ANL: Memories West Coast

Chapter 2

I watched as Kalen led Daren from the room. I couldn't stop the tears that streamed down my face at what I had just witnessed. Slowly, I walked over and sat down behind my desk. The abuse that boy had gone through was horrifying. What I saw, and the fact it was his mother that did it, almost made me throw up. He had scars extending from his neck all the way down his back, across his buttocks and onto his legs. Most of the damage was confined to the posterior, but some of the scars extended to the sides as well. The fresh bruising, and more horribly, the fresh wounds spoke of damage being inflicted by something very nasty.

He had a laceration extending from the left of his neck on his shoulder diagonally down his back to his waist, which was still open and in danger of infection, along with several smaller lacerations in the vicinity of the main wound. He had been whipped with something repeatedly, in the last several hours. Glancing down, I could still see the blood which had soaked into his undershirt, which was still laying on the floor where he'd discarded it.

I rarely saw the signs of severe abuse like this, and never something this bad, but I knew I had to get myself together. I had a responsibility to help Daren, not only as a doctor, but as a mother. Daren meant a lot to the family, especially to Kalen. Now that was an interesting development to say the least; it seems my son has finally discovered something about himself, something which we had suspected for some time, but now it appears that we were right.

If for no other reason, Kalen loved him and he was now a part of the family; I just had to make sure that Daren remained where he would be loved. While comforting him, I had decided that we would love him, since obviously his mother wasn't capable of it. My instincts told me Daren needed a lot of it, because obviously he hadn't had much, if any, real love up until now.

I took a deep breath and picked up the phone, dialing a number by heart.

"San Francisco Family Court System; how may I direct your call?" the voice said.

"Judge Samuelson please; this is Joanne Samuelson." I said.

"One moment, Mrs. Samuelson," the voice said. 

A moment later, Robert asked, "Hi honey, what's up?" 

"Bob, I have a serious problem, and need help," I said.

"What's wrong?"

"Kalen called me this morning." In a clinical tone, which was the only way I could keep my emotions in check, I explained everything that had happened since that phone call, concluding with my desire to keep him with our family, and why.

Robert didn't say anything for a minute; once he had reviewed all of the evidence, he stated, "I agree, honey. Get ready to jump, because things are going to get very busy very fast, and I want you to be prepared. I'm going to issue an emergency custody order, placing Daren with us, and then get S.F.P.D. and social services involved. I'll be home right away with the paperwork and we'll get this boy safe, I promise you that. Let the boys know that Daren is safe now."

"Thanks, Robert. I love you. You should know that Daren is convinced that nothing can be done for him. He's stated that a teacher tried to help before, and is now in jail for it on trumped-up molestation charges. I don't know the whole story, but he is sure he will be returned to his mother's house."

"No, he won't be!" Robert stated, the finality in his voice almost frightening to hear. "He won't. I'll be home as soon as I can," he reinforced, and then the line went dead.

I stared at the phone after pulling it away from my ear for almost a minute before returning it to its cradle. I'd heard that tone in his voice only one other time, and hearing it now both frightened me and reassured me at the same time. I didn't know which was better. As I sat there, the doorbell rang. I got up to answer it, only to find an officer standing there who identified himself as Sgt. Wakefield, Children's Investigative Services Unit of the S.F.P.D.

"Please come in," I offered just as another car pulled up.

I waited with the Sergeant, and watched as a woman rolled out of her car. Spotting the Sergeant, she half ran and half waddled to join us. The last time I'd seen the suit she was wearing, it was a much more flattering version being worn by Bob's court reporter, right after she'd finished a court session. Some people really shouldn't wear knee-length business skirts.

"I'm Melanie Tipton with CPS," she stated authoritatively, her tone that of a bureaucrat who had power and wasn't afraid to use it, even if it wasn't needed.

"Hello Ms. Tipton, I'm Dr. Samuelson, MD, FAAP. Please join us. This is Sgt. Wakefield, with the police department," I stated professionally. She just nodded, her beady eyes sizing me up. After escorting them into the house, I led them back to my office, shutting the door behind us.

"Where's the child?" Ms. Tipton queried impatiently.

"He's with my son, and they are lying down at the moment. The boy has suffered severe ongoing injuries," I told them. I walked over to my photo printer and picked up the dozens of pictures I had taken with my camera and printed out. Once I had all of them, I walked back to the pair and wordlessly gave them the evidence to see for themselves.

They gasped and looked up at me, but I didn't say anything; I just let them go through the pictures one by painful one.

When they were finished, they sat in silence for a few minutes before Sgt. Wakefield asked, "Do you have any information on who did this to the boy."

"Yes, it was his mother. There is no other adult in his home, or that has access to him." I stated with assurance.

"What is the child's name?" Tipton asked.

"Daren Sebastian Michaels, and he's eleven years old." I told them.

"We're going to need to speak to him, and see these wounds directly," the detective commented sadly. Ms. Tipton nodded her head in agreement.

"He is very fragile right now, and very scared. Be gentle with him. You will be able to see some of the wounds, but the open ones have been bandaged," I said.

"We'll walk very softly, I promise," Ms. Tipton said as Sgt. Wakefield nodded his acceptance of the conditions.

"Very well, but if he starts getting too upset, then I will end it. More than likely my son will remain with him, so be prepared for that." I told them before getting up. I walked out of the office and upstairs to Kalen's room, where I found them curled up in a ball together, arms and legs intertwined. It was so beautiful that I wished I had my camera right then.

I softly walked over to the bed and bent over, gently shaking Kalen until he blearily looked up at me, saying, "Mom?"

"Shh, it's alright, honey. The police and social services are here to see Daren, and daddy's on his way home, right now." I told him softly. I could see the fear in his face as I said this, and quickly I reassured him, "Daddy is bringing a court order with him, placing Daren in our custody."

"Does that mean he can stay here?" he asked hesitantly.

"Yeah baby, that's what it means," I told him, smiling, which seemed to reassure him somewhat.

"Okay Mom, let me get him woke up, and we'll be right in," he said.

"Okay baby, leave his clothes off for now, but bring a bathrobe with you for him, they need to take a look at his back." I told him.

"Alright, Mom," he replied.

I ruffled his hair, and stood back up, heading back to my office, pulling the door closed behind me.

I watched as Mom left and shut the door behind her, and then turned back to Daren.

He was not going to be happy about this, I knew that, but I also knew Mom and Dad would protect him. He would never be hurt again, never.

I looked down at him and my heart filled with the warmest, most incredible feeling in the whole world. I loved him so much. As if he knew I was thinking about him, I watched his eyes open and stare up at me. A smile came to his face.

We just laid there looking at each other. I said, "I love you, Daren Sebastian Michaels," with a real goofy grin on my face.

His smile got even bigger. He replied, "I love you too, Kalen Richard Samuelson."

I just laid there, lost in his eyes, and then without thinking, I moved my face closer, until my lips softly touched his. The feelings that exploded in my body were something that I'd never experienced before; it kinda felt like a bolt of electricity shot through me from my lips outward.

I heard myself groaning, along with a matching sound emanating from Daren as we clutched tightly to one another; new and wondrous feelings coursing through our young bodies as the kiss became way beyond gentle.

It was a gentle cough that brought us back to this world, and we turned guiltily to find Mom standing there with a smile on her face, as she looked down at us.

"Boys, I think it might be best to do this later, before you have a mess to clean up," she said with a smile.

I felt my face get hot, and just knew that it was now bright red. Seeing Daren's face was the same, I cried, "MO-OM!" in embarrassment. I knew she was right, something was definitely about to happen down there.

"Yes?" she chuckled, and then turned and left the room, leaving us to try to recover some dignity.

I guess now I don't have to worry about her finding out I like boys. After seeing us, I think she's figured it out.

I turned back to check on Daren, who was staring at the door with worry. "What's wrong?" I asked him, concerned.

"Do you think she'll hate me now?" he asked.

"Hate you? What for?" I asked him.

"Cause she saw us," he replied.

"No, she won't be mad, she was laughing and teasing us." I said.

"My Mom would kill me," he softly said.

"Well, you don't have to worry about that anymore," I told him. 

He just looked at me before saying, "God, I hope you're right."

"I know I am. Dad's on the way here right now, with a paper that says you can stay here, and the police and social services are here now to help you," I told him, and saw the fear take over his face. "Daren, you have to trust us, we won't let her hurt you anymore; now come on."

Talking didn't seem to be working, so I took his hand to get him moving so he would stop thinking about it. We left the bedroom and headed downstairs to Mom's office. By the time we got there, I was almost dragging a very reluctant Daren behind me. I could only get him as far as the door, and that was where he stopped, refusing to go any farther into the room.

Mom noticed, and came over to kneel in front of him. "Daren, honey, I know you're scared, baby, but these people are here to help, they won't hurt you," she gently told him. Then she reached out and took his free hand, stood up, then slowly pulled him into the room with me following right behind.

We came to a stop as far against Mom's desk as Daren could put himself, obviously trying to stay far away from our visitors. They noticed his fright and just looked at one another, not saying anything for a moment.

"I'm Dale, and this is Melanie," the policeman told Daren softly as he dropped to one knee to be at our level. "I know how scary this is, but try not to worry little one, we're here to help you." Dale's assurances didn't relax Daren any. Dale looked up at mom before shrugging his shoulders and addressing Daren again. "Can you please turn around sport, so we can see your back?" he asked.

Daren turned, and I watched their faces change at what they saw. They controlled it better than Mom or I had, but I could see their shock when they saw how bad Daren looked.

"Okay, thank you, Daren." Dale said, his voice shaky.

Daren turned back around and I grabbed the robe we had brought up. I gently helped him into it, the old people remaining quiet while he secured it and faced them again.

"Daren, I need to ask you who did this to you?" Dale said to him.

"My mother."

"Has anyone else ever hurt you?" Dale asked next.

"No, just her," he replied.

There was question after question, and Daren answered all of them in a wooden voice, squeezing my hand in a death grip at some of them.

Finally it was over, and the detective asked one last question, "Daren, can you tell me your mother's full name?"

"Loraine Beatrice Michaels," Daren whispered.

I watched the detective write it down, but what got my interest was the social worker's reaction. Her head came up like she'd been shot, and she now looked intently at Daren. Her expression was not very friendly.

"Excuse me, but I need to make a call," she said quickly.

"Here, use my phone," Mom told her.

"I'm sorry, this needs to be in private," she replied, reaching into her oversized purse and pulling out her cell phone.

"Certainly," Mom replied. "Kalen, show her out, so she can have some privacy," Mom said in her 'don't ask questions, just do it' voice. I thought that was a bit strange, but I just shrugged my shoulders and stepped away from Daren. When Daren started to protest, Mom quickly came over and took him into her arms.

"Follow me," I said, as I began to lead the way through the house to the front door. Once we got to the foyer, I opened the door and let her out.

She scooted out the door faster than me leaving the room when Dad's had too many beans for dinner. Before I could close the door all the way, she was already talking. "Just shut up and listen; we're in trouble, deep trouble." Curious, I left the door open just enough to hear her and leaned my head against the door frame. I don't know why I did it, since Mom's chewed my butt lots of times for listening to stuff when I'm not supposed to, but I did it anyway.

As I listened, she continued. "No, I'm not fucking kidding, we're in trouble. You know that call that came in from the judge about an abused kid, well, it's Loraine Michaels kid again."

She paused, and a few seconds later said, "No, I'm sure, what the hell am I supposed to do? This kid looks like something out of a horror movie, and there's a Barney Fife here who hasn't got a friggin' clue."

"Well, I'm not going the way of Bobby, screw that."

"You better do something, but you got more problems than that."

"What? I'll tell you what, that damn judge is coming here with a court order, removing him from his mother's custody, that's what," she was practically screaming now. "Well, how the hell are you going to get around that?" she asked the person on the other end of the phone.

I was getting more and more frightened, this didn't sound right at all.

"Well, you better figure it out, before the shit hits the fan, you understand me?"

"What the hell am I supposed to do now?"

"Stall, you've got to be kidding me. You didn't see this kid, he's a mess with open wounds and all. The bitch did a real number on him this time." 

I listened as she laughed a sound that didn't sound like she was happy, and said, "Okay yeah, but not with her being his mother, I won't."

"Well, do something and do it fast, I have to get back inside," she finished. 

I heard the snapping of the phone, and quickly moved down the hall. I leaned against the wall like I was bored, but inside I was really starting to freak out.

She came through the door and stopped when she saw me. Her face looked scared for a moment, but she hid it and smiled. "Well, thank you for waiting young man, but you didn't have to."

"No problem. Mom always says we should try to help our guests," I said as I started towards the office, not really wanting to hear anything else she might say.

When we got back to the room, Mom asked, "Everything alright?"

Even though her question was for the social worker, I could swear she was watching me out of the corner of her eyes. Just in case, I let my face show how I was feeling after what I'd heard. I musta been right, because she turned her face towards me for a second, frowned, then turned back to the social worker.

Melanie replied, "Yes, everything is fine. I am going back to the office and take care of this problem." Funny, she don't sound anything like she did on the phone outside.

"Problem?" Mom asked as she raised her eyebrow like those Vulcans I see on the news.

I saw Daren cringe. I bet he thinks things are going bad. He really doesn't know Mom and Dad when they're angry.

"Well, the report of this incident." Melanie replied quickly, too quickly.

"I see," Mom commented in the same tone she uses when I'm trying to talk my way outta trouble. You don't lie to Mom, ever; she'll catch you every time. I've been trying for eleven years, and still ain't slipped one past her.

Before Mom could push it, Dale stated, "I need to be going as well; I have someone to arrest. Young man, you'll be...." Dale's cell phone began ringing, causing him to stop and answer it. "Wakefield."

After a pause, he replied, "I'm sorry sir, but I'm in the middle of an..."

Even though I wasn't real close, I still heard the guy on the other end yell, "I don't care what the fuck you're doing, get back here NOW!"

Dale was shocked, but his expression quickly gave way to anger as he forcibly replied, "Sir, I have a severely physically abused juvenile, and I'm about to make an arrest of the perpetrator." Whatever the butthead on the other end said next made Dale's face turned red. I felt shivers go down my spine when he growled, "I will not!"

The butthead started yelling again. "You will do what you're fucking told!"

Dale did a really good impression of Dad when somebody crosses him. He stated, "No sir, I will not violate State, Federal, and Federation law. In addition, I will file a formal complaint of your conduct and orders in this matter as required by law."

I couldn't make out what the butthead said next, but it didn't sound nice.

I watched as Dale's face went pale as he replied, "You can't do that!" Dale then pulled the phone from his ear, looked at it in disbelief, then put it back in its holder.

"What's going on here?" Mom asked. She wasn't using her Doctor voice anymore, this was what Dad calls her 'Oh crap, someone's about to die' voice. One of our neighbors accused Rodney of breaking out his window once, and Mom went into this mode when he wouldn't back down. Rodney and me had been with Dad that day, so she knew he was lying. He got kicked out by his landlord the next week; you don't mess with mom when she's like this.

Dale glanced at her and said, "I don't know," before shaking his head to clear it. He then added, "I was ordered to return to the station immediately and bring the boy with me, taking no action against the mother. I was told that she would be meeting us there to claim him." Dale paused. "I don't know what to say, ma'am. I refused and I've been suspended," he said, shaking his head again.

"Why in the Hell would you be ordered to do that with this kind of evidence?" Mom growled.

"I don't know, it doesn't make any sense," Dale acknowledged. He then added, "You should know that he is sending officers here for Daren right now."

"Like HELL he is!" Mom exploded. She yanked out her cell phone and hit the speed dial for Dad. I thought she was gonna breath fire when she started talking. "Robert, we have problems, big ones." She started pacing, which is a really bad sign. "Yes, they are, and the detective's superior just ordered him to bring Daren to the station and turn him over to his mother, and when the officer refused, he was suspended." I don't think talking about it is helping; her face is so red I think it's gonna melt the phone. "It gets worse, more officers are coming to take him to the station anyway."

'Oh Crap' mode must be spreading, because Dad screamed, "LIKE HELL!" before slamming his phone down so hard we actually heard it over Mom's phone. Mom didn't say anything, but the look in her eyes said she'd just declared war, and Dad had just joined her. She dropped her phone back into her pocket, then started looking over the rest of us.

The social worker was looking kind of worried, but she didn't say anything. That's probably a good thing, 'cuz right now I think she's made the top ten on Mom's list of targets. Dale was watching curiously; I think he has figured out that Mom's on his side too.

Daren was shaking, so I put my arm around him to comfort him. He lifted his head and softly said, "See, I told you there is nothing you can do."

"You let us worry about that, you're not going back to that woman," Mom stated just as her phone rang. She answered it, listened for a few seconds, then replied "Okay. Yes, I'll do that. Okay," and then hung it up.

Mom looked at me. "That was your dad. He called the State Police and Federal Marshals. They're on the way over here right now." She then turned to Dale, "I would like that person's name and number that you just spoke to."

Dale nodded his head and recited the information. Without commenting, Mom started dialing.

"Lieutenant Johansen, my name is Doctor Joanne Samuelson, and we have a little problem," she stated. "Yes, Sergeant Wakefield came to my home, and that is the problem." He musta said something Mom didn't like, because she went back into 'Oh Crap' mode. "Well, Lieutenant, let me explain something to you; I am a pediatrician, and I have seen as well as treated the injuries to this child. I have also legally documented them. Your refusal to allow your detective to do his job has been duly noted. What you may not be aware of is that my husband is Judge Robert Samuelson, and he has issued a court order of emergency placement removing the child from his mother's custody, and placing him here. Any attempt by your officers to interfere in that will be a felony, and they will be arrested."

Mom's face turned even redder, and finally she said very softly, "I hope you do. I'll look forward to it." After all the shouting, mom's voice was just above a whisper. This ain't good, it really ain't good; that butthead just pushed Mom over the edge. I really need to pee bad, but if I try to move, my jeans are gonna be dripping wet. If I was him, I'd join Starfleet and volunteer for duty on the other side of the Universe. Maybe it'd give him a few weeks before she hunts him down. It sounded like the butthead was still talking when Mom pulled the phone away from her ear and hung it up. The grin that came on her face as she stared at the silent phone was one I hope she never directs at me.

As she dropped the phone into her pocket, Mom stated, "Your father is almost here, and help is on the way. Daren is not going anywhere."

"Mrs. Samuelson, I'm not sure it will be determined that the child will be placed with you," Melanie stated officially.

"It's not up to you, dear. A court order has been issued, and the matter is settled," Mom told her. Mom's voice just dropped the temperature in here twenty degrees!

Melanie looked at her but finally said, "We shall see."

Mom's antique desk actually moved as she pushed past it and got into the social worker's face. "No, we won't see anything. This child is not going anywhere, do you understand me?" Mom growled, her hands now making fists.

"I think I should leave," Melanie replied quickly. That's the first smart thing she's said since she got here. 

"That is the ONLY thing I'll agree with you about," Mom growled, "Allow me to see you to the door." Not waiting to see if she followed, Mom spun around and marched out of the room.

Melanie looked back at Daren, her eyes saying this wasn't over. She quickly turned and followed Mom out of the room, leaving stunned silence in her wake.

"I told you so," Daren whimpered.

Mom wasn't the only one gettin' stressed over protecting him, and I kinda snapped as I responded. "We told you so too, and she's leaving but you're not!" I guess how pissed I was at the social witch came out in my voice, because Daren jumped back, looking afraid. I was instantly ashamed of my outburst, realizing what I'd done as Mom walked back into the room.

"What's going on here?" she asked, looking pointedly at me.

"Ah... nothing Mom," I tried, not wanting to push her more.

"Kalen, don't lie to me," was her only reply, but her tone left no room for argument.

"It was my fault," Daren spoke up, coming to my defense. 

I quickly moved in front of him and admitted, "No, it was mine, I scared him."

"Because I made you," Daren argued.

"No, I shouldn't have said what I did the way I did."

"ENOUGH!" Mom bellowed, startling both of us. We both looked up at her, shocked. "This is ridiculous, both of you are bending over backwards to keep the other from getting in trouble. No one is going to get in any trouble. I just want to know why Daren was so scared when I came back into the room," she explained.

"I said, 'I told you so' to him, and he got mad." Daren explained.

"Daren, I didn't get mad at you, I got mad at what you were saying." I said to him more than Mom.

He just looked at me for a minute before Mom said, "I think you need to watch how you speak for a while, until Daren gets used to us as a family, okay?"

"Yeah Mom, I will." I said, and vowed that I would, 'cause it would hurt Daren if I didn't.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," Daren said.

"For what, honey? Being hurt really bad by someone who was supposed to love you and take care of you? You haven't done anything wrong at all. You just have to get used to being loved is all, and then you'll feel safe. In a few months, you'll probably be arguing and fighting with your brothers just like any other kid does," she said, smiling at him.

Daren looked shocked at the very idea of it, but I told him, "You know I love Rodney and all, but even we fight sometimes."

"And argue all the time," my mother added.

"Mom!" I said.

"Well?" she replied, smiling.

Parents can be so embarrassing sometimes.

At that point the doorbell rang, and my mother held up her hand, "I want you to wait here with Dale and lock the door. If you don't hear the password when I come to the door, then I want you to go visit Aunt Jodie, got it?" she said to me.

"Yes, Mom, I understand," I told her, suddenly realizing this wasn't a game anymore, if I had ever thought it was. She left the room and I locked the door behind her. I was really and truly scared for the first time. I turned around to find Daren looking at me. He surprised me by walking over and putting his arm around my shoulder and hugging me to him. Confused, I looked at him in question.

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled a little as he said, "I guess maybe this twin thing might be real after all."

"Come on," I told him, leading him over to the mantle behind the desk. I pressed a hidden button, revealing a panel that looked like that on a phone dial. I placed my hand across the keypad, like Dad had taught me, and put in the code. I then pressed my thumb into the scanner alongside the device, and waited until it beeped and the light turned yellow. Now there was only one more sequence of numbers left to put in. Doing that would open the secret compartment that we would hide in if it got bad. Now, all we could do was wait to see if it would be needed.

"What's that?" Daren asked me, finally.

"It's a panic room isn't it?" Dale asked.

"No, it's a safe room," I replied, before turning to Daren and saying, "It's a room with stuff in it for if someone ever broke in to hurt us. No one can get in to us in there, and there is food and other stuff in there so we can stay safe, for quite a while."

He didn't say anything, and it was back to waiting, until I heard someone trying the door.

I felt Daren's hand squeeze mine, and I knew I was squeezing back just as hard at this point, especially when a loud voice ordered, "Open the door now, police."

Okay, now I'd say things are getting bad. I quickly turned around and punched the final code in, and the panel slid aside. It revealed a metal door that also opened quickly. I pulled Daren through behind me, then turned back to look at the detective.

"Go on in there, and don't come out until your Mom gives you that word, no matter what you might see and hear," Dale whispered. I just nodded and closed the door, then I  pressed the button that locked out the system, sealing us into the room until we released it from inside. No one else could get in now, not even Mom or Dad.

I pulled Daren into the main room, guiding him to the couch. I picked up the secure phone on the end table by the couch, pressed the third of four speed dial buttons, then waited for an answer. Finally,  Dad answered, and I said just one word, "Sandstorm."

"What's going on son?" Dad asked with concern.

That word came from a book my dad loved, and it meant that there was an emergency and we were in the safe room.

"I don't know. Mom said if anyone came to the office door besides her, without the password, then we were to go in here and stay put. Someone came to the door and said they were the police. Dad, I'm scared."

"I know, baby. I'm almost there. You stay where you are, and I'll be there, real soon," he assured me.

"Okay Dad."

The line went dead. I picked up the remote, activated the monitors, and began cycling through the cameras that were looking at various rooms in the house. There were a number of police officers at the door to the office, but Dale was still inside and hadn't let them in. I saw Mom being held in the living room, and could see that they had put handcuffs on her. I turned up the volume just loud enough for us to hear it and listened to what was going on.

"Open this door immediately!" the officer on the outside of the door yelled. Dale just sat there. "If this door is not opened in the next ten-seconds, we will kick it in," the officer yelled.

Dale got up, walked over to the door and stated loudly, "I'm a police officer, and I am armed. I am opening the door." We watched as he opened it and stepped back while keeping his hands in plain sight. Now that the door was open, the officers outside rushed in with their guns drawn.

"Where are they?" a man snarled as he came through the door behind the rest. He was dressed in a suit, and was fat, especially for a policeman. I always thought policemen were supposed to keep in shape.

"Who?" Dale innocently asked.

"You know damn well who. Do you think this is funny?" the man yelled.

Dale's face screwed up in rage as he reached down and picked up the pictures of Daren's back. While he held each of them up so everyone could see, he asked, "Do you think this is funny, Sir?" The way he said, 'Sir,' sounded more like an insult than anything else.

I watched as most of the officers gasped, and looked away from the open wound on Daren's back, but the fat man said, "Give me those."

"No, they're evidence," Dale said, pulling the pictures back from the fat man's grasping hands.

"You'll give them to me this instant," the man said. 

Dale's response was cut off by a very familiar voice growling, "Or what?" A voice that made me almost feint with relief at hearing it. Daddy's home!

The fat man swung around and snarled, "Who the hell are you?"

Dad walked further into the room, replying angrily, "Actually, that should be my question, since you are in MY house, terrorizing MY family, and disregarding MY order from MY court!"

The fat man just smiled and said, "You are interfering with a police investigation, and I'm placing you under arrest." 

I gasped, and softly cried, "No."

But I was surprised when Dad just began laughing at the fat man.

"I'm glad you think it's funny, take him into custody," he ordered his officers.

Dad never stopped smiling as suddenly the room was filled with other police officers in different uniforms, with their guns drawn, pointing at the first set of officers, followed by a man who said, "I don't think I would do that if I were you."

"What the fuck do you think you're doing here? This isn't your jurisdiction," the fat man snarled.

I watched as the newcomer looked down at the patch on his shoulder and then back at the fat man with puzzlement, before replying with a fake smile, "It says here that I'm a US Marshal, and last I checked, San Francisco was still in the United States."

"You know damn well what I mean," the fat man spat. I swear I saw spit flying even through the camera.

"Well, one of the things we do is enforce court orders, and you are interfering with one. Another is that we protect judges, and since you have invaded this judge's house, those two should begin to answer your question," the new man said, smiling ever so sweetly.

"You won't get away with this," the fat man said.

"Oh, yes we will. Take him into custody, NOW!" the new one ordered firmly. Instantly, several officers moved towards the fat man.

"WHAT? You can't do that!" he screamed.

"Watch me," the new cop said, smiling all the while.

Daren and I watched in awe, as one cop arrested another one, one who kept screaming all the way out of the house, screaming about what he was going to do to us.

The new cop looked around at the others, and stated, "Unless you would like to join him, I suggest you find somewhere else to be." When they didn't move, he added, "Now!"

The remaining local officers apparently decided that would be a good idea, because suddenly all of them were trying to fit through the doorway and get out of the room. We watched as other officers came into the room in different uniforms and joined my father and the first ones.

"I can't believe it." Daren said, softly.

"I know, but I told you my Mom and Dad wouldn't let anyone hurt you anymore," I proudly grinned.

The look on his face was one that I would never forget for the rest of my life. I was so happy that my family had put the expression there. He said, "No one has ever done something like this for me," in a voice filled with wonder, shock and disbelief.

"Get used to it." I said, and reached over, pulling his head over to kiss him on his cheek, which made him blush while smiling in return.

"Where are the children?" one of the officers asked.

Dale looked around and then said, "Kalen, you can come out now"

"He won't listen to you, Dale," Mom stated as she walked into the room. I was so glad to see her here and not being hauled off.

"It's safe now, he can come out," Dale replied, looking puzzled.

"He won't come out until I tell him to," Mom replied.

"Well, tell him to come out," one of the other officers said. I tensed up and could feel Daren take a hold of my shoulder in a grip that felt like it might break something.

"I think they will stay in there for now. All of these people would be too much for Daren to deal with right now," Mom replied with a smile.

Hearing that, I told myself to give her a big kiss when we got out. I think Daren agrees, because his grip loosened when he heard her say that.

Mom and the Federal Marshal looked at each other for a minute, then the Marshal said, "Well, we'll have two officers stationed outside until further notice. Just call if there are any problems. Here's my card." He reached into his shirt pocket, took out a business card, and handed it to my father.

"Thank you for coming so quickly," my father told them, receiving nods in return.

"Now Sergeant, would you like some back-up in making an arrest?" the Marshal asked with a smile on his face.

"I'm afraid that I have been suspended, and can't arrest anyone," Dale replied with a shrug.

One of the other officers walked over, and pulled a card from his pocket. He handed it to Dale, saying, "If you don't get this straightened out, then give me a call. State can always use some good men."

"Thanks," Dale replied, taking the card.

"You can come with us anyway, that creature who calls herself a mother is going to jail," the officer said.

"I'd like to see that," Dale replied with a grin.

"Judge Samuelson, we'll keep you advised," the officer stated, as they all began to file out of the room.

I watched on the monitors until the last one had left the house. They all got in their cars to leave, when Mom's voice brought me back to the here and now.

"Kalen, Daren, you can come out now, honey." Mom said. As I reached for the controls, I froze. She hadn't said the safe word. I looked around at the monitors and didn't see anything, but she hadn't said the safe word.

"Why aren't you opening the door?" Daren asked with a tilt of his head. It was a cute tilt, too.

"She didn't say the safe word, remember?" I said to him.

He looked lost for a moment before saying, "When she sent us in here, she said..."

"Yeah, she said don't come out, unless she said that." I finished for him.

We both turned back to the monitors where we watched them standing there, not doing or saying anything.

Finally dad said, "They're not coming out, dear," with a soft smile on his face.

"Good," Mom said, smiling as well. "Arilinn," Mom said, and I sighed in relief.

"What?" Daren asked me.

"She was testing me, to see if I would come out without her giving the password." I told him.

"What is that word?" He wondered.

"It's from a book she loves," I told him, thinking of Darkover and the haven that was Arilinn Tower. I quickly entered the code to release the lockout, and waited until the light turned green. Once the lock cleared, I opened the door, and ran out to jump into my dad's arms. As he held me, I decided that I'd never felt so good as I did right then with his strong arms surrounding me and keeping me safe.

"Dad!" I said, looking up at him.

"It's alright now, Kalen," he said, smiling at me gently.

"I was so scared, Daddy," I told him.

"I know, I was too, but it's okay now," he told me. I just buried my head in his chest, all worries forgotten for the moment, until he said, "Would you like to introduce me to your friend?"

I pulled back and felt my face getting hot again as I realized that I had forgotten Daren for the moment. I turned and looked, finding Daren standing in the doorway with an uncertain fearful look on his face. I felt bad about it, so I left Dad's arms and walked over to Daren. Once I was next to him, I prodded, "Come on," as I took his hand and pulled him reluctantly forward towards Dad.

We stopped in front of Dad, and I did the introductions. "Dad, this is Daren." Daren was standing next to me shaking; I think the only thing keeping him there was our love for each other.

Dad smiled at us as he said, "Welcome to the family, Son." He surprised Daren by reaching out and taking him into his arms, hugging Daren like he'd just hugged me. I could see Daren's fear by the way his body was shaking at the beginning. After a few moments, his body relaxed and he collapsed into our dad's arms, burying his left shoulder into Dad's chest, finally allowing himself be loved.

Dad brought his hand up, and began stroking Daren's back like he usually does to comfort me and Rodney. Dad wasn't expecting the cry of pain that came from Daren, and with a shocked look, he released him.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Dad asked with concern.

"I'm sorry," Daren replied, shaking again.

Dad seemed confused at what was happening, so I decided to help out.

"Daren, you need to show him," I said. Daren nodded, so I helped him pull the robe off of his shoulders and away from his back.

What I wasn't expecting was Dad's response when I turned Daren around.

With a strangled gasp, Dad cried, "LUCAS!" before he shuddered once and fell to the floor.

"DAD!" I screamed as I began to panic.

Mom cried, "Robert!" as she rushed to help him. 

Daren cried "NO!" before joining Dad in collapsing to the floor.