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"Lieutenant Thompson, Lieutenant Marsh of the Orlando Police Department would like to speak with you." A security ensign said from the study doorway.
"Gary, would you see to documenting the locations of the hidden cameras and keep an eye on things while I talk to the locals?" Brady asked hopefully.
"Yes sir. I'll take care of everything." Ensign Carlson said seriously.
Brady nodded and walked to the living room.
* * * * *
Ricardo broke away from the clan meeting and walked directly to the small group where Vincent was sitting on Karen Chasez' lap.
Reuben followed close behind, concerned about what his brother might do.
"I give you hug?" Ricardo asked Vincent seriously.
All other conversation stopped as Vincent looked at the small boy with question.
"Um, okay. I guess." Vincent said slowly and got off Karen's lap.
Vincent hesitantly picked up the small boy and was surprised by Ricardo's vice-like grip.
Reuben walked to the group and hesitantly said, "We just heard about... what happened, and Ricardo wanted to make you feel better."
Vincent looked at Reuben and noticed the honest concern in his eyes.
"Do you know what happened? Aunt Teri just told me that they were dead." Vincent asked in a small voice.
Reuben looked at Chip and Joe with question, not knowing if he was supposed to talk about it.
Chip quietly said, "Vincent, I can tell you what you want to know. But I think you'd better sit down with Karen first."
Vincent looked at Karen to be sure it was okay with her.
"This chair is big enough for both of us, and you can bring your little friend too if you want." Karen said as she shifted to one side of the chair.
Vincent tried to get into the chair without letting go of Ricardo, but couldn't seem to manage it.
Joe smiled at the scene, then lifted the pair of boys to sit beside Karen.
"Okay Vincent, we're still trying to figure out everything that happened tonight, but from what we know so far, your father killed your mother." Chip said in a low, quiet voice.
Vincent tensed at the statement, then felt himself being hugged by Ricardo and Karen simultaneously.
After a moment to think about what he'd been told, Vincent quietly said, "Cory already said that if I stayed with my dad, that he might kill me. I guess this means that he was right."
Chip glanced at Joe with a pained expression, then said, "After that, your father wrecked his car. He died in the crash."
Vincent didn't realize he was crying until he felt the tears running down his cheeks.
Karen felt the boy's tense body beside her as she held him gently. She looked up at Chip and whispered, "Could you give us a few minutes. I don't think Vincent wants you to see him crying."
"Of course, we'll be over with Teri if you need us." Chip said seriously.
"Thank you for telling me Commander Dodds." Vincent said in a trembling voice.
Chip stopped and gave Vincent a brief look of admiration before continuing.
Karen watched as Chip, Joe and Reuben walked away, then said, "It's okay Vincent. You're with your Grandma Karen, go ahead and let it loose."
Vincent held back his tears as best he could and fought to say, "Ricardo shouldn't see me crying."
"Nonsense. It's better for him to learn when it's okay to cry than to watch you fight to hold it in." Karen said seriously.
"Ricardo..." Vincent choked, then continued, "When you're sitting with your grandma, it's okay to cry if you need to."
"I'll remember." Ricardo said seriously.
Vincent leaned into Karen's side and let loose his control as he began to cry freely.
Ricardo held tightly to Vincent, doing the only thing he knew to make someone who was hurting feel better.
* * * * *
"Um, I forgot to tell you before... we brought your soup." Kevin said as Dylan walked out of the bathroom.
"Thanks Kevin." Dylan said as he climbed back into the bed.
As Dylan was beginning to eat his soup, there was a beeping noise that drew everyone's attention.
Dr. McCoy pressed the button to turn on the intercom and said, "Sickbay."
"I have a video transmission for Jake Thompson." Uhura said seriously.
McCoy looked over to see Jake looking back at him with question.
"Uhura, would you put it through to my office? He's on his way." McCoy said, then clicked the button to turn off the intercom.
Jake looked around the room, not sure which door led to the Doctor's office.
Cory gestured to a door at the far side of the room.
"Thank you Doctor." Jake said quietly as he hurried into the office.
* * * * *
Billy and Allen walked into the room to find Deacon and Lawrence holding each other in silence.
Deacon looked up from the hug and held out an arm to invite Billy to join them.
Billy immediately walked to the pair and hugged both boys firmly.
"I'm going to be okay." Lawrence said in a hoarse whisper.
Deacon looked up at Allen watching them and slowly pulled out of the hug.
Allen gave a sympathetic smile and opened his arms in invitation to Deacon.
"Thanks Pop." Deacon said in a whisper as he hugged Allen tightly.
"You be strong for Lawrence and I'll be strong for you." Allen said gently.
Deacon nodded into Allen's chest as he soaked in the comfort.
* * * * *
"Lieutenant Marsh, what can I do for you?" Brady asked professionally as he offered his hand.
Lieutenant Marsh shook the offered hand and carefully said, "From what I know of what happened tonight, you're out of your jurisdiction here. This investigation should be a matter for the Orlando Police Department."
Brady considered his response before saying, "Mr. Winters attacked the home of the Director of Federation Youth Services. That makes this our jurisdiction."
Lieutenant Marsh nodded in thought, then said, "I see. I'm sorry if I sounded like I was trying to pick a fight... It's just that Detective Blair is a friend of mine..."
"I understand. It becomes personal when it's one of your own." Brady said in a sympathetic voice.
Lieutenant Marsh nodded, then quietly asked, "Is there any way that we can be involved in this investigation? It's really frustrating to know that OC is laying there in the hospital, fighting for his life and we can't even help to figure out why this happened."
Brady thought about the words, then said, "Let me see what I can do. This isn't something that I have the authority to approve, but if I talk to Commander Martin about it, I might be able to convince him to accept help with the investigation."
"Thank you Lieutenant Thompson. If you can manage it, that will make everyone feel a lot better. Sometimes we get the feeling that Starfleet just walks in, takes over and kicks us out of the way." Lieutenant Marsh said seriously.
Brady nodded again, then said, "I can't make any promises, but I'll see what I can do."
* * * * *
"Where is your brother?" Juana asked Reuben in panic.
"He's over there." Reuben said as he pointed.
"Why is that boy crying?" Juana asked with motherly concern as she shifted Edovina in her arms.
"Vincent's momma and daddy both died tonight. Ricardo wanted to hug him to make him feel better." Reuben said quietly.
Juana watched the scene with understanding and pulled Reuben into a hug.
* * * * *
Jake went into the Doctor's office to find Aaron looking back at him from the terminal screen.
"What's going on Aaron?" Jake asked with concern at Aaron's serious expression.
"We've got a situation here." Aaron said in thought.
"We've got one here too." Jake said frankly.
"Then I guess it makes sense to share. Maybe we can help each other." Aaron said carefully.
"Lawrence and Vincent's father killed their mother, then himself tonight." Aaron said in a disturbed tone.
"Shit." Jake muttered as he considered how this would effect Lawrence.
"I was thinking that since your dad... well, you know. Maybe you can help them." Aaron said in a considering voice.
Jake shook his head as he quietly said, "No kid should have to go through this."
"Maybe you can be there to do all the things you wish someone would have done for you. This will be kind of like your chance to pass on what you've learned and make it a little easier for them to deal with everything." Aaron said carefully.
"Yeah, okay. I don't know what I'll say to them, but I'll be there when they need me." Jake said seriously.
"Good. That's what I thought. Is there anything I can do to help with what you've got going on there?" Aaron asked with concern.
Jake thought about it for a minute, then carefully said, "Maybe."
"Just name it." Aaron said seriously.
"A guy from my old neighborhood was shot last weekend, he's messed up pretty bad. He's going to be going to Camp Little Eagle as soon as Dr. McCoy is done with him. I thought that if you wouldn't mind doing the celebrity thing, maybe you could welcome him to his new home." Jake said in thought.
"Is he a fan?" Aaron asked casually.
"I don't know. We never really hung around together so I don't know what kind of music he likes. But even if he isn't a fan, he'll probably still be impressed by the celebrity welcome." Jake said in concentration.
"Yeah, sure. Just let me know when he's arriving and I'll go over to the camp to meet him. What's his name?" Aaron asked curiously.
"Dylan. And I guess I should warn you, he was shot in the face. Try not to freak out too bad when you see it." Jake said seriously.
"Got it. Thanks for the warning. I'd better get off here now. Tommy is bouncing like he's about to wet himself, I guess that means he wants to use the terminal." Aaron said with a teasing smile.
Jake smiled at the statement, then thought to ask, "Would you give Mark a message for me?"
"Sure." Aaron said curiously.
"Just tell him that he's right, when you can help someone else get their wish, it's better." Jake said with a happy smile.
Aaron looked confused by the statement for a moment, then broke into a smile and nodded.
"Thanks for thinking of me to help them Aaron, I really appreciate it." Jake said seriously.
"It's part of being a team. Later." Aaron said and began to stand.
The next thing Jake knew Tommy was taking Aaron's seat before Aaron was completely out of the chair.
Jake smiled as Tommy quickly said, "Oh, uh. I need to make a call."
"Got it. Later Tommy." Jake said with a chuckle and disconnected the transmission.
As Jake was about to leave the office, a voice behind him asked, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"
* * * * *
"Commander Martin, I'm ready to make a preliminary report." Brady said seriously into his communicator.
"I hope you found something to explain all this." John said as he devoted his full attention to the terminal before him.
"I believe I did. Mr. Winters kept a journal that detailed his thoughts and feelings. There is no doubt in my mind that Victor Winters was a seriously disturbed man. But I believe that he and Peggy Winters would still be alive if not for the actions of a third party. A Ms. Carolyn Rind." Brady said seriously.
"What connection does this third party have to the events of this evening?" John asked curiously.
"Anything I could say at this point would be speculation. But her conversation earlier today with Mr. Winters was recorded. I believe that as soon as we have the recording we may have sufficient evidence for the prosecution of Carolyn Rind as an accessory to murder." Brady said seriously.
"Keep me posted. Is there anything else?" John asked in thought.
"Yes. Lieutenant Marsh of the Orlando Police Department is here and very determined to be a part of this investigation." Brady said formally.
"This is a Federation matter. If he can't accept that, I'll have a talk with the mayor..."
"Actually, I'd like to request his assistance in the investigation." Brady interrupted.
After a moment of thought, Commander Martin carefully said, "That could be problematic. Civilian authorities don't have the skilled training or resources available to carry out an effective investigation."
"One of their detectives was shot and may still die from his injuries. I believe we have all the relevant information already. Allowing the Orlando Police to contribute won't hinder our investigation and will make them feel like they're able to do something to help their fallen comrade." Brady said with a plea for understanding under his words.
John thought for a moment, then said in a less formal voice, "I know how it feels to be excluded from an investigation over a matter of jurisdiction. I'll leave it to your discretion. But just remember that the Orlando Police Department isn't as secure with their information as we are."
Brady gave a slight chuckle as he said, "Actually, I'm counting on that."
"What are you up to Lieutenant?" John asked in a playful voice.
"The news about this will come out one way or another. If I'm right, doing it this way will cause the media to focus completely on Mr. Winters. That way they won't be poking around and asking questions that might cause problems for Lawrence and Vincent." Brady said carefully.
"Why do you believe that?" John asked curiously, sensing that Brady was withholding something.
"Because Mr. Winters was a postal worker."
* * * * *
"I need to know exactly what just happened for my reports." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
Cory looked at Dr. McCoy and hesitantly said, "It was a miracle. Jake just called on Saint Mikey of Urbandale to take away all traces of drugs and disease from Dylan's body."
Silence fell over the room as Dr. McCoy considered what Cory just said.
Finally Dr. McCoy said, "As a doctor and a man of science I can't accept what I've just seen. But before I'm either of those things, I'm a person with my own beliefs and faith. The pope has confirmed Saint Mikey and I've seen the miracle with my own eyes. What more does a good Catholic boy need? Don't worry about the reports, I'll come up with something that Starfleet Medical will be happy with... I always do.
A moment later, Dylan walked out of the bathroom, yet again.
As Dylan was getting back into his bed he noticed someone walking into the room. Before Dylan was completely settled in the bed, Kevin was standing beside him.
"Ensign Short, would you care to fill me in on the situation?" Captain Kirk asked firmly.
"Yes sir. And it's Patriarch Short at the moment. Captain Kirk, I'd like to introduce you to Dylan..." Cory trailed off, trying to remember if anyone had said Dylan's last name.
"Chang." Dylan said with an expression of wonder as he looked at Captain Kirk, his boyhood hero.
"It's nice to meet you Dylan. Now would someone tell me what's going on here?" Captain Kirk said as he looked around the room.
"Clan Short was called by a police officer in Chicago who was worried about Dylan. When we saw what they were doing to Dylan in the hospital, I called for help. The rest of the Clan is at Southcrest and they're under a Security Red condition, so the next logical course available to me was to call for assistance from the Enterprise." Cory said carefully.
"It was a bona fide medical emergency. There's no way this boy could have survived another day in that place. His kidneys had completely shut down and those morons were pumping fluids into him... It'll all be in my report." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
Captain Kirk was taken a little off guard by the note of anger in McCoy's voice.
"The situation was bad enough to warrant a full investigation." Lieutenant Masterson said seriously.
"I see." Kirk said with a look of concern directed at Dylan.
Dylan got a desperate look and quickly said, "Excuse me Captain Kirk, I've got to..." Then ran to the bathroom.
Captain Kirk looked at Dr. McCoy with question.
"His kidneys are working now." Dr. McCoy said with a slight shrug.
"Well then, it looks like you have everything under control down here... I'll just get back to the bridge." Captain Kirk said in a diminishing voice.
"Captain Kirk, I just want to say for myself and all of Clan Short how grateful we are for the assistance that the crew of the Enterprise provided." Cory said seriously.
"As I understand the purpose of Clan Short, it's your primary mission to help children in need. I'm glad that the Enterprise and her crew were able to provide assistance toward that worthy goal." Captain Kirk said with practiced diplomacy.
"Sorry about that." Dylan said shyly as he hurried back to his bed.
"Dylan, maybe when you're feeling better, Patriarch Short could arrange for you to get a proper tour of the ship." Captain Kirk said with a gentle smile.
"Really? Thanks!" Dylan said with excitement.
Kirk smiled at the boys excitement as he turned and left the Sickbay.
* * * * *
Vincent's tears finally stopped flowing and he sat quietly for a minute just enjoying the feeling of hugging and being hugged.
"You feel better now?" Ricardo asked quietly.
"Yeah. A lot better. Thank you." Vincent said gently.
"I think my momma needs a hug now." Ricardo said seriously.
Vincent looked across the room to see Reuben hugging a woman. The woman had tears in her eyes and was holding a baby gently in her arms.
"I think you're right. You'd better go over there." Vincent said carefully.
"If you need a hug. You tell me." Ricardo said firmly.
"Yeah. I will." Vincent said with a smile.
Ricardo looked at Vincent's expression carefully, then wiggled down off Vincent's lap and hurried to his mother and brother.
"Are you feeling better now?" Karen asked Vincent quietly.
"Yeah. Thank you Grandma Karen." Vincent said softly.
"Well, like Ricardo said, if you need a hug, you tell me." Karen said with a smile.
"I will. I promise." Vincent said as he snuggled against Karen's side.
* * * * *
"Doctor, I think I'm ready to stop peeing now." Dylan said as he walked back to the bed yet again.
McCoy chuckled and said, "You look a hundred percent better than when you got here. I think you've lost about twenty pounds."
Dylan looked at the doctor seriously and said, "Yeah, it feels like I've peed about twenty pounds of water."
The intercom sounded again, drawing everyone's attention.
"Sickbay." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
"A video transmission for Patriarch Short." Uhura said efficiently.
McCoy looked at the office where Jake was still using the terminal and finally said, "I guess you'll need to go into the conference room down the hall."
"I know where it is. I'll be right back." Cory said seriously.
Sean looked at Cory with a hopeful expression.
Cory gave a gentle smile and a slight nod, then headed out the sickbay door followed closely by Sean.
"Uhura, patch it through to conference room two. He's on his way." McCoy said with a smile.
"Yes Doctor." Uhura said professionally.
Well, it looks like our little group is getting smaller all the time." Dr. McCoy said as he ambled over to the side of the biobed.
"Shit!" Dylan said and hopped off of the bed and ran to the bathroom.
"So Kevin, tell me how you've been doing. Are you enjoying the milkshakes?"
* * * * *
"So what are they doing now?" Matt asked casually as he rested back in the cushioned chair.
"Dylan is peeing again." Kyle said in a bored tone.
"Jake has completed his conversation with Aaron. I believe it would be inappropriate to relay the information he has been given."
Kyle got a distant look in his eyes, then sat up suddenly.
"It is inappropriate to scan another's mind without prior consent." Xain said as a statement of fact.
"Yeah, sorry." Kyle said absently, then looked at his father with concern.
"What is it?" Dan asked carefully.
"It's one of those things that I'm not supposed to repeat because I got it accidentally." Kyle said with frustration.
"Is something going on?" Kenny asked curiously.
"Oh yeah." Kyle said as he squinted his eyes in concentration.
"My bond with Jake has closed." Xain said distantly.
"I can't see him either. He's shielded." Kyle said in thought.
"Do you think something's wrong?" Kenny asked immediately.
"No. He's in Dr. McCoy's office, I'm sure he's fine... I think Cory is about to find out about the Security Red." Kyle said in concentration.
"They'll tell us if they want us to know." Matt said firmly.
Kyle looked at Matt, then reluctantly nodded.
"Come here." Dan said and opened his arms to Kyle.
Kyle reluctantly walked to Dan and was pulled into a hug.
"This sucks." Kyle said in a grumpy voice.
"I know. But Matt is right. Having a special ability means also having a special responsibility." Dan said as he held his son close.
"Yeah. But it still sucks. I want to be doing something to help." Kyle said in a grumble.
"Kyle, there's something you can do to help me if you want." Kenny said quietly.
"What?" Kyle asked as he turned to look at Kenny.
"Help me to learn the telepathy thing." Kenny said with hope.
"It'll be a lot easier if we have Kevin here when I teach you." Kyle said seriously.
"I know. But he's not here and we don't have anything else to do right now. Let's just do it the hard way." Kenny said frankly.
Kyle thought about it for a second, then smiled and said, "Yeah."
* * * * *
"Mikey!" Jake said happily as he pulled Mikey into a joyful hug.
"I'm glad to see you too Jake." Mikey said with a chuckle.
"Thank you for helping Dylan. I wasn't sure you would but, thank you." Jake said happily.
"It was more you than me Jake." Mikey said honestly.
Jake pulled out of the hug and looked at Mikey with question.
"Your heartfelt plea for me to give your divine gift to your life-long enemy attracted the attention of our Father." Mikey said seriously.
"You mean...?" Jake asked as he looked up.
"Himself." Mikey whispered.
Jake looked at Mikey with wide eyes.
"If it were up to me, every single child I encounter would receive a miracle of one kind or another. But it doesn't work that way. Miracles are granted only in very rare circumstances and are usually planned and approved in advance." Mikey said carefully.
"Was mine?" Jake asked in thought.
Mikey smiled and said, "Yes. But I couldn't bestow the miracle until you made a real commitment to change your life. Coming to Florida was a good start, but you still had some wiggle room. When you accepted Allen as your father, I was free to help you."
"But Dylan's miracle wasn't like that." Jake said in a leading tone, prompting Mikey to explain.
"No. It wasn't planned. You and Kevin were guided to meet up with Dylan to show him that there is reason to hope for a better life. You were just supposed to be an example." Mikey finished with a shrug.
"So did I mess things up for you?" Jake asked with concern.
"No. Well, not too much. I need your help with one thing and then I think it should all work out." Mikey said seriously.
"What's that?" Jake asked immediately.
Mikey smiled and said, "When the time comes, I need for you to trust Kenny."
"I already trust Ken." Jake said in confusion.
"Jake. You've known Kevin almost all his life. You know Xain's true self through your bond. But you haven't really had the chance to get to know Kenny that well. When the time comes that you have a choice to either support Kenny's decision or disagree with him, I need you to trust him." Mikey said seriously.
"Okay. I can do that." Jake said in thought.
"Good. Now I've got to be going." Mikey said peacefully.
"Before you go, can you tell me anything about what I should do for Lawrence and Vincent?" Jake asked quickly.
"Not really. Just remember what it felt like when you were in a similar situation and do what you think is best for them." Mikey said distantly.
"Okay." Jake said in thought.
All of a sudden, Mikey shook his head and his expression changed from distant to worried.
"Is something wrong?" Jake asked with concern.
After a long silent moment, Mikey turned to Jake and said, "I REALLY need to go now. I'll talk to you later Jake."
"Okay, and thanks again Mikey." Jake said quickly as he watched Mikey fade away with none of his usual sparkles or laughter.
* * * * *
"How's he doing?" Jackie asked as she walked to stand beside the chair.
"Better, I think." Karen said softly.
Vincent looked up at Jackie and gave her a weak smile.
"How are you doing Vincent?" Jackie asked with concern.
"I think I'm going to be okay." Vincent said uncertainly.
"If you need to talk about anything, Karen and I will do whatever we can to help you." Jackie said seriously.
"Um, I... I don't know what... I mean, I don't have a home anymore. What do I do now?" Vincent asked in a lost tone.
"We need to get Teri over here. Vincent is ready to deal with this so it's time to get this settled." Karen said decisively.
Jackie saw Teri and Mona watching with matching looks of concern.
With one gesture from Jackie, both women hurried across the room to offer whatever assistance they could.
"Okay Vincent. It's time to make some decisions. It's Teri's job to help kids who need it." Karen said carefully.
Vincent looked at Teri with an expression of shame and said, "I'm sorry I said those mean things to you before. Sometimes my mouth just keeps going when it shouldn't... I can't help it."
Teri gave a tender smile at Vincent's remorseful expression and said, "I understand. Don't worry about it, I'm not mad at you."
Vincent nodded, but still seemed worried.
"If you can tell us what you would like to happen, we'll see what we can come up with to help you." Karen said softly.
Vincent turned to look at Karen with a hopeless expression and said, "What I *really* want is to have a daddy who loves me."
Karen nodded as she thought about what they could do to help Vincent.
"Do you know who you want that to be?” Jackie asked in a leading tone.
Vincent hesitantly nodded.
"But you don't think he'll want to be your father." Jackie said in a speculative voice.
"I don't know. He said I can live with him for two weeks but..."
"But you want it to be longer than two weeks. You want it to be forever." Jackie said, completing the thought.
Vincent nodded and said, "And I want to be in Starfleet someday."
"I missed something here. Who? What?" Teri asked in confusion.
"Lieutenant Bowers has arranged for Vincent to live with him on the Yorktown for two weeks to give Vincent a break from his problems. Unfortunately, we don't know what's going to happen after those two weeks." Karen explained.
"Vincent, are you sure that's what you *really* want?" Teri asked seriously.
Vincent looked at her expression and gave a firm nod.
"Then let me see what I can do. Give me a few minutes to work things out." Teri said and waited for Vincent's acknowledgement.
After another nod from Vincent, Teri walked across the room to where the majority of the clan members were gathered.
* * * * *
"Sorry to keep you waiting Lieutenant Marsh." Brady said as he walked back into the living room of the Winters home.
"That's fine. How did it go?" Lieutenant Marsh asked hopefully.
"Very well. As you can see we've already secured this location and there is a team working on the location of the shooting. But if you'd be willing, there are two things the Orlando Police Department could do to be of assistance to Starfleet Security." Brady said carefully.
"Just name it." Lieutenant Marsh said seriously.
"First of all, you have a Ms. Carolyn Rind in custody at the city jail. She is a person of significant interest in this investigation. I would appreciate it if you could keep her in your jail until we have gathered all the facts in this case. If it appears that there is no way to avoid her release, call us immediately and we'll make a determination at that time if we have enough evidence to bring charges against her and take her into Starfleet custody." Brady said in thought.
"No problem. I'll take care of that right away." Lieutenant Marsh said professionally.
"It would also be helpful if you could have a detective or two talk to Mr. Winters coworkers and find out about his personality, mental state, if perhaps there was anything in particular bothering him lately." Brady said carefully.
"I'll get a team right on it. Thank you for doing this Lieutenant Thompson." Lieutenant Marsh said honestly.
"When I told Commander Martin that one of your men was injured, he said that he's been in a similar position before and understood the feeling. It was his decision." Brady said modestly.
"A decision that he never would have faced if you hadn't brought it to him." Lieutenant Marsh said with a smile, then pulled out his cell phone as he walked away.
The last thing Brady heard the Lieutenant say as he was walking out the door was, "This is Marsh. We've got a prisoner named Carolyn Rind in lockup. I want her in solitary until further notice."
* * * * *
"Why are you at Security Red?" Cory asked as soon as he saw Tommy on the screen.
"We're not now, but Lawrence and Vincent's father killed their mother, then died trying to ram the gate of the Short Compound trying to get to Vincent." Tommy said seriously.
"That would do it." Sean said with a nod.
"How is everyone?" Cory asked with concern.
"The Clan are all accounted for. Camp Little Eagle reports all accounted for plus two visitors." Tommy said seriously.
"Good. Anything else I should know?" Cory asked quickly.
"Hang on, Jamie's got a really funny look. I think he may have something." Tommy said with a look of concern.
"Go find out, we'll wait." Cory said immediately.
* * * * *
"Guys, The Department of Federation Youth Services needs a favor from Clan Short." Teri said seriously.
"What can we do?" JJ asked immediately.
"I need one of you guys to come with me to talk to Lieutenant Bowers. I've got an idea about how we can work things out to help Vincent, but I may need the Clan's help to make it work." Teri said in thought.
"I'll do it." Aaron said immediately.
"No. I think you're going to be needed at Camp Little Eagle soon. I'll take care of it." David said seriously.
Aaron thought about it, then nodded that David was right.
"Fine, come with me." Teri said and started walking toward Joe and Chip.
* * * * *
"Jamie, what is it?" Tommy asked as he ran to Jamie's side.
"He's trying to focus. There's a ton of mental noise around here right now." Jacob said in concentration.
Jamie's eyes went wide as he homed in on what he was looking for.
"You're not going to believe this!" Jamie said as he finally focused on Tommy.
"Cory's on the terminal. If it's something he should know, tell him." Tommy said seriously.
"Come on, none of you are going to believe this." Jamie said as he hurried to take the seat in front of the terminal.
* * * * *
"Commander Dodds I have an official matter to discuss with you." Teri said formally.
"Of course Director Short, how may I help you?" Chip asked in full Commander mode.
Joe turned to leave when Teri said, "Lieutenant Bowers, this concerns you as well."
Joe turned back around and waited to see what Teri was going to say.
"First of all, David, speaking strictly hypothetically, if a Vulcan Clan were to accept guardianship of a child, that child would automatically become a Vulcan citizen, correct?" Teri asked carefully.
"Yes. I mean, one of the first things we do after we get custody of a child is to apply for dual citizenship." David said in thought.
"But if you didn't apply for dual citizenship, the child would automatically become a full Vulcan citizen. Right?" Teri asked carefully.
"Yes. Since the Clan is of Vulcan, the child that is given into their care automatically becomes a citizen of Vulcan... it is logical." David said in thought.
"Commander Dodds, still speaking hypothetically, if a Human Starfleet officer were given the honor of mentoring a Vulcan child with aspirations of one day becoming a Starfleet officer, do you think that would pose any insurmountable problems?" Teri asked carefully.
Chip considered the question before saying, "Well, since you said 'mentoring' instead of 'adopting' it removes many of the usual objections that come with the subject of raising a child on a starship."
"And as a Vulcan citizen, the child would have a level of autonomy that Earth children don't have." Joe said in thought.
"Yes. Vulcan children are encouraged to make most of their own decisions... provided that they are logical." Chip said in agreement.
"So does Safe Haven apply in Vincent's case? I mean, hypothetically." Joe asked carefully.
Teri glanced at Vincent and said, "Definitely. Under Article 11 Section 1 of the Safe Haven Act, signs of physical abuse justify the application of the Act. If we need to back up that claim, there is the fact that I issued an advisory before the alleged abuse and Lawrence's telepathic testimony of an abusive history in the home is on record."
Chip nodded his agreement of Teri's assessment.
"So the next thing we would need to do is find a suitable mentor for our hypothetical Vulcan child." Teri said as she looked at Joe.
"I think you've just found yourself a hypothetical mentor." Joe said with a mischievous grin.
"Are we ready to do this?" Teri asked as she looked at the men.
Chip, Joe and David all nodded.
The four set their course across the room and homed in on their target.
* * * * *
"Cor, you know that CPS worker your mom got booted from the hospital?" Jamie asked quickly.
"Yeah. Crust or something like that." Cory said in thought.
"Rind. John just found out that she called Vincent's dad right before he went on his shooting spree, but he doesn't know anything about what happened at the hospital." Jamie said quickly.
"So she called Mr. Winters and probably told him that Mrs. Winters was talking to the police." Sean said over Cory's shoulder.
"And that was enough to send him off the deep end." Tommy continued the thought.
"Guys, I can't handle this from here. I need for you to get John, Mom and whoever else you think needs to be in on this and tell them what's going on so they can compare notes." Cory said seriously.
"Wait a second, they're up to something... let me adjust the view, I think you need to see this." Jamie said as he quickly adjusted the controls.
* * * * *
Karen, Jackie, Mona and Vincent watched as Chip, Joe, Teri and David approached.
David pulled out his communicator and said, "Tommy, I need for you to record an official log."
"David, I'm right here." Tommy called out from beside the terminal.
"Just do it." David said with an exasperated look at Tommy.
"We're recording." Tommy's voice said over the communicator.
A moment of silence fell over the group until it was broken by David saying, "Director Short, I, David Gallagher formally request that you invoke the Safe Haven Act on the behalf of Vincent Winters citing Section 11 Article 1 as cause and name his custodian to be Clan Short of Vulcan."
"Commander Dodds have you witnessed the request?" Teri asked formally.
"I, Commander Charles Dodds of the Federation Starship Enterprise have witnessed the request." Chip said seriously.
"Lieutenant Bowers, have you witnessed the request?" Teri asked, still using her formal voice.
"I, Lieutenant Joseph Bowers of the Federation Starship Yorktown have witnessed the request." Joe said reverently.
"I, Teri Short, Director of Federation Youth Services have heard the request of David Gallagher and found it to be justified under Article 11, Section 1 of the Federation's Safe Haven Act. I hereby name Clan Short of Vulcan to collectively be the guardian of Vincent Winters." Teri said seriously.
"End recording." David said into the communicator.
"Got it." Tommy said in response.
"Did you just adopt me?" Vincent asked with a curious look at David.
"Sort of. You see all those guys over there?" David said and pointed to the clan all looking back at them.
"Yeah." Vincent said hesitantly.
"The whole group of us are now your legal guardians. That means that if anyone wants to mess with you, they have to mess with all of us." David said with a smile.
Vincent looked at Teri with tears in his eyes and said, "But I thought you were going to make it so I could stay with Joe?"
Teri smiled with sympathy and said, "We're getting there. Now that Clan Short has custody of you, they can ask Starfleet if Lieutenant Bowers can be your mentor. That means that he will not only take care of you, but it will be his job to train you how to be a Starfleet Officer."
Vincent looked at Joe with confusion.
"Sometimes officer's families are brought along on diplomatic missions as passengers, but they don't 'live' on the ship. If I adopted you, there's not much chance that you could stay with me. I would have to accept a planetary posting or find someone to watch after you while I'm off planet. If we do it this way, you're a Vulcan citizen who is living on the starship learning how to be a Starfleet Officer. I will be responsible for teaching and training you, but you'll also be responsible for yourself." Joe tried to explain.
"That's right. You'll be given duties to perform just like any other crewman on the ship." Chip interjected.
Vincent's eyes got wide as he realized what they were saying.
"So I don't just get to live on a starship? I get to be a member of the crew?" Vincent asked hopefully.
"That's right. Well, as long as we can get Starfleet Command to go along with it." Joe said carefully.
"I think one or two calls from Patriarch Short will help with that." Teri said with a smile.
"And my personal recommendation for Lieutenant Bowers to serve as your mentor wouldn't hurt." Chip said in a considering voice.
"Thank you Commander." Joe said happily.
Vincent hopped up out of the chair he was still sharing with Karen and ran to hug Joe.
"Thank you." Vincent said as he hugged Joe tightly.
"Director Short, Commander Dodds and David did most of it." Joe said as he returned the hug.
"But if you didn't want me, they wouldn't have done any of it." Vincent said as he continued his hug.
"Vincent, when you're done, I want to introduce you to some of your guardians." David said with a smile.
Vincent pulled away from Joe slightly and looked at David consideringly for a moment before saying, "I'm sorry if I wasn't nice to you when I met you... and I really did like your 'Richie Rich' movie."
David smiled and said, "Thanks Vincent."
* * * * *
"Way to go David!" Cory said with a smile.
"Yeah. It looks like he got that all worked out." Sean said happily.
"Guys, transfer me over to the study, then get everyone in there so you can tell them what you discovered." Cory said quickly.
"Tommy, transfer Cor. Jacob, get Aunt Teri, I'll get Daddy." Jamie said firmly.
"Can I do anything?" JJ asked from near by.
"I guess Lieutenant Bowers needs to be in on this too. Get him." Jamie said with distraction, then hurried to get Teri.
* * * * *
"Is something wrong?" Jake asked with concern as he walked out of Dr. McCoy's office to find Kevin laying on a biobed.
"No. I just thought I'd check on Kevin's condition while he's here." Dr. McCoy said casually as he looked at the readings.
"How is he?" Jake asked cautiously.
"Fine. Excellent in fact. I can see marked improvement in every system of his body. He's gaining weight at a reasonable rate, his muscle and bone mass are increasing..." Dr. McCoy said in a considering voice.
"So I'm not going to be little and skinny no more?" Kevin asked hopefully.
"No Kevin. In fact, I think you can be officially upgraded from skinny to thin... and if you keep going at this rate you'll be slender in no time." Dr. McCoy said with a smile.
"So do we keep up with the milkshakes like we have been?" Jake asked seriously.
"Let me check." Dr. McCoy said, then checked some readings on the biobed.
Dylan walked out of the bathroom and walked to the other side of the bed Kevin was on.
"Dr. McCoy is checking to be sure I'm going to be okay." Kevin said at Dylan's curious gaze.
"Kevin, do you like the milkshakes you've been getting?" Dr. McCoy asked seriously.
"Yeah. Poppa makes them extra special for me with whipped cream and cherries and nuts. And yesterday he made Kenny a milkshake too." Kevin said happily.
"That's good. But you have to let me know if you get tired of the milkshakes. There are other ways to give you these nutrients." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
"No. I really really like the milkshakes." Kevin said honestly.
"Good enough." Dr. McCoy said with a smile.
"Ooop." Dylan said suddenly and hurried back to the bathroom.
"Shouldn't he be empty soon?" Jake asked hesitantly.
"Give him another fifteen minutes or so. He had a LOT of fluids built up." McCoy said with a look of concern in the direction of the bathroom.
"Yeah. He looked really bad. Thanks for helping him." Jake said sincerely.
"I didn't do much compared to what you did." Dr. McCoy said with consideration.
"You stopped his pain. You told him he'd be okay. You treated him like a real person instead of a drugged up street kid. All I did was pray for him." Jake said frankly.
"Maybe I should just stay in there." Dylan said in a tired voice as he walked back into the room.
"I could get you a bedpan if that would be easier." Dr. McCoy said seriously.
Dylan's eye got wide and he said, "No thank you. I'm just fine this way."
"Thought so." Dr. McCoy said with a chuckle.
* * * * *
"What's this about?" Joe asked curiously.
"I'll tell you as soon as Aunt Teri gets here." Jamie said seriously.
"I don't really have time for this. I have an investigation to watch after." John said sternly.
"This is about your investigation." Jamie said, then turned as Teri and Jacob walked into the room.
"Oh, I see they got you too." Teri said impatiently as Jacob pulled her to join the others.
"Okay, what's this about?" John asked impatiently.
Jamie looked over to the terminal to see Cory watching the proceedings and said, "Carolyn Rind."
"What about her?" Teri asked with sudden interest.
"You know her?" John asked with surprise.
"Not personally. But she was the Child Protective Services worker assigned to Vincent's case. We kind of butted heads over how best to help Vincent and she ended up being arrested by Detective Blair." Teri said in thought.
"The same detective Blair who was shot by Victor Winters?" John asked in confirmation.
"That's the one." Teri said quietly.
"And John got a report that Carolyn Rind called Vincent's dad right before he went nuts and killed Vincent's mom." Jacob said seriously.
Silence fell over the room as everyone put the pieces together.
"Come on guys. We're done with our part." Jamie said and walked toward the door.
"Do you want me to leave you on?" Tommy asked from in front of the terminal.
"Yeah. There might be something I can do to help. Go on and enjoy the rest of the party." Cory said with a smile.
Tommy nodded, then noticed that JJ, Jacob and Jamie were waiting for him at the door.