"Little Britches" - Star Trek Universe

Chapter 7
Vin didn't like being on the planet. He still wasn't used to being up during the day. He also didn't like Billy Travis. They had been staying at the Travis house for the past two days while the grown ups looked for a family for them. JD loved playing with the dog Billy had. The dog liked JD but didn't like Vin. The first time they met the dog he growled at Vin and Mary was forced to put him outside. Today was no different than the last. JD and Billy were outside playing with the dog while Vin was inside bored. He was also lonely. He knew that was illogical since there were other people around. Vin sighed and left the living quarters. He wandered into Mary's work area and hid in one of the cabinets. Vin pushed everything to the side and curled up for a nap. He wasn't asleep long when he heard voices. Vin recognized Josiah, Chris and Buck. Mary was also in the room with them.

"Any luck?" Chris asked.

"There is one interested couple," Mary began.

"That's great," Josiah said.

"What’s wrong with them?" Buck asked.

"Buck," Chris warned.

"Well there is one complication," Mary said. "They only want JD."

"Why?" Chris asked.

"I had to tell everyone about the boys' background," Mary said. "They are afraid with Vin's heritage he might become too aggressive because of his Romulan blood."

"Whereas JD has no Romulan genes," Josiah sighed.

"The couple is very nice," Mary said. "I think we should consider separating the boys. At least one of them will go to a good home."

"What about Vin?" Chris asked coldly.

"I've been doing some checking," Mary said. "There is a remote Vulcan form of a Monastery on Talus 4. I contacted them and they are willing to take Vin."

"I don't believe this!" Chris declared and stormed out of the room.

Vin waited until he was sure everyone was gone before he came out. He was angry that they were going to try to separate him from JD. Well he wasn't going to let them. They lived on their own before and Vin knew they could do it again. He snuck into the kitchen and over to the replicator. He asked for bread and cheese and other items that would last a few days. He found a sack to put everything in then hid it in the room he shared with JD. He also found a backpack and put some extra clothes in it. He hid that with the food bag then went out to see what JD was doing. He was still in the yard with the dog but Billy was no longer there. Vin stepped out side and went over to JD. The dog started to growl so Vin smacked it on the nose.

"Stop that!" Vin snapped.

"Why'd you do that?" JD asked crestfallen.

"Because he has no manners," Vin said.

Vin was surprised when the dog came over to him with its tail between its legs looking for forgiveness. Vin patted it on the head and the dog started to lick his face. Vin smiled and hugged the dog. JD laughed and hugged the dog too.

"JD do you like it here?" Vin asked.

"I don't know," JD shrugged. "I like it where ever you are."

"JD they want to separate us," Vin said quietly.

"Why!" JD wailed in a panic.

"Shhh, it's okay I won't let them," Vin assured him. "But we can't stay here or they will."

"Where we gonna go?" JD asked.

"We'll hide somewhere and I'll take care of you," Vin said.

"Like on the other planet?" JD asked.

"Yeah like there," Vin nodded. "We’ll have to leave at night so they don't see us."

"Okay," JD nodded.

"So we're gonna have to take a nap," Vin said. "Or we won't be able to stay awake tonight."

"Okay," JD said. "Can we sleep out here."

"I guess so," Vin said.

They found a sunny spot on the lawn and lay down. JD cuddled up to Vin and got comfortable. Vin tried to get comfortable but his back was cold. Even though the sun was out there was a cool breeze blowing across the yard. Vin was surprised when the dog curled up behind him blocking the wind. Vin patted the dog then hugged JD. Soon all three were asleep.

Mary wandered into the living quarters and dropped into a chair. She had spent the last twenty minutes arguing with Chris that separating the boys would be the best thing. Chris had adamantly refused to let her do it. She wasn't surprised when Buck suggested they take the boys on the Regulator. Chris hadn't said no but the look he shot Buck certainly conveyed his opinion of the idea. Mary sighed and rubbed her eyes. She didn't know what she was going to do with them. She glanced at her watch and was surprised at the time. Billy had left for his soccer practice and said JD was out playing with Ranger. She had no idea where Vin was. Vin was very good at hiding and Mary knew if he didn't want to be found he wouldn't be. She got up to check on JD and was surprised at how quiet it was outside. She stepped out the back door and smiled at what she saw. Vin, JD and Ranger were curled in the sun sound asleep. Ranger was lying next to Vin. Obviously they had come to an understanding. She smiled and went back inside.

That evening the officers from the Regulator came to take Vin and JD to dinner. Vin reluctantly went but he knew he could no longer trust the grown-ups. JD was excited about going to a restaurant in town. He rode on Buck's shoulders without a care in the world. Vin envied him then realized that was a human emotion and suppressed it. Vin walked alongside Chris but didn't say anything.

Chris glanced down at Vin and knew something was bothering the boy. The captain didn't know what was going to happen with the boys. He wanted them to have a good home but he feared they wouldn't be able to find them one. Mary's argument for separating the boys was a good one but Chris just couldn't do that. He knew Vin had promised hid aunt to watch out for JD. Chris was starting to think Buck was right. They could easily live on the Regulator. He just wasn't sure if he was ready to deal with two small boys now that Adam was gone. Chris sighed and continued walking.

When dinner was finished they brought the boys back to Mary's. She met them at the door and smiled when she saw Buck carrying a sleeping JD.

"I'm surprised he's asleep," Mary said as she stepped back and let them enter. "They both took a nap in the yard this afternoon."

"In the yard?" Nathan asked.

"Yes they curled up with the dog and fell asleep," Mary smiled.

"I thought Ranger didn't like you," Josiah said looking down at Vin.

"We came to an understanding," Vin said. "May I be excused?"

"Sure, Vin," Chris said. They all watched as Vin disappeared down the hall.

"What's wrong with him?" Buck asked. "He’s been as closed-mouthed as a Cordaran Clam."

"I don't know," Mary sighed. "I don't think he likes it here."

"Any luck finding them a suitable home today?" Ezra asked.

"I'm afraid not," Mary said. "I can't find a family that will take both boys."

"You mean they won't take a Romulan," Chris growled.

"Chris," Josiah warned not wanting to start that argument again.

"I'll just go tuck JD in," Buck said as he disappeared down the hall.

"Has anyone even come to meet Vin?" Chris asked angrily. "He's just a little boy."

"I know, Chris," Mary said in sympathy. "He's a very sweet little boy, but people can be funny about things."

"I'm sorry," Chris said. "It’s not your fault."

"There's one solution to this problem," Mary said. "Take them back to the ship with you."

"Don't you start!" Chris said angrily. "A starship is no place for two small boys."

With that said Chris stormed out of the house. Josiah patted Mary on the shoulder and followed Chris. Buck came back from putting JD to bed and the other three left together. Mary just shook her head as she went to her room.

Vin woke up a few hours later and saw it was completely dark. He lay in his bed and listened to make sure no one was awake. When he was satisfied he got up and walked over to JD's bed.

"JD," Vin whispered.

"Huh," JD said as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"Get up and get dressed. We’re leaving." Vin said.

"Where we going?" JD asked as he got up.

"I saw an empty building as we walked to dinner," Vin said as he helped his cousin get dressed.

"Oh," JD said not sure what Vin was talking about.

When JD was finished Vin help put the pack with the blankets in it on his back. Vin took the heavier one with their food and clothes. Vin told JD they had to be very quiet so they didn’t wake anyone up. Vin led the way and they headed for the back door. He hadn't taken into account that Ranger would be in the back yard. When they came out the dog ran over. He was about to bark when Vin grabbed his head.

"Shhh," he whispered to the dog. Ranger didn't make a sound as Vin scratched his ears. "Good dog."

Vin let him go and continued to the gate. JD followed Vin and Ranger followed JD. Vin eased opened the gate and look around. He didn't see anybody and took JD's hand. Vin led JD out the gate and the dog tried to follow.

"Stay!" Vin whispered harshly. Ranger did as he commanded and Vin pulled JD out the gate.

"Bye dog!" JD shouted.

"Shhh!" Vin said clamping a hand over JD's mouth.

Vin shut the gate and moved quickly down the block. The building wasn't too far away and he wanted to get there quickly. He decided to take a short cut and went down an alley. They walked for fifteen minutes when JD stopped.

"We there yet?" he asked.

"Not yet," Vin said and took he hand.

JD followed reluctantly. Vin went to the end of the block and peered around the building. He didn't see anybody but he waited a couple of minutes. Across from them was the building he wanted. The windows had all been sealed and Vin hoped they could find a way in. When he was satisfied no one was coming he took JD's hand and ran across the street. Vin went to the back of the building to check there first. He didn't bother to check the door because he knew it would be locked. They went around the building and Vin saw a window close to the ground. He decided to try that one. Vin could see a gap in the covering on the window and decided to give it a pull. He found it lifted easily. Vin took off his pack and pulled out an illumination rod. He ducked inside and looked around. The area was empty and Vin turned to JD.

"I'll go in first," Vin said. "You hand me the packs then I'll help you climb in."

"Ok," JD agreed.

Vin crawled through the opening and dropped to the floor. He called to JD and his cousin dropped the packs to him. JD crawled in the window but his legs were to short to touch the floor. Vin helped him down then picked up his pack. JD picked up his and followed Vin. They found an empty cabinet and moved in. When they had the blankets spread they went exploring the building. They wandered all over the first floor but never noticed the lose boards under the collection of debris. Every time they walked across it the boards slipped towards the edge of a shaft. The shaft was part of the ventilation system for the processing plant that used to be in the building. The shaft plummeted two stories into the basement of the building. The boys continued exploring their new home oblivious to the danger.

Chapter 8

JD and Vin spent the rest of the night exploring their new home. As the sun started to come up they crawled into the cabinet they found and went to sleep. By late morning JD was awake and looking for something to do. He glanced at his cousin and saw Vin was still asleep. JD didn't want to disturb him and quietly left the cabinet and closed the door. JD looked around the room in wonder. At night they hadn't been able to see above them. With the sun up JD could see all the catwalks and bridges leading to different levels. He glanced back to where Vin was sleeping biting his lip. JD wanted to go exploring but he knew Vin would be mad if he did it alone. He didn't want Vin to be mad at him and decided to look around on the first floor. There wasn't much of interest and JD soon became bored. He found a rag and tied it into a knot and started throwing it around. He threw it high then jumped up to catch it. When he came back down he landed on the lose board pushing it away from the edge of the shaft. JD lost his balance and screamed as he fell into the shaft.

Vin bolted up and looked around. He could have sworn he heard JD scream. When he realized JD wasn't sleeping next to him he scrambled out of the cabinet and looked around. The room was empty and Vin started looking for JD. He stopped when he heard a noise. With his superior hearing Vin was able to hear his cousin calling but couldn't figure out where he was.

"JD!" Vin screamed.

Vin heard the sound again and moved in the direction it was coming from. He stopped again and listened. He could hear JD crying and turned in a circle trying to locate him.

"This ain't funny, JD," Vin yelled frantically.

He heard his name again and moved in the direction it came from. Vin could hear JD's voice getting louder but he was nowhere in site. Vin kept walking forward until he saw the hole. He dashed to the side and lay down on his stomach and looked in. It was dark and he couldn't see anything.

"JD!" Vin yelled down the shaft.

"Vin!" JD plaintively cried back. "I falled. Come get me."

"Hold on JD, let me get the light," Vin left the opening and ran back to the cabinet. He grabbed the light and went back. "I'm here JD."

Vin shined the light down the shaft and he could see JD. He wasn't too far down and Vin reached down to grab him.

"JD reached up your hand," Vin instructed as he stretched his arm down.

"I try," JD said and reached up.

JD reached as far as he could and Vin could barely touch his fingers. Vin grabbed the edge with his other hand and hung down from his waist. His back began to hurt but he ignored it. He was able to grasp JD's finger and tried to get a firmer grip when JD screamed and slipped further down.

"No!" Vin yelled as his cousin slid out of reach.

Vin scrambled back from the edge and looked frantically around. He was hoping there might be a rope but there was nothing in sight. Vin bit his lip and tried not to cry. He was supposed to take care of JD. Vin knew what he had to do.

"JD!" Vin yelled. "I'm going for help."

"Don't leave me," came the muffled reply.

"I have to," Vin said. "I can't get you out by myself."

Vin heard JD scream and he felt terrible about leaving him but he had no choice. Vin ran to the window and climbed out. He still wasn't sure about being out during the day but he had to get help. Vin ran down the alley back towards Mary's

+ + + + + + +

Buck walked along the promenade carrying a bag of toys. He knew Chris would kill him if he found out but he wanted to make the boys happy especially Vin. Vin was too serious for his own good while JD was a friendly and outgoing. They had all tried to convince Chris to let the boys live on the Regulator but Chris could be stubborn when he wanted. He'd thrown regulations up at them and when Josiah told him families were allowed on board, Chris had said the boys weren't family. Josiah had countered that he'd already talked with the admiral and if they adopted the boys it would be alright. Chris had fumed and refused to discuss it further. Buck knew it was because of the death of Chris's son that his friend was afraid to get close. Sarah and Adam were everything to Chris. When they were killed the life had gone out of Chris until he buried himself in work to forget. He'd gotten the reputation of being a hard nose officer. When he wasn't at work Chris closed himself off from the world. Buck had finally been contacted by Mary to see if he could help Chris. Sarah and Mary had been close friends and she didn't want to see Chris destroy himself. Buck did what he could and gradually Chris had come back to the living. He knew the two small boys were bringing back some painful memories for Chris. What Buck didn't understand was why Chris was sticking around. If he didn't care why didn't they just leave orbit?

Buck continued on his way. He hoped he wasn't too early as he opened the gate and walked into Mary's yard. As he was walking to the door Mary was coming out.

"Buck am I glad to see you," she said. "They're gone."

"Who's gone?" Buck asked in confusion.

"Vin and JD," she said. "They ran away during the night."

"Damn," Buck cursed. "Did you let the authorities know?"

"I told them," Mary nodded. "I was just going to look around and see if I could find them."

"I'll get the others to help," Buck said as he tapped his combadge. "This lieutenant Wilmington."

"Go ahead lieutenant," Ezra replied in his southern drawl.

"The boys have run away," Buck said.

"What!" Chris bellowed. "We'll be right down."

"Cavalry's on its way," Buck smiled and stepped back.

Four shapes began to shimmer on Mary's front lawn. As the transporter finished its cycle Chris, Nathan, Josiah and Ezra materialized.

"What happened?" Chris demanded.

"I don't know," Mary said. "I went in to wake them for breakfast and they were gone."

"Nathan is there any way to use the Regulator to scan for them?" Josiah asked more calmly then he felt.

"No," Nathan admitted reluctantly. "The scanners would have a hard time finding them in this size population."

"Looks like we do this the hard way," Buck said.

"I believe we can narrow our search," Ezra declared.

"How?" Mary asked.

"I believe they can be found in one of the abandoned buildings on the planet," Ezra said.

"He's right," Josiah agreed. "Vin's smart enough to hide in one of them."

"Do you know how many abandoned buildings are on the planet?" Mary asked. "Over one hundred."

"Damn," Chris cursed.

"Again we can eliminate the buildings far away," Ezra reasoned. "How far can two small boys walk?"

"Vin could go pretty far," Buck said thoughtfully. "But I doubt JD could."

"And Vin won't leave JD," Josiah said.

"So they should be within a couple of blocks," Ezra said. "I shall go over to public works and see which buildings are empty."

"No need," Mary said as she pulled Chris into the house. The others followed. "I've been helping businesses find suitable space." Mary said as she moved to the computer. "I have a map of the abandoned buildings."

Mary printed out three and they split into groups. Josiah and Mary took one sector; Ezra and Nathan went together leaving Chris and Buck as a team. They agreed to keep in contact and started their search.

+ + + + + + +

Vin stood in the street looking around. Everything looked different during the day with all the crowds and vehicles. Vin took one more look then moved off in the direction he thought was right. He walked for a few blocks when he realized he didn't recognize anything. Vin stopped again to see if he could figure out which way to go. He turned to the left and was surprised when he was grabbed by the arm and pulled out of the way of a hovercraft. Vin struggled to be let go. He was finally lifted off his feet with his arms pinned to his side.

"Calm down wild child," said a familiar voice.

"Tapor!" Vin cried and stopped struggling.

"That’s right," she said as she put Vin back on his feet. "Where’s your little friend?"

Topar wasn't expecting it when Vin threw his arms around her and started to cry. She wasn't sure what to do and stood up with the child in her arms. She hit her combadge and growled something in Klingon. She got a response and the air started to shimmer next to her. After a few seconds Kolar stood at her side.

"What's going on?" he demanded.

"This is," she said as she held Vin out to him.

"What do I want with him?" Kolar said.

"Don't want you either," Vin said as he wiped his eyes. "Want Chris and Buck to help me get JD outta the hole."

"I can find them for you," Kolar said as he tapped his badge. He gave instructions in Klingon and shortly after Chris's voice was coming over the combadge.

"This is Captain Larabee."

"Captain this is Kolar, I believe I have something to of yours."

"I'm in the middle of something," Chris said.

I believe I have found something that belongs to you," he said.

"Where are you?" Chris asked.

"On the corner of Market and Fulton," Kollar replied.

"We'll be right there," Chris said. "Larabee out."

Chris moved quickly down the streets with Buck close behind. They rounded the corner and saw the Klingons standing with Vin. Vin turned as if he knew Chris was coming and pulled away from Kolar.

"Chris!" Vin yelled and raced towards him. Chris caught him in his arms "You have to get JD out!'

"Calm down Vin," Chris said. "You're not making any sense."

"JD fell down something," Vin explained. "I tried to reach him but he slipped more."

"Can you show us where?" Buck asked.

"I don't know," Vin cried. "I got lost looking for Mary’s."

"Think Vin," Buck urged.

"I can't tell. I'm too short," Vin said.

Buck lifted him and put him on his shoulders. "How about now?"

"Um," Vin said looking around. "That way."

Vin pointed straight-ahead and Buck moved out. Chris called the others as Buck received directions from Vin. The two Klingons followed as well. Vin finally led them to the right building and demanded that Buck let him down. Buck did as he instructed and Vin raced for the window. They watched as he disappeared inside.

"We sure ain't gonna fit," Buck said as they reached the window.

"That's easily solved," Kolar said and effortlessly ripped the cover off the window.

"Nice," Chris smiled, then broke the glass.

He climbed inside followed by the others. They stood for a few minutes as their eyes adjusted to the light. They saw Vin laying on his stomach in the middle of the floor. Buck rushed over and joined him. He could hear sobs coming from the shaft.

"JD, it's Buck," he called. "I'm here for ya."

"Buck!" JD cried.

"Sounds like he's down pretty far," Chris said.

"None of us will fit down that shaft," Topar said.

"Chris!" Nathan called from outside the building.

"In here!" Chris yelled back.

Nathan appeared at the window then climbed in. Josiah helped Mary through then followed. Ezra brought up the rear. They rushed over to the others and learned the situation. Vin knew it was his fault that JD was down the hole and there was nothing he could do to help. He quietly moved away to let the adults work.

"Buck! I scared," JD yelled.

"I know you are," Buck called. "I'll get you out."

"Now," JD cried. "Please!"

Buck looked at the others with pleading eyes and they got to work.

Chapter 9

"Nathan I want a floor plan for this building," Chris said starting to give orders. "Josiah, Ezra were going to need rope and other things from the Regulator. Buck you just keep talking to JD."

They all jumped to do as Chris said. Vin realized Chris hadn't given him anything to do. He knew it was his fault that JD fell. He figured Chris was mad at him and didn't want him around. Vin quietly walked away and over to the cabinet. He went inside and closed the door. Vin curled up in the covers and cringed when the muscles in his back spasmed. He pulled the covers over his head and cried.

"Captain, what can we do?" Kolar asked.

"Yes we wish to help," Topar said.

"Until we figure out exactly where JD is stuck there isn't much we can do," Chris said. "We'll need you later for your strength."

"Then we will wait," Topar said.

Josiah and Ezra came back with lights; rope and other odds and ends they thought might be helpful. Josiah tied a light to one of the ropes and walked over to Buck. He leaned over and looked down the shaft.

"JD," he called. "It's Josiah."

"Hi," JD sniffed.

"Hello," Josiah smiled. "I'm going to send down a light so you won't be scared."

" 'Kay," JD said with a quiver.

Josiah started to lower the light. After a few minutes JD was revealed. He looked up at them with his big brown eyes. It made a lump appear in Buck's throat when he saw the trust in the little boy’s eyes.

"You're alright, JD," Buck called. "We'll get you out."

"I hungry," JD called.

"I know little guy," Buck said. "It won't be long."

Nathan and Mary were pouring over the plans on his tricorder. The building went further below ground then they thought. Nathan was finally able to get JD's heat source register on the 3D map of the building. Once that was done he tried to figure out how to get to the small boy.

"What's that?" Mary asked.

She pointed to a shaft that ran horizontal to the one JD was in. Nathan adjusted the computer and pinpointed that area. He blew up the image and he smiled at Mary.

"I think we found the way to get him out," Nathan called to the other.

They all crowded around Nathan as he made a 3D image of the building appear in the air above the tricorder.

"JD's here," Nathan said pointing to the red dot on the image. "Mary spotted this shaft running horizontally over to the one JD is trapped in."

"It looks like it intersects JD's shaft just above him," Mary said as Nathan zoomed in on the image. "We should be able to reach him easily."

"Good work," Chris said. "Where's this shaft?"

"Two floors down," Nathan said.

"Buck you stay up here and keep JD calm," Chris said.

"Alright Chris," Buck agreed.

The others quickly moved to the stairs and descended two flights. They consulted the computer when they reached the designated floor and Nathan directed them to the right. They walked down the corridor until Nathan told them to stop. Along the floor was a ventilation grill. It was smaller than they had thought.

Kolar pulled off the grill and they shined a light down it. The shaft was covered in a fine dust with cobwebs hanging along the sides. They all knew there were only two people present that would fit down the shaft. Chris wasn’t about to send Mary and slowly turned to Ezra.

"The things I do," Ezra sighed as he took the light from Josiah and looked down the shaft. "I plan to be compensated for this."

"Don't worry Ezra," Chris smiled knowing Ezra was teasing. "I’ll put you in for a commendation."

"Here, you're going to need this," Nathan said handing him a laser torch. "Just keep going straight until you hit a wall. That’s where JD is."

Ezra gave then a three fingered salute and disappeared down the shaft. He was forced to crawl along on his stomach using his elbows to propel him forward. Ezra was glad he wasn't claustrophobic. His passage stirred up the dust and Ezra sneezed. He sighed and continued on his way.

"What's taking you so long!" Buck demanded over Ezra's combadge.

"If you think you can go faster then be my guest," Ezra retorted.

"Buck shut up," Chris said. "Ezra's doing just fine."

"Why thank you captain," Ezra said.

"Quit your yapping and move," Chris scolded good-naturedly.

"No respect," Ezra sighed. He went a little further and came to the wall. "I've reached the wall. Starting to cut now."

Ezra turned on the laser and began to cut a large enough square that he could reach in and get JD. When he was almost all the way around he stopped and grabbed the edge of the metal. He didn't want it falling on JD's head and he held it as he finished the cut. The laser cut the metal with a jagged edge and Ezra cursed as the metal cut his palm. There was nothing he could do about it now and moved the cut piece so that it was under him. He crawled forward and stuck his head into the hole.

"I see him!" Buck shouted.

"Hello, Master Dunne," Ezra said.

" 'Sra!" JD cried when he saw him. "Out!"

"Your wish is my command," Ezra said as he reached down to get JD.

Ezra grabbed JD under his arms and pulled him up. As he pulled him up he shimmied backwards pulling JD with him. JD wiggled through the opening and lay there staring at Ezra.

"We have to crawl down this shaft," Ezra explained. "Are you hurt?"

"I cut my finger," JD said holding it up.

"So you did," Ezra smiled. "Do you think it will impair your mobility?"


"Can you still crawl?"

"Sure," JD said. "It's only my finger."

Ezra smiled again and started to crawl backwards. This was harder to do and JD learned a few colorful words before the emerged. Josiah helped Ezra out as Buck reached in to get JD.

"Buck!" JD screamed.

"I got ya," Buck said as he hugged JD tight.

"Well it would appear you have everything in order," Kollar said. "We shall return to our ship."

"Tell Vin it was a good to meet him," Topar said. A shimmer surrounded the two Klingons and they disappeared.

"Speaking of Vin," Mary began. "Has anyone seen him?"

"Shit," Chris exclaimed. "I didn't notice he was missing."

"Don't berate yourself, Chris," Josiah said. "None of us noticed."

"Where could he be?" Nathan asked.

"We hid in a closet on the main floor," JD said. "I show you."

JD squirmed to be let down then let out a yelp as he hit his wrist. Nathan quickly ran the tricorder over the boy and found he had a broken wrist as well as other cuts and scraps.

"Nathan you and Buck take JD back to the ship," Chris said.

"No!" JD wailed. "Don’t separate us! Want to stay with Vin."

"It's okay, JD," Buck said patting him on the back.

"No!' JD cried. "Vin said you wanted to separate us that’s why we runned away."

"That isn't true, JD," Chris said. "I won't let anyone separate you. You’re both coming back to the ship with us."

"Mean it?" JD asked sniffling.

"Mean it," Chris smiled.

"'Kay then," JD brightened. "I go with Buck."

"Why don't you all go back," Chris suggested. "Vin and I need to have a talk."

"I'll escort Mary home," Josiah said.

"You won't regret this Chris," Mary smiled.

"We'll see," Chris said.

He walked with them back upstairs. Once on the main level Josiah helped Mary out the window then took her home. Nathan swept the tricorder over the room then smiled as he pointed to the cabinets across the way. Chris nodded and stepped away as Ezra called for four to beam up. Chris watched as they shimmered and disappeared. He turned to the cabinet and started towards it. As he got closer he could hear Vin crying. Chris shook his head as he knelt down and opened the door. He found Vin hiding under the blankets.

"Vin," Chris said as he pulled the covers off the boy’s head.

"I'm sorry," Vin sniffed as he ran his hand under his nose.

"Nothing to be sorry about," Chris said as he wiped Vin's nose with the edge of the blanket.

"Yes there is!" Vin said angrily. "I didn't protect JD and he fell down the hole."

"Wasn't your fault," Chris said and he could see Vin wasn't convinced. "It's kind of hard watching JD."

"Sometimes," Vin admitted. "But I promised."

"What if Buck watched him?" Chris asked.

"No, I have ta!" Vin insisted.

"Could Buck help?"

"Guess," Vin said. "Who's gonna watch me?"

"Figured I could do that," Chris said. "That's if you want me to."

Vin wasn't sure he heard Chris right. "You want us on the Regulator?"

"If you want to," Chris said.

Vin couldn't believe it. It was what he had wanted from the start. His emotions were running wild and Vin wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh or cry. Chris could see Vin's struggle with his emotions.

"You're human, Vin," Chris said as he stroked Vin's hair. "You're allowed to cry."

That's all the small boy needed to hear as he burst into tears. Chris reached in and lifted Vin from the cabinet. When he did this Vin cried out in pain.

"What's wrong Vin?" Chris asked anxiously.

"Back hurts," Vin cried. "Trying to get JD."

"Don't worry," Chris assured him. "Nathan will make it all better."

Chris stood and hit his combadge. He called for two to beam up. As the transporter engulfed him Chris smiled knowing this was the right thing to do. They beamed back to the ship and Chris carried Vin to sickbay. They found JD sitting quietly on Buck’s lap as they watched Nathan heal the cut on Ezra’s palm. JD smiled when he saw he cousin but didn’t leave Buck. Chris could see JD’s cuts and scraps were all healed.

"He okay?" Chris asked.

"Good as new," Buck smiled. "How’s Vin?"

"Hurt his back trying to pull JD out," Chris said.

"There ya go Ezra," Nathan said.

"Thank you Mr. Jackson," Ezra said. "If you will excuse me I believe I need a bath."

"So who’s next?" Nathan asked.

"Vin," JD said.

"What happened Vin?" Nathan asked as he waved the tricorder around Vin’s body.

"Back hurts some," Vin admitted.

Nathan pulled up Vin’s shirt and gently touched his back. Vin flinched and Nathan knew it had to hurt a lot since Vulcans had a high tolerance for pain. He grabbed a hypospray and injected it directly into Vin’s lower back.

"That should do it," Nathan smiled.

"Seepy," JD announced.

"Me too," Vin said yawning.

"Alright you can sleep in my cabin," Buck said.

"No," they said in unison.

"Cabinet," Buck and Chris said together and smiled.

They carried both boys over to the cabinet and discovered that Nathan hadn’t removed the blankets. Chris gave Nathan a dirty look and the chief medical officer just shrugged. They got the boys settled then closed the door.

"We’re gonna have to get them to stop that," Buck commented.

"Yeah that and a few other things," Chris said.

"Nothing that has to be rushed," Nathan said. "You’ll have to go slow for some things."

"Yup," Buck agreed. "But we’ve got time."

"All the time in the world," Chris added


Chris sat at his console and watched as the ship moved through space. Two weeks ago they had taken aboard two small boys to add to their compliment. Buck and JD were inseparable. Vin on the other hand was a little more independent but still need reassurance now and again. The boys shared a room wedge between Chris and Buck’s cabins. It had been a storage area but it suited the boy’s fine. It had no view port but they didn’t mind. The boys were allowed in either of their cabins any time they wished. When they boys were confident in their relationship with the crew they became more out going. They found out Vin was a prankster causing al sorts of havoc on the ship. Chris smiled as he heard JD’s voice asking Buck his endless questions.

"What does that one do?" JD asked from Buck’s lap at navigation. The boy pointed to a red button.

"That tells us exactly where we are in space," Buck answered patiently.

"And that one?" JD asked pointing to another button.

"He’ll keep Buck busy for hours," Josiah laughed as he watched JD.

"And Vin will just sit quietly and take direction from Ezra," Chris commented.

Josiah looked over at the pilot and smiled as Ezra pointed out something to the silent boy. Josiah chuckled at the miniature Starfleet uniforms they each wore. Vin had insisted that if they were going on the bridge they needed a uniform. So Chris had programmed the replicator and they now wore uniforms to match Chris and Buck.

"Do you think you’re ready Mr. Tanner?" Ezra asked.

"Yes!" Vin said with confidence.

"Then take us to warp 4," Ezra instructed.

Vin looked over his shoulder at Chris wanting to make sure it was all right. He didn’t want to do anything to make Chris mad. Chris smiled and nodded. Vin smiled at Ezra then turned back to the board. Ezra positioned him on his lap so he was directly in front of the controls. Vin expertly hit the right buttons and the shipped jumped to warp speed. Vin whooped in pleasure as the stars went streaming by.

"Buck what does this one do?" JD asked as he reached out a finger.

"No, JD, not that one!" Buck exclaimed but was too late as JD’s little finger pressed the button.

The red alert claxon sounded causing both boys to scream. Next thing Chris knew he had his hands full as Vin rushed to him in a panic. JD cried in Buck’s arms that he was sorry. Josiah looked on the scene and started to laugh.

"What’s so funny?" Chris asked.

"I can see things are going to be very lively now that the boys are here," Josiah laughed.

"I wouldn’t have it any other way," Chris said as he held Vin.


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