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"JJ, get Lawrence inside, NOW!" Teri said firmly as she pressed the 'call back' on her phone.
Before JJ could make his way to Lawrence's table, his communicator beeped, gaining his full attention.
JJ looked around and quickly said, "David, get Lawrence inside right now. Priority one."
David didn't answer but instead jumped up out of his chair and hurried to Lawrence.
"Richardson here." JJ said into his communicator.
"We were able to trace the call to a cell phone. Satellite GPS tracking has provided the coordinates." A voice said seriously.
"Stand by." JJ said and nearly tripped over his own feet in his rush to get to Teri's side.
"They've traced the call and have the location. What do you want done?" JJ asked Teri professionally.
"Dispatch a security team immediately. Let them know to be careful, I heard a gunshot." Teri said in thought.
JJ lifted his communicator and quickly said, "Scramble a security team to that location. Be advised that there have been shots fired."
After a moment the voice said, "A security team is transporting now, Security Lieutenant Rajh in command. He will be contacting you from the scene."
"Understood. Thank you Terra Main. Richardson out." JJ said seriously.
"Terra Main out." The voice responded formally.
Chip walked to Teri's side and asked, "Do you want to keep us at 'Security Red'?"
Teri looked at him consideringly for a moment, then said, "Yes. At least until we have the report from the security team."
Chip gave a single nod, then turned his attention to Spock who was now standing by his side.
"Enterprise is standing by to provide security personnel and any other assistance that may be needed." Spock said without emotion.
"Can you give us a summary of what's going on?" Chip asked Teri, now firmly in his Commander persona.
"From what I just heard, I think Vincent's father just killed his mother. I called 'Security Red' because I'm concerned that he may be coming for either Vincent or Lawrence." Teri said in a slightly trembling voice.
Chip gave a single nod, then said, "Let's set up a command center in the study. Also, we need to get everyone inside until the 'Security Red' has been cancelled."
"I will attend to your guests." Spock said and walked away before Chip could answer.
Chip motioned for the group to follow him into the house when Dr. Chapel approached.
"Is there anything I can do?" Dr. Chapel asked professionally.
"I don't think so, but it wouldn't hurt for you and Dr. Michaels to be prepared to receive patients just in case." Chip said seriously.
"We'll be ready." Christine said and walked toward the house with purpose.
As Chip was about to lead the way inside, he saw his Aunt Jackie and his mother-in-law watching him with concern.
"Go on in the study, I'll be right there." Chip said to Teri and John.
Teri, John, JJ, and Brady walked into the house as Chip walked to the Mother's table.
* * * * *
"We need to see the gunshot victim from Saturday." Officer Chase said as the group approached the nurse's station on the fifth floor of the hospital.
"Those kids can't go in there." The nurse behind the desk said sternly.
"These kids might be able to provide me some valuable information if they can see your patient." Officer Chase said slowly, hoping that it was a good enough reason to get him past the dragon at the gate.
"No unauthorized visitors beyond this point. Period." The nurse said in a voice of resolve.
"Excuse me. Would you call the hospital administrator so we can ask him to make an exception in this case?" Cory asked in his most professional voice.
"Mr. Johnston is too busy to have to deal with a bunch of kids. Now get out of here or I'll call security." The nurse said firmly.
"If you'll just listen to reason..." Matt began to say but stopped when the nurse picked up the phone.
"Security: Station five. Security: Station five." Sounded over the hospital's PA system.
The nurse put down the phone and looked up at Matt with a 'what'cha gonna do now?' expression.
"It doesn't have to be like this. We just need to see the gunshot victim." Officer Chase said in a quiet, reasonable voice.
"No unauthorized visitors beyond this point." The nurse said coldly.
A huge uniformed security officer stepped off the elevator and hurried to the nurse's station.
Cory looked up in awe at the six foot five, bald man who had to be well over 350 pounds.
"Fred?" Officer Chase asked curiously.
"Rick? How you doing?" The security officer asked with a smile.
"Fine. I thought you retired." Officer Chase asked in a friendly voice.
"I did for about six months, then I took this job. Pat and I were driving each other nuts being constantly under each others feet." The security officer, Fred, said with a gentle smile.
"Escort these people out of here." The nurse said in an angry voice.
"What's going on here Rick?" The security officer asked curiously.
"These kids are from a Vulcan group called Clan Short. I called them here to help a kid in the psych ward." Officer Chase said as he motioned to the group.
"Seriously? I've been reading some good stuff about Clan Short." Fred said as he looked at the three boys.
"I am Patriarch Cory Short of Clan Short." Cory said as he craned his neck to look up into the face of the huge mountain of a man.
"I'm honored to meet you Patriarch Short, may I have the honor of shaking your hand?" The security officer asked with respect.
Cory offered his hand and was amazed at the contrast in size between his hand and the officer's. He felt like a small child as he shook the officer's hand.
"Get these people out of here or I'm going to call Mr. Johnston." The nurse threatened.
"That's what I asked you to do in the first place." Cory said as he turned to spare her a glance.
"Rick, do you know where we're going?" The security officer asked, ignoring the nurse completely.
"Yes, but the door is kept locked." Officer Chase said with a disapproving glance at the duty nurse.
"I've got it. Come on." Fred said as he took a ring of keys off his belt.
"I'm going to have your job for this!" The nurse screamed from behind her desk.
"You wouldn't want my job. You have to put up with too many unreasonable people." Fred said casually as he unlocked the door to the ward.
As the group walked through the door into a connecting hallway they could hear the nurse saying into the phone, "Mr. Johnston, I need you at station five right away..."
* * * * *
"Can you tell me what's going on?" Jackie asked Chip seriously.
"We're not sure, but it seems that Vincent's mother was just killed by his father." Chip said carefully.
"How terrible." Jackie said in a gasp.
"Which one is Vincent?" Karen asked with concern.
"The little boy with the bandage on his head." Chip said in thought.
"What can we do to help?" Jackie asked in a determined voice.
"We're going to send everyone inside for a while. It would be a great help if you could reassure people and help to keep them calm." Chip said seriously.
"Does this mean that the boy's father is still on the loose?" Karen asked carefully.
Before Chip could answer the question, Jackie said, "And probably on his way here."
Chip gave a single nod.
"Come Karen, let's do our part to help out... don't you have something you should be doing Chip?" Jackie finished with a smile.
"Yeah. I do. Thanks Aunt Jackie." Chip said as he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, then hurried off to join the others in the study.
* * * * *
"Is Vincent okay?" Gabe asked as he looked around the room.
"He's fine. Just resting." Joe said with a curious look at the phaser in Gabe's hand.
"Okay, I'm going to stay here with you guys for a while." Gabe said seriously.
"What's going on?" Vincent asked in a sleepy voice as he tried to sit up.
"Stay laying down so I can keep the ice pack in place." Joe whispered gently.
Vincent laid back down and looked at Gabe with question.
"I don't really know. I'm just supposed to stay in here with you guys." Gabe said seriously.
"Why do you have your phaser out?" Vincent asked curiously.
"Because I'm on duty as Clan Short security. I have to be ready to use it at a moments notice." Gabe said in a neutral voice.
"So something *is* going on." Joe said slowly.
"Well, yeah. But I don't know what it is. Aunt Teri told me to come in here so here I am." Gabe said as he looked around the room nervously.
"I'm sure it's nothing to worry about. He's just holding the phaser because it's part of his job." Joe said gently to Vincent as he stroked his hair.
"If it was anyone but Gabe I might be worried, but I trust Gabe so it's okay." Vincent said as he snuggled down to get more comfortable.
Joe smiled at the response, then looked at Gabe with concern, wishing he felt as assured as Vincent.
* * * * *
Dan noticed Kenny's distant expression and quietly asked him, "Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"
"Um, no. I'm fine. I just feel kinda, I don't know, kinda like she got away with hurting Kevin." Kenny said in thought.
"You should be very proud of your brother for handling this the way he has. He didn't seek revenge, but instead found a way to gain closure with love and joy. What he did has to be the most healthy and constructive resolution I have ever heard of... short of a reconciliation." Dan said frankly.
"I am proud of him and I understand all that. But I still feel like she got away with it." Kenny said in thought.
"Dad, it sounds like you're talking about thinking and Kenny is talking about feeling. If you don't mind, I'll help Kenny be at peace with all this." Kyle said as he looked into his father's eyes seriously.
Dan smiled at his son's expression and said, "If you ever decide to become a psychologist, I think you'll be amazing at it."
Kyle smiled at his dad and said, "Thanks, but I don't think I could handle doing it every day. I think I'd rather just help out when I see someone who needs it."
Dan smiled and nodded as Kyle got out of his seat and moved to sit beside Kenny.
* * * * *
"You can't be in here." The nurse inside the ward immediately said as she saw the group entering the room.
"Don't worry about it Elle, they're here to help." Fred said as he walked to the front of the group.
The nurse visibly relaxed as she asked, "What's going on here Fred?"
"This young man heads an organization that helps kids in need. They need to see one of your patients." Fred said seriously.
"John Doe 256?" Elle asked cautiously.
"That's how he's listed." Officer Chase said quickly.
"Oh, thank God someone is going to help him. Come on." The nurse said as she rushed away from the podium where she had been standing.
* * * * *
"Richardson." JJ quickly answered his communicator, gaining Teri's immediate attention.
JJ looked to his other side to see John waiting expectantly for the report.
"This is security Chief Rajh with a preliminary report." A voice said respectfully.
"Proceed." JJ said immediately, holding his communicator up so Teri and John could hear more easily.
"We arrived on the scene to find two female subjects both with injuries consistent with gunshots; neither exhibit life signs. There is also one male who has an apparent gunshot injury to the upper left chest area, we are awaiting an ambulance to transport him... excuse me, I may have more information for you." The voice finished abruptly, then the communicator went silent for a moment.
"Do you mind?" Teri asked as she put out her hand for the communicator.
JJ handed his communicator to Teri and waited expectantly.
"This is Director Short of Federation Youth Services. I have been monitoring your report. Is the injured male identified as police detective OC Blair?" She asked quickly.
"Yes Director Short. That is correct." Chief Rajh said simply.
"Shit!" Teri muttered as she closed her eyes in thought.
"Detective Blair regained consciousness for a moment and gave us additional information." Chief Rajh said professionally.
"Go ahead." Teri said quickly, trying to control her welling emotions.
"The shooter is identified as Victor Winters. One of the females is identified as Mrs. Peggy Winters, the other female is unknown to Detective Blair, but is believed to be the tenant of the apartment where the ambush took place." Chief Rajh said carefully.
"What about Mr. Winters? Did he get away?" Teri asked quickly.
"He is not at the scene. Detective Blair was able to discharge his weapon and believes that he injured the suspect in the hand and speculates that the bullet might have passed through to strike the suspect in the head to some degree." Chief Rajh said in a measured tone.
"Chief Rajh, I want an all points bulletin issued for the apprehension of Victor Winters. He is to be considered armed and dangerous. Organize search teams to cover the area and track him down." Teri said firmly.
"I'm sorry Director Short, but I'm not sure you have the authority to approve an operation of that scale." Chief Rajh said slowly.
"Lieutenant Rajh, this is Commander John Martin, you have my personal authorization to provide Director Short any and all assistance that she might require. Am I understood?" John said firmly.
"Yes... Yes sir." Chief Rajh said immediately.
"Good, Director Short will let you know what she needs." John said seriously, then handed the communicator back to Teri.
"For now I just need one other thing. I want to be notified immediately when Detective Blair's condition has been determined." Teri said with a note of concern in her voice.
"Yes Director Short, I'll see to it personally."
"Thank you Lieutenant Rajh. I'll be standing by for updates. Short out." Teri said, back in her professional demeanor.
"Acknowledged. Rajh out."
* * * * *
"Kenny, if I tell you something, will you promise not to tell anyone else?" Kyle asked in a whisper.
"Sure." Kenny said cautiously.
"Well, when we were making the package for your mom, some of us felt like you do, like it wasn't enough. Eli and Jacob hid something in the package without letting the others know." Kyle said carefully.
"What did they do?" Kenny asked with interest.
Kyle looked at Kenny in concentration for a moment, then asked, "Do you feel that?"
Kenny squirmed in his seat for a second and said, "I think so. Did you do that?"
Kyle nodded seriously.
"Will you make it stop? That feels really gross." Kenny said uncomfortably as he continued to shift in his chair.
Kyle concentrated for a moment and Kenny became still again.
"Is that what you did to her?" Kenny asked curiously.
"Yeah. We couldn't do anything big or the others would notice. So we tied this into her subconscious to the feelings of guilt about what she's done to you two that she refuses to acknowledge. It will always be there and deep inside she'll know that it's her punishment for what she's done to you. The only way she'll ever be able to get rid of that little tickle is if she honestly feels regret for what she's done, tries to make things right and knows without a doubt that she's been forgiven by both of you." Kyle said seriously.
"Then she'll always have it. I'll never forgive her for what she did to Kevin." Kenny said seriously.
"You're probably right. But it's always good to leave an out." Kyle said frankly.
Kenny thought about it for a second, then hesitantly nodded.
"Is it enough?" Kyle asked hopefully.
"Yeah. I think it is. Now I know that she didn't really get away with it. Thank Eli and Jacob for me." Kenny said peacefully.
"I will. Remember not to tell anyone else about it, especially my Dad. He's really glad that we didn't go for revenge, I don't want him to be disappointed in me." Kyle said quietly.
"It isn't revenge. It's justice. The stuff she did to Kevin will probably be bothering him the rest of his life, we just gave her something to bother her too since she doesn't feel guilty." Kenny said seriously.
Kyle smiled and said, "Yeah. I don't think Dad would see it that way, but I really feel like we did what was right."
"Me too." Kenny said with a smile.
* * * * *
"Here he is." Elle said as she pointed to the last bed in the ward.
Jake took one look and turned away at the horrifying sight before him.
Matt's security training kicked in as he noted that the boy was restrained to the bed frame and the restraints were cutting into his skin.
Cory was shocked and could only stare at the sweaty, bloated and bruised boy with half his face covered in bandages. He had gashes and slashes of scars running up both his restrained arms, some looking years old and others looking as if they'd been done in recent weeks.
"He was a skinny street kid when they brought him in. I'm not a doctor but I've seen a lot of people who've been shot... this ain't right." Officer Chase said to no one in particular.
Before anyone could stop him, Kevin walked to the bedside and said, "You look like you're hurting. We're here to help you."
"Kev, you shouldn't bother him." Jake said in warning.
The boy in the bed looked at Kevin curiously with his single unbandaged eye and asked in a raspy voice, "Kevin? Is that you?"
Silence fell over the room as Kevin looked carefully at the boy before him. From the swelling, it was difficult for him to make out the distorted features but when he looked closely at the eye, he could tell that the boy was Chinese. Suddenly Kevin realized who it was and asked, "Is that you Dylan?"
Jake turned to look at the boy again in shock at the question and realized that the bandaged and disfigured boy in front of him was his old rival from the streets.
"Yeah. I need help. Please, I'll do anything you want. Just make it stop hurting..." Dylan trailed off in a desperate, hoarse whisper.
"Why is he strapped down?" Jake asked the nurse firmly.
"Pick a reason. He's suicidal, a drug addict and they've declared him insane. Personally I think they just moved him to psych because he wouldn't stop crying." The nurse said frankly.
"I'm gonna help you Dylan, I promise. I don't need you to do nothin for me. Just hold on and I'll make sure you get some help." Kevin said, then looked at Cory with desperation.
"Matt, get Doc Austin here to check him..." Cory began to say when he was interrupted.
"There they are." The nurse from the desk said as she led a man in a suit into the room followed by two security officers.
"What's going on here?" The man asked in an authoritative voice.
"We're here to help this boy. Are you Mr. Johnston?" Matt asked formally.
"Yes. I'm in charge here and you aren't allowed in here without permission." Mr. Johnston said firmly.
Fred motioned for the other two security officers to follow him and led them away from the group to fill them in.
"Mr. Johnston, may I introduce Patriarch Short of Clan Short of Vulcan. He is here to..." Matt said before he was interrupted.
"I don't give a rat's ass who he is or why he's here. Get out of this ward right now before I call the police." Mr. Johnston screamed.
"Actually, I'm the one who called them." Officer Chase said as he stepped forward.
"You have no right to call anyone into *my* hospital without my approval." Mr. Johnston said firmly.
Cory opened his communicator and said, "Tommy, I need security, intelligence and Doc Austin to my location immediately."
"I'm sorry Cory, but we're under a 'Security Red' condition here, it might take me a few minutes to make that happen." Tommy said quickly.
"I don't have a few minutes, Cory out." He said quickly, then rekeyed his communicator and said, "Enterprise, this is Patriarch Short. I need a security team and Doctor McCoy to this location immediately."
There was a moment of silence, then Uhura's voice responded, "They'll be there in less than a minute. What do you want me to tell Captain Kirk?"
"Tell him that Clan Short is grateful for the assistance provided by the Enterprise and that he'll get a full report when I've got this all sorted out. I've got to go now, I have a hospital administrator to deal with." Cory said quickly.
"We'll be standing by if you need anything Cory. Enterprise out." Uhura said seriously.
"Short out." Cory said, then closed his communicator.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Mr. Johnston asked in confusion.
Before anyone could answer, five columns of shimmering light appeared and resolved into the shapes of Dr. McCoy and four security officers.
"Somebody better tell me what the hell is going on here, I was standing by to transport to Florida and ended up in Illinois." McCoy said with a grumble.
"Doctor McCoy, please help my friend Dylan. He's hurting real bad. Please help him." Kevin begged desperately.
"DEAR GOD!" McCoy exclaimed at the sight of the boy in the bed.
"That boy is under the care of this hospital. You can't..." Mr. Johnston began to say.
McCoy glanced at the nearest security officer and said, "If that jackass tries to interfere with me, stun him. That's an order."
"Yes Doctor." The officer said immediately and trained his phaser on Mr. Johnston.
Dr. McCoy pulled out his medical tricorder and began to scan Dylan carefully.
* * * * *
"Hey Vince, how are you feeling?" Lawrence asked as he walked into the living room with Deacon, Aaron and David following.
"I'm feeling better. What's going on?" Vincent asked curiously.
"I don't know, but it sounds pretty serious. Teri yelled 'Security Red' and everyone started running around." Lawrence said honestly.
"She sent Gabe in here and told him to stay in here with me. He didn't say we were at 'Security Red'." Vincent said, then glanced at Gabe with question.
"Since I don't know what's going on, I didn't think it mattered." Gabe said hesitantly.
Vincent looked at Gabe cautiously, then finally nodded his acceptance.
"Are you alright?" David asked with concern.
"I'm kinda scared." Vincent said seriously.
"I think we're in the safest place we could possibly be right now." Deacon said quietly.
"And you've got an armed security guard to protect you. How much safer could you be?" Lawrence asked and forced a smile onto his face.
Vincent didn't answer, but instead sat up and scooted over on the couch to snuggle into Joe's side. He was immediately pulled into a reassuring hug.
"Good answer." Deacon said to Lawrence in a gentle whisper.
* * * * *
McCoy continued to move the small canister of the medical tricorder over the boy in the bed and had his complete attention focused on the readout.
"Can he make it stop hurting? Please Kevin, make it stop hurting." Dylan begged in an exhausted voice filled with pain.
"Doctor McCoy is going to make you all better. I promise. He's the bestest doctor in the Federation." Kevin said seriously.
"I need this patient's medical records to verify what treatment he's received... if any." McCoy said without looking up from his scanner.
"I'll get them." Elle said quickly.
"No. You won't. Those records are hospital property." The duty nurse said firmly.
"Nurse Hoyle, in case you haven't noticed, there are armed Starfleet security officers here. I think we can bend that rule just this once." Mr. Johnston said seriously.
"As long as you're willing to take the heat for it, what do I care?" Nurse Hoyle said and turned her attention back to what Dr. McCoy was doing.
"What an angel of mercy." Matt said sarcastically.
"Yeah. Mr. Johnston, I hope you get Nurse Hoyle to take care of you next time you're in the hospital." Jake said with irritation.
"Here are his records." Elle said as she walked past the group and handed a clipboard to Dr. McCoy.
After a moment of reading, Dr. McCoy glanced at the Enterprise security officers and said, "Ensign Long, come here."
"Yes sir." The security officer said quickly as he came to stand before Dr. McCoy.
"I want you to take this and secure it as evidence." McCoy said as he handed the medical records to the security Ensign.
"Evidence for what?" Mr. Johnston asked cautiously.
"Malpractice to begin with. I'll let the legal boys worry about what criminal charges apply." Dr. McCoy said as he quickly disconnected the IV from Dylan's arm.
"Doctor McCoy? Can you please give Dylan something for the pain? He says he's hurting real bad." Kevin asked hopefully.
McCoy looked at Kevin to find him holding tightly to Dylan's bloated, sweating hand.
"Yes Kevin. I'll give him something right now. Will you help me unstrap him?" Dr. McCoy asked in a gentle voice.
"That kid's a drug addict, he'll say anything to get a fix." Nurse Hoyle said sternly.
Dr. McCoy checked the contents of his hypospray, then carefully injected Dylan in the neck before saying, "This boy has received minimal care for multiple gunshot wounds. Half his face is gone and there is significant damage to his spleen. What do you do to help him? You deny him any type of pain medication then strap him to the bed and move him to the psych ward for crying out in pain. To top it off the mega-doses of anti-biotics you've been pumping into this boy have caused his kidneys to shut down. He's drowning in his own fluids. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get him to the Enterprise where I can do something to help him."
"Doctor, our facilities and staff are at your disposal. Anything you need." Mr. Johnston said quickly.
"I wouldn't let you butchers lance a boil on my butt..." McCoy said as he looked at his tricorder again, then shook his head.
"I'm going to need a shuttle to transport him. He's not stable enough for the transporter." McCoy said in thought.
"The Mississippi is standing by at O'Hare." Cory said quickly.
"Does this torture chamber have a helipad?" McCoy asked Mr. Johnston seriously.
"Yes, for life flight..." Mr. Johnston said before he was interrupted.
"Make sure it's cleared. There will be a shuttlecraft landing on it in a few minutes." McCoy said seriously.
"Right away." Mr. Johnston said and rushed out of the room.
Cory looked at Matt and raised an eyebrow. He received a nod as his reply. Matt then pulled out his communicator as he walked away from the group.
"Ensign Long, I'm putting you in charge of the investigation of this place. See to it that the proper authorities are contacted, the staff is interviewed, independent physicians are brought in to verify the treatment of any patient that you have cause to believe is being mistreated... and according to his file, this boy is listed as indigent care. Make sure you focus your investigation on past and present indigent care patients." McCoy said firmly.
"Yes sir." Ensign Long said professionally.
"Excuse me Doctor, I'm Ensign Long's superior officer, I should be handling the investigation." Lieutenant Masterson said in a formal tone.
"Are you saying that one of the men under your command isn't trained well enough to conduct a security investigation?" McCoy asked seriously.
"No sir." The Lieutenant said quickly.
"Good, I didn't think so. I want you to see to the welfare of this young man until I say otherwise. I'm making his safety and well-being your personal responsibility." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
"Yes sir." The Lieutenant said efficiently.
"The Mississippi will be landing in about two minutes." Matt said as he approached the group.
"Good. Nurse, get a gurney in here so we can transport this patient to the helipad." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
"Right away Doctor." Elle said as Nurse Hoyle looked on impassively.
"How are you feeling now Dylan?" Kevin asked quietly.
"It stopped hurting." Dylan said as a tear slid down his cheek.
"Don't worry young man, we're going to fix you right up." Dr. McCoy said with assurance.
* * * * *
"Security reports that Southcrest, the Short Compound and Camp Little Eagle are all secured. I've had Terra Main focus satellite surveillance on the area and additional security personnel are standing by if needed." John said seriously to Chip from his seat in front of the terminal.
"Good. I think it should be safe for our guests to..." Chip began to say when an incoming message window appeared on the screen.
"Go ahead." John said quickly.
"A car just ran the security checkpoint and is heading your way." The young officer responded quickly.
"Apprehend. Consider the driver to be armed and dangerous until proven otherwise." John said professionally.
"Yes sir." The young officer quickly responded and the window closed.
"That man must be a complete idiot if he thinks he can get past Starfleet security." Chip said with a shake of his head.
"He's either drunk or insane. Possibly both." Teri said from Chip's other side.
Chip looked at Teri with question.
"He was slurring his speech when he called me and seemed to be single minded about getting to Vincent." Teri said in thought.
"Then I doubt that he'll be taken peacefully." John said grimly.
"I just hope he doesn't hurt anyone else before they get him." Teri said with concern.
"Don't worry, we have well trained security professionals taking care of this." John said with assurance.
"Why do you think he wants to get to Vincent so badly? Is he trying to rescue him?" Chip asked curiously.
"I think he wants to kill him." Teri said frankly.
* * * * *
As the gurney was carried up the ramp into the shuttle, McCoy looked around and said, "There's too many of you. Anyone who's not essential needs to transport up to the Enterprise and wait for us."
Cory looked around the group and said, "Matt, Kyle, Dan, Jake, Xain, Kenny and Kevin can transport up..."
"I'm going with Dylan. He needs me." Kevin said as he gripped Dylan's hand more firmly.
"I have to stay with Kev. I promised Dad." Jake said to Cory seriously.
Kenny opened his mouth to say that he wanted to stay with Kevin too when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
He turned to see Kyle shaking his head.
Kenny nodded at Kyle and walked off the shuttle with him.
Cory looked at Dr. McCoy with question.
"Good enough." McCoy said, then moved to one side of the gurney and said, "Masterson, help me move him off this bed. Kevin, step away for just a minute."
Lieutenant Masterson hurried to Dr. McCoy's side and helped him shift Dylan over to the row of seats that had been laid out to form a bed.
As soon as Dylan had been moved to his new bed, Kevin was back at his side, holding his hand.
"We're not helping this boy by sitting here. Let's get this thing moving." McCoy called to the front of the shuttle.
"Yes Doctor." Sean called back as Cory secured the door.
"You're piloting the shuttle?" McCoy asked with wide eyes.
"Yes Dr. McCoy. You'd better strap in, I'm going to burn some atmosphere." Sean said as he fired up the engines.
McCoy quickly snapped his seatbelt in place, then discretely muttered to himself, "Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee..."
* * * * *
"Martin." John said to the 'audio only' message field on the terminal screen.
"This is Lieutenant Commander Clark. The suspect just rammed the gate of the Short Compound at a high rate of speed. The gate held and the suspect is slumped over the steering wheel, apparently unconscious." Lieutenant Commander Clark said professionally.
"Approach with extreme caution. We have reason to believe that he is armed and dangerous as well as mentally unstable." John said firmly.
"Acknowledged, Clark out."
"Martin out." John said, then looked at Teri and Chip who had been listening.
"When do you want to tell Vincent?" Chip asked into the silence.
"Not until we have his father in custody. When I go in there I want to be able to tell him what's going on. I want him to know that his mother died while trying to find a safe place for him to live." Teri said distantly.
"Do you think that might make him feel somehow responsible?" John asked in thought.
"I don't know. I just need for him to know that his mother loved him. I don't know how I can tell him without destroying him." Teri said as her eyes began to glisten with unformed tears.
"There's no way you can tell a boy that his mother is dead without completely destroying his world." Chip said softly.
"I know." Teri said in a whisper.
* * * * *
"Why did you stop me from going with Kevin?" Kenny asked as the group walked away from the helipad.
Kyle stopped and got a distant look for an instant, then said, "Because Mikey told me to."
"Why does Mikey want me to stay here?" Kenny asked curiously.
"All he'll say is that Kevin, Jake and Dylan need to talk about some things." Kyle said distantly.
"Okay." Kenny said seriously and started to walk again.
"Don't worry, you'll get to see Kevin again in a few minutes on the Enterprise." Kyle said, trying to sound cheerful.
"Yeah." Kenny said in a noncommittal voice.
Kyle thought for a second, then got a look of mischief in his eyes.
Kenny stopped walking and looked at Kyle with question.
Kyle looked back at Kenny with a smile.
"Stop it." Kenny said seriously as he wiggled his butt a little, trying to relieve the tickle.
"Not until you stop worrying about Kevin. He's got Jake, Cory, Sean and Mikey watching out for him." Kyle said firmly.
Kenny wiggled his butt again and said, "Okay, I'll stop worrying. Just stop it."
Kyle smiled and removed the suggestion from Kenny's mind.
"Just wait until I learn telepathy. Then you'll be sorry." Kenny said with a smile as he walked to Kyle's side.
"If you'll forgive me, I'll tell you what I did to Aaron." Kyle said in a calculating tone.
Kenny thought about it for less than a second before saying, "Okay, you're forgiven. Tell me."
* * * * *
"Tommy, can you tell me what's going on? Why is Southcrest at Security Red?." Cory asked seriously.
"Mom called it. I don't know too much. I'll ask JJ as soon as he gets out of the study." Tommy said quickly.
"Is the Clan okay?" Cory asked with concern.
"Yeah. Andrew went around and checked on everyone. We're all accounted for." Tommy said seriously.
"Good. See if you can find out what's going on. I'll call you when we reach the Enterprise." Cory said seriously.
"Will do. Short out." Tommy said with a smile.
"Short out." Cory said with a gentle smile, then noticed Jake looking back at Dylan with concern.
"I need to do something for a minute babe, yell if you need me." Cory said quietly to Sean.
"Will do." Sean said with a loving glance.
"Wanna talk about it Jake?" Cory asked as he took the seat across the aisle.
Jake looked at Cory with a helpless expression as he said, "I don't even know what I'm thinking or feeling."
Cory nodded his acceptance of the statement, then asked, "Then do you mind if I ask you about something?"
"You can ask me anything." Jake said sincerely.
"Will you tell me about why Dylan has those scars on his arms?" Cory asked quietly.
"Yeah. Some people do that when they use heroin." Jake said in thought.
"You mean he cut himself?" Cory asked to be sure.
"I never did it, but some people say that it helps them fight the cravings. They get all crazy like because they want a fix so bad and the cutting calms them down." Jake said carefully.
"There's so much I don't know..." Cory said distantly.
"The best way I ever heard it described was that cutting can be like writing "help" across your body when there's no other way to ask." Jake said, then looked back at Dylan.
"Babe, I'm about to need you on comm." Sean called out from the front.
"Thanks Jake. Don't worry about your friend. We'll make sure he's okay." Cory said as he got up from the chair.
Jake continued to look at Dylan as he whispered "My friend..."
* * * * *
"The suspect was apparently killed in the impact with the gate. His drivers license says that he is Victor Winters." Lieutenant Commander Clark said from the terminal.
Teri nodded and began to walk slowly toward the door.
"Thank you Lieutenant Commander. Please send a copy of your report directly to me." John said quietly.
"Yes sir. Clark out." The Lieutenant Commander said formally.
"Martin out." John said without enthusiasm and hit the disconnect key on the terminal, then found himself being pulled into a hug by JJ.
Chip discretely reached around John and JJ and pressed a few keys, then said in a quiet voice, "Stand down 'Security Red'."
"Do you want me to go with you?" Brady asked Teri as she approached the door.
"No. Thank you Brady. I have had some experience with this. I'll handle it." Teri said with regret, then continued out of the study.
* * * * *
"Jake? Is that you?" Dylan asked in confusion as he squinted his one good eye.
"Yeah." Jake said as he unbuckled his seatbelt and moved back in the shuttle to kneel by Dylan's bed.
"Are you gonna kill me now?" Dylan asked quietly, not sounding particularly bothered by the idea.
Before Jake could answer, Kevin said, "Daddy K and Spade are both dead. Jake's not gonna kill you, he's gonna help me make sure you're going to be okay."
Dylan looked at Jake with question.
Jake thought about the words and finally nodded.
"Why?" Dylan asked weakly.
"Because we're the same. We both did what we had to do to survive. Without Daddy K and Spade telling us what to do, we're on the same side." Jake said in thought.
Dylan nodded hesitantly.
"I've got a new life now. A life without drugs or whoring or fighting. If you want, you can have a life like that too. Kev and I will both be willing to help you." Jake said quietly.
"What do I have to do?" Dylan asked suspiciously.
"Accept it." Jake said simply.
"What kind of life can I have with half a face?" Dylan asked as he reached up to feel the bandage.
"We'll talk to Doctor McCoy about that after we land. I bet he'll be able to do something to fix you." Jake said with a smile.
"Yeah, Dr. McCoy is making me not be little and skinny no more." Kevin said happily.
Dylan looked at Kevin and gave a weak smile before saying, "I can see that. I think you look bigger than last time I saw you."
"Uh huh. I got so fat that the elastic in my underwear broke today." Kevin said proudly.
Dylan began to chuckle, then winced in pain.
"Do you need the doctor?" Jake asked with immediate concern.
"No. Just don't make me laugh. It hurts." Dylan said with a pained smile.
"Guys, get in your seats. We're about to land." Cory called back into the cabin.
* * * * *
"Guys, I need to talk to Vincent and Lawrence for a few minutes." Teri said quietly as she walked into the living room.
Gabe looked at her expression and felt a shiver run up his spine as he began to suspect what she was here to do.
"Come on guys, let's leave them to talk." Gabe said, trying to inject some cheer into his voice.
"Do I have to go too?" Deacon asked quietly.
Teri gave him a gentle smile and said, "No. It's probably best if you stay. Please sit down, both of you."
Joe looked at Teri with question and received a nod as his answer.
"Boys, some things happened just now. There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just come out and say it." Teri said gently.
Everyone in the room waited, dreading the coming words.
"Peggy and Victor Winters both died this evening." Teri said, trying to keep her voice from cracking.
A moment of silence fell over the room as everyone tried to absorb the statement.
Finally the silence was broken when Vincent jumped up from the couch and screamed, "YOU'RE LYING! You took me away from my momma so you could bring me here and make me one of your faggot kids!"
"Vincent..." Teri said with sympathy.
"You lie! I don't want to talk to you. I HATE YOU!!!" Vincent screamed and ran out of the room.
Teri quickly turned to follow, but stopped at the feeling of a hand on her shoulder.
Joe looked torn with indecision, but finally said, "I'll get him. Help Lawrence."
Teri gave a quick nod, then turned to find Lawrence sobbing in Deacon's arms.