizza!" both boys said with excitement. They both ran to the bathroom and washed their hands in a hurry. During dinner, Dan managed to get a lot of the pizza on his shirt. He had always been a somewhat sloppy eater, but his diminished body didn't help things.

"Sheesh, you're a sloppy one Danny. Let's get you cleaned up." Alice took Dan into the bathroom. She ran a tub full of warm water and poured in some Mr. Bubble she had gotten at the store. She then took off Dan's shoes, socks, pants, and shirt when Dan suddenly remembered something.

"My toys! Let me get some of my toys to play with!" Dan pleaded. Alice sighed and let him go pick out some of his favorite toys to play with. She could hear Allen laughing at Dan who was dressed only in a pair of Transformers underoos, followed by a "Shut up!" from Dan. He then returned with toys in hand and immediately dumped them in the sudsy water. Alice took off Dan's last remaining article of clothing and he jumped in. She laughed a little bit at Dan who seemed to have no sense of modesty whatsoever. She washed his hair while he played with the suds, building them up with his hands into a mountain of sorts and then letting the GI Joes, he brought, climb it.

After playing for a while, the suds became thin and the water began to get cold. Dan got out and Alice dried him off and dressed him in the pajamas she had found in a box in the basement.

"Superman pajamas!" Dan exclaimed. They were indeed Superman pajamas. The "S" symbol on the front was a bit faded, but for the most part it had been well kept. The outfit even had a red cape that could be attached to the shoulders of the pajama's top by way of velcro strips. She put the cape on and fixed Dan's hair and sent him on out. "Ta da! I'm Superman!" Dan yelled while mock flying through the house. Allen saw and remembered that those used to be his pajamas and that he had loved to wear them all the time.

"How come he gets to wear my Superman PJs? He's getting all the good stuff!" Allen asked Alice as she ran fresh water for him.

"Well, they fit him. They would be too tight for you to wear. Besides," she said turning around, "I found you these." She pulled out a set of Batman pajamas in Allen's size. Allen grinned. He liked Batman more than Superman anyway. Allen insisted on undressing himself and got into the tub of sudsy water. He played with the same toys that Dan had brought in and then washed his own hair. He was a little jealous of all the attention that Alice seemed to be giving Dan, but he was a big boy. He didn't want to be treated like a baby.

Soon Allen was done and was dressed in his Batman outfit. He and Dan jumped about the house fighting off imaginary bad guys, and sometimes each other, while Alice made their beds. She had gotten a spare bed out of the closet and set it up in Allen's room for Dan to sleep on. Not that they would get much sleep mind you. As soon as Alice turned out the lights and shut the door, the two boys could be heard laughing. They couldn't sleep. They began jumping on the beds and resumed their game of tag. When they grew bored of this, they quietly switched on the TV in Allen's room and played more video games. This time Allen had the upper hand and was able to beat Dan with no problems. Eventually they got a bit too loud and Alice burst through the door.

"What do you two think you're doing?! Get back to bed now before I get really mad!" she yelled very quickly. It wasn't the fact that they weren't asleep, it was that they were keeping Alice from getting any rest. The two kids looked at her with a horrified expression on their faces, turned off the TV and jumped into bed. Alice groaned and walked back out.

"Boy that was scary." Allen said to Dan.

"Yeah really. Her face was all like this." Dan said as he mimicked Alice's face. They both laughed again, but quickly realized that it could bring Alice back, so they stopped and finally fell asleep.

The next morning, Dan really had to go. He woke up suddenly and quickly made his way to the bathroom only to find that Alice was in there. He pounded on the door. "Hey! Hurry up in there! I really gotta gooooo!" he said while bouncing up and down. Alice just told him to hold it in while she finished. Dan couldn't wait though. In his panic, he decided that it would be best if he tried to go in the back yard.

Allen woke up when he heard Dan yelling and got up to go see. He saw that the back door was open, so he walked out to see what Dan was up to. Dan had his back to Allen and was crying. "What's the matter? Why are you crying? Did Alice yell at you?" Allen asked. Dan slowly turned around to face Allen. He immediately saw what Dan was crying about. There was a dark spot on the front of his PJs and down his leg. "You peed yourself?! HAHA!"

"Shut up Allen! Just shut up!" Dan yelled through the tears.

"You're just a big baby aren't you? Alice having to give you a bath and dress you like that. Now you're out here with soaked pajamas crying your eyes out. Just like a 4-year-old!" Allen stated. He was making sure to rub it in really good.

"I'm not a baby! I just couldn't hold it that long! I really had to go!" Dan sobbed. Just then, Alice came to see what the yelling was about. She saw Dan's condition.

"Oh I'm so sorry Dan! Here, let's get you cleaned up." She took Dan inside and into the bathroom. She shut the door to make sure Allen wouldn't come in to make any comments. Alice washed Dan off with a wet cloth and dressed him in a pair of shorts and a Pacman shirt. Still sniffling, he walked out of the bathroom to face Allen.

"Did you change his diaper?" Allen said mockingly with a smirk on his face.

"Allen!!" Alice yelled. Dan broke into sobs again and ran into the next room. "He's just a little boy Allen! Not much younger than you! Little boys have accidents sometimes. It can't be helped. So quit making fun of him. It's hard enough having to look after you two without you fighting all the time."

Allen sighed. "Okay, okay. I won't make fun of him anymore." he said with his fingers crossed behind his back. Alice gave Allen some clothes to dress in while she went and got dressed herself. She had plans for today. After reading through some of the papers in the hidden closet downstairs, she had come across some interesting documents. She found out where Allen's father had worked and decided to go there and see if anything there had been developed that could restore the boys. Allen came out of his room dressed in a Thundercats T-shirt and black shorts. Dan had calmed down and after breakfast, they got in the car and headed for the lab.

It was sort of a long drive to the lab. Dan still had the Game Boy he had bought while in college and was playing it when Allen would snatch it away. "You're no good at this game. Lemme show you how." Dan was upset, but watched Allen play anyway. When they finally got to the lab, Alice walked in with the boys in tow and asked for the name she saw on the piece of paper.

"I need to speak with Dr. Lane please." The receptionist paged Dr. Lane, but he said he was too busy to deal with anyone right now. Then Alice shouted into the intercom, "It's about Allen and his father!" There was a long silence. The receptionist gave Alice a dirty look, then Dr. Lane responded by allowing them to see him.

"Here, have a seat. The boys should wait outside." Dr. Lane told Alice. She motioned for them to leave and they walked out and sat in the lobby.

Dr. Lane looked to be about Allen's age. Well, his old age of 23 anyway. He had many degrees on the wall and many awards for various inventions. "Dr. Lane..." Alice started.

"Please, call me Richard." insisted Dr. Lane.

"Richard, do you know anything about this?" Alice said as she held up the plans for him. He looked at the plans for some time.

"I thought we had this thing buried. Where did you get this?" Richard asked.

"It was hidden away at Allen's house. From what I was told, his father died in some kind of accident and his mom hid what was there at the house in a secret room." Alice explained.

"I see." he said calmly. "I trust the two boys sitting outside are Allen and his friend Dan." he said as he winked.

"What?! How did you know that the other kid is Dan?" she asked.

"It's a long story. You see, Allen's father is not dead. He never was." Richard stated. Alice was shocked.

"But Allen always thought his father was dead. What happened to him if he didn't die?" she asked.

"It was many years ago." Richard started. "He was working on ways to trick the mind into healing itself from any wound inflicted. You see the mind has vast, untapped potential power. We've only begun to scrape the surface. He worked night and day on a series of hypnotic devices that would attempt to rewire the brain, so to speak. He had almost perfected it when the accident happened. Another scientist was working in a lab across from his when there was a big explosion. Allen's father raced in and saved the scientist, but was badly burned. He had lost a lot of blood and would have died had he not done what he did."

Alice was hanging on every word. "And what did he do?" she asked.

"He decided to use the machine he created." the doctor answered. "It seemed to be working at first. His burned tissue healed and the blood he lost was being restored, but then the machine kept on going. Making him younger and younger. They tried to turn off the machine but it wouldn't respond. They finally had to smash it to get it to stop. By the time they did that, he was just a little 4-year-old. He could still remember what happened for a little while and tried to figure out what went wrong, but by the end of the day his mind was going. He told us to tell his wife that he was dead. He couldn't bring himself to face her as he was. He told us that he had a compact version of the machine hidden at his house in pieces. So he had us tell his wife to put it all away in a safe place in case Allen decided to take up where his father left off. She had another idea. She decided to steer Allen clear of following in his father's footsteps. She didn't want two tragities in the family. Of course, this is just what he had us tell his wife. What he really had planned was to grow up and continue his research. Of course, it didn't quite work out that way."

"So what happened to him? Where is he now?" Alice asked.

"He's right outside in the lobby, sitting next to his son." he stated with a smile on his face. "Yes, we were going to tell him all this as soon as he graduated."

Alice was shocked beyond belief. She simply couldn't believe what the doctor had just told her. She needed some solid proof. "You expect me to believe that?! What proof do you have?"

"I'm the scientist that he sacrificed himself for." he said very calmly.

"Whaaaaaaaaaaat?!" Alice exclaimed. "But you''"

"Young?" the doctor finished. "Yes, you see I've managed to rebuild his marvelous invention. Unfortunately, it is still irreversable. He was the only one brilliant enough to do so. I simply used some of his notes he left on his computer to rebuild. Even that took me a number of years. I, of course, tested it on myself. You can see the results." Alice was still in shock. To provide further proof, Richard showed her the videotape of the entire incident. He continued by showing her Dan's faked death certificate as well as the fake birth certificate. Dan was raised by a loving family who knew of the incident. It was his own idea to stay with them and be Allen's new friend rather than a brother. There was less mess that way. Allen was just a little too young to go to kindergarten that year, so he was still in preschool, which worked out well for them. It was remarkable. Dan really was Allen's father.

"I guess the truth is stranger than fiction." Alice said.

The doctor laughed, "It sure is!"

"So what can we do now?" Alice asked.

"There's not a whole lot we can do." he answered. "I'm afraid they are stuck like that. We could try to correct their minds, but why when they are going be forced to grow up again? It would be crewel." Both Alice and Richard walked out into the lobby to see the two boys wrestling one another. "Heh, I see they're getting along." he joked.

The next day, Richard came over to see Alice to see how she was doing. She was still trying to figure out a way to explain everything to the boys in a way they would understand. One night, Richard decided to take her out to dinner so they could discuss things. Alice was reluctant because of Allen, but since there was no hope for him she decided that it was for the best. They decided to leave the two boys at home. After all, it would only be about an hour. The restaurant was right down the street. She gave Allen the phone number and told him that since he was the oldest, he was in charge. Much to the dismay of Dan.

After the adults left, Allen started in with Dan. "Okay, Alice said I'm in charge. So what I say goes!" Allen stated. Dan gulped. They started by watching TV, but Allen wouldn't let Dan watch what he wanted to. Instead of Spongebob, he was forced to watch the Powerpuff Girls. Then Allen had another idea to irritate Dan. "Let's play GI Joes! I'll be Duke, and you can be the Cobra Commander."

"But I wanna be Duke!" Dan complained.

"No! You've got to do what I say cuz I'm older!" Allen commanded. Dan didn't like it, but played anyway. They both gathered up different GI Joe figures to play with. "Pow! Kablam! That guy is dead! Bam! Now he's dead." Allen said as he killed off Dan's troops.

"No way! Kaboom! I just killed three of your men!" Dan fought back.

"Afraid not! They've got bomb proof armor on!" Allen yelled.

"No fair! You're cheating!" said Dan.

"Stop whining squirt. You have to do what I say remember?" Allen reminded him. Dan just huffed and stomped off into another room. "Fine then! Go over there and cry about it you big baby!" Allen said mockingly.

"I have to do what you say because you're older right?" Dan asked.

"Yep! That's right squirt!" answered Allen, sitting on the floor. Dan had something behind his back.

"Well then." he said as he pulled out the ray gun. "If I'm older then we'll get to do what I say right?" He didn't give Allen a chance to argue when he pulled the trigger. Allen's attention snapped to the light and sound of the gun. Dan watched as Allen shrank. His bare feet began to draw up into the legs of his Spiderman pajamas and his hands became chubbier and even smaller than Dan's. His dark brown hair began to lighten a bit and get a little softer. His arms shrank out of the sleeves and into the pajamas. Just then, the door opened. It was Alice and Richard. Dan stopped the gun and looked at them, terrified at what they would say. Allen sat on the floor. Now just around 3 years old.

"Wha happen to me?" Allen squeaked in a very babyish voice. Before he could manage another word he began to cry uncontrollably. Alice and Richard turned their attention to Dan who was still holding the gun.

"Dan?!" Alice yelled. "I can't believe you did this! Come here now!" She was angry and Dan knew it. It was just a spur of the moment thing. He wasn't thinking clearly. He turned to run and Alice followed behind. Dan was almost to Allen's bedroom door when he tripped. The gun fell out of his hands and landed in front of him, jarring it enough to turn it on. Dan's focus was now on the gun's light and sound. He began to shrink right before Alice's eyes. His feet became tiny and drew up into his, now clean, but also now too big, Superman pajamas. His pudgy hands withdrew into his long sleeves and the outfit seemed to deflate. His hair became very short and feathery as his feet now almost left the inside of the bottom pajamas. Richard ran just inside the room where the gun lay and smashed it to pieces, stopping Dan's regression at just around 2 years old. He stood up and was now only clad in the top part of the PJs. The cape that he had was now dragging the floor.

"Gots widdower!" Dan spoke, just before his legs spazmed and he fell onto his behind. He immediately began to wail along with 3-year-old Allen in the other room. Alice picked him up and placed him next to Allen on the rug.

"I can't believe it. I should have just thrown that stupid gun out! It's all my fault!" Alice cried into Richard's shoulder.

"Now now, you didn't know this was going to happen. At least this way it'll be easier to explain to them." Richard said.

"Explain what?" Alice asked.

"That you are their mommy and I am their daddy." Richard smiled. Alice smiled back and looked down at the two toddlers who both just wet themselves, and the rug, and were still screaming.

"I'll go downstairs and get the left over diapers and baby things packed up in those boxes while you get them cleaned up." Alice suggested. Richard gathered up the two bawling infants and took them into the bathroom and ran a warm bath. Alice came up in a minute with cloth diapers, plastic pants, training pants, and a few baby clothes and toys. Richard then left to go get a few baby supplies while the stores were still open. She took Allen in her arms and bathed him off. He had stopped crying now. "You were going to be my husband at one time, but now look at you. You're a little toddler who needs a mommy and daddy to look after you. I know you were jealous of Dan being babied by me. I heard you talking to him. Now you're both babies and will get the same attention. Don't worry sweetheart. Mommy and daddy are right here and we'll make sure that you both grow up knowing both your parents."

Allen just looked at her confused. "I baby now, an you mommy?" he said pointing at her.

"That's right sweetheart! You're very smart." she praised.

Allen just giggled and Alice finished bathing him off, dressed him in a pair of thick training pants and a blue footed sleeper with Bugs Bunny on it. She then comforted Dan and gently bathed him off in the tub. "And you, little troublemaker." she remarked. "You've been given a second chance at life twice! A rare thing indeed. You've always wanted Allen to be your best friend again. Well, now he's your brother. Too bad you two won't be playing with those GI Joes for a while. They're not safe for babies."

"Sowy Awise." were the last words he would utter, still knowing what had happened. Then Dan squealed with delight as the warm water rinsed over his head. She dried him off and dressed him in a cloth diaper, plastic pants, and a smaller, yellow footed sleeper with a picture of Winnie the Pooh on it. Just then, Richard got back with baby food, formula, bottles, pacifiers, oil, powder, wipes, disposables, and a few other things they would need. Later, he went down into the basement and pulled up the foldaway crib to put in Allen's room. Together, they fed the boys and tucked them into bed.

"By tomorrow, they won't remember any of it." Richard said. He shut the door and turned on the night-light. The two boys lay there sleeping. The best they had gotten along since they had become kids. They both still remembered being big and playing with some kind of toys, but it was all very fuzzy. Soon they drifted off to sleep in a warm sea of fleece and blankets. What memories they had left, vanished in the night.

Richard helped Alice with the legal red tape. It was something he was used to. Alice called the college and where Allen worked and told them that they had both died in a terrible car accident while vacationing. They informed the family Dan stayed with of the situation. They were upset, but understood. Something few people could do. Soon Alice and Richard were married. They had the proper documents proving that both Allen and Dan were their children. Richard decided to sell his/Dan's invention and made enough money off it to live quite comfortably raising two boys. They looked down at their new sons. Two innocent little babies playing side by side. Who would have guessed they had so much history behind them. Not that it matters now. Nothing matters to babies.

The End