From: Snwdemon

Subject: Who will catch my Fall.

Chapter 12: (M/b, b/b, abusive situations, no sex)

WARNING: This story contains descriptions of abusive acts, both physical and sexual in nature, involving MINOR boys. I wish to explain that this story is not true! Further, it is not intended to promote illegal acts against minors, but to educate people as to what a minor child has to do in order to survive in a severely abusive environment that they are trapped. One of the most famous examples of this was Steven Stayner, who was kidnapped at age 7 and severely abused for 7 years. He was subjected to physical, sexual, and mental abuse. I have had the privilege of working with a number of boys like him, and I consider all of them to be extremely brave. Many people still believe that children who stay with an abuser/captor do so because they want to. This is utterly untrue, and is proven through numerous interviews, behavioral, and psychological studies conducted with these victims. A young child does not have the same ability to cope with stressful situations as an adult would because they have not had the privilege of time and experience that an adult has. Therefore, they rely more on their basic instincts, and learn quickly what they need to do in order to survive. Thus, when they are removed from that abusive situation, they have an extremely hard time adjusting to their new environment because they are not familiar with trust, caring, and compassion. These are the emotions the child has to learn once they are put into a new non-abusive environment. People assume that these emotions are natural. Many do not realize that all of our human emotions are learned.

The following story is a work of fiction; however, it does incorporate actual events that I learned from various victims I counseled over the years. It also contains certain facts from my personal notes from one of the cases that I worked during my career as a forensic psychologist which is better known as a criminal profiler. While certain facts have been changed to protect the rights of individuals and victims, most of the basic facts are true. However, this story is still a work of fiction because I have created, embellished, and alters many facts and individual characters for this story. Also, this story is not intended to be erotic or sexual in nature, but because I have given this story's e-publishing rights to Nifty Archives, I am required to include this legal disclaimer. Therefore, I do not encourage others to perform any kind of abusive or sexual act with minors as described in this story. If the subject of Man/boy sex, child abuse, and/or rape of minors offends you, or this material is illegal to possess such material of this nature in your place of residence, or if you are under the legal age to possess such material, do not read further! Finally, I would like to thank Nifty for e-publishing this story because without their archive, I would not have the large fan base now.

By downloading this story: "You implicitly declare and affirm under penalties of perjury that you are not a minor or in the company of a minor, and are entitled to have access to material intended for mature, responsible members of society capable of making decisions about the content of documents they wish to read." The story is copyrighted under my pseudonym, Snwdemon and pen name Damion Perez. A copy has been placed in these archives for your enjoyment. The story cannot be used to derive monetary gain. However, if you want to place a copy of this story in your free access archives or free access website, then I give my permission for you to do so. If your website requires payment for access and you wish to place a copy of my story on your site, then please email me for my permission. The story cannot be placed in any archives or website that require payment for access, or be printed and distributed in any form that requires payment either directly or indirectly without my written consent first. Any similarity to individuals, living, or dead, is completely accidental. Reference is also made in context to some locations, businesses, characters, and people to define the story line. No other implication about the true sexuality or actions of the people, businesses, or places mentioned is intended.

Recap of Chapter 11:

"You ok now Devon?" Ari asked him and Devon shook his head no. That wasn't his name, he thought. That was the name Pop gave him, but it wasn't who he really was. Then he looked at Sara, then at Jerry and Jeanne, then finally at John, and he told them the last missing piece of the puzzle to his past.

"I don't want to be Devon anymore. I was never good enough for Pop. Devon was his son and I could never be good enough to be Devon. I was born Anatoly, until I was adopted, and my name became Simon. I met Pop when we were at the kiss me cloud, but then he followed us and came to our home in Edmonton. He made me watch as he took them all away from me, and told me I was now Devon. He would hurt me every time I tried to tell him I was not Devon, until I said I would be Devon so he would not hurt me anymore. He said I was Devon, but he still kept hurting me. He always said that I was never good enough to be his Devon, but he told me that he would teach me how to be his Devon. He said he would teach me to be good enough to be his Devon; that if I followed the rules, took my punishment, and did not cry then I would be good enough to be his Devon. I tried to follow the rules, to take my punishment, and not cry like he told me, but he kept hurting me even though I tried so hard even when I hurt so badly all of the time. I did everything he told me to do, and ate my aspirin, and never attracted attention to us, but he still kept hurting me more and more. He always said that I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried, but he said that I was the only boy who knew how to obey the rules, and he still kept on hurting me."

"I learned to blank out the bad things because he kept putting me in the bad place, and he no longer said that I was not good enough to be his Devon, but just said that I could never be good enough for anything. He wanted me to forget, and not remember her because her memory always made me feel better and be strong. I almost forgot her though, because I blanked out everything so he would stop hurting me so much, including my family. Because when I thought about them, I remembered how he made them kneel on the floor, and shooting them over, and over as I watched. So I blanked it out, and almost lost her, but he still kept on hurting me. Then you came to live with us Ari, and Pop changed because of you, he stopped hurting me for a little while. I was happy at first because he was hurting you and not me, but then you said you loved me, because I had taught you all of the rules, and showed you how to obey them so Pop would not hurt you as much. I began to hope and believe once again that maybe I could be good enough after all. Maybe I could have someone love me without hurting me, someone I could love as they loved me, as I loved her. Then he started hurting me even more because I took your punishment, and you helped me make my special place in my dreams where I could put my memories of her there, and where I could go to escape from him. You told me how because that is where you kept your parents memories, and how you used to visit them too. You saved her for me because you knew already that I was not Devon, and you even found out what my real name was too. Now, I know that I am good enough, and I have always been good enough because I am not Devon." He told them as his pain filled his voice, and showed on his face. He was now just sitting there staring straight ahead, but not seeing anything at all as his tears came once again.

"He wanted me to be his Devon, but I could not be because I could never be good enough to replace him in Pop's mind. He hurt me so much, for so long, and I do not want to be like him. I don't want to be his Devon knowing I can never be good enough to be his Devon. I don't want to hurt anybody like he hurt me, but I am scared that I might because of what he did to me, because I hurt so much inside. I just want to be me now, and not hurt anymore so I can be with you Ari, with all of you, but I do not know who I am. I just know that I'm not Devon because I can never be good enough to be his Devon, and I don't want to be Devon because all I know as Devon is how much it hurts to be him. I don't want to be him anymore because I don't want to hurt anymore." He said softly, and then John gently turned his head until their eyes met.

"I know, and we all promise that soon you will not hurt anymore. You were never Devon Jefferies, because you had a name and a family who loved you as we love you, as Ari loves you. Bill could see that, and he thought that by taking them away from you; and by hurting you, that he could make you forget about that other boy who you used to be. However, he could never make you forget her completely, no matter how much he hurt you, or hurt others to control you; he was never able to make you forget her voice, and make that boy that you used to be go away for good. Then Ari came, he showed you what true love really is, and he helped you to remember what a parent's love really is. That allowed you to keep her memory alive, and to use it against Bill Jefferies so that he could not control you anymore. Ari showed you that to love someone, that it meant to never hurt them, and that both of you cared more for the other too. When he tried to take Ari away from you, you fought back, and refused to let him take Ari from you as he took her. You could not save her because you were too small, but you saved Ari didn't you?" John asked him, and he nodded as he saw John's face was filled with all of his caring and love, for him and Ari. Then John asked him; "now, who are you?"

"I'm Simon. Simon Baker. My mother is Marie, my father is Jacques, and my brother is Marc Baker." He said remembering his adoptive mother's voice and seeing her smiling face as a flood of memories came back to him about his family.

"That's right, and before you were Simon Baker?" John asked him.

"Anatoly...Kostov." He said as the memory of him as a very young boy playing in the deep snow with other kids came into his mind and John nodded again.

"Now what is your name son? And who are you?" John asked him with a gentle smile.

"I'm Simon Roberts now. That is who I am; Simon Anatoly Roberts." He said to all of them, and they all smiled before hugging him. Then he leaned his head against Ari's forehead, opened his eyes very wide, and smiled before saying. "My name is Simon...Simon Anatoly Roberts, and I love you Ari." Then, he kissed Ari on the lips and they both smiled.

"I am Ari Isaac Roberts, and I love you more Simon," Ari answered as he nuzzled his nose against Simon's, and for the first time in Simon's life, he knew who he was.

End of Chapter 11


I want to thank Miguel Sanchez, and BenBear for proofing this chapter.

Chapter 12:

Saturday, December 23, 1995 -- (9:00 pm)

Simon relaxed as Ari lathered his shoulders, and back as he sat on the bench seat in the shower/tub. He still was unable to walk, or even stand much without a lot of pain in his lower spine, left hip/pelvis, and left leg. In addition, his right arm and hand only had limited mobility, and was practically useless still. However, his leg, arm, and hand had recovered enough to allow him to have some basic functions and usage along with the pain. He hated feeling so helpless, but he was thrilled by Ari's touch too. Even though he had taken a nap earlier, he still felt exhausted and drained though. So much had happened today, and emotionally he was still a mess; but now he knew who he was, and how he came to be Devon. John had carefully explained to him, after showing him the pictures, about the things that Pop had done to him, to Ari, and to so many other kids. With Ari's help, he was able to fill in the gaps for Dad even though going through all of those painful memories was extremely hard for him. He told Dad where to find Pop's secret files, about the bad place, about each the boys buried there, and how and why each had died. He was also able to corroborate that Pop had murdered only five of the boys, and that Pop had just disposed of the other boys' bodies when the man known to him and Ari as Cass delivered them to Pop. After Pop had finished satisfying his demented needs, then him and Cass would leave with the boy, and return later so Pop could dispose of the body, but he knew nothing more that this when asked about Cass. Simon couldn't remember if Pop had participated in their murders because sometimes Pop did not go with him. However, from what he did remember, it was pretty clear that Pop did not help murder most of the boys that had been discovered except for the five boys that he had actually witnessed Pop killing them, and then helped him bury them in the bad place. Still, everything was so confusing for him now because he could remember everything including the most painful memories that he had blanked out in order to escape the pain that Pop had inflicted on him. Tomorrow, Dad and Uncle Jerry were going to do the formal interview with Ari, but for now, he just wanted to rest, and to be close to Ari.

"How's that feel, Simon...better?" Ari asked as he gently massaged Simon's neck and shoulders.

"Yeah, it feels really good Ari. I didn't realize how much my neck and shoulders hurt until you started washing them. Are you sure you are ok now?" Simon asked him, and Ari wrapped his small arms around his neck and hugged him. "I know how afraid you were of Pop, and of the bad place, so that's why I told you to stay away. I wish you hadn't gone back there, but I am kinda glad that you did now."

"I know, and I'm glad too because now you can get better and not be so sad all the time." Ari whispered into his ear before kissing it.

"No, not just me, but us ok? We can both get better now," Simon told him as he turned round and kissed him. Ari giggled before he started washing Simon's chest with gentle, caring, caresses.

"'s big again Simon." Ari said with a soft snicker as he lowered his hand to Simon's hard cocklet.

"So, yours is too." Simon responded as he gently grabbed Ari's small boner making him emit a small squeak before giggling.

"It tickles, but don't stop. He always gets big when you touch him. I think he likes you." Ari said in between his giggles as Simon gently fondled his small cocklet and balls.

"No, you like me, but he loves me." Simon said with a wicked little laugh as he gave Ari's dick another squeeze causing even more giggles from Ari. "Come on! Let's hurry up before Dad comes to check up on us."

"Ok, you think you can wash your hair while I scrub-a-dub, or do you want me to do it? Ari asked him.

"I can do it if you pour the shampoo for me." Simon told him, and Ari poured a small amount onto Simon's head before washing himself while Simon lathered up his hair with his good left hand. After they had both finished rinsing off, Ari helped him to stand, and move over to the toilet so he could dry off. Once he was seated, and Ari had wrapped a big bath towel around him, he waited for Ari to dry off. Once Ari had finished drying himself, he then dried Simon thoroughly before slipping a pair of new briefs on and pulling them up to just above Simon's knees.

"Ok, grab my neck now. You ready? Go." Ari said as he lifted and helped steady Simon as he stood up onto his good right leg. Once he was standing, Ari quickly pulled up his briefs before gently lowering Simon back down onto the covered toilet seat. He helped him put on one of John's t-shirts that was twice as big as Simon was and it hung down to his knees, but Simon liked the loose, oversized shirt. After finishing with him, Ari quickly dressed into his pj's, but he didn't put on any briefs though. He then fixed his and Simon's toothbrush, and they brushed their teeth together before he left to get John to carry Simon to their room.

"Poppi, we're finished now," he said after quietly knocking on the open door of the master bedroom.

"Alright mejo, let's get you two into bed. Sara would you bring Simon's medication, please?" John asked her, and she said yes before going into the master bath. "Mejo, run downstairs and bring a glass of water for your brother."

"Um, Poppi; can I get some juice for him instead?" Ari asked him cautiously.

"Sure son, but will you tell me why first?" John asked him as he leaned down and kissed Ari on his forehead.

"Well, Simon gags a lot of the time when he takes his pills. I think it's `cause they taste nasty, but my mommy used to give me juice to take bitter pills so I wouldn't gag before she went to heaven." Ari explained shyly to him while he stood stiffly waiting to see how John would react to his request.

"What a great idea. Your mommy was a very smart woman because my mother always made me choke down my nasty tasting pills with water. I always wanted to go rinse my mouth out in the toilet afterwards though," John said with a goofy grin making Ari crack up with giggles as he made a gross out face. "Why don't you go ask him if he wants juice or maybe some chocolate milk and you can get some also if you want?"

"Ok Poppi, I love you." Ari said as he hugged John before scampering out of the room after John gave him another kiss and a playful swat on his PJ clad butt. John got up and slipped on his slippers before heading to the main bathroom where Simon was waiting.

"How do you feel son?" John asked him as he knelt down beside him before carefully examining his face.

"I feel better Dad, but I'm still tired and I'm hurting again." Simon told him softly as he looked down at the floor. John gently raised his chin until their eyes met.

"Remember Simon, you don't have to look away anymore, not with us at least because we all love you. Your mother is bringing your medicine, so are you ready to go to your room now?" John asked him with a gentle smile, and Simon couldn't help smiling when he heard John say his name. He had always dreaded whenever someone called him Devon because it usually was Pop saying it before punishing him. If it wasn't Pop, then it meant that he had done something to call attention to himself or broke a rule, and that was just as bad because Pop would punish him for that too. However, now when someone said his name `Simon', it made him feel good, and he liked that a lot. Just thinking about it caused his eyes to begin to tear up, and John gave him a worried look.

"Say my name again, please?" Simon asked him in a quiet voice because he needed to hear John say it again as two tears slid down his face.

"Simon," John said before asking him. "Are you ok son?"

"Yeah," he answered with a sniffle as he wiped his eyes with the back of his left hand. "I'm just happy is all...I'm happy when you say my name. When you say it, I know that it isn't going to hurt me...not like Pop always did when he called me Devon." He said quietly as a few more tears slid down his face.

"I know Simon, and I promise that I will never hurt you like that. I know that you will make some mistakes, and even disobey me sometimes. I may be upset with you, or disappointed with you, but I promise that I will never hurt you by hitting you. That part of your life is over now Simon, and it may take some time, but hopefully, you will be able to move on, and leave it in the past." John told him as he gently wiped away his tears. Simon looked into his eyes for a long moment before relaxing his shoulders and leaning into John's embrace.

"You said it always hurt to be Devon, but you are no longer Devon because you are now my son, Simon Anatoly Roberts, and I promise that it won't hurt to be Simon." John told him softly, and a few soft sobs escaped from Simon before he was able to speak.

"Thanks Dad...I hope so too." He said softly as John held him in his arms and kissed him.

"No hoping about it because we promise to help both of you to get past this. These are your new lives now, and as of today, we will all help both of you to try to put your old life into the deepest hole and bury it." Sara said as she stepped past John and sat on the side of the tub next to Simon while Ari stood in the doorway looking worried as he held two glasses of chocolate milk.

"Yes, we both promise that Simon. Here, why don't you take your medicine, and then if you want, both of you can come and sleep in our bed tonight." John suggested to him with Sara quickly agreeing with him.

"Alright Dad; I would like mean we would like that a lot." Simon answered as he dried his face with the hand towel that Sara handed him. He took each of his pills, but only hesitated before taking the least bitter pill of the three. After taking that one, he realized that he could not taste the bitterness of the pills because of the chocolate milk, and easily took the other two pills. Sara also had both him and Ari take a mild sedative too because she knew that both of them needed to rest and the sedative would also lower the likelihood of them having nightmares too. Once their milk was finished, Sara moved past John and scooped up Ari who emitted a small `eek' before giggling, while John picked up Simon in his arms and blew a strawberry on Simon's neck causing him to begin giggling too. Then, John and Sara both carried their giggling quarries into their bedroom and put them in the middle of their bed facing each other.

"Mom, I think you should know that sometimes Ari kicks in his sleep. He doesn't do it often, but sometimes when he has a bad dream he does." Simon told her after John and Sara got into the bed with John next to him.

"I don't do it on purpose though," Ari said apologetically.

"It is alright honey, we know that you don't. I'm surprised that neither of you don't have problems wetting the bed after everything that bastard did to you." She said, and both John and her saw the knowing looks that Ari and Simon exchanged with each other; and how they both blushed after she said this. In addition, whenever she referred to Bill, she now used the term "bastard" instead of Pop or Bill most of the time.

"I take it that one or both of you have had that problem already?" John asked them, and both Simon and Ari nodded while they blushed pink.

"We would always wake up an hour earlier than Pop and check the sheets. Both of us kept a plastic trash bag with a towel on top of it under our sheets so the mattress would not get stained. We both would have bad dreams and wet the bed after Pop beat us really bad." Simon said softly as he snuggled against John, and John could feel his small body trembling.

"We promise to try and not mess up the beds here, don't we Simon?" Ari quickly added as he snuggled against Sara.

"It doesn't matter if you do because we will not be mad if it happens. We can also buy special covers for the beds to stop it from reaching the mattress too, or we can have them cleaned. It is nothing to be ashamed of because many kids who have been hurt or traumatized like you two have been, they wet the bed too. I even wet the bed when I was your age, but it wasn't because I was having bad dreams though. I think I was 13 before I stopped wetting the bed. I just was a very sound sleeper, and by the time I was able to wake up, it was already too late. So don't get upset if it happens because we already know that it isn't your fault." John told both of them.

"You wet the bed until you were 13 Poppi?" Ari asked with an innocent, wide eyed expression, and John nodded. Then Ari looked away and blushed pink once more before shyly admitting in a soft voice. "I...I only do it when I'm hurt, or really this morning Mommy."

"And I would do it sometimes after Pop beat me really bad. There were some times that...that I," Simon began before faltering, but John quietly reassured him. "There were times that I thought Pop was going to really kill when he broke my leg. I really thought that I was going to die afterwards because Pop had hurt me so bad. I was so afraid that I wouldn't let Ari send me to my special place. Pop even had to go bring one of his friend's over who was a doctor I think. He had to stick a tube into my side like the one I had in the hospital so I could breathe easier Dad. Then he had to cut me to make it stop bleeding so much." He said in a soft, choked voice while Ari nodded his head in agreement. "I really don't remember much of the week after that though." He said, but grew worried when Ari's face became sad and his tears spilled down his face.

"I remember, and I thought you were going to leave me and go to heaven like my family did. Pop's friend kept demanding to take you to the hospital because you were hurt so bad, but Pop would not let him, and he threatened to shoot him if he tried to take you anyway. He kept giving you bags and bags of medicine and blood too, because you kept coughing up so much blood. It was five days after he cut you that he finally said that you were getting better and left. I sent you to your special place, and took care of you then until you came back and became Devon again." Ari said in between his soft sobs and then he recounted everything Pop's friend did to Simon for Sara when she asked him to tell her exactly what the man did.

"That explains the old surgical scars on his right side, the rib fractures, and scarring on his right lung. Bill must have punctured his lung, and caused it to collapse. Simon is lucky that he did not bleed out or get an infection because either could have killed him. It must have been bad enough that whoever this mystery doctor was that he had to do some type of surgical procedure to control the bleeding in a non sterile environment." She told John before leaning over and kissing Simon on his forehead and then Ari. "However, Bill must have remembered how good of a survivor you were, and he didn't know that you had a guardian angel there to help protect you as you fought to survive."

"I know Mom. If it weren't for Ari, then Pop would have come for me that night like he always did." Simon said softly as he wiped away Ari's tears and kissed him. "I knew that I wouldn't survive if he did that because he liked to hurt me while he did it, but Ari took my place that night even though I didn't want him to. He doesn't want to believe it, but he has saved me from Pop's wrath just as many times as I saved him."

"Well, like I said before, that part of your lives is over, and now all you have to do is worry about getting well and being kids again. Let us handle the grown up stuff, and you guys just worry about being normal boys from now on. However, I would like to find out who this mysterious doctor is though because he is willing to do some dangerous things in order to protect his secrets." John told Sara before turning his attention back to the boys.

"You know guys, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and you're Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Jerry wants us to come and stay at their house tomorrow and Christmas day. What you two need to do tomorrow is that we want you to make a list of things you want for Christmas, and we will see if Santa will get your list in time for Christmas day." John told them, but they both gave him a blank look.

"Um, I never got anything for Christmas before. Pop said that I wasn't good enough to waste his money on, so we never had least the ones I can remember. I also know that there isn't really a Santa too," Simon told him while he blushed with shame.

"Me too, I know that Santa Claus isn't real, but I used to go along with it to make my parents happy." Ari told them before he rubbed his nose against Simon's making him smile.

"No Simon, Ari was right when he said you were always good enough. It was because Bill was a very bad and evil man who said that to hurt you. As for Santa, he is real if you choose to believe. I mean that he was a real person, a saint really, St. Nicholas, and it was because of the things he did and what he taught others, that is the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about kindness to others, about loving the things you already have, about giving to those who are less fortunate that you are, and being with your family; and not just because you get presents. We give presents to each other to symbolize the birth of Christ, and of how the three kings came with gifts for him when he was born. It's ok if you don't believe in Santa, but you should believe in Christmas though, and what Christmas truly represents. Ari, tomorrow I want you to help Simon, and write down both of your Christmas wish lists. However, I only want you to put down the things you want that doesn't include clothes because right after Christmas, we are taking you both out and buying you all new clothes and shoes." John told them, but inside, his heart ached for Simon. It was candidly clear that Bill Jefferies had denied him the simplest pleasures and happiness.

"I will help him Poppi. It's been a long time since I had a real Christmas too. I haven't had one since my family went to heaven, but I remember what we used to do when they were alive." Ari told him. Sara had been cuddling Ari while John cuddled Simon and the boys were lying facing each other, almost chest to chest. Sara was absently brushing her fingers through Ari's soft brown hair when she noticed that his right ear was pierced.

"I didn't know you had a pierced ear Ari, when did you get that done?" She asked him as she examined the tiny hole in his earlobe.

"My Mommy did it the year before they died. I used to have 3 kinds of earrings, but they took all of them away from me at the boys' home." He said softly with a yawn as his eyelids began to droop. Simon's eyes were almost closed now too as the medication began to take affect.

"Well, I think I have a few that you can have, and tomorrow I will make sure that the hole is still open. Now both of you close your eyes and go to sleep. I love you two darlings." She said before kissing them both again. Then John kissed them, and then nodded to her because both of them were already asleep. John and Sara continued to cuddle them for another 15 minutes before slipping out of the bed and standing up. They quietly made their ways out of the room and down the stairs into the kitchen before Sara spoke. "Grrr, now I have even more reasons to hate that bastard. Simon has never had a Christmas before. What should we do?"

"Well, to be honest Sara, this is a good thing because now we can make this one of his most memorable Christmas's. Let's call Jeanne and Jerry, and let them know." John told her, and she quickly agreed before he went over and called them. She went out and got the cordless phone from the living room before rejoining John in the kitchen. The phone had been one of their house warming gifts from Juan and Connie. Jeanne answered, and then had Jerry pick up the extension. Once he had done so, John and Sara quickly filled them in on the details of their discussion. Both Jerry and Jeanne were outraged, and saddened by this revelation just as John and Sara were.

"That poor dear, no wonder he is so messed up right now. He has never been shown an ounce of kindness in his entire life." Jeanne said into the phone.

"Aye me lovely lassie, but remember that family a few years ago that we invited here for Christmas? Why don't we do the same kind of thing for the boys? I don't know if Simon knows how to ride a bike or not, but Sara said that she thought Ari had one before the accident." Jerry suggested to them all. Jeanne quickly told them what they had done to give that family and their two kids a Christmas they would never forget.

"That does sound like a great idea Jeanne, let's do it. We already told them to make up their wish lists tomorrow. I will give them to you as soon as they are done. Oh, did you get to credit cards from the trust yet?" Sara asked them.

"Yes, we did, but that is not necessary." Jeanne told her.

"Yes it is Jeanne, I told her to do it. I know that you and Jerry are willing to do it, but I don't want you to be spending your life savings when there is millions sitting in an account at the bank. We have all insured their futures, and also set up their college trusts too. So, there is no reason for you to argue with me. That money is there to get the boys whatever they need, and right now they need a bit of happiness. Therefore, I'm going to insist that you use the cards to make this the best Christmas ever for them." John told them, and Sara readily agreed with him.

"All right then, we will use the blasted cards, but not for our gifts to them. Everything else we will put on the cards, ok?" Jeanne told them and they agreed.

"Now, we just have to remember that Simon has never had a Christmas before though, so everything will be new to him. I doubt if he has ever had any holiday or even a birthday before either. I mean he was just so surprised that I actually remembered his birthday when he was in the hospital." John told them all.

"That's right, and I completely forgot too." Sara said into the phone as she realized that she had forgotten Simon's birthday on December 12th.

"When was the lad's birthday John?" Jerry asked.

"His real birthday is December 12th, he turned 11, but until I told him he had always believed that his birthday was Devon Jefferies birth date in January." John told him. "Remember Jerry; Dec. 12th was the day we rescued Ari. It is still hard to believe that was only two weeks ago when that happened."

"I know, and everything is coming together so quickly too. Let's all just try to slow things down a bit and give those two laddies their best Christmas ever, and Simon a belated birthday party too." Jerry told them and everyone agreed. They all talked for another twenty minutes before saying goodnight and hanging up.

"How strong were those pills that you gave them?" John asked Sara as they sat down at the small kitchen table.

"Not that strong, but it should make them sleep through the night without dreams." Sara told him as John slid his chair next to hers and took her hand.

"You are an amazing woman Sara, and you have been able...I mean that we have been able to step right into the roles of parents like we have been doing this all of our lives. I had forgotten how much I loved being a father after I lost Katie, and since I met you, I now realize how much I loved being a husband too. However, the way you have stepped in and become their mother is just amazing to me." John told her, but he still hesitated for a moment before saying more. "I do have to admit that you surprised me when you moved into our bedroom though. I thought you might prefer separate bedrooms at first. I mean that we don't know that much about each other. Hell, I don't even know your birthday yet...damn, I feel like a teenager trying to ask a girl out on my first date." She watched him struggle with a slight smile as he blushed and stuttered to express his thoughts. Finally, she reached over and touched his lips with her finger.

"Shhh, I know enough to know that I already love you, and that I want to learn the rest so I can love you completely." She told him after giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "I also know that I love those boys as much as you do. I feel like you do in many ways where Simon and Ari are concerned, but if I am pushing things with you, I can move to the other bedroom."

"No, I didn't mean it like that. I know that I'm in love with you, but I just don't want to pressure you into anything. I haven't felt like this towards another woman since Lori died, and I don't want these feelings to stop." John told her. "When I see you with them...with Ari especially, it reminds me of Lori and Katie. However, Simon is going to need both of us in order to heal his wounds. So I don't want to rush things so that you won't feel pressured into a relationship is all, because if you left now it would devastate Simon. He loves you, but Bill hurt him so much in so many ways that it is going to take a long time for him to heal. Right now, he is terrified to show any kind of emotion to anyone except Ari and me, because we are the only ones he knows how to show his feelings to. However, he does love and trust you, even though he may not be able to show it right now. You are his mother now, and he loves you as much as he loves me. He just doesn't know how to express his love for you though because of everything that Bill did to him. I could see the disappointment in your face this morning when you came in with Ari."

"I understand, but don't worry about it ok. I love you and the boys, and I was a little irritated at first because I didn't understand everything. I didn't understand when Ari told me everything, but after going to that house, I understand now. I know why Simon cannot open up to me like Ari can; and it's because of what that bastard did to him." She told him before choking up as her eyes watered. "I just keep asking myself how was he able to survive in that place that was so cold, and devoid of any kind of love. That bastard was more than evil, and I can't understand how Simon survived and still be the exact opposite of Bill Jefferies."

"I don't know Sara, but I do believe that Ari played a big part in it though. Remember what Simon told us this afternoon. He said that when Ari came to live with them that he began to hope and believe again. He said that he just wanted someone that he could love, and who would love him without hurting him. That is what Ari did for him, he did more than just give Simon back his hope; he gave him faith." He told her softly, "I also know that Ari saved the one thing that allowed Simon to defy Bill too, and that is his love for his mother. Therefore, I know that he loves you as much as he loved her, and I know that I will die first before anyone hurts him again."

"So will I. Come on, let's go to bed because we've got a very busy day tomorrow. Tomorrow we will show the boys that prayers are answered, and that dreams do come true." She said before kissing him, and she felt him melt against her. When the kiss ended, he smiled at her with a wicked little gleam in his eyes.

"Don't forget that the boys are in our bed. If you do that again, I think we will end up in their room." He said with a snicker making her laugh.

"No, not tonight, but soon though," she said as they stood up. Then, she kissed him again, took his hand, and led him upstairs after turning off the lights.


Sunday, December 24, 1995 -- (10:00 AM)

The medicine worked even better than she expected because both Simon and Ari slept late. Both John and Sara woke at their usual time around 7 am, but the boys slept until 10 am. It was only his need to pee that Simon was finally able to drag himself out of the contented sleep he was in. When he woke, both John and Sara were already up so he had to wake Ari before he wet the bed. Ari sat up and rubbed his eyes with his small hands for a moment after Simon shook him awake.

"What's wrong Simon?" He asked him with a yawn as he stretched him arms.

"I got to pee so bad that I'm seeing yellow," he said with a light giggle making Ari giggle in response.

"Ok, let me go get the jug." He said before kissing him on the nose and scooting out of the bed. He scampered out of the room, but returned after a few moments with the urinal jug and helped Simon by holding the jug after pulling down the front of his underwear while Simon aimed his semi hard cocklet into the opening. After almost filling the jug, Ari carried it into the bathroom and emptied it before relieving himself also. He then rinsed the jug out before leaving it sitting on the floor beside the toilet, and going back into the bedroom.

"Good morning Simon," he said after sitting down beside him on the bed and kissing him on the lips. "Feel better this morning?"

"Yeah, I do. That was the best night I've had since before we left the hospital, but I'm still hurting now though." He said with a small smile as he tried to stretch out his stiff and sore arm and leg.

"It was a good night for me too. I'm going to go get mom so she can get you your meds ok?" He asked him as he stood up.

"Ok, and...umm...R...thanks for helping me so much too. I mean about telling dad about me being so sad all the time, because I don't feel sad this morning because you told him. I didn't understand at first when you said that I don't have to be Devon anymore, but I do now and I think it's great. All I knew when I was Devon was how much everything hurt me no matter what I did, but I don't feel like that now that I'm Simon, so thanks ok." Simon told him honestly in a soft voice.

"Its ok Si, I had to do it even though you told me not to because I promised to make it better for you. You always took my punishment for me, and that's why I had to go back and get our stuff from the house." Ari said before changing the subject because he didn't want him thinking about it so much that it made him sad again. "I'll be right back; I'm going to get Mommy and Poppi ok?"

"Ok, I love you R," Simon told him.

"I love you more Si," Ari responded before hurrying out of the room. R and Si were their special names they called each other when they were alone. Simon remembered how Ari would use his real name only at night when they were alone together when Pop was asleep. A few minutes later, he returned followed by John and Sara.

"Good morning you two sleepy heads, when we got up this morning, both of you were cutting some heavy `Z's'." John said to them as he sat down beside Simon.

"I don't snore!" Ari responded with a giggle while trying to look mad.

"Oh yes you do honey, but it's a cute little snore, just like you are." Sara told him with a grin before kissing him noisily on the cheek as he blushed prettily.

"But Poppi snores too," he whined before melting into her embrace.

"I know, but it's ok. My dad snored too. Only he sounded like a passing thunderstorm that would wake the neighbors sometimes so I'm used to it." Sara told them making them all laugh. Then she leaned across the bed and kissed Simon on the forehead.

"Good morning beautiful, you feeling any better this morning?" She asked him as he blushed cutely and kissed her back.

"Yeah Mom, I do. I feel a lot better because I know that I don't have to be Devon anymore." He said softly with a small grin.

"You were never Devon, and now everybody will know that too. Now are you both excited about today?" She asked them.

"Well, kind of," he said sheepishly. "You don't have to spend a whole bunch of money on us you know. We can have someone bring our clothes here so you don't have to spend a whole lot."

"Now wait a second Simon. Remember that this is the first day of your new lives. Bill is gone, and you are not Devon anymore." John said to him as he gently pulled him into his lap before motioning for Ari to sit beside them. Instead, Sara slid over next to him, and Ari climbed into her lap.

"We talked this morning while you two slept, and we decided to help you two by making new rules ok. This way, both of you will know the rules and even the punishments for breaking the rules. As both of you get better and can do more things, then we can adjust the rules later on, but for now, these will be the basic rules. They will not be anything like Bill's rules though, and neither of us will ever hurt you like he did. That is the first rule. That when you break a rule, that we will never hit you or physically harm you. That part of your life is over now." John told them, and both of them had tensed up at first when he said punishment until he explained and they both relaxed. However, Simon and Ari looked bewildered and confused still.

"But what if we are bad and break the rules? How are you going to punish us?" Simon asked as his mind balked at the thought that John may want to punish him in another way. He was a cop, so would he use handcuffs like Pop had done sometimes. Or, would he make his butt bleed or hurt his hoppie like Pop had done? No, he couldn't believe that John would do anything like that to him, but his body still shuddered at the thought.

"If you are bad, or break the rules, then we will ground you, or scold you, but we will never hit you or do anything like the things that Bill did to you. He did those things because he liked hurting you. He liked to see you cry, and see you in pain, and he liked the power that he had over you. That is the difference you see. Rules are supposed to help you, or protect you, but they should not control or hurt you." Sara told them.

"For now, we have decided that there will only be a few of rules to follow, but later on we will probably make some more as you two get better. The second rule is that both of you can talk to us about anything without being afraid of getting into trouble. Even if you tell us that you've done something wrong, you will not be in trouble for telling us. Do you both understand?" John asked them and they both nodded in response. "Good, the third rule is for later on once you are better. We know that you will want to go someplace by yourselves later on, and you are allowed to go as long as you tell us where you will be at first ok? Say you want to go to the park near here, or to the library; then all you need to do is to just tell us where you are going first before you go so we will know where you are at."

"You mean that we can go?" Simon asked him with a confused expression. John could see that he had not been allowed to do anything like this with Bill.

"Most of the time, yes you can go, but only if we do not have other plans or something else to do first. If you call and tell us that you want to go to a friend's, but we have plans to go stay at Uncle Jerry's first, then we may say no. However, any other time we will say yes if there aren't any problems ok?" John explained to him and Simon nodded in understanding.

"Now the last two rules for now are simple. First, we want you to always carry ID's on you whenever you go out. We will give you an ID and we want you to keep it with you whenever you go out of the house, and for the last rule, I will let John tell you." Sara said and they both agreed before looking at John.

"Now, this is going to be embarrassing for all of us, but we figured that you should know the rules about this. It is about privacy ok. I asked your mom to marry me, and she said yes so that means when we get married that we will want some private time with each other. You understand so far?" John asked them as he blushed with embarrassment. It was Ari who responded with a guilty giggle.

"Um, you mean that you want to be alone so you can do it, right?" Ari giggled making Simon giggle too.

"Uh, basically...yes." John said as he looked at Sara and smiled. They both understood that Ari and Simon were not virgins, but they also had another reason too. "Look, when we want to be alone together, then we will close the door, and you should not come in unless you knock and ask permission to come in first. We will also do the same with you two when you guys want to be alone together too."

"Dad!" Simon said with a shocked expression as his face turned crimson while he looked over at Sara, as Ari blushed crimson too.

"Wait a minute Simon; just hear me out first ok? I know that this is embarrassing, but we all love each other here, so it is ok to talk about these embarrassing things together, and not feel bad about it because we will never judge you. We both know and understand that you and Ari love each other in the same way that I love your Mom. I know that you guys are still young, but because of all the things that were done to the both of you, that both of you already know more about sex than many adults do. We decided that it would be best for all of us as a family to be completely honest about love and sex with you two. Sex is nothing to be ashamed of, or to be embarrassed about when it happens with two people who truly love each other. It is the ultimate expression of their love for each other which is why many people call it `making love' instead of sex. Whatever you two decide to do together is all right as long as you guys remember that it is something the two of you do in your private time together. The two of you are still too young to have intercourse with each other yet I believe, or as Ari says `to do it', but there are other ways to enjoy sex with each other that you probably already know about. Therefore, if you two want to have some private time together, just close your door, and we will not come into the room without knocking and asking permission first, ok?" John explained carefully to them. Simon still had a troubled expression though, and after a few moments of thought, he spoke.

"But, isn't doing that bad? I mean I do love Ari like that, but he is now my brother. So wouldn't it be wrong now?" He asked as his eyes watered while he continued to blush. He could not help feeling guilty about the things he had done with Ari in the middle of the night when they lived with Pop.

"No, it isn't wrong or bad. Yes, he is your brother now because we both adopted you, but that does not mean that he cannot be your partner in life like Sara is to me. See, it would only be wrong if you two were really brothers related by blood and not adopted. However, you are not related by blood though, so it is ok for you two to be together as life partners if that is what you both want. I do not know what it is like to love another man other than as a friend only, but not like I love Sara. However, it is not wrong for two boys to love each other in the same way as I love your Mom. Therefore, it is not wrong for you guys to love each other like that. See, when two people love each other, it is like they become one person when they are together. Sex is just one of the ways two people can express their love for each other, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. It is also very enjoyable too, but sex is only a small part of true love. As you grow older, both of you will understand more about just being together, trusting each other completely, and sharing everything with each other is just as satisfying as sex if not more so. Who knows what will happen in the future, but for right now, your mother and I both know and understand that you two love each other. Therefore, what happens between you two, in your room with the door closed is your business. We will not bother you when the door is closed, and we will knock and ask permission before coming in, and both of you will do the same if our door is closed, ok?" John explained to them while Sara agreed. They watched as both Ari and Simon relaxed as their blushes disappeared now that they understood. The things they had done together were not wrong. Both John and Sara understood that they had sought comfort and pleasure with each other at night as a way to escape from Pop's rules and punishment.

"Sometimes we did things just because it felt good at first, but now we just like to be close to each other, and kiss is all. It's hard to explain how we feel when we are together now, but when we lived with Pop, it was different. When we were together, it was like he could not hurt us anymore no matter what he did to me or Ari. We were stronger together, and I think that he knew towards the end. I think that is why he decided to take Ari away, because we were stronger together than he was. I was no longer afraid of Pop, or not being good enough because it did not matter to Ari, he still loved me. That is why I had to stop him that day," Simon told them softly as a tear slid down his face. "I didn't want to live if Ari wasn't with me, so I had to stop him even if it meant that Pop would kill me."

"And I don't want to live without you either Si," Ari said as his own tears slipped down his face.

"See, that is true love, and we both know that you guys truly love each other." Sara said to them as they kissed away their tears and wiped their faces. "Now, let's get you guys fed and dressed because we have a lot to do today. Today, we are going shopping." She told them as she gave Ari a final squeeze before getting up.

"Hey, we forgot to give you your medicine Simon. You should have said something," John said as he held up the small cup of pills.

"Its ok Dad, when I'm with all of you, and you hold me like this, it doesn't hurt as much." Simon told them making John, Sara, and Ari smile.

"I'm glad, but you will be doing a bit of moving around today so go ahead and take them now." John told him as he went to kiss him on the forehead, but at the last moment, Simon tilted his head up and kissed John on the lips. He then took all of his pills with some apple juice before letting John carry him back to his room so Ari could help him get dressed. John and Sara went downstairs to make breakfast while they dressed, and Ari came and got them when they were ready. After they had eaten, Jerry arrived in a new conversion van.

"Top o' the morning to ye all. I see that the laddies are all wide eyed and bushy tailed, so shall I do the honors, or you got something else planned?" He said to John.

"Not really, you can do it while I try and keep these two from peeking ok." John said with a laugh, and Jerry went back outside while Sara and John helped the boys put on their coats. After ten minutes had passed, Jerry called to them, and John scooped up Simon and carried him out to the carport. Jerry was standing next to a new motorized wheelchair, and John sat Simon down in it.

"We know that it will be a while before you can walk on your own, so we got this wheelchair for you to use in the meantime. Now you can move about without needing one of us to carry you all of the time. Go on and try it out." Sara explained to him, and Simon listened as she explained how to operate the chair. After she finished, Simon tried the chair by moving around the carport at first until he got the hang of operating the chair with his left hand and the joystick. Then he ventured out of the carport, down the drive, and back. They could see the huge grin on his face as he talked excitedly to Ari about how great the chair was as Ari walked beside him.

"This is so awesome; I love it." He told them in a choked voice, but all of them were quick to hug and kiss him so he would not cry.

"There be more laddie, on the 27th, there will be a work crew coming here to install ramps and a seat lift on the stairs so you can use the chair inside the house too. The only drawback is that you can't get it up the stairs, but the seat lift will allow you to go up and down the stairs on your own, and at the top of the stairs you can use a regular wheel chair to go to and from your room." Jerry explained to him, and this time he did cry. However, they all once again reassured him and kissed away his tears.

"Alright you guys, let's finish getting ready so we can go." John told the boys as he lifted Simon up into his arms while Jerry showed Sara how to load the chair into the conversion van using the chair lift. Once the chair was loaded, they started into the house, but Jerry saw Ari just standing close to John and Simon. He saw him glance at Simon in John's arms, and then he looked at him for a moment before looking down and scuffing his foot finally. Jerry strolled over, and without any warning grabbed Ari by the armpits and hoisted him up into his arms. Ari looked surprised for a few seconds, but quickly melted into Jerry's arms and wrapped his legs and arms around him.

"Top o' the morning to ye laddie, me hopes that ye had a good night's sleep." Jerry said to him as he kissed Ari's forehead. Ari responded with a small nod only for he feared that if he spoke that he would cry. He was trying to put the events of yesterday at the house behind him, but he was still frightened. He did not understand why, but Jerry made him feel safe and secure. He also needed the closeness and tenderness that only a man like Jerry could provide. He sniffled a couple of times while his eyes began to fill.

"Nay laddie; today is going to be a good day...a happy day for you and your brother. Let's not have any tears except happy ones alright. I will be right here with you, along with your mother and father too. We will not let anything happen to you or your are safe now, I promise." Jerry told him gently as he tenderly stroked Ari's back.

"Thanks Uncle Jerry," was all Ari said in his high-pitched, timid voice as his body relaxed in Jerry's embrace. John smiled at Jerry before going inside as Jerry followed. Once inside, Jerry gave Ari another kiss on his forehead before putting him down.

"There now, off you go laddie," he said as he gave Ari a playful swat on his jean clad butt making him emit a small `eek' before giggling. John gently sat Simon on the couch before sitting in the recliner. Ari went over and sat beside Simon while Jerry and Sara sat on the chair and love seat.

"So, did you two work on your lists yet?" Jerry asked Simon and Ari, and they both shook their heads no. Simon blushed a bit before responding.

"Um...we don't know what to put on them." He said embarrassingly while Ari nodded in agreement.

"Well, maybe we can help you. What kind of things do you like, or were there any things you that you wanted that other kids had?" John asked them. Both of them were silent for a few moments until Simon spoke up with a slight blush.

"I like the computers at school. One of the boys in my class even showed me how to play a game on it, and I thought it was neat." He said with his quiet voice.

"See; that was easy wasn't it. Now you've got one thing on your list. What about you Mejo?" John asked Ari.

"I like music. Before my parents died, they gave me a boom box stereo, and some cassette tapes. I used to sing in the choir back then." He said wistfully as he thought about his parents.

"Well laddie, you can do that again because St. Michael's is only a few blocks from here, and I'm positive that they will be happy to let you join the choir there." Jerry told him making him smile.

"St. Michael's, is that a church?" Simon asked him as he sat up and looked at Jerry.

"Yes it is and a very good one. I've been going there since I was a boy too. If you like, I will introduce you to Father McGrath. He is the Catholic priest in charge there." Jerry told him.

"Oh. Is there another place named St. Michael's around here?" Simon asked him while his shoulders drooped just a bit with disappointment.

"No son; that is the only St. Michael's here in Seattle. Why do you want to know?" Jerry asked him as he sat forward because he noticed Simon's disappointment.

"It's just that someone I knew at school said that he lived at St. Michael's is all. I guess I remembered it wrong because you can't live in a church." Simon told him, only now his face was colored with embarrassment as well as disappointment as he sat back again.

"Nay son, they can at St. Michael's. It runs a group foster home and orphanage along with a shelter for women of domestic violence. What is your friend's name, and we can check for you." Jerry told him and Simon looked up in surprise while his eyes also glimmered with hope.

"His name is Lucky, and he's an orphan like Ari and me. He is younger than I am; I mean I thought he was younger. I guess that he is close to my age now; he was my only friend at school." Simon explained with a sad expression on his face. "He probably won't like me anymore because I'm not Devon anymore." He said sadly.

"No son, I think he will love the fact that you aren't Devon, and I bet that he has been real worried about you too." John told him gently as he moved over beside Simon and hugged him. "Why don't you tell us about your friend Lucky?"

"He is smaller than me, and wears glasses, but he's really smart too. The other kids would pick on him because he was so smart, and because he was two years younger than everyone else was. He did so good that they let him skip the 5th grade. Sometimes he would let me use his glasses because I couldn't see the board from the back where I sat. Once we became friends, everyone stopped picking on him. I don't know why the others stopped, but I think they were afraid of me." He said with a shameful blush. John understood why, but it wasn't out of fear that the other's stopped, but because of Simon. Simon projected an aura of pain and loneliness around him, but also one of strength and conviction too. John suspected that it was out of respect and compassion for Simon that they had stopped harassing Lucky once Simon befriended him. They could see his pain, and did not want to cause him more pain by hurting Lucky once they had become friends.

"Hey, how about if we went over there right now so you can see him. I bet that he has been worried sick about you since the day Bill shot you." John suggested to him and Simon immediately looked up and searched his face to see if he meant it.

"Could we Dad? Please?" He asked with a pleading expression.

"Sure, why don't we go right now?" John asked while looking around at Jerry and Sara. When they nodded in agreement, John got up and picked up Simon while Jerry did the same with Ari. Sara locked up the house while John and Jerry put the boys in the new van. Once they were all ready, Jerry drove them to St. Michael's Catholic Church that was less than two miles away. Once they arrived, John and Sara put Simon into his wheelchair while Jerry went on inside to find Father McGrath, and they waited for Jerry just inside the entrance. After ten minutes had passed, the side door leading off to the Women's shelter and group home burst open, and a small, bespectacled, wiry, light blond haired boy skidded to a stop about 15 feet away from them. He looked around for a moment before spotting Simon.

"Devon!" He shouted as he darted between the pews towards them, and he quickly embraced Simon as his tears spilled down his pixie face. "I've been so worried about you Devon. I've missed you so much, and I didn't think you would ever come back."

"Lucky, its ok, and I've missed you too, but I have to explain something to you though, I'm not Devon anymore. My real name is Simon, and I don't want to be Devon any longer. Devon was Pop's real son, but he died seven years ago, and Pop took me and made me take his place. I also found out that I am only 11 instead of 15, ok. I just turned 11 two weeks ago just like you are ten now. The real Devon would have been almost 16 if he was alive, but I am not him. I'm just me, Simon, and I'm 11 ok." Simon explained as he wiped his eyes while Lucky did the same.

"I know. Dad...I mean Father Tom told me just now, but it does not matter to me what your name is, or how old you are because you are still my best friend. When I heard that your Pop shot you so many times, I thought you were going to die and that I would never see you again. I prayed for you to be ok, I prayed really hard every day for you to get better. Then I saw you on the TV leaving the hospital, but when I went by your house, the police were still there. I thought you moved away since you were adopted, and I was really sad because I didn't even get to say goodbye to you." Lucky said tearfully. "I was just so happy that you were getting better and that you were adopted. You deserve to be happy, I was happy for you too, and I thanked God for saving you even if I never got to see you again."

"Thanks for praying for me, and I am getting better, but I've been sad too because you are my only friend now since Seth ran away. I did move Lucky; I live with my new parents and my brother Ari now." Simon told him before introducing him to John and Sara.

"Ari is now your brother? Kewl!" Lucky said as he hugged and kissed Ari, and they all giggled excitedly together. It was clear to John and Sara that Lucky knew, and liked Ari as well as Simon.

"I miss Seth too, and I hope he is ok wherever he's at. So where are you living now Dev...uh, I mean Simon?" Lucky asked him. Simon started to answer, but couldn't and he looked at Ari who was also speechless. Neither of them knew where they lived so they couldn't answer Lucky's question. Simon looked at John for help with a pleading expression.

"It's all right boys," John said to Simon and Ari to reassure them. "Lucky, I am John Roberts, Simon's Dad. We just moved into our new home a week ago, and they haven't learned the address yet. We live not to far from here on Granger Avenue; it is about a mile or so away." John explained to the small boy.

"You mean you moved into Junior's gram's house?" He asked with a surprised expression. This caught John off guard, but just then, Father Tom and Jerry walked in.

"Aye me laddie, they did just that because it was our gift to my best friend and his new family." Jerry said to Lucky as they came up to everyone. "Sorry John, but I didn't realize that Simon's best friend would be one of the altar boys here along with Junior." He explained while Lucky smiled and blushed cutely. "He has even stayed over at our house with Junior a few times, so I'm quite embarrassed for not remembering him. Oh, let me introduce you to Father Tom McGrath. Father, these are my friends John Roberts, his fiancée Sara, and their new sons, Ari Roberts, and Simon Roberts, but you probably know his as Devon."

"Hi, I'm Father Tom McGrath; the children here call me Father Tom, but call me Tom if that is all right with you. I am also honored to meet you Simon, and you too Ari. Lucky has been very upset and saddened when he heard about everything that happened to you. I thank the Lord that all of you are now recovering." He told Simon and Ari who both blushed, but smiled and thanked him. "Come. Let's go to my office where it will be more comfortable." Father Tom said after shaking hands with John, and then he led them all to his office where everyone took a seat. Simon stopped his chair next to the seat Ari sat in while Lucky hesitated before going over to Tom and quietly asked him if he could go sit with Simon and Ari. Tom gave his approval, and Lucky hugged him and kissed him on the cheek before going over and sitting next to Ari and Simon. Tom then had Jerry, John, and Sara sit on the couch and chair while he sat across from them in another chair.

"Let me just say that it is a pleasure to meet you. I've known Jerry and his family for some time now, but somehow I failed to make the connection that both of you are the ones that they have so highly spoke of to me. It makes me happy to see the very people that I spoke about in my last sermon. What you two have done for these two brave young men is something I would hope many others in this world would do. However, now that I've met young Simon and Ari, I can see why that happened. I have followed the news about your son, but I thought his name was Devon though." Father Tom told them.

"Thank you Tom. The reason that Simon is changing his name is because it wasn't until recently that John discovered his true identity, and with the help of Ari, that Simon remembered who he was. We suspected that he was Simon, but it wasn't until Ari told us where to find the proof of his true identity, and with his help that Simon remembered who he was, and how Bill Jefferies had kidnapped him." Sara explained to him, and then Simon spoke up when he saw Lucky's confused expression.

"You remember what I told you about Pop always hurting me?" He asked him and Lucky nodded with a somber expression. "That's why I couldn't remember my real name, or my family. Pop killed them when he took me, and he kept hurting me to make me forget, but Ari wouldn't let me. Then yesterday he helped me to remember my mom again, and that made me remember everything about my family; and how he made me become his Devon. He kept hurting me so I would forget that I was Simon and how he had killed my family. I was born an orphan like you Lucky, but then my family adopted me when I was three. They took me to Disney World when the adoption was approved, but then Pop came and he killed them all and made me become Devon. I'm not his son Devon...I'm not even 15 either, my real birthday is December 12th, and I turned 11. See, I have never been Devon, and I don't want to be him anymore. I just want to be me now...I'm Simon." He said quietly as his tears slid down his face while Lucky and Ari cried with him. It took a few minutes for them to calm down while John, Sara, and Tom comforted the boys.

"So Ari doesn't have to hide anymore?" Lucky asked him, and both Simon and Ari nodded. "But where will you guys go to school now? You aren't going to go back to our school are you? If you do, maybe we can ride together, but it sucks there because you aren't there anymore and everybody is picking on me again."

"Why is he attending Henson Junior High School? It is quite a long way from here, and in a different school district." John asked Father Tom.

"I know because I drive him and pick him up every day. I've requested that he be transferred to here a number of times with his CPS case worker, but she says that it wouldn't be in his best interest. See Lucky was living in a foster home close to where Simon lived, but last month I managed to get him transferred back here because of some unfortunate things that happened to him. However, I believe that his caseworker is just lazy because it took almost an act of Congress to get her to place him here. He was being abused, but she just ignored the complaints and the evidence until he ended up hospitalized. So I filed a suit against her and CPS for neglect and abuse." Father Tom explained while Lucky sat quietly looking at his tennis shoes with tears in his eyes.

"So he is just a resident here?" Sara asked him. She didn't think that was the case though after Lucky's display of affection towards him when they had come in.

"No, he isn't. As a matter of fact, the only reason he is here is because I live here. I am doing my best to adopt him, but I think I've pissed off his case worker and CPS enough that they are doing all they can to block it. Pardon my language please, but the CPS department always causes me to say things that I later have to repent for." He said with a disconcerting frown.

"I understand completely, and I think I may be able to help you Tom. Jerry, why don't you call our friend Juan? Ask him to call Judge Orndorf, and see what they can do ok?" John said to them. "You probably know of our friend, Juan Rivera. Also, if you are serious about adopting him, then we can speak with Judge Orndorf at the Orphan's Court and see what he can do to help also." John told him.

"Really?" Lucky said in awe and excitement as he hopped up and ran over into Tom's arms. Tom picked him up and sat him on his lap facing him, and Lucky quickly wrapped his skinny arms around Tom's neck as his eyes filled. "Please say yes to him so you can be my Dad for real; please?"

"I told you before that I already am, and always will be whether or not a piece of paper says so. I love you son, and nothing will ever change that, but I will gladly let Mr. Roberts help us if he can. I just don't want you to get your hopes up like before because you know how things work with CPS. They will do everything to delay it, or mess it up if they can." Tom told him gently as he wiped Lucky's eyes, and then kissed him on the forehead. John and Jerry were looking thoughtfully at each other as this happened, then Jerry got up, and excused himself to make the call. Tom just held Lucky, and quietly soothed him for almost five minutes until he had calmed down, and then Tom told him. "Better now? Why don't you go show your friends around while we old people talk business ok? Maybe Sister Francis can find you three a snack too."

"Ok Daddy, I love you." Lucky said as he kissed him on the lips before climbing down and going over to Simon and Ari. "Come on guys, you'll like Sister Francis, and she made some pecan pies this morning too." Both Ari and Simon brightened up considerably when he mentioned the pies, but neither of them moved though. Simon looked over at Sara, and opened his mouth to ask permission, but she cut him off.

"Yes, you guys can go, but only if you promise not to eat all of the pies, well at least save a piece for us ok." She said with a smile as Ari ran over, and hugged and kissed her.

"Thanks Mom," he said before following Lucky out of the room with Simon. Once the boys left, Jerry returned and Tom got up and closed the door. Once he returned to his seat, his demeanor changed to a serious one as he looked at the others.

"Now that the boys are gone we can drop all of the formalities. I don't like to discuss things around Lucky because it hurts him a little more each time there is a setback, and I see the hope in his eyes die a little more each time. I don't know how much more he can stand before he has an emotional breakdown. Everybody here knows that I am trying to save him, and he has been hurt enough by the system already. He was only released from the hospital last week because somebody raped, and then beat him severely." He told them in a serious tone and expression. They all could see how much Tom cared, and worried about Lucky.

"I am sorry to hear that, and we will help you as much as we can. I am glad that he appears to be recovering quite well, but all of us can see that is mainly because of you. We all understand what he is going through because Simon and Ari were also abused the same as Lucky was abused. You have given Lucky some hope, and it is the same with Simon and Ari. They now have some hope again, but before everything that happened to change things, they had none because of what that bastard did to them...Simon especially. For example, he has never had a birthday, or even a Christmas because Bill beat it into him that he was not good enough for anything like that. Now Simon does not expect anything, and he is afraid to ask for the smallest necessity while fearing that we will punish him for asking as Bill did. It is going to take a long time to repair the damage that bastard has caused him." Sara told him while her anger and hatred for Bill Jefferies could be seen by all of them when she said his name.

"I think we all know that Sara, and maybe we can put together a Christmas for them in a day." John told her in a comforting manner as he reached over and took her hand. She smiled when he did that, but then Jerry interrupted the moment.

"Speaking of Christmas, this is the real reason that I encouraged us to come here. Yes, it was under the pretense to reunite Simon with probably his only friend, but it was mainly so I could talk with Tom here. Remember the Sullivan's a few years back Tom?" Jerry asked him, and he nodded in response. "Well, Jeanne and I were thinking that we could do something like that for Simon and Ari, what do you think?"

"Why I think that would be wonderful. You know that I will never pass up an opportunity to give a sermon to the heathen masses who crave redemption." Tom said causing the others to laugh. Once they had settled down again, Tom explained how the congregation, children, and some families like Jerry's had come together to celebrate Christmas with a young family who's home had burned down a week before Christmas leaving them practically homeless and penniless. The congregation had rallied around the family, and not only gave them a Christmas they would never forget, but also found them an apartment in the neighborhood, and took up a donation for them totaling over $5,000.

"Well, money is not a problem because many good hearted people from across the country has already donated close to $8 million dollars so far to Simon and Ari's trust. What we had hoped was to do something to show both Simon and Ari what the true meaning of Christmas is about, and not so much about getting presents. Do you think you could arrange something like that in such short notice?" John asked him, and Tom nodded to him before allowing the priestly side of him self to show.

"Eight million dollars...that much you say? Well, I cannot see a problem here that a meager donation to our humble church cannot handle." He said with mock piety and a somber expression.

"See me laddie, me told ye to never trust a lawyer, or a priest." Jerry said in his lilting Irish brogue making everyone laugh.

"To be honest John, we would love to help. As a matter of fact, the children are putting on a Christmas pageant tomorrow. I can see that Simon is still recovering just as Lucky is, so I don't think Midnight or Sunrise mass would be appropriate, but if you could be here by no later than 11:00 am tomorrow, I think we can make this a truly wonderful Christmas for both of them. Just for the sake of propriety, may I ask what denomination you, Sara, and the boys are?" Tom asked them after explaining.

"We are both Catholic, Tom...well, to be honest about it, I'm a Catholic in remission. It's been a while since I've attended to my religious duties, but I think Jerry can fill you in as to why. I suspect that Ari may be part Catholic because he said his birth mother was Puerto Rican, but with a birth name like his, Cohen, I suspect that his father may have been Jewish. However, it has been years since he went to church or anything, and I think that he has forgotten most of what he learned before his parents was killed in an auto accident. As for Simon, I think that this is the first time he has ever been inside a church." John told him, and Tom could see the pained look that came over his face when he spoke about his lapse in religious conviction. Tom already knew and understood why John had stopped attending church, and he decided not to explore the matter with him right now.

"Well, the Lord is quite forgiving, and is always willing to welcome all newcomers to his flock. I am just the Shepard here to guide and advise only. It does not matter what denomination that you and your family were, you are always welcomed here. Now for tomorrow, I will be holding the morning mass at 11 AM, and then at 4PM will be the Christmas Pageant, followed by dinner, and then the children will open their presents followed by evening mass at 8PM. The reason I want you to be here after mass is because the nuns and I take the children out caroling, we also visit the sick children in the hospital, and invite the families at some of the local shelters to join us for dinner. If you want them to see the true meaning of Christmas, then all you have to do is to allow Simon and Ari to go with the children, they will see and learn about unconditional love, faith, compassion, and most of all...hope." Tom told them, and John and Sara understood completely of how the most innocent of human civilization were also the ones who possessed all of those traits that Tom had just mentioned.

"It sounds perfect Father, we will be here. Also, if you don't mind, could I speak with you privately once we finish up here?" Sara asked him and he agreed while giving her a questioning look. He was quick to notice how her eyes shifted towards John for just a moment as she spoke. He was going to ask her more, but he was interrupted by the phone ringing at his desk. He excused himself and answered it.

"Hello, St. Michael's Catholic Church, this is Father McGrath speaking, what can I do for you? Yes, he is here, please hold while I get him." He said into the receiver before covering the end with his hand. "Jerry, this call is for you," he said before handing the phone to Jerry.

"Aye, Jerry speaking. Oh, hello Juan...really now? Let me ask him alright?" He said before turning back towards Tom. "Ah Tom, what are you and Lucky doing around 2 pm this afternoon?"

"Not much, I planned on staying here and work on my sermons for tonight and tomorrow, then have dinner with him and spend the evening together, why?" Tom asked.

"Well it seems that our friend Juan here spoke with Judge Orndorf who is at the court today, and he explained the situation with you and Lucky. Judge Orndorf wants to know if you and Lucky could be in his courtroom by 2PM this afternoon for a special session so he can hear your petition." Jerry asked him, and Tom was so surprised that he was speechless for a moment.

"But it's Sunday...however, I guess we can be there, but I doubt if my attorney can be present on such short notice." He said with a numb look on his face, Jerry relayed that information to Juan, and then he listened to Juan's reply before hanging up the phone.

"Juan said that he won't be needed for this matter, and to just be there. Oh, and he said for you two to dress appropriately. He also said that Lucky's Caseworker will also be attending, but it is her choice as to whether she wears handcuffs or not." Jerry told him, and Tom smiled a bit when he heard the last part.

"Then I think we should get ready to go. When you said that your friends could help, I never imagined anything like this though." Tom told John, Sara, and Jerry. "I don't have any dress clothes for Lucky to wear either." He said in a slightly bewildered tone.

"Hey, we were headed to the mall just now, why don't you and Lucky come with us, and we can get him a new suit, grab some lunch at the food court, then go directly over to the Orphan's Court." Sara and John suggested, and they all agreed to that plan. Tom made a call on the phone, and after a few minutes, an elderly priest who was quite a bit older than they were appeared. He looked at everybody in the room before stopping with John, and he smiled. He stepped closer and John's face lit up with a big smile as he embraced the older man.

"It's been a long time my son. How are you doing now? I've been following your story in the news, but then the news coverage just stopped." He asked John as they both hugged each other like long lost friends. When they separated, Sara could see the tears in John's eyes, and she knew that this priest was an important part of John's life.

"Sara, I want you to meet my pastor, Bishop Mark Carlisle. He was the priest in charge here while I was growing up, and he married Lori and me. He baptized Lori, me, and my daughter Katie too. If I remember right, you were also there when Katie was born, when my parents passed away, and you were even there for me after I lost them too. I never got to thank you for all that you have done for me and my family until now. Thank you your Grace." John told him after introducing him to Sara.

"No need to thank me John, I was glad to help and I am still just Father Mark to you. I've heard about your new instant family, and I told you that the Lord had a mission for you. Now you know that mission is those two boys. The Lord has given them to you for a reason, so remember that before everything else." He said to John after they separated.

"I know Father, and I won't let them down, I promise you that." John told him as he leaned down and kissed Bishop Mark's ring. "It's good to see you Father, and I want to ask you if you could marry Sara and me after the holidays have passed." John asked him as he put his arm around Sara's waist.

"Of course I will, you just tell me when and how many will be attending and we will take care of the rest if it is agreeable to your new bride." Father Mark said to him before warmly shaking Sara's hand.

"It is; that is the reason I wanted to speak with Father Tom about. We don't want a big ceremony either. Just Jerry and his family, and a couple of my friends is all. I was thinking that Simon and Ari could be the ring bearers too, if that is all right with you John." Sara explained to them.

"Whatever you want will be fine with me. We have to round up the boys and go so we can make the meeting with Judge Orndorf right now. I wish we had more time Father, but Father Tom has an important appointment this afternoon." John said to him, and Tom spoke up then.

"Yes, I do. It seems that John has some very influential friends. Judge Orndorf of the Orphan's Court is having a special session today just to hear my petition this afternoon because of John's influence, and his friend's Juan Rivera. I just pray that this will not be another setback for Lucky is all." Tom explained to him. "I would appreciate it if you could cover for me for the confessional and afternoon mass if you can Mark."

"No problem Tom, I may be retired technically, but I can still handle things here. Now you go on, and see if the Lord has answered yours and Lucky's prayers. Go with God my friend." Father Mark told him, Tom thanked him before excusing himself, and they all left the office. John and the others followed him to the kitchen where Lucky, Ari, and Simon were just finishing their second serving of pie and ice cream.

"Hey Dad, you've got to try Sister Francis's Pecan Pie. It's awesome." Lucky said as he jumped up and ran over into Tom's arms. Tom picked him up and hugged him before looking at him with a serious expression. Lucky saw it and immediately became worried. "What's wrong Dad?"

"I hope nothing is wrong, and I really think that this is good news. It seems your friend Simon is pretty special. His Dad has talked to one of his friend's and now we have to go to the courthouse. One of the judge's at the Orphan's Court wants us there for a hearing about you today. Your caseworker will be there too." He explained to Lucky carefully. When he mentioned the Orphan's Court, Lucky's face became even more worried while his eyes watered.

"No! Don't let them take me away again, please Dad. I've been good, and I love you and want to stay here with you. Please, don't let them take me away again." Lucky said softly as his tears began to slip down his pixie face. "I will run away before they take me from you Dad, I will."

"I love you too son, but I don't think that will happen today. I have talked with John and his friends, and I trust them when they say that they can help us. Look at how fast they got a judge to talk to us. He made a phone call, and the next thing I know is that the judge wants us in his courtroom at 2 o'clock today even though it is Sunday. We have been waiting for months now to get a hearing date at the court for the adoption petition, so I think this will be a good thing. Most of all, I pray that you and I can get the one thing we both want more than anything else for Christmas." He said coolly to him as he gently brushed away Lucky's tears.

"You mean it? You really mean it...that they will say that you can be my Dad for real?" Lucky asked with excitement and hope.

"I hope so son. Now we do not have a lot of time, so go change your clothes and brush your teeth and hair, but be quick about it ok." He told him with a big smile, and Lucky gave him a crushing hug before Tom stood him on his feet. Lucky bounced up and down with excitement completely forgetting about his pie. He stopped abruptly though after a moment with a worried expression.

"But Dad, I don't have any good clothes to wear now. My old ones are too small and these are the only pants I have that fit. They kept all of the clothes you gave me when they sent me away last time." He said sadly, as he looked down at his jeans and t-shirt.

"That's all right Lucky. Just change your shirt, and we will stop by the mall and get you a new outfit that you can wear to court. Now time's a wasting, so hurry up." Tom told him after giving him a peck on his forehead. Lucky smiled, and then turned around and went back to Simon and Ari who had just finished their pie. Lucky sat down in his seat, and with three monstrous bites, he practically inhaled his pie leaving an ice cream moustache on his face. He then bolted out of the room to get ready while Simon and Ari thanked Sister Francis for their treat. John asked them if they had to use the bathroom before they left, and both nodded as they blushed. Tom directed them to the bathroom, and just chuckled to himself about Lucky as Ari led Simon out of the room.

It didn't take long at all for Lucky to get ready because he was back by the time Ari and Simon finished using the bathroom. Tom stopped by his study to retrieve his coat and priest jacket. Then everyone went to John and Sara's new van, and headed downtown. On the way to the courthouse, Sara suggested that they stop by the University Mall downtown. Therefore, John drove them there and parked after letting the others out at the eastside entrance before he joined them. It became immediately apparent that they had screwed up as soon as they entered the mall. Simon was immediately recognized, and soon had a large gathering of people surrounding them. Of course, it scared the hell out of him and Ari. He began to cry quietly while Ari comforted him by wrapping his arms around him in a protective embrace, and Lucky positioned himself in a protective stance as he tried to shield Simon from the crowd. John, Sara, and Jerry took up a protective stance pattern around Simon as well, and Jerry was about to call for security when Tom saved them the trouble. He removed his overcoat that revealed his priest's collar, and then lifted his voice as if he was giving an outdoor sermon in order to get the growing crowd's attention.

"People, please, can I have your attention for a moment!" He boomed as he stood up on one of the mall benches. The crowd quickly quieted down and he continued. "I know that you are all interested in meeting this brave young man that we have all read about in the news for the last two months, and he is very grateful to all of you who have sent him letters or donated money to him. However, all of you can see that he still has not yet recovered from his serious injuries, or from the severe abuse inflicted on him by Bill Jefferies. Also, because of the physical and mental abuse inflicted upon him, all of this attention is pretty terrifying to him. Another fact that was not disclosed by the news media is that his true name is Simon, not Devon, and he is victim along with being a young boy still. Devon was Bill Jefferies real son and his first victim. However, too many people knew about his son Devon for him just to disappear without arousing suspicion from authorities. Therefore, Jefferies kidnapped Simon, and forced him to become Devon by beating him so severely until he went along with this in order to stop some of the beatings. Simon still has a very long recovery ahead of him, and he will be doing more interviews later on once he has recovered more. As you can see, he is still hurt, and this is very frightening for him too. I know that all of you care just as deeply about him as I do, as his new family does, and as our congregation does. He is not an unknown child who is just another abused and exploited child statistic, but is a son to all of us...he is Seattle's son now. I also know that none of you wish to cause him any more pain and trauma that he has already has already received, or been subjected to in the past by the media. Therefore, I'm asking all of you to please stand back, and allow us to take care of our business here today. Today is an important day to all of us because it is Christmas Eve Day. This day is one of our most joyous days of the year, and tomorrow is our most sacred of holidays that define us as Americans, and as good Christians. However, Simon has never known what Christmas is because he has never been allowed to celebrate it. Therefore, please, for his sake, and for his family, let us help him heal by showing him the goodwill, compassion, and caring that Christmas stands for by allowing us to do some last minute shopping so we can give him a Christmas that he will always remember." He said before pausing for a moment before continuing while the crowd backed up to give them room.

"Tomorrow, St. Michael's Catholic Church will be holding a special mass for him at 11AM, and evening mass at 8PM where we all can meet him and afterwards talk to him if he is feeling up to it. We are also sponsoring our annual Christmas banquet and the children at St. Michael's are performing their Christmas pageant tomorrow afternoon at 4pm. All of you are welcome to attend with you families, and I just ask that all who plan to attend the banquet, that you please call and inform us of how many in your party will be attending so we can have adequate food for everyone. The cost is minimal to cover our expenses for the food; it is $5.00 per adult, and $2.00 per child 6 and over. For everyone who plans to attend, please remember what Simon and his brother Ari have already endured and miraculously survived. They are both still trying to adjust to being in their new home, and for Simon to recovering his health. Therefore, please do not crowd him, and allow his parents and me to take care of our business before he tires and needs to rest. God bless you all, and have a wonderful holiday. Go with God my friends, and merry Christmas." He said emphatically to the crowd who responded in kind with a loud Amen. Then everyone backed up and cleared the way before some young children began singing Silent Night. The rest of the crowd immediately picked up the melody and sang as Tom led Simon and the others through the crowd. Simon was in awe as he watched Father Tom methodically make his way through the crowd, shaking hands, bestowing blessings to the people, and making the sign of the cross to them. Just his presence, a soft blessing, sign, or gentle touch made people smile and happy. Also, the people spoke and waved to him as he passed while Lucky walked in front of him as Ari pushed his wheelchair, and John and Sara protectively flanking him with Jerry behind him. None of them noticed the dark haired man wearing sunglasses watching all of them from the second floor of the mall, and taking notes too.

John quickly found the Men's clothing store, and escorted the others inside. As soon as everyone was inside, Jerry asked the manager to lock the door who did so immediately. Once the door was secured, John knelt beside Simon to see if he was all right.

"How are you doing now son?" He asked him as he gently wiped Simon's face.

"I'm ok now Dad. I was fine until all those people started pushing and shoving everyone. Then they started touching me until Ari and Lucky made them stop. I don't know why, but when they started touching me, I kind of freaked because it felt like I couldn't breathe. I tried not to cry, but I couldn't help it Dad, I'm sorry for messing things up." He said quietly as his eyes began to fill again.

"Sshhh! You are safe now son. You did real good back there, and I'm proud of you. Anyway, it is my fault because I totally forgot about your panic attacks. I know you were scared, and I'm sorry that I put you in that position. Now, while Lucky gets his suit, would you like to go to the bathroom and wash your face?" John asked him right after he explained things to him. Simon nodded, and John pulled Simon a bit closer and kissed him on his forehead before gently picking him up into his arms and carrying him to the small bathroom in the back of the store. He could still feel how Simon's thin body trembled from his fear. Once Simon was finished washing his face, John carried him out to the others and sat him in his wheelchair. However, John did notice that Ari wasn't around, and he was about to asked Sara when Ari and Lucky appeared from the fitting room. Lucky was dressed in Navy dress slacks, a light blue dress shirt with a darker blue, red, and gold spiraled design tie, and matching Navy sports coat. He paused for a moment while Ari knotted the tie in a neat double Windsor knot. However, Luck's white gym socks and old sneakers definitely looked out of place with his outfit.

"So, what do ya think?" Lucky asked Tom once Ari was finished, and he struck a pose for him. Tom admired him for a moment, and then turned him around a couple of times as he checked the fit of the clothes before speaking.

"It looks good on you son. You are now a dashing young man, but those shoes and socks have got to go." Tom finally said, and Lucky beamed at his compliment. He started to turn around to go take the clothes off and put on his old ones, but Tom stopped him and said. "No, you won't have time to change later, so just gather up your other clothes, and let's get you some new dress socks and shoes."

"Ok Dad," he said as he hugged and kissed Tom. Then he scampered back into the fitting room and returned carrying his jeans, shirt, and coat. He then followed Tom to the shoe section where one of the employees gave him a bag to put his old clothes in before having him try on the shoes. Tom settled on a pair of Oxford dress shoes, and he also got three pairs of Navy colored silk dress socks too. Once he was satisfied that the shoes were comfortable, he had the clerk put Lucky's sneakers into the box, and then proceeded over to the checkout counter. At the same time Lucky was trying on shoes, Ari and Simon were looking at clothes in the boys section. They had come across the t-shirts, underwear, and socks section, and they were giggling as they looked at the printed boys' bikini briefs when John came and got them. After Tom paid for the clothes and shoes, he suggested that they go to The Olive Garden Restaurant instead of the food court so they could avoid any more incidents, and John and Sara quickly agreed. Once again, they formed up around Simon as they made their way back to the mall's eastside entrance, and waited as John brought the van over before putting Simon and the others inside. Once everyone was in, John drove to the restaurant located on the north side of the mall across the parking lot. John decided to carry Simon this time instead of using his wheelchair. Tom went in first and spoke with the hostess, and when the others came in, they were all seated immediately in a secluded part of the dining room away from the crowd. After taking their drink orders and leaving, John then asked Simon what he wanted. However, Simon looked confused, and he blushed with embarrassment when Ari whispered quietly to John that they were not allowed to order for themselves when Pop took them someplace.

"Well, would you like me to order for you then?" John asked them both, and they both nodded in agreement. "Ok, but you will have to let me know what you like though." It quickly became obvious though that they had been mostly limited to burgers, pizza, or hotdogs when they had eaten out. However, they both liked spaghetti, so John ordered spaghetti and meatballs for the both of them. Sara also asked that no dressing be put on their side salads, and if the waitress could bring a small sample of the various dressings for them to taste. The waitress brought out the salads, breadsticks, and eight small plastic cups with a tablespoon of dressing in each. Simon and Ari both cautiously sampled each of them before Simon asked for Bleu cheese dressing while Ari requested Ranch. The waitress left, and returned s few moments later with large helpings of the requested dressings, and Sara and John helped to put it on their salads without drowning them in the dressing. After a few tentative bites, both Ari and Simon quickly inhaled their salads along with a number of breadsticks. Both John and Sara were beginning to wonder if they would eat their spaghetti when it was served, but the boys quickly reminded them of the bottomless pits that almost all young boys have for stomachs. The whole time through the meal, Lucky chattered away with them, and eventually got them both to relax. Soon, all three of them were talking between mouthfuls as they compared notes about past and recent events. All too soon, the meal was over, and Sara, Tom, and John had the boys wipe their faces and hands. Then Jerry appeared with the waitress who had three bowls of ice cream, while Jerry carried a serving platter full of various toppings for the ice cream. The boys then proceeded to make themselves super sundaes with all the toppings before digging in heartily while Tom excused himself to make a phone call. Even Tom had to chuckle when three ice cream smeared faces with angelic smiles greeted him when he returned.

"I think we had better get these guys cleaned up before we go to the courthouse." Tom told the others, and they all laughed and agreed. John stood and carefully picked up Simon while Tom ushered Lucky and Ari towards the restroom. Once the boys had used the facilities, and were cleaned up, they met Jerry and Sara at the front.

"I took care of the bill John, and Jerry wants to know if he should go get the van?" Sara asked.

"Well, how much do I owe you for our meals?" Tom asked her.

"Nothing, consider it part of my penance for my next confession ok." She told him sweetly with cute grin while brow-beating him making everyone laugh again, and even Simon managed a smile.

"Never mind Jerry, I think we will just walk," John said to him as Jerry held open the door for all of them. After everyone had filed outside, Jerry saw a toothpick dispenser by the hostess station, so he ducked back inside to get one. Outside, Sara saw that one of Ari's shoelaces had come untied.

"Honey, tie your shoe before you trip," she told him as they reached the curb, and Ari stopped and sat down on the curb to tie his shoe while the others proceeded towards the van. John was the first one to recognize the sound of a vehicle accelerating, and turned around. They were already across the access road that circled the entire mall when he saw the brown sedan rapidly accelerating towards Ari as he sat tying his shoe.

"Ari, look out!" He shouted as he shoved Simon into Sara's arms. Ari looked up and saw the car speeding towards him, and he started scooting backwards on his butt in a crab like fashion, but he froze after six or seven feet as he saw the car change course directly towards him, and he put his hands up to shield his face, blocking his eyesight of the oncoming car. John was already moving when the car jumped the curb, but he knew that he would still be too late to save him.

"Ari!" Simon screamed as he watched in horror as the car sped towards Ari. Then Ari felt someone grab him roughly under his armpits, and violently yank him backwards as the speeding car just missed him by inches. He hit his head hard on the sidewalk when he landed causing him to see stars, then he felt someone's hands on him and he tried to struggle free.

"Nay laddie, I've got you son. You are safe just like I promised ye be." Jerry said as he hugged Ari close to him, and Ari ceased his struggling and gave him a crushing embrace as his first frightened sobs came. Jerry sat up gingerly and leaned against the brick wall by the restaurant's entrance as he began to soothe and comfort Ari in his lilting Irish brogue. "'Tis alright laddie, I've got ye, and I won't let any harm come to ye just as I promised."

"Jerry, are you both alright?" John asked as he ran up to them and knelt down beside them with his spare pistol drawn.

"Aye, I think so. Other than a couple of scrapes and bumps, I think we be ok." Jerry told him as he gently held Ari who continued to sob into his chest. "That bastard was aiming for the lad; I think we had better rethink our plans about security. It is obvious that someone is targeting him."

"I agree; I couldn't get a plate number because it was deliberately obscured. Come on; let's get you two inside while I call for backup. Thank God you were here to save him Jerry." John told him as he helped his friend to stand up before guiding him and the others back inside the restaurant. As soon as they were inside, and Jerry was seated with Simon next to him, they checked Ari to see if he was injured. Other than being very frightened, and having a knot on the back of his head and a few scrapes from the concrete, he was fine. John called the Captain and informed him of the situation, and the Captain wanted to dispatch two patrol units to their location, but John told him to have them meet them at the courthouse instead. When John returned to the others, Tom stood up, and reassured Lucky before meeting John a few feet away from the others.

"Is there something I should be aware about?" He asked John while glancing back towards Lucky.

"Yes, there is. We had thought that we had handled this already, but it seems that someone is more determined than we first thought. Ari is scheduled to testify before a grand jury next week in an ongoing investigation of a child sex and porn ring. Someone has put out a contract on him to prevent him from testifying, and the other day we arrested four people who were attempting to follow us from the hospital. We thought that was the end of it, but obviously we were wrong. Look, we need to get to the courthouse now because a protective detail will be meeting us there. I'm going to get the van and pull up to the service entrance in the back. Then we will go to the courthouse, but you need to keep Lucky calm until we get there." John told him as Jerry joined them. John repeated everything for Jerry's benefit before leaving to get the van. Jerry checked his service weapon before securing it back into his shoulder holster, and then escorting the others into the kitchen with a slight limp. Once John had moved the van and took up a covering position, Jerry quickly hustled the boys, Sara, and Tom out and into the van. John rejoined them, and left the parking lot towards the courthouse while Jerry scanned the traffic front and back for someone following them. Sara and Tom kept the boys calm for the short ride to the courthouse, and there were no more incidents. When they arrived, they were met by the Captain, Jeanne, and four other officers who quickly took them inside while another officer parked the van.

"Thank God you are all ok. I rushed over here as soon as I heard the call on the police scanner Jerry." Jeanne said to Jerry as she began to fuss worriedly over him to make sure he was not hurt. She had been downtown attending one of her charity functions when the call went out on the police radio.

"Were there anymore problems on the way here John?" Captain Smith asked them after introducing himself to Tom.

"No, there were not any more problems Captain. Let's talk once we get Tom to his court appointment." John answered as they headed towards Judge Orndorf's courtroom. When they arrived, Judge Orndorf was waiting out in the hall for them.

"I just heard about what happened, and I just wanted to make sure that Devon and Ari were ok. I normally don't work weekends but I was here catching up on some paperwork when Juan called me." Judge Orndorf said as John and the others walked up.

"We are all fine Judge Orndorf, and Captain Smith is taking care of the situation, but thank you for your concern. In addition, we were going to ask you if you could change Devon's name to his true name Simon. He has remembered much more now, and he no longer thinks that Devon should be his name since Bill forced him to become Devon." John explained to him, and he agreed to amend the order. Judge Orndorf then had John introduce him to Tom and Lucky before instructing them to all come into his courtroom. Once everyone was inside, he had his bailiff call the court into session and took his seat. Tom and Lucky sat at one of the tables designated for the petitioners, and Lucky's caseworker sat at the other table across the aisle from them. Juan came out from the back and joined Tom and Lucky after quietly greeting the Captain and the others before Judge Orndorf called the court to order.

"Now then, this is a bit unusual being Sunday, but I called this special session to address this matter so let us get this business attended to. It has come to my knowledge that this petition of adoption was filed over nine months ago Ms. Murdock, but I have yet to see it on my docket. Would you care to explain this please?" He asked Lucky's caseworker. The middle aged woman reminded John of his Mother Superior nun in Catholic school by the way she pursed her lips and her arrogant expression.

"It has not been presented because we at CPS do not think that placement or adoption would be appropriate for this child with the petitioner. Also, I cannot see how this matter would warrant a special session with this court." She said in an arrogant tone while scowling for a moment at Tom.

"I called this session because of the extenuating circumstances surrounding this case. As for the petitioner, surely you are mistaken Ms. Murdock because Father McGrath is a priest with excellent credentials with the church, a degree in child psychology, and a good record with this court helping troubled kids. Not to miss the fact that he is also a good roll model and one of his communities most respected leaders." Judge Orndorf said before waiting for her to explain herself.

"None of those things have any bearing on CPS's assessment and decision. Father McGrath is a single man with an unwholesome and suspicious interest in this child. When we reassigned the child's placement into a certified foster family, Father McGrath continued his association with the child, and ultimately convinced the child to make unsubstantiated abuse charges against the family, thus forcing CPS to remove the child from the home. He then sued the department in order to regain temporary custody of the child. The fact that he is a Catholic priest only casts further suspicions on him about his unwarranted and obvious sexual attraction to this child. If he was truly worried about the child's welfare, then he would not go to such lengths in preventing the child's placement with a permanent foster family. The child is beyond the age that is desirable for adoption, but permanent placement in a foster home is quite reasonable if Father McGrath will stop meddling in this child's affairs." She said in a condescending tone that clearly conveyed her contempt that she had against Tom. Tom bristled with anger at her suggestion that he was a pedophile, and about her defending the man who was abusing Lucky. He started to respond angrily, but Juan quickly whispered into his ear for him to keep his cool.

"I see Ms. Murdock; these are very strong allegations that you are making, are you sure that you wish to go forward with those statements. Also, I take it that you are able to provide evidence to support those allegations." Judge Orndorf told her, and his tone and expression clearly let everyone know that she was pushing him to his limit, but she ignored him.

"I'm sorry your honor, but CPS does not have to provide anything to you or this court about where we place a ward of the state. We have sole discretion for the permanent placement of this child, and we deem that this man is unsuitable for this child for whatever reason. We are doing everything in our power to remove the child from his custody as soon as possible. Until then, I see no reason to burden this court with frivolous details pertaining this truant juvenile. Once we have removed him from Father McGrath's influence and returned him to his foster family, then we will notify you when that happens." She said as she stood up and gathered her belongings in order to leave.

"Bailiff, if Ms. Murdock leaves that table, I want you to arrest her for contempt." He said to his bailiff closest to him making Ms. Murdock to stop moving. To his other bailiff he instructed him to escort the boys to his chambers, and to seal the courtroom. Lucky did not want to leave Tom when the bailiff came over and took his arm. However, Simon and Ari were there quickly to reassure him.

"It will be ok Lucky, you can trust the judge. We do, don't we Ari?" Simon asked Ari who nodded his agreement.

"But they are going to take me away again, I just know it. You heard her, she is going to send me back to the Robinsons so they can hurt some more. I can't go back there, I just can't." Lucky said sadly.

"No he won't. Please Lucky; just trust me, ok? I know you are scared, but you know that I won't ever lie to you either. Everything will be ok, I promise." Simon told him, and after a long moment, Lucky nodded after looking at Tom and the others. He let the big bailiff lead him, Ari, and Simon to the door going to the judge's chambers, and paused for just a moment as he looked back sadly at Tom before going through the door. Tom thought he knew what he was thinking, and he wished that he could go reassure him. However, he knew that he needed to address the allegations made against him first. Once the boys were gone, Judge Orndorf called for order once again.

"Father McGrath, would you like to respond to the allegations made against you? May I remind you that this is a court of law, so mind your manners please." He said to Tom.

"Yes your honor. First off, I find Ms. Murdock's allegations spiteful, and I believe that she has made them because of the legal action I took in order to protect Lucky from her willful neglect and mismanagement of his case. I have been working with abused and neglected children for most of my career as a priest. When I first met Lucky, I found him to be withdrawn, and troubled because of the neglect and physical abuse that he had suffered while under Ms. Murdock's supervision. I am board certified as a counselor and therapist, and the only reason I decided to forego my residency and medical license is because I found that I had a higher calling. Since being assigned to St. Michael's, I have worked closely with dozens of children that CPS has placed in our care. Not once has my professional integrity, moral values, and personal motives has ever been questioned by anyone at CPS, or even Ms. Murdock herself until I filed my suit against CPS and her specifically for neglect and child endangerment. I did not come to St. Michael's looking for a son, but for whatever reason, the Lord has given me this responsibility, and I will not fail him or Lucky in this matter." Tom said with conviction.

"I understand, and have noted it for the record. Now I would like you to please state your reasons for your petition in regards to the minor child." Judge Orndorf told him.

"To put it in the simplest terms your honor, it is because I love him as my son. When I first met him over two years ago when CPS, or more specifically, when Ms. Murdock placed him at St. Michael's, he was very withdrawn and troubled. The more I came to know him and draw him out of his shell, the more I realized that I was becoming personally attached to him. That is why I requested that he be placed in a new foster setting. However, less than three months later, Lucky ran away from his foster home, and returned to St. Michael's wearing nothing but his underwear. He told me of the physical and sexual abuse that his foster parents were doing to him, and the numerous bruises all over his body gave credence to him being abused. I reported the abuse as required by the law immediately, and took him to the hospital where his examination showed there was clear evidence of forcible sodomy as well as physical bruising over his entire body that substantiated his claim of being beaten. However, Ms. Murdock took custody of him at the hospital, then with complete disregard of the evidence, she refused to initiate any legal action against this man and promptly returned Lucky to his custody. Three weeks later, Lucky was found naked and critically injured by a passing truck driver, and was rushed to the hospital with a fractured cheekbone, blackened eye, ruptured eardrum, broken arm, and a tear in his colon that required emergency surgery. Once more, I contacted the police when I was informed about his condition, and they again documented his injuries which were consistent with his claims of physical and sexual abuse, assault and battery, and rape. Once again, Ms. Murdock returned and attempted to have him immediately removed from the hospital in order to return him to the foster home even though he was seriously injured." Tom explained in detail to Judge Orndorf.

"However, his physicians refused to discharge him from their care, and had Ms. Murdock escorted out of the hospital by the police. I initiated immediate legal action against Ms. Murdock and CPS for neglect and child endangerment. After the preliminary hearing, Ms. Murdock's supervisors' plea bargained a deal to have the case continued, they granted St. Michael's custodial rights over Lucky, and I was appointed his guardian at litem. When it became clear to me that Ms. Murdock was doing what she could to circumvent the plea deal in order to return him to the same foster home being investigated for his rape and abuse, I had no other recourse but to reinitiate this adoption petition. As of today, she has done everything to delay or disregard the court's protective order in order to block my petition, while also working to find a way to remove Lucky from St. Michael's. Another issue to consider is that she has used her capacity at CPS to block all legal and criminal proceedings against the foster father even though there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that he has repeatedly beat and raped Lucky." He said.

"There was a hearing for a motion to compel a DNA test from the foster father for comparison to the DNA sample obtained from the rape kit done on Lucky at the hospital was heard and dismissed with prejudice the beginning of this month. Ms. Murdock had the motion sent specifically to her husband's court, who is a member of the Orphan's and Family courts and not part of the criminal court, he immediately denied the motion without hearing any oral arguments, nor giving a reason for denying the motion. Since then, Ms. Murdock has had the audacity to suggest that Lucky's wounds and injuries were self-inflicted in order to discredit his foster father's upstanding reputation. All I know your honor, is that if Ms. Murdock has her way, then Lucky will become just another sad statistic of how the system failed him, and it will most likely cost him his life. I cannot stand by and allow this to happen anymore, and I will not allow him to suffer anymore because of her neglect and conduct. That is all I have to say...thank you, your honor." Tom said emphatically to him before resuming his seat. Judge Orndorf made some notes before scanning over the police and hospital reports before returning his glare to Ms. Murdock.

"Please explain to me why you have disregarded the law and not sought criminal charges against these people that you hold in such high regard?" He asked her in a steely tone.

"It is quite obvious that he has influenced the child to lie in order to retain custody of him. These alleged incidents of abuse were committed after the child had run away back to Father McGrath. I spoke with the family, and they denied any knowledge of any abuse. As far as I know, Father McGrath could have molested him, and then influenced him to blame his foster parents in order to protect himself." She said tersely.

"That could be possible, but how do you explain the second incident then? The child did not run away, so how do you explain the extensive evidence of physical and sexual trauma to him while he was in "your" upstanding foster family's care?" Judge Orndorf asked her, and John quickly realized that he was feeding her the rope that she would hang herself with.

"I don't know how he was injured, but the Robinson's assured me that they were not responsible and I believe them. It is quite obvious that this child is completely under Father McGrath's control, and he will go to any lengths in order to continue his elicit affair with this child." She said with self righteous indignity.

"Are you mad? You have the hospital reports, police reports, and child psychological reports in which all of them say that the overwhelming evidence points to Mr. Robinson as being the abuser. The psychologist even states that the child's injuries were punishment for running away and telling of the secret. Let me remind you Ms. Murdock that you are under oath here, and your complete lack of regard to these charges and evidence borders upon criminal behavior. I have to remind you of your rights by law." He said before reading her the Miranda rights and asking her if she understood those rights. She said that she did, and told him that he should be reading those rights to "that pervert" as she pointed to Tom. Judge Orndorf angrily admonished her about her language and false accusations before continuing.

"Now, how can you justify your negligence for allowing this violent assault to happen to this child?" Judge Orndorf growled angrily to her with his face mottled red.

"I do not need to justify where I place a ward of the state to this court or anyone else. I have over fifteen years of experience as a case worker, and my assessment have been accepted without question during that time. This child is incorrigible and impressionable. He obviously enjoys the abuse that this pervert perpetrates on him, and that this court has allowed. I cannot help but think that there is some sort of hidden conspiracy here between you and this man. It is quite obvious that you have reached some kind of agreement since you are holding this special session today. I have already requested my husband to file a complaint against you." She said with vehemence and outrage with a wild and crazed look in her eyes, but she had pushed to far this time. Judge Orndorf was actually trembling from his rage as he stood up and slammed his gavel down.

"That is enough! I find you in contempt of court, and fine you $1,000 for your insolence and completely unwarranted and unfounded comments. Obviously, you are either ignorant of the law, or believe that you are above the law. In 1976, the case of Wilson vs. The state of Washington and CPS, it states that only this court is the sole authority in regards to the placement and care of minor children in the state's custody. That means that only I have the authority to decide with who, and where a child in the state's care will be placed, not you. You are just an employee of the state, and it is your duty to follow up every allegation of abuse, and to provide this court with the most accurate assessment of the facts and evidence so I can decide if a child should be removed from an abusive environment. No where does it say that you are allowed to use your position in order to forward your own agenda, or to try and usurp the authority of this court or the criminal court as you are obviously doing by deliberately ignoring or hiding the facts. That means that you work for me, and since I am the chief justice of the Orphan's and Family court, that means your husband also works for me as well. However, I doubt that you will not be working for much longer because I am forwarding these transcripts to the disciplinary board with the recommendation for your immediate termination. I am also ordering that every case that you have worked on be reviewed, and if a pattern of conduct is proven where you have acted as you have on this case, I will have you criminally prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. You have deliberately endangered and traumatized this innocent child because of your irrational and unwarranted accusations against this man. I cannot see any evidence to show that Father McGrath having done anything criminal or negligent in regards to this child while being presented overwhelming evidence that Mr. Robinson is a pedophile and rapist. Father McGrath has done everything within the law to protect this child from your irresponsible behavior and neglect while all of the evidence concerning your actions show a clear tolerance of, and possibly you personally aiding and abetting Mr. Robinsons clear criminal conduct against this child. Do you understand me Ms. Murdock?" He thundered at her with his face almost maroon now while specks of spittle flew from his mouth.

"Why, I have never been so insulted..." she began to say with affront when Judge Orndorf cut her off.

"You are hereby fined $2,000!" He barked at her.

"This is prepos..." she started to say again with outrage.

"$3,000 and three days in jail; do you want to try for more Ms. Murdock?" He roared at her, and this time she was cowed. He continued before she got up her nerve again to defy him and said. "Bailiff, please escort Ms. Murdock to her room for the next three days. Oh, one more thing Ms. Murdock...have a Merry Christmas. Take her away bailiff." He said as the two big bailiffs escorted her out of the courtroom and to a holding cell. Once she was gone, he took a few deep breaths to calm himself before smoothing out his robe and taking his seat again. "Cindy, would you please call Margaret Jenkins over at CPS, and tell her that I require her presence here immediately." He said to his clerk before facing Tom. "Father McGrath, I must apologize to you for those unwarranted accusations against you. I am trying to rectify this mess, and the court appreciates your patience. If it is ok with you, let's take a 30 minute recess while we wait for Mrs. Jenkins from CPS. In the meantime, I am a little short staffed today, so Mr. Rivera, would you mind supervising the child Lucky until I am able to speak with him. I must ask of you Father McGrath that you not speak with him until after I have met with him. If that is acceptable, then we will stand in recess for 30 minutes. Det. Roberts, could I have a word with you, Captain Smith, and Sargeant O'Malley for a few moments please." He said before pounding his gavel down and standing up and moving off the dais. John, Jerry, Juan, and Capt. Smith got up and followed him out of the courtroom towards his chambers. When they came in, Ari and Lucky rushed over to them, but John stopped them and guided them back over to where Simon was.

"Listen to me; we cannot talk about what is going on right now until after Judge Orndorf speaks with each you. Right now, I want all three of you to go with Juan, and for you to promise to listen to him until Judge Orndorf calls for you, understood?" John explained carefully to them. He could see all of their questions and uncertainty in their faces though. "I promise that none of you are in trouble, and nothing has changed, but we have to go through the legal motions in order to do everything right so that nothing can be questioned later on. Simon and Ari have already been through this, so I want you to trust them and to trust me Lucky. Now, why don't you all go with Juan down to the cafeteria and get a drink. Simon, it is also time for your medication too, and I want you to take all of it because I can see that you are in pain. If you are tired, Judge Orndorf can find a place for you to lie down."

"I am ok for now Dad, and I will let Uncle Juan know if I am tired." He said with a small bashful blush before taking the pills that John handed him and holding them in his hand. Lucky looked up at him with a sad face though.

"Will I get to say goodbye to Dad before they take me away?" He asked sadly on the verge of tears. However, Judge Orndorf came over and spoke to Lucky before John could respond.

"I promise you young man that you will get to see Father McGrath soon. Mr. Roberts cannot speak about the proceedings because I asked him not to. I know everything that you have been though, and I am trying to fix everything to make sure that you won't ever be hurt like that again. Now, why don't you go with Mr. Rivera, and I will come talk to you in a little while. Then you can go see him, I promise." He said, and Lucky searched his face for any trace of deception. Finding none, he finally nodded before following Simon as he moved his chair over and hugged Juan. Juan hugged each of them before escorting them out of the room. Once they were gone, Judge Orndorf went over to Captain Smith and shook his hand.

"Hello Lee, I want to be one of the first to congratulate you on your appointment." He said warmly with a smile.

"Thanks Al, but I am surprised at how fast the word has traveled. I was just told at lunchtime." He said with a self deprecating smile. John and Jerry both knew what they were talking about, and they both went over to congratulate him.

"So it is official now. You are the new Chief of Police?" John asked him as he shook his hand. Chief Smith nodded as he smiled.

"Well, `tis no surprise laddie. He be the actin' clan chief for over a year now. `Tis only proper that it be official now." Jerry said as he congratulated him.

"That's not all though. I know that you enjoy the Metro Division Sgt. O'Malley, but now that I am chief, I need to fill a few vacancies. Maybe I should rephrase that as Captain O'Malley." Chief Smith said as he saw the shocked expression on Jerry's face.

"But, I be no bureaucrat...I'm just a beat cop." Jerry spluttered.

"Yes you are...the best one in Seattle. That is why I am putting you in charge of the Metro Division." Chief Smith told him, and Jerry's expression softened, and then he grinned.

"Well now, if that be the case, then I be yer man." Jerry said in his lilting Irish brogue. The others laughed for a moment as they congratulated Jerry. Then Judge Orndorf motioned for them to be seated as he went around his desk and sat down.

"Now, back to business gentlemen, may I ask what your involvement is with this case Detective Roberts?" He asked John.

"Please, just call me John. I am no longer with the Seattle police department because I accepted a position with the U.S. Marshal Service to lead the new Missing and Exploited Children's Division." John explained to him as he shifted a bit in his chair. "As for my involvement, it is by pure coincidence for the most part. Simon's memory has been coming back to him more now that he is doing better in his recovery, and because he feels more secure with us now that his adoption is finalized and he is home in a much more stable environment. We were talking with the boys last night about what we would do for tomorrow, and Simon told us that he has never had a Christmas before, that he was never good enough for Bill to waste any time or money on. Sara and I called Jerry and asked for his advice and help, and he told us about a family that they had helped through St. Michael's. As I understand, their home burned to the ground a few days before Christmas, and they escaped with just the clothes they were wearing. Jerry and his wife Jeanne informed Father McGrath of their plight, and he rallied the community and congregation to give the family a Christmas they would not forget. When Jerry brought up St. Michael's, the name triggered Simon's memory. Simon remembered that his only friend he had while he attended Henson Junior High School said he lived there before he was placed with his foster family. That friend turned out to be Lucky, and we took Simon to St. Michael's this morning in order to reunite them."

"I see, and it is something I would expect from Jerry and Father McGrath. Look, we are all friends here, so let's suspend the formalities for now. Jason; will you go out and ask the ladies and Father McGrath to come join us please? Also, when Mrs. Jenkins arrives, please bring her directly here." Judge Orndorf said to his bailiff, who left to get Tom, Jeanne, and Sara. After a few moments, they came in and joined them. Jeanne went over to Jerry and gave him a kiss on the cheek before sitting down next to him. Sara did practically the same with John while Tom sat next to her. "Now that we are all here, I must ask if all of you know what is going on." He asked and Sara and Jeanne nodded.

"Sara filled me in once you called the recess. I take it that you are handling the matter concerning Lucky before dealing with our problem." Jeanne told him and he agreed with her.

"Well, first and foremost, I would like to congratulate John and Sara on their engagement. I wish you many years of happiness because I know your sons will be very happy." He said and both Sara and John thanked him before he turned to Lee. "Now that you are the Chief of police, I expect that you will handle the details to provide round the clock protection for all three boys Lee. Even though it is only incidental, Lucky is now in danger because of his friendship with Simon and Ari." Judge Orndorf said to Chief Smith.

"I've already done so. There will be four officers with them at all times until Ari's grand jury testimony is completed. Once that happens, I think that the threat against him will go away since the damage has already been done. However, I have an idea that might help throw the dogs off the scent too, but I will enlighten you about it later. Just be reassured that they are under protection already." Lee told them, and Al relaxed a bit before shifting his gaze to Tom.

"I know that you may not believe this Father McGrath, but I am on your side in this matter. Certain information has become known to me regarding your case, which is why I called this special session today to hear your petition. I will let you know that there is a threat for the safety of Lucky because of his friendship with Simon and Ari Roberts who are already in danger. Detective Roberts, Captain O'Malley, and our new Chief of Police, Lee Smith already have all three boys under 24-hour police protection. There also is plenty of evidence to support a whole slew of felony charges of child abuse and neglect in regards to Lucky. However, before I really start busting some skulls around here, I have to know if there are any bones that they will find from a few skeletons hiding in your closet first. I do not want to be blindsided by something after I've shaken up the tree to dislodge a few bad apples. If you are honest with me now about them, I promise to allow Lucky to remain at St. Michael's for as long as he wants, and I will allow you supervised visitation with him." He said, and they all knew that Judge Orndorf was making a very generous offer to Tom, but Tom didn't even blink before answering.

"Look all you want, because there is nothing to find. I am not one of the misguided men who chose to seek out the shelter of the priesthood because of their fear of admitting that they are homosexual or admitting that they are sexually attracted to children. Another thing is that my interest in Lucky is just what I said it is; I love him as my son. Like you love your children and your parents love you, I love him because he is the son that I chose to forsake for my faith. Not to sound all mystical and spiritual, but our bond with each other is spiritual for us. Lucky was lost and looking for something that he was missing and needed just for him to survive long enough to see his tenth birthday. He needed someone to care about him only, someone with whom he would matter the most to in this world. He needed a parent who just happened to be a Father in the church...he needed me. I was the same way because I had become disillusioned with the church, and I was looking for something to restore my faith not just in the church, but also in society as a whole, and that need turned out to be Lucky. I could never hurt him in any way, but neither can I stand aside and do nothing while knowing that he is being hurt by someone else either. So do whatever you need to do to investigate me because I have nothing to hide. I will gladly submit to a polygraph, any search that is required, and answer any questions you ask me, but I will not stop in my efforts until Lucky is safe. The only way I can insure his safety is if I am his parent, and he is my son. Only then will I be able to relax a little because if someone tries to hurt him, then they will have to kill me first to get to him." Tom told him in response and they all could see that he meant every word.

"Well, I am very glad to hear that from you because if you had said anything else I probably would rethink my decision concerning Ms. Murdock." Al told him. There was a knock on the door before the bailiff Jason stuck his head in and informed Judge Orndorf that Mrs. Jenkins had arrived. Al told him to show her in, and he disappeared for a moment before opening the door for her. Al got up and greeted her before ushering her to a chair next to Jeanne. Once he had sat back down in his chair, she took the initiative and spoke.

"I already know that you've tossed Ms. Murdock into the klink, but would you mind telling me what the self righteous hussy has done this time?" She asked him with a half smile.

"Mind your manners Margaret." He chided her with a smile of his own. "Let me introduce you to our other guests here first. You already know our new Chief of Police, Lee Smith. Lee, this is an old friend of mine, Margaret Jenkins."

"It is a pleasure to see you again Marge," Chief Smith told her warmly letting the others know that they were friends.

"Yeah right, like I believe that coming from you Lee, and congratulations on your appointment because you deserve it." She said with a smile and a wink. Judge Orndorf next introduced her to Tom who she already knew from working with him in the past.

"To whom do I owe the honor by meeting you Detective Roberts?" Marge asked him. "Also, how are your new sons doing if I may ask?"

"The honor is mine Mrs. Jenkins; let me introduce you to my fiancée Sara Radcliff to you." John said with a boyish blush.

"My pleasure, I see that you are doing quite well for yourself Sara. Was it hard to catch him?" She said in a way that told everyone that Sara and she were already well known friends of each others.

"Not really Marge, he practically jumped into the boat, but only because I dove in after him first." She said before they both broke out with giggles. Sara then let John off the hook and told him that she had met Marge while she was volunteering at the free clinic. Marge usually brought a couple of busloads of kids who needed some kind of medical care to the clinic once a month, and she and Marge had hit it off from the first day. Finally, she greeted Jeanne and Jerry warmly because they had known each other for almost twenty years.

"So Al, does that satisfy that sentimental streak that you have? I would like nothing more than to reminisce with all of you, kick back, and have a few beers, but I've got to find out what the wicked witch of the west has done this time." Marge said to him and he just nodded his head while passing her a copy of the court transcripts. He had highlighted the important statements for her already, and she quickly perused the document in her hand.

"I can't believe her sometimes. Just this morning she was all chatty and happy about the Children's pageant at St. Michael's tomorrow. She even brought up the fact that Lucky would be in the choir too. Then she comes over here and has some sort of mental meltdown and actually accused you, Tom, of being a pedophile, and then says that you and Al have got this great conspiracy going on for favors in return for sex with minors. Jesus Al, it's a miracle that you didn't blow a corpuscle, or have a coronary." Marge said in an exasperated tone. "We need to address this right now Al. We tried to help by hiding the fact that she has advanced stage lung cancer that has spread to her brain by keeping it quiet. However, I really think her mind is beginning to slip. I know that you hear some things, but the last six cases of hers, she has done something to cause a scene like this one which reflects badly on this court and CPS." Marge said in an irritated, but worried tone.

"I agree completely Marge, and I am going to recommend that she be placed on medical leave until she finishes her treatment, and then allow her to retire quietly. However, I cannot allow her to falsely accuse people of being pedophiles when they are not. Now if she were speaking about Father Moore, then I can understand. However, she accused Tom of being a pedophile, and then accused me of using this court and me personally of participating in some grand conspiracy in order to protect Tom and to cover up my own sexual perversions. However, the most disturbing thing is that we have irrefutable evidence against this foster couple for neglect, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, but most importantly of forced and repeated rape of a minor child. Yet, this woman is doing everything she can to have Lucky delivered back to them, and I need to know why." Al told her, and she agreed completely with him.

"All right, here is what we will do. I will contact her doctor and request his approval for her to continue working if she can meet certain requirements. However, if she doesn't meet all of the requirements, which I can promise that she won't, then I can recommend to the review board to have her placed on temporary disability while we work things out to medically retire her. This way, I believe that once she goes home for the Christmas holidays that she will not be coming back. I know she caused a scene today, but I don't think that she can really help it though. You aren't really going to keep her locked in here through Christmas though, are you Al?" Marge said to him while putting on her best sad puppy face and brow beating him.

"No, I wasn't planning on doing that, although I was tempted. I plan on letting her stew for a few hours before turning her over to her husband Jack. It is only because I believe that the cancer is really beginning to affect her mentally. I am going to order that she have a complete mental health exam done right after the holidays are over, and by no means is she to be allowed to work with the children or work on their case files either. Jack Murdock is a good friend of mine, and he is a damn good judge too. So this is the least I can do for him." He told Marge who was busy writing down everything. "I am also issuing an arrest warrant for Mr. Robinson for 1st degree sodomy of a minor, felony sexual battery of a minor, and felony child endangerment, and any other charges that I can think of too. Along with an arrest warrant for Mrs. Robinson for aiding and abetting, and conspiracy, as well as all needed search warrants. I want all the children under their care to be removed immediately, and I will issue the protective custody orders along with the warrants. I want complete physical examinations of the children in their care for any signs of abuse, and complete psychological examinations too. I understand that there are three other minor boys under their care currently, and I want them removed from their custody immediately. The Robinsons' are to have no contact with them what so ever, understood?" He told them, and Marge and Chief Smith agreed.

"Now, about Father Tom, and Lucky, I take it that you do not have any reason to bar or delay his petition." He asked her and she said no. "Good, then I think we should track down the boys and get things concluded here. I know that you must have a dozen things to do for tomorrow's festivities Tom." Al told him and Tom agreed with him. He then asked his bailiff to go get the boys, and Sara told him just to check the cafeteria before laughing with Jeanne.

"You are learning quickly Sara," Jeanne told her with a wink and smile. Then she turned to Judge Orndorf and said. "I told her that the only things she needed to remember in order to be a good mother is that all boys are always hungry, and that they always have to pee after a car ride."

"You forgot about one thing though. That all adolescent boys are constantly horny too." He said jokingly with a chuckle.

"I didn't forget, but the boys still haven't reached puberty yet, so she doesn't have to worry about that for a few more years." She replied making him laugh out loud. After a few moments, the bailiff knocked before ushering in the boys. Lucky immediately started towards Tom, but Ari grabbed his arm and stopped him while silently shaking his head at him. Lucky looked longingly at Tom, and then glanced at Judge Orndorf, before nodding his head to Ari and looking at his feet as Ari whispered into his ear.

"Now, if there is nothing else, all of you go on back into the courtroom while I have a chat with the boys, then we can finish this." Judge Orndorf told them, and they all got up and left the room before he had the bailiff usher the boys over and sit down. It did not escape his notice at how Simon and Ari had positioned themselves protectively on each side of Lucky either, so he tried to ease their worries some. He got up and moved around the desk, and pulled one of the chairs over and sat down in front of them.

"I know that you are worried about you friend, and that you are a bit frightened about what I may do Lucky, but I think that all of you will like what I have to say. However, I need for you to answer some questions honestly so I will know that the things I am about to do are the right things to do for you. Will you do that for me...answer my questions honestly?" He asked Lucky sincerely. Lucky was quiet for a long moment as he thought about everything, and he knew that his answers would either allow him to stay with Father Tom, or have him moved someplace else. However, as much as he wanted Father Tom to be his dad, he knew that Father Tom would be more disappointed with him if he lied or was dishonest right now when it counted. Therefore, he looked up finally at Judge Orndorf and nodded to him.

"Alright young man, now then, would you please start by telling me why you want Father Tom to be your dad?" Judge Orndorf asked him as he sat back and crossed his legs.

"Um, I don't really know why sir. I just know it. When I was sent to St. Michael's to live the first time, I was really scared...and really sad cause they took me away from the only people who loved me. I was so lonely, and wanted to go home so much, but then I heard that my foster parents adopted another boy and moved away. That hurt so much cause I had thought they loved me, but I guess they didn't since I was replaced so quickly. Father Tom saw how sad and lonely I was, and he asked me to come into his office and talk to him one day. I didn't want to at first cause I thought I was in trouble for something, but I went. I found out I wasn't in trouble, and that he did not want to talk about anything important either, you know; he just wanted to talk is all. He just asked me how my day was, if I liked my room, if I had any questions about the people or rules at St. Michael's, or if I needed anything, and stuff. But, it was different too because I could see that he really cared. He cared about how I was doing and how I felt, and I started talking to him more and more about the really important things. I liked that though, that someone cared about me...about how I felt and stuff, and I started finding ways just to go see him more and more. Not just to talk, but to just be with him because when I was with him, I always felt like I mattered instead of someone just telling me to do something and forgetting about me. He never forgot about me, or forgot anything I told him either, but then he told me that I couldn't stay at St. Michael's any longer because they found a family for me. I was really sad when I had to leave, and I missed him a lot after I left. Then my foster family...the Robinsons...they started hurting me, and I hated it there. I ran away because I wanted to talk to Father Tom, I knew that he would help make them stop hurting me, but that lady sent me back. They really hurt me bad when she sent me back, but Father Tom came to see me at the hospital as soon as he heard, and he told me that he was sorry. He was sorry for letting them take me back and for them hurting me. He cried because I got hurt...because he really cared about me; and that's when I knew. I knew that he loved me, and that I loved him and I wanted him to be my dad. He promised that he would fix it so that they couldn't hurt me anymore, and he did...he kept his promise." Lucky told him in his high pitched voice that had almost a musical quality to it.

"Thank you Lucky for being honest and answering me, I really appreciate it young man. Now, tell me how you met your friends here; Simon and Ari please?" He asked him and Lucky relaxed more and smiled a little at his compliment.

"I met Simon when I went to live with the Robinsons, but he was Devon back then. Jake was being mean to me one day at school...he lives with the Robinsons too. He punched me and pushed me down, but Simon stopped him from doing any more. I thought Jake was going to pound Simon at first because he is a lot bigger than him; but when he tried to hit him, Simon grabbed his hand and next thing I know Jake is on his knees begging and crying for Simon to stop. Simon then came over, helped me up, and pick up my books. We were friends after that, and nobody bothered me because they were afraid of Simon. I mean that all of the other kids were so much bigger than both of us, and they were always trying to hurt us, but they couldn't hurt Simon ever. Once Jake and his friends jumped both of us after school; and Simon stopped them and made them run was the bravest thing I ever saw. It was awesome because TJ held me down while Pete and Chris held Simon's arms. Jake went to punch Simon, but he ducked his head at the last second making him punch Chris instead. Then he kicked Pete right on his kneecap, and he fell down crying and holding his knee. That's when Jake and the others ran off, but when I went over to Simon, he was just kneeling beside Pete and crying. I thought that Jake had hurt him, but he was crying because he had hurt Pete. That's why I like him, because he doesn't want anyone to hurt us, but he doesn't like to hurt others even if it is only to protect himself."

"That was the day I met Ari too. He said that his Pop was gone on a trip and wouldn't be back until the weekend, and he asked if I could keep a secret, and I said yes. He took me to the old warehouse that was near the school and told me to wait for him, and when he came back, Ari was with him. He said that Ari was his friend, and that he might be his brother if Pop let him stay with them, but that I couldn't tell anyone about him living there yet, and I promised that I wouldn't. I really liked Ari as soon as I met him because him and me are so much alike. I didn't know then that Pop had kidnapped him and Ari though, and Simon never let me go to his house either. He said that his Pop hurt him and Ari when he was mad, and that he would hurt me too if I went over there, so I stayed away." Lucky told him quietly while both Ari and Simon nodded in agreement with him.

"Did you know about the things that were going on there at Simon's house?" He asked Lucky.

"Not at first, but later on they told me some things, and I kinda figured out the rest on my own. I guess it was when Simon stopped coming to school which was weird because Simon never missed a day of school. Even when his Pop hurt him a lot, he still came to school. I used to bring him bottles of aspirin that I took from Mr. Robinson so he would not hurt so much all the time. So I was really worried when he stopped coming to school. I was thinking about going over to see him after school one day when Ari came to the warehouse alone. He told me that Pop had broke Simon's leg, and had hurt him really bad. He said that some doctor came over and took care of Simon until he stopped coughing up blood. Then he had to get back before Pop came home, and he told me to stay away because Pop would kill all of us if he found out that I knew about him living there. I tried to tell him that I knew who came over to take care of Simon, but Ari made me swear not to say anything to anyone about Simon or him because Pop would kill all of us. He had these big bruises all over his face and body, and I knew that Pop would kill us if I said anything, so I kept quiet. That was the last time I saw either of them until I heard about Simon being shot in the news. I was back at St. Michael's when I heard about Simon being shot, and I didn't know that Ari had got away and was hiding in the old warehouse though because I would have helped him if I had known." Lucky said sadly, as he remembered these things. However, Ari had sat up as he listened, and now he fidgeted almost excitedly as he wrung his hands together while looking over at Simon and Judge Orndorf noticed this too.

"What is the matter young man?" He asked Ari who stiffened up with a fearful look on his face.

"I...I need to ask Simon something sir." He asked hesitantly.

"All right, if it is important," Judge Orndorf told him, and Ari almost jumped out of his chair and hurried over to Simon's side, and began whispering into his ear. Simon's face suddenly became surprised at whatever Ari told him, and he looked over at Lucky, and then back to Judge Orndorf. "What is the matter, boys? It is okay to tell me because you won't be in trouble."

"We really need to talk to my Dad is real important. It has to do with Pop, and something Lucky said just now. Dad really has to hear it from Lucky though because it has to do with something that mom and Dad said to us last night when we went to bed. Please sir, it is really important." Simon told him in almost a pleading tone as he struggled to explain even though both him, and Ari were not sure that what they had just heard was related to what they had talked about the night before. However, Judge Orndorf could see how distressed they both were because they were practically in tears with worry. Therefore, he called his bailiff in and asked him to go get John.

"Now then, when your dad gets here, I want you to explain to him and me what the problem is. There is no need to keep secrets from me because I am trying to help all of you, but I think that you two already understand that." He told Simon and Ari, who was now sitting really close to Simon and holding his hand tightly. Then John knocked and came into the room.

"I was told you needed me, your honor." John said as he came in, and he noticed Simon and Ari holding hands while Ari was almost pale with fear and worry.

"Not me, they need you John. Now Simon, why don't you tell your dad what is wrong ok." Judge Orndorf told him, and John moved around them and stood next to Judge Orndorf as he looked at Simon.

"It about what you and mom said last night to us Dad. Ari told you about what had happened to me when Pop broke my leg and about Pop's doctor friend. Then you said that you wanted to know who that man was." Simon told him cautiously while Ari nodded in agreement. Simon looked over at Lucky then. "Lucky, tell Dad what you just told him," he said while he pointed with his left hand at Judge Orndorf, and Lucky immediately understood what he wanted and repeated what he had just said about his last meeting with Ari after Pop had broken Simon's leg. John listened carefully to Lucky, and he dropped to his knees in front of Lucky when he finished speaking.

"You know who that man was Lucky? You know who the doctor was who cared for Simon?" John asked him intently and Lucky nodded.

"I know him Mr. Roberts, but he isn't a doctor though. The man was Mr. Robinson, my foster dad. He was the one who took care of Simon after Pop hurt him so bad Mr. Roberts." Lucky said softly while his face burned with shame as if he were responsible for the things his foster parents had done.

"How did you find out about this Lucky?" John asked him as he pulled out his notepad and began taking notes.

"Because that was when Mr. Robinson was gone for a whole week. He left the same day that Simon didn't come to school. After he came home, I heard him talking to Mrs. Robinson about Simon, of how bad his Pop had hurt him, and how Simon almost died. He told her how he had to keep giving him blood and how he finally had to cater something to make the bleeding stop." Lucky told him, and John corrected him without thinking.

"Cauterize, not cater. It is a surgical procedure that is used to help control bleeding. Now Lucky; do you know how Mr. Robinson could get the equipment, the bags of blood, and medicines that he needed to do this if he isn't a doctor?" John asked him.

"I think because he works at the hospital, but he works in the basement where all the dead people go though. He is the doctor's assistant there." Lucky told him, and it explained the knowledge of surgical procedures, and access to blood and medications too. John finished writing everything down in his notepad before speaking and hugging each of them.

"This is real important you guys, you did real good here. I know that it is hard for you to remember all of these painful memories, but by doing so, it will help us to catch all of these bad people, and we can stop them from ever hurting you or any other kid again. I'm real proud of you guys." John told them before kissing them on the foreheads after he stood back up. He then informed Judge Orndorf of the full story about what had happened to Simon, and how it clearly linked the Robinsons to Bill Jefferies and to the sex ring too. "Thanks to what Lucky just told us, this might be the break we need to blow this case wide open. I need to tell Chief Smith and Jerry so we can nail the Robinsons before they have a chance to destroy anymore evidence. Then we need to do formal interviews of Lucky and each of the boys here in order to get their statements submitted to the grand jury when it reconvenes."

"Now hold on for a moment John. You know that this will place Lucky in even more danger, and make him a target for whoever is after Ari. As for their statements, if I question them in the courtroom, then their answers will be the same as them testifying before the grand jury. Why don't you let me make a few calls to the Judge handling the grand jury investigation, and see what he says about this. I can also inform him about the threat against the boys, and we can come up with a plan to put them under federal witness protection with the U.S. Marshall Service. That way you can handle the details for their protection, and also keep them together with you." Judge Orndorf told him and John agreed. Next, they sent for the Chief, Jerry, Juan, and Tom. However, Lucky interrupted them with a question.

"Will I get to say goodbye to Dad before you send me away, please?" He asked sadly, and Judge Orndorf went over to him and sat beside him.

"I normally don't do this young man, but you've been very helpful to the police, and to your friends here. No you will not get to say goodbye to Father Tom because I am ordering that your adoption to be approved so that you will never have to say goodbye to him again. As far as I am concerned young man, you are now his son, and he is your father. Congratulations Lucky." Judge Orndorf told him with a warm smile and Lucky was speechless for a long moment as he tried to decide if he were serious. Seeing nothing deceptive in his face, Lucky managed to squeak out a question to him.

"You really mean it, that he will now be my Dad forever?" He squeaked out, and Judge Orndorf just nodded as he continued to smile. Then Lucky jumped up into his lap and began to cry. "Thank you sir," he said as he hugged him tightly and cried while Judge Orndorf gently soothed him.

"It's all right son. You are a very brave young man, and you deserve to be happy. Now why don't you go tell your Dad the good news?" He said as he gently wiped Lucky's eyes and nose with his handkerchief as Tom came over to them.

"Dad, he said yes. I'm now your son for real Dad...for real." Lucky said happily while fresh tears spilled down his pixie face. Tom picked him up into his arms and held him gently as Lucky's tears overwhelmed him again.

"See, I told you that our prayers would be answered if we believed. I love you son," Tom said to him before showering him with kisses as he cried with him. "Thank you also, your honor, you cannot know how happy you have made us just now."

"Just be good to him as you already have been Tom. I think that you already know, but these three boys have lived through hell, and yet they are the same, sweet, caring boys that they are now. Just love him as much as he loves you, and in six months, I want you back in here for an update of him and how he is adjusting to his new home." Judge Orndorf told him before shaking Tom's free hand. "However, we do have some troubling news for you to hear, so why don't you get comfortable." He said quietly to them both. Tom sat down with Lucky in his lap, who had his face buried into his chest. He continued to soothe him quietly until he had calmed down before turning his attention to John and the others.

"I'm sorry Tom to have dragged you and Lucky into this mess, but if what Lucky just told us turns out to be true, which I believe it will, then both you and Lucky, along with the boys are in danger. The family he was placed with, it appears that they are also involved with the sex ring. Besides Ari, Lucky is now the only other person who can testify about the illegal activities that went on in the ring. Now I know you have questions, but hear me out first while I lay out everything we know so far, and how the boys are involved, and are critical witnesses. Because of their knowledge, we believe that we may stop many more kids from being abused, and prevent them from being murdered once their usefulness is over." John explained to him, and then he went on for the next twenty minutes telling all of them about the entire case that they uncovered when Bill Jefferies was killed. He told them about how Simon was kidnapped by Jefferies and made to take the place of his real son Devon who was Bill's first victim. He then explained how Ari came to live with them, and how Ari enabled Simon to defy Bill, and ultimately expose him, thus saving Ari's life while almost losing his own. Next, he went on and explained where Ari had come from, of the sex and porn trade involving Deacon Parrish and the orphanage, and how the local police were involved. He then told him how Bill was involved in his job as a cleaner, and of his personal perversions, which were the reasons they believed he kept Ari alive. He also explained how Ari had been the only witness who could link the crimes to someone besides Bill Jefferies. Finally, he explained how Lucky was now involved, of how he was now the only other witness, and how he was in mortal danger along with Ari and Simon. Once he finished, Tom took a long moment to digest everything, and for him to consider their options. However, when he spoke, his suggestion to them for the protection of the boys was simple, yet probably the most feasible plan.

"You are serious aren't you?" John asked him, and everyone could see that his mind was working to assess and evaluate the suggestion. "You know something Tom; I think you are right about this."

"Are you serious John? That will leave the boys out in the open, and we can already see that these people will go to extreme lengths to eliminate the boys." Chief Smith said to him.

"We know that they will go after Ari, but they don't know that we are on to them. They know that we are working to protect him, but they do not know that we have made the connection to the conspiracy sex ring yet. Right now, all they know is that we have Ari, and that he has implicated Deacon Parrish because he sold Ari to Bill Jefferies. That is all that we have released to the public so far, and Simon's involvement to all of this is mainly coincidental. They are worried about Ari because he could lead the investigation to uncover the sex ring, which is why he is a target now. What they do not know about is the detailed records that Jefferies kept about the entire conspiracy including the names of the main players involved, or that Simon led us to those records. They also do not know that we have now made the connection with Lucky, or that we are working now to protect all three boys. To them, Simon is nothing more than a puppet used by Bill, and Lucky is an unknown witness. So that leaves only Ari who is a threat to them, as they perceive the situation, and that is why they are trying to eliminate him. However, if we put all three boys into protective custody and go underground, then they will know that we are onto the conspiracy, and they will do whatever is necessary to cover their asses and most will slip away from us. However, by hiding the boys in plain sight, in a public place where we can control the situation, then we neither compromise the boys' safety nor tip our hand to the players involved. They already know that I have adopted the boys, and that I have resigned from the department; so they think that we do not have a clue and that Ari is vulnerable now. I hate to say it your honor, but I like this idea; and I think it is the best thing to do for now until after the holidays." John said to the Chief and Judge Orndorf.

"He does have a point Al, and we can go a step further by assigning undercover details to protect the boys too. Therefore, we will not tip them off that we are on to them just yet. It also means that you cannot take any action against the Robinsons just yet either without blowing this investigation open." The Chief told him.

"Alright, but I need to ask Lucky a few more questions first before I can decide about this gentlemen." He said before directing his attention back to Lucky who was sitting in Tom's lap.

"Now this is important young man, but I know that you want to help your friends if you can, and this will help all of you. Can you tell me what your foster parents did to you, and if the other boys living there are being hurt?" Judge Orndorf asked him, and Tom reassured him that this was the right thing to do. Lucky then told them of how the Robinsons had first made him pose naked while they took pictures, and how they beat him when he tried to refuse. After a month or so, Mr. Robinson then told the other boys Jake and Charlie to get him ready for some live action, and that is when he was raped. First he was raped by Jake who was 14, then by Charlie who was 16, and finally by Mr. Robinson. He said that it was a few weeks after Jake and Charlie were doing it, and then Mr. Robinson did it to him while Mrs. Robinson filmed it all. He said that the only one who tried to help him was Seth, who was 12, but he ran away about a month ago. It was after what happened to him the first time that he decided to run away. However, it was when Ms. Murdock sent him back that they had hurt him very bad though. Mr. Robinson took him to a room downstairs and tied him naked to the bed. Then three men came in and they raped and beat him until he passed out. He said that he woke up in the car as Mrs. Robinson drove him someplace and threw him out of the car leaving him lying in the ditch beside the road naked and bleeding. He said that he pretended to be asleep until she left, and then he managed to crawl to the road where passing truck driver found him a few minutes later and called the ambulance and police. He told them how he wanted to die so he would not have to go back there again, and then he buried his face into Tom's chest and sobbed quietly unable to continue.

"It is ok son, they cannot hurt you anymore." Judge Orndorf told Lucky while Tom comforted him, and then Judge Orndorf looked at John. "I don't like doing this, but I don't see any other way right now. I have enough evidence from Lucky's assault to warrant removal of the boys from the Robinsons, but I will not order that just yet pending an official investigation after the holidays. That means that you gentlemen have about a month to get things organized before I expose this investigation to the world. In that time, I expect you to provide the needed personnel and resources for their protection while gathering the evidence you need for the investigation. In no way do I want you taking chances with their lives, because they are not the bait. Therefore, if the situation changes, then I want them taken out of harm's reach immediately or I will hold each one of you personally responsible, understood." Judge Orndorf told them and Chief Smith, Tom, Juan, Jerry, and John all agreed.

"Okay, let's go and do this. I will seal the court records for now, and I want you all to keep me updated to your progress with verbal reports each week, but I will trust you will handle that Lee." He told them before ushering them all out and into the courtroom. Once everybody had returned to their seats, he came in and called the court back into session.

"It has come to my knowledge that some unfortunate events have happened to this young man, and I expect that these issues will be handled accordingly by your office Mrs. Jenkins. I am also forwarding these transcripts to the appropriate departments, and Chief Smith has assured me that he will make sure that a complete and thorough investigation will be made. As for the minor's status, I am ordering that this petition of adoption be granted and be finalized after the one year probationary period has passed. I expect your office to monitor the status during the probationary period Mrs. Jenkins. As for Ms. Murdock's status; mitigating circumstances has been presented to me by Mrs. Jenkins, and I have issued the appropriate orders to rectify those issues. If there are no other issues that demand this court's attention, then let us conclude our business so we can all go home. Therefore, it is ordered that the petition of adoption by Father Tom McGrath in regards to the minor, Lucky Snyder, be approved." He said before looking over to Lucky and Tom. "Would you like to have your new Dad's last name young man?" He asked and Lucky nodded excitedly as the realization of his dream was coming to pass. "Then it is so ordered, let the record reflect that the minor's name be changed to Lucky Jordan McGrath on this 24th day of December, 1995. If there is no other business then, all of you have a Merry Christmas, and happy New Year. Court's adjourned." He said with a final bang of his gavel before getting up and coming down off the dais to shake Tom's hand. Lucky rushed over and gave him a crushing hug of thanks as he came over to him.

"Thank you sir, you gave me the best Christmas present in the whole world a kid could ever want." He said as he cried happy tears.

"Well you deserve it Lucky, and I want you to go home and have a wonderful Christmas with your friends and your new Dad, alright?" He told him as he bent down and looked at Lucky, and Lucky nodded before standing up on his tiptoes and kissing him on the cheek. Judge Orndorf just smiled at him before watching him go over to Simon and Ari while he shook Tom's hand.

"Thank you again, your honor." Tom told him as they shook hands.

"Your welcome, but I expect to be seeing you quite often in the next few months. Just take care of him because he has been hurt enough already. You are a good man Tom, and he is lucky to have you." He told Tom, but Tom disagreed.

"No, we are the lucky ones. That is why his name is Lucky, his mother, Paula Snyder; she died in an auto accident on the way to the hospital when she was in premature labor with him. She somehow managed to survive and remain conscious long enough to deliver him eight weeks prematurely and she died before the paramedics could get to the scene. The cop who delivered him at the scene named him Lucky because he said that it was a miracle that he was alive, and the name stuck. Since then, everyone who has ever come into contact with him knows that they have met someone very special because he can touch your heart with just a glance. Now tell me that he has not touched you in that same way because I know he has. We are the lucky ones your honor, and not just because of him either, but because of all three of them. God has delivered them to us, and he has placed their well being in our hands, and I know that none of us will let them down...not as long as we are still here to draw a breath at least." Tom told him, and Judge Orndorf had to agree. He knew that all three boys were special, and that all of them had touched him in the same way as Tom said. He was not an overly devout man, but he knew that for whatever reason that these boys lives were now all of their responsibilities, and that they would not fail in that responsibility.

"On that, I must agree with you Father. Now, I know that all of us have many things to do, and if it is not a problem, my wife and I would very much like to attend the festivities tomorrow." He said to him as they stopped beside the door to the courtroom.

"You are always welcomed at St. Michael's, and we will be honored if you attended tomorrow. I plan on having the morning mass for the boys to meet the congregation at 11AM. Then we will have our children's pageant at 4 pm, followed by dinner at 5:30 pm, and the children opening their presents right after. Then I will wrap up the day with our evening mass at 8PM. Of course, there will be our traditional midnight mass tonight and 6AM sunrise service tomorrow if you want to attend, but the boys will not attend until 11AM. I just ask that you bring a toy for a boy and a girl with you is all. Also, please do not bring toys for a young child, just strictly for the ages 9 on up to 16." Tom told him, and Judge Orndorf agreed. They shook hands once more before they all filed out of the courtroom while Judge Orndorf, Juan, and Chief Smith returned to his chambers. Once they were in the hall, a protective detail of four uniformed officers met, and escorted them to the side entrance to the municipal complex where John's van was waiting for them. They all got into the van, and then followed their police escort back to St. Michael's where Simon, Ari, and Lucky had a tearful goodbye before Tom and Lucky went inside while they drove home.

End of Chapter 12

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