Jigsaw

21

Room 100, Franklin County High School

Those left in the room looked on startledly as the slam of the door behind Lisa echoed and Peter, Jonas, Tanya, Harry, and Skipper vanished.

"What happens now?" Doug asked.

Drew giggled and looked up. "The judge's got to close out the hearing. And he can't do that until after us Clan guys do something first." The redheaded seven-year-old looked Pen in the eye.

Pen drew a breath. "Tony, do you accept the terms of your suspended sentence?"

Randy held up his hand in a peremptory gesture. "Wait," he said. He appeared to listen to nothing for a moment, then said. "Peter says, you gotta change the last condition. He looked ahead, and Jonas 'n' Harry're gonna wanna change that last part. Tony, you're gonna need to spent a week helpin' out at a Clan facility, 'n' you learn what they want you to learn when you go there."

Pen looked around at his Clan brothers. "Everyone okay with that modification? It sounds like Peter knows something we don't." Bobby and the twins nodded agreement. "Philip?" he prodded.

Startled, the fourteen-year-old said, "Yeah, sure! I'm not used yet, to being someone whose voice counts for something. Pa Eccles was always tellin' me what I was s'pos'ta think."

Randy reached up and wrapped his arm around his big brother's waist. "You're getting there," he said. "And if it wasn't for you, we'd'a got it a lot worse than we did." Philip smiled wanly down at the little redhead.

"Doug?" Pen asked inquiringly.

"Randy, do that plant-in-my-head thing, please, about what Peter had to say," Doug asked him. After a second, he nodded. "I didn't think it was severe enough. But what Peter sent is logical and effective. I'll agree."

"Okay, then, Tony, do you accept the terms of your suspended sentence as modified?" Pen asked.

"I don't really have much of a choice, do I?" Tony said. "That or prison. Yeah, I agree."

Pen then turned to Josiah. "In the name of Clan Short of Vulcan, and with the consent of my Clan brothers now or formerly present, we assume full jurisdiction, superseding that of the State of Maine."

"The Family Court of the County of Franklin and State of Maine accepts your assuming of jurisdiction, with gratitude," Josiah stated. "The case of People vs. Anthony DiPuglia is deemed closed without prejudice as of this point." He rapped the table, then smiled. "I was hoping you'd get to that without prompting," he said to Pen. "I do, after all, have to show proper disposition of a felony. George, are you content with this?"

"Yes, it seems completely in accord with the principles of justice and the logical outcome, as we discussed. Tony, I don't know if you realize yet how lucky you are. Things could have gone much, much worse for you." Tony sat silent, his face a mask.

"Actually, Judge, I hadn't thought of it," Pen said. "Drew read you to know what we had to do yet, and clued me in mentally."

"There being no further business to come before it, this court stands adjourned," Josiah said, and slapped the table in lieu of having a gavel to rap. "Thank you, Sarah, for making this possible." He paused, and turned to the twins. "Now, where did the five of them disappear to? I'd better have something to tell their mothers, or I'm toast."

"They went to save Jonas's brother," Drew said, and giggled at the startled looks he got.


In Orlando

"Well, of course I saw it!" Sylvia said with an amused smile. "Nothing could have been more obvious. You two were drawn to each other's company every time you had some free time. I have a hunch the only two who didn't realize it were you two yourselves."

"And it makes sense, too," she continued. "When Rina and I used to chat, back before Jed brought you boys home with him, her big complaint was that none of the boys and men she dated seemed to have the first clue what she wanted out of life – or to care. She was made for the mother-figure/big sister role she took on with Jed and C.J.; you could see her blossom in it, and in her new job. And your parents can be proud of you, Mickey – you took on the responsibility for these two, and the caring about how they felt, like you'd been trained for it all your life."

"That was mostly Dad's doing," Jared piped up. "For all Mom's talk about fulfilling your proper place in society, she didn't think twice about dumping us on Mickey if we interfered with something she wanted to do."

"Yeah, Dad didn't talk much about being a father and stuff like that," Mickey said, sitting next to Rina and holding her hand possessively. "But he taught by example. Whenever I had to make a decision while I was babysitting you two, and then after they got killed in the accident, I just thought about what Dad would do."

"I can't think of a finer testament," Sylvia said. "I hope someday, you boys will say to your kids, that Sylvia was a cantankerous old biddy, but she did the right things when she needed to."

"No worries about that," Rina said smiling. "Though I'll tan the bottom of any one of them who calls you a cantankerous old biddy!" She looked around the room and grinned; all five boys grinned back.


West Amboy, New Jersey

It was a truly motley crew that trudged down the streets. Brett led the way, with occasional glances at his mother, who followed him along with Kelly. Annie was enjoying a piggyback ride on Jonas's shoulders. Peter followed, clearly enjoying the walk. Tanya, Harry, and Skipper brought up the rear. "If you don't mind my asking, ma'am, how did you end up here?" he asked Kelly. Around him he was noticing the houses – here a few loose shingles, there a porch beginning to sag, over there paint peeling. As they moved along, several older brick buildings were enclosed by chain link fences topped by barbed wire, with padlocks on gates. As Harry walked along, he thought, 'Something needs to be done here. But what?'

"Well, you probably know by now that I ran off with Neil, my last year in high school," Kelly said. "I was in love, and Neil was a real charmer. We tried Boston, but he didn't find any work that suited him. So we came to the Big Apple. And the money ran out, and Neil took to drinking, and we fought."

"Finally I told him I was leaving him, called home, and found out how thoroughly I'd screwed myself in leaving. They wanted nothing to do with me. I found a job waitressing, if you can call it that – I waited on the 'gentleman clientele' in an outfit that I might have worn to the beach, but hardly to work, back home. And I caught one man's eye, and played it up. I wasn't bad looking in those days – actually, I looked a lot like Tanya here. He invited me on a date, and we ended up back at his apartment, and in his bed. I was still naïve enough to believe him."

"Well, that great romance turned out to be a one-night stand, and I got a bit more picky. But right after I met that man, I realized I'd missed two periods. It was panic time! Sure enough, Neil had knocked me up, and it turned out to be Danny. Now I needed a husband – and I caught another man's eye, before I started showing. Whirlwind courtship, and we were married, and settled down to a life of connubial bliss – NOT!"

"After a while, he got laid off, and suddenly I was no good. He started by belittling me, then pushing me, and it escalated. I got two black eyes off him, and passed it off as clumsiness, since I had had Danny not too long before. When he pushed me down the stairs, though, I knew it was time to leave. I packed up my baby, a couple changes of clothes for both of us, my teddy bear and my picture of my mother – your grandma O'Ryan, Tanya – and left him."

"I went to a shelter," Kelly continued, "and found out just how limited my choices were. Sure, they helped me get a divorce, but he couldn't afford any support, and the fact that Danny wasn't his, and Neil was nowhere to be found – the judge wasn't too sympathetic. I stayed at the shelter as long as I could, took another waitress job, this time at a diner. That paid for a rented room, my landlady loved Danny and basically provided free babysitting, and I took my meals at the diner."

"I met Donald there. He was a really nice man, something of a specialist repairman with a service area running from New Jersey to Virginia. He was upfront with me that he'd be on the road a lot, but wanted to see me when he was in town. I was elated, and even more so when, a few months later, he popped the question. He said he couldn't afford much in the line of an apartment, but it was better than the rented room. I kept the job at the diner, cut back my hours some, and was alone a lot while he was on the road. But it wasn't a bad life."

"That is, until Sherree called. Sherree was sweet, but a bit more suspicious than I was, or than Diane or Evvie were. What we had in common was that our husbands all worked as a repairman on a fairly uncommon device, and travelled this enormous territory. And they were all named Donald Jackson."

"Bottom line of that one was, Donald had found a surefire way to make sure he wasn't alone in a motel room while working his territory. Sure he had to travel, but he had a wife to come home to. Four of them, in fact. Evvie was the one with the legal marriage, but she didn't want him any more than the rest of us did, after we found out the truth."

"Donald went to prison," Kelly went on. "Evvie got his money, but she made sure each of the other three of us had our rent paid for a year, and enough to live off while we found work. So for me it was back to the diner."

"Then Stan came into my life. Machinist making good money, didn't want to hear about my past. If he was a bit pudgier than a girl might wish for, he made up for it. The one fault was that he didn't like Danny – he was kind of a reminder that I was 'used merchandise,' and not his son. New Years' would have been our sixth anniversary."

"Now, I don't know. I think they'll probably hire me back at the diner – I'm close to an institution there, as many times as I've come and gone. I thought we'd worked things out about Danny – I didn't expect him to love him, just to accept that he's a part of the package. Then they downsized the company Stan worked for, shipped the machinist jobs overseas. When Stan lost his job, he got ... difficult, and I started hitting the bottle. Fortunately, I got steered to Rehab before it got really bad."

Brett had been purse-lipped while Kelly was telling her story. "What's the matter, Brettie?" Annie asked.

"Nothin'."

"Speak up, son," Marsha said.

"Ya shoulda took care of Danny," he said in a sullen voice.

"Brett Michael Wilde!" his mother rejoined. "You don't talk to adults that way!"

"He's right, Marsha," Kelly interrupted. "While I was drying up, I left my son to Stan's tender mercies. I wish I'd known."

The group was quiet for another block.

"So, Jonas, what brings you here?" Kelly asked. "I can't imagine your mother approving of you coming to visit me."

"What got me here, in fact, was little Peter here," Jonas grinned. "He has some amazing abilities. But actually, I came because we were told, by higher authority, we needed to save Danny – whom I didn't know even existed until this morning. That, and Harry saw that Tanya needed to meet you."

"Good heavens, yes," Kelly said. "I've been so wound up about Danny and finding out what a bastard – excuse my language – Stan has been, that I never even stopped to talk to my niece. Before you go, can we have a long talk about the family? I haven't heard anything for twelve years now." Tanya smiled and said "Sure."

"So you're dating one of these boys?" Kelly asked her.

"Yes" said Tanya. "No" said Jonas and Harry in unison.

Marsha's ears perked up. "Sounds like a bit of a difference of opinion, there," she said with a smirk. All three teens began talking at once; Jonas finally shushed the other two.

"Tanya and I were seeing each other, um, last week," Jonas explained. "There's been so much happening since then that it seems like longer ago. She's a pretty girl, as you can see, a sweet kid, kind of possessive but fun. I was attracted to her, and I enjoyed her attention, because she was definitely out to land me, but I didn't love her, and I'm glad I woke up before either of us got hurt."

Kelly had been listening intently. "That's pretty wise of you, young man."

Tanya started to tell her side of it as they passed the Deluxe Diner. Brett interrupted, "Sorry, miss, but right here's where Danny is," pointing to the warehouse just ahead. He darted down the parking lot of the motel to the window the boys had used to climb in and out, followed by Jonas and Skipper. Harry handed Annie off to her mother and hurried after them.

They climbed in, and Brett ran up the stairs to the area they'd claimed as a 'camp', where Danny had been hiding out. "He's not here," Brett called out. Tanya and the two women, with Annie, climbed gingerly in through the window, followed by Peter.

Seeing Kelly's face, Marcia said, "Come here, Annie," and picked the little girl up.

"Is Danny gonna be OK?" Annie asked.

"I hope so, sweetheart," Marcia answered. The rest of the group spread out through the empty old warehouse, looking for him.

"All his stuff's here," Brett said. "He hasn't been gone long."

Peter had been extending his senses; now he darted to the window. "He's over there," he said, looking at the decrepit motel.

Harry looked out the window and his eyes widened as he saw the rental car with Maine plates sitting in the lot. "That's sure a coincidence," he said, pointing.

"What?" Jonas asked.

"The plates," Harry said. "Well, we can at least ask them if they saw a boy hanging out over here; it'll give us a place to start."

"Good idea," Jonas said. Skipper nodded agreement. They jogged downstairs and to the window, climbed out, and crossed the parking lot, followed by Brett, who looked excited to be a part of some sort of rescue or adventure. Skipper rapped on the door.

Inside the motel room, the two Eccles were restraining Danny, who had revived and was crying openly, alternating twisting his arm painfully behind him and slapping him, demanding to know what he was doing spying on them. Elvira sat on the edge of a bed, dithering. As they heard the knock, Jordan scowled at her. "Do something useful for a change, and get that," he said to her.

"Just open it a crack," Mary added quickly. "We don't need anyone knowing our business."

"You hold the little snot," Jordan told his wife, fished in his baggage, and brought out a revolver.

Elvira walked to the door and opened it a few inches. "You!" she and Skipper said as each recognized the other.

"Help!" Danny yelled out, then screamed as Mary twisted his arm again and kneed him in the stomach.

Skipper slammed the door open. Jordan fired his revolver. The bullet hit Skipper in the left arm, and he dropped to one side, out of the doorway. Jordan shot again twice. The second shot went wild, ricocheting off the brick wall of the warehouse opposite. As Jonas closed on the door, the third shot caught him in the chest, and he fell backwards to the ground.

Across the way, Marsha was about to climb out the window ahead of Kelly and Annie. When the first shot rang out, she dropped back inside and slammed Kelly to the floor. Annie screamed. "Are you all right, baby?" she asked.

"'M scared," the little girl said.

"Stay down; somebody's shooting over there!" Marsha said. She herself got up, saw Brett standing frozen, terrified, and went to climb out after him.

Harry had his phaser out, and stunned Elvira. As Jonas was shot and fell, he screamed out "No!" and ran to him. Jordan's fourth shot was a scalp wound that knocked Harry over.

"We're getting out of here!" Jordan yelled to Mary as he headed for the door. She threw Danny to the ground and stepped quickly to join him.

Brett had darted up to the raised sidewalk in front of the line of motel rooms. Now he came running, intent on tackling Jordan. Marsha screamed, "Jesus, Brett, No!" as he launched himself and Jordan spun, hitting the boy and knocking him into the motel rooms' front wall. Skipper grabbed at Jordan's leg with his good arm.

Suddenly Jordan fell to the ground unmoving, followed a split second later by Mary Eccles onto the motel room floor just inside the door.

Peter came back into phase standing next to the Eccles' car. "I wasn't sure if I could stun 'em while I was phase-shifted," he said. "Levi never said. Guess it works, though."

He scanned the wounded, then turned to Skipper. "Hold out your arm," he said, and took the arm back in time to before the injury, holding out his hand to catch the bullet as it popped out.

"Check Brett," he said to the medic, as he turned to Harry. Elvira chose that moment to pick herself up off the motel-room floor and try to make a break for it. Blood pouring down his face, Harry stunned her with his phaser. "Hold still," Peter told Harry, starting a time reversal on his scalp.

"Jonas! Take care of Jonas!" Harry said.

"Don't worry; the bullet was deflected by a rib," Peter said. "I checked to see if anybody's injuries were life-threatening before I started fixin' things." He proceeded to regress Harry's scalp. "Eww, you're still a bloody mess," he giggled. "Here, take your phaser and keep an eye on these creeps, while I finish up."

"Brett's okay; he's just going to be sore from bruises," Skipper called out. Marsha ran over to him.

Peter turned to Jonas, and followed the same regression process on his chest. Jonas shook off cobwebs, stood up, with a hole and a large bloodstain on his shirt the only evidence he'd been shot, and picked up his own phaser. "Are you all right, bro?" Harry asked, reaching out to balance him as he stood.

Kelly had looked out the warehouse window. Now she climbed out and lifted Annie out. "Did they have my Danny?" she called out.

"Yeah, he's kind of banged up, inside here," Peter said. "I'll fix him, but something needs to happen first" – he paused – "now."

A West Amboy P.D. cruiser pulled into the driveway mouth and two policemen emerged. "Freeze!" the driver said. "Drop those weapons!"

Jonas felt stunned – 'Not again!' he thought. Then he felt Peter in his mind, calming him. "With all due respect, officer, no. Four of us are members of Clan Short of Vulcan, doing our duty as authorized by Federation law. These three on the ground are fugitives from justice, with Federation and State of Maine warrants out against them. Peter," he continued, "please slowly remove my identification from my rear pocket and take it for the officer to check."

Peter did so. The officer who had been driving the police car examined it carefully, then holstered his service weapon, nodding to the other officer to do so.

"I accept your identification," he said. "You know we're going to need authorization on the rest of it, don't you?"

"Yes," Harry said. "Would you kindly radio for a detective and a police photographer? Then check Federation outstanding warrants for Jordan and Mary Eccles and Elvira Oakridge; they're the three people here. You can add in charges for kidnapping..."

"...And assault causing severe injury," Peter added angrily. Kelly came across the parking lot, and Peter added, "They had a boy in that room beating him; this's his mother. Soon's you've got pictures, I'll heal him."

"Skipper," he added, "I need a hug – and not a random one either." The medic picked up the little Mikyvis and cuddled him. Kelly went into the motel room and held the weeping Danny.

The officers phoned in the requests, and shortly an unmarked car pulled in with a photographer. "Get some pictures of the injured boy, then we need to treat him," Skipper directed, as he and Peter and one of the policemen showed him to the room.

"Got the warrants for the three fugitives," the detective said. "Put 'em in custody, while we contact Starfleet."

"I can handle that," Harry said. He pulled out his communicator and called the Lafayette.


Pen pulled up to the side of the road and stopped his car in front of the ramshackle house. Shingles were hanging loosely here and there, and paint peeling from window sill and steps. Doug seemed embarrassed, abashed. "Well, um..." he said.

"I'm coming in with you, foolish," Pen said. "You were there for me when I needed it – it goes both ways, you know." And Pen's heart warmed as Doug looked sheepish.

They walked in and turned into the living room. A card table stood with three straight chairs around it; on it and scattered on the floor around it were empty beer cans. A dumpy-looking woman in a house coat sat watching a soap on TV.

"Where the %@#$ have you been all weekend?" she demanded of Doug. "This place needs cleaning up. And who are you?" she asked Pen belligerently. "I told you," back to Doug, "not to bring any of those hoodlums from school around here. Get 'im out of here and get to your chores!"

"Mother, this is my friend Pen," Doug began.

"I said Git!" she said.

Pen suddenly felt nine years old again, being sent away by Tommy's mother. "I'll see you later, Doug," he started to say, edging for the door.

"You are not throwing him out, mother," Doug said. "C'mon out to the kitchen, babe, while I start dinner."

"Babe?!" Mrs. Murdock said. "I won't have any of that fag talk in my home."

"Stop it, mother," Doug said, desperately trying to calm her tirade. "Pen's welcome in my home."

"Not if I say not," she said. "You're getting pretty big for your britches, Doug, sassing me like that. Now you run along" (this to Pen) and "you" (to Doug) "get this place cleaned up."

Pen turned for the door. "Wait, babe," Doug said.

"I said none of that fag talk around here. I raised ya better than that, you little pussy."

"If Pen goes, so do I," Doug said.

"You'll get to work on your chores, that's what you'll do," his mother answered. "Just where do you think you'd go, anyway?"

"You know you're welcome at my place," Pen said. He pulled out the cellphone he'd picked up earlier. "Jenkins? Connect me with Father, please. -- Father? Doug seems to be having some issues at home. I've told him he's welcome at our place. -- I'll tell him. Thanks!" Pen was smiling as he clicked off the phone. "Father said that after this past weekend, you're family. If you need or want a place to stay, with or without me, you're welcome at any time."

Doug drew a deep breath. "Mother? Pen is my boyfriend. Where he goes, I go. There is no reason you couldn't have picked up from Friday night yourself, and I'm not cleaning up after you again. I learned some lessons this past week, and one of them is when to stand up for yourself, and for your friends. Now, is my boyfriend welcome here?"

"Boyfriend?! What kind of faggy talk is that?!" As she continued to rant, Doug motioned Pen to follow. They went into his room, he packed a duffel bag with some clothes and a few mementos, and walked out to Pen's car.

Doug looked out the car window. His eyes were watering. "She was nice when I was little," he said with a catch in his voice. Pen rested his hand on his boyfriend's shoulder, squeezed, then started the car.


Alone at Southcrest but for Hazel, Justy tried to cope with what was on his mind. His boyfriend Dean's narrow escape from death and subsequent transformation to Vifer, the decision facing him whether to join Dean in never growing up or to grow up, grow old, and die while Dean stayed an eternal 16; the radical change in his little twin brothers' minds courtesy of Jason; feeling displaced as large new groups of kids were brought in; the stress that was nearly breaking Sean and Cory, and its effects on all his other Clan brothers; his own responsibility as Grandfather Sarek's liaison to the Clan. And it didn't help one bit that the two men he relied on, his fathers, were not available. Chip was off with the Enterprise, due home in two days' time; Josh was off handling the business aspects of N*Sync's decision to stop touring and focus on their families. He'd be home later, of course – but that didn't help how Justy felt now.

To calm his mind, he began inputting data on his new Clan brothers into his copy of the Family of Sarek database, to be transmitted to Vulcan for the official Family and House records. As he worked, his mouth quirked at the efficient but less-than-user-friendly Vulcan programming and interface. Adam Casey, Logan Hayes, Juan Casey, Samuel Reynolds, Randy Carlson, Kevin Carlson, Bobby Martin, Penfield Throxton.... The data entry, requiring focus but repetitive, had a calming effect on him.

Suddenly the database's auto-cross-reference feature sent off an alarm. That was odd! He looked: Douglas Murdock was not only a new member, from the Arkham group, but also referenced in a sentencing ... and not as a victim, either. After repeated alerts, he'd gone in and de-alarmed the cross-references between new members and victims in Clan judgments; they overlapped too much. He looked up what the cross-reference pointed to. His eyes opened wide.

Justy started to pick up his communicator and call Cory, then stopped short. With what Cory had been through, this was not something to bother Cory about. It was something that was within the duties he himself could handle as Liaison; in fact, to Vulcan ways of thinking it would be his job, as House Patriarch's representative. He sat back, exercising the disciplines Uncle Spock had taught him to calm his mind and think like a Vulcan, and reviewed what Jonas had reported.

Arriving at a decision, he felt calmed and refreshed. There was no hurry; he decided to finish his self-assigned chore – or at least make a large dent in the names to be entered, and review his decision before he acted.


Josiah pulled into the driveway at Maureen's, parked his car, and walked in. Maureen and Abbie were sitting and talking in the living room as he walked in.

"Where are the boys?" Maureen asked.

"Oddest thing," Josiah said. "Right at the end of the hearing, Sarah Kilbride said something that apparently triggered something in Harry's mind. They left on a rescue, all three of them: Jonas, Harry, and Peter, taking along Skipper and that Tanya girl. I'm sure we'll find out what it was all about."

"I can't help but worry about them gallivanting around like that," Abbie said firmly. "Harry's still so impulsive."

"He's grown up a lot, just in the last month, Abbie," Maureen replied. "I'm sure they'll be fine."


As the police took the Eccles and Elvira away, Tanya walked over to Harry. "You know, I don't know if that was the most heroic thing I've ever seen, or one of the most foolish, how you ran to Jonas when he got shot. You could've been killed!"

Harry looked at her. "If Jonas had gotten killed, I wouldn't want to live," he said bleakly. "And if there was anything I could do that would save him, it wouldn't matter what it cost me." He turned away from her, then looked back. "To you, he's a trophy. For me, he's my life." He brushed his arm across his eyes and walked away.

Tanya blinked. What her aunt had said about her life on the walk there had startled her. She looked over at Jonas, as he draped his arm over Harry's shoulder, and the two of them stepped up to escort Kelly to the motel room where Skipper and Peter were treating her son. Things began to fall into place in her mind. She had always felt attracted to Jonas, and getting him for a boyfriend had been a goal she'd set herself. But suddenly she looked at things in a new light. She wanted him to be her boyfriend, yeah, but for what? To impress the rest of their crowd at school? Could she have done what Harry did – risked her life to try to save his? She entertained images of that for a moment, then found it in herself to be honest enough with herself to wonder if she could have done it. And what about the future? She looked at her aunt, and saw herself in fifteen years, and recoiled from the idea. And that got her thinking about her family – her father, her other aunt, her grandmother. And she realized how she fit into the picture – and for the first time decided she needed to do what's right in her mind.

Marsha had brought little Annie across the parking lot as the police handcuffed and hauled Elvira and the Eccles away. "Don't you ever risk your life like that again!" she said with mixed fear and anger to Brett.

Skipper came out the motel room door and said, "Don't be too harsh on him, ma'am. His attempt to stop old man Eccles distracted him enough that I could trip him up, and then Peter stunned him. He may very well have saved my life." He looked at Brett and said, simply, "Thank you." Brett blushed.

Within the room, as Peter finished his healing, Danny sat up, just as his mother came into the room, followed by Jonas and Harry. "Ma? What're you doing here? Who're all these people?"

Annie darted away from Marsha and ran in. "Hey, squirt!" Danny greeted her. Brett and Marsha both lunged after her, appearing in the motel door. Danny's brow darkened. "You told 'em where to find me!" he said accusingly at Brett. "You ratted me out!" He looked at his mother and said, defiantly, "I'm not going back there!"

Brett, Kelly, and Jonas all started to speak at once, then stopped as they realized the others were talking. Kelly motioned Brett to wait. "I heard how Stan was treating you," she said. "None of us is going back there. We'll go back to the shelter; remember being there when you were little? And I'll get a job and find us a place...."

"Wait!" Jonas spoke up. "He's my brother, even though none of us knew it until today. That makes you and Annie some weird kind of step-relatives to me. But most importantly, it puts Danny under the protection of Clan Short – and after what he's been through, he'd be entitled to it anyway." He looked at them. "That'll go for you two as well – you're homeless by choosing to stand by Danny. Besides, invoking Clan protection overrides any rights Stan has to Annie. After finding out how he treated Danny, I'd be concerned for her safety with him too."

Tanya walked in. "This is what you were talking about, right?" she asked Harry. "You think if I keep on acting like I was doing, I'll end up like Aunt Kelly." Harry nodded yes.

Tanya turned to her aunt. "You're coming home," she said determinedly. "Grandma'll have a cow, but she deserves it. She's always upbraiding everyone in the family about their faults, bringing up stuff everybody else has agreed to bury. I know Papa will be happy to have you back; he's had your picture on the living room wall all my life." She turned to Jonas. "I don't know how you guys can do what you did, like with Tony – but it's time to work your magic for my aunt and cousins."

Jonas smiled. "We can do this. I'll have to talk to Teri or Kayla about what F.Y.S. can do to help out, but we can make it work." He turned to Kelly. "Want to come home to Arkham?" he asked.

Harry spoke up. "You're a waitress, right, when you work?" he asked Kelly. "Because I know of a job that'll be opening up in just a few days – my mother's old one."

"Huh?" Danny said. "What's going on?"

"Well," Kelly said, "to start with, this is your cousin," pointing at Tanya. "And this," pointing at Jonas, "is your half-brother." Danny gaped; Jonas stepped forward and extended his hand to Danny. As Danny grasped it, he pulled him up and into a firm hug.

"I always thought I was an only child," Jonas said. "I just found out today that you existed – and that you were in trouble. It's kind of ironic that the people who kidnapped you were the same people that my new father and I sent to jail."

"What?!" Kelly and Marsha said.

"It's a long story," Harry said. "We'll explain it later." He paused. "Oh, by the way, don't be mad at Brett. He didn't rat you out; he wouldn't tell anyone until we promised that we'd make sure you didn't have to go back to your father's." Brett nodded firmly.

"He's not {my/his} father," Danny and Kelly said simultaneously.

"You know what I meant," Harry said.

"You shoulda seen it!" Brett said. "They shot the guys who grabbed you with phasers, and everything! And I wouldn't rat you out, bro. I promised."

"Thanks, Brett," Danny said. A look passed between the two of them; Harry noticed it.

Kelly was trying to wrap her mind around everything that had happened. Marsha took the bull by the horns. "Is everyone up to walking back to my home, while you sort this all out?" she asked. "Besides, uh – you might be getting some funny looks from people if you don't clean up some."

Jonas and Harry grinned ruefully. Harry said, "Yeah, now that you mention it...."

Peter grinned mischievously. "No problem," he said. "I'll transport us to the Wildes', then pop up to Mom's and get some clean clothes for you. And I'll be back before the shower's running hot!" With that, they were suddenly standing in the Wildes' back yard, courtesy of 'Mikyvis taxi,' and Peter immediately vanished again.


"Jack!" Marsha exclaimed, while Brett let out a happy "Dad! Why're you home?"

Jack Wilde turned around, surprised, at his back steps. In his mid thirties, medium height and muscular of build, in a business suit, he was a handsome man, and a warm surprised smile lit up his face. "Hey,, where'd you come from all of a sudden? Hi, Kelly, welcome home! And who are all these other folks?"

"Can we handle treating for pizzas?" Marsha asked. "I'll introduce you to everyone, but I think there's quite a bit of talking to be done."

"Yeah, I think so," Jack answered. "Brett, go grab the cordless and the menu from the pizza shop."

Marsha spoke up. "Jack, these kids need time to clean themselves up a little. I'll go get the phone. Motioning them with her, she walked in the back door and continued, "Boys, there are two showers, one upstairs and one down. And we have a large-capacity quick-recovery water heater, so you don't need to worry about running out of hot water. Now scoot!"

As Jonas went up the stairs and Harry followed Marsha's pointing finger to the downstiars bathroom, she gathered the cordless phone and the pizza shop menu and stepped back onto the patio, handing them to Jack with a look that prompted him to explain why he had come home early.

"Harold sent everyone home early today," Jack began, "except the crew finishing up the new bank branch. It's getting worse, hon. He's promised to carry us as long as he can, but the contracts are just not there any more. I told him, if it'll help, to drop me back to crew foreman, but he said if he can keep the company afloat at all, he wants me in the office. According to him, I'm the only person with the business savvy to handle the office end and the jobsite experience to realize where theory won't work with crews on site. He thanked me for the offer though."

Just then Peter popped back to the patio, with his arms full of clothes. "And who are you, young man?" Jack asked with a quirky grin.

"I'm Peter," he grinned, "and I'm with – where'd everybody go?"

Marsha smiled. "I sent them off to the showers, honey," as she pointed into the house. "You can take those things to them now."

"Okay," he said, and vanished again.

"Do you mind telling me what's going on here?" Jack asked with a questioning smile. "Or do I really not want to know?"

"There's quite a story to tell," Marsha said. "But why don't you go ahead and order the pizza? We'll wait for the boys to get back from their showers, and we'll tell you about it while we're waiting for the pizza."


The pizza had been ordered, the boys were back from showering and changing, and everyone was gathered around on the patio. "Okay, introductions," Marsha said. "You know Kelly and her kids, of course. We all just got back from the old DeRosa warehouse and the motel next door."

"These guys and Brett saved my life!" Danny piped up. Jack looked askance at his son, who blushed.

"I don't think it's talking out of turn to say that Stan has been an absolute ass to Danny while Kelly was away," Marsha continued. "She walked out, as of an hour ago, and I suspect we'll need to help her get their things out of there. But Stan's attitude had already led to Danny running away over the weekend, and only Brett knew where he was – which was camped out in the old warehouse. So Kelly was faced with that when she got home from Rehab, and Stan was being a total jerk about it, saying they were better off with Danny gone and so on."

Jack began to glower as Marsha was reporting that. "We can put you up for a few days, Kelly," he said. "I'd like to make it indefinite, but with what's happening at my job, I have to think of Marsha and Brett first. I hope you understand."

"I do," Kelly said.

Jonas and Tanya both spoke up, then paused and glanced at each other. Jonas motioned Tanya to go ahead. "I've invited Aunt Kelly to come home," she said.

"Danny and Annie too?" Brett asked, his face strained.

"Of course," Tanya said blithely. "They'd stay with their mother."

"That young lady," Marsha continued, "was Kelly's niece Tanya O'Ryan. I think the others are classmates of hers."

"Some of us, yeah," Jonas said. "The big guy there's Skipper Hamilton, our town's EMT, who was at the same hearing as we were, and came along to help. This is my partner, Harry Johnson. The little guy is Peter Lambert, whom my mom and the judge are adopting as soon as they get married. Oh, and I'm Jonas McConnaghay, and I'm Danny's half-brother, though nobody realized that until today."

"And they're in Starfleet!" Brett said excitedly.

"Not exactly," Harry said. "We're part of Clan Short. But we do have Starfleet training, though."

"And what brings you to New Jersey?" Jack asked affably.

"Well, half of it was for Tanya to meet the aunt she's never met," Jonas replied. "The other half, I don't think you'll believe. But we got told, by Danny's and my father's spirit, to come rescue him."

"And he needed rescuing from running away?" Jack asked with a touch of skepticism.

"No," Marsha interjected. "Some people at the motel thought he was spying on them, kidnapped him an were beating him."

"And by coincidence they were people that had been arrested in our home town last week, who had bribed their way out of jail and were hiding out here," Skipper tossed in.

Peter's young treble surprised them all. "It wasn't coincidence at all. They were led to where you'd catch them, because of Danny."

"The simple faith of a child," Marsha smiled. Harry and Jonas, knowing Mikyvis abilities, decided not to contradict her, and smiled, along with a wink at Peter, who grinned.

"So what do you do, Mr. Wilde?" Jonas asked Jack politely.

"I'm Vice President and General Manager of Middlesex General Contractors," Jack answered, "at least as long as the company holds out. All the downsizing and outsourcing of jobs has hit the local economy hard, and we're not getting the work. Harold – my boss, Harold Barclay – is a good man, and he's trying to keep things going and jobs for his regular crews, but we don't have the work for them, and it's only a matter of time unless things pick up."

Harry had been noticing Brett's expression fade from exuberance to depression at the news that Kelly, Danny, and Annie would be moving. He spoke up. "Somebody probably ought to meet the pizza guy and show him where to deliver. C'mon, Brett; I'll walk out front with you and we can meet him."

"Here, Brett," Jack said, handing him two twenties. "Tell him to keep the change for a tip."

They walked down the driveway to the front of the house in silence, and sat on the small brick stoop companionably. Harry narrowed his eyes and looked at Brett.

"Your mood did a 180-degree turn all of a sudden back there, when you found out that Kelly and Danny and his sister were moving to Maine," he said. "You wanna talk about it?"

"What's to say?" Brett said stoically. "Grownups make decisions, and kids live with 'em. I'm gonna miss him. 'N' I'm worried about Dad's job, too."

"You guys are pretty close, right?" Harry asked. Brett nodded, eyes threatening to water up and an obvious effort on his part to 'be a man and keep control of himself.' "How close?" Harry asked softly.

Brett suddenly froze, and his body language changed. Now he was shutting Harry out, and his fear and tension were palpable.

Harry looked at him, his mind racing. Abruptly he stood up, strode over to the driveway, and called out. "Jonas! Wanna come out here a minute, please?"

"Be there in a second!" was the response from the back yard, followed shortly by Jonas loping down the driveway easily. He eyed Harry. "Something wrong?" he asked.

"Not with me," Harry answered. "I just got to thinking about the close calls we've been in lately, the ambush Saturday, and then the Sheriff slapping us around, and the last straw was when you got shot today. I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you!"

Jonas drew him close. "It's over now, and we're safe. All's well that ends well, and all that stuff."

Harry smiled wanly, turned his head and pursed his lips for a kiss. Jonas glanced over at Brett, looking a question at Harry with his expression. Harry nodded that it was okay, and Jonas smiled, then pursed his own lips. They kissed. It was more than perfunctory, less than passionate – a statement to the world and to each other that they were together, partners for the long haul. Brett's eyes bulged.

Harry turned to Brett, still in Jonas's embrace, and smirked. "You were saying...?" he asked leadingly.

Brett was blushing and speechless. "I ... er ... um ... you guys are, too?!"

"Well, I guess we answered that question," Harry said with a grin. "You know why I called for Jonas, don't you?"

"Um ... no."

"Well, partly to give you the confidence to say what you needed to – but also because I love him, and I nearly lost him today in that fight. That was brave of you, to try to take out Old Man Eccles. Does Danny know how you feel?" Harry intentionally switched subjects repeatedly, to give Brett time to pull himself together.

"Um, not really, but I think so. We're best friends, and, well, you know..."

Jonas looked at him. "That was Harry's mistake, and it cost us both big. Tell him -- he's your friend, he loves you as a friend if nothing else, and I bet you he feels pretty much the same, or would if he knew." Brett looked bashful. "Go on, tell him!"

"But he's leaving – that Tanya girl is taking his mother and Annie and him back with her, right?"

Harry spoke up. "She got here the same way we did, and it's instantaneous. You've got no worries about distance; we can work that out. I promise."

Brett looked nervous about taking such a decisive step. "You need to do it now, because we will be leaving after pizza," Jonas said. He walked over to the driveway. "Hey, Danny, c'mere!"

Danny came running, a smile on his face. "Brett needs to talk with you, li'l bro," Jonas said to him. Danny grinned at the 'li'l bro' epithet, and turned to Brett, sitting on the stoop. Jonas walked over, rested one hand reassuringly on Brett's shoulder, gathered up Harry with his eyes and reaching out for his hand, and they walked back down the driveway.


"That was terrific pizza; thanks," Skipper said.

"My pleasure," Jack said. "I wish we could have done better by you folks, but things are getting a little tight here."

"What sort of construction does your company do?" Harry asked affably.

"A little of everything," Jack answered. "We were putting up subdivisions until the housing market plummeted, we've built malls, office buildings, civil projects like bridges and sewage plants ... a real general contractor operation. Harold's a good man to work for, honest and reliable. It's a real shame the economy's so bad here."

"Kind of like what Scordo was doing, only without being crooked about it," Jonas mused. "Well, he got his comeuppance!"

"Who's that?" Danny asked from his place alongside Brett. Under the table, Harry could see them holding hands, and smiled.

"The man who ran a contracting business like that up where we live, until early this month," Jonas answered nonchalantly. "But unlike Jack's boss, he was so crooked you could pull the cork out of a bottle of wine with him." A small laugh went around. "The last straw was when he arranged with some crooked cops to murder a civil engineer and his wife. Harry and I rescued their sons; that's how we got involved with Clan Short in the first place." Danny's eyes were bulging at the story.

Annie spoke up. "Sometimes bad things have to happen so that good things can happen."

Kelly turned to her startledly. "That's true, honey. But where did you come up with that?"

"'S what the little boy with red hair said on the TV during the news," Annie said. "Daddy was watching it."

"Timmy's quite a kid," Harry said. "Was he wearing his war paint, Annie?"

"Yeah!" she said. "It looked kewl on him. Is he really an Indian?"

"Not with red hair, I wouldn't think," Marsha said.

"He was adopted into the Seminole Nation," Harry filled in, "along with his best friend Ricky. Their Indian names are Soaring Eagle and Sitting Eagle. They're really quite the boys!"

"You speak as if you know them personally," Jack said speculatively.

"Oh, yes," Jonas answered. "We've spent quite a bit of time at the Short Compound the past couple of weeks, and gotten to know them – in fact, we were there just last night."

"Well, it's getting quite chilly out here with the sun dropping," Marsha said. "Maybe we should all move inside."

"Actually," Jonas said, "we'd probably better be getting back home. Aunt Kelly, I know you have stuff at your house you'd want to bring, but I've been thinking ... wouldn't it be better to come back when your husband is at work to get it?"

"Getting to Maine, you'll be driving all night," Jack interjected. "Would you like to spend the night and leave in the morning? I think we can put everyone up, though it may be a bit crowded."

"Travel's no problem," Jonas said. "Peter?"

The little Mikyvis, who had been cuddling with Marsha, grinned. "Get everybody together here," he said. Harry and Jonas immediately walked over to where Peter stood, followed quickly by Skipper. The three boys motioned Tanya, Kelly, Danny, and Annie to stand with them. "Bye," said Peter, and they vanished. The Wildes looked on, stunned.


The Throxton Mansion

"Come on!" Pen said, pulling a recalcitrant Doug towards his father's study.

"It's not right," Doug said. "I can't take charity from you."

The older Throxton was at the door to the study. "Come in here, boys," he said. "Jenkins! Coffee and some sort of sweetcake for three, in here A.S.A.P."

"Very good, sir," Jenkins responded in a tone that belied his words.

"Now, what happened at Doug's mother's?"

"Doug's mother had not cleaned up a bit since Friday, and attempted to order me out and Doug to clean and cook for her. When he refused to let me leave or do housework, she started berating him, and he packed a bag and left," Pen answered his father. "I told him what you said, but he looks on it as charity."

"Douglas, look at me," the millionaire said firmly. "I seem to recall, at our first meeting, you telling me that you were prepared to give up your own future to make sure you could take care of Pen, when I implied he might be disinherited. Right?"

"Well, yeah, sure, of course I would!" Doug said. "But...."

"But nothing! It works the other way around, too. You committed to Pen, and Pen committed to you. That makes you family, and family's never charity. What you need to do is apply the Golden Rule inside out!" he grinned.

"Huh?" the two mystified boys said.

The elder Throxton's eyes were twinkling. "What I mean, Doug, is that you need to accept being done unto as you're willing to do for others. Let Pen and I treat you just the same as you'd treat us if the situation were reversed." He smirked, "I'd tell you to go do the dishes so you'd feel at home, but I don't think you'd feel comfortable turning your back on Mrs. Newton to do it."

Pen drew Doug to him. "You're home, bro. Relax and enjoy it."

"And don't forget that it was you that started the chain of events that woke me up to how Pen was feeling. That's something I'll never be able to repay you." The older man's gratitude was obvious and heartfelt.


The McConnaghay Home, Arkham

The eight travellers appeared in the middle of Maureen's living room, to the startlement of Josiah,. Maureen, and Abbie. "I expected you to come home from school with Josiah, not take the long way around," Maureen said to Jonas with a twinkle in her eye. "Won't you be introducing your companions?"

"Sure," Jonas answered. "You know Harry, Skipper, and Peter, of course. This is Tanya O'Ryan, who I was seeing last school week. And this is her aunt, Kelly O'Ryan Polabski, her daughter Annie, and hr son Danny, who's my half-brother."

There was suddenly a noticeable chill in the air in the room. Maureen lost her smile; Abbie was looking through both Kelly and Tanya.

"Mother, don't do that," Harry said. "Tanya's trying to take care of family; that's why they're here. Kelly's husband was being a jerk to Danny, who finally ran away. We had to go rescue him."

"Oh, father, you can let Sheriff Winfield know that Jordan and Mary Eccles and Elvira are apprehended, and in the custody of either the New Jersey cops or Starfleet Security, who they are holding them for."

"Oh?" Josiah said. "Do I presume that this is connected?"

"Yeppers," Peter piped up. "They were hiding out in the motel next to where Danny was camped out, and they tried to kidnap him. That's when we got involved."

Abbie was eyeing her son. "We're okay, mother," he said.

"I offered my father's hospitality to Aunt Kelly," Tanya put in. "That's what they're doing here."

"Mother," Jonas said, "I think you need to think this through. Yeah, some things happened over a dozen years ago. But at bottom, you two have in common that our father" (his gaze included Danny) "left you two as single mothers with young boys dependent on you, and you've made the best life you could for yourselves and your sons. Kelly's been through a lot; don't let old grudges keep you from seeing the commonality between you."

Maureen drew a breath, and her gaze went distant for a moment. Then she said, "You're right, son. Welcome to Arkham again, Kelly. Would you be liking some coffee or tea?"

"That's kind of you, Maureen," Kelly said. "But we just ate, at my friends Jack and Marsha's."

"Maybe it would be a good idea to get you to our place," Tanya spoke up. "I can't wait to see Dad's face when he sees you!"

"Good thought," the judge said. "Let me run you over there; my car's in the driveway."

"That's kind of you, sir," Kelly replied.

"Josiah," he said. "And if I may call you Kelly?" She smiled assent. He held out his arms; Annie jumped into them.

Danny looked at Jonas, who smiled. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, li'l bro. Go meet your uncle and aunt."

Harry spoke up. "Brett told you what I said, right?" Danny blushed and nodded; Harry grinned back.

As Josiah was taking the O'Ryans to their family's home, Skipper spoke up. "I need to go get the EMT mobile unit; it's parked at the high school." Maureen stood up as if to help; Peter said, "I can help him, Mom." She gave him a hug. He nodded to Skipper, and the large 20-year-old medic and the small towhead vanished.

"I'll never get used to how he does that," Maureen said, shaking her head. Jonas and Harry smiled and agreed. "You two ate already?"

"Yeah," Harry said. "Kelly and Danny's friends ordered pizza for everyone."

"D'you have room for pie?" Abbie asked. "Maureen invited me to dinner, so I set aside one of the pies from the diner to bring for dessert."

"There's always room for pie," Jonas said with a grin.

First Peter and then Josiah returned a few minutes later, to find the four of them sitting at the dining room table over dessert. Jonas and Harry were regaling their mothers with the stories of, first, the hearing, and then their excursion to New Jersey and Danny's rescue.

Jonas's communicator went off. "McConnaghay here."

"Jonas? It's Justy. Is Doug Murdock there with you?"

"No, he's either home or up at Pen's father's mansion."

"Reason I'm calling is, I've got a problem with how Vulcan justice works, with his sentence. Tell me what you were doing when you sentenced him."

"Well, basically I backed Jed's play. He'd threatened him with the maximum, castration, and I saw the sense in using that to put a scare into him. And it worked; I've never seen anyone turn around so completely. He's in the Clan now, you know."

"Yeah, and that's why I'm calling. We can't have a Clan brother with that kind of suspended sentence hanging over him. I follow the sense of scaring him with the maximum, now you've explained it, but you or I need to vacate that sentence – maybe commute it to time already served due to good behavior, or something?"

"That works for me," Jonas answered. "It's had the effect I was aiming for already, more than I could have hoped for."

"Good, let's make it time served, then. You tell him tomorrow?"

"That suits me just fine. I'll do that."

"Okay then. I'll leave it to you, and annotate the records accordingly. Dodds out.

"McConnaghay out."

Abbie was curious, and the boys explained to her what had happened a week ago, and the change in Doug that had resulted.

"Good judgment, son," Josiah said. "I noticed the difference in him myself this afternoon." He turned his attention to Peter. "I've got something else to bring up, though. I had a visit today from Christopher Sarles."

"Really?" Maureen asked. "That's Jed and C.J.'s grandfather, right, who's in the nursing home paralyzed from a stroke, right?"

"That was true," Josiah said. "But he walked into my office today, talking about a miracle that happened after a visit from a young boy named Peter."

Peter grinned mischievously, until Josiah went on, "And it seems that he wants to petition for custody of Jed and C.J., now that he's back on his feet."

Peter looked panicked. "But .. but .. everything checked out fine! I looked! Leev!" And he vanished.

Seconds later, he was back, and Levi with him. "Calm down, bro," Levi said. "Here's your problem – you checked long-term results, and they're OK. But you didn't check out the whole process. See?" And to the two Mikyvis, there appeared an event tree, with various forkings as the result of choices.

"Judge?" Levi said. "You'll have to have a meeting with him and them. Tomorrow afternoon, if that's okay for you. I'll let them know. You can't override Cory's placement, but it's important to not let the grandfather know that. That'll make them sit down and work out the best solution for everybody."

"How long have you been practicing family law?" Josiah said, grinning.

"All my life," the cheeky little Mikyvis responded with a similar grin.

"It's good advice – the best solutions happen when families are forced to solve their own problems together," the judge said.

"Next time, Peter, you need to check the whole event sequence before you act," Levi said mock-stternly.

"I will," the crestfallen Mikyvis said. Levi gave him a warm hug and vanished.

"Come here, little one," Josiah said. Peter jumped on his lap, and Josiah wrapped him in a hug. "No harm done," he continued, "but you got some good advice. Learn from it, okay?" Peter looked up and nodded that he would.

"Hey, listen to this!" Maureen said from where she was watching the news. Everyone gathered to watch.

"This is Ken Savage reporting to you, directly from what has come to be called Camp Bam Bam, in the Utah Mountains. This is an update on what members of Clan Short have been calling "the Intake." Since this morning, they have received approximately 4,673 phone calls requesting aid. They have responded to 657 of those calls, the rest were determined to be less than critical, there by not needing direct intervention. 296 of those that were responded to, the children needed to be taken out of their current situation. 212 of those children were living on the streets."

"Of the one hundred and forty seven intake centers set up around the country, they have processed 6,214 children asking for help; 4,573 of those were able to be handled on the local level. 1.324 of the remaining have been transferred to adjacent counties to be handled there. The rest were processed and brought here to Camp Bam Bam. That brings the one day total of children being brought into Camp Bam Bam to five hundred and twenty nine. Again, that is just today's numbers."

"However, it has not just been children that have come into the Camp today. Twenty nine pediatricians have volunteered to come in and help with any and all medical needs. Fourteen of them have agreed to become permanent residents. One hundred and two nurses have shown up, with sixty eight of them agreeing to stay. There are also twelve psychiatrists who are here to help with the children's emotional needs. "

"There are also three hundred and nine other adults, ranging from school teachers, to celebrities, and even two chefs, all of them coming to try and help the children that have had to come here to be residents."

"These numbers are very high, but after touring the place, and speaking with Janet Hayes, the director of Medical, here within the Camp, I can assure everyone that this place can hold three thousand people comfortably and more if they need to. However, they are looking for more areas to help hold the children that need it. Also, they are running low on supplies, and ask that anyone that would be willing to help out, please contact their local law enforcement agency, who can pass everything along to Clan Short. I was informed that there is no shortage of necessities, but if people would be willing to donate items like children's toys, etc., it would help immensely."

"Any requests for information will now be handled through the Camp Bam Bam public relations department."

"Thank you, and from all the residents of Camp Bam Bam... Thank you very much for everyone's help."

"Thank you, Ken," the local anchorman said as the image changed back to the Augusta station. "In other news, residents and people from throughout the state are gathering on the State House lawn for a candlelight vigil, originally the idea of local students, in memory of those who were killed or injured Saturday." The TV screen changed to a panorama of the gathered crowd, 50,000 strong, all carrying candles and apparently listening to a speaker on the State House steps. There was no sound except the anchorman's voice-over at the beginning of the footage.

Maureen began humming. Abbie smiled and joined her. "What's that, dear?" Josiah asked as they watched the silent footage.

"Just a song that it reminded me of," Maureen answered, and began singing softly, joined by Abbie and then by Jonas and Harry as they recognized it.

It is better to light just one little candle
Than to stumble in the dark.
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need is a tiny spark.
If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
A wonderful dawn of a new day we'd see...
And if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be.


To be continued...


Darryl's Notes: This was quite an interesting chapter which has filled in some gaps for us. It was very nicely done, and along with some of the other stories to be available soon, we will have a lot of questions answered. Of course, there are still many more questions that have not been answered. We will just have to wait and see what will happen next.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher