Josiah's Boys

Chapter Twelve: The Talent Show

by Freespirit

Previous Chapters

It was nice of Warden Dobbs, John's lawyer, Mr. Gatehouse and Judge Jennings to attend the wake. I know JD appreciated them being there. They all let JD know his aunt and uncle were not going to get him.

"Vin and Martin, or Marty as Vin has started to call him, chat on line every day and when Victor isn't home, Martin calls. I don't like the idea of keeping Vin's and Martin's communications a secret from their father. Patty did promise the boys they could spend their birthday together.

Patty contacted Mr. Pembrook after Don found him. Now Ezra is on pins and needles. Patty gave the man our home number to contact us. I know Ezra is excited to meet the man but he's scared to death too. According to Patty, Ezra looks just like his father. I guess we'll see when we see him because Patty did say the man would definitely want to see Ezra.

Buck's sisters are coming for a visit on Saturday, all four of them. They'll be spending the night at the hotel in Four Corners. All their names begin with the letter B, go figure. Barbara is the oldest, then it's Bethany, Bianca and the youngest is Britney. Buck said he should have been the youngest because his name starts with b-u. That way they could be in alphabetical order. He learned from Barbara their father wanted all his kids to have B names. So Buck's pretty excited about meeting them.

Chris told me what the Sergeant Major came to tell him. Chris said he now understands why his father was so hard on him growing up and why he didn't want anything to do with him when his mother passed away. It was like the Sergeant Major took it out on Chris who was just as innocent as he and Chris's mother was. Chris did say he didn't want anything to do with Frank Keating and after what Chris told me about the man, I don't blame him.

The boys have a whole set of other problems now including Nathan. I know Nathan isn't a ward of the state as is with the others, except for JD. Thanks to John, I have full custody of him and I'm of mind to make JD permanently my son. I would like to do that with all the boys.

Josiah finished the report and sent it off to Nettie.

Josiah picked up his empty cup and left his home office. Josiah heard clapping from upstairs and shook his head. Ezra's performing again Josiah thought to himself.

"Ezra's getting real good with that magic stuff,"  Buck said when he saw Josiah come out of his office.

"Yes he is, specially the card tricks and slight of hand tricks,"  Josiah agreed.

"Nathan said he's learned a new card trick and wanted to practice it in front of an audience."

Buck and Josiah turned toward the stairs when they heard the four younger boys come down then.

"Nathan's right Ezra, you should try out for it,"  JD said.

"Yeah, ya learnin' new tricks every week,"  Vin agreed.

"What are the three of you trying to talk Ezra into doing?" Josiah asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

"There's a talent show coming up in two weeks and we think Ezra should at least try out for it,"  Nathan answered.

"Yeah, it's going to be like America's Got Talent,"  JD said.

"There's gonna be four judges. No buzzers though." Vin shrugged.

"Yeah, but it would be cool if there was,"  JD smiled. He was excited about the talent show.

"I just don't think card tricks and slight of hand are good enough to win a talent contest."

"Ezra," Buck put an arm around Ezra's shoulders and pulled him in close, "You are good and if you don't think card tricks and slight of hand aren't good enough, you're wrong. We all think your tricks are really good, but hey, we're only family."

"You won't know if you're good enough unless you try. We're a hundred percent behind you Ezra,"  Josiah added

Chris came through the back door just then, "I agree with Josiah Ezra. We're behind you. Now, what is it I'm agreeing to?"

"That he should enter the talent show in a couple of weeks,"  Buck answered. "He don't think his card tricks and slight of hand are good enough to win."

Chris looked down at Ezra, "You're doubting yourself?"

Ezra lowered his head and sighed, "I am no Houdini or Copperfield."

Chris smiled down at Ezra, "No you're not, you're Ezra."

Ezra laughed and looked up at Chris.

"Don't be them, ok? Just be yourself,"  Chris said.

"Come on Ez, do it," Nathan coaxed. "What have you got to lose?"

Ezra sighed, "I'll think about it."

"You do that. In the mean time, you, Vin and JD go get ready for bed. You have school in the morning."

+ + + + + + +

Nathan rode with Buck to school while Ezra, Vin and JD rode the bus.

Vin hurried to get on the bus. He wanted to talk to Vi and Abby. Ezra was the last one on the bus and he was so tired, he was dragging.

Vin dropped down next to Vi. "Hey, can you help me with something? You too Abby."

Ezra sat next to Abby and sighed.

"Sure Vin," Abby said. "Ezra? Are you ok? Has the nightmares returned?"

"No. I'm Just nervous about meeting my father. What if he doesn't like me?"

Abby laid a hand on Ezra's arm. "He'll like you. I'm sure of it."

Ezra sighed. "How do you know?"

Vi looked over at Vin. "What do you need our help with?"

"Talking Ezra into doing that talent show. He don't think his card tricks are good enough to win it."

Vi reached up and slapped Ezra on the back of his head.

Ezra turned back toward Vi and Vin. "Why did you slap me?"

"To slap some since into you. You so can win that contest."

"She's right Ez," Abby agreed. "You could win it."

"I don't know. I've watched other magicians on television and in video's. I don't think I can do what they can."

"Ezra, no one expects you to do what they can. This is a school talent show. Those men and women on the television and video's are professionals. Someday maybe, you will be too, but right now, no."

"I like your tricks Ezra," Vicky smiled up at Ezra.

"Yeah, just think about it. With some practice, there's no telling what you can do,"  Vi added.

"Besides Ez, you ain't like them other Magicians. Your Ezra,"  Vin said.

Ezra sighed. 'Who ever he is.' Ezra thought to himself.

Vin, Vi, Abby and Vicky talked about the talent show and every so often JD would make a comment. Ezra remained quiet and almost fell asleep.

Abby nudged Ezra when they got close to school. "You need to talk to Josiah."

"I plan to," Ezra yawned.

Instead of going to his home room, Ezra went to see Josiah. Josiah's door was open, so Ezra just poked his head inside the office only to see that Josiah wasn't in his office. Ezra sighed and headed to his home room.

Velma saw Ezra head back to Josiah's office and return. "He's in a staff meeting Ezra. Is there a message I can give him when he returns?"

Ezra stopped and faced the secretary. "No, but thank you any way."

Velma could tell something was wrong by the way Ezra was squinting.

It was about twenty minutes after Ezra left when Josiah returned to his office. On his desk was a note that read Ezra had stopped to see him. Josiah came out of his office with the note and stopped at Ms. Patten's desk.

"Hey, Vel, did Ezra say what he needed?"

"No, sorry, but I didn't think he was feeling very well by the way he squinted his eyes when he looked over at me.

Josiah nodded his head. Because of the meeting, he had to leave the house early and didn't see the boys before he left.

"Please page him,"  Josiah said then went back to his office.

Ezra entered Josiah's office a few minutes later and sat down in one of the chairs facing the desk.

Josiah knew the moment Ezra sat down, something was wrong.

"What's wrong Ezra?" Josiah asked as he came around his desk and sat next to Ezra.

"I woke this morning with a headache. I can't seem to get rid of it."

Josiah sighed, "I'll have Chris take you home."

"Thank you Josiah."

Josiah patted Ezra on the shoulder. "Stay here until Chris can take you home." Josiah turned off the lights when he left the office.

Josiah signed Ezra out and waited for Chris.

"Hey Josiah? What's up?" Chris asked when he saw Josiah waiting for him at the reception desk.

"Ezra's not feeling well. He said he woke with a headache this morning. He's in my office right now. Could you take him home before you leave for work?"

"I could take him home now and I'll call Mr. Baker and tell him I won't be into work."

"You sure? I don't want you to get into trouble with Mr. Baker or skip out on any thing important."

"I'm sure. I'll just get my stuff from my locker." Chris turned to leave.

"Stop and get Ezra's too, will ya?"

"Sure, not a problem."

"Chris seems to be a good kid Josiah."

Josiah looked over at Velma. "Oh he is. We finally got Ezra's medical records. According to them, Ezra suffered from migraines since he was nine."

"Really? Do they know why?"

"Yes really and no one has any ideas why he has them. I have an appointment with Dr. Parker later to discuss Ezra's medical records. I just wish she could have given me some kind of inclination as to what she found in his records."

After speaking to Velma, Josiah went back to his office to Ezra.

Ezra sat quietly in the dark but when Josiah turned the lights on, Ezra cried out in pain and clutched at his head. Josiah quickly turned the lights off and knelt down in front of Ezra.

"Sorry Ez. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"I know," Ezra whispered.

A few minutes later, Chris stood in the doorway. "I got our stuff."

Ezra stood and followed Chris out.

Josiah sighed and sat back down in his desk chair.

The rest of the day went pretty much uneventful. Since Josiah's appointment was for four a-clock, instead of going home right away after work, Josiah went to Dr. Parker's office and waited for his appointed time. Josiah didn't have long to wait.

"Josiah, Dr. Parker will see you now,"  Peggy, the receptionist said.

"Thanks," Josiah said and got up from the chair he was in.

Dr. Parker greeted Josiah. "Have a seat Josiah."

Josiah sat down in one of the chairs in front of Dr. Madison Parker's desk. "So, what did you find that you need to see me?"

Dr. Parker opened the thick file in front of her then turned it so Josiah could see what was in it. "I need your permission to send a copy of this file to Ms. Wells."

Josiah picked up the file and started to read it. The more he read, the angrier he got. He got as far as the police reports and couldn't read any more. He placed the file down on the desk and looked up at Dr. Parker. "This explains a lot."

"Yes it does. You've said Ezra still gets headaches, right."

"Yes, he woke up with one this morning. I had an early staff meeting at the school, so I wasn't there when he got ready for school. I sent him home with Chris to look after him."

"Good. I want him to have a CAT scan. With all the abuse he's suffered in his young life and nothing being done for it, I think it would be a good idea to get some tests done."

"Yes, yes of course. What ever you think is best. Can you tell me what took so long to get his records?"

"Yes I can. I had to contact every hospital, clinic and doctor that ever treated him and as you can see, there were many."

Josiah nodded his head. "He was just a boy, how could anyone do this to him?" Josiah indicated the file.

"How could anyone do these things to any child?"

"May I have a copy of these?"

"Those are your copies."

Josiah leaned forward and picked up the file. "Thanks and you have my permission to send Nettie Wells a copy of these."

"Good,"  Dr. Parker said then she scheduled the CAT scan and other tests.

Josiah sat out in the van for a few minutes after he left Dr. Parker's office. He knew if he went home, he would scare the boys. He needed to hit something. Josiah took his cell phone out of his pocket and phoned home.

"You got Buck," Buck answered the phone.

"Buck, I'm going to be late getting home. You and Chris are to get diner for the other boys and if I'm not home before it's their bed time, you'll have to make sure they get to bed."

"Yeah, sure Josiah, we can handle things here,"  Buck said.

Buck turned toward Chris with a worried look on his face.

Chris looked up at Buck when he replaced the phone receiver back in it's cradle. "What did Josiah want?"

"He wanted us to feed the boys and make sure they go to bed when they're supposed to if he ain't home in time to do it. I said we could but before I could finish he hung up on me. And Chris, he's pissed. I could hear it in his voice,"  Buck answered as he sat down at the dinner table.

After he hung up, Josiah went down to the gym.

+ + + + + + +

Chris and Buck were waiting up for Josiah when he came home.

Josiah came in through the back door and dropped down on one of the bar stools at the island and heaved a heavy sigh.

Chris and Buck came from the living room when Josiah came through the back door. Both wore worried faces.

"You hungry?" Chris asked.

Josiah looked up at the two boys. "Yeah, I am a little."

Chris and Buck looked at one another then back at Josiah. They could tell by the red puffiness of Josiah's eyes that he's been crying. Without saying a word, Chris went around the island into the kitchen to heat up the taco meat for Josiah.

"Um, the hospital called to confirm Ezra's CAT scan and blood work for Friday morning,"  Buck informed Josiah. "And Nettie said she'll call you in the morning."

Josiah nodded his head. "Thanks for watching the boys tonight."

Josiah looked down at the file he held in his hands.

"What's that?" Buck asked?

"Ezra's medical file."

"It's a bit on the thick side isn't it?" Buck stated more than asked.

Chris remained quiet and let Buck do the talking. Every since the hospital called to confirm the appointment, he'd been sitting on pins and needles with worry. He didn't want to lose one of his brothers.

Josiah looked up at Buck. "Yes it is. I was hoping the two of you were going to be up when I got home."

Chris sat a plate down on the island with three hard shell tacos and cheesy fries next to Josiah along with a glass of ice tea. "We couldn't go to bed until we knew you were okay."

Josiah chuckled a humorless laugh. "I am far from okay thanks to what's in here."

Chris leaned on the island as Buck sat down on a stool next to Josiah.

"What's in the file?"

Buck, Chris and Josiah were startled when they looked over to the stairs. There was Nathan sitting on a step half way down the stairs.

Josiah smiled. "Some very disturbing information. It seems Ezra has been abused most of his life."

"Abused how?" Chris asked as Nathan joined Buck and Josiah at the island.

Josiah took a deep shuddering breath. "You name it."

Chris wasn't sure he wanted to ask the question that was on his mind, but knew he needed to. "Ezra's blood work, what are they testing for?"

Tears welled up in Josiah's eye. "STDs."

Nathan was shocked as were Chris and Buck. "What?"

"In view of the abuse, Dr. Parker said the blood tests are just a cautionary measure. She said nothing showed in the blood tests Dr. Morningstar had done, but he didn't know to test for them either."

"Why the CAT scan?" Chris asked.

Josiah sighed, "One of Ezra's step fathers got stinking drunk one night and hit Ezra hard enough to put him in the hospital for two weeks with a severe concussion. She thinks that may be some of his headaches now."

Josiah sighed and took a bite of his cheesy fries.

"What else?" Buck asked.

"There was a friend Maude left Ezra with that made it his mission to unteach Ezra his mother's sinful ways." Josiah looked each boy in the eyes. "We can not force Ezra to do the talent show. This friend of Maude's almost busted Ezra's fingers when he caught him doing some slight of hand. The man viewed cards as tools of the devil and forced Ezra to watch as he burned the deck of cards, one by one and if he ever caught Ezra with another deck, he would do more than just burn the deck."

"That explains why Ezra is so protective of his cards," Nathan sighed.

"We'll just have to keep encouraging him," Chris said.

Josiah ate his late cold supper then announced he was going to bed and that Chris, Buck and Nathan should too.

Chris picked up Ezra's medical file and took it with him so he could read it because he knew there was more in this file than Josiah let on. Other wise, why was it so thick.

Down stairs, Chris sat the file on the card table and then made a pot of coffee. Buck sat down in one of the four folding chairs and opened the file and started to read the contents.

"Shouldn't you be going to bed?" Chris asked.

"Yep and so should you," Buck answered as he read the top page.

In the file were reports of abuse since Ezra started to walk from various doctors and some child welfare agencies along with police.

Buck looked up at Chris. "Maude's been pawning him off to anyone who would take him."

"Yeah," Chris rubbed his temples. "It's no wonder Josiah had such a hard time getting Ezra to trust him."

Buck got up and went to the frig and took out a cola. "He was only three when he got his shoulder dislocated the first time." Buck said as he leaned against the counter, opening his can of cola.

Chris shook his head in disbelief at what he was reading.

"What pisses me off, is why hadn't anything been done about it until now,"  Buck commented.

Chris looked up over at Buck as he sat down in the chair he had vacated earlier. "It does explain why she moved around so much and changed their names."

Buck nodded his head in agreement. "Yeah."

"It also explains why Ezra likes magic so much."

Buck agreed, "And why he wants to take drama next year. And let's not forget all the books he reads."

"And why he protects Vin and JD so much." Chris sat back in his chair. "I wonder."

Buck was about to take a drink when Chris spoke and stopped half way to his lips. "About?"

"Vin," Chris answered. "He and Ezra are pretty protective of JD. It makes me wonder if Vin was abused in any of those foster homes he was in."

"Shit," Buck said as he slammed his can on the table and slumped in his chair.

Chris sighed, "My thoughts exactly."

+ + + + + + +

Josiah, Chris and Buck was at the table waiting for the four boys upstairs to came down in the morning.


"Yes Josiah?"

"I'll be taking you to school this morning."

"Why?" Ezra asked.

"I saw Dr. Parker yesterday and discussed your medical records. She has scheduled a CAT scan and some blood work for Friday."

Ezra looked over at Vin and JD then back at Josiah. "Why? What is it she's expecting to find?"

Chris leaned back in his chair and scrutinized the look between the three teens. "Vin and JD know what's in your medical file don't they?"

"Yeah, we do,"  Vin answered.

"The three of you didn't think I should have known,"  Josiah sighed. "I've have done everything I know to do to gain your trust. Why didn't you tell me about the abuse?"

Ezra hung his head. "I didn't want you to be ashamed of me."

Josiah got up from his chair and went and knelt down in front of Ezra. "Look at me."

Ezra reluctantly raised his head to look Josiah in the face.

"I am not ashamed of you for this. I couldn't be. I am ashamed in myself for making you feel like you had to hide this from me. You are a very talented magician. What that man did to you was inexcusable. Please, don't let him stop you from performing in the talent show."

"You can come and talk to me or Chris here," Buck said as he used his thumb to point to Chris. "If you feel you can't talk to Josiah."

"We're your family, not just Vin and JD,"  Nathan added.

Ezra sighed, and looked around at everyone. "I was afraid you all would treat me like a freak. I just want to be normal."

"The only freak here is Buck," Chris smiled.

"Hey! I like my freakiness. I'm a one of a kind."

"Thank God," Nathan said.

"Tell you what Ezra, when my sisters get here on Saturday, you can perform for them and if they like what they see, you'll know if you're good enough."

Ezra thought over what Buck said and thought it was a good idea. "I'll have to see if my assistant will be available."

"I'm sure she will be,"  Josiah smiled.

"We'll set up in the basement. This is going to be great, you'll see," Buck said as he draped an arm around Ezra's shoulders.

Ezra looked up at Josiah. "I would like to ride the bus. That way, I can ask Abby to be my assistant."

Josiah nodded his head. "Okay, but I want to talk a bit more on what's in your file."

Ezra smiled up at Josiah. "After school then, here in your home office."

Josiah agreed.

Ezra, Vin and JD had to run out the back door to be able to make the bus on time. Ezra and Vin took their usual seats next to Abby and Vi.

"You girls want to see a magic show on Saturday?" Vin asked when he sat down next to Vi.

"Sure," Vi smiled.

Ezra sighed as he turned toward Abby. "I was going to ask if you would consider to be my assistant. Buck's sisters are coming for a visit and he wishes for me to entertain them with some magic and slight of hand tricks."

Abby smiled. "I would love to be your assistant. We can wear our Halloween costumes we wore at Buck's and Chris's Halloween party."

"Yes, they would do perfectly."

+ + + + + + +

Friday came to soon for Ezra. He was feeling sick to his stomach with nervousness. Josiah noticed this and sighed. There wasn't anything he could do about it at this time. Dr. Parker was waiting for them in the lab.

"I just wanted to reassure Ezra that everything will be alright. I don't expect to find anything, but I just wanted to be sure."

"Better to be safe than sorry," Ezra sighed.

"Exactly," Dr. Parker smiled. "The other reason I wanted to see you Josiah, was to hand you this."

Josiah took the envelope from Dr. Parker and opened it. In side it was a wedding invitation. "So you set a date. The boys and I would be honored to attend,"  Josiah said as he tucked the invitation back in it's envelope.

The first thing that was done was the blood work. When it came to the CAT scan, Ezra was scared but he wasn't going to show it. When it was over, Ezra sighed with relief as he sat in the front seat of the van and laid his head back against the head rest.

Josiah reached over and patted Ezra on the shoulder. "How about we go and get something to eat?"

Ezra rolled his head toward Josiah. "The Triple D?"

Josiah grinned and started up the van. "Of course."

+ + + + + + +

Buck paced around the basement in nervous energy waiting for his sisters.

"Buck, stop pacing," Chris said. "You're going to wear a hole in our new floor."

"I can't help it Chris," Buck moaned as he dropped onto the couch.

"When are they getting here?"

"Barb said they should be here about ten or eleven."

"Buck, it's barely nine."

"I know," Buck sighed. "I just hope they'll like me."

Chris patted Buck on the shoulder. "I'm sure they will. I haven't met a female that hasn't."

It was around ten thirty when a white rented SUV pulled up into the driveway. Buck stood at the bay window in the living room when the SUV pulled into the driveway.

Buck took in a deep breath and let it out. "They're here,"  Buck said into the room.

Chris came to stand next to his best friend. "Let's go and welcome them."

Nathan stood at the bay window when Chris and Buck left. "I thought Buck said he only had four sisters."

Chris and Buck stopped and turned around to meet Nathan. "I do."

"Well, five females just got out of the SUV."

Buck and Chris went to greet the females when the door bell rang.

Buck opened the door. "Morning Ladies. Please come in."

Buck and Chris escorted the ladies to the main house and Buck introduced them. Buck didn't know who the fifth woman was.

"I'm Blair, their mother,"  Blair said and then she shook hands with every one.

A couple of hours later, the Heckarts and the St. Clares showed up. Buck wanted his sisters to meet Cheyenne. After Ezra had performed for everyone with Abby as he assistant, Buck's sisters and step mother applauded and said Ezra was really good. The youngest, Britney, really liked it. Blair had to smile at her daughter.

It was lunch time and Buck's step mother wanted to know where there was a good place to have lunch. She wanted to take Buck for lunch so she and the girls could get to know him better. She was told the Triple D was the best in the area.

Buck left with them. The Heckarts and St. Clares stayed a little longer and visited with Josiah and the rest of the boys.

"You had nothing to worry about Ez. They loved it," Vin smiled at Ezra.

"They could have been just being polite, knowing of my relationship to Buck."

Chris sighed, "Ezra, you need to stop doubting yourself. You're good."

Vi chuckled.

"What's got you chuckling?" Abby asked her sister.

"Just thinking of what kind of cop Ez would make with his magic tricks."

This got the rest laughing.

That night after the Heckarts and St. Clares went home, Josiah got a phone call. Josiah took the call in his office while the four youngest were playing a board game and it wasn't monopoly or payday. If Vin, Nathan and JD wanted any chance to win at playing a game with Ezra, they knew not to play either of those. He was also pretty good with clue. So was Vin. Chris was at work.

"Josiah Sanchez," Josiah answered the phone.

"Good evening Mr. Sanchez. I'm Brice Pembrook."

"Mr. Pembrook, I've been expecting your call." And dreading it, Josiah added the last part to himself.

"I wasn't to sure if I should have made this call."

"Why's that?"

"Well, when Patty told me about Ezra. I thought maybe she was just jerking my chain. I didn't even know what Maude named the boy and when she swore he's the spitting image of me, I don't know. She gave me this number and told me to call and if I didn't call it, I would regret it."

"She's not jerking your chain Mr. Pembrook. I have Maude Standish's son here with me." Josiah heard the sharp intake of breath over the phone. "Mr. Pembrook? Brice?"

"I'm okay Mr. Sanchez. Would it be possible for me to see him?"

Josiah heard the hopefulness in the man's voice. "Of course. I know Ezra would like to see you too."

"You sure? I have wanted to meet the boy for a long time, every since Maude told me about him."

"When will you be able to be in town? I have a farm just outside of Four Corners Colorado."

"Um, I have a run to Mayland, but after that I'm free."

"So, next week maybe?"

"How about this, I'll call you when I get to Four Corners?"

"Sounds good. I'll give you my cell and work number."

"Where do you work?"

"At the high school as a counselor."

"Okay," Pembrook said.

"Would you like to speak with him?"

"Y...yes, if he wants to,"  Brice stammered.

"Just hold on, I'll go get him." Josiah shook his head as he left his office.

A few minutes later Ezra entered Josiah's office with Josiah and picked up the phone receiver. "Hello?"

"Ezra?" Brice asked.

"Yes, this is Ezra Standish. Mr. Sanchez has informed me you would like to meet me sometime in the near future."

"Yes I would very much like that. What are your interests?"

Ezra and Mr. Pembrook talked for a few more minutes before Mr. Pembrook had to go.

All eyes turned toward Ezra when he exited Josiah's office. Ezra smiled back at them.

"It seems, Mr. Pembrook is very interested in a meeting with me and he mentioned perhaps he would like to be at the talent contest to see me perform if I wished for it. I told him he was more than welcomed to do so if it were possible." Ezra's smile grew. "He said he would clear his schedule."

Josiah entered his office with a heavy heart. Josiah was happy for Ezra, but at the same time, he felt like he was losing him as Ezra went on about his father.

"Come in," Josiah said when someone knocked on his door an hour later.

Ezra entered the office and shut the door behind him. "I apologize for my inconsideration of your feelings. I should not have went on about Mr. Pembrook. Since I've been told all my life my father was dead, I did not think I would ever meet my biological father."

Josiah motioned for Ezra to sit down. "You have nothing to apologize for. Maude on the other hand, has some explaining to do. I'm happy for you Ezra just like I was for JD when we found his father. All you boys deserve to know your fathers. I would never begrudge you that. But know this, you will always have a home here with me."

Ezra nodded his head. "I know this. Mr. Pembrook's life sounds exciting, traveling from state to state meeting so many different people, getting paid to stay at hotels and casinos. But he has no stability in his life. You provide a stable life for me, he is unable to do. This is home." Ezra stood. "I just wanted you to know that." After Ezra spoke he left the room.

Josiah wondered, not for the first time, if Maude knew what she had and if so, what in the hell was she thinking when she kept pawning him off on relatives and anyone else for that matter.

+ + + + + + +

Monday morning, Josiah watched as Nathan, Ezra, Vin and JD got ready for school and couldn't help but think of all six of his boys, Nathan was the only one who knew his biological father growing up. The thought of Victor Fitzgerald not wanting to even acknowledge Vin was making him see red. The one thing he and Becky always wanted was a house full of children. Becky was unable to conceive so they decided to become foster parents but then she got sick. He kept his faster license with the hope Becky would get better.

Buck and Chris came upstairs to join the four youngest for breakfast. They had been up for awhile. They had went into town and brought back Mc. Donald's breakfast burritos for everyone. Needless to say, boxes of cereal were put back in the pantry.

Nathan, Ezra, Vin and JD almost missed the bus.

Josiah dumped his cup of cold coffee down the drain and put the cup into the dish washer. He turned around to face a couple of worried expressions.

"Are you okay Josiah?" Buck asked.

"Yeah," Josiah sighed.

"You don't sound very convincing," Chris stated.

Josiah smirked at the two teens. "I was just wool gathering. I'll be fine."

Both Chris and Buck nod their heads in understanding.

"You two better get going and thanks for breakfast."

"Your welcome," Chris said as he and Buck made their way to their basement apartment.

Josiah cleaned up the kitchen which took all of five minutes then left for work.

+ + + + + + +

On Wednesday, Josiah received a phone call from Dr. Parker to meet her in her office after work.

Josiah slumped back in his chair. He wasn't looking forward to the meeting. He feared the worst. Josiah leaned over his desk and pushed the button for the front desk.

"Yes Josiah?"

"Velma, would you please have Chris and Buck come to my office."

"Yes, right away."

"Thank you."

A few minutes later Chris and Buck were in Josiah's office.

"What's up?" Chris asked.

"I'm going to need the two of you to watched the boys again this afternoon. Dr. Parker called and the results of the blood work and CAT scan are in that she took on Friday."

"Sur, no problem," Buck said.

"Yeah, it's not a problem," Chris agreed.

"Hey, maybe we could stop and pickup up supper." Buck suggested.

"Or just take them to the Triple D."

"Are you sure Chris? Vin does have his tutoring this afternoon with Sarah."

Chris smiled. "Yeah, I know."

Josiah shook his head. "Go back to class."

Buck and Chris left for class.

+ + + + + + +

Josiah entered Dr. Parker's office.

Madison smiled up at Josiah as he sat down in one of the chairs in front of her desk. "It can't be all bad since you're smiling."

"It's not. The blood work came back normal. No STDs."

Josiah sighed a sigh of relief.

"The CATscan, however," Madison sighed.

Josiah didn't like the way Madison said CAT scan and became worried.

"As you know from Ezra's medical report, he has suffered numerous head injuries from the beatings he was given in the form as discipline,"  Madison sighed again before she continued. "The CAT scan show some scar tissue, all though the scar tissue is not life threatening, I'm pretty sure that's what is causing Ezra's migraines. Yes, his allergy to mold can trigger them but so does stressful situations. He will have them his whole life. Other than the scar tissue, there isn't any brain damage. I will prescribe a migraine medication for him that he'll need to take at the on set of a migraine."

Josiah leaned forward and placed his face in his hands before he looked Madison in the eyes. "What about a talent Show? How much stress do you think that's going to cause him?"

Madison sucked in a breath and let it out. "A lot if he's entering it."

"He's thinking about it."

"All I can say is, if that's what he wants to do, I'd encourage him but keep his meds close. What's his talent?"

Josiah smiled. "Card and slight of hand tricks. And he's really good."

"Ooo, I love as good card trick. Where and when is this talent show and is the public invited to watch?"

Josiah laughed and gave Madison the information and left her office. He phoned Chris and found out they were still at the Triple D, so Josiah headed that way.

Chris looked up when Josiah sat down across from him with his plate of food.

"How did it go?" Chris asked.

"It was good for the most part. The blood work came back normal."

"That's good," Buck said.

"What about the CAT scan?" Chris asked. The CAT scan is what worried him the most. He knew the blood work was going to be normal.

Josiah sighed, "It showed some scar tissue which is what is causing Ezra's migraines. It's not life threatening, but he'll be on migraine medications the rest of his life. Other than the scar tissue, there isn't any brain damage."

"That just proves how hard his head is," Nathan teased and shoulder shoved Ezra.

Ezra pushed back, "I'm just glad I can take medication for them."

Chris scrutinized Josiah closely. "There's more isn't there?"

Josiah looked Chris in the eyes. "Dr. Madison said the more the stressful the situation, the worst they'll be."

"Damn," Buck said and threw down the napkin he had in his hand. "The talent show."

"What about it?" Vin and JD asked at the same time.

"It's going to put a lot of stress on Ezra," Nathan answered.

Ezra looked around the table at his brothers and Josiah. "Yes it will be stressful, but I want to do it. Mr. Pembrook is looking forward to seeing me perform. And you all said I was good. Even Buck's sisters and step mother are planning to be there as are the St. Clare's and Heckarts. Judge Travis is going to be one of the Judges."

Josiah smiled at Ezra. "Dr. Parker did say if you wanted to do the talent show, that I should let you, just have your meds on hand just in case and to expect her to be there with Detective Brighton."

Buck smiled down at Ezra. "See, you already have an advantage over the other contestants."

"And what, prey tell, is that?"

"You have the beginning of a large fan club."

This got everyone laughing.

+ + + + + + +

The day of the talent show finally arrived. There were quite a lot of students performing but Ezra was the only one performing magic. About seventy five percent were singing. Then there were quite a few dancers and a couple of bands.

Ezra felt a migraine coming on and told Josiah who gave Ezra one of his pills. Abby rubbed Ezra's shoulders to help him to focus on what he needed to do. It did help to relieve some of the tension Ezra felt.

"Remember Ezra, no one's expecting you to be like Houdini or Copperfield,"  Abby whispered.

When Ezra's name was announced, over half of the upper bleachers broke out in a supportive cheer. Ezra did tricks that he hadn't even showed his family but rehearsed with Abby. Brice Pembrook showed up and Josiah had to agree with Patty, Ezra was the spitting image of the man.

Even though he didn't come in first, he was told second wasn't nothing to sneeze at with all the students that he had to compete against. Josiah was proud of the second place trophy and when they got home, it was placed on the mantle for all to see.

Ezra smiled up at the trophy. "I'll win next year's talent show."

Buck laid an arm across Ezra's shoulders. "I'm sure you will. You have a whole year to practice."

"Yeah, look at what ya won with only two weeks of practice,"  Vin agreed.

Ezra did his best and it felt good to have his family's praise even though he didn't win first place.

The End, until the next chapter.

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