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There's a Hope and a Memory

A variety of thoughts went through the minds of those at the marina. Will felt disappointed with his son for taking the ship without telling anyone. Jane had thought she said that in the note she left, but had failed to ask permission. Will wasn't worried about his sons, he had faith in David's ability to handle the craft. Shego, with less faith in the sailing ability of the Du offspring, worried about Jane. Kim felt a smaller combination of both disappointment and worry, but kept telling Will he was overly concerned. Kasy took secret pleasure in the prospect of Jane as designated problem child and stood looking bored as the adults talked about appropriate action. Sheki and Monique were still shopping. Both were mildly concerned, but couldn't believe there was any real problem or David would have radioed.

Will's cell phone rang once, and the Global Justice agent had it to his ear before it rang a second time. "Hello? … Yes … Yes … WHAT!"

Kim and Shego both stared. "What's happening?" Kim demanded. He waved to silence her as he continued to listen.

"The children are safe?" Will asked.

"What's going on?" Shego demanded.

"I'm sorry, someone is talking here," Will told the person he was talking to on the phone. He looked at the women, "Can you be quiet so I can hear?" Kim and Shego managed to stay silent, but only with difficulty, as Will continued the conversation over the phone. "Look, did you receive a clear report the children were not hurt, a report that there were no serious injuries, or are you lying to me because you are a clueless incompetent who feels a need to say something reassuring when you haven't a bit of useful information?"

Will's mouth tightened as he listened. "Stop," he told the speaker. "Can you give me their position?" He listened briefly then closed the cell phone. "Incompetent," he muttered. He looked at the women, "I'm renting a boat. Kim call Monique and say we're going out to find the kids."

"What do I say about the kids? Are they okay?"

"Just say we're going out. The woman at the Coast Guard headquarters says they are fine, but doesn't demonstrate a high level of credibility."


By the time the four headed away from Salem in a rented motorboat a Coast Guard helicopter had left a man on board the yacht. And while the Ensign argued with David over the wisdom of heading for shore or waiting for the Coast Guard Cutter to arrive David had fixed the radio and gave his father directions on finding them. The Ensign assured the parents that the children were fine except for minor bruises and advised them to return to Salem and wait.

To the relief of the children their parents replied they would ignore his advice.

When they found the yacht a Coast Guard Cutter was alongside with a boarding team on the sailing vessel. The seamen had already found enough weapons to be suspicious of any craft approaching them. There were weapons trained on the motorboat as it pulled alongside, but Louis's cry of "Daddy!" relieved most of the tension.

Will told Kim to take the helm and climbed on the yacht. To the surprise of her mothers Kasy was almost as fast in abandoning ship.

Kim ordered Shego to stop when it looked like she was going to leave also, "I want to see Jane."

"Somebody's got to stay onboard."

"Why me?"

"Flip you for it?" Shego suggested. "Got a quarter?"

"Let me look," Kim answered. By the time she found a coin and looked up Shego was already on the yacht.

David ran to his father, who dropped to his knees and took the boy in his arms. For the first time in years David burst into tears as his father hugged him tightly. Louis joined them a minute later, slightly uncomfortable with the fact his brother was crying, and was swept into the embrace.

Kasy, feeling a sense of guilt that she had somehow wished this on her sister, found Jane. The older girl a noticed a bruise and some scratches, but the seven-year old basically looked fine and Kasy breathed a sigh of relief. "So, you okay?"

Jane laughed, "That was fun! I'm going to be a hero!"

Shego arrived in time to hear Jane's words, and resolved to wash her daughter's mouth out with soap when they got back to shore. She then grabbed both girls for a hug.

The Boarding Officer gave Will and David a lengthy lecture on safety, responsibility, and parenting. Even if appropriate, the lecture was entirely unnecessary. Both knew the truth of everything he said already, and neither could possibly feel any worse than they were already feeling.


Once back in Salem, Monique jumped on Will also. "Why didn't you tell me what was going on?"

"Because I didn't know what was going on."

"And that makes it all right?"

"If I don't possess any clear information in regard to a topic I can scarcely pass on any reliable intelligence now, can I?"

"Don't go being reasonable, Sherlock. I'm mad."

The three younger children were all ravenous and the adults uncertain what to do about dinner. On the one hand some sort of punishment for the children going out without permission seemed called for. On the other hand the fact they were all home safely meant a celebration was in order. The result of their deliberations was a trip to a pizza buffet.

At the adult booth Shego stared at the slices of mushroom and black olive pizza on her plate. "Why do I feel like we're the ones being punished? We're on the coast. There is actually good seafood available that hasn't been frozen or flown for a thousand miles, and we're eating the same lousy pizza we could get in Middleton."

"We're not eating pizza," Kim reminded her, "we're celebrating the kids being safe."

"Celebration tastes a lot like pizza," Shego grumbled. She raised a slice of pizza in the air, "A toast, to the kids being safe."

Kim and Monique grabbed their own slices of pizza and 'clinked' the rims of their pieces together.

"To safety," Kim seconded.

"Amen," Monique added.

Will did not join in the 'toast'. Under the best of circumstances he had difficulty being silly, but Monique could tell that something was troubling him deeply. She glanced over at the kid's table, David looked as miserable as his father - even more wretched than the two teens who had been assigned to watch pre-teens.

When the group returned to the bed and breakfast the younger children wanted to stay up for the news, but were so obviously exhausted that their parents sent them to bed.

Kim was about to propose cards when Monique took Will by the hand and announced, "We're turning in. Will and I need to talk."

Shego yawned, "I'm beat."

"Don't stay up too late," Kim warned the twins. If her comment, "And don't go out," seemed directed at Kasy it was probably because it was. She turned to Shego, "Want to walk along the beach before we turn in?"

"This afternoon left me drained. I'm voting for bed."

"I need to talk with Mon," Shego said as they got ready for bed. "I've never asked if Will is as wild as you are."

"Excuse me?"

"You repressed types are either hotter than hell in bed, or cold fish. I happen to know you're amazing-"

"Thanks awfully," Kim said dryly.

"Hey, it's a compliment. I'm just wondering if Will gets all studly when the bedroom door is closed or if Monique has to go to bed with a mackerel."

"And what difference does it make to you?"

"Hey, inquiring minds want to know… But we need to talk about Jane. She said something this afternoon…"


Down in the living room of the bed and breakfast Kasy and Sheki stared at each other. "So, want to see a movie?" Kasy suggested.

"Mom said we weren't supposed to leave."

"You know she just doesn't want me going out alone. If you're along she knows I won't get in trouble."

"What if they check on us?"

"C'mon. They're either making whoopee - in which case they won't check on us. Or they want to sleep - and they won't check on us."

"I don't think-"

"I'll buy tickets if you buy popcorn and soda."

"No way! Popcorn's more expensive than tickets! I'll buy tickets."

The first half of the walk to the theater was done in silence. "Sorry I lied to you," Kasy finally apologized.

"I thought you like Jessica."

"I do. But I like Jason too."

"If you want Jessica, stop seeing Jason."

"Jessica's too young."

"So are we, to be running around the way you are!"

"Hey, I'm trying to apologize."

Sheki sighed, "Yeah, maybe you are… I guess I'm still mad at you though."

"Hey, I'm mad at you too. You told them my best escape plans. But you're still my sister."

"Got to ask Eemah if there's any way to break that," Sheki muttered, then they both laughed.


Monique felt her stomach tighten with fear as she and Will sat in their room and he told her about what had happened in greater detail. She understood even better why David had seemed so upset

"When the last man was holding Jane and threatening to kill her he didn't know what to do. If he surrendered the man might have shot them both - and what would have happened to Louis? If he said nothing the man might have killed Jane... No twelve-year old needs that kind of torture."

"No one should have to face choices like that."

Will described how David had broken down when he arrived, then told Monique of his own feelings. He finished with, "… and I feel like the worst father in the world."

"Why?"

"Because I didn't go out immediately when we discovered they were gone… For that matter, I should have gone down to the marina in the morning and verified where they were. I didn't care enough to-"

"Hush. You aren't a bad father. David is very responsible, and because of that we trusted him more than we should. That isn't a sin. We all make mistakes."

"He could have been killed! It would have been my fault."

"No, it wouldn't have been. If he slipped in the shower would it be your fault because you weren't there to catch him? If a drunk driver jumped the curb and hit him would it be your fault for saying he could be outside?"

"But-"

"It was poor communication. The kids thought they said one thing. We thought they said another."

"I should have checked."

Monique sighed, "I've got to figure out some kind of punishment."

"For David?"

"For David."

"I don't think we need to punish him. He learned his lesson. He feels worse than anything we could do to him."

"And that is exactly why we need to punish him."

Will frowned, "I'm lost."

"He'll punish himself worse than anything we can do to him with his thoughts. We assign a punishment… Maybe three miles of cleaning beach by your parents… And he'll feel better, he's been punished so he can live with himself."

"That will work?"

"It will for David. He'll see it as doing the time for the crime."

"He didn't do any crime, he just-"

"I know that. But, like you said, he's punishing himself. If we give a punishment it will be easier for him to forgive himself."

"It sounds like a trick."

"Maybe it is, but it will help him… Will, I think you need to be punished too. You're beating yourself up over what happened."

"I messed up. They could have been killed."

"You weren't listening to me!"

"Yes I was. You tried to make me feel better. But I wasn't a good father. I didn't check on them."

"You definitely need to be punished. You can do beach patrol with him."

"But I know this is merely a psychological trick you are playing and it won't help."

Monique put her forefingers in her temples, "Concentrate. Program yourself to accept that the punishment absolves you of any need to keep mentally beating yourself up."

"It won't work."

"If your mind tells you it will, it will. I swear, you falling in love with me was the only time your heart told your head what to do."

Her words brought a half-smile to his lips. "So, you are discounting the possibility that my mind fell in love with you?"

She raised one eyebrow skeptically, "Oh really?"

"You are beautiful, intelligent, sensitive, and have a wonderful sense of humor. My head told my heart it had permission to fall in love with you."

She laughed, "Please tell me you don't really believe that."

"No," he admitted. "I fell in love the evening we met. And every day my heart reminds my head it was right."

Monique stood, moved to her husband's chair, sat down on his lap and gave him a hug and kiss. "Do the cleaning with David. Anytime you feel you were a bad dad just tell yourself you've already been punished for your mistake."

He sighed, "I hope you're right."

"When am I ever wrong," she demanded, and tickled him.

"Never," he laughed. He gave her a kiss. "After today… Hope you understand I'm not in the mood I was this morning."

"That's okay. I'm not sure I am either."

She moved to get off his lap, but his arms tightened around her. Will frowned slightly, "You diagnosed my problem. What is yours?"

"Excuse me?"

"Monique, I can tell when something is bothering you. Is it what the boys did? Is it what I failed to do?"

She sighed, "You know me too well, Sherlock. But this is something else… I wanted to talk with you about something tonight and, well, I don't think I can now."

"I don't understand."

"Of course not, you're a man."

"Please?"

"Not after today. It's just not a good time."

"Something is troubling you. And that troubles me. I've got enough guilt on me for today. I don't want to worry that you are mad at me for something else."

"I'm not mad at you."

"Then tell me, please."

She sighed again and thought for a minute. This was not a good time, but he would worry if she said nothing. She worried he might be more upset if she told him. "Let's get in bed first. This might be a long talk."

He looked even more worried.

"Not mad at you," she assured him again. "I'd like your arms around me while we talk."

After getting ready for bed Monique snuggled up beside her husband. "I was wondering… Do you think the boys would like a little sister?"

He stared at her in shock, "You're pregnant?"

"No, silly. But seeing the kids grow up… Somehow I forget the diapers and the earaches and one a.m. feedings and I want another one. I want to see first steps again, to hear her say 'mommy' and 'daddy' for the first time."

"You seem awfully certain it would be a girl."

"I have two brothers. Your folks had two sons and a daughter. It's fate. If we have a third child, she'll be a girl."

"Which would be far more comfortable for her than if she were a boy," Will teased.

"Will, I'm serious."

He grew thoughtful, "How long have you been feeling like this?"

"I guess since Thanksgiving. I saw Bonnie and Becky and wondered what our daughter would look like. Shopping with Sheki today… I thought about how nice it would be to have a daughter I could go shopping with."

"Of course, we might have a Kasy or a Jane."

"I'm serious!"

"I'm sorry. You just hit me with this, and I don't know what to say. What do you want me to say?"

"I don't know. I want you to listen. I want to talk about it with you. Part of me wants you to talk me out of it. Part of me wants you to hug me and say that's the most wonderful idea you've ever heard."

He chuckled softly. "I can see myself doing either, or both. How soon… Is there any sort of time frame for this decision?"

"Two months?"

"That seems appropriate. No decisions until then?"

"Not until then… And if we try to have another baby, could you not be so good at it?"

"Excuse me?"

"I mean, we conceived David on our honeymoon. And, I swear, I must have been pregnant twenty-three hours after we started trying for number two. You don't need to be so efficient when the whole process is so much fun."

Monique smiled as her husband began to gently caress her body, "Just talking with you makes me want to practice," he whispered.

"You don't need any practice," she giggled. "You're already very good. I think what you need tonight is some stress relief."

"It has been a day I'm never going to forget."

"Umm, let me see if your loving wife can take your mind off it for a little while. You'll sleep much, much better when I'm through with you."


David had trouble sleeping, nightmares attacked every time he started to close his eyes. He had finally managed to doze when a persistent knocking on the door woke him up. He stared at the clock, it was only three hours since they went upstairs to bed. "Who is it," he hissed at the person on the other side of the door.

"It's me, open up," Jane told him.

"Go away!"

"It's time for the news. You got a set in your room?"

"Yeah, but-"

"No fair, we don't have one. Let me in."

"I want to sleep."

"You can sleep after the news."

He went back to bed. She kept knocking.

"Fine," he told her, "but you go back to your room as soon as it's over."

"Okay," she agreed cheerfully.

Louis managed to sleep through the exchange, but not the pillow she hit him with. He was more willing that his brother to watch the news. David got back in bed, but curiosity kept him awake during the broadcast.

"That's no fair," Louis protested at the end of the nightly news.

"Stupid Coast Guard took all the credit," Jane agreed. "We did all the work."

"Go back to your room," David reminded Jane. "And don't ever ask me to play pirates again."

"Nah, pirates is old stuff," Jane agreed as she headed for the door. "Next time we play heroes."

-The End-