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"Clan Short Headquarters." Tommy said professionally.
"Tommy, are Cory or Sean around? I've got some kids in trouble and I need their help." David said in a rush to the study console.
"Cory's right here, go ahead." Tommy said and adjusted the video feed to a wider angle to show Cory holding Timmy in his lap.
"Cory, I just got a call for help. From what he told me his brother may be a victim of neglect and they're in immediate danger from a pimp." David said quickly.
"Get a team together and go get them." Cory said while enjoying a snuggle from Timmy.
"Me? Aaron's the one who does stuff like that..." David began to say.
"David. You're not the boyfriend of a Clan Short member; you ARE a Clan Short member. The call for help came to you. From everything I've seen I believe that the call comes to the one who has the greatest chance of helping. Now you can either go and help those boys or tell me that you aren't able and I'll get someone else. What's your decision?" Cory asked in a low, firm voice.
Cory noticed David's apprehensive look and said in a teasing tone, "You know, that was kind of a blond thing to say. I'm trying to break the stereotype... you're not helping."
"Daddy, stop pickin' on Unca' Davie!", Timmy said sternly.
David grinned at Timmy's defense of him.
Then in a slightly more serious voice Cory asked, "Are you up to it?"
"I'll do it. But... I, I'm afraid I'll mess up." David said weakly.
"So? You've seen me mess up. I've seen just about everyone else mess up sometime. Do your best. But do you want some advice?" Cory asked as he watched the console screen carefully.
"Get a team together, then let them do their jobs. Let them know what you expect of them and leave them to it." Cory said then smiled as Timmy stretched up to kiss him on the cheek.
"You're in charge. Whatever decisions you make, I'll back you up. You have the resources of Clan Short, Vulcan and Starfleet at your command. Do what you need to do." Cory said, and then broke into a giggle as Timmy started tickling his ribs.
"Are JJ and Gabe over there? I'm going to need security." David said in thought.
"Yeah, I'll get them to transport to Terra Main to wait for your team. Do you need anyone else?" Cory asked as CD walked into view and worked his way into Cory's lap, opposite Timmy.
"I'd appreciate it if you could have Antonio stand by in case we need any medical help." David said seriously.
"Tommy, can you get in touch with Antonio?" Cory asked as he put an arm around both boys in his lap and pulled them into a firm hug.
"I'm thinkin he's with his dad. I could call his dad's communicator." Tommy said quickly.
"Thanks, I'd better get my team ready. Time's running out." David said quickly.
"Call if you need us." Cory called out and received a nod before the screen went dark.
Kenny wiped his tears and glanced down at his phone to see the time.
Help should arrive at 10:51.
Ten minutes. That's nothing.
Just wait ten minutes, 'Just hang in there, it's almost over.' That's what his faceless savior had said on the phone.
After taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly to calm himself, Kenny walked out to spend the next ten minutes with his brother.
Kenny walked into the living room to find Kevin sitting curled tightly into a ball in the corner of the couch.
"Kev? Are you okay?" Kenny asked cautiously.
"M'Scared" Kevin mumbled.
"When I used to be scared, Dad and Pop would hold me and it made me feel better. You wanna try that?" Kenny asked quietly.
Kevin gave a slight, barely noticeable nod.
Kenny sat beside him on the couch and was nearly knocked over as Kevin attached to his side.
Kenny scooted to find a comfortable position and put both his arms around his brother as he silently prayed that David, the friend he'd never met, would be able to help them.
After a glance at the phone that was still in his hand, Kenny started to look around the room.
Nothing on the walls. Everything in sight as a specific purpose. No ornamentation or pictures.
Kenny couldn't understand what was bothering him about the barren room, so he began to think about his home in Orlando.
As you walked in the front door, the first thing you saw was a multitude of pictures on the wall.
Every important moment in his life had been documented and displayed for all to see.
Walking into the living room there were things everywhere. Every bowl, ornament, throw blanket or anything else that you saw had a history, a story that made it part of the home.
He realized that they were trophies of his life with his fathers.
Everything scattered throughout the house was evidence that he lived there and that he was loved.
This place had no trophies... no memories.
Kenny thought about his Dad and his Pop and what a different world he was used to.
He thought about the weekend trips they'd take, just to explore and have fun together.
He remembered his last birthday party. Tiffany, Charlie (Charlotte, which she hated) and TJ (Timothy, Junior).
His friends had always been there. He'd never contemplated an existence without them.
Everything he'd ever thought of wanting was given to him by his parents and his friends.
"Jacob, Jamie, come to the study, I need your help. Zac, Mark, stop sucking face and get in here too. We've got a mission." David called into the 'all call' on the intercom.
"What's up?" Jacob said as he rushed in.
"We've got to bring in some guys who are in trouble. I need you guys to serve as intelligence for the team. Grab tricorders and communicators. Have you been trained with phasers?" David asked seriously as Zac and Mark hurried into the room.
"No." Jacob said with wide eyes.
"That's okay. JJ and Gabe will be with us. Zac and Mark, we've got two boys who need help. I know they're scared. You two stick with them and help them to cope until we can get them back here. Oh yeah, sometimes people freak out a little the first time they transport. Can you guys handle that?" David asked hopefully.
Zac and Mark both nodded.
"Grab communicators and get ready, we'll be transporting as soon as I get the coordinates from the workstation." David said quickly and walked across the room to the console he'd used to record the call and trace the cell phone location.
Sounds of voices in the distance caught Kenny's attention.
The voices were too far away to be understood, but the tone was easy enough to understand.
A verbal fight was taking place someplace below them in the building.
Then there was silence.
"Would you do something for me?" Kevin asked, breaking the silence in the room.
"If I asked you to do something that you didn't want to, would you do it anyway?" Kevin asked nervously.
"Bro, I can't promise that I'll do 'anything', but if it's something important and I know you really want me to, I'll try."
Kevin pulled a pistol from beside him where it was jammed between the couch cushion and the arm of the couch.
"Where'd you get that?" Kenny asked in shock.
"Mom keeps it in the drawer by her bed." Kevin said quietly.
"Is it loaded?" Kenny asked with a tremble in his voice.
"It wouldn't be much use if it wasn't." Kevin mumbled.
"What did you want me to do?" Kenny asked apprehensively.
"If Jake can't get us out and Daddy K can't keep Spade's guys out... will you... do it?" Kevin asked as he fought to meet Kenny's eyes.
"Do what? Kill Spade's guys?"
"No, kill me." Kevin said in a low voice as his eyes fell to the floor again.
There was a long moment of silence before Kenny said, "Kev, I love you. I can't kill you."
"If you really love me, you will. If Spade gets me, I'd rather be dead than do what he wants me to do. If I killed his guys, I'd get sent to juvi and... it ends up being the same. Please? If you won't, I'll do it myself, but I'm afraid I'll mess it up." Kevin said with pleading in his voice and expression.
Kenny thought about what Kevin said, and what he couldn't bring himself to say. He'd rather die than be raped and whored out for Spade.
After a moment to formulate his response, Kenny took a deep cleansing breath and said, "If it comes down to it, I'll do it. I promise."
Kevin pressed his face into his brother's chest and mumbled, "Thank you. I love you."
"Everyone ready?" David asked as he adjusted his tricorder.
Everyone nodded and took their transport positions.
"Terra Main, this is David Gallagher of Clan Short requesting transport for five to Terra Main." David said in his most professional voice.
"Clan Short, you're second in line. Stand by." A female voice said tonelessly.
A moment later her voice came on the line again and said, "Clan Short, party of five, we are ready to transport on your command."
"Energize." David said, and then closed his eyes as the tickling sensation ran through his body.
Both boys jolted upright at the sound of a knock on the door.
"Come on Kev let me in." Jake called quickly.
Kevin jumped off the couch and pulled the door open as fast as he could.
"Spade's got us boxed in and he knows it. Daddy K's making calls and getting reinforcements. I think this is going to be an all out war." Jake said with apprehension.
"Do you have the coordinates?" JJ asked immediately.
"Yes, right here." David said and handed JJ the tricorder.
JJ took the tricorder to the transporter operator and returned a few seconds later.
"Ready?" JJ asked unsurely.
"As I'll ever be." David said apprehensively.
"Clan Short, ready to transport to your Chicago location on your command." The transporter operator said professionally.
"Energize." David said and braced himself for the electrical tickle sensation again.
Kenny looked at the clock on his cell phone and saw that there was one minute left before the promised rescue.
"Guys, I kinda called for some help. I hope you're not mad at me, but I don't want to be a whore... or to be dead." Kenny said with a fearful look.
"I hope you called the Marines cause they're about the only ones who're getting into this building the way Spade has things set up." Jake said seriously.
"What's that smell?" Zac asked as he brought up a hand to cover his nose.
Mark ignored Zac's question and asked, "Which one is it?"
"Right here. Let's go in, assess the situation and take these guys back to the ranch. I feel like I need a shower and all I've done is stand in the hall." David said as he looked around.
"You're the leader." JJ said and made an 'after you' motion to the door.
A knock on the door made all three in the room flinch.
"Do you think that's the people you're expecting?" Jake asked in disbelief.
"Do you think the people you're expecting would knock?" Kenny answered as he walked to the door.
"Who is it?" Kenny called out as he approached.
"Clan Short." A voice responded.
"That's the password. It's our help." Kenny said with relief and started to unlock the door.
Kenny's relief turned back to worry as he saw the young man, barely an adult, leading a group of children into the room.
The young man looked around the room and immediately started talking to the people who followed him in, "Security, secure the area. Intelligence, survey the apartment, record anything that will justify 'Safe Haven'."
"Who are you?" Jake asked before anyone else found their voice.
"David Gallagher, from Clan Short of Vulcan. Kenny called me and asked for help." David said seriously.
"What kind of help can you be? There's about to be a war here, those kids are going to get hurt." Jake said forcefully.
"Secure." One of the boys, about twelve years old, a strawberry blond with collar length hair said as he walked back into the living room and stood a few feet from the front door.
David nodded, then said, "This is JJ, he's chief of security for Clan Short."
Kevin and Kenny looked at each other, both expressing their disbelief with their eyes.
A boy with shoulder length almost-white blond hair walked in to take a position on the opposite side of the doorway from JJ.
"And that's Gabe, the other head of our security team." David said seriously.
Kevin stared at Gabe for a second, then jumped up off the couch and ran to his bedroom.
"What's that all about?" David asked curiously.
"I don't know, give me a second to find out." Kenny said as he got off the couch and walked to the bedroom.
* * * * *
"Bro? You okay?" Kenny asked through the closed bedroom door.
"I almost forgot my pictures." Kevin said and opened the door.
Kenny looked down to see that Kevin had nearly filled a second pillowcase with papers.
"Oh, I thought you were freakin out or something. You alright?" Kenny asked with concern.
"Yeah. When we get where we're goin, I've got something to show you." Kevin said, then walked past Kenny to the living room.
* * * * *
As the boys walked back into the room they heard what Jake was saying. "I don't know how you got in here, but now you're stuck in here with us. There's no way we're getting out now."
"Let us worry about getting out. By the way, are you Jake?" David asked curiously.
"How did you know that?" Jake asked suspiciously.
"Kenny said you'd be coming back to help him find a way out. I just hadn't been introduced around. Let me introduce you to the rest of the team." David said then continued, "The twins are Jacob and Jamie. They're here to document that you needed help. I doubt that we'll be asked to prove it, but it's best to be safe. The guy with the ponytail is Zac, his shadow is Mark. They're here in case the rest of us are too busy to answer your questions. Their one and only job is to take care of you guys. Until this is all over, stick with them."
Jake looked around and said, "I'm Jake Samuelson, and this is Kevin Harris and his brother Kenny Harris."
"Waite." Kenny said quietly.
"Huh?" Jake asked in confusion at the request.
"My last name is Waite, not Harris." Kenny said as he wilted under the stares of all the people in the room.
"Okay, let's see about getting you guys out of here." David said seriously.
Just then 'firecracker' sounds erupted from downstairs in the building.
"If you're gonna do it, now's the time." Jake said with a quake of fear in his voice.
"Guys, I would like to take you to a safe place in Florida. When we get there, we'll sort everything out. Are you willing to go?" David asked as the sounds of screaming could be heard from a distant place deep in the building.
"Yes." Kenny said immediately.
"How do we know these guys ain't gonna do the same as Spade and put us to work for 'em?" Jake asked suspiciously.
"I don't have any way of proving it. But from the sounds outside your options are limited, you need to make a decision now." David said urgently.
"I'll take my chances here." Jake said as he held David's eyes, looking for his reaction.
"It's your choice. Kevin? Staying or going?" David asked seriously.
Kevin looked from Jake to Kenny and was obviously torn by the decision he was faced with.
"Can I come back if I don't like it there?" Kevin asked in a small, child voice.
"Yes, I promise. We're just getting you out now so you'll be safe. When this is all done, whatever happens will be up to you." David said as a loud thump was heard from down the hall.
"Yeah." Kevin said and discretely took hold of Kenny's arm that was between them.
"Okay, Kenny and Kevin, stand in front of Zac and Mark and I'll call for transport. Jake, if you'll stand over there, we'll be gone in a minute." David said and indicated a spot by the kitchen doorway.
Kenny picked up his suitcase and stood before Mark as Kevin picked up his two pillowcases and stood before Zac.
David opened a communicator and said clearly, "Terra main, we have nine persons ready..."
There was a loud 'crack' sound as the door tore away from the door frame.
Two big hulking men walked in and started looking around the room.
Gabe and JJ immediately drew their phasers as the first of the men to enter said, "Looks like we hit the jackpot."
"I'm Ensign Richardson, head of security for Clan Short of Vulcan. Leave these premises now." JJ said with strength.
The first man made a move toward JJ then froze in place as the stun setting of the phaser took effect.
The second man made a slight move and was stunned by Gabe before his gun could be raised.
"JJ, hall." David said seriously, then looked at the twins and said, "Intelligence, full profile for prosecution. Gabe, cover the twins."
Everyone was in awe at what they had just seen and finally Jake said, "You could've just taken us if you wanted to."
"We could, but we wouldn't. Kenny asked for help, Kevin agreed to accept it. We won't force anyone to come with us, it has to be their decision." David said seriously.
"Is it too late to change my vote?" Jake asked hopefully.
David smiled and said, "It's never too late Jake. Let me do something first."
David then rekeyed his communicator and asked, "Tommy?"
"Yes?" A voice responded.
"Could you alert Starfleet security that we'll be calling for a team to this location to take two into custody?"
"They're waiting for your call. Terra Main alerted them." Tommy said seriously.
"Good. Do you know if Aaron and Justy are back at Southcrest yet?" David asked with hope in his voice.
"Not yet, Uncle Josh just called here looking for them." Tommy said professionally.
"Thanks Tommy." David said with a smile and closed his communicator.
"JJ?" David called.
"It's clear." JJ called from the doorway.
"Call Terra Main security and let them know what help you'll need from them." David said seriously, then turned to the rest of the group and asked, "Are we ready to try this again?"
"Jake, please stand between Zac and Mark. Everyone, in a minute you're going to feel a little tickle. Just stand still and you'll see that you're in a different room, then keep standing still and you'll end up in Orlando." David said as he made eye contact with Kenny, Kevin and Jake.
"Zac, you do it. I need to stay here." David said and stood aside.
"Um, what do I do? I've never called for a transport before." Zac said apprehensively.
"Fake it. Just try to make it sound like you know what you're doing. That's what I did." David said with a smile.
Zac smiled in return, then got serious as he opened his communicator.
"Terra Main, the Clan Short party has five to beam to the Southcrest Ranch in Orlando." Zac said in a voice filled with false maturity.
"We've cleared traffic for you. Standing by." A female voice responded.
"Energize." Zac said and was immediately enveloped in a shower of sparkles.