Shane knew something was wrong quite a while before he entered Seth's room to find that the teenager was missing.
Earlier in the day, Shane had been called to the Principal's office to discuss Seth's new hair and the disturbing accessory found in his locker. Shane hadn't thought too much of it, dismissing it as regular teen attitude. However, the Principal (whom Shane liked to think of as Claire), and the rather odd guy known as the 'Merninator' had found this behavior to be abnormal, and claimed to be 'concerned'. Shane's blasé attitude had vanished as he listened to Claire speak, and her worry had begun to rub off on him. So much that as soon as they got home, Shane tried to speak with Seth, only to be blown off.
This time, determined to hear the whole explanation, Shane entered Seth's room. He brushed aside the curtain, mentally reminding himself to get to work on the door, and realized that the room was empty. On the wrinkled bed lay the alarm wristband he'd given to each of the kids his first day there.
Shane grabbed the band for a moment, before tossing it back onto the bed and hurrying to the window. He paused for a moment, acknowledging the kid's intelligence at using a refrigerator magnet to stick to the window alarm, so it wouldn't go off, and then looked outside. He caught a glimpse of the newly blond teenager crossing the street. Instantly, Shane's mind was made up, and he rushed out of the room, calling Zoe.
Quickly, he gave instructions to the oldest child, mentioning the oven, homework, and the cookie jar. He knew that it was unlikely that Zoe would remember all that, but was comforted by the fact that the girl would at least try to complete everything he'd assigned to her. He really didn't expect her to do it all anyway, so that was ok.
Shane ran out into the front yard in time to see Seth climbing onto a bus. Without stopping for a single second, the lieutenant grabbed the first vehicle he saw, which just happened to be a very girly, pink bicycle, and took off after the teenager.
Seth knew he was late to practice. He usually tried to be right on time, but sneaking around and keeping the musical from everyone else sometimes caused him to be late, such as today. It had all gotten worse with Shane asking him what was wrong, sounding genuinely concerned, and trying to get Seth to talk to him.
Seth sighed. He really liked Shane now, unlike when he'd first arrived, but he thought the man wouldn't really understand everything he was feeling. And, he especially wouldn't understand the fact that instead of wrestling, Seth wanted to act in the Sound of Music.
Even as he thought the words to himself now, Seth felt embarrassed. Sure, he loved singing and dancing, but it wasn't exactly a manly hobby, and something most girls wouldn't go for. However, it was what he liked to do, so he'd keep doing it, even in secret, if he had to.
Seth's foot jiggled nervously as the bus driver drove on, oblivious to the teenager's urgency to arrive at the theater. The old lady sitting beside the blond looked at him with a frown on her face, not pleased by the kid's fidgeting, while completely clueless to the fact that her grocery bags were taking up nearly the entire foot space, barely leaving enough room for the foot jiggling.
Seth waited impatiently for the driver to go by the last corner. He prepared to rush out into the street as soon as the bus stopped in front of the theater.
Finally, after what seemed to be ages, but was in fact only a few seconds, the bus stopped. Instantly, Seth was out of his seat and out the door. The lady who'd been sitting next to him sighed happily, and piled her bags onto the empty seat, so nobody else could disturb her that day.
It was lucky the bus stop was so close to the theater entrance. In fact, it was right in front of the rather dark alley leading to the entrance.
Seth tucked his hands in his pockets and trotted over to the door of the theater. He was so late, and the director would probably berate him for his tardiness, but Seth didn't mind, as long as he didn't get kicked off the show.
Putting his hand on the door, Seth took a deep breath before preparing to push it and enter the darkened room, but before he could do so, a hand firmly grasped his shoulder.
Angrily, Seth spun around, thinking that it was probably just a bully or something. What he never expected was to find out that his attacker was one of the ninjas who'd broken into his house not too long ago.
Terrified, the teenager let out a sort of strangled gasp. He paled as his mind frantically raced, trying to figure out what to do.
The situation only got worse as the second ninja appeared, and said something in a strange language to the other.
Instantly, Seth was pushed to a wall nearby, his face hitting the bricks roughly. Spitting out some blood from a split lip, he felt gloved hands grasping his wrists and beginning to bind them together in duct tape.
Feeling the stickiness of the tape holding his arms still, Seth realized that he'd left his alarm wristband at home, which meant there was no way that Shane would be able to find and rescue him from these ninjas, who obviously intended to kidnap him.
Desperately, Seth began to struggle. The ninjas were unfazed, and simply held him tighter as they finished tying him up.
Finally, Seth realized that he was going to be taken away from his family and his home, and he opened his mouth to shout. Unfortunately, the ninjas, seeing what he was about to do, slapped a piece of tape over the teenager's mouth before he could do more than yelp.
The strangers then pulled Seth away from the wall, and began to drag him away. The blond struggled mightily as they did so; kicking his legs out, trying to hurt one of the ninjas taking him away.
His foot managed to connect with a shin, and the ninja dropped with a grunt. Under the tape, Seth smiled, seeing that he'd managed to inflict pain on one of his attackers. However, his grin vanished as he realized that he'd provoked a much stronger man while he was so defenseless.
The ninja was angry at Seth, and he demonstrated his feelings as he punched the teenager in the face. Seth could barely manage a groan as he felt the fist connect with his cheekbone.
A sharp voice speaking the foreign language interrupted the ninja who so obviously wanted to beat Seth to death. Apparently, it was chastising the bigger guy, who stopped what he was doing to answer brusquely.
Seth didn't listen to the conversation, as he was unable to understand the language anyway, and tried to free himself from his captors. Unfortunately, they noticed what he was doing, and the big one simply punched him in the ribs.
Seth gasped in pain, and his legs, unable to support him any longer, gave way. He collapsed to the ground, writhing slightly, not noticing the ninjas who were reaching down to pull him up off the dirty ground.
Once more, gloved hands grasped his arms, and the ninjas mercilessly dragged the teenager away. Seth tried to fight them, he really did, but his weak efforts were nothing compared to professionally trained attackers. However, it was making the kidnapping more difficult, so finally, Seth felt something strike his head, and he blacked out.
Shane had been slowed down by the amount of traffic. The car in front had just refused to move quickly, and had kept blocking the bike every time Shane tried to go around it.
The lieutenant wanted to find out what Seth had been doing, but he was wise enough to not cause an accident, so he'd tried being patient, and had simply waited until the car in front turned a corner and left the street free for Shane to pedal after the bus.
Shane arrived at the bus stop not too long after the car had finally let him pass, and he quickly braked and jumped off the bike. He looked around for Seth, and froze at the sight that met his eyes.
In an alley, just a few feet away, the ninjas who'd broken in a couple of days ago had bound Seth, and were currently dragging the teenager away. He seemed to be struggling, but it was useless. The boy's thin limbs were too frail to do any damage, but he did seem to be frustrating the ninjas.
Even as Shane watched, one of the masked attackers raised his hand and quickly hit Seth on the back of the head. The boy's eyes rolled up in his head before he went limp.
Seeing this, Shane let out a yell of anger and rushed at the ninjas, who unceremoniously dropped the kid on the ground to battle the angry navy SEAL.
One of the ninjas aimed a kick to Shane's head, but the large man simply intercepted the foot and pushed the masked ninja into the wall. The other, smaller, ninja began jabbing at Shane, trying to find an opening to knock the lieutenant senseless. Unfortunately for him, Shane was trained in hand-to-hand combat, and just a few punches later, the small ninja hit the same wall his partner had landed on.
Turning, Shane noticed the bigger ninja, Seth over his shoulder, hurrying away. With a flying leap, Shane managed to kick the lower back of the ninja, who fell on the ground, dropping the teenager roughly.
Shane winced at the headache that Seth would have as soon as he woke up, but pushed that thought out of his mind as both ninjas stood up once more.
Shane assumed the defense position, standing in front of Seth's limp body protectively. Seeing this, the ninjas took one look at each other before running away.
Shane would have loved to chase after them, but he had more important things to worry about, namely, an injured boy.
Shane turned around and knelt next to Seth, quickly assessing the damage that had been inflicted on the teenager. After a few seconds, he sighed in relief. Seth had gotten quite a few bumps and bruises, as well as that nasty head wound, but nothing too serious. Of course, it would be best if Shane took the kid home.
Shane, ignoring the tape, which he would remove as soon as they arrived back at the Plummer house, gently gathered up Seth into his arms and stood up. The kid was so light, it was amazing. Sure, he was thin, but for him to weigh that little was ridiculous. Shane was surprised at the unexpected lightness, and stumbled slightly before getting his bearings and beginning to walk away.
Suddenly, a moan came from the boy in his arms, and Shane looked down at Seth, who was beginning to wake up.
The boy opened his eyelids slowly, looking around, before his eyes settled on Shane's face. A muffled sound came from his mouth, which was still covered by the duct tape. He seemed to be trying to say something.
Rather reluctantly, Shane lowered the kid, and carefully tore the tape away from his mouth. Seth winced as the stickiness pulled at his skin, even if the lieutenant was being so cautious.
Finally, the tape was off, and Seth was able to talk again.
"Thank you," was the first thing to leave his mouth, his voice raspy from having all the air forced out of his lungs with a well-placed blow.
Shane looked surprised at the words, and his lips twitched into a small smile. "Just doing my duty," he answered, reaching into his pocket to pull out a small army knife he always carried around. Shane figured he might as well get rid of all the tape right now, since he'd set the boy down already.
He reached over to Seth's arms, and quickly cut away the bonds. Soon, Seth was free.
Seth flexed his hands a few times, trying to restore the sensation in them, before he slowly stood up. Shane hovered nearby, ready to catch him if he happened to fall.
Luckily, Seth was able to stand on his own. The first thing he did was glance at his watch, which proudly proclaimed that Seth was over fifteen minutes late to practice. If he hurried, he might not get kicked off the play.
Ignoring Shane, Seth walked over to the theater, only wobbling a few times but managing to catch himself each one. Shane rushed after him.
"What do you think you're doing?" the lieutenant demanded.
"Going to practice," Seth mumbled, his mind still a little fuzzy from all the blows he'd received.
A strong hand on his arm stopped him, and Seth turned to see Shane frowning behind him. "What do you mean, practice?" he asked.
Seth sighed before answering. "Theater practice. I'm in the 'Sound of Music'." With those words, he continued on his way to the theater.
Shane released the kid, and instead followed him into the darkened room.
Up on stage, the director was apparently ranting at all the cast. He saw Seth enter, and he became even more upset. "Finally!" he exclaimed. "Thank you for joining us, Seth." The director tossed his graying hair back dramatically, before continuing his yelling. "I just cannot continue this way. I was on Broadway! And now, I'm directing a mediocre production of the 'Sound of Music'. I doubt we'll even make it through the first act." The director leaned on the prop of the mountain, not realizing it was made of paper, and fell to the ground as it ripped.
Trying to keep his dignity, even as many actors snorted in laughter, the director stood up once more before proclaiming dramatically, "Obviously, I quit," and left.
Dismayed, the cast began to wander around the stage and talk, while Seth collapsed into one of the chairs in the section for the audience.
Shane had watched the director's tirade, vaguely amused by all the proceedings. He'd never been to the theater before, and had wondered what it was like. And, even if he hadn't seen a show right now, the director was odd enough to actually turn everything into a comedy, which was why Shane had had to muffle his laughter more than once.
However, seeing Seth fall into a chair, and the cast's disappointed faces, he approached his charge.
"This is really important to you, isn't it?" he asked the boy quietly.
Seth, his face buried in his hands, mumbled, "More than anything."
Shane's mind was made up in an instant, as it so usually was. He'd found out why Seth was acting so strangely, and he obviously loved this theater thing. Also, it would probably be best if the kid would stop coming here on his own. There was a reason why the ninjas had attacked him, out of the entire household. They'd obviously been watching the family for a while now, and realized that Seth was the most vulnerable. Zoe rarely left the house now that her boyfriend no longer stopped by, and Lulu, Peter, and Tyler only went out with Shane as company. Seth, however, snuck out on a regular basis, all alone, into a rather shady part of town. It was obvious who was the easiest to kidnap. It was just luck that Shane had happened to be there this time to save him.
Of course, the entire problem of Seth's going out alone would be fixed now that the director had quit, but Shane refused to see the kid so defeated.
"Fall in," he muttered into Seth's ear, at which the teen looked up, and then stood and made his way to the rest of the cast.
After calling the cast to order, Shane proceeded to tell them all about his military exploits, making himself sound so fierce and daring, and obviously able to direct a musical. Seth barely listened to all of Shane's stories. Instead, he just watched the man, unable to believe that someone cared so much about him to take control of a whole theater production, just so he could do what he loved.
At the end of his boast, Shane asked the people whether they thought he'd be able to direct the musical, and Seth, smiling widely, replied in a clear voice, "Yes." His vote of confidence was enough to make the rest of the cast agree, and soon, a new director was elected.
Shane hid a smile, and called out a few instructions before heading over to Seth. He put his arm around the teenager's shoulders, mindful of his injuries, and looked at him fondly. "I guess I'm your new director, aren't I?"
Seth nodded, and then said seriously, "Well, after everything you've done, how hard could it be?"
Shane grinned. "How hard could it be indeed," he said quietly, before releasing Seth and taking a good look at him.
"Now, go get cleaned up. There's no way you're dancing if you're injured," Shane ordered loudly.
Seth sprang to attention. "Yes sir," he said, before quickly heading to the lavatories. He didn't mind the order, and he had to do it anyway, so, he might as well do it now.
In the bathroom, he looked over himself in the mirror. All in all, the damage wasn't too bad. He'd gotten beaten up worse by the guys in school. It was so lucky that Shane was there.
Thinking of the man brought a smile to Seth's face. He wet a paper towel and held it to his split lip, as he thought of the lieutenant. After his father had died, Seth had felt himself falling into a deep, dark hole, of which he couldn't escape. The musical had helped a little, but what was really pulling him out was Shane. Finally, after so long of being in the darkness, Seth had someone to look up to and admire. Someone he could love as a student would a mentor, or maybe even, as a son would a father. Seth had to admit it: the lieutenant had grown on him.
Seth finished cleaning up quickly, and then headed back into the darkened theater. He was ready to practice under his new director, and he was sure the musical would be a hit.
In the darkness of the audience's seats, Shane watched as Seth began to sing. He was actually quite good. Shane smiled as he watched the boy. He looked so happy onstage.
Shane himself was feeling quite happy. For the first time in a long time, he felt as if he was part of something more than just a mission. This assignment had turned into his family, and fatherly feelings he hadn't even known existed were rising up. He was starting to feel as if the Plummer kids were his children, and he loved them as such.
Shane watched as Seth sang his heart out, pulling a girl along, and he beamed. That was his kid up there, center stage, ready to take on the world.
(A/N) I hope you enjoyed this sweet little oneshot... I know I enjoyed writing it! Anyway, please review to tell me if you liked it (or not), and maybe what you liked the best. Thanks for reading, and please remember that I do not own "The Pacifier", I just own this particular plot.