"Little Britches" - Star Trek Universe
The next morning Chris had made his decision about the boys. He went to the bridge to find Buck, Josiah and Ezra at their stations.
"Buck, Josiah I want you to go talk to the boys," Chris announced as he took his seat. "Find out if they have anything they need to get from the planet surface."
"Why, Chris?" Buck asked.
"I'm going to take the boys to Four Corners," Chris said.
"Then what?" Josiah asked.
"Turn them over to the authorities," Chris said.
"But Chris..." Buck began.
"No buts Buck," Chris said. "They can't stay on the ship."
Buck knew not to argue when Chris used that tone. He followed Josiah off the bridge. The two men walked in silence down to sickbay. Buck didn't want to have to look JD in the eye and tell him he couldnt stay.
Josiah stopped at the door. "Ready, brother?" he asked solemnly.
"No," he admitted. "Let's just get it over with."
Buck walked in first to see the two boys eating at Nathan's desk. JD turned to see who was coming and Buck smiled when he saw the milk mustache on the boy's lip. He noticed that Vin watched them suspiciously.
"Morning," Josiah greeted as he walked over.
"Hi," JD smiled. "I got pancakes."
"So I see," Josiah said. "Are they any good?"
"Uh huh," JD nodded and forked some into his mouth.
"What do you got Vin?" Buck asked.
"You can see what I have," Vin said stating the obvious as he ate his porridge.
"You're right that was a silly question," Buck smiled. "So where's Nathan?"
"In there," Vin said pointing to the other room.
"Just getting them more clothes," Nathan said as he walked out carrying clothes for each boy. "Figured I'd give them another bath then cut their hair."
"Chris already cut it!" Vin protested.
"I know but it still hanging in your eyes," Josiah reasoned. "And its still a little long in the back."
"No!" Vin yelled then stormed off to the other room.
"Oh that went well," Buck said dryly.
"Vin doesn't like his ears to show," JD said around a mouthful of food.
"What was that JD?" Nathan asked.
"Afore we got on the ship Vin was teased about his ears," JD said. "Vin said thats why he had long hair so they would be covered."
"I see," Josiah said as he looked up at Buck. "Maybe I better go have a talk with him."
"Alright Josiah, I'll help give JD his bath," Buck said.
Josiah smiled as he watched Buck beg some of JD's pancakes. JD fed him some and laughed. Josiah could see that the rogue had fallen hard for the dark eyed little boy. Josiah went into the other room to find Vin sitting on one of the beds.
"Mind if I sit?" Josiah asked. Vin shrugged and Josiah took a seat. "Nathan didn't mean we had to cut all your hair. Just the parts hanging in your eyes."
"Really?" Vin asked. "I don't have to cut it short like Chris's?"
"Like Chris," Josiah said surprised. "No of course not."
"I'd do it if he wanted me too," Vin said.
This statement didn't surprise Josiah. Already Vin was looking to please Chris. He didn't have the heart to tell the boy that they were taking them to the nearest base station so they could be turned over to the authorities.
"Don't worry Chris won't expect you to cut your hair that short," Josiah smiled. "But I did have something to ask you."
"We will be leaving the planet..."
"We can't!" Vin yelled upset.
"Why?" Josiah asked surprised.
"Because my Aunt Rachel is there," Vin said.
"Vin," Josiah said quietly. "You do know she's dead."
"Logically," Vin said trying to hide his anxiety.
"Then I don't understand," Josiah said in sympathy.
"I...I don't want to remember," Vin said sadly.
"I know you don't," Josiah said. "But wouldn't logic dictate that you tell me so I understand."
Josiah had noticed that Vin tried to use his Vulcan training and logic when he didn't want to face something. The only problem was that Vin's human and Romulan emotions conflicted with this training. From the records Josiah knew that Vin's mother had died when he was five years old. She had left Vin to the care of her sister Rachel. There wasn't much information about Vin's Vulcan father but Josiah could guess he wanted his son to act the Vulcan part. Vulcan training started very young and this had influenced Vin's thinking. Only problem was Aunt Rachel had been full human and raised both JD and Vin that way. So Josiah thought it might be best to deal with Vin's reluctance to talk about things by using Vulcan logic. He could see Vin was thinking it over.
"Aunt Rachel came into our cabin and made us get into our space suits," Vin said quietly. "Then she made us get strapped into our seats. JD didn't want too."
Vin stopped talking and Josiah just waited for him to gather his thoughts. He didn't have to wait long.
"Aunt Rachel promised if he did she would give him ice cream later," Vin continued. "Then she made him drink something then left. The ship started rocking and then it fell."
"It crashed?" Josiah asked to prompt him.
"Of course," Vin said emotionless. "When everything was quiet again I un-hooked myself and checked JD. Aunt Rachel had given him something so he would sleep. I went to look for her. I..."
Vin looked up at Josiah and he could see tears in the boys eyes. "It's alright Vin," Josiah said. "We know what happened."
"No, you don't," Vin cried. "She made me promise to take care of JD. Then she died. I went to find something to bury her with. I wasn't gone that long. I know I wasn't"
Josiah watched as tears started falling from Vin's eyes. He had a feeling he knew what happened but he also knew that Vin needed to talk about it.
"Then what happened?" Josiah asked.
"I came back to find..." Vin stammered. "To find...this big cat eating Aunt Rachel. I tried to frighten it away but there were more. So I ran away."
"It's okay, Vin," Josiah said gathering him in his arms. "You did what you had to."
"No I didn't," Vin cried. "I left her there."
"You had to protect JD," Josiah said. "If you had tried to make the cats go away they may have killed you."
"So I made the logical choice?" Vin asked as he wiped his eyes.
"Yes, Vin," Josiah smiled. But Vin burst into tears again. "What's wrong?"
"I was afraid," Vin cried. "Fear is not logical."
Josiah didn't know what to say to this, he wasn't a counselor. It would take a lot of patience to help Vin come to terms with his mixed heritage. Time would be need, which they just didn't have. Josiah did the only thing he knew and hugged Vin. Vin clung to him looking for comfort in the physical contact. Josiah rubbed his back and let him cry. After a few minutes Vin's tears were less and Josiah could feel him pull away. He reluctantly let him go.
"I'm sorry," Vin said.
"For crying," Vin said as he wiped his eyes. "Vulcans don't cry."
"Yes but humans and Romulan's do," Josiah said. "And youre also those two races."
"But my father was Vulcan," Vin said. "I just wanted to be like him."
"You are like him," Josiah smiled. "But I'm sure your mother wanted you to be like her too."
"I don't remember my dad too much," Vin admitted. "I remember my mom. She told me to always remembered I was a Tanner and to make her proud."
"I think she would be," Josiah smiled. "Do you remember how you ended up with a human name?"
"My mom thought I would be accepted more," Vin said. "So they named me after her father."
"I see," Josiah said. "Now about getting ready to leave the planet..."
"Do you think I can bury Aunt Rachel now?" Vin asked. "Your're big. You can scare off the cats. But I don't want JD to see."
"Vin how did you explain to JD about his mother?" Josiah asked.
"Well logically I told him the truth," Vin answered.
Josiah just shook his head at Vin's answer. Whoever took these boys would have their hand's full.
"Josiah," Vin said. "There's something else."
"I promised my Aunt Rachel I would always stay with JD," Vin said. "I won't let anyone take him!"
Josiah sighed at this added complication. He figured he better warn Chris about this but first they had to take care of things on the planet.
"We'll worry about that later," Josiah said. "First I will help you bury your aunt after we get you a bath and cut your hair. Deal?"
"Deal," Vin said solemnly.
Three hours later Josiah stood next to Vin as he placed a flower on his Aunt's grave. He stepped back to let JD do the same. Josiah had convinced Vin that JD needed to be there as well so he could say goodbye. Vin had agreed but only after they had buried her. The five officers from the Regulator stood under a full moon and watched the boys. They had waited until dark so the boys wouldn't be frightened. Once JD placed the flower on his mother's grave he ran to Buck for comfort. The mustached lieutenant scooped him up and hugged him. Chris glared at Buck who stared at him defiantly. Vin stood by himself and stared at the grave. Chris glanced at him and sighed. In his heart he wanted to go over and gather the boy in his arms but logically he knew that would do more harm then good. Chris sighed when he realized he was starting to think like a certain blue eyed Vulcan.
The trip to Four Corners took ten hours at warp four. They weren't in a hurry so Chris didn't ask for a greater speed. He figured it would give Josiah and Nathan time to get the boys used a normal schedule of being awake during the day. Chris had ordered Buck on duty for the travel to Four Corners. Buck wasn't happy but Chris knew he wouldn't disobey a direct order. Chris did it for Buck's own good. He didn't want to make it hard for his old friend when they had to give the boys up. Chris looked over at Buck. The lieutenant hadn't said anything since coming on duty. Ezra could sense the tension in the air and wisely kept his mouth shut. Chris sighed knowing it was going to be a long ten hours.
Josiah and Nathan took the boys to the holo-suite. They figured it would be the best place to get the boys used to day. Josiah stood in front of the door and programmed the suite for an open meadow. He figured that if the boys could see there was nothing dangerous they might feel secure. When the program was ready Josiah opened the door and stepped inside.
"No!" JD cried. "Sun's out."
"Its okay, JD," Nathan said. "We're with you."
"Want my mama," JD said clinging to Vin.
"JD you know she died," Vin said quietly.
"I know," JD said. "Then I want Buck."
"Buck was needed to fly the ship," Josiah said. He hadn't agreed with the captains decision to keep Buck away.
"What about Chris?" Vin asked. He was just as reluctant to go in the room. "Can't he take us?"
"He's captain of the ship," Nathan answered. "He has to keep an eye on Buck and Ezra."
"Ezra, who's that?" JD asked as he stayed close to his cousin.
"Another friend of ours," Josiah said.
"Can we go see him?" JD asked as he tried to pull Vin away from the door.
"Ezra's working," Nathan smiled realizing JD was trying to stall.
"Did we do something to make Chris and Buck mad?" Vin asked.
"No, Vin," Josiah said squatting down. "They have to work. Chris wanted Nathan and me to get you used to be awake during the day."
"Why, it really isn't night or day on a starship," Vin reasoned.
"What if you have to go down to a planet?" Nathan asked.
"Why would we do that?" Vin asked.
"You never know," Josiah smiled. "So let's go into the meadow."
"But you said nothing was real in there," Vin said pointing to the room.
"Looks real," JD argued.
"Well then logically if it isn't real than there is nothing to be afraid of," Josiah stated.
With that Josiah stepped inside. Vin knew his fear was stupid and tried not to show it as he stepped forward. JD clung to his arm and followed reluctantly. Nathan brought up the rear and when he was inside the door closed which made the boys jump.
"Up!" JD demanded as he ran over to Josiah.
Josiah smiled as he picked the boy up. JD wrapped his legs around the big man and hugged his neck. Nathan tried to hide a smile as Josiah walked forward with JD wrapped tightly around him. Nathan went to follow but noticed Vin hadn't moved. He could see Vin was shaking as he looked around. A bird called in the distance and JD screamed. Vin ran to Nathan and hugged his leg.
"I want Chris," Vin pleaded.
"I know," Nathan said as he ran his fingers through Vin's shoulder length hair. "Think you could be brave and stay with us?"
Vin nodded but didn't let go. Nathan smiled as he pried Vin from around his leg and took his hand. They followed Josiah. Nathan knew this program had a lake just ahead. The lake came into view and Josiah went to sit by one of the trees at the water's edge. He put JD on his lap. JD made sure he didn't touch the ground. Nathan led Vin over to the tree and had Vin sit between the two of them. Vin didnt say anything as he put his back to the tree and pulled his knees to his chest. He wrapped his arms around his legs and just sat there. Nathan looked at Josiah and shook his head. They had told Chris this wouldn't work, that the boys shouldn't be pushed. A crow cawed in the distance and both boys jumped.
"It's okay it's just a bird," Josiah said. "He won't hurt you."
They all just sat there quietly, until JD's curiosity finally got the best of him. He started asking what the pretty things were by the flowers. Josiah told him they were butterflies. JD cautiously climbed off Josiah's lap and walked over to a flower. On the flower was a Monarch butterfly. JD reached out to touched it and it flew away. JD dashed back to Josiah and jumped in his lap. Nathan cringed in sympathy when he heard Josiah grunt.
"I scared it?" JD asked.
"I think you did," Josiah smiled. "But theyll be back."
They stayed there for an hour when JD's boundless energy had to be extinguished. He forgot his fear and started running around chasing the butterflies. Josiah followed him as best he could. Nathan stayed by the tree with Vin. The older boy hadn't moved. Vin knew he was being illogical and decided to play with JD. He stood with his back to the tree and looked all around. When he thought it was safe he stepped away from the tree.
"Come on Vin," JD cried.
Vin looked around to see where Josiah and Nathan were. He could see that they weren't far and started to chase JD. JD squealed and ran away. They were running by a hill that dropped off abruptly into the lake. JD wasn't watching where he was going and fell into the water. Vin jumped in to save him but he didn't know how to swim.
"Hold on, I've got you," Nathan said as he pulled a coughing and sputtering Vin out of the water.
"Vin why did you jump in if you couldn't swim?" Josiah asked as he patted a coughing JD.
"I had to," Vin said shivering. "I promised to protect JD. Can we go now?"
"Alright," Josiah said with a sigh. "Computer end program."
The room went to its grid pattern and Josiah headed for the door. JD was in his arms wringing the water out of his hair. Josiah smiled seeing that JD was no worse for wear after falling in the lake. They took them back to sick bay and got them dry clothes. JD was hungry and Nathan gave him a snack.
"Want to eat with Buck," JD said.
"Remember we said he was working," Josiah reminded him.
"But that was before," JD insisted.
"JD Buck doesn't want to see you," Vin said seriously.
"Now Vin that's just not true," Nathan said.
"It's alright," Vin said. "Our kind are used to people not liking us."
"He doesn't like me?" JD asked upset.
"Yes, JD, Buck likes you," Josiah said quickly.
"But that doesn't make sense," Vin said confused. "Logically if he liked JD he would come to see him. I know Chris doesn't like me because of my ears."
"Vin that isn't true," Nathan insisted.
"What isn't true?" Ezra asked as he walked in.
"That Chris doesn't like me because I'm a Romulan," Vin said.
"I see," Ezra said. "And what evidence do you have for this assumption."
"Who are you?" JD asked as he went over to Ezra.
"This is Ezra," Josiah said.
"Did Buck come with you?" JD asked.
"No he didn't," Ezra said.
"Lieutenant Wilmington is still working," Ezra said. "I came down to meet our guests."
"Who are they?" JD asked.
"Us," Vin answered. "Now stop being a pest."
"I am not."
"Gentlemen," Ezra said. "Can we get back to what we were discussing."
"He talks funny," JD whispered loudly to Vin.
"Hush," Vin scolded.
"But he does," JD insisted.
"Now Vin, why do you assume Chris doesn't like you?" Ezra asked.
"Well he won't come to see us," Vin said. "Him or Buck."
"That is because the captain and the lieutenant are running the ship," Ezra explained. "Also the captain has decided that two small boys shouldn't be living on a ship."
"Ezra," Nathan warned.
"They should be told," Ezra insisted.
"Told what?" Vin asked.
"We are going to Four Corners," Josiah said. "It's a station on the planet Orion."
"Why are we going there?" JD asked.
"To see if we can find someone to take you boys in," Nathan answered.
"Oh," Vin said quietly.
"Why can't we live here?" JD asked confused.
"Wouldn't you rather live on a planet?" Josiah asked.
"I don't know," JD replied with a shrug.
"We can live by ourselves," Vin said defiantly.
"And how would you get food?" Ezra asked.
"From the replicator," JD said quickly since he knew the answer.
"Where?" Ezra asked. "You wont have a place to live or any money. So what replicator will you use?"
"Any one," Vin said.
"But you wont be able too," Ezra said. "You have to live in a house or work in a business to make money to have a replicator."
"So we cant live by ourselves?" Vin asked.
"Im afraid not," Josiah said.
"But where will we live?" Vin asked starting to be afraid.
"With Buck!" JD cried.
"But they dont want us here," Vin said. "We have to find a place to live at this Four Corners?"
"We hope to find a family to take you," Ezra said.
"They aint separating us!" Vin said angrily.
"Dont worry Vin, they wont," Josiah said.
Ezra sighed knowing they might not be able to keep that promise. He decided the boys need a distraction and started to show them card tricks. Vin and JD were fascinated and for now they had nothing to worry about. Josiah left to have a talk with Chris. He hoped he would get the captain to change his mind. The hours ticked away as Ezra entertained the children by showing them how to play cards. Before they knew it they would be at Four Corners.
Chris walked down the streets of Four Corners not looking at anyone. Josiah had confronted him on the ship telling him that keeping Buck away was a mistake. Chris conceded to the argument and let Buck walk with the boys. He could hear JD chatting happily away in Buck's arms. They had arrived on the planet during the day and it took a little persuading to get the boys to leave the transporter room. JD insisted that if Buck carried him he'd go out. Vin, on the other hand, said nothing and bravely followed the officers. Chris turned to look back and was surprised to see Vin holding Ezra's hand. Chris never guessed the Lieutenant even liked kids.
Ezra was just as surprised that Vin had chosen him to walk with. He knew the young Vulcan seemed to have a soft spot for the captain. Chris kept his distance and Ezra suspected it was to keep from being reminded of his own son. Ezra admired Vin for bravely walking along the sunlit street alone. Until a noisy vehicle came by and Vin ran to him. Ezra was nearly bowled over as Vin grabbed his leg in fright. Ezra didn't say anything and calmly took Vin's hand and kept walking.
"There are many things to see here at Four Corners," Ezra commented. "They have a fine menagerie."
"A what?" Vin asked quietly.
"A place to keep animals," Ezra said. "It's quite lovely. All the animals run free."
"Can I see it?" Vin asked.
"Perhaps," Ezra said not wanting to get Vin's hopes up.
Vin walked beside Ezra looking at all the activity on the street. He wasn't used to all the noise and all he wanted to do was hide. Vin looked at his cousin and sighed. At least he got to be with the person he wanted. It wasn't that he didn't like Ezra he would just rather be with Chris. They came to a busy street and Vin moved closer to Ezra as people continued to bump into him. Vin became frightened of all the new people and held tight to Ezras hand. He knew his fear was illogical and that they were only people. Except it had been just him and JD for so long he wasn't used too all the contact. Vin tried to keep up with Ezra but it became so crowded with people rushing by that he was pulled from Ezra's side. Vin looked frantically around for the familiar red and gold uniforms but couldn't find them. He decided to just stand where he was hoping that someone would come looking.
"Are you lost?" asked a voice.
Vin looked up and tried not to scream. The being standing in front of him was huge with long hair a ridges along his forehead. He was armed to the teeth and Vin was convinced he could use every weapon. He wasn't dressed like anyone else around. The being wore some sort of armor. Vin stared up at him but said nothing.
"Did you cut out his tongue, Kolar?" his friend asked.
Vin wasn't sure but he thought this one was a female. Her hair was much longer but she was still armed like the other one. Her armor was the same as the male's.
"To puny," Kolar said. "Wouldn't make a decent meal."
Vin's eyes got wide at the last remark and he was about to run when the female knelt next to him.
"I'm Tapor of the Kilngon vessel Razor," she said. "Are you lost human?"
"I...I think so," Vin stammered.
"You either are or you aren't," Kolar bellowed. "Which is it?"
"I..." Vin started.
"He's with us," Chris said as he walked over.
Vin ran to Chris and the captain bent down to pick him up. Chris could feel Vin shaking as he wrapped his arms around him. The captained watched as the female Kilngon stood up and stood next to her partner.
"You should keep your little ones closer," Kolar said. "They are easily frightened."
"Vin's not afraid of anything," JD defended from Buck's arms.
"He didn't not run I will give him that much," Kolar laughed.
"I'm Captain Chris Larabee of the USS Regulator," Chris said holding out his hand.
"I am subcaptain Kolar of the Razor," Kolar said as he gripped Chris's forearm. "Your son is brave for a human."
"He's not my son," Chris said quickly. "We found them stranded on a planet close to the neutral zone."
"Argh! More refugees!" Kolar exclaimed. He grabbed Vin's hair to reveal his ears. "Romulans. More's the pity!"
"He's Vulcan and Human also," Nathan added quickly hoping to diffuse the confrontation.
"Half-breeds," Topar sneered.
"What's the problem!" Buck said angrily.
"We just brought in some who raided a Klingon outpost and killed two of our warriors," Kolar said.
"These children had nothing to do with that," Josiah said.
"What do you plan to do with them?" Topar asked.
"Turn them over to the authorities," Chris answered. "Hopefully they will find a home for them."
"Good luck," Kolar laughed as he walked away with Topar following.
"Why didn't they like us?" JD asked.
"I don't know," Buck said.
"Are you alright, Vin?" Chris asked.
"Yes," he answered. "Can we go back to the ship now?"
"I'm afraid not," Chris said as he started walking again.
Vin didn't say anything as he put his chin on Chris shoulder and looked back at his cousin. He didn't think Chris would be able to find them a place to stay here. If they didn't maybe they could go back to the ship. Vin smiled at Buck when he gave him a wink. He liked Buck and he knew JD did too. For now Vin was content to be carried by Chris. He put his cheek down on Chris's shoulder and got comfortable.
Chris finally arrived at Starfleet headquarters and entered the building. He headed for the welfare area deciding they would know what to with the two boys. As they walked in they found the office in and uproar.
"What can I do for you?" said the woman behind the desk.
"We found these two boys on a planet," Chris began.
"There is a childrens home at the end of the block," she said. "You can bring them there."
"We don't want them to go to an institution," Buck aid angrily.
"I'm afraid that's all I can do right now," she apologized. "We have no facilities to take them here."
'That's fine," Chris said as he walked out.
"I'm not leaving them there," Buck said angrily.
"Is it a bad place?" JD asked afraid.
"No, JD," Buck said quickly. "It's just that..."
"You're lying," Vin said. "You were angry when she said to take us there. So logically it's a bad place."
"Vin it's not bad," Chris said giving Buck a dirty look. "It's a place where children with no parents stay."
"That may be true," Vin said. "That still doesn't make it a good place."
"What about Mrs. Travis," Ezra suggested quickly before Chris started arguing.
"What about her?" Chris asked angrily.
"She may know of some people looking to take in to small boys," Ezra said. "Her news agency brings her into contact with a number of beings."
"Ezra's right," Nathan said. "She knows a lot of people."
"She also has a son the boys' age," Josiah added. "Maybe they could stay with her until she finds them a home."
"Alright we'll give her a try," Chris said and started out the door.
"We can live by ourselves," Vin said angrily and squirmed to be let down.
Chris tried to hold onto him but with Vin's superior strength it was impossible. He was forced to put Vin down. Vin glared up at him defiantly.
"Oh boy," Buck laughed. "Hes been taking lessons from you."
"Can it Buck," Chris says glaring at him. "I'm sorry Vin you can't"
"Why not?" Vin asks confused. "We did it before."
"Thats because you had no choice," Chris said.
Chris started to walk away and they all followed except Vin. He wasnt sure what to do. Ezra stopped and turned back to him. He held out his hand and Vin ran to take it.
"Don't worry Vin," Ezra said as he clasped Vin's hand and continued walking. "Everything will work out."
Vin wasn't so sure as he walked beside Ezra.
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