John was standing at the terminal entry for the new Shuttle pad at Des Moines International in full dress uniform. He remembered how it had taken six months for the Governor to talk Starfleet into designating Des Moines as an emergency satellite port for O'Hare, but in the end Des Moines' Midwest location won out.
He heard the sonic boom as the Federation shuttle entered Des Moines airspace, and couldn't help but to smile as he thought about the good fortune Dan and the boys had suddenly had thrust upon them. He straightened his uniform, nervously wondering which members of Dan's new family would be on the shuttle.
Once the shuttle had landed and was safely shut down, he went out to greet the guests. The first person to exit the shuttle was Anne.
"Good morning, and welcome to Des Moines, dear lady. I'm Sheriff John Martin; I will be escorting you to see Dan. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but you must be Anne." John said.
"Why thank you! It's a pleasure to meet you sheriff."
Next off the shuttle were Kevin and Kristin. Shortly after they were introduced, Brian came bouncing down the ramp.
"Sheriff, this is Brian. You have my permission to handcuff him if he irritates you." Anne stated.
John came to attention as the last of the party descended the ramp. On the left was a very familiar face; JC Chasez-Dodds. On the right, was a Starfleet Officer, which he assumed was Commander Charles "Chip" Dodds. In between the two was an angelic fourteen year old boy. "Welcome to Des Moines, Commander."
"The pleasure is all mine, Sheriff, I just wish it was under better circumstances." Chip replied. "Let me introduce you to my husband, Joshua, and my son, Justin."
"Pleasure to meet you." John said as he shook everyone's hand.
After the introductions, John led the group to a waiting limo. Chip shot a questioning look at John. "Don't worry about your luggage, Commander Dodds. My deputies are retrieving it as we speak."
"Thank you, Sheriff Martin. Please call me Chip. I'm on detached duty right now."
"Understood," John replied, "only if you call me John."
"Agreed." Chip said.
The entire group climbed into the limo, since John was accompanying them to Teri's house. As they departed, Chip noticed that a van was following them. "Must have all of our luggage in it," Chip thought.
A couple of minutes later, Chip smiled as he looked around the limo at the rest of his party. Kevin was holding Kristin close, both already dozing peacefully. John, Anne and Brian were talking softy, with Justin cuddled up and napping in Anne's arms. Josh was in his favorite position, snuggled in Chip's arms. Chip was amazed at the sudden appearance of open countryside as the limo pulled off of Fleur Drive onto the South Bypass. The pair of vehicles picked up speed, leaving the Des Moines city limits in no time.
When Chip pulled out his communicator, Anne and John both gave him a questioning look.
"I have to check in with the ship," Chip said.
John and Anne both nodded their heads and then resumed their conversation.
Chip opened up his communicator. "Dodds to Enterprise."
The communicator speaker came to life. "Enterprise, Spock here."
"Mr. Spock, this is Commander Dodds. Is the Captain available?"
"Not at present, Mr. Dodds. He is in San Francisco at Starfleet Headquarters. May I signal him for you?"
"That's okay, Mr. Spock. I was just checking in to let you know that my party and I are safely in Des Moines and en-route to our hotel."
"Very well, Mr. Dodds. Please extend my sympathies and condolences to the Richardson family on their loss."
"I will, sir. If anyone needs to contact me, I will have my communicator with me at all times."
"That is acceptable. We shall see you in a few days. Enterprise out."
Chip closed his communicator and put it back into his jacket pocket. He then returned his arms around Josh, and watched as the countryside flew past the limo's windows.
Twenty-five minutes later, the limo and van pulled into the circular drive in front of a large house.
"We will take care of the luggage in a few minutes." John told them. "Right now, Dan and the rest have no idea who I was meeting this morning, so let's surprise them!"
While John was secretly picking up the passengers at the airport, Dan and Teri were dealing with eight wide awake and excited boys.
Amid comments of "Kewl", "Awesome", and "Darn, I couldn't see it!", Teri finally managed to get the boys' attention,
"Guys, we will be having company in a little bit. Don't you think you better get your showers and get dressed BEFORE they call to meet us?"
The boys grumbled as they headed for the stairs, but a final comment from Sean and Cory got both Dan and Teri's attention.
"Man, I really wish I could pilot one of those one of these days." Sean stated.
"Me too." Cory replied. "Wouldn't it be cool if we both were on the same ship?"
"Yeah! I wish I knew how to get into Starfleet." Sean replied as they disappeared up the stairs.
As the boys all entered the bedroom and began undressing, Sean realized there would be a problem shortly. He called Teri on the intercom.
"Could you come up here with the key to Mike's room? I think we need to grab some of Cory's old clothes out of the storage in there. Otherwise, we are going to have a bunch of nude kids running around!"
"That would not be good. I'll be right up, meet me at the door to his room."
A few minutes later, Sean returned with an armload of clothes. "This should take care of you and JJ." He said to Adam. "Mom is going down to Ty's old house now to get clothes for him, Kyle, and the twins. Don't worry, she's gonna put them in my room."
Everyone relaxed, and then Sean said, "I think we better get some things out in the open. It seems like this discussion ends up being in the nude lately, so let's keep the habit going!"
"Not AGAIN!" Kyle groaned, with an exaggerated pained expression on his face.
Sean reached over and put Kyle in a light headlock, causing both of them to giggle. While Sean was close, he whispered in Kyle's ear. "Way to go last night, bro. You did not pee in your sleep. I'm proud of you."
"Thanks Sean." Kyle whispered back.
Sean went ahead and filled the new additions to the group in on everyone. There was some disbelief from the twins and Adam about Kyle's being able to hear Mike until Tyler spoke up and told in detail what happened to let them find Adam.
The twins got that look on their faces like they were talking to each other silently, when suddenly their eyes got wide, and both of them looked at Kyle in amazement.
"How'd you do that!" they exclaimed in unison.
"I tuned in on the noise I hear every time you guys talk to each other." Kyle replied.
"What did he do?" Ty asked.
"He showed us what we look like when we talk to each other privately, then said 'BUSTED!'" Jamie replied.
Everyone else fell silent as they watched the three boys. The only sound for the next two minutes was an occasional giggle from the three as they shared something funny between them. The three of them reached out and joined hands. The rest of the boys were shocked when each one of them was suddenly encased in a blue glow, first individually, then all three at once. When they separated, Jamie finally spoke.
"WOW! That was AWESOME! While we were talking to each other, Mikey joined us and had us join hands, Jacob and I were able to hear him and talk to him too! Mikey says that now no matter where we are, the three of us will be able to talk to each other. He told us some other things too, but we had to promise to keep them secret, they are good things tho."
Jacob then took over. "He also said we need to tell you ALL the reasons we ran away. The first reason you guys already figured out, we only got food if we found it for ourselves. There is more though."
Kyle got a shocked look on his face, grabbed Ty, and moved over to sit with the twins.
Jacob continued in a subdued voice. "We have three sets of clothes for school, and just this one set of shorts to play in. We are not allowed to visit friends or have them over; in fact dad says we can't have friends. We were not supposed to leave the yard. When we are inside at home, Dad will not let us wear any clothes. The bad part is ..." Jacob suddenly fell silent, shame showing on both his and Jamie's faces.
Kyle reached out and took hold of each of the twin's hands. "Do you want me to tell the rest for you?"
Both boys nodded their heads as Ty took their other hands into his.
Kyle continued where Jacob had left off. "Their mom had died when they were born, so it was just them and their father. A couple of years ago, their father caught them playing around with each others privates. Ever since then, after supper they have had to sit on his lap and let him touch them there until bedtime. For the last year, the only thing they had for supper was two slices of bread and a glass of milk, breakfast was two slices of bread and a glass of orange juice. While he was playing with them, whenever he was about to squirt they had to take turns swallowing it. If neither one dribbled any, they got a treat; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Last Thursday, he started doing something else; he started sticking a finger up their butts while he was rubbing. They are both gay, and they knew where that was leading, so they decided to leave before he got home Friday."
Kyle broke out of the trance he had dropped into, and immediately pulled the twins tight against him. The room was silent, the anger at what they had been forced to do was so strong it seemed like a physical fog in the room.
Unknown to the boys, Teri had been listening from Sean's room. She had come in to leave the clothes when she heard the twins start talking, and decided she had better listen. When Kyle finished, she was in a blind rage at what they had went through. For the first time ever, she walked into the room without knocking, going immediately to the twins. She knelt before them and lifted their faces to look directly in their eyes. "Boys, you can be angry, but do not be ashamed. He should have never made you do that, and I promise he will pay. I was dropping off the clothes and overheard all of it. I know now why you did not go to the police, but from now on, you will never have to worry about being forced to do anything. Dan is a psychologist, you can talk to him; or you can talk to me or to any of these boys here. Whatever it takes to make sure he never gets near you again will be done, that I promise you. I'm going to call the Judge from the other room so you don't have to hear me repeat what happened, you go ahead and get calmed down before y'all come down."
Teri went to the phone in Sean's room and called Joe. As soon as she had relayed what she heard, he promised to be over as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the boys were calming down and consoling the twins, pledging their support in whatever it would take to ensure their safety.
Teri finished the call, and headed to the stairs. As she was coming down the stairs, the doorbell rang. "Dan, could you get that please?" she called out.
Dan opened the door, and his jaw dropped so fast it cracked the threshold. He was speechless! In the driveway was a long white limo, and standing at the door were John and seven other people, some of which two days ago, he would have laughed if you had told him he would meet them.
"Wake up, Dan! Are you gonna let us in?" John asked.
"Uhh - yeah, come on in." Dan said in a shocked voice.
John came into the foyer, immediately followed by Kevin and Kristin.
"Dan! I'm your little brother Kevin." Kevin pulled Dan into a hug, a goofy grin on his face. As he pulled back, he put a hand on Kristin's shoulder. "This fine lady is my wife, Kristin."
Dan hugged Kristin. "I'm happy to meet you too."
While all the hugging was going on, everyone else entered the foyer
Dan felt a hand softly touch his shoulder. He slowly turned around. Facing him with a nervous smile was a stately older woman which he instinctively knew had to be Anne. "Mom??"
"Yes, son," Anne said as she pulled him into a hug, both of them crying.
After a couple minutes, they composed themselves, and Anne introduced the rest of the group.
"Dan, this is your cousin Chip, and his husband Joshua. The little angel in Josh's arms is Justin."
"Chip, Josh, it's a pleasure to actually meet you. It looks like I'll have to wait to say hi to Justin though!" Dan said with a chuckle.
"It's a pleasure having you as part of the family." Chip replied. "As far as Justin goes, once he wakes up you will be begging for him to go back asleep!"
"Yeah," Josh jumped in, "this little angel turns into a tornado once he is fully awake. It's probably a good idea to hide breakables now! By the way, welcome to the family, cuz!"
Anne introduced the last person, "Dan, this is your cousin Brian."
Kevin muttered just loud enough to be heard. "Yeah, the reject from the funny farm!"
Everyone cracked up at this, even Teri, who had walked in just as the introductions started. "Everyone," Dan started, "this is my good friend Teri. Teri, this is everyone!" When he saw the dirty look she was giving him, he then introduced everyone by name.
Josh looked over at Teri - "Teri, is there someplace I can put the rug rat? He's getting kinda heavy"
"Sure Josh, follow me, the boys still have their 'nest' assembled in the rec room." She replied.
"Nest?" Josh asked with a confused look on his face.
"Yeah, they camped out in the rec room last night, the end result of it looks like a bird's nest."
"Ohhhkayyy ... I'm afraid to ask!"
Chip followed along with Josh as Teri led them into the rec room. Josh carefully navigated around the pile of blankets and pillows on the floor, and laid Justin carefully on the couch. Chip removed his Starfleet bomber jacket and laid it over Justin, and then both men gave their sleeping son a kiss on the forehead before heading towards the doorway.
As they exited the room, Jamie and Jacob came down the stairs. The boys both still had pained expressions on their faces, even though all signs of tears had been washed off. Without paying attention to who was with Teri, they came over and cuddled up on either side of her.
"Josh, Chip; this is Jamie and Jacob." Teri stated softly.
Josh knelt down in front of them. "Hey guys, why the sad faces?"
"We were just talking about our daddy with Teri." Jamie replied in a subdued voice.
"Holy Smoke!!!! You're JC from N'Sync!!!!" Jacob shouted, effectively getting the attention of everyone else in the house.
Josh laughed "Yeah, last time I checked I was." Josh then pointed at Chip "and this is my husband, Chip."
Chip knelt down in front of the twins and spoke up, "Why does talking about your Daddy make you guys sad?"
As Jacob started to reply, Teri put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "If you want, I'll tell them for you, ok guys? You two can relax in the rec room while we are talking. Just don't wake up Justin."
"Justin? Who's Justin?" Jamie asked.
Chip answered. "Justin is mine and Josh's fourteen year old son."
In chorus the twins answered, "Okay, kewl." They then headed into the rec room.
When they entered the room, Justin was sitting up on the couch. "Hey guys, I'm Justin. Who yelled and woke me up?"
"Hey Justin, I'm Jacob, and this is my brother Jamie. Sorry about waking you up ... your ... umm ... JC surprised me."
Justin replied, "You mean Pop surprised you. How?"
Jamie replied, "You try lookin' up and seein' a N'Sync member in front of you!"
"I do every morning. So what? I also see a Starfleet officer as well. What's really bad is having to eat breakfast with Aaron every morning."
"Yeah, who was that Starfleet man?"
"That's my Dad - he's a Commander on the Enterprise."
Jacob spoke up, "Okay, now who the heck is Aaron?"
"It's just Aaron Carter. No big deal. By the way, how the heck does anyone tell y'all apart?"
Jacob giggled, "Do you really wanna know?"
Jamie blushed. "Actually, the only way is if one of us drops our shorts. Jacob's winkie still has skin on the end, mine don't."
Justin shook his head. "I think I'll just ask if that's OK with y'all. I heard some of what y'all said out there, since you got me up. You wanna talk about it?"
The twins sat on the other end of the couch, and began telling Justin about how they were found. Justin saw the tears starting as they continued, and asked them to come sit by him. As the twins settled in on each side, he pulled them close and thought to himself "I gotta talk to Dad and Pop. There's gotta be something they can do to help these guys."
Sobbing, the twins finished the short version of their lives, and fell asleep in Justin's arms. With dark thoughts running through his head concerning what he was going to do if he ever met their father, Justin shortly fell back asleep, holding his new friends protectively.
"Why don't we all go grab a cup or two of coffee?" Teri asked. "We need to wait for Joe to get here before I go over what happened to the twins, he's the leading Family Court Judge for Polk County."
"Sounds like a plan," Chip replied.
"I'll get the others," Josh said.
Once everyone was gathered in the dining room and had their coffee or tea in hand, Chip asked Teri to fill them in some on how she had amassed such a large family in the last week. As she was just finishing the stories of how each boy joined the family, the rest of the boys came downstairs.
"Mom," Sean said, "where's Jacob and Jamie?"
"They are in the Rec Room with Justin; he's Chip and Josh's son. I told them to relax for a bit." Teri replied.
Sean turned to go check on them, and saw the rest of the guys standing there with their jaws dropped down to their knees. He turned back around to see why they were in shock, and fell speechless when he realized who was sitting around the table.
Ty found his voice first. "WOW!! That's Kevin and Brian from Backstreet, and JC from N'Sync!! They're really here at OUR house! KEWL!"
The adults chuckled at the responses of the kids, then Dan waved them over to the table. He looked around the table at the adults." I hate to tell y'all this, but you're gaining a few more kids than you expected. This entire group has sworn to each other that they are brothers forever - I would not be surprised if the twins are included in the group now." He stood up, and placed his hand on the shoulder of each boy as he introduced him. "This is my son, JJ, and here is his brother Kyle. The other four here are Teri's boys; first this is Sean, the unofficial chief of this tribe, this one is his brother Cory, and this is Tyler and Adam, the last two official additions to the family. Jacob and Jamie are the twins, their family affiliation is still in limbo, but somehow I get the feeling they will be a part of this family somewhere before this is all done."
Anne spoke up, "Dan, have a seat, son. I'll handle the introductions from here. First, I want to make an announcement. Teri, I heard a lot of good things about you even before we arrived, but what I've seen in the short time I've been here has made up my mind. I have been blessed with four wonderful sons, and from this moment forward I'm proud to say that I now have gained a daughter. Your actions regarding Dan and all these boys are above and beyond what most people would even consider. From now on, you are family; you are my daughter as far as ANYONE is concerned. Welcome to the family, and no, you do not have any choice in the matter." Anne then smiled at Teri, and gave her a welcome hug.
"Now, boys; can I have your attention please?" Anne continued. "It's time you met the members of your family that are here. There's even more you will meet later. First, I'm Dan, and now Teri's, mom, Anne; all of you can call me Grandma though, OK? Over there is your Uncle Kevin and Aunt Kristin, and next to them is your cousin, Brian. Sitting by Dan is your cousin Josh, and next to him is his husband Chip. Their son, Justin, is supposed to be resting in the rec room right now. You guys will meet him in a little bit."
"Unca Chip?" Kyle said, "Justin says that Aaron Carter stays with you and you are part of Starfleet. Is he fibbing?"
"Whoa! Yes, Aaron does live with us, and so does his boyfriend David. And yes, I'm in Starfleet, too. How the heck did you know that?" Chip replied with surprise.
Sean chuckled "Uncle Chip, meet our resident psychic! Kyle and the twins seem to have figured out how to talk to each other in their minds!"
"Please don't teach Justin that! He's bad enough when you can hear him plotting!" Josh chuckled.
Just then, the doorbell and phone both rang. Sean went to get the door, while Cory went to answer the phone.
As Cory picked up the receiver, he looked over and saw Sean escorting in Joe.
"Short residence, this is Cory"
"CORY! This is Mark! How are you doing?"
"Pretty good. Things have been nuts the last few days, but my memory has improved a lot. What are you up to?"
"Not much. I'm in a temp home right now. Do you know where Dr. Richardson is at? I need to talk to him."
"Yeah, Dan's sitting in the other room right now. What's up?"
"I kinda need his help if he will give it to me. I need a reference so I can find a place to go. The state says I'm too old for them to place now."
"That bites. Just a sec, let me ask him. I'm gonna put ya on hold here."
Cory went over to Dan. "Dan, Mark's on the phone. The state is givin' him a hassle; he wants to know if he can come see you." The concern in Cory's voice was extremely evident.
"Who is Mark?" Anne asked.
"He was my roomie when I was in the home recovering from my memory loss. He helped me deal with it a lot, especially when I started remembering about being gay and Sean being my boyfriend." Cory replied.
"Tell him to come over then. If Dan can't help him, we will figure something out. It's only right he gets paid back for helping you." Anne stated.
Cory looked at Dan. "You heard your Grandma," Dan replied, "tell him to get his butt over here."
Cory returned to the phone. "Mark, you still there?"
"Yeah Cory, I thought you forgot I was here though!"
Cory giggled, "Naw, but you need to get over here as fast as you can. From what I was just told, you don't need to worry about anything. Do you have a way over, or do you need a ride?"
"Well, I'm in Ankeny right now, if you could send someone out it would be easier. If I call a cab, it will be hard to convince them to let me go, the foster 'rents are afraid I'll run off."
"Okay, just a sec."
Cory put his hand over the phone, then yelled "MOM! Can someone go pick up Mark? His fosters won't let him leave in a cab, and he's in Ankeny."
"Don't worry about it!" Kevin yelled back. "I'll send the limo to pick him up! Just get the address."
"Thanks Uncle Kev!" Cory then removed his hand. "Mark, what's the address there, the limo will come get you."
"Limo? Yeah, right! And since when do you have an Uncle Kev?"
Cory giggled, "Just give me your address dufus. I DO have an Uncle Kev, wait till you meet him!"
Mark gave Cory the info, then after trading insults they hung up.
Cory was giggling as he handed the address to Kevin. "Man, is Mark ever gonna be surprised. He don't believe a limo is picking him up, then he gets to find out who my Uncle Kev is!"
"That settles it; you are DEFINITELY a member of the family after pulling that off!" Kevin snickered. "It sounds like all you need is the Advanced Pranks course from Brian and you'll be all set!"
"HEY!" Brian said. "Why does everyone always blame ME for the pranks?"
"Maybe it's because you usually DO pull most of the pranks?" Josh muttered.
Everyone got a good laugh as Brian tried to stutter his way out of it, then Kevin took the address out to the limo driver so he could go get Mark.
Teri gathered the boys together. "There's cereal in the kitchen, why don't you all go get ONE BOWL each to hold you over till we go out to breakfast? If the twins and Justin are awake, they might want some too. Why don't one of you check?"
Tyler ran to the rec room as the rest of the boys headed for the kitchen. A minute later, he was back, giggling. "Mom, Uncle Chip, Uncle Josh; you GOTTA see this!"
They followed Ty back into the rec room. Everyone smiled at the sight before them: Justin was lying on a pile of blankets on the floor; with a twin on each side cuddled so close they made a living blanket for him. The twins were using Justin's chest for a pillow, lying so their noses touched each other.
Teri reached towards the twins. "I hate to do this, but they need to eat." She reached down and rubbed the boys' shoulders. "Jamie, Jacob; get up and get into the kitchen for some cereal."
The two boys woke instantly, but as they tried to get up, Justin pulled them back down unconsciously.
Anne chuckled, "Looks like the angel has decided to take them under his wing."
Josh looked at Chip and smiled. "I think Justin is making plans without us again, hon."
"We'll just have to beat him to the punch then, won't we?" Chip replied with a gleam in his eye.
Everyone's attention was drawn back to the boys when the twins began speaking. "Justy!" they said in chorus, "Get up bro! We need to hurry up before everyone else eats all the Cocoa Puffs! C'mon, we're hungry!"
Justin slowly turned his head and kissed each of the twin's foreheads. "Don't worry guys; I'll make sure you get some food." He then opened his eyes and saw the group of adults watching them. "AWWWWW MAANNN!!!!" he moaned, "Do you all HAVE to watch me sleep!"
"BUSSSTTTeeed rug rat!" Josh said with a grin.
"Aww Man; I'm gonna get you Pop!" a blushing Justin replied.
Ty giggled. "C'mon guys, lets raid the kitchen!"
"Jamie, Jacob;" Teri said, "you two are in charge of introducing Justin to everyone else - BEFORE you get your cereal. And only ONE BOWL EACH, we are going out to eat in a little bit!"
As the boys headed for the kitchen, Teri guided everyone else to the office. Once they were in there, she closed the door and introduced everyone to Joe. The last person she introduced was Chip. When she gave his name, Joe's eyebrows jumped up.
"Chip Dodds? You wouldn't, by any chance, be the Commander Chip Dodds who invoked the Federation's Safe Haven Act in regards to Aaron Carter last year, are you?"
"As a matter of fact, Judge, yes I am."
"I'm honored to meet you. How is young Aaron doing?"
"He began settling in a few months ago. It took a while to get over what his so-called parents did, even though he knew it was coming. Thankfully, so far they haven't tried to disregard the restrictions placed on them, but I have this uneasy feeling that sooner or later they will try something."
"That's great news. The family court system nationwide watched that first use very close. It is the first law that helped us at this level directly. Now, back to business. I would like this to be made an official testimony so that none of us has to go through it again. By any chance are you able to log a conversation using your communicator, Chip?
"Actually that's not a problem. Just give me a second." Chip opened his communicator, "Dodds to Enterprise."
"Enterprise, Uhura here. Go ahead Chip."
"Nyota, could you please tie my communicator in to record to the ship's log, then connect me to the Captain?"
"Recording is started, Chip. One second and the Captain will be on."
"Thank you Nyota."
"Kirk here. Is there a problem, Chip? Uhura tells me you requested a ship's log recording."
"Not a problem yet, Captain. The log recording was upon request of Judge Joseph Lewis, Family Court Judge for Polk County, Iowa. This is regarding some twin boys, they look to be about 8 years old ..."
"They are 10." Joe interrupted.
"Correction, Captain," Chip continued, "The boys are 10. My gut instinct tells me you might want to listen in on this, even more so now that I see that they are suffering from stunted growth."
"That little tidbit was enough to get my attention, Chip. I will monitor the proceedings. If you need my assistance, just say the word."
"Thank you Captain. Dodds standing by. Beginning proceedings."
"Kirk standing by."
"Okay Judge, it's all yours." Chip said.
"Thanks, Chip, and thank you, Captain Kirk. This is Judge Joseph Tyler Lewis, Family Court, Polk County, Iowa, USA. These proceedings are in regards to the minor children Jamie Sampson Stewart and Jacob William Stewart; both age 10, born April 15, 1994. For the first statement, the presiding officer will make his report.
Chip swore in John, and then John began his testimony.
"This is Sheriff John Clay Martin, badge number 624, Polk County, Iowa Sheriff's Department. Yesterday evening I was preparing to eat dinner at the Urbandale Perkins, when one of my party noticed the subjects digging in the dumpster behind the restaurant. They were reported as missing for the last 3 days, but their physical condition suggested long-term malnourishment. As required by State codes, I put them in emergency foster care until their home conditions could be verified."
"Thank you Sheriff. Next up is Teri Short." Joe said.
Chip swore in Teri, and she related what she had heard about the boy's home life and the abuse they had been subjected to.
Once she finished, Captain Kirk spoke up from the communicator. "Judge, has a medical exam been performed on these children yet?"
"No Captain, one has not."
"Keep this channel open, but I request a fifteen minute recess while I arrange for a Starfleet Doctor to perform an exam on these youths."
"Recess granted Captain. This hearing now stands in recess for fifteen minutes."
Ten minutes later, a shimmering column appeared in the room. "Good morning, Doc," Chip said to the doctor after he had materialized. Chip then introduced Dr. Leonard McCoy to everyone in the room.
"It was good till I read that transcript. Where are those boys? If I find anything wrong, I'm gonna do things to their father that would make a Klingon cringe."
Josh turned to Brian, "Bri, go get the twins for the Doctor."
A few minutes later, the twins appeared at the door. The surprise was, they were not with Brian, but with Justin; one twin hiding under each of his arms.
As soon as Justin saw Dr. McCoy, he visibly relaxed. "Jamie, Jacob; this is Dr. McCoy from the Enterprise. You don't need to worry; he's the best doctor in the whole universe!"
Jamie cuddled in closer to Justin. "Could you still stay with us? PLEASE?"
Dr. McCoy stopped Justin before he could answer. "Any other time I'd say no. But after what I heard this morning I will allow it, this time ONLY. Now why don't you guys show me where a bedroom is, and we will get this over with."
The twins headed out the door with Justin and the Doctor right behind them. As they left the room, Dr. McCoy told Justin "By the way young man, no matter how much you try to flatter me, the 'no chocolate after 5PM rule' still applies."
Chip chuckled, "I better check on Brian. He's probably gotten into something." He walked out into the kitchen, and the first clue that something was up was the innocent looks on the faces of the six boys. He noticed all six of them were missing their shirts. He then heard the muffled groans from behind the counter. Barely suppressing a laugh, Chip asked, "Alright Sean, what did you guys do with Brian, and why?"
Sean looked up; radiating innocence so much you could see a halo. "Brian is 'resting' in the kitchen. He tried to get into Justin, Jacob, and Jamie's box of Cocoa Puffs after they left."
Chip looked Sean in the eyes. "And WHY do they have their own box? I know your mom told you only one bowl each."
"They did not get a chance to finish their bowls. We talked for a while before we started eating, so they were only half way done when Brian came out. We are finishin' up what they had so it's not wasted, and I told them to get more when they came back out."
"Okay, you can slide this time. Now I guess I better check on Brian." Chip walked around the counter, and collapsed on the floor laughing when he saw Brian.
Anne and Teri came out to see what the commotion was and saw Brian hog-tied on the kitchen floor with a gag in his mouth. Anne looked at Teri and smiled "It looks like Brian's finally met his match. Wait until I tell Jackie, Harold and Junior. Ice cream's on me after the restaurant for the boys!"
Chip finally recovered enough to crawl over and begin untying Brian. He saved the gag for last, and as he removed it Teri told Brian "It looks like you've been accepted. They didn't throw you in the pool!"
There was a knock on the door, and Cory went to answer it. "MARK! Get in here, I missed ya bro!" he exclaimed.
Once they were in the foyer, Cory stopped Mark for a minute. "I'll introduce you to everyone in a little bit. Right now there's some serious junk goin' down, just promise you won't freak when you see who is here."
"After seeing that massive limo pull up, I don't think anything will shock me!" Mark replied.
Cory giggled, "Just wait, it gets even better!" He then guided Mark back to join the rest of the group. When they reached the breakfast nook, Mark came to a stop in shock.
Cory giggled. "Told ya it gets better! You know Sean and Mom, that's my bro's Adam and Ty by Sean. Over there is Dan's son JJ, and you already know Kyle; Dan adopted him. Joe is in the office, he's the family judge for around here, but there by the door is John, he's the Polk County Sheriff. The goofball giving everyone dirty looks is my second cousin Brian, next to him are my second cousins Josh and Chip. We're actually calling the three of them uncle tho, it is too weird having cousins that old! You will meet Josh and Chip's son Justin in a little bit, he is upstairs with the twins and Dr. McCoy. The last three are my real uncle and aunt, Uncle Kevin and Aunt Kristin; and Grandma Anne. Everyone, this is Mark Owens. He was my roommate back at the home."
Anne walked up to Mark. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Cory said that you helped him recover, for that all of us are eternally grateful. I'm sorry for the delay, but there was a major problem with the twins that we are resolving right now. Feel free to join us while we sort this all out."
"Thank you Anne. This is still blowing my mind, but I would be happy to join you."
Everyone finally headed back into the office. Joe was on the phone, and they heard his side of the conversation.
"Yes Commissioner ... I will be resuming the hearing as soon as the Doctor finishes his examination ... The Commander just returned to the room, let me ask him ... Yes, he knows about the law. He was the first one to invoke it ... hold on, I'll be right back."
Joe turned towards the table. "Captain, are you still there?"
"Yes, Judge, and I heard your side of the conversation. What is the Commissioner's number? I can have him patched through here so any determinations he makes are part of the ship's log."
John gave Kirk the number then continued. "If Dr. McCoy finds any physical evidence to support the verbal testimony, the Commissioner is prepared to invoke clause 134-C of the Safe Haven Act. We believe that an out-of-state placement will be required for the children's mental health and safety. Can you recommend any officers who are capable of taking on two boys on such short notice?"
"One second, Captain," Chip interrupted.
Chip turned to Josh. "Hon, you saw Justy with the boys. It would break his little angel heart if we didn't at least try."
Josh hugged Chip. "I know, babe, and we have talked about Justy needing a little brother for a long time. I think these two are perfect. What do you think?"
"I agree. Let's do it." Chip then broke the embrace and turned back towards the Judge. "Joe, if the twins and Justin are in agreement, I will invoke the custody proceedings. Josh and I agree that we can handle taking on these two. Section 134.7, Subsection F requires a judicial authority in the Starfleet officer's home state or province to verify suitable accommodations. If you contact Judge Jamie Robison in Orlando, we can satisfy that requirement."
Just then Uhura announced on the communicator that the Commissioner was connected.
Joe chuckled "This should be easy; Jamie was my roommate back in college. I'll put him on speaker here, that way everything is ready when Dr. McCoy comes back down with the boys."
Just as Joe got Jamie on the speakerphone, Justin came through the doorway with the twins. Dr. McCoy followed them in, wearing an uncharacteristic smile and waving a plastic bag.
"I assume that you have some good news, Doc?" Chip stated.
"It's things like this that make this worthwhile." Dr McCoy replied. "The boys are malnourished, but that can be corrected. The prize in the bag here is due to their father losing a part of his fingernail while he was inserting what appears to be two fingers into each of them. I did a DNA analysis already, and it came up positive for close relation. Considering the only relative they have living is their so-called father; that narrows it down real quick. I expect to see these boys on the Enterprise within three days to do a full workup on their diets and supplements. You understand me, Chip?"
"Doc, they are not even ..." Chip began to reply, but he was cut off by Dr McCoy.
"Don't even try to give me that line, Chip. To quote Spock, 'it's only logical that you take them in'. Or as I prefer to say it, either you do it or I'll do it for you." He then tossed the bag to John. "Here's your evidence, any and all confirming tests you may need have already been cleared through Starfleet Medical. Just give them a call and ask for Dr. Elaine Howard. I have already ordered Priority One processing for you. I want that S.O.B. nailed to the wall."
"Will do, Doctor. With this evidence it's pretty much open and shut. Thank you very much for your assistance," John replied.
"Prepare to beam up, Bones." Kirk ordered thru the communicator.
The next thing everyone knew, Dr. McCoy was dematerializing before their eyes.
Joe continued with the proceedings. "The doctor's results are on record, Commissioner; I believe you had a request?"
"Yes, Judge, as soon as you can verify suitability of residency, the State of Iowa wishes to invoke Article 134.7 Sub-section F of the Safe Haven Act."
"Commissioner, this is Judge Jamie Robison, Family Court in Orlando, Florida. I am required to keep an open file on Commander Dodds and Mr. Chasez-Dodds due to their status as guardians of Aaron Carter under the Safe Haven Act. I hereby declare full suitability, and furthermore fully recommend their approval."
Captain Kirk spoke up. "Commissioner, Starfleet accepts your invocation of the Safe Haven Act, as per Article 134.7 Subsection F. The recommendation of Judge Robison is noted and accepted. Commander Dodds, front and center."
"Standing by, Captain."
"The State of Iowa has certified you and your husband, Joshua Chasez-Dodds, under Safe Haven Act Article 134.7 Subsection F as the nominated custodial guardians for Jamie and Jacob Stewart. Do you accept this nomination?"
"Affirmative, Captain. Josh and I accept full custody."
"Commissioner, Starfleet accepts your request for invocation of Article 134.7 Subsection F of the Safe Haven Act, and hereby relieves you, and the State of Iowa, of responsibility for the minor children Jamie and Jacob Stewart. Please forward all documents regarding the children to my attention on the Enterprise."
Everyone broke out in cheers of congratulations at the announcement. Once they had finally calmed down, Kirk continued. "Chip? Josh? Congratulations on your new sons! Bones said to remind you that you have three days to have them up here for full exams, and I expect you to bring everyone else there with you."
Chip, smiling, replied, "Aye, sir. Consider it done, Captain."
"Good. See you in a few days. Kirk out."
Chip readjusted his communicator. "Dodds to Enterprise, Uhura?"
"Uhura here, Chip."
"Good. Discontinue recording at this time, and forward a copy of that transcript to the CPS Commissioner and Judge Lewis here in Des Moines; Judge Robison in Orlando; and a copy to Starfleet JAG Corps and Starfleet Medical."
"Will do, Chip. Anything else?"
"Yeah, make sure the Captain gets a hard copy of that transcript."
"Sure thing. Take care, kiddo, and congrats from all of us up here. And even Mr. Spock sends his regards."
Chip blushed and replied, "Thanks, Nyota. Dodds out." Chip closed his communicator and then turned to look at his husband, his son, and the twins "Jamie? Jacob? Could you please come over here for a minute?"
Jamie and Jacob walked over to Chip as the older man knelt down in front of them. Jamie spoke up, "Yeah, Uncle Chip?"
Chip had a smile on his face. "Boys, how would you like to come live with me, Uncle Josh, and Justin in Orlando?"
The twins turned to look at Justin, who just simply nodded his head. They then turned back to face Chip. "That'll be AWESOME!!" the twins replied in unison. Jamie asked, "Uncle Chip? Does this mean that we can call you 'Daddy' and call Josh 'Pop'?"
Josh walked over and knelt beside his husband and faced the boys. "Yeah, kiddos. I'll be your 'Pop', and Chip will be your 'Daddy'. And when the time is right, we will change your last names to Dodds. Would you two like that?" Josh and Chip were surprised by the twins' answer.
Jacob hugged Josh tight, while Jamie did the same thing to Chip. Chip noticed that Justin was watching them. He motioned to his oldest son. "Come here, munchkin. You're a part of this, too."
Justin ran over and gave his new brothers a hug at the same time he became wrapped up in his parents' arms.
The rest of the group just watched and smiled at the new family in front of them.