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"What?" JonJon asked as he looked around in confusion.
"Don't worry JonJon, we're just going to the Enterprise for a few minutes so the doctor can look at me." Vincent said calmly.
"Where are we?" JonJon asked in a daze.
"You are on the shuttlecraft Galileo." Chip said from the front of the shuttle.
"How did I get here?" JonJon asked as he noticed the red headed boy in a wheelchair looking at him.
"Commander Dodds carried you. Don't worry, as soon as I get done seeing the doctor we'll go back to the Yorktown and find Benny." Vincent said assuringly.
"Where's Fizgig?" JonJon asked in panic as he started looking around.
"He's back on the Yorktown, you'll see him in a few minutes." Vincent said, feeling that he was losing control of the situation.
"I can't lose him. He's all that's left. He's all I have..." JonJon said in a voice that abruptly broke into sobbing.
Vincent felt his way over to JonJon and pulled him into a hug.
"What happened to him?" Rory asked in a sympathetic voice.
"His whole family died down on the planet. Fizgig is his dog, it's all that JonJon has left of his old life." Vincent said as he held the sobbing boy to his chest.
"I will return shortly." Ambassador Sarek said calmly.
After a moment, Vincent whispered, "Is he gone?"
"Yeah. He's up front with Uncle Chip." Rory whispered in return.
"I keep forgetting that Grandfather Sarek is here. He's so quiet." Vincent said as he rubbed JonJon's back gently.
"Shhh. Here he comes." Rory said with a smile.
"I have made arrangements to have the young man's companion animal transported to the Enterprise." Ambassador Sarek said calmly.
"Thank you Grandfather." Vincent said sincerely, then in a quieter voice, he asked, "Did you hear that JonJon?"
"Hear what?" JonJon asked in confusion.
"Ambassador Sarek fixed it so Fizgig would be transported to the Enterprise. You'll have him back in just a minute." Vincent said, trying to sound cheerful.
"Really?" JonJon asked hopefully and looked at Ambassador Sarek to receive a single nod.
"Thank you Ambassador." JonJon said shyly as he cuddled into Vincent's chest.
"To ease distress is logical." Ambassador Sarek said simply.
* * * * *
"We're inside the Enterprise now." Rory said seriously.
"I finally get to visit the Enterprise and I can't see her." Vincent said in a grumble.
"Well, with any luck, you'll be able to see her when you leave sickbay." Chip said as he walked from the front of the shuttle.
"Yeah." Vincent said then coaxed JonJon to stand.
"Where are we going?" JonJon asked in a fearful tone.
"To the sickbay." Vincent said seriously as he felt someone take his hand to guide him.
"You said Fizgig was going to be here, where is he?" JonJon asked as he looked around the shuttle in panic.
"Look out the window. There he is." Rory said quickly.
JonJon hurried to the window and yelped with delight as he saw Benny carrying Fizgig toward the shuttle.
Chip opened the door of the shuttle and was surprised to see JonJon dart past him to the boy that was approaching.
"Your friend is really a mess." Rory said to Vincent quietly.
"Yeah. I guess losing his family messed with his head." Vincent said carefully.
"Come Grandson." Ambassador Sarek said peacefully and guided Vincent to the door.
"There are two steps down." Sarek said calmly.
Vincent felt with his foot until he found the first step, then took the second step more easily.
"Do you require assistance Rory?" Ambassador Sarek asked calmly as he guided Vincent to stand aside.
"No thank you Grandfather. Uncle Chip has it." Rory said as Chip gently eased him down the steps.
* * * * *
"We brought you a patient Christine." Chip said as he pushed Rory into the sickbay.
"Oh, aren't you feeling well Rory?" Christine asked with concern.
"Not me, him." Rory said and motioned to Vincent who was holding on to Ambassador Sarek's arm.
"Oh, I see." Christine said with surprise.
"Do you have someone available who can take care of him?" Chip asked casually.
"Of course. Dr. McCoy is taking care of preparations for the critical care patients who will be transported from the Yorktown. While he's doing that, I can take care of this young man." Christine said gently.
"You're Dr. Chapel aren't you?" Vincent asked curiously.
"Yes I am. And who are you?" Christine asked as she looked at Vincent carefully.
"I'm Vincent. I met you Wednesday night at Commander Dodds' house. I asked you about your electrolyte replacement therapy to help people who've been hit with high stun phasers." Vincent said seriously.
"Oh. What happened to you Vincent?" Christine said with wide eyes.
"The transporter made a little mistake." Vincent said with a small smile.
Christine's eyes got even wider.
"Vincent got into some radiation on the surface which caused a transporter malfunction when he tried to beam up through the storms and solar radiation. Dr. Perry says he's okay underneath, he's just covered with lots of scabby skin." Benny said, hoping he was explaining it well.
"Oh, I see. Well that shouldn't be too much of a problem to fix, come with me to the biobed and I'll see exactly what needs to be done." Christine said as she took Vincent's hand and guided him to the nearest biobed.
"Um, Dr. Chapel, could you do something for me?" Vincent asked in a whisper.
"Sure, just name it." Christine whispered in return as she helped him up on the bed.
"Would you look at my friend JonJon to make sure he's okay? He's acting really funny and I think he might be bleeding on the back of his head. I'm really worried about him." Vincent said seriously.
"Which one is he? The blond or the brunette?" Christine asked in a whisper.
"The blond I guess. I've never seen him but Benny has brown hair. JonJon's the one holding the dog." Vincent said in thought.
"Lay still for a moment so I can get some good readings from the biobed and I'll talk to him." Christine said assuringly.
"Thanks." Vincent said with a small smile.
Christine walked across the room and said, "Excuse me, but are you JonJon?"
JonJon looked up at her and nodded cautiously.
"Do you think you could help me for just a minute?" Christine asked in a friendly voice.
"What can I do?" JonJon asked with surprise.
"I just need to be sure the other biobed is working properly before the people from your colony get here. If you wouldn't mind I'd like for you to lay down on it for a minute to see that it's working." Christine said with a gentle smile.
JonJon reluctantly nodded and started walking toward the bed.
"You'll need to leave the dog with your friend. Two biosigns might confuse it." Christine said gently.
JonJon handed the dog to Benny then walked to the biobed and climbed on.
"Just lay still for a few seconds and we'll be done." Christine said, then turned on the bed.
After a moment of looking at the readings, Christine quickly grabbed a hypo spray and pressed it to JonJon's neck.
"What are you doing to him?" Benny asked in panic.
"Commander, I need Dr. McCoy, STAT." Christine said in a rush as she started gathering surgical instruments.
Chip nodded and ran to the doctor's office.
"What's wrong?" Benny asked in confusion.
"No time." Christine said as she began to lay the surgical instruments out on a tray.
"What is it Dr. Chapel?" McCoy said as he hurried into the room.
"See for yourself." Christine said and gestured to the readings on the biobed.
"Dear God! Hand me a scalpel and get ready to assist." McCoy said as he rushed to JonJon's side.
"What's wrong with him?" Benny asked in a small voice.
"Chip, get them out of here." McCoy said firmly.
"Come on Vincent. It looks like you're going to get to wait a little while longer." Chip said with resignation.
Vincent climbed off the biobed and held onto Chip's arm as he walked out of sickbay.
* * * * *
"Would it be okay if I go in the other room? I think Solak is in there." Rory asked quietly.
"I think that will be fine." Chip said as the group sat and waited to find out what was wrong with JonJon.
Rory nodded, then moved his wheelchair down the hall to the other sickbay door.
"Could you see anything to tell you what's wrong?" Vincent asked in a small voice.
"No. I couldn't see enough of his readings to get a sense of what was going on." Chip said honestly.
Silence fell over the group as they waited and each thought their own thoughts.
* * * * *
"Vincent, Solak says that he can take care of you if you want." Rory said as he entered the hallway again.
"I want to be here when the doctors are done with JonJon." Vincent said quietly.
"Grandson. It is logical to assume that the opportunity to rectify your condition will lessen as the patients from the Yorktown are brought on board the Enterprise. You can wait just as effectively while having the procedure done and we will see that you are notified when there is any new information." Ambassador Sarek said firmly.
"Okay Grandfather. I guess that's logical." Vincent said in resignation and stood.
Benny looked at Vincent, then at the door to where JonJon was being operated on.
"I'll go with him. Come get us when you have news." Chip said seriously.
Benny nodded, then cuddled the dog in his arms.
* * * * *
"Please disrobe." Solak said without emotion.
"Now I know why crewmen wear jumpsuits, it seems like I've been spending half my day dressing and undressing." Vincent grumbled.
"Please lay on the bed and I will cover you to accommodate your modesty." Solak said in a professional tone.
Vincent climbed up on the bed with Chip's help, then felt a sheet being draped over his lower body.
Solak scanned Vincent carefully, then said, "A most curious condition. While I work, perhaps you could tell me how you came to be in this state."
Vincent thought about it, then finally said, "I got a pretty good dose of radiation, then transported up. I guess the transporter lost part of me and when they put me back together, I ended up with too much skin or something."
"Fascinating." Solak said as he took a small pair of scissors and began to cut sections from the dead skin covering Vincent's left arm.
"Does it hurt?" Rory asked with concern.
"No. It feels kinda good when the scabby stuff is pulled off. It kinda feels like when you take off a pair of socks you've been wearing all day." Vincent said with relief.
"Commander Dodds, please report to the bridge." Sounded over the intercom.
"I'm on my way." Chip answered quickly into the nearest comm station, then said, "Just call the bridge if you need me for anything."
"Okay. Thank you for all your help Commander Dodds." Vincent said seriously.
"Anytime Crewman Winters." Chip said with a fond smile before leaving the room.
"Do you need anything Vincent?" Rory asked with concern.
"Yeah. Could you check to see if they've heard anything about JonJon yet?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"Yeah. I'll be right back." Rory said seriously and left the room.
* * * * *
Solak finally finished Vincent's arms, then decided that it was time to do the most difficult part of the job.
"I will need you to be very still during this part of the procedure. I am going to remove the covering from your face and would not want to cause you an injury." Solak said seriously.
"I understand." Vincent said as he tried to relax.
The sensation of the cold metal on his overly sensitive skin made Vincent want to flinch away, but the free feeling of each patch of uncovered skin was reward enough to keep him in his place.
Solak carefully began to take small snips as he worked his way along the edge of Vincent's eyebrow when Vincent had a sudden realization.
For the first time since he left the planet, he could see light.
Even though Vincent's eyes were closed, Solak had made enough of an opening to allow some light to get to his left eye.
After another moment of snipping, there was a little bit of a pulling sensation on Vincent's eyelid, then all of a sudden, his entire left eye was uncovered.
"Can I open my eye?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"Proceed." Solak said calmly, then watched as Vincent opened his left eye and looked around.
"Hey. You're the guy from the shuttle in Orlando. I didn't realize that that's who you were." Vincent said as he looked at Solak.
"I will now proceed." Solak said calmly and started to work on Vincent's other eye.
"Nothing yet." Rory said as he maneuvered his wheelchair into the room.
"So they still don't know what's wrong?" Vincent asked curiously.
"No. Both the doctors are still in there." Rory said quietly.
Vincent felt the pulling sensation on his right eyelid, then could feel the covering of dead skin peel away.
"Thank you Dr. Solak. It's really tough not being able to see." Vincent said with relief.
Solak gave a half nod, half bow of acknowledgement of the statement, then went to work on removing the covering from Vincent's scalp.
"It will be necessary for me to cut your hair to remove the damaged tissue. It will be possible for me to stimulate your follicles to induce hair growth when the procedure is concluded, if that is desirable."
"Let me see how it looks when you're done. I usually wear it pretty short anyway so I may decide to keep it." Vincent said seriously.
"My apologies for interrupting, but the surgery has been completed." Ambassador Sarek said from the doorway.
"Can I go and find out what's wrong with JonJon and finish this when I get back?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"That would be acceptable. I will accompany you." Solak said calmly.
"Um... Could I have a gown or something?" Vincent asked as he looked under the sheet to find himself naked.
"Yes. Of course." Solak said and retrieved a gown from a nearby cabinet.
* * * * *
Vincent walked into the back hallway that connected main sickbay to the convalescent ward and found everyone waiting anxiously.
"You may proceed." Ambassador Sarek said peacefully.
"Your friend had a piece of metal, something like a nail, stuck in his head." Christine said frankly.
"How did that happen?" Benny asked in confusion.
"I don't know, but it was driven nearly three inches into his brain. If he had been human it would probably have killed him but since he's an android, it just caused a few malfunctions. That's probably why his behavior seemed strange."
"Is he going to die?" Benny asked quietly.
"No, I don't think there's any danger of that." Christine said gently.
"So he's going to be okay?" Vincent asked carefully, suspecting that she was holding something back.
"It's hard to say. A human who survived this kind of injury would develop new neural pathways around the damage but there is no way to know what will happen to an android. I couldn't find any record of an android being damaged in a similar manner in the data library."
"Can't you fix him, you know, repair the damage?" Vincent asked slowly.
"Dr. McCoy and I repaired as much as we could. What we couldn't repair, we disabled so he won't be generating random signals anymore. Anything more we could try to do would be just as likely to make matters worse." Christine said professionally.
"So what's going to happen to him now?" Benny asked quietly.
"Since the damage is not organic, he'll be free to go when he wakes up from the anesthetic. He'll just have a tender spot behind his left ear where we removed the piece of metal. It should heal quickly." Christine said slowly.
"But..." Vincent prompted.
"But it's impossible to predict how this damage will effect him in the long term. Given the area that was damaged, I can guess that it will have something to do with his emotional development but how severe or for how long, we'll just have to wait and see." Christine said helplessly.
"Is he going to need to be in a hospital or institution or something?" Benny asked carefully.
"No. Nothing like that. I think what he needs is to be with someone who will accept him as he is. Someone who can understand that he might not ever be able to develop further or reach a level of maturity to be able to fully take care of himself." Christine said quietly.
"You can go in and wait with him if you like." Christine said gently.
"Thank you Dr. Chapel." Benny said and stood.
"Solak, it looks like you've been busy. Would you mind if I help you finish up?" Christine asked as she looked at Vincent.
"That would be acceptable." Solak said calmly.
"I'll be right in there if you need me." Vincent said to Benny quietly.
"Okay. Thanks." Benny said as he walked toward the door, followed by Ambassador Sarek.
* * * * *
"This is really embarrassing." Vincent said as Solak and Dr. Chapel worked on removing the damaged skin from his lower torso.
Solak arched an eyebrow at the statement, then continued to work.
"Do you want me to leave?" Rory asked quietly.
"No. Thanks for staying with me. This is just embarrassing, but it's better having you here with me to keep my mind off it." Vincent said honestly.
"Just hold on for a few more minutes and we'll be finished." Christine said as she removed a large patch of skin.
Vincent nodded, then thought to ask, "Is JonJon really going to be okay?"
"Medically, I think he'll be fine. Emotionally... well, we'll just have to see what happens." Christine said in thought.
"Doctor, I mean Doctors, the first shuttle of critical care patients just landed in the shuttle bay." A medical assistant said as he rushed into the room.
"Notify Dr. McCoy and find out where he wants you to put them." Dr. Chapel said as she moved to Vincent's groin area to start removing a thin layer of skin.
"Um, be careful." Vincent said in a shaky voice.
"Don't worry Vincent, there's hardly any damaged skin in this area. It will just take a few seconds." Christine said as she worked.
Vincent gritted his teeth and tried to hold perfectly still as he felt the metal instruments moving across his highly sensitive skin.
"I believe it is nearing time to work on his back." Solak said as he stepped back to look over Vincent's entire body.
"I think you're right. And that shouldn't take nearly as long." Christine said as she peeled a film of dead skin away from Vincent's thigh.
"Turn over honey and we'll finish it off." Christine said gently.
Vincent quickly turned over and tried to relax.
"If you'll work on his head, I think I can get everything else." Dr. Chapel said as she looked at Vincent's back.
"Agreed." Solak said and began working on the thick skin covering Vincent's head.
"Just a few more minutes." Christine whispered as she began to remove a patch of dead skin on his shoulder blade.
* * * * *
"Where am I?" JonJon asked in confusion.
"You're in the sickbay on the Enterprise." Benny said as he rushed to JonJon's side.
"Am I sick?" JonJon asked in confusion.
"I guess when your house caved in, a nail got stuck in your head. The doctors took it out and you're going to be okay now." Benny said quietly.
JonJon felt the side of his head and said, "I feel funny."
"Does it hurt?" Benny asked with concern.
"No. It just feels weird." JonJon said as he sat up.
"Do you want to hold Fizgig?" Benny asked in a small voice.
JonJon smiled and nodded.
Benny handed the dog to JonJon and felt relief rush over him at the contented look on JonJon's face.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. I mean, my father..." JonJon trailed off with tears forming in his eyes.
"I'm going to move to the new colony and get a new place to live. If you wanted, you could go with me and live with me and my family." Benny said quietly.
JonJon looked at Benny with surprise.
"My family is all hurt really bad and won't be able to go to the new colony for months, maybe even years. I could really use your help to set up the new place." Benny said quietly.
"So I could live with you... and be like your brother?" JonJon asked cautiously.
"Only if you want to. You could stay on the Enterprise and go back to Earth to try and find a new family if that's what you wanted to do." Benny said carefully.
JonJon shook his head and said, "You took care of me when I was sad and afraid. If you really want me to live with you... I'd like to be your brother."
"Of course I want you, that's what I'm doing here." Benny said with a smile.
JonJon thought about it as he petted Fizgig in his lap, then said, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do next."
"I don't know either. I guess we'll figure it out together." Benny said with a peaceful smile.
JonJon looked up at Benny curiously, then gave a small smile in return.
"Let's go in the other room and see how Vincent's doing." Benny said as he offered his hand.
JonJon took the offered hand and worked his way down off the biobed.
"Oh, I see you're awake. If you'll hold still for a second, I want to scan you to make sure that you're okay." Dr. McCoy said as he hurried into the room.
"Who's that?" JonJon asked with a note of fear in his voice.
"He's one of the doctors on the Enterprise. He took the nail out of your head." Benny whispered.
Dr. McCoy picked up a medical tricorder and scanned JonJon quickly.
"It looks like you're doing just fine. Make sure to keep that wound clean for the next few days to prevent infection and you shouldn't have any problem." Dr. McCoy said as he looked at the scan results.
"Am I really okay?" JonJon asked quietly.
"Son, I'm going to be honest with you. There was some damage to your brain. But you're past the worst of it now and I think you're going to be fine." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
JonJon moved to Benny's side and hugged him with one arm.
"See that he gets something to eat. My scans show that he hasn't had much food in the past few days." Dr. McCoy said with a sympathetic look at JonJon.
"I will doctor." Benny said as he returned JonJon's hug.
"Doctor, the Yorktown patients are here." A medical assistant said as he pulled a gurney into the room.
"Now if you'll excuse me, it appears that I'm about to become very busy." Dr. McCoy said as he hurried to his patient.
"Come on, Vincent's in the next room." Benny said and urged JonJon to walk with him.
* * * * *
"I think a nice long sonic shower should be able to remove the little bits that are left." Christine said as she looked Vincent over.
"I concur." Solak said simply.
"Would you like for us to stimulate hair growth? Your hair is pretty short." Christine said cautiously.
"Can I see?" Vincent asked as he sat up.
"There's a mirror right over here." Christine said as she walked across the room.
"Where's my uniform?" Vincent asked as he looked around.
"In the fresher, I'll get it." Christine said and moved to the small fresher unit.
Vincent pulled on the hospital gown, then made his way across the room and looked at himself in the mirror.
There was a peach-fuzz covering of hair on his head that allowed his scalp to show through.
"I kinda like it. I'll keep it like this." Vincent said as he was handed his uniform.
Christine considered for a moment, then said, "I think it suits you."
Vincent stepped into his uniform and pulled it up to his hips, then quickly removed the gown.
When he turned around, he was surprised to see that Benny, JonJon and Ambassador Sarek had entered the room.
"Nice butt." Benny said with a chuckle.
Vincent rolled his eyes at the statement, then started to laugh as he finished putting on his uniform.
"Who's that?" JonJon asked in confusion.
"That's Vincent. That's what he looks like under all that gross skin that was covering him." Benny said seriously.
JonJon thought about it for a moment, then said, "I got used to him being the other way."
Vincent walked to JonJon's other side and said, "I'm still the same person that I was before. Are you feeling okay?"
"I think so. I just feel a little funny." JonJon said in confusion.
"Chapel, I need you in here. You too Solak." McCoy's voice said over the intercom.
"Rory, I didn't want to ask you before with all the other stuff going on, but... have you made a decision about if I get to stay or not?" Vincent asked cautiously.
"Not yet. I still need to talk to a few people before I decide anything for sure." Rory said carefully.
Vincent nodded, then turned to Sarek and asked, "Grandfather, have you decided anything about my kahs'wan?"
"Yes. However I will withhold announcing my decision until Rory has completed his investigation. I would not want to influence his decision." Ambassador Sarek said calmly.
"Is there anything else for us to do here?" Benny asked as he looked around.
"I don't think so. We should probably get back to the Yorktown." Vincent said in an uncertain tone.
"I would be honored if you would join me for the evening meal before you disembark." Ambassador Sarek said formally.
"Is that okay with you guys?" Vincent asked Benny and JonJon.
"Can Fizgig have something to eat too?" JonJon asked cautiously.
"I am certain that provisions can be made." Ambassador Sarek said calmly.
* * * * *
"Do you think he's okay?" Darin asked with concern.
"I'm sure he's fine. Commander Dodds treats Vincent like one of his own kids. He won't let anything happen to him." Joe said with assurance.
"So you're not worried about him?" Darin asked carefully.
Joe chuckled and said, "I'm about to go out of my head with worry. But no amount of reason or logic will make that go away. I won't stop worrying until I'm able to hold him in my arms and know in my heart that he's okay."
"Good. I'm glad it's not just me." Darin said with a smile.
Darin looked at Joe with question as the hum of the ship's engines changed.
Joe immediately walked to the main console to see what was going on.
"It looks like we're just moving out of the solar system. We don't seem to be in any hurry." Connie said as he examined the readings.
"Good. All that radiation bombarding our shields was making me a little nervous." Joe said frankly.
"Why is that? You know better than anyone how stable our shields are. You should be the least worried person on the ship." Connie said seriously.
"The day that I trust the shields to completely protect us from everything is the day I need to move to another department. I'm good at what I do because I never feel safe, I'm always trying to figure out how many different ways the shields might fail." Joe said as he watched the console carefully.
"I bet you sleep well at night." Connie said sarcastically.
"I sure do. Nervous exhaustion is a great sleep aid." Joe said with a chuckle.
Darin stood by silently watching and listening.
* * * * *
"I hope no one noticed how much I ate. I didn't even realize I was hungry until I started eating." Benny said as soon as the transporter beam cleared.
"I don't think anyone noticed. All four of us were pigging out... five if you count Fizgig." Vincent said, then noticed that Rad was the transporter operator.
"And besides that, Grandma Amanda kept on talking about how skinny we all were and was trying to get all of us to eat more." Rory said, then looked at the step down from the transporter chamber.
"Yeah, she even thought Fizgig was too thin." Vincent said with a chuckle.
"Why don't they put ramps on these things?" Rory asked in frustration at the step.
"Because most people who can't walk use anti-grav chairs." Vincent said seriously.
"Have you ever tried to steer one of those things? It's like riding on an air hockey puck. I'd wreck half the ship before I got where I was going." Rory said with irritation.
"I can help you down." Rad said as he walked to the transporter chamber.
"Thanks." Rory said to Rad with a small smile.
"Did you get Daddy Joe back okay?" Vincent asked hopefully as he watched Rad ease Rory down the step.
"I sure did. In fact, I bet he's in deflector control right now waiting for you." Rad said with a smile.
As soon as Rad had finished helping Rory, Vincent walked up to him and gave him a firm hug.
"Thanks for taking care of him... and for saving me." Vincent said sincerely.
"It was my pleasure, now you'd better get down to deflector control before Joe works himself into a tizzy worrying about you." Rad said with a smile as he returned the hug.
"Will you come down and visit us when your shift is over?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"Sure thing. Expect me in about an hour." Rad said gently.
Vincent broke loose of the hug, then turned to the other boys and said, "Come on guys."
JonJon walked from Benny's side to stand before Rad and whispered, "Thank you."
Rad reached down and petted Fizgig in JonJon's arms as he said, "I'm just sorry I couldn't do more for you."
"You saved me three times today. So I know you did everything you could." JonJon said quietly.
"Three times?" Rad asked in confusion.
"Yeah, the first time you saved me was when you beamed me up from the planet. The second time was when you brought Fizgig back to me. And the third time was when you called Vincent and Benny to come and help me. If you hadn't done all those things, I'd probably be dead right now or wishing I was. But thanks to you I think I'm going to be okay." JonJon said quietly, then gave Rad a small smile.
Rad smiled at JonJon and said, "Well if there's anything else I can do for you, just call me. That smile made the whole day worth it."
JonJon nodded shyly, then walked to the others who were waiting by the door.
* * * * *
As the boys moved down the catwalk, Benny and Vincent were amazed by the fact that there were no colonists standing around.
"Where did they all go?" Vincent asked in wonder.
"To the Enterprise I guess, but it wasn't crowded over there either." Benny said as he looked around.
"Maybe they were all assigned quarters." JonJon said carefully.
As they approached the door to deflector control, it opened automatically.
* * * * *
Joe looked up from the main console at the sound of the door opening and saw the four boys enter the room.
After a glance to see that Connie was taking the console, Joe hurried across the room to pull Vincent into a one armed hug.
"How are you feeling?" Joe asked in a whisper.
"I feel great... well, except for needing a shower." Vincent said as he enjoyed the hug.
Joe closed his eyes and soaked in the feeling of relief and joy of knowing that Vincent was really safe.
"I talked to Lawrence today." Vincent said into Joe's chest.
"Oh really? What did he have to say?" Joe asked as he continued to hold Vincent tightly.
"He freaked out because I got hurt, but after that, he told me to tell you that he loves you and misses you." Vincent said seriously.
Joe chuckled and said, "We'll have to call him later and let him know that everything turned out for the best."
After a long moment of silence, Vincent whispered, "Daddy Joe."
"What is it son?" Joe whispered in return.
"Could we do this later, like, when the guys aren't watching?" Vincent asked hesitantly.
Joe smiled and released Vincent from the hug.
Vincent stepped back and looked around before asking, "Where did they go?"
As Connie was about to answer, a scream sounded from the supply room that drew everyone's attention.
Rory's wheelchair backed out of the supply room first.
He was quickly followed by Benny and JonJon who both looked terrified.
A moment later Lou stumbled out of the supply room wearing a sweat suit and a distinctly unhappy expression.
"What's wrong Lou?" Joe asked cautiously.
"I was laying there asleep then I felt someone watching me. When I opened my eyes, these three were staring at me." Lou said as she pointed at Benny, JonJon and Rory all in a row.
"We were just trying to give Vincent some privacy." Benny said in a frightened voice.
"Yeah. We weren't doing anything wrong." Rory said defensively.
"What's all the noise?" Channing asked as he stumbled out of the supply room, rubbing his eyes.
"It was just a misunderstanding... who are you?" Joe asked quietly.
"This is Channing, you saw him in sickbay yesterday. Benny and JonJon and me brought him here so he could rest." Vincent said seriously.
"Benny, JonJon and I." Joe corrected automatically.
"No. You weren't there. Just Benny and JonJon and me." Vincent said seriously.
Joe was about to explain what he meant when he saw the twinkle of mischief in Vincent's eyes.
"Do you mind if I use one of the terminals for a minute? I bet there's someone in Engineering freaking out trying to find out where I went." Channing asked quietly.
"Go ahead, you can use auxiliary station two by the door." Joe said and pointed.
After a moment of typing, Channing looked up with a smile and said, "Chance is down in the rec-hall helping to get the colonists settled in. I'm going to head down there and see if he found a place to sleep tonight."
"Are you going to be okay?" Vincent asked with concern.
"Yeah. I'll be fine. But if I have any problems, I'll come right back here." Channing said with a fond smile at Vincent.
"You'd better." Vincent said firmly.
Channing smiled and quickly rubbed Vincent's 'peach fuzz' hair as he passed.
"Have you heard anything about my family?" Benny asked as Channing walked out the door.
"Doctor Perry called to let you know that they're being transferred to the Enterprise, that's all." Connie said quietly from the main console.
Benny nodded that he heard.
"And who is this?" Joe asked with a smile at the boy holding a dog.
"This is JonJon and his dog, Fizgig." Benny said with a smile.
"It's nice to meet you JonJon, you too Fizgig." Joe said with a teasing grin.
"Hi." JonJon said shyly.
"Well, I guess while we're all here, I'll explain the sleeping arrangements for the next three or four weeks." Joe said carefully.
Glances flew around the room as everyone wondered what was going on.
"We've all been assigned to my quarters." Joe said frankly.
"But there's eight of us." Jimmy said in shock.
"He can count." Lou said dryly.
Joe turned to the main console and brought up a listing of cabin assignments, then said, "Actually, it's more like ten."
"Ten people. In your cabin." Lou said in confirmation.
"Just a second Lou and I'll explain." Joe said as he did a quick search of the cabin assignment list.
"Is that your dad?" JonJon asked Vincent in a whisper.
"That's my Daddy Joe. He's not my real father, but he loves me just the same as if he was." Vincent said happily.
JonJon smiled and nodded that he understood.
"Benny, your last name is Summers, right?" Joe asked from the console.
"Right." Benny said as he glanced to see what Joe was doing.
"What about JonJon?" Joe asked a moment later.
"Jonathan Daniels." JonJon said timidly.
Joe nodded as he keyed in the information.
"There, it's done. We're all assigned to my cabin until we reach the new colony." Joe said seriously.
"Spill it Joe. How's it going to work." Lou asked darkly.
"Basically, the guys get to sleep in the supply room and the ladies get to sleep in my quarters. We'll all use the lavatory in my quarters for showers and laundry." Joe said simply.
"Well, it sounds good to me except for the part about dividing us up by gender. I was thinking of something more along the lines of boy-girl-boy-girl..." Connie said playfully.
Lou turned slowly to look at Connie with an icy stare.
"On second thought, it works just fine like you said. Good thinking Joe." Connie said quickly.
Lou nodded firmly as she maintained her glare at him.
"Does anyone have any questions?" Joe asked as he looked around.
For a long moment there was silence, then Rory hesitantly said, "I need to have a private talk with you before I go back to the Enterprise."
Joe saw the serious look in Rory's eyes and hesitantly nodded.
The sound of the comm drew everyone's attention.
"Deflector Control." Connie answered seriously.
"Ensign Cooper is to report to Captain Byrne's office immediately." The familiar voice said professionally.
Darin got a look of surprise, but quickly composed himself and left the room.
"He's on his way. What's up Debs?" Connie asked quietly.
"I don't know, but whatever it is came directly from Starfleet."