Disclaimer: I do not own Lab Rats, the cover image, or Ray Johnson's quote. The only things I own are my plot and OCs. Also, there are mentions of child abuse and the use of foul language, so you have been warned.
~"It takes a strong man to accept somebody else's children and step up to the plate another man left on the table." by Ray Johnson.~
It was a warm, early morning at Mission Creek High, and a gentle breeze swept over the students as they made their way indoors. Among these students were three bionic teenagers who saved the world daily. But this story isn't about them. No, this story is about their step-brother, Leo Francis Dooley.
"I can't believe Big D is getting another car today. How many Ferraris does one man really need?" Leo asked as he and his step-siblings made their way towards their lockers. Chase rolled his eyes in amusement while he reached for his books.
"Are you really that surprised? He likes to have one for every month of the year, just like he does with his jet skis, motorcycles, and every other piece of technology," Chase stated.
"Maybe he'll get a different car, like a Mustang," Bree suggested. The four teenagers looked at one another before they burst out in laughter.
Leo opened his mouth to make a witty remark (or what he thought would come across as witty) but then the bell rang. "I guess I'll see you guys at lunch."
"Hey, we can meet in the library to work on that big project Mr. Wolowitz gave us if you guys want," Chase proposed. Leo murmured his agreement, followed by a reluctant nod and groan from Bree and Adam, and neither of them seemed too happy about having to work together.
A few hours passed, and Leo found himself in the only class he shared with Chase; Physics. While Leo liked Chase well-enough, it was hard to tolerate the genius when he constantly raised his hand to answer questions or debate with their teacher, Mr. Cooper.
But right before Chase could make some annoying, nerdy comment that Leo planned to make fun of him for later, the phone rang and Mr. Cooper had to take a minute to answer it.
"Okay, Leo. Your dad is signing you out of school for today. Homework will be pages 31 to 33 in your textbook," Mr. Cooper announced. Leo and Chase shared a confused look; Davenport hardly ever signed his children out. He usually just sent out a mission alert along with a text to tell Leo to stay at school so he didn't get in the way.
"Alright..." Leo waved goodbye to Chase before he packed up his school stuff and left the classroom. He sent a text to the group chat he had labeled 'The Alpha Dogs' which included himself, Chase, Adam, and Bree to tell them he couldn't meet up in the library because Davenport had "finally realized Leo was more than back-up and needed to save the day". Leo chose to ignore the laughing emojis Bree sent and shoved his phone back in his pocket.
As Leo made his way to the front office, a memory from years past nudged it's way to the front of his mind. He was reminded of the time when his biological father had to pick up five-year-old Leo from kindergarten.
Leo had been excited all day because his dad was going to pick him up after school. Every day, his mom took him to and from school, but she had to work late that night. So his father had said he would pick up Leo and had promised to get the young boy ice cream on the way home.
"My daddy is getting me today!" Leo exclaimed as he practically skipped through the hallway. Mrs. Stevenson, his teacher, chuckled at the boy's enthusiasm. Leo laughed and talked with his friends (yes, Leo had friends when he was younger) while they wanted on the curb for their parents to pick them up.
Minutes passed by, and Leo watched as his friends were picked up, one by one. Eventually, he sat by himself and tried to ignore the sadness he felt as cars drove by, none of which belonged to his dad. To help the time fly by faster, Leo stared at the clouds and pictured what they looked like.
"Dog. Football. Pizza slice. Robot. Octopus. Spongebob," Leo pointed at each individual cloud as he spoke, and pretended he didn't notice the concerned expression on Mrs. Stevenson's face as she sat beside him.
As the sky grew darker, and the clouds began to disperse, Leo had a sinking feeling in his gut as he pondered the reason why his father wasn't there yet. 'Maybe he got lost. Daddy hasn't been to my school before.'
"Leo, why don't we go back inside and I can call your mother-" Mrs. Stevenson was cut off as Leo jumped up and clapped in excitement.
"He's here!" Leo exclaimed as his father's old, rusty pick-up truck. "Daddy, I'm right here!"
The truck pulled up and Leo waited anxiously as Vincent Dooley (imagine whichever male actor you think best suits the role of Vincent since I can't come up with a good actor to visualize) got out of the truck and picked up the bouncing child. "Sorry I'm late, kiddo. Let's get you in the car and we can get that ice cream I promised you."
"Mr. Dooley, I know your wife usually picks up Leo, but that does not excuse you from being so incredibly late," Mrs. Stevenson stated while Vincent placed Leo in his car seat. "If you know in advance that you will be tardy, please inform the school ahead of time."
"I'm sorry about that, ma'am. There was a work emergency and I couldn't get away long enough to call. It won't happen again," Vincent apologized, though Leo noticed the way his father's fist clenched tightly around Leo's seat belt buckle. "Have a good evening."
Leo and Vincent sat in awkward silence as Vincent drove. Leo wanted to ask what the work emergency had been but he didn't want to make his dad angry. And Vincent already had a frown on his face from being told off by Mrs. Stevenson.
Eventually, he decided to just keep quiet, even after they passed the ice cream shop. As Vincent pulled into the driveway, he turned around to look at his son in the eye. "If Mommy asks, we went to the park after getting ice cream, which is why we came home late. I'm sure that stupid teacher of yours will give her a call to rat me out. If she doesn't ask, say nothing. Got it, buddy?"
Leo nodded his head and decided to act like he hadn't heard the venom in Vincent's voice. "Okay, Daddy. Can I ask why we didn't get ice cream? You promised."
"Ice cream is only for good little boys who don't get me in trouble with their school," Vincent barked. "You're a bad boy. Bad boys don't get deserts; they get punishments."
Leo spotted Principal Perry by the entrance, and she was noticeably annoyed about something. If Leo had to guess, he was the source of her irritation. The principal hated it when parents took their children out of school for the day because it meant Perry had to wait until the following school day to torment the student. Since it was a Friday, it meant she'd have to wait until Monday before she could bully Leo.
Which played a major part in Perry's hatred (sorry, strong disliking) of Adam, Bree, and Chase, all of whom constantly missed classes numerous times thanks to their missions.
"Stop right there, Dooley. Do you know what I was doing before your dad called to check you out of school?" Perry asked. Before Leo could reply with a snarky remark, Perry pulled out an air horn and Leo had to cover his ears from the awful noise. "Oops, you took too long. The correct answer was: I was in the middle of a back massage given by my cats. Now I have to buy more cat treats to get them to crawl over my back again."
Leo blinked multiple times to keep the terrible image from his mind before he replied. "First off, ew. Secondly, ew. Lastly, TMI."
Perry rolled her eyes before she pointed at the door. "Leave. And never come back."
"If I had that choice, I'd have left years ago," Leo muttered as he made his way outside. Instead of the usual limo or Ferrari, a brand new cherry-red Mustang awaited Leo. He was confused for a minute before he recalled that Davenport wanted to purchase a new car that day. Though in all the time Leo had known the billionaire, he'd never taken the egotistical genius for a Mustang kind of guy.
'Guess he's finally going through that mid-life crisis thing where he buys stupid stuff. Good thing he's rich,' Leo thought to himself. The teen made his way toward the car and opened the door to sit down directly behind the passenger seat. Leo always tried to avoid sitting in the passenger seat as he preferred to feel as if he was chauffeured whenever he was in the car, and being in the front made it harder for Leo's imagination.
He tossed his backpack in and got settled in the car right before the doors automatically locked. Leo thought nothing of it, as most modern-day cars had a similar locking system. However, despite Leo not knowing much about cars, he was certain that most Mustangs didn't have a screen that prevented him from seeing his step-father in the driver seat. It was tinted to the point where Leo could only see a vague outline of Davenport.
'Definitely a mid-life crisis. No normal guy would need a screen in anything except a limo,' Leo thought to himself before he voiced his opinion out loud. "Can't believe you didn't get another Ferrari. You feeling alright, Big D, or did you hit your head?"
"I'd prefer it if you didn't call me that, Leo."
Chills ran down Leo's back. He'd heard that voice before, but he couldn't pinpoint who it was that had spoken. One thing was for sure though; it wasn't Davenport's voice. The screen slowly went down and Leo's eyes widened with disbelief.
"Why don't you call me 'sir', like you used to?" Vincent asked with a sinister grin.
The last distinct memory Leo had of his father driving him anywhere hadn't ended well. Leo was seven at the time, so the odds of Mrs. Stevenson scolding Vincent were nonexistent. Which was good for Leo, as the morning hadn't gone very well up to that point.
Vincent and Tasha had separated a few months prior, but Tasha had been laid off (though Leo had no idea what that meant) so the broken family still lived together. Which made things incredibly awkward. It also meant that Leo continued to struggle to hide the injuries Vincent had given him whenever Leo had acted like a "bad boy".
"Leo," Vincent's voice caught Leo's attention and drew the second-grader out of his thoughts. "Do ya remember what caused that nasty scrape on your knee?"
"I tripped and scraped my knee on the sidewalk," Leo stated as he recalled how Vincent had shoved Leo on the harsh concrete stairs that led to their apartment.
"I was playing catch at the park with some other kids and one of them accidentally hit me in the eye with the baseball we were using," the young boy beamed at the nod of approval his father gave him. It almost made up for how Leo actually got the black eye; he hadn't finished his homework before dinner and Vincent decided to 'motivate' his son.
"And the bandages on your hand are a result of…?"
"I cut my hand by, um," Leo paused for a moment. He had memorized so many excuses that it was difficult to differentiate between new excuses and old ones. "Oh! I was playing with the kitchen scissors even though you told me not to."
"Atta boy. Now maybe the school won't realize how much of an idiot you are," Vincent smirked before he sang a line from the infamous Wizard of Oz movie. "If you only had a brain."
Leo scowled slightly, and it was at that moment that his hatred for the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz began to grow. "Yes dad- I mean, sir."
He froze and waited five excruciating minutes to see how his father would punish him. Leo had broken a rule that had gone in place the second his parents' separation had been announced. Right afterward, Vincent had pulled Leo aside and told him the new rule.
"Listen here, brat. This is all your fault. If you hadn't been born, then maybe your mother and I could've been happy. When it's just the two of us, there will be no daddy, dad, pops, none of that. It's sir from this point on."
Back in the car, Vincent shook his head and tsked at Leo, once again drawing the seven-year-old out of his thoughts. "Leo, Leo, Leo. You need to learn some respect. Guess I'll have to teach you some before your bitchy mama gets home tonight."
"Yes, sir," Leo said softly as he nervously adjusted his sleeves. Ever since Vincent had begun to hurt Leo physically (and emotionally), Leo had worn long-sleeved t-shirts to hide the bruises and scars. Luckily, no one had questioned why Leo didn't wear shorter sleeves even though it was summer in California. He was always considered to be a peculiar child so it wasn't weird, not for Leo.
While he wanted to protect his mother from the harsh truth, a small part of Leo wanted someone to notice. He wanted to cry out for attention so someone, anyone, would help him. But no one did. Not for three-hundred-and-eighty-nine days. And yes, Leo kept track of how long the abuse had gone on for. That way, he could remind himself that there had been a time in his life where he wasn't in pain 24/7.
"So, um, s-sir, it's been a while. How have you been?" Leo stumbled over the word 'sir', as it had been so long since he'd last had to say it (unless he used it sarcastically, but that didn't count). Davenport had taken to Leo's nickname, 'Big D' immediately, and never asked to be called anything else. But Leo knew better than to risk his father's temper.
"Well, you know, been in jail, so there's that," Vincent grimaced and blinked multiple times as if he had experienced a painful flashback from his years in prison. Leo's breath hitched but he nodded his head and pretended that his father's presence didn't rattle Leo to his very core.
Leo sighed inwardly; he hated how small and weak Vincent made him feel. It was like he was that scared little boy all over again, powerless to defend himself.
"But I got out early on parole for good behavior. That's what happens to good boys who don't rat out their fathers," Vincent's eyes looked up at the rearview mirror and met Leo's. "Speaking of which, I heard your mama remarried. She told me I could pick you up, by the way."
"Good to know, sir. And yeah, she's married to Donald Davenport now," Leo knew without a doubt that Vincent hadn't actually gotten permission. There was no way Tasha would let Vincent anywhere near her son. Heck, at his trial, she barely managed to contain herself when Vincent walked past the young boy. "He has three kids too; Adam, Bree, and Chase. They're pretty cool siblings."
The car pulled to a screeching halt and Leo felt bile in his throat as he realized he'd made a mistake. Vincent turned and looked at his son with pure loathing in his eyes, a scowl covering half of the man's face.
"Those kids aren't your siblings just like this Davenport guy isn't your dad. They aren't your real family; I am. Understand?" Vincent snarled. Leo nodded his head vigorously. "Good. If I hear any more BS come out of your mouth and you're going to be sorry."
"Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir," the apology left a bitter taste in Leo's mouth but being his usual smart-alec self while locked in a car with his former abuser didn't seem like the best of ideas. Then again, we all know Leo isn't very good at keeping his mouth shut. "So, where are we going?"
"You let me worry about that. All you need to know is that this trip is for Dooleys only. None of those privileged Davenport kids."
Leo groaned silently as Vincent went off on a tangent about rich guys and their spoiled kids destroying his family. Lucky for Leo, Vincent was so caught up in his rant that he failed to notice his son slip his phone out of his pocket and turn the sound off.
Leo carefully kept it out of sight, hidden by his jacket's sleeve, and tried to type a message on his family's group chat without looking at the keyboard. The whole reason behind said group chat was mostly so his mom could see whether or not the bionic teens would need dinner cooked for them or if Donald was going to be working late. It was convenient for Leo, considering the situation he was in. He tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, which was quite the accomplishment for Leo.
When Vincent made a sharp left turn, Leo was able to lift his phone up enough to see his screen. "Vinent Pery saw red mustan sos." He thanked his lucky stars that autocorrect hadn't given too many inaccurate corrections for once in his life. Then he quickly hit 'send' on his message and turned on his location before he slipped the phone back into his pocket.
Leo tried to look out the window to see exit signs or just to find a landmark but they were tinted to the point where he could barely make out the outlines of any signs let alone what they said. He hated to admit it, but his dad had certainly gotten smarter in prison if he could plan out a kidnapping as well as he did.
Fortunately, Davenport was smarter. Sometimes. Okay, at the very least, Leo knew that Chase was smarter than Vincent.
Tasha had a great morning when the day had started. She'd gotten a great story to report, her boss had given back positive feedback, and none of her step-children had to go on a life-threatening mission. At least, not that she was aware of.
Then her phone let out a soft ding with a text notification and Tasha's heart dropped.
When a woman has a genius billionaire husband who sends his bionic children (and occasionally her non-bionic child) on missions, it made her a little paranoid that she'd get a text or a call from Donald to tell her that they hadn't made it back. Even if they weren't her biological children, and nor did the teens really seem to see her as their mother, Tasha had the same overprotective instinct for them that she felt for Leo.
Which is why she felt so relieved when she saw the message was from Leo, not Donald. The lesser of two evils, as Leo only texted when he had either broken something again or wanted to know when dinner was. It was better than having to plan out a funeral (or 3).
Of course, that temporary sense of relief quickly faded when she saw the first two words of Leo's message. She didn't even need to read the rest of it for her to jump out of her seat and head towards the elevator.
Leo: Vinent Pery saw red mustan sos
She called out a brief "family emergency, I gotta go!" to her boss before she pressed the elevator button. A few seconds later, she decided it was too slow and took off her heels before she sprinted down the staircase.
As she frantically ran through the parking lot to her car, she shakily used her smartwatch to call Donald and held the phone up to her ear. She prayed to whoever was listening for her husband to pick up whilst she unlocked her car and angrily slammed the door as she crawled in and started it up.
The phone call transferred to Bluetooth and Tasha silently thanked her luck as she heard Donald's voice.
"Don- Donald, Leo, he's- oh my god- he's-" Tasha kept cutting herself off as silent cries racked through her body, causing her to stutter and struggle to breathe.
"Tasha, calm down. Take in a few deep breaths," Donald instructed. Tasha wanted to scream and ask how she could possibly breathe at a time like this before she chided herself. He didn't know what was going on and just wanted to help. It was moments like these that reminded her how much she loved Donald, despite his ego and selfishness. "Are you ok?"
"No," Tasha admitted tearfully. "Did you- did you read Leo's text?"
"I just got out of the office. Hold on and let me check," on the other end of the phone, Donald was also in his car and was on his way home. All he'd been able to read was the 'sos' and that was enough for him to call it a day and send a Mission Alert to his other children to ensure they could help Leo out of whatever mess he'd gotten himself into. "Who's Vinent, and how is Perry, and what I'm guessing is a red mustang, involved?"
"I think...I think it was a typo. Leo meant Vincent. I'm certain of it. I just- oh god, Donald, how is this happening?" Tasha asked.
"Vincent? Isn't that your ex-husband?" Donald asked in confusion. He heard a sharp intake of air on Tasha's side and prayed he hadn't crossed a line mentioning the man. His wife had never gone into too much detail about her ex and he'd never pushed it. When, or if, she ever wanted to talk about it, the billionaire had been certain she would when she was ready and not a moment sooner.
"Yes. He...he's in jail. At least, he's supposed to be. But then Leo sent this and- well, I'd gotten a message that someone had checked Leo out of school but I had assumed it was you. Now...now I think that maybe he somehow got Perry to...if Leo's with that mad man, I don't know what he'll do," Tasha had seemed to calm down, if her voice, which had gotten considerably less shaky and much more clear, was any indication.
"Well, I certainly didn't check him out. I just got home, and I sent a Mission Alert so Adam, Bree, and Chase can help if need be," Donald replied. Then he remembered where exactly Tasha thought her ex's last location was. "Wait, did you say he was supposed to be in jail?! What was he put away for!?"
Tasha paused for a second. She pondered whether or not Donald needed to know. But she trusted him, both with her life and her son's. And that's not something that could ever have been said about Vincent.
Tasha rubbed the bridge of her nose as she re-read an email sent by one of Leo's teachers, Mrs. Murphy. In it, the teacher had stated that Leo had become withdrawn, didn't like to be touched by anyone, and wasn't his usual 'quirky, talkative' self.
"Ma'am, I need to go home early. There's a problem involving my son," Tasha explained to Veronica Rodriquez, her current boss. The tall, intimidating woman simply nodded and waved Tasha away before she returned her attention to the computer. The reporter took that as permission and left the building.
It was technically Vincent's weekend with Leo, but Tasha figured that was for the best. That way, both her and her ex-husband could present a united front.
'Ha, like that'll happen', Tasha thought glumly. She couldn't justify dropping in when the court had given Vincent partial custody of their child. He would probably lose his temper and Tasha would have to leave before they had a screaming match. Leo hated fighting and the thought of him having to hear the former couple argue made Tasha feel like a terrible mother.
However, she felt a strong sense of urgency and panic. There was a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach and the annoying voice in her head that some people called their conscious compelled Tasha to drive towards the apartment building Vincent had moved into not three months ago.
The entire drive there, Tasha kept telling herself that what she was feeling were just nerves. It was the first time she'd left Leo alone with VIncent for an entire weekend and she was just nervous. Despite how many times she thought that she continued on and drove into the parking lot.
Tasha walked up the three flights of stairs and cursed the building manager for not taking care of the broken elevator just yet. Once she'd reached the right door, Tasha hesitated before she went to knock on the door. Before she could, though, she heard a loud crash that came from the apartment.
Quickly, she fumbled to get her key, which she'd been very surprised to receive from Vincent, and opened the door…
...and watched as Vincent, the man she'd once loved, the father of her child, grabbed Leo by the collar and tossed him on the floor as if he was a doll. In horror, Tasha realized that Leo hadn't even cried, just accepted the inevitable before his eyes rolled back into his head and he passed out.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Tasha screamed. Vincent looked very much like a deer that'd been caught in the headlights, frozen in fear. She tuned out the pathetic excuse he offered and cradled Leo gently as she picked him up and ran into the nearby bathroom.
"Tasha? Tasha, what are you doing?" She heard Vincent ask. The reporter ignored him, choosing to dial 911 on her cell phone as she wiped the blood off her son's head. "Let's not be so hasty, shall we? We can talk this out."
"911, what's your emergency?"
"I'd like to report child abuse. I walked in on my ex knocking my child out. The address is…." The words 'child abuse' felt like bile on her tongue. Before she could focus on it, she heard banging as Vincent seemingly threw his body against the bathroom door. "Please hurry. He's trying to get into the bathroom I locked me and my son in."
"Help is on the way, ma'am."
Help. Tasha scoffed inwardly. Her son needed help for who knows how long and she'd never noticed. While she waited for help to arrive and tried not to focus on how close Vincent was to breaking the door, she glanced at Leo. Her baby. Tears streamed down Tasha's face as she wondered how long he'd been suffering in silence.
None of the bionic teenagers knew what to make of Leo's latest text. Nor of the sudden Mission Alert their dad had just sent out.
Chase had already been confused when Leo had been signed out of school but had brushed it off as Davenport probably just needed his stepson to fix some harebrained experiment that had gone terribly wrong or something.
Leo's text to the sibling group chat telling Adam and Bree that he couldn't go to the library set Chase at ease as he listened to his teacher's lectures.
Then Leo's latest text to the entire family had been sent through in between classes. Chase sent a quick reply, 'who's Vincent? And what did Perry see?' But Leo never replied. He went through his next class period completely on edge and was somewhat relieved when Davenport sent word for him and his siblings to go home.
Bree skipped her class and chose to hide out in the restroom while she waited for Leo to reply to Chase's text. Not even a minute passed by before her impatience got the best of her and she sent her own response. 'Leo, what's goin? Kinda worried. R u ok?'
A few minutes passed as Bree tapped her foot while she waited. When her phone's screen lit up, Bree perked up until she saw it was Adam. 'Whats a mustan? Did you mean mustard? I've never seen red mustard before. I wanna try it!'
Before Bree or Chase could correct their older brother, Davenport's mission alert went through. With that, Bree sped to the entrance of the school and waited for her brothers to meet her. Once the siblings were together, she took off for home and flew towards the living room to find Donald pacing in front of the couch.
"Finally, you're here," Donald's shoulders slumped in relief when he saw the three bionics. Tasha had arrived home shortly after he had and was on the phone with Vincent's parole officer in Leo's room, unable to feel at ease in any other room. The billionaire knew better than to try and comfort her until Leo came back. "Leo's been kidnapped."
"So he didn't discover a new type of mustard?" Adam asked sadly. He'd hoped that he had read the text wrong and his brother was, in fact, perfectly fine. Unfortunately, it seemed like that wasn't the case. His attempt to lift the mood only got him a few eye rolls before his father spoke again.
"No, Adam, he did not. I got Perry on the phone to send me the security footage of Leo getting in a red mustang, and according to his text, the kidnapper is a man called Vincent."
"Who is he?" Bree asked.
"Doesn't matter. Point is, we got a glimpse of the license plate so we know what to look for," Donald pulled out his tablet and quickly showed the zoomed-in image to the three teenagers. "And luckily for us, Leo's location is on so I was able to track him. But the guy has a criminal record so we need to be careful. Now-"
"Vincent Dooley. That's the name of the guy the mustang is leased to. It says Leo's his son," Chase stated. When everyone turned to give him a funny look, he just shrugged. "I looked up the license plate in the DMV database."
"Yes," Donald took a shaky breath before he continued. "It's his father. He...well, I won't get into specifics now, but he's supposed to be in jail. Somehow, he got out and now he's got Leo."
"It's his dad, how much trouble can Leo be in?" Adam asked innocently. The dark-haired man looked at the three children he had raised and tried to put on a brave face for them. By the concerned looks on their faces, they weren't buying it.
"I'll explain on the way there. Go downstairs and suit up. Don't forget your intercoms."
Reluctantly, Chase headed to the lab, Bree and Adam in tow. Eddy, who had remained completely silent until that point, finally appeared on his screen by the front door.
"I gotta say, I'm surprised. Leo's always been a real firecracker. Didn't seem like the type of kid who'd gone through-"
Donald shut off the screen before Eddy could continue, though the 'genius' knew Eddy wasn't trying to be offensive (for once). He sat down on the couch, shaking with anger as he buried his face in his hands.
'How could someone hurt their children? Hurt Leo?' Donald thought to himself as thoughts of the three bionic children he'd raised, and the step-son who had become such a big part of his life, and found he couldn't even fathom what thoughts were in Vincent's sick mind.
Donald had noticed that Leo had taken to his new bionic step-siblings without missing a beat. But it took a little longer for the teen to connect with Donald. Though it turns out that testing out inventions or building new ones was a great way to bond.
The only problem was that Leo was clumsy. Unnaturally clumsy. Like the universe wanted him to break stuff. And thanks to said clumsiness, on one late afternoon, Leo managed to break an invention that was supposed to be indestructible, and that had taken Donald nearly two months to build.
Later, the billionaire would regret how quickly he had turned to anger. But at that moment, Donald couldn't have cared less.
So he began to shout, though he was still mindful not to curse. Goodness knows Tasha would kill him if Donald let a "bad" word slip out in front of the kids. While he yelled, Donald threw his arms up in frustration, something he hadn't done in a while.
It was only then that he noticed the fearful expression on Leo's face, with an arm held up in front of his face. Almost as if Leo thought Donald would hit him.
"Leo, are you…?" Donald trailed off, unsure how to finish the sentence. He took a step forward but stopped when Leo flinched. A wave of dread washed over him, all traces of anger gone as he looked at the young boy now drenched in sweat staring at Donald with wide eyes.
Meanwhile, Leo was panicking internally, wondering how he was going to play this off. After a minute or two, he smiled nervously and cleared his throat, ready to lie.
Yet he found his mouth went dry as he looked at Donald, his forehead wrinkled in concern and a sad frown on his face.
Leo couldn't tell him the whole truth, but he could still be honest. "I've been bullied for most of my life. Like, a lot. And when they yell, they tend to raise their hands to, well, hit me. Force of habit I guess. I'm sorry about your invention."
He was unprepared by the sudden hug Donald pulled him into, holding Leo tightly, as though his life depended on it. Donald trembled, though Leo couldn't tell if it was from anger or sadness.
"Never. I'd never do something like that. I promise, no one is getting hit in this house, not while I'm around," Donald stated firmly. Then, as an afterthought, he mended his statement. "Not for punishment, or intentionally. We do live with three bionic teens so I can't guarantee that accidents won't happen."
"Heh, they are a handful. Almost as clumsy as me," Leo teased, blinking his eyes to get rid of the unshed tears welling up in his eyes. "But...thank you. For telling me that."
"Of course," Donald replied softly. He wanted to find anyone and everyone who dared lay a hand on Leo, yet he knew the most he could do was offer Leo comfort. After that, Donald was much more careful, working hard to reign in his anger whenever Leo or one of the other kids were in the room.
"Have you sent me the coordinates yet?" Bree asked through her communication earpiece. Chase nodded his head before he remembered that his sister couldn't see him. He was driving one of Davenport's helicopters with Adam by his side while Bree superspeeded on the ground in the direction the car had driven off in.
"Yeah, sent them now. Davenport says to make sure you stay out of sight though. We don't want to tip Vincent off that we're nearby," Chase replied.
"Copy that," Bree stated as she ran, going through a small forest near the freeway, far enough away so no one but the animals and occasional hiker would see her blurry outline.
No one spoke for a few minutes. Adam fidgeted with his seatbelt to keep his mind off the uncomfortable silence until Chase finally broke it.
"I can't believe I never noticed," Chase's voice was barely above a whisper, and Adam thought it was nothing short of a miracle that Bree managed to hear their younger brother.
"None of us did, Chase," Bree sighed. She couldn't help but wonder why Leo had never told her, told any of them. Did he not trust them? "Might explain all the long-sleeved shirts he wears though."
"He's worn short sleeves too though!" Chase exclaimed, frustrated that his mind wasn't coming up with answers like it usually did. "So how? How didn't we see it?"
"Because he didn't want us to," Adam said. He thought about his next words carefully (yes, he can think. He just chooses not to a majority of the time). "He hid it for a reason. Maybe he was embarrassed or didn't ever feel like telling us. Or maybe...he was afraid."
"Afraid?" Bree prodded after Adam fell silent. She knew her older brother could be insightful every once in a while and didn't like to interrupt in case he stopped. But she needed to hear what else Adam had to say.
"Afraid of how we'd react. Maybe he thought we'd treat him differently when we found out. Or...well, I hate saying it, but he might've thought we wouldn't care, or say he deserved it."
"If his dad hurt him physically, then odds are he hurt Leo emotionally too," Chase's mind was racing as he pieced together what his brother was saying. "Maybe Vincent brought down Leo's self-esteem to the point where he thought no one would care about what he'd been through."
"That's a lot of maybes," Bree commented. She cursed herself inwardly for thinking that Leo didn't trust them. Of course he did. He was just scared. "It's like you said, Chase; how didn't we see it? We should've at least seen the scars or bruises."
"We did though," Adam frowned slightly as he recalled something that had happened a few months ago. "Remember? When we saw that scar, the one that Leo said was from a knife. He said a bully gave it to him."
"He was talking about Vincent," Chase groaned as his own stupidity. How could he have possibly thought that some random kid at school would've given Leo such a terrible scar?
Without even realizing it, Adam, Bree, and Chase had known about the abuse for quite some time.
It had been a couple of months after Leo had moved in when the truth had been revealed, albeit unexpectedly. Adam had wanted to watch some cartoons but Leo had taken the TV remote and refused to give it back.
"Come on, Leo! It's my turn!" Adam whined, getting up from his spot on the couch to stand over Leo. Leo groaned and shoved the remote into his pocket as he stood up.
"No, it's my turn. You always get the TV. Right, Bree?" Leo asked as he turned to his stepsister for backup. Bree didn't even look up from her spot on the couch, choosing to read her magazine instead of answering. Leo glanced over to Chase, who was filling out some worksheets at the dining room table. "Chase?"
"Huh? Oh, ask Bree," Chase mumbled as he worked, not really paying attention to the situation. Adam smirked and stuck his hand out, waiting for Leo to hand him the remote.
The younger teen huffed and looked like he was about to hand Adam the remote before he threw it across the room. "Fetch."
Adam glared at Leo before he lifted Leo into the air, gripping the collar of his shirt. Leo gulped nervously. "Hey, now, let's not be too hasty. I can fetch instead."
"Or we can play Chase's favorite game; bionic brother toss."
Chase looked up and hastily stood up as he saw what was going on. "Adam, Leo's not bionic, remember? Put him down."
Bree finally glanced over at the boys, groaning to herself as she put away her magazine. "Guys, come on. I'll get the remote."
She super speeded across the room and into the kitchen, picking up the remote that was a little worse for wear but didn't seem broken. Then she ran back to Adam, but he wasn't paying attention to her or Chase.
"I don't feel like watching cartoons bounce around. Let's see if Leo can!" Adam smiled brightly. Leo whimpered, low enough so only Chase could hear. But that was more than enough to get the genius involved.
He walked over and placed his hand on Adam's shoulder. "Let go. You're freaking him out."
"I was just kidding," Adam rolled his eyes as he dropped Leo to the ground. "He's too weak to play with."
"I'm not weak!" Leo protested as he stood up. Unfortunately for him, he hadn't noticed that when Adam dropped him, the taller teen had accidentally ripped his shirt. The collar was gone as was part of his left sleeve. Which revealed a nasty looking scar about three inches long. Leo glanced up to see his stepsiblings looking at him with...concern? "What?"
"Did...did I do that?" Adam asked after a second. Leo followed Adam's gaze and visibly paled. He didn't want to tell them about it, but he also didn't want Adam to feel like he was the one at fault.
"No, Adam, never," Leo awkwardly laughed, eyes glued to the ground. "I'm just super clumsy sometimes. Look, you can watch your cartoons, okay?"
Leo went to walk away but Chase blocked his way. So he turned around to see Bree. The bionics surrounded him, backing Leo onto the couch.
"I scanned your injury, Leo. It's from a knife," Chase crossed his arms, glaring at the unsightly mark as if it had personally offended him.
"Was it on one of the missions you went with us on?" Bree asked softly. Leo shook his head. "Then who did it?"
"He...well, first off, I haven't seen him in a long time. I think he left town. He was just a random guy I ran into sometimes, like at the park or mall," Leo said after a moment. Just like with Big D, he didn't want to lie. So he tried to be as honest as he could be. "His name was Vin- uh, Vinnie. He was a bully. He brought a knife one time and gave me this. I was fine, obviously, and Mom reported him and got a restraining order."
"Did he do anything else?" Adam asked, his eyes dark. Leo sighed and nodded. "Show us."
"I...look, most of the injuries are gone and I got them treated," Leo didn't want to show them the other scars, the burn marks or anything else. Luckily, Chase seemed to notice how uncomfortable Leo seemed and patted his left shoulder reassuringly.
"You don't have to if you don't want to," Chase smiled slightly before he shared a knowing look with Adam and Bree. The three bionics would definitely be talking about this later, maybe even do some research on this guy, but Leo didn't need to know that.
"Yeah. Let's watch that gross pig alien show you three are so obsessed with," Bree plopped down on the couch as she turned the TV on. Leo sat beside her, with Adam and Chase on his left side.
As they watched, each sibling made a silent vow to ensure Leo never got hurt like that again. After all, what good was having bionics if they couldn't keep their own brother safe?
"Finally," Bree muttered as she caught sight of the Mustang, sighing in relief as she ran towards it, still keeping herself out of the driver's line of sight. She had been worried that maybe the coordinates weren't right and that Vincent had sent them on a wild goose chase. When she saw the car, though, Bree let herself believe that she'd get her brother back.
She had hoped they would, but in the back of her mind, she had wondered if that morning was the last time she'd seen Leo. If the last thing he'd said to her (in person) was "later, guys." If the last thing she'd said to him was about Davenport's stupid new car.
There had been no "I love you". In fact, Bree couldn't remember the last time she'd told any of her brothers that.
"I love you guys," Bree said before she realized how weird it might seem. But she didn't want to take it back. Just in case. "Anyways, I found the car."
"Bree, we're all going to be fine and we're going to get Leo back," Chase responded as if he could read her mind. Which, last time she checked, he couldn't. Then again, she could be wrong. Before she could ask, Chase spoke again. "I love you guys too."
"Aw, this is so gross," Adam mimed barfing, but if Chase had turned to look at his brother, he would've seen the smile on Adam's face. "But I guess I love you guys too. And when we get Leo back, we can tell him the same thing."
"Yeah. For Leo!" Chase wanted to think positively. If he let himself listen to his darker thoughts, then he'd wonder if they were too late- no, he wouldn't think like that. Leo was fine. He had to be.
"For Leo!" Bree exclaimed.
"For Leo!" Adam thought for a second and then added onto his statement. "And mustard.
"Ugh, Adam, for the last time, it was a mustang," Bree rolled her eyes despite knowing neither Adam nor Chase could see her. Then she re-directed the attention to the mission at hand. "The target is in sight but he doesn't look like he'll be slowing down anytime soon."
"Davenport said we should let Leo know we're here, to make sure he knows to look out for us," Chase had a list of instructions Davenport had given him before the billionaire drove away with Tasha as well as a couple police cars.
The cops knew about the kidnapping situation and were headed towards the GPS locations, but were unaware of the bionics teens and the role they would play in getting Leo back.
"I'll text him then," Adam whipped out his phone and began to type. He hoped that Leo had been smart and turned his phone's sound off as he sent the text.
Adam: Leo, we're nearby. We'll get you back, so just hang tight.
"Good job, Adam. Bree, time to put your voice manipulation to the test. I'll use the comm's microphone to amplify your voice so he can hear you properly," Chase pressed a few buttons on the built-in computer after putting the helicopter on autopilot. "And...now!"
"This is the police. Pull over the vehicle," Bree commanded, initiating the sounds of sirens. Luckily for her, Vincent was on a winding road so he couldn't see too far behind him. Which meant that he wouldn't be able to see that there were no cars behind him.
The mustang began to speed up, but Chase had anticipated this. Chase took the helicopter off of autopilot as he made it go faster, passing by Vincent's car. Eventually, he landed it so Adam and he could get out. Adam made sure Vincent was too far away to see him as he smashed the road so that the man would have to stop his car.
"The road's been torn up, Bree. You can go past him now."
"You're so bossy," Bree smirked as she ran towards her bionic siblings. Even if Vincent tried to go off the road, he'd either run into the helicopter or the trees surrounding the area. The gaps between the trees were too narrow to allow the mustang to drive through it. He was trapped.
Adam, Bree, and Chase stood in their spot and watched as the mustang slowed down, scowling at the driver.
As the car rolled to a stop, Vincent practically leaped out of the car and started yelling at the teens to get out of his way. From what they could see, Leo definitely took after his mother, with few physical resemblances between him and his father.
"What the hell do you kids think you're doing? Get out of the road?"
"Wouldn't do you any good even if we did. Look at the road," Bree gestured to the broken gravel behind her.
"Yeah, you aren't going anywhere. Give us back our brother," Adam practically growled and Chase had to put an arm up to prevent his older brother from destroying the criminal.
"Your brother? Oh, you mean the brat," Vincent leaned against his car as if he didn't have a care in the world. However, Chase could see the way his fists clenched, and the way Vincent's eyes darted around. He was nervous, and he was angry. The teens had him right where they wanted him.
"Don't call him that!" Bree yelled. Vincent smirked arrogantly and she had to resist the urge to use her superspeed to punch his stupid face. Unfortunately, Davenport had warned them that they couldn't openly use their bionics around Vincent. And Bree knew he was right. Which made it even harder to keep her cool and the kidnapper spoke again.
"Aw, you care. I don't know why. He's not your brother. He's my son, and therefore, he's my property. I own him."
"Nobody owns him. He's a person and he's part of our family, not yours," Chase retorted. "We're aren't leaving without him."
As they spoke, no one noticed as Leo put his backpack and snuck to the front seat because of course Vincent had to use the child locks so Leo couldn't escape. But the man was so busy talking he didn't see Leo get out through the driver's door until the teen tried to run past him.
Vincent, however, saw Leo and grabbed him roughly by the arms before he whipped out a gun from his jacket and pushed it again the teen's head.
Leo looked at his siblings, fear in his eyes. But none of them knew what to do. One wrong move and Leo was dead.
Right at that moment, the sound of sirens, real sirens, could be heard. All eyes turned to see Davenport's newly repaired self-driving car along with three squad cars pull up from the opposite side of the freeway to the spot where Adam had broken the road.
Leo had never been so happy to see Davenport in his entire life. "Big D!"
"Shut up," Vincent muttered, though he visibly shook. Leo hoped against hope that Vincent would give up. Yet a small part of him told Leo that would be too easy. And dealing with Vincent was never easy.
Police officers exited their cars, guns pointed. Davenport pulled the bionic teens away, whispering to them. "Let them take care of this for now. If I see an opening for any of you to use your bionics, I'll tell you."
"Vincent Dooley, you are wanted for multiple crimes, including kidnapping. Surrender now," the head police officer shouted. Vincent shook his head stubbornly.
"Nuh-uh, not today. I have a hostage. You can't shoot without killing the kid too," Vincent's voice faltered slightly. Leo wasn't sure if Vincent was nervous or just trying to get the cops to underestimate him. The former didn't sound anything like the headstrong man Leo had grown up with. "I ain't letting go."
Leo glanced at his mom, shaking with fear or anger or maybe both. Then at his siblings, each rightfully upset and nervous. And finally, at Davenport, glaring at Vincent like he was the evilest person in the world. In Leo's opinion, Vincent definitely fit into that category.
The determined fire in his step dad's eyes was what led Leo to take action. He elbowed Vincent in the ribs before ducking down and throwing himself onto the ground. Vincent was thrown off-balance, giving the closest officer the chance to tackle the man to the ground. Leo sighed in relief, looking up at the clear blue sky.
It wasn't until he saw his mom hovering above him that Leo realized she was talking to him.
"-oney, are you okay? Did he hurt you?" Tasha asked as she extended a hand towards him. Leo shook his head and grabbed her hand, standing up with her help. She wrapped her arms tightly around him, still shaking. "Oh, baby. I'm so sorry you had to see him again. You're going to be safe now. I promise."
He didn't say anything, just hugged her back. When he finally pulled away, he saw his siblings by his side. Bree embraced him, followed by Chase until Adam hugged them all and lifted his younger siblings off the ground.
"Adam, can't breathe!" Leo squeaked, relieved when he felt himself be put back on solid ground. "What's up with you guys? You're acting like I was kidnapped or something."
"No!" Bree huffed as she smacked Leo's arm. "No joking about this. Ever."
"But I came up with so many in the car," Leo dramatically sighed, but he couldn't hide the smile on his face. "I missed you guys."
"I guess we missed you too. Mostly because you owe me 5 bucks," Adam teased, his smile fading into a serious frown. "Don't think we aren't talking about this later though."
"Yeah. We were all pretty surprised, Leo," Chase chimed in. Before Leo could reply, he felt a hand clasp his shoulder. He looked up to see Davenport standing behind him.
"Later, guys. Get into the car. I gotta talk to the police real quick," Davenport stated. Everyone followed his instruction, too busy talking to one another to see Davenport walk past the cops, heading straight to the car Vincent had been put into.
The police officer stood there to keep watch as Donald started talking to the man. No one could hear what he was saying except Chase, who eavesdropped because why not?
"You're an idiot. Not because you made the horrible mistake of messing with my family, or for thinking you could get away with kidnapping Leo. But because you were blind."
"I don't know what Tasha told you but I sure as hell aren't blind-"
"Don't say her name!" Davenport quickly cut off the man, catching Vincent off-guard. "Or his. You don't deserve to even think about them. You're an idiot because you didn't see what you had. You had the most amazing woman in the world as your wife. And one of the best kids in the world as your son. And you threw it all away."
Glancing at the officer, Davenport leaned down and whispered, so quietly only Vincent (and Chase) could hear him. "I hope you realize that if it weren't for the cops, you would've gone through hell."
Whether Davenport had meant himself or the bionic teens, Chase never knew. He did know that he and his siblings were grateful to have such a great dad. Including Leo.
When the family drove home, Tasha sat in the back to fuss over her youngest child. Adam, Chase, and Bree had gone home in the helicopter to give Leo and their parents some space, though Leo knew that if his siblings had been in the car, Tasha wouldn't have been the only one worrying over him.
As they pulled into the driveway, Leo managed to pull Davenport aside for a moment, a shy grin on his face.
"I wanted to say thank you."
"Of course, Leo," Davenport smiled. "Anytime. Well, unless I have a potential buyer."
They both knew he was kidding, and the joke helped put Leo at ease. He liked the attention, obviously, yet it could be overwhelming. Especially when the attention was over something bad that happened.
"I'll remember that," Leo replied. What he said next was forever ingrained in Davenport's mind. On bad days, he would think back to this precious memory and his spirits would be lifted. "Still...thanks, Dad. I'll never forget Father's Day again. Probably."
AN: I re-watched the Lab Rats TV show, and on my way home several months ago, I got struck with inspiration for this one-shot. I decided to listen to my muse and bam! A one-shot was created. Albeit very slowly. Meaning that I started this before COVID-19. Yeah, my inspiration is long gone but I was determined to finish this anyway. Ending kind of sucks but this was more about the family dynamic than stupid old Vincent. I hope you enjoyed this story!
I know child abuse (which is a form of domestic abuse) is a very serious topic. Hence the reason I'm going to leave a number you should call if you or anyone else you know is getting hurt by a family member or domestic partner.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Please stay safe and healthy during this whole Corona Virus crisis. Until next time…
- Kitkat Out!