Kayla: Mark of Penance
In the 28th century, the technology of rejuvenation allows for immortality. This device is also used for sentencing as well. A penitatas; a criminal that is sent back to childhood to live a highly strict and disciplined life to start anew. (Story Fourty-Four)
Concept by Lurking Dragon
Kayla and story by Professor Bob
More Kayla Stuff!: www.Professor-Bob.net

Never before had sleep brought so little comfort to Jacob's weary mind and body. Tiring himself out and falling asleep after spending a day as a hard time penitatas was easy, but he still slipped out of bed feeling tense and sick with anxiety. Dark, and cold, just as the sky looked outside his window. The Karrian's face was sullen and depressed, though solid through his underlying anger and ailing nerves. Smacking the clock beside his bed to silence it's alarm, he utilized grace that lacked it's normal prim and proper allure the young doctor relied upon. No one respected a man whom was 'guilty' of trying to kill so many, leaving his pride to it's own devices. Without so much as a word, or even a childish whine, the draconic penitatas clutched his mature side and his memories as a strong, caring physician while dressing and preparing for another day of unjust horrors. The grey sort of light that came in through his window from the cold, cloudy winter day made his claws shine dully; fingers buttoning his shirt up to it's collar. There was no sound from his parent, Lory, and he didn't care enough to seek her out. Preened and prepared in a physical sense, he was forced to take a series of deep breaths, sitting down on the bed with his eyes closed to prepare his mental state.

Kayla. She was the first thing that came to his mind, being his only real family for the time being. With Jacob's mood the way it was, Lory was not so much a part of that equation while the memories of stinging, searing pain skittered through his backside and right claw. The thought made his claw clench in his lap, as if to rub out those thick switch lashes he had since healed. His mother had not believed him, leaving the fox, his dearest friend, to be the only person to have never doubted him or thought he was lying. It was all an encouragement for him to leave his home and board the bus for school, knowing he would be able to rejoin her. Sitting on that bus seat, at her side, he would at least be with someone that made him feel comfortable and loved. Knowing his own fragile state and emotions, he would have preferred it to be in private, in case he were to cry. At least then he could hold Kayla without getting her into trouble, or himself now, and be able to speak freely about how he felt to someone who would not judge him. Living Kayla's life, the Karrian respected her mind and views even more, as she was certainly a strong and repentant girl. Loving her had never been a problem, knowing that she was a good person despite being a convicted criminal. Much like he was now.

Not knowing what the day would bring, Jacob set off for school on his own accord. There wasn't any escape from that, despite being afraid and marginally uncomfortable. It struck him, that this is how Kayla described herself feeling like when she returned to school after her kidnapping and the crimes she committed while under the control of her assailants. Green footclaws stepping down the stairs, silently, he walked out the door without so much as a call to his parent, or seeing her. He honestly couldn't care. Wasn't like he was trying to be rebellious or disobedient, but if she was going to hide and abandon her duties, he figured he'd just let her. One less thing to worry about, and he would care for himself.

Though, having a parent would have been a good idea that chilly morning. The adolescent dragon should have brought a jacket to go with his long sleeved, distinguished looking shirt and slacks. If someone would have been there to scold the absent minded boy, he might not have been standing outside with his arms huddled to his body for warmth as the clouds looked moments away from snowing. Scaly tail shivering against his legs in the cool air, his eyes gazed up listlessly into the grey sky while he waited for the hover-bus to take him away from this place.

Back inside the once pristine home, an ebony haired woman with a heavy heart, watched her child secretly from his own window. She hadn't the courage to face him after what she had done, now that doubt had shadowed what she considered to be certain guilt. Cowardice taking control, all the dark figure could do was stare. She was a licensed parent, and an experienced caregiver of penitatas - all of which didn't help her this time, as she tried to be neither a parent or a disciplinarian. By giving Jacob his belongings back and stepping away from her penitatas parental duties, she was directly violating the rules and regulations set down by the Corrections Council. There was the possibility she could soon lose her penitatas parenting license, for failure to restrict and punish her convicted charge. Lory was a woman torn between two ethical ideals; one of her sworn duty, and the other to protect a potentially innocent man. On the outside however, to her adoptive son, she was just cruel. The things she had done to him were things over the top. The harshest of penitatas discipline applied to a frightened, panicked, innocent person, would leave that person cold, sad, and reclusive. Jacob didn't understand why she was such a degree of spiteful yesterday, and Lory didn't understand just what harm she did. She didn't even understand her cowardice was robbing Jacob of the emotional support a child needed. To her, she had only done her job. Disillusioned as to what was right or wrong, all she could do was move forward with Emily's encouraging suggestion and try and secure Jacob a re-trial. As much as she wanted to help, her resolve was weak, as she'd rather be told and reassured as to what was right or wrong. A re-trial, she thought, would put her mind at ease, be it one way, or the other.

Dropping down from above, Jacob's hover-bus came to pick him up. As she watched the Karrian's expression stiffen and his body sway, his apparent fear added to her well earned guilt.

"I'd better get to work.", Lory said aloud to herself awkwardly as an excuse, making herself leave the dim window before her penitatas had even boarded his bus and left.

Unaware of his still fleeing parent, Jacob was resisting the urge to flee his own front yard. It was like watching something ominous lowering down towards him, to take him someplace bad. The bus stopped and opened it's doors, allowing the chilly draconic boy to step into it's warm confines. Steps clunking hollowly beneath his feet, he was immediately within sight of the aisle and rest of the bus. Noticing the silent, deep stares, the bus suddenly felt much less warm and inviting. Stepping down the aisle to his seat, the shame of the eyes upon him made him cover the backs of his claws by shoving them back into his pockets. Concealing his classification mark, his silver filled in 'P's, only made him more ashamed. Nothing more than a lowly criminal, his head hung, and he lost sight of those proud memories he held. Stuck in the present as a child, hearing tiny, mocking whispers, his eyes moistened up to his empty seat near the middle of the bus. Sinking into it by the window, the bus spirited him away from the first site of his discipline, to his likely next.

After only two stops and more painful stares from those boarding the bus, came a more familiar, comfortable sight from his window. Kayla's orange fur was brighter than the dull colors of winter, making her stand out beside her old friend Ninne. The two weren't speaking still, but, that was more due to Kayla's own cumbersome thoughts and worries. Not having seen Jacob since he was arrested and since beaten, it was of lacking relief to her to look up and see such a tired face looking down at her. The two locked eyes for only a moment, before Kayla climbed aboard the bus.

"Jacob, are you okay? Are you hurt?", Kayla piped up quietly, though quickly, before she even took her seat. Seeing the end of his left claw's silver 'P' peering from his pocket struck her heart. She couldn't even think of what to say. What can you even say to someone who's life just, in a sense, ended? Speaking before thinking, asking if he was hurt didn't even seem appropriate in hindsight.

"I took my medical supplies back and healed myself. I felt very badly hurt. Definitely not okay.", the Karrian replied just as quietly, though somberly with an underlying sort of hatred in his voice.

"But you knew that.", he leaned over to her and added with a lighter, thankful grin. A grin that looked like it took effort to make. He sounded as good as he looked, to Kayla's sensitive ears. Looking at him with a tilted head and frown, thinking of what to say was a daunting task. He needed something, and quickly.

"There is so little to say I guess... aside from sorry, and I'm here for you. I'm trying my best to think of ways to get more information and help you. I've already taken your court files from my mom too. You'll get through this, and you're not going to be alone today. I promise you this will be over quickly.", the young fox began slowly, picking up her voice and words as she found them in her mind. They at least made her feel more confident, even if they weren't the god-send Jacob desperately needed.

"How?", Jacob asked with a growling sort of sigh, drooping his head further against the window. Before speaking again, he made a tiny sort of hiccup, as if his body was demanding him to cry right then and there. Instead, he exhaled calmly, fighting those urges that came from the core of his pain stricken being. Thinking it was for Kayla's own benefit, he shielded his left eye with his claw, hiding it's wet, tired appearance, even if it placed his penitatas classification symbol in her full view.

"I just don't know...", he spoke even quieter, as the bus continued on it's way, and got a little louder with each boarding student. Each of them knowing his fate, and what happened.

"Trust me.", Kayla said firmer, placing her paw on his leg and leaning in closer. The Karrian needed something to believe in.

"I'm not going to give up on you. You even got miss Lory on your side, just like you wanted! She's already working on getting you a re-trial.", she spoke optimistically, giving each sentence it's own emphasis and point, to make them all sound like separate achievements for him to be happy about. Jacob simply scoffed. Kayla could not see his watery eye, but she could see his muzzle curl and bare some of his formidable, though adolescent teeth.

"She's not completely on my side. She just doesn't know what to think. Doesn't know whether to love me and save me, or go with what she's been told by Starfleet and torture me into compliance. I can't tell if her guilt is because of my pain, or something else.", Jacob was quick to accuse. He had loved the woman that cared for him, but the more he was left to his quiet lonesome, the more his thoughts stewed. Her angry face, frighteningly aggressive parental tone, and blazingly strict discipline overshadowed all else. This made Kayla quiet once more, with her eyes trailing down and away. Things could never be simple and easy.

"She called my mom asking for advice. She's at least working for your benefit now.", she felt the need to remind, perhaps to ease his mind at least a little. This time Jacob sighed, instead of scoffing.

"Just hard for me to look at her the same way. She was going to starve me while I wrote lines all day, just to make me admit my guilt. Whipped me. It wasn't anything I was taught to do to a person, so it wasn't something I appreciated being done to me.", the dragon explained with difficulty, being quiet and slow about it. There was a certain emotion in it that cut Kayla deeply. Beside her sat a hero, proud, smart, and wonderfully loyal. When the world wasn't quite right for her, she could at least say she earned it some way. Seeing a lovely person tormented and wearing the mark of a penitatas, her punishment for being evil, it was too unfair to ignore. If she was alone with him, perhaps they would cry together. For now, it would have to wait. There was no mistaking - the old doctor was attracting new, curious, and suspicious attention.

Made it all the more worse, what she had to say.

"I hear a lot of whispering. You're going to have to keep holding to your innocence, and...", Kayla spoke lower, and deeper, fairly smoothly until her second point. It was a terrible thing.

"And, you need to follow my lead. Hold your innocence with the penitatas, but not with Miss Chester. Take your punishments willingly, obediently, and-..", she explained more direly and firmly, making it a strong point. Jacob seemed to curl up where he sat, cutting that thought right off and interrupting her.

"I can't do that. I'm not you. To be disgraced in front of everyone... I will just have to not get in trouble.", Jacob growled sadly, left paw seeming to clutch tighter at his face. It wouldn't be much longer till they reached the school, in a vehicle that can travel almost three hundred miles per hour at cruising altitude. Out of sight, on Kayla's other side, her free paw balled up into a loose, nervous fist. She really hoped she was helping, by removing this shell of denial. It may have been one of the only things keeping him calm.

"It doesn't work that way now.", Kayla said after a moment of quiet between the two, filled with the banter of the bus, and the hum of the engines.

"She doesn't need you to act up. You're the sheep in wolf's clothing. I don't want you pretending you can't be disciplined here, because it's common for us. You don't know what the day has in store. If you are told to do something, do it.", she went on, firmer, holding his leg tighter as she went. Jacob was still, and silent, unable to see just how serious his feminine comrade's eyes were. They were burning a hole in the back of the boy's left claw.

"We all cry. It always hurts. Please take it as best you can, if it comes down to it. Do as I do, and not make it harder on yourself. If someone reaches for your belt buckle, by damn, let them. I'm not going to let you end up in Mister Yami's office, cause you're not going to be able to handle that.", the fox continued like a parent of some kind, coming fairly close to shoving a proverbial finger in her friend's face. It wasn't her intent, but someone had to make sure Jacob didn't screw this up and put himself through more than necessary. What crushed little Kayla's resolve and firm confidence in her speaking, was a quiet, desperate whine. Jacob quickly wiped his hidden eye.

"Alright, alright. I understand. I'll take whatever comes, as long as this isn't fucking permanent.", he acknowledged to cease the lecture, reluctantly accepting the truth in his good friend's words. Swearing was still not his style, just going to show how clouded his mind was, and how cornered he felt on the inside. Unable to protect him, Kayla looked down towards her feet, feeling the same sort of helplessness Lory felt. It was hard to tell someone it wasn't going to be okay. Most things were not permanent, with this being no exception to that. She knew his plight would end, some way, but that did not soothe away the here and now.

The two remained still, maws closed with an uncomfortable silence. The warble of the hover engines slowed and deepened, creeping down to the ground to arrive at Calleet Elementary. Matters were moving too quickly for their young mind's fragile emotional centers to comprehend and process, bringing on stress. If they could ditch school and get away with it, they would have. Kayla wanted to dive straight into her work, to not have to see Jacob this way a moment longer. She never had anyone like him to care for before, living in an environment of sexual abuse on her homeworld, and solitude during her adulthood on Earth. This kind man, though a boy now, shared a bed with her, and showed her a level of light, gentle intimacy that made her finally know for sure, that she could have a real relationship with someone. Overcoming the stiff fear of being a sexual object and opening up in innermost personal feelings were something he allowed her to begin doing. Through it, she felt so close to the green scaled Karrian. Like a child's crush, she believed Jacob could do no wrong, and deserved no wrong done to him. His pain and misery were something none should have to experience, much less after having his career end, and losing a special person.

Jacob would have skipped school just to not be here. Even that, though, would not have saved him from further torment. He left himself at the mercy of fate.

On the ground, the pair stood from their seat and left the bus, making no stops to talk to anyone. Jacob wanted to get inside the long building where his class resided, to escape the larger crowds. There were fewer prying eyes, seeing as many were preoccupied, but that did not seem like a good reason to stop. Walking through the doorway into their niche of the school, quieter sounds echoing off the tile walls, Kayla could see Jacob loosen up just a bit. Others were making their way into the building, but a building's worth of rejuvenated kids was different from standing in a whole school's worth. The two stopped only once they got to their classroom door, standing on it's right side, out of the way so it could be opened. Jacob leaned his back against the wall with his right shoulder, while Kayla crossed her arms and stayed in front of him.

"I can't say I want to go in there.", Jacob spoke up, lifting his head. Now able to see his eyes, the fox noted a hint of redness. The Karrian braved through as best he could, now left to an uncertain future. Ninne walked up to the door, having been some paces behind the pair. Her smile to them was meek in greeting as she entered the classroom, not eager to interrupt after Kayla had gracefully accepted her back. Behind the Drakonian was a familiar blue feline. Paula placed her paw on the door, seemingly ignoring Kayla as a quiet Jalaxian girl would, though shooting Jacob a chilling, almost spiteful glare as she walked by. It made Jacob turn his head away, closing his eyelids half way, and Kayla scowl into the girl's back as the door closed. A quiet moment of tension that was bound to be one of many.

"Sorry.", Kayla grumbled, taking her eyes from the closed doorway. Jacob shook his head.

"Forget it. I figured I wouldn't be so well liked now. I'm the medicalos that escaped punishment for so long, watching them in their daily escapades while I was all the while guilty of crimes worse than their own. A fraud.", he snapped aloud, much less somber and docile than he was before. The boy had right to be angry. He was facing false judgment from everyone he had known, or even loved.

"It's a hypocritical response.", Kayla huffed reluctantly, shifting her weight onto her other footpaw.

"They feel like you committed a crime against them...", she went on after a moment, as another student walked by with a sneer on his face. This time, Jacob was happy to sneer back, while his friend spoke of psychology.

"...When they committed crimes against others as well. We're the supposed to be the judged, not the judger.", Kayla finished with a failing emphasis in her voice, considering another someone walked by to prove her point in the middle of it. It was a school; rejuve or not, they were kids. They would share a child's social mentality and social hierarchy, and seeing a coward howl would please the lot of them after the feeling of betrayal. Wouldn't have been so hard if Jacob wasn't so kind, and likable.

"In a perfect world, maybe.", he added to Kayla's thought, reaching up to rub his forehead.

The door beside them again opened, but with the curious shift of the eye to scowl back at the next set of hateful eyes, they found no one there. They looked at the wrong side of the door. With a thunderous and sudden aggressive laugh, two boys slipped from around the frame of the door, out of the classroom. Being a startle, Jacob tried to stumble away from the source of the sharp sound, but found himself pinned up against the wall by an elbow and forearm in his chest. The solid impact knocked the air out of the draconic boy's lungs, heart returning to racing in fright.

It was the two boys Ninne had been hanging out with, while she was at odds with Kayla. Bullies and troublemakers, and certainly too over confident and brash. To do something like that in front of Kayla Ackart was stupid.

"Hey hey, Commander!", Markus, greeted mockingly, pressing his forearm against Jacob as firmly as he could; entertaining himself.

"Greatest, murderous hero of all time!", Davis followed suit, roughly at the same time, trying to also get in Jacob's face. All in a split second, the two had sprung to their typical nonsense. It was like being at Jacob's welcoming party with Ninne and these two creeps again. Kayla being quick on her feet, she acted before Jacob even completely realized what was happening to him. With the toe of her custom made shoes for her canid feet, Kayla swiftly kicked Markus in the back of his left knee, sounding like a rough pop due to the fabric of his pants. Not to be underestimated, the blow was forceful, getting a bit of a yowl out of the older, larger boy. Wobbling, his pin on Jacob slid off immediately, with him needing to catch himself on the wall.

Using a shove of his own, though shaky and weak, Jacob backed away from Markus and Davis towards Kayla. His teeth were not bared in anger. It looked more like he had been spooked. His senses had been so fragile, such a sudden outburst towards him disrupted his thoughts. But, once he could see it was all an act of aggression against him, his claws flexed almost instinctively to place his nails in a usable position. His back curved as he leaned forward, and the growl that came through his teeth, curling his muzzle scales, could be passed of as Drakonian.

"Fuck off you two!", Kayla spat, throwing her arm in gesture, with a hostile step towards the pair. Both tried to smile and play it smooth, but Markus' leg hurt fairly badly. His grin was more forced. Their words were sharp and forceful, but toned down in volume. Neither side in these scuffles wanted to meet the business end of a paddle. As penitatas, it doesn't matter who started it. Mister Yami would make them all suffer.

"Says you fox?", Davis snickered cruely, pointing a finger straight towards the Aspatrian's ebony nose.

"Are you the man in this relationship?", Markus chimed in with the insults and harassment, changing his primary focus after being kicked in the back of his knee. Boys that were once violent adults, made certainly violent children.

"We just wanted to congratulate your boy for becoming one of us, and to say 'thanks' for playing saint when he was really a piece of shit.", came the snaky, dark sarcasm of Davis - the boy playfully punching his own chin to visually describe what he meant by 'thanking' Jacob. The two were so good at rambling and acting the way they did, they had a habit of coming one after the other.

"The hell you will. Not with me around.", the fox growled low, snarling to a light degree after speaking. Her canine traits were things that shamed her, and things she hid. When it came to defending Jacob, whom trembled in rage, she didn't mind looking like a dog. Dogs bite. Markus couldn't care as much about his original goal of roughing up Jacob when he had Kayla in his face. Ninne's old bimbo friend. He heard what a blowhard she was, when Ninne hung out with them. There was no reason to be afraid of her, he thought.

"Maybe she is a boy! Where's your nuts?", he rubbed in her face, to squelch her femininity. Moving quickly, his right arm shot out in an underhand motion, to give Kayla's jeans covered groin a brisk, strongly harassing grip to go with his testicle remark. Not expecting such a grab, the startled Kayla jumped back to get away from the snake-bite like tease he had done to a place he certainly shouldn't.

Her eyes came back up from her shocked stumble, not about to put up with that degree of bullying. But, that's all she got to do, before Markus moved again. This time, he moved to the floor, falling on his side - Jacob's knuckles having dug into the boy's cheekbone. Starfleet hand to hand combat training, even for a doctor, was enough to know how to knock your average idiot to the ground. Not even a word from the kind, penitatas doctor, as he gave Markus his one knock-out punch. Even Davis had to step back, almost knocked over by Markus' fall.

As the fox and dragon stood side by side, onlookers standing around gawking idly before class, Davis pulled Markus back to his feet - their motions scuffling against the ground messily in their haste. The heavier Markus grasped his cheek, groaning under his breath. Meeting Jacob's suddenly stone, merciless eyes, he lifted his arm, pointing an accusing finger.

"Later, boy. You can't take two at once. I'll fucking get you.", he threatened concisely, despite the raspy nature of his pained voice, and the muffle of his hand clutching his cheek. The two boys slid back into the classroom, promising to get their revenge later that day. Either way it went, they needed Jacob to suffer.

Situation averted for the moment, Jacob's expression lightened; the boy growling from the annoyance. He stared at his claw in a sort of disbelief. Punching someone? That was even rarer then his mouth uttering swear words. It was something he never did.

But, you don't go after Kayla.

It was natural. He didn't think about his actions. Fueled by the synapse of a child's brain and drained emotions, the single tweak at his close friend's crotch was enough to need to knock Markus' teeth out. It was against his oath, not to do harm to others. Despite his success in defending his friend from something nasty, the fact he did it with violence crept upon him hauntingly. His stone cold eyes softened, slowly turning sad, and guilty.

Kayla wasn't oblivious. As she caught her breath from the tense moment having weighed down on her chest, she could see the Karrian's lament. He looked upset. Everything was going so poorly for him

"Thank you. For helping me, Jacob.", she was at least quick to thank. Nobody had ever socked somebody for her before, or kept somebody away from her groin. It was almost like the brash action of a jealous boyfriend. The thought made Kayla gleeful on the inside. Man, you silly ass, I love you too.

"That... meant a lot.", her thoughts forced her to add after a moment.

"You deserve to be defended too.", Jacob answered lightly, getting a bit of a smile as the ends of his muzzle curled. That made him bashful, even if still guilty. Using violence in front of Kayla wasn't his idea of a good time. This situation he was in though, needed him to do a lot he didn't want to do.

"Just don't get in trouble. I don't know how much I could watch of you under someone's paddle.", Kayla replied with a point, lowering her voice to add emphasis to her feelings. Jacob nodded his head, looking at his claw still. The boy just plain asked for it, he relented, forgiving himself. With a few moments of quiet, he lowered his claw and took a deep breath, tilting his head back expressively. Looking up, he even chuckled. It was obvious he was trying to humor himself, but hey, what ever made him feel more confident.

"Time for class then.", he said plainly, rolling his words into a loose sigh as he lowered his head back down. Kayla patted him playfully on the back, joining in the humoring.

"I'll be here to help, and I don't judge. And, as for Markus and Davis, I can definitely take them both at once. You'll be fine.", she assured, as the two stepped to the doorway - opening it to begin the day and get ready for class.

Ninne was already talking with her old group, now that she was back in it. Anthony and Anne stood around her desk, talking of the subject of Jacob. Kayla's ears pivoted about, finding nothing but such conversations. Only difference was Jacob's friends were the only ones not badmouthing him. Being that this was his own class, everyone knew him. Everyone had an opinion, and eyes to stare with. Sitting at his desk, Jacob kept Kayla in his sight for moral support, wincing each time someone yelled something inflammatory at him. Head lowered, it took a lot to keep his child-like mind and body from reverting to crying and frustrated tantrums. The cruel names they came up with ate him alive.

'Commander Killer'.

It was the one they quickly rallied upon, to be his new name. The irony escaped them, that the one who came up with the name was a black 'P' penitatas in for murder. For them, everyone had already committed their crime, and they were all in the same boat of being punished together. A sense of unity. Jacob was an innocent in the midst of their ranks, found to be not as he said. They would not even let him have his dignity and rank left intact. His good name would be trashed, and the tears he shed would bring them enjoyment.

"Commander Killer!", another penitatas had shouted aloud towards Jacob, whom sat in his shame and embarrassment in silence. It prompted yet another, 'shut up!', from Kayla. Thankfully her words had some weight. Even more fortunately, Miss Chester had even more weight.

"Quiet down class!", she said aloud, authoritative and boisterous as she walked into the room. Jacob sighed nervously, though with some degree of relief to not be alone with the other rejuves any longer. He placed his muzzle in his claws, taking a moment to breathe without the fear of further jeers. It seemed like the accident on the Apollo took away everything, but if only that was true. At least he walked away with his pride, personality, and a chance for a bright future. Now even his freedom was gone, as a prisoner of the penitatas justice system. Betrayed by his mother, schoolmates, and his own will, he was a broken shadow of a man. A beaten, tired young boy. His sharp teeth gently nipped at the scale on the underside of his right index finger as he held his head; something of a nervous reaction.

The remaining penitatas took their seats in the sun-filled room, many activating their computer consoles. It was a rule to not turn them on until the teacher was present and ready to begin. Their fear of getting into trouble would be the Karrian's sole reprieve from his murderer label.

"Jacob Vasse.", Miss Chester began with the same strong tone, as the human woman leaned against the front of her desk.

Perhaps it would not be such a reprieve after all. Jacob sank into his desk slightly, lifting his head from his claws, to look on as directed with weary eyes. Tilting her head, Kayla eyed over to watch him and his actions. They would be imperative to the sake of his hide. Jacob's head remained low, and submissive; his eyes looking up to face forward, remaining quiet.

"You're no longer the class' medicalos. You're just a penitatas, in a penitatas class. All of our rules and discipline apply to you now, in accordance with the justice department. You are in custody as a criminal, subject to the strict upbringing the rejuvenatory school system offers in conjunction with your corrective home lifestyle. Your legal obligations to follow directions here, are the same as at home. You're not getting a further free ride in my class. Do I make myself clear?", came a slow, stern lecture that slowly brought full silence to the entire class as they listened to what was a heavy, and harsh set of words. They were words that applied to everyone as it was, but specially directed at Jacob. The look Jacob could see on her face was the one she gave penitatas when dolling out their various punishments, and directing their unruly behaviors. Her tone and expression were just as strong of a reminder of his place as her strong words themselves were. To penitatas caregivers, he was just another criminal under their instruction.

Jacob hesitated, swallowing, glancing towards Kayla just to see her face. The fox looked tense, eyeing him back. She wanted to walk him through this, but, penitatas had to learn their lessons on their own, being that others could not interfere. Jacob would have to use what he had learned in Kayla's company.

"Yes Miss Chester.", he answered aloud, voice lower and quieter then his normal vigor. It was still within acceptable limits for his acknowledgement, having been around long enough to know what tones his teacher did not accept from the other penitatas. He hoped Kayla was proud of his response, because it took a lot to say 'yes'. Accepting such an undeserved fate made his stomach knot. The sound of defeat in his voice made many of the other penitatas smirk spitefully. Kayla, Ninne, Anthony, and Anne, sat and watched with discomfort and drooping appearances.

"Good. Please come to the front of the class.", their teacher spoke again almost right away, with her more directive tone. The one that said she wanted to get to business, and didn't want anyone wasting time - cutting into her teaching. Jacob cringed, opening his maw slightly in worry and shock. Surely he had done nothing wrong! Quickly his claws balled up, gripping at the surface of his desk. Kayla flicked her head towards him from the next row of desks over, making a growling, huff-like sound beneath her breath. It was desperate, if not very firm. Her eyes begged, if not ordered him to get up. Get up now, don't stall! Please!

Catching a quiver in his lower jaw, Jacob rose to his feet slowly, pushing off his desk. The meek march up the aisle of desks towards the front of the room, passing on looking eyes. He made sure not to look at them, keeping his head down and eyes fixed towards the floor. None of these bastards needed to see he felt like crying, before he had even been struck. Claws trembling slightly in front of himself, he stepped up to Miss Chester as told, facing towards her with his back to the rest of the class. For something he had seen so many times, he didn't know how hard the first time for everyone must have been. So many stares, all waiting to see what befell you.

"You are a new penitatas, even if not a new student. I'm going to give you the traditional 'welcome' spanking everyone receives.", the woman began explaining a bit more quieter, as she knelt down slightly to take Jacob's belt clasp into her hands. He had to take this like a proud innocent man, Jacob continued to say in his mind. There was no way out, and he had to...

Accept it. Just as Kayla said. Acceptance was the only way.

His metal belt buckle fell limply, and being familiar with tail buttons, Miss Chester had reached around and popped his with ease and grace. Lifting his head and looking up with a scrunched, displeased look, he felt thumbs slip into the waistband of his slacks and underwear. In a moment, his clothing was around his ankles, tail and scale bare to the air, and his content onlookers. There was no mistaken his tears would make them happy, and like the frightened child he was in this state, he was going to fight the pain as best he could.

Miss Chester moved her armless spanking chair to it's typical staging place at the front of the class, sitting down and making a gesture for her lap. Standing there half naked and vulnerable, he wished he could defy her and declare his innocence, but there was no way that could work here. This was about to hurt. Kayla knew it too, watching on with everyone else. Young Jacob climbed into her lap with less experience at it than his peers, needing some corrections. The hands at his waist made uncomfortable corrections at that, cramming his draconic cock-sheath up against his teacher's leg awkwardly and shifting his sac back. A human boy wouldn't have such trouble. There wasn't much time to be horribly embarrassed by it as he wiggled to fix his groin position, with his teacher grasping and raising his tail. On such contact, he winced, lowering his head and hoping strongly he wouldn't blush through his scales and make this harder. Base of his tail and rear open for spanking and finally settled, the intrusive, unwanted feeling of human skin against his thin, fleshy bottom scales brought forth a half silent cry. It was more of a sharp whine, with his eyes watering; taking hold of his disciplinarian's pant leg with his claws. This was so... demeaning.

"Your age doesn't match your grade, like miss Ackart. Your spanking is twenty strikes with a swatter paddle.", Jacob heard above him, with the Karrian trying to look over his shoulder to see what she spoke of. It was the thin, synthetic wood one that resembled a ping-pong paddle. He was familiar with her using it quickly. It would emit such a shrill little crack sound upon impact - stinging as much as it sounded like it stung. Oh how he missed the days that the most pain he would be dealt punitively would be no more than a few slaps to a clothing covered tail. Lowering his head back down into position, his claws held the fabric of Miss Chester's pants as firmly as he could. Eyes closed and clenched. He could almost hear everyone breathing the room fell so silent. They could see their teacher raise the lightweight paddle.

Kayla bit her lip in sorrow, and guilt. Their group of friends looked on with disapproval; Anthony being the group's other male, looked away out of respect. The others were filled with calm glee and spiteful satisfaction.

Jacob himself, yelled aloud a terrible scream of pain. The spanking implement stung as his mind had imagined it.

Straight down to business, Miss Chester opened up with a flurry of quick, hard swats from the light paddle just as Kayla herself was familiar with. The swatter paddle was not reprieve from the real thing, when used in skilled hands. Being much faster, and stinging desperately, such a spanking was intense enough to make the inexperienced squirm violently. That, Jacob certainly did, starting to kick his legs and fight after a mere seven rapid swats littered his tender, green scaled bottom and tail base with red, burning welts. Tears trying to glide down his scale from the pain were met with his flinching and curling maw, teeth baring and seething as he thrashed involuntarily from such a fiery swatting. His disciplinarian had to struggle a moment, fumbling her rhythm to pin his left arm as well as his tail with her sole free hand.

"Still, child!", she had ordered once she had her grip on the reptile's thrashing tail, raising the swatter paddle to fall with a light sounding swish of the air. It cracked and popped so harshly against his thin, sensitive green scale. Across his adolescent bottom, the meaty base of his tail, and across a certain pink hued hole he did not appreciate to be beaten - all the while having his sheath and tight sac crammed up against his spanker's leg. A situation that took away his will, privacy, and inner comfort, all to be used against him as a punishment. Being a penitatas meant experiencing the most painful and embarrassing things, to force that young mind to revert straight to repentance and tears. Rearing his head up, tense, the ongoing spanking brought Jacob's maw to open in a howl. Not at all a roar like the Drakonians, Ninne and Anne, but a cry of his own. A scream that growled, sad, pained, and desperate, from his Karrian throat; undeserved tears flowing along each fold his scrunched expression made.

Kayla squeezed her paws, crossing her shoes beneath her desk out of worry, watching on in her inner horror. Her own young eyes had watered, imagining Jacob's pain. He couldn't deal with it as she could, with it being so undeserved. The doctor had likely never felt such a thing before, aside from the trials his mother Lory had put him through. But, that was Lory. This was Miss Chester. Everyone was different.

Unable to escape his painful torment of physical correction, the thin paddle slapped against him until the promised twenty swats were administered with his teacher's maximum force. A spanking that took a mere fifteen or so seconds, yet still left his green scales an aching, throbbing, burning, and stinging red, was intense. Poor Jacob had put pin-holes in Miss Chester's pant leg, his grip was so tight. Though they did not immediately loosen, his body collapsed across her lap, going limp aside from his legs and tail. Head hanging, Jacob cried openly, sounding more childish than he originally hoped, for his notion of looking strong in front of those whom would be judging him. After the swatting, the thought didn't much come to mind, as his tail and legs shifted with the urge to snuff out the stinging fire skittering around the nerves of his scales. Such a simple spanking hurt much worse than he thought. Sputtering his sobs, he choked a bit, sniffling to try and slow down his tears, laying across his teacher's lap as he had been left.

"That was a lot more fidgeting than I'll put up with mister Vasse.", Miss Chester scolded and warned. Kayla squealed quietly at her desk, wincing.

The swatter paddle smacked against Jacob's tender, already swatted backside an additional five times in rapid succession, all before the young reptile could really get kicking again. His idea of slowing his tears and holding on to more of his dignity left, as his green backside turned redder for all to see, and the additional pain sent him over the edge to a steady sob.

He felt like a kindern. It wasn't like it was at home, holding on to his adult notions and memories to defend himself from his mother. Here, with a weakened spirit, it was easier to break him into tears and remorse. A man that was reserved and strong - a leader. Now he was some kid, being spanked and demeaned in public. His crying wasn't something he could stop now. It hurt too much, and there were too many prying eyes. The sting was overwhelming, and like a real penitatas, he was forced to fight the urge to rub. Was easier, seeing as one of his arms was pinned due to his lack of ability to remain still. If it was a slower paddling he may have been able to remain stoic and brave, but after something so fast...

Jacob didn't know if he'd ever feel the same. That stoic, brave nature was who he was.

He wanted to stand up, wipe his eyes, and be done with it. Thumb it to the rotten penitatas that judged him unfairly. But he couldn't. He sniffled and sobbed, whined and whimpered. Jacob didn't have it left in him to ignore such pain, or seek to be the one penitatas to defy what Kayla decreed to be the truth of their sentence. We all cry, she said. It always hurts.

"Alright now. Go stand in the back corner of the room.", the sobbing Karrian was directed, hands lifting him under his arms to encourage him back to his feet. His claws shifted with his legs, till his toes and soon his pads found ground. He stood up, about to reach back, before a Kayla inside of his mind scolded him not to. Instead he reached down for his pants and briefs, keeping turned enough to hide his front from the class. Miss Chester placed her hand on his left arm, making Jacob look back up.

"Those stay at your ankles until told. Hands behind your back.", he was advised sternly, even if it didn't come with another series of spanks. This was his one warning, being that he would only be told things once. His jaw quivered with another sob, but the reptile again sniffled and tried to dull his tears, locking his paws together above his tail. He turned for the side of the class, walking towards the back on the side his own desk resided upon. The most he could to was walk with a slight hunch forward, but there was no hiding the fact he was male. The room was able to look to their heart's content, which was a lot, at least for the human observers. A lesson in Karrian anatomy. At least his penis was sheathed like most creatures, but that came to little comfort considering all of them still had testicles, and most such pouches weren't scaled and owned by a Starfleet killer. Once in the corner, Jacob closed his eyes, looking to calm and slow his racing heart. Trying to do so, only made him sob a bit harder.

Clearing his mind made so many thoughts arise. He remembered being in the holding cell at the court house. His muzzle throbbed from being struck, and he cried his eyes out. Screaming and begging, he wanted his mom. Miss Lory. Never having done anything wrong, he always had someone nearby whom could make things right. Kayla was his young love in this new, rejuvenated life he had been given after the accident on the Apollo. But, all children needed a parent, even ones that had been around the block several times, such as he. Jacob wished to be held, and cradled. Someone to tell him it was over, and it was going to be okay.

There was no way he could stop his fight. Kayla and his mother needed to save him. This time, no matter how brave he was, there was nothing he could do to save himself. Being a penitatas made sure of that, seeing as he could do nothing for himself. Perhaps, Jacob thought in that moment of revelation, that was why someone forced him into this situation. It was one he could not escape. Hopefully they hadn't thought of him having help.

Soon the light snickers and giggles from the various penitatas subsided and Miss Chester resumed order in her class. She began her first lesson, starting with a reading assignment. Jacob was left in the corner, ensuring he would have more work to catch up on later. Unlike his usual self, it wasn't so much a priority. He was only here just to not be arrested again, or taken to an even harsher home. Back at her seat, Kayla read her assignment, distracted, and forlorn. Her eyes would glance back towards Jacob whenever she could, just to see how he was doing. With his tail down, much of the welts were covered, but not all of them. Around the sides of his bottom and tail, his scales swelled and reddened into marks. They looked pretty painful, but Kayla was confident he could handle them okay once he got his wits back about him. This was just a hard first experience. Kayla had faith, even if she did not want to watch something so rough happen to him. His tears would come with any swatting, but she hoped he could at least bounce back from them as they learn how over time.

Being left in the corner was a sad, boring place. Jacob was left to his own remorse, when a normal disciplined kindern or rejuve would be thinking about what it was they had done. Being naked felt less important as the others were working and could not turn around any longer. There was still ache, but that would stay, he knew. As time passed, his tears dried and he was left to the occasional sniffle. With that spectacle over, he wished he could say it wasn't as bad as he thought it'd be. It was hard to get over how weak and childish he felt. Was hard to understand it wasn't his fault, and only his nature. A seven year old whom receives such a powerful thrashing will howl and cry, even if a rejuvenated child. How he behaved and portrayed himself to others was such a big thing to him, and now he already had a promise of revenge over his head from Davis and Markus. The two would gang up on him at the next opportunity and think nothing of it.

"Turn in your reading assignments please, time's up. Transfer them normally.", Jacob heard Miss Chester call out, asking for the work to be turned in via their computer consoles. He had missed the whole class. The length of this punishment and his clothes around his ankles made him growl into the corner. The proud doctor could have never seen himself this way. Trapped in a corner, and trapped incarcerated for attempted murder. The tapping at consoles went on, till his teacher again spoke.

"Miss Ackart. Everyone has submitted their work, but I still don't have your's.", she said while reading her screen, evaluating her roster for compliance. Kayla hummed oddly, sounding as if she was in a rush. Jacob growled again with a bit more intensity, curling his muzzle. Damn it Kayla, you didn't...

"I'm sorry. I'm not done yet.", the Aspatrian relented, chilling Jacob in his corner. Kayla had been so worried about him, that she didn't pay any attention to her own work. Not paying attention to your work, was the same as not paying attention to your hide. Stuck where he was in the corner, he felt helpless and responsible. If only he wasn't such a damn baby and could take a few licks, he thought, even if it was a very unfair thought. Even Kayla would have howled. She may still have the opportunity.

Holding his tense expression, Jacob's eyes fixed on the smooth wall of the dim corner, listening for sounds and movement to determine what was going on. It was mostly quiet, aside from shuffling and ambient noise, making it hard to determine. Took a moment, but he heard Miss Chester's chair move, as she got up and began walking. Oh no. Come on.

"That's not at all acceptable. You had more than enough time. Day dreaming and not paying attention would be the only things to cause you of all people to not be done.", he heard her scold, with the voice coming closer. She seemed to be going to Kayla's desk. Jacob's teeth clenched, locking his expression in a snarl.

"Your right paw.", she said next, with her tone of direction. It seemed plain, but it took only a second for a sharp series of four whaps to make the situation more clear to Jacob. He winced at each smack, sinking his head into his shoulders and clenching his eyes. The tip of his tail curled between his legs, slowly moving once more at the sad, tiny sniffle he heard next. A ruler to the palm of her right paw, he deduced. One of the things she hated most. A crisp four brought phantom pain into Jacob's right claw. As he faced forward feeling defeated, gently caressing his fingertips into the palm of his claw as they remained behind his back.

"You can stay here during recess and do it by hand. We're going to move on to our next assignment.", Miss Chester spoke to Kayla, then to the rest of the class. Both Jacob and Kayla swore in their minds. It put a lump in Jacob's chest. Recess would be the next chance Davis and Markus would have to try their double team again, and not he would be alone. Once called from the corner and instructed to return to his seat, the Karrian stepped back and pulled his slacks and underwear back up. They slid up to his tail with lacking comfort after his swatting, but at least that he could predict and expect. Belt finally re-secured as it should be, he turned and walked back to his desk. Kayla and he locked gazes, with the fox giving him a silent apology from her watery eyes. The thumb of her left paw was rubbing into the pad of her right, trying to soothe what was a deep hurt. She didn't help him at all with that fumble, but for once couldn't help herself. The Aspatrian was worried. With his strength about him, Jacob took his seat without whimpering or wincing. Claws on his desk, he played as if he was ready to start a normal day. In reality there was all sorts of butterflies in his stomach, and it was hard to look at everyone whom had seen his under-tail and bits in such a personal way. He braved a room filled with lethal, flesh melting radiation. He could handle this, so long as he wasn't in the middle of one of these punishments or dealing with one of Kayla's, as long as it meant going home and getting the hell out of here. It was Friday, which blessed him with the reprieve of the weekend.

Returning to his class work and the normality of the day, Jacob thought about other things between scribbling answers. Why he may have been here, and what it meant to his sanity. Those few swats to Kayla's paw, as much as they hurt him as well, was a solid reminder that he wasn't alone. It took effort to fight his personality of calm dignity, and convince himself that a room full of penitatas wasn't anything to worry about when it came to their judgment of him. The furiously burning sting of their discipline was more than he could handle, but holding on to Kayla's loving words of encouragement, he was able to wipe his eyes and go on. The true obstacle in his mind, was this feeling of being a prisoner, since he was one. It could be easier to solve his problem and escape this horrifying life, if he could figure why he was there, aside from a shady courtroom proceeding. For all he knew, they just wanted to find him guilty, even if they didn't have evidence - some form of vigilante justice. A re-trial was what he needed to solve that, and enough strength to put up with his frequent inner panic attacks. Heart and mind racing so often, the young Jacob felt like a shell of a man. It was a long ways away from being a commander on board a Starfleet medical ship.

Jacob grumbled and went back to work, to distract his mind from the distraction. Starfleet wasn't high on his list at the moment, for putting him in this room with a pair of silver filled-in 'P's. The day went on as normal though, which also wasn't a large comfort as recess approached and arrived. All the penitatas lined up and filed out, headed to the field for their social time and exercise. The Karrian was at the end of the line, drooping and alone, with Kayla back in the classroom by herself to write her reading assignment. She couldn't be here to defend him and keep him out of trouble. Markus and Davis were not as much of a worry, than it was to receive one of their more 'extreme' punishments from the principal. Being a doctor and not one unfamiliar with rejuvenation, he was well aware that so soon after his rejuvenation, his old Starfleet combat training was of no use. He'd have to practice and re-train. Not everyone can keep certain portions of their speed and dexterity, such as Kayla's typing ability.

Arriving at the recess field, the class spread out and branched apart as they typically did. To his surprise, there was little interest in him now. Like those with short attention spans, they ran off with their friends to perform their normal routines, having been able to see Jacob suffer already. He didn't even see Markus and Davis, at first anyway. Once Jacob began his stroll around some of the class' stragglers and other penitatas occupying the field from other classes, he was graced with their presence. At least he expected it.

"All by yourself huh?", Davis was the first to chime in, being that Markus was more in the mood for a fight than anything else. The larger Markus shoved Jacob with both hands, sending him backwards a few paces. He kept his balance since he knew they were coming, and it wasn't such a shock as earlier. Someone would see this eventually, and his scale would be burned a dark red, be it by paddle or cane. He didn't need this!

"Why do you care whether I'm a penitatas or a medicalos? You couldn't fight me even if you tried!", Jacob fired back, taking a step forward to brace himself against another shove, or even a blow. The look on Markus' face was one of quiet rage. Serious, and direct. Like he just wanted to hurt someone. Apparently the punch Jacob gave him earlier sent quite a message indeed. If only what Jacob said was true. In reality, he knew he was no fighter, and didn't have enough in him to fight off two older humans. The Karrian could certainly hurt at least one, even if it would force him to bawl with ache and guilt at the hands of an adult.

"We can find that out, Commander Killer.", Davis laughed, not taking Jacob at all seriously. He saw him cry, scream, and kick just like anybody else. It gave them a false sense of security, and guaranteed this would not go the way the scaled boy desired. Shifting his body, Markus swung his fist heavy handed with with a sharp intake of air. It looked a lot bigger, coming straight for his snout. Stumbling backwards to dodge with a lack of grace, Jacob winced, but the assault on him missed.

In mid swing, Markus took a severe impact to his back, making a nasty sound as the air was forced from his lungs. His punch turned into an extended arm as he fell, landing hard on his belly and chest. Groaning on sharp pain, he squirmed and coughed; a drakonian figure replacing where he once stood. Quickly it turned on it's feet, claws digging into the grass and dirt with a ripping sound, as it spun and nailed Davis in the side with force via it's tail. Davis fell a ways, tumbling and howling, clutching his side against a foe a human could not fight.

Not when she had gotten much bigger, from when she was younger. Perhaps wiser, and braver.

Jacob curled his muzzle in surprise and shock, putting his paws open at his sides, in a gesture of confusion. His maw was open slightly, standing there and looking at his savior.

"Ninne? What the hell are you doing?!", Jacob snapped, not certain as to why she would have done such a thing for him, and to herself. The clothed Drakonian craned her neck around from where she had struck Davis down, eye ridges curled downward. She looked much more serious than he had seen from her before. A sort of resolve.

"I owed Kayla one.", Ninne spoke low, and a bit raspy in her adrenaline fueled state. Even she hoped this wasn't too severe of a mistake. Jacob blinked.

"Get lost before a teacher thinks you were in this fight. Run!", Ninne snarled back at his frozen, confused state, yelling for him to move. And move he did. Jacob made distance from the trio, and the few that had noticed there was a fight starting and had gathered. With few witnesses, once he got away from where it happened, he turned to watch. Markus and Davis tried to shift their attention to Ninne, whom found themselves knocked on the ground again or pinned under one of her large, raptor-like foot claws. It didn't take more than a few moments for two teachers to run over, and break it up. It made Jacob's eyes want to water, seeing the three lead off to the administrator's office. Markus and Davis didn't look well, quiet and eyes looking down. Ninne walked without her head hung, even if she did not smile. Her claws held one another, calm, yet nervous. It looked acceptant. It choked him up, to see someone put themselves in that situation knowingly, and intentionally. She saved him from ending up in that office.

That was two people today that experienced pain, for him. It hurt and crushed him that others were suffering because of him, but at the same time felt vindicated. They did it for him, out of care, worry, or in this case, apologetic honor. Ninne had a habit of pinning others for her own mistakes. This time, for Kayla and to make things right, she took punishment onto herself instead of the other way around.

"Thank you. Damn it, thank you.", Jacob whispered to himself as he watched them leave, loving and hating the big, clothed drake both at the same time. He wished she hadn't done that to herself. The gratitude he felt was enormous. That was one of the kindest things. At least he was worth something to the people that mattered. It renewed what had become a bitter heart, and eased away some of the hatred towards the world that appeared essentially overnight. Turning, the tired Karrian set off on a stroll which Kayla would normally accompany. Tilting his head back to gaze into the sky, he imagined being innocent and free again. All he wanted was his life back; the little he had scraped together after his emergency rejuvenation.

Avoiding other penitatas like an outcast, he walked around in thought all of their recess period. His swatting had dulled to some degree, stinging mostly his scale itself and not the flesh below, aside from light bruising. The green scales did not like flexing and tugging, and at least he could rub his backside in his lonesome. The whole situation was tense, with a sense of powerlessness similar to how he tended to his spanking, he thought idly. He could rub it, but it didn't make it go away. Next would be their lunch period, which he was looking forward to. In the last few days, he had not gotten to eat much.

Back in class, he only had to sit through one more lesson before they could go and eat. He found Kayla had completed her assignment as told, even if she looked at him with half folded orange and black ears while smiling sheepishly. The fox had no idea what Ninne had done, being that no one spoke out of turn with Miss Chester on the war-path. Discipline seemed quick to be dished out after she had begun the day with a traditional welcome spanking. The missing Markus, Davis, and Ninne seemed odd to her, but there was a lot of things that could have meant. Working through the day's math quietly, Jacob paid it more focus, now that there were less worries in regards to his school day. His harassers gone, he just had to stay under the radar till he was home.

Lunch would be one of his less worryful moments in a dismal, silent day. It was hard to be afraid to speak, so the times he could speak freely were welcome and necessary. Finally he and Kayla could be together again. Leaving the room once the time had come, Jacob worked his way back to Kayla's side as they filed along.

"I don't like being a penitatas, I don't like being called a murderer, and I don't like being incarcerated and left to this endless cycle. I need to breathe and go home.", he complained, though tone suggesting he was only trying to relax and vent. He felt that way, and still wanted to scream and run in the aftermath of his arrest, but was growing too exhausted from panic and fear to keep his mind racing to that degree. The slow walk at his special friend's side was the closest thing to normality he had all day. Never before did so many people want to hurt him at once, or wish to never let him grow up in a cycle of constant punishment and further rejuvenation to keep him young. It was a prison of age he didn't deserve.

"You will, soon enough. Have faith. You're taking this well for an innocent man.", Kayla whispered back, tilting her head to Jacob's side as she normally did while talking, to be able to look at him easier while pretending to look forward properly. Jacob crossed his arms as he walked, not staying anything for a moment. It's not like he knew how to respond to that, since he didn't agree.

"I don't have much of a choice.", he sighed with a certain weight in his voice. Kayla stretched her arms behind herself, having been cramped in her desk without the break of recess.

"You're no worse for wear than when you left for recess. Markus and Davis couldn't have been a problem.", Kayla cited out of idle chatter. If only she knew. Jacob had to make an awkward chuckle, shaking his head. It was a nervous reaction, still feeling guilty of Ninne's fate.

"Today has not been that simple Kayla. Not with me around.", he replied with some difficulty, which was well noticed by the twitch of Kayla's right ear. Her head tipped forwards slightly, eyes squinting a bit in a more focused expression.

"What does that mean?", she asked with a tense, 'oh what now?', kind of voice. She was sure no harm had befallen him, and wanted to be right about that. Jacob grumbled, tilting his head forward as she did, but out of guilt.

"Markus wanted my tail in a pretzel knot. Ninne took my place in the fight, and in the punishment for it. She's still not back from Mister Yami's office.", he spoke even lower hating the clothed drake's fate. Gone so long, she must have shed many tears, and have been staring at a corner for a long while. Kayla turned her head entirely, skipping the pretending to face forward bit as they stepped into the lunch room, taking an extra step towards her green comrade.

"How did that happen?!", she asked, with an expression quite similar to Jacob's when Ninne head butt Markus in the back.

"Ninne said she owed you. Told me to leave before I got associated with the fight.", Jacob felt reluctant to explain. It still didn't sit well with him that someone 'sacrificed' themselves, sort of speak, in his behalf. Kayla turned again, looking down as she thought. She remained quiet as they joined the line to pick up their lunch. It was a lot to process, being out of character for the older Drakonian. After such a long feud, Ninne would do something so kind to her, by saving Jacob and sparing him unjust harm. She had told Ninne that morning that her biggest fear was Jacob getting into trouble she could not save him from.

"So.. She owed me.", Kayla mumbled in line, catching Jacob's attention again.

"Damn it. I get why she did it, but she's going through a lot for it. Mister Yami wouldn't give a repeat offender any leniency in his office. Even her own mother will make her pay.", she sort of growled, seeming worked up and upset by it.

"She didn't need to do something like this. I knew she was sorry.", she spoke into her sore right paw, holding her canine muzzle with it. What Ninne did was a kind of heroism not found in your average penitatas. They would try to weasel out of any punishment, with Ninne being like that in particular. What she did for an innocent, and for a friend, was unfathomable. Massively appreciated, brave, and by all, the right thing to do.

"She protected me for you. That's a true friend.", Jacob added, seeing Kayla a bit shaken. It must have been a guilt like his own, he figured. If Kayla had been on the field, it would have been her in the hot seat. It made the fox think of all the good times. The pain Ninne had caused her after her kidnapping clouded much of those thoughts. Now to go with Jacob, she had her best friend back. It was a sign of gratitude that wasn't easily conveyed. They had spoken much over the past two days, while Jacob was gone. When Ninne said she was going to make things up to her, she didn't think it would be anything this drastic and unselfish.

The pair collected their lunches while Kayla thought about what happened. She imagined Mister Yami's light Japanese accent, between swings of a blistering grade dragon-paddle. A Ninne, accepting it without protest, roaring tearily. Nothing seemed fair anymore.

Being as they were farther ahead in the line when leaving the class, Anne and Anthony were already seated with their trays, eating. It was not the same, playful and light hearted meeting as it usually was. The looks they shared in greeting were much more somber, if not tense.

"[Kayla, have you heard about Ninne yet?]", Anne spat, running a claw along the smooth surface of the table. The reptilian girl was certainly frowning. Kayla nodded her head while sitting down, swinging her tail to one side as she tended to do when having a seat.

"Yes. I can't believe she did something like that for Jacob.", she answered with the same note of surprise. Anne hummed.

"[For Jacob?]", the brown scaled Draconian asked out of confusion. It seemed Ninne's plan worked just fine.

"It's complicated. She saved Jacob, despite what it meant.", Kayla again sighed, looking to the empty spot at her left. Would be nice if Ninne could at least eat and see them. She deserved a prompt 'thank you'.

"How about you Jacob, you okay?", Anthony asked over the noise of the lunch room, waging a solitary French fry in gesture. Jacob made something of a look.

"No, but I'm alright for the moment.", he tried to answer with an honest, but lighthearted manner.

"[Are you really innocent?]", Anne asked, getting a curious look from both Kayla and Anthony. It was a rough thing to ask, but the Drakonian did have her cultural differences. On Earth, you tend to avoid pointing out the bear in the room. Thankfully, Jacob was still Jacob, and such a thing from a friend made him laugh, even if just a little.

"I am. Thanks Anne.", he smirked as he ate. As he did, Anthony wagged another fry, speaking with a note of pride.

"During your welcome spanking, I didn't watch. I'm a guy too, I can appreciate how you felt.", he noted with a look at the end, adding that your average male penitatas enjoyed keeping their pants on.

"[There's nothing special with that notion of clothing.]", Anne spat and snarled in an average sounding Drakonian comment, turning to the lighter side of the group's banter. Anthony made a sarcastic 'Hah!', gesturing towards her in a playful sense.

"You don't show your junk to the room like everybody else! Jacob's stuff stands out even worse than mine, with that whole sheath thing going on above the jewels.", he snickered and played while getting vulgar - quite the usual for him, complete with hand gestures from his groin area upwards. She knew she shouldn't, but Kayla laughed. Anne's hiss was sort of like a snicker in her dialect. Jacob thumped his head against the table and covered it with his claws.

"Shut up, I thought you didn't watch.", he griped with a note of amusement and embarrassment, muffled a good deal by the table. Anthony made something of a lightly frustrated sound, even as he grinned and continued the lighter mood he excelled in.

"I didn't watch the spanking.", the boy re-explained, or at least tried to, before Kayla cut in.

"You just wanted to compare. Sneaky pervert.", she added in a matter-of-fact way. Anthony shook his head lightly.

"I can't compare to you non-Earth races.", he replied a bit more awkwardly, getting his own note of embarrassment from what he walked straight into. Jacob raised a claw, opening in gesture.

"Guys, what the hell?", he complained, hiding his blushing thin scale of his muzzle. If this was supposed to be therapeutic, the timing was terrible. At least, that's what his thoughts said. It was nice to not take something bad seriously. It fell into what Kayla said, once again. Everyone cries, and it always hurts. The key word, was 'everyone'. They all coped with the loss of dignity and privacy in their very public moments of disciplinary action. He was just like everyone else, even if he shouldn't have been. At least his friends thought nothing of what they saw, or paid him respect.

"Jacob is real private, come on. He'll be declared innocent and done with this before you know it.", Kayla encouraged them to cease, trying to quell her own tone of amusement while adding a positive note in her close friend's favor.

"He's still our guy.", Anthony continued with that thought, raising his container of water like a glass of champagne. Jacob propped his head up on his claws, smiling idly and sheepish.

"You're too much. Be nice to the medicalos penitatas.", Jacob himself tried to play, trying to talk about how he felt with humor. It wasn't so much what his aching heart wanted, but it was a lot better than his mind racing. Being unjustly punished and sentenced to decades of imprisonment in his young age was by far no laughing matter. At least they believed in him, and he could understand why Anthony and Anne would be the way they were. Part of their coping was to think being a penitatas was normal, maybe. That they were indeed all the same.

Having been told much of what happened, Anthony and Anne spent time asking for bits and pieces they did not know about Jacob's arrest. Hearing some of the things he went through removed a good deal of humor from their voices, being forced to realize how the things they felt on a day to day basis felt to an undeserving outsider. He didn't even know if he had a family, and was hated by likely everyone he had known.

The idle questions could only go on for so long, as their table gained another member. Ninne had slipped into her seat on the end with a twitching expression of pain, head hung in exhaustion. Her eyes were damp and red, just resting quietly as her friends examined how bad she looked. This time around, all she had was her shirt. The Drakonian was not given back her specially made slacks that fit her dinosaur form, keeping her bare brown scales crammed into the hard seat. Drakonians didn't need to wear clothing, to confiscating her pants was an effective passive punishment for an Earth drake. The paddling she received to her claws, hips, and the base of her tail, would hurt for days in this case. The four just stared, not knowing what to say in the silent moment. Once Ninne had rested, she lifted her head slightly.

"They didn't have any trays left.", she spoke in a hoarse manner, looking over to her friends and bringing up something aside from what she went through with Mister Yami. On queue, Kayla and Jacob both pushed their trays towards her. They looked up at one another, paw, and claw, remaining on their tray.

"One at a time.", Ninne joked a little, lowering her head and offering a tired, forced smile.

"Here. Jacob hasn't eaten well.", Kayla took the initiative in insisting, sliding her tray in front of Ninne. The older drake looked at it and her friend, giving a moment before nodding and accepting her fork. Making sure she had food was the least she could do. Jacob slid his back in front of him, despite feeling as if he didn't entirely deserve it. Analyzing how someone felt through how they appeared was an integral part of triage, so he could see Ninne's pain. She must have cried for quite some time. Markus and Davis must have looked similar, though not as bad as Ninne did considering she was the aggressor and victor. Seeing her cool brown fingers hold Kayla's fork with difficulty; marked and reddened by the hard smacks of a Drakonian claw swatter against her thick armored scale. The grip on the fork was loose, to spare her battered, bruised, and badly stinging claws. Each stud left a blood red mark - rough and tender to the touch, making her fingers tremble as she ate slowly. Her hips and tail were the same, with deeper marks and scratches into her tender under tail scales. It wasn't a clean red, from the studs, and their principal's skill. The least Jacob could give was some kind words, even if he couldn't give his food away.

"Thank you Ninne. I wouldn't have been able to take what you did.", the non-penitatas penitatas spoke solemnly, standing out as different from the energy of the full lunch room. She saved him from a world of hurt he didn't deserve. Ninne didn't deserve it either, but that's what made her brave in this case.

"I have nothing but gratitude you helped him. I wouldn't have expected anyone to do anything like you did.", Kayla thanked in her own quiet-voiced vigor, raising her left paw to place it on Ninne's shoulder. It started as a weak nod, but Ninne made it acceptant of the praise she was given.

"It was the least I could do for you Kayla.", Ninne smiled lightly with a residual sniffle. Her eyes shifted to Jacob, whom received his own words.

"And you're innocent. I wouldn't believe anything else. You don't look the part of a mass murderer.", she added with her own firm note. She had been around the old doctor long enough to figure out the accusation was foolish. His friends had enough faith to trust him.

"But what about you? How could you put yourself through that?", Jacob had to ask; his guilt urging him to. His eyes could not let go of those painful marks on Ninne's claws. Even in the torment he had experienced, it was by far not the worst there was to offer. Lory was just... creative. Frighteningly so. To answer the Karrian's question, Ninne craned her neck to her right, as a gesture towards Kayla.

"Someone taught me how to do the right thing. I decided not to be a bitch, and listen.", Ninne began, citing her belief.

"But why? Why what you did?", Kayla asked, almost desperately seeking explanation for actions that were so brash and damning upon herself. For that, Ninne gestured her snout towards Jacob. Her tired smile was more of a grin.

"You spent the past two days worrying about him. I know when you're the most upset. I wasn't about to let him get hurt when you cared for him so much. I owed you at least that.", the raspy-voiced drake went on to explain, stopping to drink Kayla's juice with a light slurp.

"Besides, you two are cute.", she managed to say plain as day, keeping that smirk. Kayla and Jacob had a blush to hide. Guess it was obvious they had chemistry going on. Kayla shook her head and stifled a bashful laugh.

"Maybe it's me who owes you. If you get grounded for this, I'll sneak you any of my toys you want.", she assured, showing some of her canine teeth in her smirk. It was nice to see something going right, Jacob figured. Not everything around him had to crash and burn all at once.

"I'm going to explain this to my mom as best I can. She's gotten stricter with me because of how I've been acting.", Ninne groaned a bit, rolling it into a submissive sigh and a droopier expression. There was that bear in the room again. Nobody could leave the bear alone. Kayla felt she had ignored the bear long enough any way it went.

"Sorry I disappointed you. Thanks for not hating me.", Kayla felt it was time to say. She did the best she could during her kidnapping, but it was not above her to at least apologize for disappointing her old friend. The buzzer for the penitatas to return to class sounded, averting their eyes upward for a moment, before snapping back to place to finish their gathering.

"Ditto.", Ninne responded with some pop, apologizing for the same point, and thanking Kayla for accepting her back. She slipped the few remnants of her lunch in the trash at the end of the table, as the others did the same.

"I needed a lot of time to think. My mom gave that to me.", she provided as the reason for her change of heart. It was essentially a blunt explanation. Punished for so long and left in the corner each day, her foolish cling to wanting to be right fell apart. She missed her friend. She missed her mother being so proud of her. Poor Ninne had to lose everything to find out what there was to lose.

"Just no one look at my tail, if you could?", Ninne requested with a sharp wince, once she tried to walk out with everyone.

Having his friends happy at least made the day continue easier for Jacob. Their confidence and playful attitudes in the face of their own incarceration had such a soothing effect. There was no question as to why they took things less seriously in each other's company. All day there was an air of authority and danger. Something to be afraid of, complete with discipline, spanking, and hard work. Taking time to lighten those concepts and events took away the power of their aftermath. Someone could take you by the wrist, scold you till you slunk behind them, and spank you till your will broke and tears flowed free and eagerly. You could hold the event in your mind and cry about it again later, or move on, finding something to laugh about in your mistake, or the lighter side of your life. It was one of the things that made the penitatas justice system work. Younger rejuves were resilient like that. They had a higher capacity for learning, and with that, a higher capacity to be corrected and learn from their discipline. Controllable, moldable, and operating on the simple principles of the adolescent mind. It was a wonder the kind of relaxing, calming effect playing with even just a toy could have. The thought made Jacob smile as he finished the last of the day's assignments, and the reading assignment he did not get to do. He wanted to get his toy ships out; letting those mature inhibitions out to play in private. It would let him forget about the bad for a while, shrouding it in young ignorance. In the end, perhaps it was his own desire to be perfect, mature, and adult all the time that caused those endless loops of heartache.

Back on the bus to head home, Kayla and Jacob could celebrate on a successful day. The Karrian's spanking remnants did not bother him so much any more, but the after sting while standing in the corner brought frustrated tears. In his current mood, even though it made him tense, he admitted it to Kayla how he felt during his spanking and it's aftermath. It was a life that wasn't his to live. The support and care he received made him feel at such debt to his friends, and to that of Kayla. Their relationship was forced to the forefront with Ninne's commentary, leaving them something to think about. Jacob lost out on his previous life's love though not acting, and Kayla never had the opportunity to love after her kindernhood and abuse. The gentle smiles and eyes they gave each other on their bus seat, they could feel the other wanted to just kiss and let those emotions flow. The most they could share before parting was a touch to the other's paw or claw, and a tender parting as they lived these foul days together - side by side, for one another. Leaving the bus, the looks from those he didn't know well mattered less, and he got a friendly wave from a battered brown claw to make up for it.

In moments, Jacob opened the front door to his home, wandering into the living room with a hint of cautious trepidation. His mother, Lory, was speaking to someone yet again. Not willing to find out if she rescinded her word about spanking him, he crept along the perimeter of the wall to go and find out what she was doing in the other room.

"It's been futile. Not all day have I been able to get in proper contact with anyone associated with his case file.", Lory said with irritation, pacing around in front of their vid-phone. Jacob slipped a bit further behind the corner, brows tensing as he listened intently.

"Can you contact your husband?", came another familiar voice - that of Kayla's mother, Emily. Lory was back having another brainstorming session. Despite the fact she was trying to help Jacob, the reptile still found fault with the fact his mother was so damn wishy-washy. Make your own decisions! It made Jacob huff through his nostrils.

"Of course, but what would he think of me questioning a Starfleet court? If they won't give him a re-trial, there isn't much I can do.", Lory explained, acting frazzled till she sighed in a defeatist manner. Jacob bared the tips of a few teeth; the light coming from a nearby lamp illuminating them with a slight shine. So Starfleet was not budging with the re-trial. That was how he'd escape this madness, and if they were not willing to just hand out a re-trial, more work would have to be done. A worrisome thought, especially since even Emily could sense Lory was on the verge of giving up. It was a frustrating situation.

"If you want to help Jacob, you can't give up. They wanted to dump him into the penitatas justice system, right? They need to listen to you even if it was a Starfleet court-martial and not a civilian court. It's fair.", Emily pressed on Jacob's behalf. It only seemed right that Starfleet would offer a re-trial at penitatas parent petition. Lory flicked her black hair out of the way of her face in mid-pace, making another of her frustrated sounds. She didn't know what to think or who to believe, and this 'giving Jacob the benefit of the doubt' arrangement placed her licenses at risk. The penitatas parent was deathly afraid of being wrong.

"What would be 'fair', is knowing whether I should love him or hate him.", the once matronly woman huffed aloud. Jacob closed his eyes, sliding his claw down the smooth painted wall slightly. He loved his parent. Such rejection hurt him, as he hid outside the room, hanging his head in silence.

"You can't hate your charge even if he was guilty. The fact they were Starfleet officers doesn't change anything.", Emily responded very promptly, putting most of her emphasis into body language Jacob could not see since he wasn't in the room. The sound of his parent's pacing picked back up.

"It does when it could have easily been someone like your husband. The people in harm's way, flirting with death in the reaches of the four quadrants.", Lory griped, using her arms in strong gesturing body language as well. It went quiet for a brief moment. Jacob heard the call of Kayla announcing she was home.

"Honey, head up to your room and play for a bit.", came Emily's words again, though quieter, since she wasn't speaking to the vid-phone. It was an order Kayla acknowledged only by words, since she hid out of sight by the stairs in her own home.

"Look, this is no time to panic. Whether he is innocent or guilty, Jacob is going through a terribly tough time. He needs guidance.", Emily pleaded to her, trying to get her point across. Jacob appreciated hearing someone wanting to give him the soft parenting he desired by nature.

"I need guidance, not just him!", Lory snapped with continuing frustration. She wasn't the only one getting frustrated in the back and forth squawking. Emily placed a hand beneath her chin, and Jacob twitched with anger. He was being told just how important he was.

"I've been told he's guilty. We think he's innocent. Who's supposed to be right? Nobody I've spoken with in Starfleet even thinks I should be worried. The court reports contain what isn't classified, they said! An Admiral was the arbiter! What does it matter to them what doubts I have, just because Jacob keeps screaming he's innocent? I can only do what they say!", Lory griped with force, storming around the circle she paced with furious looking body language and expressions - mind racing as it went in as many circles as she walked. This made Jacob growl painfully, and almost tearily. Emily rose to his defense, as Jacob rose to his feet.

"Your doubts matter because they have merit! Jacob is a fine person, and protecting our rejuvenated children is our job! They can't do it themselves anymore. Does he act like a killer? Can you read this joke of a court record and find true proof?", she turned around, giving her data pad a smack with her other hand's fingers as she tried to get it through to Lory. The black haired, black dressed woman answered as soon as Emily stopped speaking, coming close to interrupting.

"Does your daughter act like the galaxy's most notorious hacker? Can you look into her eyes and see the faces of the people she hurt? I bet you can't, because nobody can! It's not that easy - we can be wrong!", came yet another twist of concept and words, leaning more towards an argument the more fired up Lory became in wanting to know what to do, and who was right or wrong. Jacob's eyes watered, breathing irregularly, thinking of all the times she accompanied him and did indeed look into his eyes. Could she see nothing? Nothing at all? Was she so damned blinded by his conviction - an act against Starfleet officers?

Jacob clenched his fists, slipping into the doorway with his head down and quite the disgusted look on his muzzle. Emily was the first to notice him, even if she didn't make a move. Lory would know he was there soon enough.

"Why can't you make your own decision?!", he shouted as a demand in a strong, yet still seven year old Karrian voice. Despite his tear-filled eyes and desperate lump in his chest, it didn't flow into his words. They were as damming as he felt they should have been. Lory turned out of surprise, sort of staring in her flustered demeanor. It made full sense to Emily that Jacob must have been listening for some time, seeing as Kayla arrived home after the reptilian boy would have. She leaned into her hand, feeling bad Jacob to have heard some of the things he had. After a few short moments of silence, Jacob's claws shook as he choked back a sob. His mother's lack of a reply slashed at those memories he had of brighter days, and whom he thought she was. How could she not answer?

"You spent months being my mom, and you act like you don't even know me! You're supposed to know me better than anyone...", Jacob again shouted, stepping forward from the door.

"It doesn't matter!", he received as his answer. Blunt and direct. It worked a sniff from the Karrian, whom was trying to be as adult as he could. Without a loving parent, there was no way for him to relax his mind. It was frying itself in overdrive.

"I'm supposed to matter!", Jacob fired back, pointing straight up at her as his feet stomped through the carpet up to her side. Staring up, he had to keep his courage.

"You just don't want to seem like a bad Starfleet wife!", he yelled accusingly, thrusting his finger back down to his side.

"I've never done anything wrong. Not on the Apollo, and not to you! I loved my crew, and I loved you. You're standing here arguing about whether you should even be trying to fight for me or not! If I'm worth it!", came rapid-fire, till his voice broke, and he sputtered. Jacob was once a strong medical officer and commander who could risk his life to save his crew - his friends. Even as his scale burned away and his flesh bled, he just didn't want those he cared about to die. Now he was but a piece of that, living in the frame and mind of a pre-pubescent boy. For this, he didn't feel bad about crying anymore. He deserved it. He earned it.

"And if you hate me. When I need somebody the most, you want to hate me, because you're afraid of the sheer possibility the charges were true!", his voice began to weaken, as his heart broke. Lory had been there for him during the worst of times. The eyes that looked down at his wet green cheeks seemed so cold. Jacob imagined that if Lory was told to break his arm, she would. So fixated on duty, she lost sight on the family equation. Lory raised her hand to her waist, sticking out a finger to use scoldingly.

"That's enough already! You can't talk to me like that, penitatas or medicalos!", came a more distressed parental tone.

"My life has been taken away from me twice in three months time now! I have every right!", Jacob was sure to put on the table, not about to take the parental tone.

"You can't talk to me like that either, when it comes to this. You can't make me be quiet, and not question what you're doing. A parent wouldn't pretend their kid was guilty of a crime unless they were sure!", he asserted, as Emily nodded on the vid-phone's screen.

"He's right.", the other parent affirmed. Lory made a gruff sort of sound, turning her back to Jacob and taking a step away in thought, before turning around with another gesture from her arm.

"I'm not your arbiter, I didn't court-martial you! Aside from the classified parts that are missing, there isn't anything for me to know! They found you guilty. They gave you back to me for discipline and correction, under the law. The law Jacob. They're not giving you a re-trial.", she began as potentially emotional, before breaking matters down into hard pressed points. Her tone was firm. Cold. Emily lifted her head from her hand, and Jacob's knees bent slightly, as if he wanted to curl up where he stood. His sobs were silent, jaw quivering and tears dripping slowly.

"You gave up?", Jacob asked with his anger gone. It sounded so tiny, and teary. Shocked, and hurt. Emily didn't know what to say in such a situation, if Lory was going to make up her mind to not seek re-trial. What did she expect to do, run in circles as to whether she should discipline Jacob or not without taking any action?

"I take no for an answer, when it's from an Admiral.", she answered the trembling boy, revealing more. She spoke with Admiral Palmer?

"What about your own view? You're not going to go over his head to the Secretary of Officer Affairs?", he spoke just as he did before. This wasn't right. It was like being told to give up hope. That this would have no end. He would be a penitatas for decades.

All he got was Lory's stern stare.

"If you think he's innocent, you can't stall like this.", Emily interjected the silence with her own forceful tone. She wasn't going to keep prim and proper, seeing Jacob's suffering without appropriate representation. This was the Karrian's life that was on the line, not Lory's standing as the wife of a Starfleet officer.

"All those times you said you loved me, you were lying?", Jacob added to the tense moment, sobbing quietly once more. Lory sighed roughly, holding her hair and her head from listening to both Emily and Jacob at once. She looked angry and rough.

"Be quiet child!", she told Jacob with some flustered difficulty, turning her head towards the vid-phone as if to speak to it again. Jacob's teeth bared and his muzzle curled in a heavy growl, coming out of his moment of shock with a tear stricken flurry of angry words.

"How could you be so cruel and selfish! You're talking about condemning me to a life of imprisonment! You're trying so hard to ignore me and your own conscience!", he shouted, forceful enough to remove the crying from his tone. His eyes looked up with fiery resolve. It was an immense pain. Crushing.

"Jacob!", Lory snapped, swinging her head back towards him. Jacob clenched his eyes. His own mother, parent, and guardian.

"You're terrible!", he continued, just as strong, even as the sobs impeded his words. Lory made a growl of her own swinging her body back towards the sullen boy. The hand that spent the past moments scolding, slapped Jacob's muzzle with furious intensity. The crack that sounded in the room was sudden and violent enough to make even Emily wince.

Jacob yowled - the slap across his cheek and maw knocking him from his fairly young feet. He fell with a thud on his right hip, caught my his claw, while his left clutched the already reddening slap welt upon his face. All the while, the vid-phone got noisy, followed by a series of thumps as Kayla bolted from her hiding spot up to the screen. Emily didn't pull her eyes from the spectacle in time to properly hold her daughter back. The fox's snarl and growl were ravenous, as she tried to force herself into the screen.

"Damn you! To hell with her Jacob!", she screamed, teary eyed. Ferocious, even as Emily tried to stop her girl, calling her name as she held her back and tried to pull her away from the screen. Kayla!

"Go to your room Jacob!", Lory commanded as sharply and roughly as she could, sounding at the peak of parental strictness. It was a noisy mess of confusion, between Kayla's furious interjection, and his mother's cold commands. Jacob opened his eyes, squirming backwards and away from Lory; fearful and hurt. His cheek swelled.

"Enough!", Emily said clearly for the vid-phone, both to her daughter and the situation as it was.

"He loved you! He needed you!", Kayla screamed irately into the screen, still struggling with her mother to have her opportunity at Miss Lory, seeing her first love smitten under her hand. Emily grasped Kayla's left ear and yanked, which only tightened and intensified Kayla's overly canid response and expressions.

"Go - to - your - room! Now!", Lory shouted, going beyond even penitatas parental, pointing towards the door with intimidating power. The kind that suggested pain and violence. Jacob squirmed from his frozen state, away from the woman standing over him. Carpet scraping his scale, his feet quickly found carpet, and in a bolt, he ran from the room. Gone from Kayla's sight. The fox's sympathetic tears and self ache flowed. From her irate Aspatrian stance, Kayla pulled her ear from her mother's hand and ran as well. Covering her eyes with her paws, she ran like a scalded child, turning her anger into remorse. In the background of the vid-phone her orange and white tail streamed around the corner, followed by a wail of a cry. Emily, left to herself, turned her eyes back to the screen. Unlike the younger ones, she couldn't speak. It's not like she would have had the opportunity, catching only a glimpse of Lory's back.

"Phone, off.", she ordered the vid-phone just as sharply and roughly as she had Jacob. She never turned to face Emily again. The other parent's screen went blue, with the network's disconnect screen.

What did she just witness?

Emily's stomach turned. Ignorance was creating injustice.

Leaving her seat, the mother wandered away from the vid-phone in a daze. Walking up to the corner of the dinning room and living room, she found her daughter hunched over on the couch. One paw clutched the ear she pulled, and the other held her chest. This was not like crying of a spanking. Kayla truly hurt. She was mourning.

This was not something Emily could hold against Kayla in good conscience. She had the ability to make her own decisions of what was right and wrong, as a parent. Kayla would not endure soap for her words, nor would she touch her toes to receive a paddling for her behavior. No. She wanted to pick Kayla up by the arm and give a dozen hard ones from her hand right that instant, but there was no need to be brash, even though her girl had been. So had Lory.

It was that leadership that allowed her to be a parent. With that ability to decide accordingly, Emily sat down at Kayla's side and wrapped an arm around her comfortingly. Gentle. Silent aside Kayla's lament. Their thoughts focusing on a friend, and the sadness of a cold winter's day.

It was up to them now. Kayla promised Jacob.