One Door Closes

By MultiMapper
Copyright ©2002-2009 MultiMapper and CSU Productions.
All Rights Reserved.

For full disclaimer and Copyright information visit Copyright/Disclaimer Page. Continuation of viewing this document is deemed acceptance of all terms on the preceding link. While these stories are provided for free, I would appreciate it if those who were able would consider contributing to this artist via my Patreon.

CHAPTER 7

Chip's attention kept going back to Kevin who was sitting and talking to his brother, but not eating anything.

"Aren't you going to have any of Josh's home made lasagna?" Chip asked curiously.

Kevin glanced at Chip then shook his head.

"He's never eaten more than one meal a day before. I told him he didn't have to try and eat if he wasn't hungry." JC said quietly from Chip's side.

"Has he been seen by a doctor yet?" Chip asked with concern.

"No, we were going to call Doc Austin tomorrow. They arrived here less than an hour ago." Teri said from JC's other side.

"I'd like to have Doc look at him now." Chip said in a commanding tone.

"At ease, 'Commander'." JC said in a teasing voice, then said, "I know Dr. McCoy can treat a civilian in an emergency, but this might be stretching the definition of emergency a bit, even for you."

"I'm a civilian employee of Starfleet, I get full Starfleet medical coverage." Allen said, hoping it would ease JC's concerns.

"That settles it. As soon as we're finished, I'll take you and your family to the Enterprise and get these boys checked out." Chip said firmly.

Teri looked at JC in question.

"He's been in Commander mode for over a week, I only know of one way to break him out of it." JC said in explanation.

"How's that?" Allen asked naively.

"Is he talking about that cowboy stuff?" Jacob asked Justy loudly enough that everyone could hear.

JC blushed and tried to think of an appropriate response.

Teri was the first to laugh and soon it spread around the table.

* * * * *

When the meal was finished, David walked hesitantly to Chip's side and said, "I've got some reports from my team about the conditions that Kevin was living in. Maybe that would help?"

Chip looked at David's hesitant expression and said, "If you'll gather the reports, you can accompany us to the Enterprise. I think there are a few people who'll be interested in hearing the whole story."

David nodded and left the room.

* * * * *

"Can I have a minute?" JC asked Chip quietly.

Chip looked into JC's hopeful eyes and said, "You can have anything I have to offer... anything at all."

"Oh, we don't have time for that. I just had an idea I'd like to discuss with you." JC said as a flush of desire crept up his face.

"Okay, but remember, I'll be home tonight." Chip said with a smile.

"I won't be able to think of anything else." JC said with wide eyes.

"What was your idea?" Chip asked as he lost himself in JC's gaze.

* * * * *

"David, do you think you can fill me in on the basics now?" Chip asked as he drove the group to the spaceport where the shuttlecraft was waiting.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to fill you in while the guys are having their physicals." David said and looked in the back seat where Jake, Kenny, Kevin and Allen were engaged in their own conversation.

"That bad?" Chip asked with concern.

"Worse." David said darkly.

* * * * *

"No way!" Kenny said with excitement.

"We're going to ride on a Starfleet Shuttlecraft?" Jake asked in wonder.

Kevin held tightly to Allen's side as he stared at the shuttlecraft, not fully understanding what it was.

"That's right." Chip said with a smile at the boy's excitement.

"Justy!" Kevin said quickly.

"What about him?" Chip asked in confusion as they walked to the shuttle.

"Is there any way we can call him? I forgot something and I need to talk to him now." Kevin said in panic.

"Sure, you can call him from the shuttlecraft." Chip said hesitantly.

Kevin calmed slightly but still looked worried.

* * * * *

"Kevin, come here and I'll place the call to Justy for you." Chip said once everyone was in.

"Thank you Uncle Chip." Kevin said, feeling a little ashamed for his earlier outburst.

"No problem... Here." Chip said as the screen came alive.

"That didn't take long." Aaron said from the screen.

"We haven't left yet. Kevin needs to talk to Justy." Chip said with a smile.

"I'll get him. Hang on." Aaron said and hurried out of the room.

"I'll do the preflight while you're talking to him." Chip said and got to work.

A moment later Justy came running into view of the screen.

"My pictures. I left them in the hallway. Could you put them away somewhere?" Kevin asked in a rush.

"I already put them in my room. I didn't want any of the little kids getting into them." Justy said with assurance.

"Thank you Justy. I just remembered what else was in that bag and it scared me." Kevin said in relief.

"It's safe. No one will go in there." Justy said as a promise.

"Thanks Justy." Kevin said again.

"You need to get rid of it." Justy said firmly.

"I will. Tonight, I promise." Kevin said honestly.

"Okay. It looks like Daddy's ready to go. You need to make sure everyone's got their seatbelt on, since I'm not there." Justy said seriously.

"Okay Justy, I'll do that." Kevin said with a smile.

"Have a good flight, and don't be afraid of the doctor, he acts growly, but he's really nice." Justy said assuringly.

Kevin nodded.

Both boys said their goodbyes, then Kevin went back and made sure all the seatbelts were fastened.

* * * * *

"There she is, guys." Chip turned the shuttle so that the guys could see their destination: the Starship Enterprise. They were awestruck.

Kenny spoke up first. "She's beautiful!!!"

"Look up on the back of the nacelles and on the back of the landing bay," Chip replied.

Jake looked up at the warp nacelles and read off the lettering. " 'NCC-1701-A'. 'United Federation of Planets'."

Looking at the back of the landing bay, Kenny read out the name. "'Enterprise'."

Kevin asked Chip, "Uncle Chip, what do you do on the Enterprise?"

"I'm the Chief Helmsman." Chip said proudly.

"What's that?" Kevin asked curiously.

"It means I'm the one who drives the ship." Chip said with a smile at the innocent question.

"Really?" Kenny asked in amazement.

"Really. If you'd like, I'll see if the Captain will let me show you around when you're done with your physicals." Chip said as he brought the shuttle around to get a better look at the ship.

The boys noticed that Chip was taking the scenic route. He was going along the length of the box dock so that the guys could see more of the Enterprise.

Chip brought the shuttle around, heading back towards the dock. The boys could see the ship at a better view, from directly ahead. The shuttle started to rise above the saucer of the starship. Kenny noticed the lettering on the saucer hull, and read it aloud. "'USS Enterprise'. 'NCC-1701-A'."

Kevin looked over at Chip. "Holy smoke! She's huge!!!"

"She's the second largest ship in the Fleet, second only to the Excelsior."

The shuttle was making its way between the huge warp nacelles, heading down towards the open doors of the landing bay. Chip opened a channel. "Enterprise, this is Copernicus, we are requesting permission to come aboard."

"Copernicus, this is Enterprise. Permission granted. Stand by for landing maneuvers."

"Copernicus standing by."

The guys looked at Chip. Jake spoke up. "What happens now, Uncle Chip?"

"I shut down our engines, the controller locks a tractor beam on us, and guides us into the landing bay."

Within minutes, Copernicus touched down gently onto the deck of the Enterprise. The massive bay doors are still open; the forcefield holding in the ship's atmosphere still in place in the landing bay.

Chip stepped up first, making his way to the back hatch and opened it, motioning to the guys. "Gentlemen, welcome aboard the Enterprise."

"This is gonna be so cool. TJ is never gonna believe I really got to visit the Enterprise." Kenny said in complete joy.

"Who's TJ?" Kevin asked carefully.

"He's one of my friends from school. You're gonna like him. He's really nice. He's a twin like us, but his twin is a sister, her name is Charlie." Kenny said seriously.

"A girl named Charlie?" Kevin asked with an incredulous look.

"Well, it's really Charlotte, but she'll kick your a... butt if you call her that." Kenny said, then glanced at Allen to see if he was about to be scolded.

* * * * *

"Requesting permission to come aboard, sir." Chip said as he exited the shuttlecraft.

"Permission granted. I see you have a fresh batch of junior crewmen with you today." Captain Kirk said with a smile.

"Yes sir. With your permission, I'd like to have Dr. McCoy examine them." Chip said formally.

"We're in dock, Commander, relax." Captain Kirk said firmly.

"Is that an order?" Chip asked playfully.

"Does it need to be?" Kirk responded.

"Sir, I'd like you to meet Allen Thompson and his sons Jake, Kenny, and Kevin, and of course you know David." Chip said in a much more relaxed tone.

"Nice to meet you. Good to see you again David. Let's see if McCoy has left the sickbay yet." Kirk said as he led the way out of the shuttle bay.

"Sir, I'd like to have a meeting while the boys are being examined." Chip said seriously.

Kirk caught on to the tone in his voice and said, "I'll ask Christine if she'll watch after them until we're finished.

"Good thinking. Guys, I'm going to have a meeting with your Pop, so if you're finished before we are, I want you to stay with Dr. Chapel." Chip said seriously.

"Yes sir." Kenny said firmly.

Chip got a smile on his face as he turned to Kirk and asked, "I was doing it again, wasn't I?"

"Yes Mr. Dodds, you were." Kirk said with a smirk.

* * * * *

"Who else are you going to need in this meeting?" Kirk asked as the men left Sickbay.

"David, I assume you were representing Clan Short on this mission?" Chip asked over his shoulder.

"Yes, I was appointed as leader of the mission by Patriarch Short." David said in his Vulcan demeanor.

"Then if Mr. Spock is available, I'd appreciate his input." Chip said in thought. "Did you use any Starfleet resources in this mission?" Chip asked over his shoulder again.

"We required the use of TerraMain's transporters, holding facilities as well as four of their security officers." David answered efficiently.

"You don't need to act like a Vulcan when I ask you a question." Chip said with assurance.

"When I'm acting as a Vulcan representative, it's kind of automatic... It's logical." David finished with a smile.

Kirk rolled his eyes as they entered the Briefing Room. The Captain pressed a button on the wall beside the door and said, "Uhura, ask Mr. Spock and Lieutenant Thompson to join us in briefing room one."

"Aye, Captain." Uhura said efficiently.

"So what's this all about Chip?" Kirk asked as he relaxed into a chair.

"You saw Kenny and Kevin. I became concerned when I found out that they're twins." Chip said seriously.

"But they're at least two years different in age." Kirk said in confusion.

The door opened and Lieutenant Thompson and Mr. Spock walked in and took their seats.

"Okay, tell me the whole story." Kirk said to Chip.

"David, you're on." Chip said as he turned to face David.

"I received a call for help from Kenny through a mutual friend. The story Kenny told indicated neglect and an immediate physical threat. We went to the apartment where Kevin had been living and found it to be devoid of food. I believe all Kevin's clothing is being carried in a single pillowcase. His physical appearance and subsequent comments lead me to believe that he has been neglected and malnourished all his life." David said seriously.

"What was the threat?" Kirk asked, already sold on the point that the boy had been neglected.

"A pimp in the neighborhood wanted to 'recruit' Kevin, and probably Kenny too. Two of his associates broke down the door of the apartment while we were there. They were stunned, telepathically interrogated and are currently in custody at TerraMain." David said efficiently.

"I heard something about that." Lieutenant Thompson said in thought.

"Go ahead." Kirk said.

"I received a report that two of the Enterprise security officers called for assistance from TerraMain. Comment was made of their efficiency and professionalism. Frankly, they were impressed that they were able to subdue two fully grown men and only required TerraMain security to replace a broken door and escort the prisoners." Lieutenant Thompson said with a little pride in his voice.

"Who was that?" Allen asked the group.

"JJ and Gabe." David said to Allen.

Chip looked at Allen, then back at Lieutenant Thompson.

"Are you two related?" Chip asked curiously.

Allen and Lieutenant Thompson both gave Chip an identical disbelieving look before saying, "No." in unison.

"Look at their eyes." Chip said as he compared their features.

"Identical." Kirk said as he looked from one to the other.

"I don't have any living relatives." Lieutenant Thompson said seriously.

"Neither do I, that I know of. I was adopted and I'm not even sure if Thompson is my real name." Allen said in thought.

"Gentlemen, I believe that when we're done here, you both should go to Sickbay for a comparative genetic analysis." Kirk said firmly.

Both men nodded, then turned their attention back to David.

"That's it for the history. Now to Kevin's current situation." David said and paused to collect his thoughts.

"Kevin has been told that he's learning disabled. From what the twins gathered from his memories, it's likely that he couldn't concentrate on his school work because his brain simply didn't have enough energy to function properly. I doubt that he really is learning disabled, but the starvation and malnutrition that he's endured have caused him to be eleven years old with the body of a nine year old and the education of a six year old." David said seriously.

"It's going to take a lot of work to deal with that kind of deficiency." Allen said apprehensively.

"I believe Camp Little Eagle will be the best environment to help Kevin. Camp Little Eagle tests each child to determine their grade level and teaches according to that level, not their age. I believe it would be less traumatic for him to attend classes there because they have the resources and staff to meet his individual needs without putting him in a special class." David said seriously.

"What kind of camp is it?" Allen asked hesitantly.

"It was set up by my Clan to provide a safe and encouraging environment for abandoned and abused children." David said calmly.

"I've been meaning to ask about that. You're not Vulcan, yet you seem to take on Vulcan mannerisms when you talk business. And I don't know what you mean by Clan." Allen said with interest.

"Commander Dodds was adopted into the House of Sarek, Captain Spock's family. A group of children formed a bond of brotherhood which included Commander Dodds sons. By Vulcan custom, the brothers of Ambassador Sarek's grandsons are eligible to be given status as a sub-clan of the family of Sarek... if it is logical to do so." David finished in full Vulcan control.

"When an act was committed against some of my brothers, Ambassador Sarek saw the logic in giving us clan status so we could have access to the resources of Vulcan and ensure the well being of our brothers." David continued slowly, careful of the wording.

"When the clan encounters a child in need of assistance, we do whatever we can to see that the child is placed in a safe environment where he will receive whatever help is needed for him to grow and develop to his fullest potential." David said without inflection.

"Kenny called for assistance. We came, evaluated the situation and offered what assistance we could. Now, the matters before us are Kevin's health and finding a suitable house for Allen's new family." David finished, then turned his attention to Chip, indicating he was done.

"Well spoken, Nephew." Spock said contemplatively.

"Before we left, Josh suggested a solution to the problem with your house." Chip said in thought.

Allen turned his attention fully to Chip.

"Josh and I own a house near Lake Nona. It's the one we lived in before we moved to Southcrest. I couldn't stand the thought of putting it on the market and selling it to strangers. And I definitely don't like being a landlord. It should be big enough for your family and you could move in immediately, that is, if you like it." Chip finished quickly.

"I'd like to see it." Allen said in thought.

"And there's nothing to discuss about the boy's physical conditions until McCoy has finished examining them." Captain Kirk said to no one in particular.

"Did I hear my name?" McCoy asked as he entered the room.

"Report, Bones." Kirk said firmly.

"Let me sit down first. What's your hurry?" McCoy asked as he took his seat.

"How are my boys?" Allen asked in worry.

"No surprises. Jake and Kenny are perfectly healthy. Kevin is obviously malnourished and underdeveloped for his age. Thankfully this was caught before the onset of puberty or it might have caused lifelong developmental problems. As it is, he just has to do some catching up. I've prescribed a nutritional supplement three times a day. It's in a milkshake form so he shouldn't object to it too strenuously. Besides that, he should eat when he feels like it. His appetite should start to kick in when he has some proper nutrition going into his system. I'd like to evaluate him again in two weeks and adjust the supplements if a change is indicated." McCoy said professionally.

"So three milkshakes a day and he'll be fine?" Allen asked incredulously, knowing that nothing was ever that easy.

"No, that's all that can be done for now. Aside from being deficient in nearly every vitamin, the boy has almost no muscle mass, his metabolism is running about three to four times slower than normal, he has less than 2% body fat. I don't see him becoming the mirror image of his brother in anything less than two years, but you should be able to see improvement almost every day. His energy will increase, his appetite and his strength will grow as his body starts to awaken from it's natural reaction to prolonged starvation." McCoy said passionately.

"Is the person or persons responsible for this being dealt with?" Spock asked calmly.

"All the relevant information will be provided to the appropriate Earth authorities. It would be illogical for us to expend resources on her apprehension when the existing law enforcement agencies can do the job adequately. I promise that a day of judgment will come to Gloria Harris." David said as a firm vow.

Spock nodded

"Anything else?" Kirk asked as he looked around the room.

"Jake." David said seriously.

Everyone turned their attention to David.

"I'm not sure how his experiences are going to effect his behavior, but since his father killed his mother in a fit of rage and was sent to prison, Jake's been living as a drug addict and a prostitute." David began and noticed shocked expressions on everyone except Spock.

"Despite all that he's been through, he's watched after Kevin to the best of his ability. His only thought when he found out about the possibility that Spade was coming was to get Kevin to safety." David said with admiration.

"Both these boys have been through hell." Allen said with a shake of his head.

"I'm only telling you this because Jake may behave in ways you don't expect. Try to realize that he's been on his own for nearly two years without anyone to support him financially or emotionally. What may seem crude or disrespectful at first glance may be the only way he knows how to relate what he's thinking or feeling." David said with concern.

"Thanks David, I'll remember that." Allen said in thought.

"Anything else?" Kirk asked and looked around the room.

"No? Then we have another job for you, Bones." Kirk said quickly.

"I'm busier in Spacedock than I am when we're on a mission." McCoy muttered.

"I'd like a comparative genetic analysis done on Mr. Thompson and Lieutenant Thompson." Kirk said seriously.

"What am I looking for?" McCoy asked as he looked at the two men.

"We need to know if they're related." Kirk responded seriously.

"Just look at them." McCoy said in disbelief.

"Just do the test. We need to know *how* related they are." Kirk said in frustration.

"We'd better go ahead and do it now so maybe I'll have a chance to get off this bucket before we have to head out again." McCoy muttered as he led the way out of the conference room.

"Shall we join them in Sickbay?" Kirk asked as he stood.

No one answered, but everyone stood to follow.

* * * * *

The group of men walked into the Sickbay to a bizarre sight. Christine Chapel had the three boys sitting around a table as she dealt playing cards.

"Dr. Chapel, is this your idea of how to entertain children?" Captain Kirk asked in a mock stern voice.

"I don't know about entertaining children sir, but my friends and I enjoy playing cards. If you'd rather I talk down to these boys and treat them as less than thinking beings, of course, I will. After all, you're the Captain." Christine said challengingly.

"She was a lot easier to get on with when she was a nurse." McCoy said offhandedly.

"Easier to dominate, you mean?" Dr. Chapel asked playfully.

"Are you in trouble?" Kevin asked with worry.

"No sweet pea, we're just playing at being gruff." Christine said with assurance, then asked the men, "Are you ready to take these young men on a tour?"

Chip smiled at Christine's no nonsense attitude and said, "That's what some of us are here to do. Boys, I'd like you to meet Captain Spock and Lieutenant Thompson."

Kevin stared at Spock with wide eyes.

"Kevin, do you have a question?" David asked, noticing his look.

"Is he sick? I mean, Captain Spock. He looks..." Kevin trailed off, at a loss for words.

McCoy got a great smile at the question and everyone was waiting for what was sure to be a, no doubt, classic explanation of Spock when he was precluded by Spock's own explanation.

"I am not from your world, therefore I do not look the same as people from Earth. You have no need to be afraid." Spock said carefully, trying to be brief and keep his explanation understandable for a child.

Kevin broke into a smile and said, "I'm not afraid. I learned a long time ago that where you're from don't make you who you are. I was just worried that you might be sick."

Spock's eyebrows rose in surprise as he said, "I thank you for your concern."

"Now we'll leave the Doctors to perform their tasks while we take these young men on a tour of the ship." Chip said, breaking the moment.

Jake walked to Allen and quietly said, "Dad?"

"Yes son?" Allen responded with concern at Jake's tone.

"I'm feeling... like it's too much. Can I just stay here with you for a while?" Jake asked hopefully.

"Of course. The guys can tell you all about it when they get back." Allen said and pulled Jake into a hug of assurance.

"Are you guys ready for a tour of the Enterprise?"

Kevin and Kenny responded with enthusiasm and followed Chip, Kirk, David and Spock out of the Sickbay.

* * * * *

"What do I need to do, Doctor... Doctors?" Allen asked, still holding Jake at his side.

"Just lay on that bed. Lieutenant Thompson, you lay on the next one. This isn't going to hurt a bit. I just need you to lay still for a minute while the bed scans your genetic codes, then compares them." McCoy said as he started pressing some buttons at the head of the bed.

Dr. Chapel was doing the same on Lieutenant Thompson's bed as Jake asked, "What are they doing? Is something wrong with you?"

"No son. They're just checking to see if Lieutenant Thompson and I are related, that's all." Allen said in a calming voice.

"Why?" Jake asked in confusion.

"Chip says we look alike, and since we have the same last name, I guess it's worth checking out." Allen explained carefully.

"If he's related to you, does that mean he's related to me too?" Jake asked carefully.

"We'll have to wait and see if we're related, but if we are, then yes." Allen said softly.

"Is that okay with you?" Lieutenant Thompson asked from the other bed.

Jake took a step away from Allen to look at Lieutenant Thompson before saying, "I didn't have any family before today. It'd be cool to have another person in my family."

"Jake, I don't have any family at all. If it is true, I'll be very happy to have you as a relative too." Lieutenant Thompson said seriously.

"Get ready to be happy then." Dr. McCoy said with a smile.

"What does it say Doctor?" Lieutenant Thompson asked with anticipation.

"The test shows a 98% match for close relation." Dr. McCoy said clinically.

"Does that mean there's a 2% chance we're not related?" Allen asked in confusion.

"No. Anything beyond 60% on this test is considered proof that the individuals being tested are blood relations of some kind. The closer the relationship, the higher the percentage." Dr. McCoy said carefully.

Allen and Lieutenant Thompson shared a look of confusion.

"What Doctor McCoy is so eloquently not saying is that you two are brothers. You both have the same parents. In fact, the only way you two could have a higher percentage is if one of you was a clone of the other." Dr. Chapel said plainly.

"Thank you Doctor, I was getting to it." Dr. McCoy said gruffly.

"I just wanted to get you to it before it was time for us all to retire." Dr. Chapel snipped back.

"Brothers?" Allen asked weakly.

"You mean it?" Lieutenant Thompson asked in disbelief.

"Starfleet doesn't pay me to lie to you. They have a whole diplomatic corps to do that. You're brothers without a doubt. Now go on and figure out how this happened."

* * * * *

"Is your first name Lieutenant?" Jake asked as he followed Lieutenant Thompson and Allen out the Sickbay door.

"No Jake, my name is Brady, you can call me Uncle Brady if you want to." He said warmly.

"Brady? Do you know how... I mean, I don't know anything about my family." Allen said with difficulty.

"I'm sorry. I really don't know. Mom and Dad never said anything to me about having a brother." Brady said with regret and led the group into a turbolift.

"The woman I grew up with never made any secret of the fact that I was adopted, but she didn't know where I came from. From what she said, Cecil showed up one night with me, a 3 or 4 month old baby and said I was going to be their son." Allen said as his mind drifted into the past.

The turbolift stopped, then Brady led the way into the hall.

"When I was about 4 years old, Cecil didn't come home one night and we never heard from him again." Allen said slowly.

"How did you end up with the name Thompson?" Brady asked curiously as he led the way through the maze of corridors.

"Cecil had a birth certificate made for me listing him and Mona as my parents. I thought he gave me the last name Thompson because it was his." Allen said in thought.

"Cecil Thompson? From Fort Lauderdale?" Brady asked as he opened a crew cabin door.

"Yes. We lived there till I was about fifteen." Allen said with excitement at the possibility of a connection.

"I don't know what happened but dad hated Uncle Cecil with a fiery passion. He would never tell me about what happened but he cursed the name of Cecil Thompson every day of his life until the day he died." Brady said as they entered the living room area.

"Can I get you anything?" Brady asked as he gestured to his guests to have a seat.

"No thanks, do you need anything Jake?" Allen asked as Jake took a seat beside him.

"Can I have a drink?" Jake asked quietly.

"Sure, just a second." Brady said and went to a small area that looked like a breakfast bar.

"So Lieutenant Thompson, what do you do on this ship anyway?" Allen asked carefully.

"Security, I'm kind of like third in charge." Brady said shyly.

"Really? I bet that's interesting." Allen said as he relaxed into the couch.

"I have a few stories to tell." Brady said with a small smile.

"Thank you." Jake whispered as he accepted the soft drink from Brady.

"What about you Allen, what do you do?" Brady asked with interest.

"I'm working on Project Libra. It's a Federation project that's trying to incorporate the functionality of Vulcan programming with the user friendly aspects of Human programming in one uniform programming language that has the best aspects of both world's programming styles." Allen said with a smile.

"It sounds like a tall order. Vulcan programming is notorious for it's spartan disregard for the user." Brady said frankly.

"The same way human programming is notorious for being unstable and fraught with 'undocumented features'." Allen said with a smile.

There was a lull in the conversation which was broken by Jake timidly asking, "Where do you live Uncle Brady?"

"Right here when I'm off planet." Brady said and made a 'here it is' gesture to the room in general.

"When I'm on Earth, I keep a little apartment in a secure apartment building in San Francisco." Brady finished seriously.

"Oh." Jake said with disappointment.

"What's wrong sport?" Allen asked carefully.

"I was hoping Uncle Brady could visit us sometimes and we could go and do stuff." Jake mumbled.

"That sounds like a wonderful idea. Do you have anything planned for tomorrow Brady? I think I'm going to be looking at a new house and it'd be great if you could look at it with us." Allen asked hopefully.

"And if you help us decide to get it, then it kind of makes it your home too." Jake said with excitement.

"A home? Jake, I haven't had a home for several years. It would be an honor to look at your house with you." Brady said with hazel eyes, shining with moisture.

"And if we get it, then it will be your home too." Allen said as a promise.

* * * * *

Chip led the two boys off the Bridge as he heard the snickers erupt from behind him.

Kevin's endless questions like, 'What does that one do?', 'Can I push that one?', 'Can you make them all blink at once?' and Chip's personal favorite, 'Where's the steering wheel?', won the hearts of everyone on the bridge.

Kenny's comment, 'I thought it would be bigger', nearly made Scotty fall out of the command chair as he tried to hold in his laughter.

Chip looked at the tired boys and felt the desire to get home to his own sons. Spending time with Kevin and Kenny had reminded him again of how precious and special children are and how much he missed spending time with his own.

To Be Continued...