Only two men, one boy, one woman, and three girls could have ever found a way to live the way that they had. All of them were related except for one but her friendly nature more than made up for the carelessness of one of the men. In some way, this one girl had taken on both the role and importance of the oldest son who seemed to have abandoned the family long ago. Nevertheless, they all loved her and deeply cared for her as if she were their true flesh and blood. They took her everywhere and included her in anything and everything that they ever planned as a family. She was just another daughter who came to them in times that had not only been nicely planned but with similar beluefs that ahd helped her fit in right from the start.

Tyler loved his three sisters without question. They were his reason for smiling everday without reserve. They were the reason he worked so hard at work, he always wanted to be able to provide for them as a brother as he could be. Even at the cost of his hard-earned money, they were worth it to him.There were times that of course he wasn't so sure about his conviction but one look from his sisters and he had to give in. They were his joy and he did not want to do without any joy so he gave in but each time he made the same oath that he wouldn't do it again only for it to come along again a few minutes later. It always was something for him to smile about later on when he was alone and trying to find a reason to be happy.

He had no favorites but he did have certain priveleges amongst them. The third sister who was in all reality a family friend, had practically been living with thme since she had moved into the neighborhood. Her name was Dakota and her personality and background were exactly what sparked the brotherly heart in Tyler. They had met only a few days after she had moved in close by and had been introduced to each other through his sister who had decided that Tyler needed a new friend. Of course they ahd hit the friendship right off and had been best buds ever since then. Whenever they got into any serious trouble, they stood by each other adn took responsibility. Regardless that Tyler was two years older than her, they still had remained quite innocent friends. That is, until one day, they met a bumpy road where they had to see something for the first time.

"Dakota, where are you taking me?" Tyler was blindfolded and being led by the hand to an unknown location even though he could feel that he had practically been going around in a circle by how he felt he had gone up and down stairs at least five times already.

Finally they came to a stop and Dakota took off his blindfold. Yet it took him a bit to get hgis eyes used to light again. When he finally saw what was before him he hugged Dakota tightly and swung her around three times before putting her down and merely hugging everyone else in the room that included his family, his grand parents and various other neighborhood friends that he ahd. They were all smiling from ear to ear not only as he hugged him but for the display of affection that Tyler had given off with Dakota.

"Thank you so much for remembering. I had almost thought that no one cared," he had wanted to cry when no one so much as offered a small,'Happy Birthday,' greeting but now he saw that this surprise was so much better. It showed him just how much they cared for him while they managed to be sneaky and creative. It greatly warmed his heart that his family went to all this trouble just for him.

Everyone around him was laughing and having all sorts of a good time. There was no where in the crowd that a single sad or frustrated face could be seen. They were playing all of his favorite songs and playing silly games that had everyone in an uproar. Currently he was engaged in an interesting game of Nintendo 64 pay-off against Dakota, Ashley, and Brittney. It was every family member for themselves.

"Ha! I'm going to beat all of you and then you're going to cry cause I'm so good," Dakota bragged jokingly as she tried to move from fourth place to at least third place which Ashley was currently in. They were all relentless in how they played and no one was really prepared when all the lights went out.

Of course everyone screamed but then they broke out laughing when they heard Tyler scream. It had been a classic movie scream and he had immediately clasped on to Dakota. Dakota in turn had started screaming as well. They finally stopped screaming when everyone staryted laughing and then started laughing themselves at their own expense. They looked at each other and calmed themselves as they look around with amusement dancing in their eyes.

"Sorry folks, seems the whole neighborhood is out. We'll have to wait this out," Tyler's dad, Jim, told all the present people as they adjusted to the lack of light and merely all took part in their own new conversation on random little things. They tried to keep as occupied as possible as they tried to get used to it even though the could feel the oppression of the darkness creeping in on them.

"So Tyler, how has school been?"

"Any little girlfriends we should know about?"

"Dakota you better be careful, you might lose him,"

"Yea Dakota. By the way, how has your grandmother been?" They occasionally blushged and the thought of their relationship was greatly strained as they maintained that they were merely friends and nothing more. The adults smiled knowingly as their faces shone as bright as the end of a firefly in the dark.

The onlsaught of questions were overwhelming them but that was fine by them since it was entertaining and kept them closer to their loved ones. In all reality, it seemed like the funnest and most pleasant time that they had had with their freinds in a long time. No one seemed to be able to resist the urge to smile and everyone cheered as soon as the light came on in the room like a new idea that would revolutionize the world economy.

"Thank goodness, I forgot where I had put the birthday candles and lost my flashlight. Now I can go find them," Brittney then began her search of the birthday candles as everyone was finally served their meal and merely waited for the cake to come out and be served as well.

They all amde pleasant talk again and played with Angel, the Brunner's dog. At one point, even Buddy made an appearance and laid himslef out on the couch as everyone pet and cuddled the oversized dog with a good mood. he merely basked in their attention adn seemed to look at them all with amusement in his gentle eyes. His eyes seemed to shine brighter jst by focusing on his owner, Tyler.

Tyler called his large dog to him as he cuddled Angel close and stroked his cheek on her soft fur. Buddy then came over and Tyler was lost in all her soft fur as he held the two dogs to himslef. He was so happy as a child in a toy store without limit on wht he could get. Life was his toystore and he had it all. Everyone felt a warmth in their hearts at the sight.

"Hey Dakota, go get me a soda," Dakota crossed her arms before her as she looked at him. He got the clue as he added,"Please?" She sighed as she went to get the soda and hand it to him as she once again took her stance from before.

"What do you say?" Dakota was in charge adn everyone had to watch though not all with the same intensity as some.

"Yum, soda is good," Tyler loved to goad her and he smiled innocently as Dakota sat next to him and snaked her arm through the two large dogs to start tickling him. he never saw it coming.

Tyler fell on to his side as he laughed and at the same time, tried to push her away. When he couldn't push her far away enough, he began to tickle her back as they both laughed together like to innocent children instead of two teenagers with one going on to sixteen. Everyone joined in on their laughter as they were all reminded of younger days when they had rooled around in bliss with siblings and neighborhood friends. They were also reminded of happy moments as friends and anything good in general. It was as if the whole room had been swept up in brotherly love.

The two finally stopped tickling each other and just laughed and joked whole-heartedly as Brittney yelled a whoop of accomplishment as she had finally found the ever elusive candles. Everyone clapped and cheered as they finally saw the cake be prepared for the climax of the whole party to end on a joyous and elating moment.

The cake was finally placed before Tyler adn all came to stand around him to sing and watch as he blew out the candles. Once every candle had been removed from the cake, all then lined up for pictures as Tyler posed as if he was just starting to cut the cake. Once every photograph was taken, Dakota stood right behind him and smiled to all the other kids on the other side of the table. She got ready to push whne he had a cake at hand but he surprised her at the last minute and pushed it into her face.

It was all quiet. Everyone was caught between cracking up and running for the hills. Tyler was holding his laugh in only to crack up without reserve when Dakota's eyes jsut popped open and she looked around with a cake smeared face. Then everyone laughed even harder as Tyler took some frosting off her face and tried it.

"It's good," he went for some more as everyone, including Dakkota laughed in good humor. Tyler had not died from Dakota's anger but she did make sure to give him his own make up to taste as opposed to keep swiping it off hers.