by Jason Finigan

This story is set in an alternate reality, and assumes the technology and capabilities of this reality's 23rd century are present in modern-day society.

Portions of this story contain copyrighted characters from other authors. The characters from the following stories are used with permission: A New Day "Dawns © GunRunner; One Door Closes, Frontier, and A New Door Opens © MultiMapper; Sentenced to Life © JeffP; Enterprise Tour and Enterprise Tour: The Early Years © Greybear; Memories: Down Under © Boi From Aus; Ark © Akeentia; and Out Of The Past © DarkStar. The following characters are used with permission: Mark Owens © Slash; Johnny Carter © ND from his story Nick and Ashley.

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


From the last chapter:

"Well, are you ready to go to your new home, Timmy?" Anna asked him, handing me back my phone which I put back in my pocket.

"You mean I get to go home with my new Daddy?" Timmy asked.

"That's right, little buddy," I told him.

"YES!" Timmy exclaimed happily, jumping up into my arms.

Making sure I had a good hold of Timmy I led everyone up the stairs and headed for the exit. Charlie took the keys from me and made sure the doors were locked, then handed them back to me. Outside, Charlie and Brad said their goodbyes to us, especially to Timmy then headed off to their cars. With Timmy in my arms, as happy as any nine year old could be, I headed for my car. Anna had already climbed into hers and had started it up.

Unlocking the car doors, I helped Timmy get into the back seat, making sure his seat belt was secured properly, then got in myself and started the car. Slowly I pulled out of the parking lot, with Anna following closely behind me. Together we drove to my home, where Mark was waiting for us, and where Timmy was going to start his new life.

Chapter 2

Mark and Dale's Residence
Friday, November 19th, 2004, 9:47pm.

Timmy was in my arms as we walked up to the front door of the house. The little guy was so worn out that he had fallen asleep in the car. Several times I found myself looking back at him, watching his little angelic face as he slept. He didn't even stir when I parked the car in the driveway, nor when I opened up his door to undo his seatbelt and gently lift him out of the car. The only reaction I felt from him was to hold onto me as I carried him.

My Aunt, Anna, was walking right behind me, having parked her car behind mine as I was getting Timmy out. I had to be very careful with Timmy in my arms, since there was some ice on the pathway leading up to the front door. I made a mental note to myself to put some ice melt on the pathway first thing in the morning.

Mark was waiting for us at the front door. I hadn't even noticed that he had opened it yet so preoccupied was I with making sure I didn't slip and fall. Mark was a relatively tall man, at least taller than I am. At just over six feet, he towered over my mere five foot, six inch frame. He had nicely cropped brown hair, and captivating blue eyes. Mark had the goofiest grin on his face, one which he usually had when he was really happy about something. I don't think his eyes ever left the sleeping child in my arms, even when he moved out of the way to let us in, he kept staring at Timmy.

Anna closed the door behind us, and tried to take Timmy from me so I could get my jacket and boots off, but Timmy wouldn't let go. Nodding my head to her, I let her know it was okay, and proceeded to kick off my boots. Anna carefully removed Timmy's boots, putting them on a mat in the corner by the door along with the boots I had kicked off my feet. Mark then led us into the living room at which time Timmy was beginning to wake up, which I could tell by the slight movements he was making. Even though he was slowly waking up, I didn't want to make any sudden movements to scare him, so as carefully as I could, I sat down on the couch, making sure he was secure in my arms. Timmy continued to wake up, and eventually lifted his head up off my shoulders, looking into my eyes.

I could see how tired he still was, but even so, he had a huge smile on his face, as if seeing me holding him confirmed that I wasn't a dream. It took him a little while before he realized that we weren't in the car any longer, and he began to look around. If you've never seen the look on a child's face as he takes in new surroundings, you're missing a whole lot. Every detail in the room was like a brand new experience to him. I think he especially liked the fire that was going in the fireplace. Eventually his eyes settled on Mark, who was sitting across from us in a chair. Mark himself was looking back at Timmy, that goofy grin on his face still firmly in place.

"Who's that, Daddy?" Timmy asked in a small, quiet voice, breaking the silence in the room.

"Timmy, that's my husband, Mark remember I called him on the phone," I told him. Timmy continued to look at Mark for a few minutes, before looking back at me.

"Is he my Daddy too?" he asked me in that sweet angelic voice of his.

"Yes he is, Timmy," I told him. "Would you like to go see him?"

"Okay," Timmy said timidly. He slowly climbed off of me, standing up. I knew he must have been a little afraid, and I really couldn't blame him after what he had gone through with his mother. Mark hadn't made a move towards Timmy at all, letting Timmy come to him on his own.

"It's alright, Timmy," I encouraged him, nodding my head towards Mark. I guess it helped Timmy since he smiled at me and then slowly made his way around the coffee table until he was standing in front of Mark. Both Anna and I watched as Timmy and Mark stared at each other. Timmy, it seemed, was intently looking into Mark's eyes. I could only guess what was going through Timmy's mind at the moment, hoping that whatever it was that Timmy was looking for he would find. And then it happened; Timmy slowly began to climb up onto Mark's lap.

Mark's eyes were beginning to tear up as Timmy practically melted into him. I watched as Mark put his arms around Timmy, and held him close. Timmy had this huge smile on his face, and though his eyes were now closed, I could tell that he was wide awake and enjoying the feeling he was getting from my husband's embrace. Beside me, Anna had reached into her hand bag and brought out some tissues which she used to dab her eyes with, soaking up some of the tears that were filling her own eyes. The scene before us was the sweetest, most perfect thing anyone could ever see. A child and his father, bonding for the first time.

"If there were any doubts at all whether Timmy would accept Mark, I think they've been put to rest," I whispered to her. She nodded her head in agreement. I don't think I had ever seen her smile as much as she was right now.

Mark was absolutely glowing. As he held onto Timmy you could almost see the bond forming between them. There was just something about this little boy that pulled at your heart.

"He's so beautiful," Mark said, looking up at me. He still had tears in his eyes, and that same smile looked as though it was permanently etched onto his face.

"I know," I replied.

"He's really tired," Mark commented, seeing that Timmy had become quite still in his arms, and his eyes were closed.

"With everything he's been through, I don't doubt it," I replied.

"Mark, is there a place for Timmy to get some sleep tonight?" Anna asked, speaking up for the first time since we got to the house.

"After Dale called me, I made up the bed in one of the spare rooms. I figured you were going to be coming over as well, so made the other bed as well just in case," Mark said.

"It was really sweet of you to do that, Mark. But unfortunately I have a cat that would not be too happy with me, and there are some things at my home that I will need in order for me to get the paperwork done for Timmy," she said.

"It looks to me as though Timmy is already asleep," I said, looking back at Timmy.

"Why don't the two of you get Timmy settled in his new bed then. I need to make use of your bathroom if it's alright with you," Anna asked.

"You didn't have to ask, Aunt Anna. Go right ahead," I told her.

"Oh, and, Dale. Don't let him sleep in his clothes," she said before she disappeared down the hallway.

Shaking his head, Mark stood up from the chair he had been sitting in, carefully holding Timmy in place. Together we walked to the spare room that Mark had made ready for the little boy. As gently as he could, Mark lowered Timmy onto the bed, sitting him up so that I could take off his jacket and sweater before laying him down. That only left his pants and socks, which came off him pretty easily.

After pulling the covers over top of him, I leaned forward to give him a kiss on his forehead and said softly, "Good night, my little angel. Welcome home." Mark gave him a kiss as well, resting his hand on Timmy's chest, before standing up with me. Gathering up Timmy's clothes, I put them in the hamper which was in the closet in the hallway. Mark was waiting for me, the light in Timmy's room was off and Mark had partially closed the door. Together the two of us made our way back to the living room where Aunt Anna was waiting for us, sitting in the chair that Mark had been sitting in earlier.

"Is he asleep?" she asked.

"Like a baby," I said, sitting down on the couch with Mark.

"That's good. It's going to be a rough couple days for him, and he's going to need all the rest he can get."

"Aunt Anna, what happened to him? You said on the phone that he needed to go to the hospital tomorrow to get a rape kit done. Who could hurt such a sweet innocent child?" Mark asked.

"Would you believe his mother?" I told him.

"You've got to be joking!" Mark gasped.

"I wish. Timmy told me a little about what happened at his old home, and I'm sure there's more to his story than what he's told me. Basically, his mother was beginning to make sexual advances towards him when they were at home alone. Some of the things that Timmy has said lead me to believe that his mother was involved with drugs and most likely prostitution. I don't even want to think about what she might have been thinking, but if it's true that she was a drug addict, she could have been preparing to use her son to earn some extra cash to feed her drug habit." It only took a second for what I had said to sink in with Mark.

"You mean she was going to pimp him out to have sex with other men so she could pay for her drug habit?" Mark exclaimed heatedly. I had to put a hand on his arm to try and calm him down a bit. For the most part it worked, but I could tell just by the look on his face that he was really upset by what he had heard. Not that I could blame him considering how repugnant what his mother did to Timmy was.

"Dale, this isn't the first time this has happened to a child, and sadly, it won't be the last. All we can do though is make sure that Timmy has a good home and gets a chance to grow up happy and loved like every child should be," Anna said gently.

"I know. It's just... for his own mother to do that..." Mark said, shaking his head in disbelief.

"You know us, Aunt Anna. We'll make sure he knows he's loved. He's going to have the best dads any child could ever have," I told her resolutely.

"I didn't have any doubts about that," Anna said, smiling at us. "Well, it's getting late and I should be off. I suggest the two of you get a good night's sleep. It's going to be a long and trying day tomorrow, and Timmy is going to need the both of you for support." She stood up then and picked up her hand bag.

"I guess it also means we're going to have to do a bit of shopping tomorrow as well," Mark said, standing up with me.

"That would be a good idea. He certainly needs new clothes," she suggested. We followed her back to the front door where she began to put on her boots.

"What about school and all that?" I asked her.

"I should be able to get his school records once I find out which school he used to go to, as well as the name of his doctor. He'll need that anyways tomorrow when we take him to the hospital."

"Will you be coming here tomorrow morning?" I asked.

"Yes. While you are his foster parents, he's in the custody of the CAS, which means I'm responsible for all his medical needs until such time as the two of you can be named his permanent guardians or the courts allow you to adopt him."

"Ultimately, that's what we'd like to do," I told her.

"Well, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before that happens. I took a lot of short cuts to place Timmy with the two of you, so it's going to take some fancy filing of paper-work for me to get this all done properly."

"You just let us know what we have to do, and we'll do it. Timmy deserves a real family, and Dale and I would love to be the ones to give that to him," Mark said.

"Have I ever let you down, Boys?" Anna asked us with a grin.

"Nope," we answered in unison which for some reason made her laugh slightly.

"You boys get some sleep, we'll talk more tomorrow," she said, giving each of us a hug and a kiss on the cheek before opening up the front door and walking outside.

"Bye," I said, watching with Mark as she carefully made her way down the driveway to her car. Once she was in, and driving off, I closed the front door, shivering slightly from the cold air from outside that seemed to surround me stubbornly. Mark and I walked back into the living room where we both sat back down on the couch. It had been a very long day.

"Well, my love," I said, cuddling up close to Mark. "What do you think?"

"I think the only time I've ever been this happy is the day that you proposed to me," Mark answered, rubbing my shoulders gently.

"I know how you feel. For so long, we've talked about adopting a child, and even going as far as filling out the paperwork to become foster parents. Who'd have thought a lost boy in a shopping mall would capture our hearts as Timmy has?"

"As soon as Timmy sat on my lap and I hugged him, I knew he was our son. Like he was meant to be with us," Mark said quietly.

"You felt that too?" I asked.


"So what now?"

"Now, my love. You get your butt in the shower so we can get to bed and go to sleep. Aunt Anna is right. It's going to be a busy day tomorrow," he said, playfully poking me in the ribs.

"Okay, I'm going," I giggled, standing up to escape from being tickled even further. "You got to admit though, it's a cute butt," I said, reaching behind me to rub it in a way I knew he would not be able to resist watching.

"When you get out of the shower..." Mark said, breathlessly.

"Can't wait, Love," I said before turning to go down the hall towards the bathroom.

Mark was in our bedroom when I got out of the shower, with only a towel wrapped around me. He had already gotten undressed and had climbed into bed; lying there on his side and looking over at me with that same silly grin of his. Closing our door slightly, I took off the towel and threw it into the hamper. Turning off the lights, I made my way towards the bed, guided by the soft light from the moon shining in through the blinds in the window on the other side.

Climbing into bed, and slipping under the covers, I lay there looking at Mark. Even in the soft light in the room I could see his eyes, sharp and brilliant. I could get lost in those eyes of his forever, and he knew it. He drew closer to me, not once letting his eyes off of me. Before long I found myself being held by him, his lips pressing up against mine in a long passion filled kiss. Oh God, what this man does to me. Almost instinctively, my arms wrapped around him, holding him as close as I could. Before long I found myself on my back, with Mark lying on top of me. I could feel him moving against me, wanting to become a part of me, and I wanted the same so much. My legs wrapped themselves around his waist, pulling him into me until at long last I felt his love fill my entire being like no other can. Finally spent, he collapsed on top of me, both of us covered in sweat and breathing hard.

"I love you," I whispered into his ear once I was able to catch my breath.

"I love you too," he answered, kissing me briefly before rolling over onto his back.

"I'm going to need another shower," I said.

"We both are," he replied, laughing slightly. "Tomorrow though."

"Agreed," I said. "Oh, and Mark?"


"It might be a little early to say this, but... Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Dale."

Soon after, we both fell into a restful sleep.

* * *

Mark and Dale's Residence
Saturday, November 20th, 2004, 7:00am

I am going to have to replace that damn alarm clock. I wouldn't mind waking up to the sound of birds chirping, or a waterfall, or something pleasant. Not that annoying reverberating beep that seems to be universal with most alarm clocks. Groggily I reached over, fumbling a bit to find the right button until at long last that annoying sound was no more.

Reaching over, I gently shook Mark to make sure he was awake, getting a tired groan from him in response.

"Come on, Babe. We need to get up. We need to go check on Timmy," I told him.

"Timmy!" Mark quietly exclaimed, sitting up, and suddenly wide awake. I watched as he kicked off the covers, climbed out of bed and put on his slippers before heading for the door.

"Um... hon? You might want to put something on besides your slippers," I suggested, giggling at him, which turned into a quiet laugh as I saw him look down at his naked body and begin to blush.

In short order the two of us had put on our housecoats. Walking out of our room, we headed down the hall to the spare room where we had put Timmy to bed. Opening the door slightly, we looked in to see the sleeping form of Timmy wrapped up tightly in the blankets. He looked so peaceful lying there.

"Think we should wake him up?" Mark asked me.

"Nah. Let him sleep for a bit. We'll grab ourselves a quick shower and get some breakfast ready and wake him up then," I answered.

"Let's go then," he said, partially closing the door again.

We didn't have much time to waste, so when we got into the shower, we quickly washed each other off from head to toe. It's not very often we get a chance to shower together, but when we do, I love to wash every inch of him, paying special attention to those areas in his midsection that I love so much. But today, we didn't have that luxury, instead we had to quickly wash ourselves including our hair, then got out of the shower and dried each other off. We both brushed our teeth at the same time since there were two sinks in the bathroom, brushed our hair, and put our housecoats back on.

Back in our room, we both went to our dressers and started to get dressed for the day. Since it was Timmy's first day with us, I knew that he probably wouldn't have been comfortable seeing us in just our housecoats. The last thing we wanted to do was make him feel uncomfortable in any way.

I made the bed quickly, straightening out the blankets and pillows while Mark opened up the blinds, letting in the morning sun.

"Ready to wake up our new son?" I asked him.

"You wake him up, I'll go get breakfast started," he decided.

"What you going to make?"

"I'll just get out some of the frozen waffles. We'll need to get more food in the house later on," he pointed out to me.

"Yeah, Aunt Anna has told us how much kids can eat," I said, remembering all the stories she told us about the children the CAS was responsible for.

"Meet you there then, Babe," he said, kissing me quickly before leaving the room. I followed him out of the room, and headed for Timmy's room. Opening the door once more, I saw that Timmy was beginning to stir, so I quietly walked up to the side of the bed, and sat down near where Timmy lay. Reaching out with my hand, I gently nudged his shoulder.


"Mmmmm?" Timmy groaned, rolling over onto his back. Slowly his eyes opened, and he looked up at me.

"How'd you sleep, little buddy," I asked him.

"Daddy?" Timmy said, sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes before looking at me again.

"Uh huh," I answered.

"I thought I was dreaming!" Timmy said.

"Nope. I'm real," I said, smiling down at him. Pretty soon I had a sobbing nine year old child sitting on my lap, holding onto me for dear life. All I could do was sit there and put my arms around him, holding him close to me while he wept.

"You're not going to leave me are you?" he asked after he had stopped crying, the sides of his face wet from his tears.

"Never. You're my son now," I told him.

"I gotta go pee," he said suddenly, pushing himself off my lap.

"Okay, bud, I'll show you where the bathroom is," I told him, and led him out of the room to the bathroom. Once there, he ran inside and closed the door. Less than a minute later he came back out, and I could hear the sound of the toilet filling back up with water.

"Daddy, where are my clothes?" he asked.

"We're going to need to put them in the wash, Timmy," I told him.

"Oh. But what am I supposed to wear? I'm cold," he said, standing there and shivering noticeably.

"Don't worry. You can borrow some of my nephew's clothes for now until we can get you some new clothes and wash your old ones."

"You're getting me new clothes?" he asked.

"Yep. You can't very well have only one set of clothes now can you?"

"My mommy never let me wear anything but those clothes though, and sometimes my pajamas," he told me.

"Well that's not right. You need more than just one set of clothes," I said.

"My clothes were always getting dirty, but my mommy hardly ever washed them so I always had to wear them."

"You go back to the bedroom and get under the covers to warm back up. I'll go see if I can find something that'll fit you, okay?" I told him.

"Okay," he replied, giving me a quick hug before running back into his room. I opened the door to the other spare room, the one that Mark had set up for Aunt Anna to use last night if she had stayed the night, and walked over to the closet. Inside was a wire shelf system with a bunch of children's clothing. They belonged to my two nephews who were actually twins. They were both ten years old, but I figured that their clothes should fit Timmy pretty well, at least until we could go to the store to get him some new ones. I picked out some socks and underwear, a sweater and a of pair black jeans. Walking back into Timmy's room, I found him snuggled up under the blankets looking over at me as I came in.

"These should fit you, Timmy," I said, showing him the bundle of clothes that I had in my hand. "But first you should have a quick shower."

"Do I have to?" he whined.

"Yep. You haven't had a bath or a shower in a couple days, and you will need to go see a doctor today because of what your mommy did to you. You'll need to be nice and clean for him."

"Okay. Can you show me how to use it? I've never had a shower before. My mommy always had me take a bath."

"Of course I will, Timmy," I said. "Come on." I held out my hand to him, and he got out from under the covers, grabbing onto my hand. Together we left his room and made our way back to the bathroom. He stood beside me as I turned on the tap, adjusting the hot and cold water knobs until the temperature of the water was just right. I had Timmy make sure the temperature was okay to him, and then pulled up on the handle between the two knobs to start the shower running.

Timmy then got a worried look on his face. "Are you staying in with me?" he asked.

"No. I'll wait for you out in the hallway. When you're finished, just turn the water off, and get yourself dry with the towel hanging over there by the sink. I'll leave the clothes here for you so you can get dressed, okay?"

"Okay, Daddy. I love you," he said.

"I love you too, little buddy. Now you make sure you clean everywhere," I told him before leaving the bathroom and closing the door. Figuring that Timmy would be in the shower for several minutes, I went to the kitchen where Mark was already putting the first couple of waffles in the toaster.

"Timmy awake?" he asked me when he saw me coming in the kitchen.

"Yeah. He's in the shower right now and I picked out some clothes of Jaden and Ken's," I answered.

"Good idea. I don't think he'd want to have to wear his old clothes again."

"No. And would you believe his mother made him wear the same clothes day in and day out?"

"You've got to be kidding me," he said, his eyes opening wide in shock.

"I wish I was. He said that he always had to wear the same clothes and that she rarely ever washed them for him. The only other clothes he had were his pajamas, and if I heard him right, his mother pretty much didn't let him wear those too often when he went to bed."

"So in other words, she wanted him to be naked at night as often as possible," he said.

"Pretty much," I agreed.

"Damn. Some people!" Mark exclaimed.

"I know." Just then I thought I heard the sound of the shower shutting off and I made my way back to the bathroom. Several minutes later, Timmy came out wearing the clothes I'd given him. His hair was still a little wet, but the rest of him was dry. He looked like a totally different person from the little boy I saw at the mall. I could see now that his hair was a golden blond colour, which really contrasted well with his light brown eyes. I had to resist the urge to laugh however, since while he did try to dry his hair, he forgot about brushing it. As it looked right now, he appeared to have a severe case of bed head.

"Do I look funny?" Timmy asked, looking down at his clothes.

"No, not really, Timmy. But you forgot something when you dried your hair," I told him.

"Huh?" he questioned, patting the top of his head to feel his hair. His face began to turn beet red as he realized what it was that he had forgotten, turning around and racing back into the bathroom. Seconds later he came back out and his hair was now neatly combed.

"That looks better," I said.

"Yeah. I looked all funny!" he said, giggling.

"I should have gotten a camera," I said, beginning to laugh with him.

"Daddy, you wouldn't!" he said.

"Nah, I wouldn't. But it would be funny to have a picture of that."

"Yeah," he said, giggling again.

"You look really good, Timmy," I told him seriously.

"Thanks, Daddy. When do I have to go to see the doctor?" he asked.

"When Aunt Anna gets here. First though, we need to feed that belly of yours," I pointed out.

"Oh yeah!" he said excitedly.

"You like waffles?" I asked him.

"Yeah. With syrup?"

"For you, little buddy, you bet," I told him, and led him down the hall towards the kitchen. Mark was just putting the first stack of waffles onto the table when we came in. Timmy took one look at Mark, and rushed over to him, putting his arms around his waist.

"Whoah there, sport!" Mark said, managing to stay on his feet despite the force of Timmy's charge.

"You're my daddy too right?" he asked in a shy, quiet voice.

"Yes I am," Mark answered.

"I have two daddies. Um. I can't call you both Daddy though," he said, his mind beginning to think things over in his head.

"Why not?" Mark asked him.

"Cause if I called you daddy, and I called Daddy daddy, then you wouldn't know who I was talking about," he said.

"You're a pretty smart young man, Timmy," I said. "So how about this. You can call one of us Daddy, and the other Pop. Is that okay?"

"Uh huh. Can I call you Daddy?" Timmy asked me.

"Of course you can, Timmy," I answered.

"Cool. Then I can call you Pop," Timmy told Mark.

"I'd like that, Timmy," Mark said. Timmy let Mark go, noticing the stack of Waffles sitting on the table for the first time.

"Oh wow! That's like so many waffles!" Timmy exclaimed excitedly. I had to laugh then, as I could see him practically drooling from the sight of the food.

"Well, get on up to the table and have a seat, Timmy. I'll get you a plate. Did you want something to drink?" I asked him.

"Uh huh. Can I have some milk?" he asked.

"Of course you can," I said, and opened up the fridge to take out a jug of milk. Reaching into a cupboard, I took out a glass and filled it up with milk, then placed them both on the table in front of Timmy. From another cupboard I took out some plates and from a drawer, some forks and knives and set them on the table, then got out the syrup from the fridge and sat down at my usual seat.

The table itself wasn't all that big, comfortably able to seat four people. Mark and I sat on opposite ends, while Timmy sat between us to my left. His eyes were glued to the stack of waffles in front of him, and I couldn't help but grin at the way he practically drooled over the food.

"How many would you like to start off with, Timmy?" I asked him

"Two please," Timmy said. Using a fork that was next to the stack of waffles, I speared a couple and put them on Timmy's plate. I then carefully poured some syrup over his waffles.

"There you go, Timmy. If you're still hungry after that, you can have some more, but don't rush yourself," I told him."

"'Kay," he answered before as he picked up his fork and knife and begin to dig in.

At that moment the door bell rang, and Mark left to go and answer the door. I had just poured myself a cup of coffee when Mark returned a short time later with Anna.

"Good morning, Aunt Anna. Can I get you some coffee?" I asked her.

"That would be wonderful, thank you, Dale," she replied, sitting down at the table opposite of Timmy.

"Hi, Aunt Anna," Timmy said, smiling up at her after swallowing the last of the waffles that I had placed on his plate.

"Hello, Timmy. And how are you this morning?"

"Good. Daddy and Poppa made me waffles for breakfast," Timmy said happily.

"I see that. Were they good?" she asked him.

"Uh huh. Daddy, can I have some more?" Timmy asked hopefully.

"Sure you can, little buddy," I told him, setting two more waffles onto his plate and helped him with the syrup.

"You're here to take him to the Hospital?" Mark asked.

"Yes, but there's plenty of time for this little vacuum cleaner to finish his breakfast," Anna said, watching Timmy practically wolf down the waffles on his plate.

"Did the police have any luck locating his mother?" Mark asked Anna.

"No, not yet."

"I hope they find her soon," I said.

"We all do, Dale," Anna replied. "These things just take time. The police are working on it."

"Isn't there anything that the Federation can do?" I asked Mark, looking over at him.

"Unfortunately not. The only option we'd have available to us would be the Safe Haven Act, but that doesn't apply here since Timmy has already been removed from that situation. Unless her actions involve Federation authorities in some way, it's up to the local forces to deal with his mother."

"I know you're right, of course, hon. It's still very frustrating," I sighed.

"Well, you're not going to get an argument from me on that one," Anna said. "I'm neck deep in the bureaucracy myself. I don't think a day goes by where I don't have some government official, or some police officer, or some busy-body from a child-welfare advocacy group butting into my work, trying to tell me how to do my job. I'd love to get rid of the red tape, but at the same time I know it's there for a reason, and the best I can do is work within the system. Most of the time it works."

"Most of the time," I said derisively. "What about the rest of the time? A system that even allows one child to remain in an abusive situation is one time too many."

"I agree. Which is why the Safe Haven Act exists," Anna answered.

"What is the Safe Haven Act anyways? I'm not familiar with it," I asked her.

"I can answer that for you, Aunt Anna. Dale, the Act was created in 2002 as a means for the Federation to protect children from abusive situations where other government's systems fail. I'm not surprised that you haven't heard of it, as it isn't part of your normal training. As a Security Officer in Starfleet, part of my training included knowing the particulars of the Safe Haven Act. Probably the most famous case of its being used was in the United States, when Commander Charles Dodds of the Enterprise invoked the act to rescue Aaron Carter."

"You mean, THE Aaron Carter?" Timmy asked, excitedly.

"I guess he's a fan," Mark snickered.

"How could you tell?" Anna asked, laughing herself.

"You like his music did you, little buddy?" I asked Timmy.

"Uh huh. I used to sing his songs when I heard him on the radio," Timmy said.

"Did you have any of his CDs?" I asked him.

"No. My mom said I couldn't have any CDs cause then I wouldn't do my chores and stuff," Timmy replied sadly.

"Well, I guess we'll have to change that then. First chance we get, we're going to find some of his CDs for you," I told him.

"Really?" he asked, his sad face suddenly transformed into one beaming with joy.

"I'll add that to the list of things we need to get," Mark said with a bemused expression on his face.

"Hey, don't spoil him too much," Anna interjected. "That's my job."

"Far be it for me to stand in your way," Mark laughed.

"Smart man," Anna said with a smile.

"So, we'll let you buy the CDs then," I told her.

"Can you? Please?" Timmy asked hopefully.

"Well, I don't know..." Anna started, causing Timmy's face to fall.

"It's okay, you don't have to if you can't," Timmy said sadly. I could tell he was close to tears, and it practically broke my heart.

I got up off my chair, and knelt down beside Timmy. "Timmy, Aunt Anna is only kidding with you, okay? I know she'd get you anything she could to see you happy."

"Mom was right. I'm just a spoiled little brat," Timmy said, now openly sobbing.

"No she wasn't," I told him softly, but firmly. Standing up, I picked him up off the chair and held onto him as he cried. "You're my special boy now, and you deserve to be happy. No one can take that away from you."

"Why'd she leave me, Daddy? Why didn't she love me?" Timmy cried, letting out all the pain and anguish he had been holding in up till now.

"Shhh, it's going to be okay, Timmy," I said. There were tears in my own eyes now. It just hurt so much to see this innocent little boy be in so much pain. I stood there with Timmy in my arms, letting him cry on my shoulder until eventually his sobs reduced to an occasional sniffle. Mark had made his way to us, and began to tenderly rub Timmy's back. I knew he could see the anguish in my eyes when he looked at me, just as I saw the same anguish in his. Neither of us knew what to do, instead doing all we could do at that moment which was to be there for Timmy as we knew he needed.

"I'm sorry, Daddy," Timmy said finally.

"For what, little buddy?" I asked him softly.

"I got your shirt all wet," he said.

"That's okay. It'll dry," I told him, squeezing him a little more tightly in my arms.

"Timmy, your Daddy and I are never going to leave you, I promise you that. Both of us love you," Mark said, causing Timmy to lift his head up off my shoulder and look behind him to where Mark was standing. "And Aunt Anna loves you too. We all do. You're a part of our family now."

"I love you too, Poppa," Timmy said, fresh tears welling up in his eyes, though I could see he was now smiling. Mark reached out with his arms towards Timmy, and Timmy climbed out of mine and into Mark's until Mark was holding onto Timmy just as I had been.

"So, this Safe Haven Act, why hasn't it been used more often? Sounds like someone should, considering all the problems the foster system is having," I asked, getting back on the subject.

"The problem is, that the Federation does not actively monitor children services on Earth, or any other planet in the Federation for that matter. The only time they step in is when it involves someone in Starfleet, be it a witness or as part of an investigation, or more commonly when it is brought to the attention of Federation Youth Services."

"Federation Youth Services? Is that like the CAS?" I asked her.

"In a way. However, when it comes to the protection of children, Federation Youth Services can overrule all other child protection agencies, including the CAS, in order to protect a child if they deem it necessary."

"Actually, I've had to contact Federation Youth Services once," Anna said.

"You did?" Mark asked.

"Yes. There was a case of a young teenager who was severely assaulted and left for dead. He was found by an older gentleman and his grandson and brought to the hospital. Since there was no identification on him, the hospital logged him in as a John Doe, and I was called. They sent me pictures that were taken of him prior to him being treated for his injuries, and I recognized him immediately. He was one of the boys' whose case file I was actively involved with and who had gone missing in the summer. His younger brother at the time was being fostered by a young man who owns a fairly well known computer consulting firm here in Burlington, and they were seeking to adopt this boy as well so that he and his brother could be together again. The problem was, the boy's natural father was seeking custody as well, and the judge responsible for the case was siding with the father, despite evidence that showed that he was responsible for using excessive force when disciplining the boys. I knew an old friend of mine who lives in the United States, a woman by the name of Teri Short. We had been to several seminars together, and I'd heard that the Federation had given her a very important position," Anna explained.

"Let me guess, she was asked to work for Federation Youth Services," I said.

"Not quite. At that time there was no Federation Youth Services, but because of how successful she was with saving children from dangerous situations, as well as how she seemed to know just how to respond to a child no matter what the circumstances, they created a new division called Federation Youth Services and made her the Director over the whole division," Anna explained.

"Oh wow," I said, shocked at what I had been told.

"Wait, wasn't the child you are talking about, the same one you said you had to take extreme measures to get him placed with the family that would accept him?" Mark asked.

"The same one. The extreme measures I mentioned were my contacting Terri Short, and getting Federation Youth Services involved. With their help, we were able to cancel his father's custody application, place him with a family that would love him, and arrest his father."

"Sounds more like a fairy tale to me," I said, still trying to comprehend everything that Anna had told us.

"It does at that, doesn't it? Thankfully we didn't have to involve them this time with Timmy, since his mother already abandoned him and I was able to place him temporarily with you as his foster parents."

"I guess it's a good thing that Dale and I had gone through the police checks and everything to become foster parents before this," Mark said.

"Yes, a very good thing, because had you not, I wouldn't have been able to place him with you right away. I'd say it's a case of very good timing," Anna said. "Anyways, it's time; we need to be going," Anna said, getting up from the table.

"Do we have to?" Timmy asked, looking over at her.

"Yes we do, sweetheart," Anna told him. "We have to let the doctors make sure your mom didn't hurt you."

"Oh. Are Daddy and Poppa going to be there with me?" he asked, the fear of being separated from us clearly evident in his voice.

"They'll be right there with you, Timmy. I promise," she told him.

"Okay," Timmy said.

Mark let Timmy down and told him to go wash up in the bathroom, and to brush his teeth.

"I don't have a tooth brush," Timmy said.

"That's okay, I think there's a spare one in the cupboard," I told him, and walked with him to the bathroom. Reaching down, I opened up the cupboard doors, and scanned the contents for a few seconds before finding the still packaged tooth brush.

"Daddy, that's too big!" he protested.

"Well that was a lot of waffles you ate this morning. We have to make sure you get all your teeth cleaned," I told him, trying to keep a straight face, though failing miserably.

"You're silly," Timmy said, smiling up at me once he realized that I was joking.

"Yep, that's me!" I said. "For now, use this one. Later on we can get one that's more your size, okay?"

"Okay, Daddy," he said.

I left him then to do his business in the bathroom, and talked for a bit with Mark and Anna in the Kitchen. A few minutes later, Timmy came back in and we were all set to go.

"What time do you have to go in to work?" Mark asked me.

"It's my day off," I told him.

"You should probably figure on taking a few days off at least," Anna said. Timmy is going to need a lot of attention from the both of you.

"I guess I could call in, but the boss is not going to like it," I said.

"If he gives you any hassle, just have him talk to me," Anna said.

"Oh, I'd hate to be on the other end of that conversation," Mark snickered.

"You and me both, hon," I said, smiling at the thought of Anna giving my boss a piece of her mind. She's one lady you just do not want to mess around with.

"Alright, Timmy. Go get your boots and jacket on," Mark told him.

"Okay, Poppa," Timmy said, and made his way to the front door, with the rest of us following behind him.

Editor's Notes:

Well we certainly have ourselves another wonderful chapter to enjoy, don't we? I am very glad that Timmy will have a good home and he will be loved very much. That is the most wonderful thing for a child. All the money in the world doesn't help that much if you don't have someone that loves you and shows you they do. I do wonder where the woman that calls herself Timmy's mother is. I almost hope that something or someone has taken her far away, never to be seen again. No one should treat their child so badly. I hope Anna and her people find the woman and put her in someplace where she can get help to get off the drugs and stuff. But she shouldn't be allowed to cause Timmy any more distress. There was some very interesting information given in this chapter. I wonder what will become of all that.

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

Clan Short Archivist Review Notes:

I am glad to see that it looks like Timmy is going to have a safe haven to live and grow up in. I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone could treat children the way Timmy was treated. However, humanity isn't always human it seems. As the Radio Rancher stated above there are several clues in this chapter; if you can figure them out let Jason know.