Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Just as Jeremy, Tyler and Renaud took two steps towards the hallway to see what Therin was excitedly yelling about, Renaud started to see spots.
Renaud took a deep breath and placed a hand on the wall to support himself before he fell. "Whoa, dizzy." He managed to gasp out as he shook his head.
"Hey guys," Daileass said into the earphones of Jeremy and Tyler, "hold up. Renaud needs to eat. He just got out of the biobed and received more healing in eight hours than his body is used to. What should have taken weeks, we did in hours." Neither boy had ever heard that much concern in the AI's voice before. "I think Mama Janet made sure there was stuff for shakes and plenty of food in the kitchen."
Jeremy spun and saw the plight of Renaud. He moved quickly to his side and put his arm around Renaud. At nearly the same instant, Tyler took the other side just as Therin ran down the hallway.
"Hey guys, are you coming? Therin yelled. He turned and felt his eyes go wide upon seeing the plight of his friend. "Renaud, what's wrong?"
Renaud allowed the other two to support him as he tried to blink out the spots he was seeing, "Sorry, dude, the gas tank is empty."
Jeremy managed a smile, realizing that although weak, Renaud was pretty much himself. "He needs to eat Therin." He winced just a little as the weight of Renaud pressed down on him. "All the healing his body has gone through, the accelerated healing, must of really taken a toll. We need to get some food into him," Jeremy explained. "Give us a hand, so," he sent a playful, yet concerned wink at Renaud, "we can get his gas tank full." Nodding in the direction of the kitchen, Jeremy started to guide the group toward the nearest food supply he could think of.
"Here Therin," Tyler pulled up Renaud's arm, "take my place. I'll go ahead and get a good shake put together for him. Then we can put together some sandwiches and stuff for an after school snack."
Tyler ran ahead and got a shake put together just as Jeremy and Therin helped Renaud sit down into a chair at the table. Renaud took a sip of the shake and smiled, "This is really good!" Then he proceeded to drink the shake while the boys started to put together a bunch of sandwiches. They also found a pot of soup on the stove just waiting to be re-heated.
Renaud dug into all the food and it seemed like he would never get full. Finally, he pushed the last bowl of soup away and the plate that held another sandwich and said, "I haven't had food that good in a long time. It was really good," with a wink to Jeremy, "and it sure did fill the gas tank."
Tyler smiled, "That would be Dave's doing. He makes sure all of us kids have plenty to eat and would have known that you would have needed special food."
Jeremy nodded, "Yep, he can cook too! He always makes sure we have more than enough to eat."
"So, are you ready to see the rest of the house?" Therin wondered aloud, "Or maybe you need to lie down and rest Renaud. I can show you where our room is so you can get some sleep." Therin added with a great deal of concern, trying to help and take care of the boy who took such good care of him over the past months.
Renaud smiled and reached over to give Therin a sideways hug, "Yeah bro, I'm ready to lay down for a bit. Let's go."
The four boys made their way down the hallway to the bedrooms. Therin showed them the walk-in closet that had all new clothes and school uniforms for Therin on one side and all new clothes for Renaud on the other. There were two dressers full of shorts, socks, underwear and t-shirts. Therin took the lead as he helped Renaud lay down on one of the two full sized beds in the master bedroom.
Jeremy and Tyler then followed Therin into their room. They found a large queen size bed, a closet full of their clothes, a large chest of drawers; also filled with their clothes. Jeremy noticed their weapons cabinet from their room at the base was there also.
In the third bedroom they found four desks, each had a computer on it and everything they needed for school.
They made their way back to Renaud and the three boys sat on the bed. Renaud started to sit up and Therin helped prop up the pillows behind Renaud to help make him more comfortable.
Jeremy took the lead, "Alright, now that we're all here, we need to go over some stuff with the two of you and see what you want to do."
The boys took a few minutes to get situated. Jeremy plopped down with Tyler quickly sitting right next to him. Therin took up a bit more space as he curled into Renaud. Once again, Jeremy seemed to naturally take over the leadership role as he looked at the others. "I'm just gonna start from the beginning." He paused as he reconsidered his words, "Well, as close to the beginning as I feel I should, even though you all might know at least some of this already"
Jeremy saw both boys nod their heads in understanding. "First off, you know that I'm Second Lieutenant Jeremy Rose and that this is my boyfriend Sergeant Tyler Morse. You also know that we're from The U.N.I.T., the Military section of Clan Short, and we were sent here to protect the Sabre brothers. Unfortunately, all we know about that is that they are going to be a part of the Clan and the U.N.I.T.; they just don't know it yet. Now, what we didn't discuss is the Security Team that will be protecting the Sabre brothers." Jeremy paused and closely watched Renaud and Therin.
"The two of you are already part of the Clan and the U.N.I.T. and have been since the moment we found you and took you under our wing. You are our brothers." Jeremy informed the pair while nodding his head to let them know he was serious.
Renaud and Therin looked at each other and then Renaud said, "I get that, and I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for the two of you. Go ahead" then taking a deep breath, and sounding slightly choked, he finished with a barely heard, "bro."
Jeremy smiled, "Alright then, we will need to put together a team. We will need eight more people to make a team of ten. First, we needed to see how things are here. We still have more recon to do and that starts this evening at the soup kitchen."
Jeremy paused, to make sure the others were understanding him, then continued, "What I need to know, is if either of you want to be part of the Security Team that'll be assigned to protect and work with the Sabre boys?"
Before getting a response he quickly added, "This isn't an easy job. You'll need to go through extensive training in self-defense and weapons handling. It starts there, but there's even more involved. You'll have to be willing to protect them, even from themselves sometimes."
Renaud nodded his head, "I'm in, but I don't want Therin to be a part of this. He has school and a life to live. I want something better for him."
Therin sat up and stared at Renaud. The fact his mouth hung open showed the comment had hurt him, "WHY?" the youngster almost screamed, but didn't give anyone a chance to respond. "Don't you think I can do it? I'm strong enough. I want to be a part of it…" His eyes darted across the faces of the others as he added, "I gotta protect Talon."
Looking down at the bed he whispered, "I may not be able to have him love me the way I love him, but I can protect him… be there for him. He stopped and stared into Renaud's eyes with an unflinching resolve, "I need to do this Renaud, please let me try." Therin looked back up as tears started to form in his eyes, "And if I find out during the training that I can't do it, then I'll back out and do something else."
Renaud remembered feeling that way once. He immediately softened his own emotions, reached over and pulled Therin into him to hug him. He placed his cheek on the top of Therin's head and softly spoke, "Okay bro. If you feel that strongly about it, then I won't stand in your way. I didn't know you felt that way. It's alright, I love you bro."
Renaud tensed for a moment when those three little words came out of his mouth. He hadn't said them in so long. He hadn't allowed himself to feel for so long, and in the back of his mind he heard, 'Rule number one. Don't let someone into your heart... they'll only hurt you.' Renaud then hugged Therin a little harder and thought to himself, 'And I wouldn't exchange that hurt for anything, because loving you Eddie was the best thing to ever happen to me, I was so happy.'
"You don't hate me?" Therin sniffled, "I mean…for loving another boy?" Therin then glanced up at Renaud with a vast amount of hope.
"Of course not!" Renaud hugged Therin tightly to ease the boy's fears, the tone of his voice adding another level of comfort. "You're my little bro and I'll always love you. I really didn't even realize how much you meant to me until just now. You know, before it was just keeping you safe, keeping you off the streets, saving you from going through what I went through. But now...damn kid if you didn't work your way into my heart somewhere along the line." Renaud then smiled down at Therin.
Therin smiled back at Renaud through watery eyes, "I love you too, bro. Thank you." Therin then snuggled in and accepted the tight hug from Renaud.
Jeremy and Tyler smiled at each other. Tyler thought over to Jeremy, 'The healing begins and we got to see a small breakthrough.'
Jeremy nodded as he easily switched back into his 'command mode' again, "Okay then, now we need six more kids. We can either enlist some from the U.N.I.T. or see if there are any friends here that you think might be good candidates for the job. The Sabre's might be more comfortable around people they know."
Renaud's forehead crinkled some, a sure sign of deep thought. After a few seconds he sighed, "I might know a few. It's been years since I talked to any of my old friends, but there are a few that I could try talking to now."
Therin just shook his head, "I don't know that many people. I never was good at making friends. My dad was my best friend and when he died I lost everything."
Jeremy gave Therin an understanding nod, the compassion and moisture in his eyes betrayed that he was thinking of his own father. "Alright then. Therin, are you going to go with Tyler and me to the soup kitchen or are you going to stay here with Renaud?" He then looked over to Renaud, "You, Renaud, need to get some sleep and heal."
Renaud just nodded his head in understanding. "I know I need the rest, so I'm good with staying here right now. But as soon as I get healed, don't think for a moment that I'm not going to pull my own weight."
Jeremy laughed, "I never thought that I would be able to." Jeremy reached over and touched Renaud's shoulder, "I care about you and just want you to get your strength back."
While this was going on Therin looked back and forth between Renaud and Jeremy. Therin couldn't make up his mind, stay and take care of his bro or go and get to see Talon.
Renaud made up his mind for him, "Go bro. I'll be just fine here. I'm just going to lie down and sleep."
Hearing this, Tyler touched his ear to activate his com, "Hey Daileass, can you transport in two more communicator's for Renaud and Therin?"
"Sure thing Tyler, here ya go." Daileass voice eagerly chirped with a giggle just as two ear communicator's showed up on the bed in front of Tyler.
"Thanks bro!" Tyler eagerly responded as he picked them up and helped Therin put one in his ear while Jeremy took the other and helped Renaud with his.
Tyler then stood, but added, "Okay, now if you have any problems while we're gone, just tap your ear and Daileass will be able to talk with you and get you whatever you need. Even if he needs to transport you back to the base. Whatever you need, got it?"
Renaud smiled while he was stretching out onto the big comfy bed getting ready to get some serious sleep "Yep," then he yawned, "Got it. Now go, you got work to do and I gotta heal so I can start pulling my weight."
Therin got up and put a cover over Renaud and then leaned over and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I'll be back soon. Get some rest, bro."
With that, Jeremy, Tyler and Therin headed out to start the walk to the soup kitchen.
At the Sabre home:
All three boys dashed into the house and ran up the stairs to their rooms. Katie smiled as she sauntered in, set down her purse and the keys to the Jeep and then headed to the kitchen.
All of a sudden she heard the thunderous sound of three boys running down the stairs and Ulee yelling, "Mom, what's there to eat?"
Katie laughed, "Ulee, is that all you can think about, food? I swear, if you didn't eat every half an hour you might wither away to nothing." Katie grabbed Ulee and hugged him just before he ran into the kitchen. Jackie and Talon weren't too far behind.
Ulee giggled, "No, that isn't all I can think of. But, umm, mom, what do we have to eat?"
Katie tickled Ulee, "Get on over to the table while I bring you each a sandwich and a bowl of soup to hold you over until we go to the St. Lufthild's tonight."
All three boys sat down to eat. "I have some work to do in my office; don't let me forget the time boys." Katie said as she left the boys to eat.
As soon as she was gone, Ulee took a bite of his sandwich. Once he finished chewing he looked up from his plate with a serious expression, "Um, guys, I really need to talk to you about somethin'."
Jackie and Talon both looked up at the same time. They had started eating their soup as they wanted to eat it while it was still hot. Jackie nodded then added, "Okay bro," he then took another spoonful of soup.
Talon swallowed his spoonful, "the floor is yours Ulee?"
Ulee pulled his soup toward him and started to eat it, he tried to put his thoughts together while eating a couple of spoonfuls of soup. He set his spoon down and looked over at his two brothers, "There are two new boys in my class, and they won't talk to anyone, not even me. They're twins and just always sit off by themselves. I've been trying to be their friend, most of the time I just sit with them and talk and they just look at each other." Jackie and Talon could hear the frustration and confusion in Ulee's voice, "Kinda like they're talkin' to each other but they won't talk to anyone else. What can I do?"
Talon looked at Ulee with understanding showing in eyes, "I have a new kid in my classes also, real quiet like." Talon's voice dropped to a whisper, "Dwayne tried to bully him today so I stepped in and had Brody sit with us at lunch." He took another bite of soup before he continued in a more normal tone, "He won't say much either and barely said two words during lunch. I have the same problem bro."
Ulee let out a sigh of frustration, "The two guys in my class are Colton and Clayton."
Talon thought for a moment and Jackie just watched the two of them while he thought. Then Talon continued, "Hmm, Brody wears this straw cowboy hat with a shell necklace, choker like, around his neck. Like he is tryin to fit in, but you can tell he isn't from here. Always lookin' around like he's afraid of something or someone."
Ulee scrunched up his face. Jackie could tell that he was thinking about the twins' actions with the way Ulee drew his eyebrows together as he squinted his eyes. Ulee finally looked at his brothers, "Yep, that's how the twins are always lookin. Do you think they could be brothers?"
Talon shrugged his shoulders, "not sure bro."
Jackie let out a small laugh; he wasn't used to hearing his brother's sound so serious. "Well, the two of you could try inviting them over here. Maybe we could try to help them out somehow."
While Talon and Ulee shook their heads, Ulee took another bite of his soup then added, "I don't think they'd come over. They don't trust anyone."
Jackie let out a sigh, "Yeah, I get that." Then he took a bite of his sandwich; then talking with his mouth full added, "Just keep tryin." Jackie swallowed, "They might surprise you one day and say yes. Then we can really help. We can't do anything until they trust you." Jackie then took another bite of his sandwich, "Keep doin what you're doin bro and gain their trust. Then, when we get them here, we can protect them and help them."
Ulee and Talon looked at each other, Ulee followed Jackie's example by taking a bite of his sandwich before saying, "k, and thanks."
Talon swallowed before speaking, "yeah bro, thanks."
Jackie couldn't help but laugh before he went back to eating.
All three boys finished their after school snack and then went to their rooms to do their homework.
A few hours later, Katie hollered up the stairs, "Boys, it's time to go to St. Lufthild's."
A couple minutes later she heard the thunder of the boys running down the stairs. She picked up the keys to the Jeep and met the boys at the door. This time Jackie got the front seat as they pushed and shoved each other in their race to the car.
Katie just rolled her eyes at their antics, got into the car and as soon as the boys had their seat belts on, started to drive to the soup kitchen.
When they got there, they saw a line already waiting outside of the door. As soon as Katie parked the Jeep, the boys jumped out and ran to help out. They didn't even notice Jeremy, Tyler and Therin standing off to the side watching everything.
Therin frowned, "What are we supposed to be doing anyway?"
Jeremy smiled at him, "Watch, learn, and protect."
Therin just looked at Jeremy, "That sounds boring. We're just supposed to stand here and watch them?"
Tyler giggled, "Yep." He then looked over at Therin and added, "This part of the job is ninety-eight percent boredom, but the two percent adrenaline rush when shit happens makes up for it."
Jeremy couldn't help but laugh at that explanation. Jeremy then reached up to his ear, turning on his com, "Daileass? Do you have our location locked down?"
"Of course I do Jeremy, there's a camera at the bank just up the street and the store you are standing in front of has another one that I've locked into as well." Daileass was giggling, "I always find eyes as soon as possible."
Jeremy smiled then rolled his eyes, "I should've known that."
Inside of Saint Lufthild's the Sabre boys were running around helping to get everything ready to feed everyone that was outside. Finally, Ulee walked over to the doors and opened them up. "Come on in, we're finally ready for everyone." He stood there smiling and welcoming everyone that walked through the door. Some of the people even gave him a hug, as they were so used to seeing him there.
Tyler was looking around and noticed a young boy standing further up the street. He stood up straight and looked right at the boy. Then he remembered where he had seen him. He nudged Jeremy and, with a sideways nod of his head, Tyler had Jeremy looking in that direction. Therin automatically looked where they were.
Tyler whispered, "That's the boy that was with the dealer that Renaud used to get his drugs. I wanted to go back, rescue him and shut down the dealer as soon as possible."
Tyler, Jeremy and Therin heard Daileass, "I already had that taken care of for you Tyler. I knew that with you being on your mission that you couldn't take care of it right away. Another strike team already took him out. Unfortunately, the boy ran before we could get to him."
Tyler looked thoughtful, "Thanks bro. That scum needed to be taken off the streets. Were there any other kids that needed rescuing?"
"Nope, he was more of a small time dealer. He was working under someone else. We only have a street name and are still working on figuring out who it is. We only know about this boy." Daileass replied, then he giggled, "And the dealer doesn't like the prison planet."
Jeremy and Tyler put their hands to their mouths to cover a laugh while Therin looked on confused. "Later Therin, we will fill you in. Right now we need to go and talk to that boy over there and see if we can convince him to go to the house with us and get off the streets."
Upon hearing his, Therin did something Jeremy and Tyler didn't expect. He stood up as tall as he could and said, "Let me do this. I can talk to him."
Tyler and Jeremy saw the determination in Therin's eyes so they silently exchanged glances and decided to go with the flow.
Therin smiled, took a deep breath to steady his nerves and try to get up his confidence. He knew he needed to do this. If he couldn't do this, then maybe he wasn't cut out to be part of the security team. He knew he needed to try. Therin then gave a quick nod to show he was ready. Calmly and slowly he started to walk over to the boy.
Therin tried to walk towards the boy looking like was just out walking. He studied the boy out of the corner of his eye. He was surprised to see that the boy looked to be a little younger than he was, maybe nine, he was guessing. Wearing a worn out wife beater shirt, the boy was leaning back against a building. He looked thin and small with dark brown hair hanging in his eyes. Therin also noticed that he had purple bracelets around his wrists.
Therin noticed the boy carefully watching him. He slumped his shoulders some and continued to walk towards him. As he got closer he noticed the boy stiffen, but he didn't look like he was going to run, this gave Therin some measure of hope. Walking up to the boy, he leaned back against the wall next to him and just looked over at the soup kitchen.
Softening his voice to just above a whisper Therin attempted to talk, "Hey there. I'm Therin. What's your name?"
The boy looked over at Therin, he didn't seem threatening. He was so tired of not having any friends that he answered with a nervous stutter, "S, Sss, Scout."
Therin glanced over and smiled, "Scout, that's different. I like it." With a nod of his head over towards the soup kitchen he added, "You going to go in or are you just going to stand here and stare over there."
Scout risked a glance up at Therin, and then shrugged, "Wasn't sure. Don't want to end up in some home just 'cause I'm hungry."
"Well, come one. Let's go in and get you something to eat. While we're eating, we can talk. Ya know, get to know each other." Therin started to push himself up off the wall.
Scout didn't look so sure and stayed right where he was, he whispered, "But what if they try to send me to a home."
Therin smiled, "I know the boys in there. I'll just tell them you're going home with me. That you just came to live with us today. They don't know that I didn't have a home either, not until just a few hours ago."
Scout looked up at Therin in shock. He would've never guessed that this boy lived on the streets. He wasn't tough looking.
Scout agreed with a hint of skepticism, "'K, but if things go bad, I'm runnin. Not stickin round to end up with a bunch of no do gooders. Been there, done that and all it did was get me beat all the time."
Therin agreed, "No problem, I understand that. I'd run too. And I will too, you start getting scared and we'll leave. No questions asked, just tell me and we'll leave together. Deal?" Therin stuck his hand out to shake.
Scout looked at the outstretched hand and replayed what Therin just said. No one ever stood by him before. Scrunching his eyes in disbelief, he shook Therin's hand, "Yeah, but I'll believe it when I see it. Let's go. I'm starving."
The two boys headed across the street and entered Saint Lufthild's Soup Kitchen. Neither of the boys noticed that Jeremy and Tyler were still watching them, and that both of them had smiles on their faces. They both stopped in the doorway. Neither was sure what to expect. What they didn't expect was Ulee.
A very exuberant nine year old ran up to them, "Hi there! Hope you're hungry cause we have lots of food." Ulee pointed towards the food line, "You just go on over there and get a tray and start choosing what ya want. My bother Jackie will help put the hot food on your plate and my brother Talon will help you with your drinks. I'll make sure you got stuff to eat with and a napkin when you find a seat." Ulee smiled the whole time while bouncing up and down because there were new people here.
Scout almost took a step back. He didn't expect a boy his age to be welcoming him at the door. Talking Scout's elbow, Therin shyly mumbled, "Thanks Ulee." Therin then guided Scout over to the food line.
Things were going pretty good until they got to the drinks section. "Hey there Therin. What brings you to the soup kitchen and who's your friend?" Talon asked with a smile on his face.
As soon as Therin looked at Talon, and saw the dimples when he smiled, Therin started to get all shy and nervous. He started to shake, trying to think of something, anything to say to the boy he had such a crush on. Instead, he dropped his food try and everything splattered all over the place.
Therin looked like he wanted to cry, Scout looked petrified. Talon just smiled even bigger, "Don't worry about it buddy." Putting a hand on Therin's shoulder Talon yelled, "Hey, Jackie, could you get Therin another tray and plate of food."
Jackie looked over, saw the mess and shouted, "Sure, new tray of food coming right up." Jackie went to the end of the counter and got a new tray.
Therin now looked totally mortified. He couldn't figure out if he wanted to laugh or cry, instead he whispered, "I'll clean up my mess. Sorry."
Talon grinned and gave Therin a sideways hug, "Nonsense, we'll get it. You aren't the first person to drop a tray of food and you won't be the last." Talon squeezed a little harder, trying to let Therin know everything was alright, "Really, it's no problem. Things happen."
Therin couldn't believe that Talon was hugging him. He smiled up at Talon just as Jackie walked up to them.
Jackie had a new plate of food in his hands and he stopped by Talon. "Hey there Therin. Why don't we find you and your friend a place to sit?"
Scout still couldn't believe that they weren't being kicked out. He followed Jackie and Therin to a quiet corner. "Here you go. What did you want to drink guys? I will have Talon bring over what you want."
Therin whispered, while looking down at the tray of food, "I'll, um, have a coke please." Scout nodded his agreement.
Right then, Ulee set down silverware wrapped in two paper napkins and a straw. "There's more if you're still hungry when you're done." With a smile Ulee walked off to talk to the other people in the room.
Just as Therin and Scout unfolded their silverware, Talon set two glasses of coke down in front of the boys. "Here you go. Enjoy." Talon patted Therin's shoulder, and then with a smile and a wink he walked away. Talon started to go around the room and checked on the other people to see if they needed anything else to drink.
Therin wasn't sure where to begin. He picked up his fork, took a bite of the beef stroganoff that was on his plate and sighed. "Well, how about I tell you a little about myself. That way you'll know me some."
Scout just nodded while he ate. Therin watched the small boy shovel food in as if it was his last meal. "Well, you know my name is Therin, Therin Lane. I had, I guess, a good life growing up. I had a good dad who loved me. He would always play catch with me and other games. But then he married my step-mother. She always complained that I was too old for my father to play with me. That I needed to make friends and my dad needed to be firmer with me."
Scout paused for a moment, wondering where Therin was going with this. He thought to himself, 'if he had such a good life, what's doing here with me.'
Therin's eyes started to tear up, as they always did when he thought of his dad. Swallowing, he continued, "Then my dad was killed shortly after school ended, and right after the funeral, my step-mother threw me outta my home. I was on the streets, didn't know where I was going to go, or what I was going to do. I never was good at making friends," then with a shrug he added, "just too shy." Therin giggled and winked, "Too shy, imagine that!"
He looked at Scout, "There I was, sittin on a park bench, and Renaud walked up and took me in. He's street smart, been living on the street since he was thirteen. He's sixteen now and the best friend I ever had. He's like a big brother to me. He fed me, found us a place to sleep, got me some clothes and made sure I went back to school. So, that is a quick rundown. What about you?"
Scout had finished his first plate of food and wanted more. "Umm, do you mind if I go get more before I tell you my story? I haven't eaten like this in awhile."
Therin smiled and made a motion to say "go ahead". Scout went up to the food line, he was waiting for someone to grab him and tell him that he had to go to one of those bad homes. When Jackie walked up Scout hunched down, looking like he was waiting to be hit.
"No one is going to hurt you here little buddy." Jackie whispered while leaning close to Scout over the food counter. Right when Scout looked up, he said again, "No one. You're safe here, and no one is going to make you go anywhere you don't want to go. You're safe with Therin. From what Talon told me, Therin is a good guy. You stick with him. Now, you ready for more."
Scout just nodded with a shocked look on his face. When he took the new plate of food, Jackie added, "You're welcome here any time. And whenever you just need someone to talk to, you come in here or the church and ask for Father Morgan. He knows how to get a hold of us and Ulee, Talon or myself will come down here to talk." Jackie looked serious and he emphasized and asked, "Anytime. Alright?"
Scout couldn't help but look shocked and just nod again. Jackie knew that it would take time to gain the boys trust. And he could wait. Jackie smiled and Scout turned and walked back to the table, set his plate down, sat down, picked up his fork and took another bite of food.
With a deep sigh, Scout began, "My name is Scout Renninger. I'm nine years old." Scout looked around for a minute to make sure no one was listening. He didn't talk with his street tuff speech, instead he reverted to a scared little boy, "When I was four my mommy was killed by a bad man. My daddy said that the man didn't want to pay my mommy for something and so he killed her. I found out later that my mom was a prostoot. Then when I was five, I found my daddy dead. There was this white powder stuff that he used to sniff all over the place. I screamed and cried and held him." Scout looked up and tears were running down his face.
Sniffling, he continued, "I begged him to come back and was still begging him when my Uncle come in the front door. He saw me holding my dad and just said, "Looks like you're mine now childe" and I didn't want to go with him but I had too."
Taking a deep breath to continue, "He took me home with him and I learned that he was the one selling the drugs. I figured out what the white powder stuff was and what my mom was doing. He hated my daddy because he won my mommy's love and my Uncle was the one who wanted her. So, he took his anger out on me every day. Made me help him sell his drugs. He," Scout swallowed, took another deep breath, "He used me. Said he was using me the way those men used my mommy since I was her son. He laughed when it hurt." The tears falling from Scouts deep brown eyes were falling even harder now.
"Then last night, some kids came and, and, they stopped him. I ran and hid. But I watched them. They took his whole operation down. I heard one of them calling for me but I wouldn't answer. I didn't know who they were so I stayed hid. I didn't want to be no one else's property. Been wandering and hiding ever since." Therin moved around the table and hugged Scout close to him.
All this time, Jackie, Talon and Ulee were carefully watching the table that the boys were at. They saw Scout begin to cry and then Therin move over to hold him. Somehow, the three Sabre boys had migrated close to each other so that they were standing with Jackie and Talon next to each other and Ulee standing in front of them. Talon whispered, "I think this is one kid you don't have to worry about trying to rescue Jackie. Looks like shy, timid Therin took this one on himself." Jackie just nodded and smiled.
While Therin was holding Scout and trying to comfort him, he heard in his ear, "Therin, you need to tell him about Jeremy and me. We will tell him about his Uncle when we meet him. It was one of our strike teams that took his operation down. They went there to rescue him."
Therin sighed and whispered, "K". Holding Scout close, Therin talked softly, "Scout, I have two friends outside," Therin felt Scout stiffen so he held him tighter, "Shh, it's alright. They are part of what is called The U.N.I.T.. They rescue kids all over, just like Clan Short and are a part of the Clan. We want to help you and take you to our house. We just got a new home and can make room for you. The U.N.I.T. got it for us. Will you let us help you and protect you? Please?"
Scout listened to Therin and heard the soft plea at the end. He never had anyone who wanted to help and protect him. He leaned into the hug and nodded. He was tired of fighting to survive. Maybe they could help him. He heard whispers about the Clan on the streets but his Uncle had kept him pretty isolated, so he didn't know what they did. Only that a lot of bad people didn't want them around.
Therin loosened his hold, leaned back a little and grinned, "Good, now you should finish eating and then we'll head for home. Jeremy and Tyler are waiting outside and Renaud is resting back at the house. If you want, you can share my bed for now until we can get you one."
Scout smiled through his tears, "K, that sounds good." He sat back up and started eating again with renewed vigor. Therin moved back over into his seat so he could finish eating also. Once Scout finally got his fill, after two more plates of food, they were getting ready to close the doors. Father Morgan and the Sabre family were hugging and telling people good night.
When they got to the doors, Talon hugged Therin and whispered, "Good job tonight. Take care of him." Then Jackie patted his shoulder with a smile and Ulee hugged Scout. Therin couldn't believe it. He got two hugs from Talon and he had a smile on his face that shined.
When they got outside, Therin guided Scout over to where Jeremy and Tyler were hiding and watching the soup kitchen. "Jeremy, Tyler, this is Scout Renninger. Scout, this is Jeremy and Tyler. Good friends of mine." Therin said as he made the necessary introductions.
Jeremy and Tyler smiled at Scout and Jeremy smiled, "Ready to go home Scout? We already had a set of bunk beds put in the room and Renaud knows that you are coming home with us."
The name finally registered, "Renaud, is he alright? My Uncle used him too. Paid him for it and gave him drugs. My Uncle had me try to give Renaud some poisoned stuff but he smelled something was off and I got beat for not bringing the good stuff. But I was so happy that Renaud wasn't going to get hurt by what my Uncle wanted to give him that I didn't care that I got a beating last night." Scout rambled on knowing that he was going to see someone he knew soon.
It hit Therin at how close he had come to losing Renaud twice in one day. It was Therin's turn to break down in tears. "What would I have done if he died? Thank you God for saving him."
Jeremy pulled Therin close and held him. "Shh, you didn't lose him. And right now we need to head for the house. The Sabres just left for home."
Therin nodded and hugged Jeremy. He was so thankful to have friends that cared. He heard Jeremy say, "Daileass, is there any way you can transport us to the house. This has been an emotional night for two of the guys here."
"Yep, I have a fix on your location and porting, now."
All of a sudden Scout found himself standing in the living room of a house. "What? How? Where?" He asked in shock while turning in a circle looking around the room.
This brought a smile to Therin's face. "This is home Scout. Our new home. You want a tour?"
Scout could only nod. Therin started with the living room and showed him all the rooms in the house. When they got to his and Renaud's room you could hear him say, "And this is our room, and the bunk beds there are ours. Renaud sleeps over there. This is our closet and we got new clothes." Then you could hear excitement in Therin's voice as he shouted, "Hey, you got new clothes too. How kewl!"
Two things hit Jeremy and Tyler right away. One, Therin didn't introduce Scout to Renaud and two; Therin said "Renaud sleeps over there." He didn't say "and that's Renaud asleep over there." They looked at each other and ran down the hallway and into the room.
It was at this time that it hit Therin that Renaud wasn't in his bed, asleep and resting. Therin turned around from looking in the closet and stared at Renaud's bed. You could hear the concern and fear in his voice as he asked, "Where is he? He isn't in the house." Therin started to panic then, "We gotta find him! His isn't better yet."
"Don't worry Therin, we'll find him. Daileass?" Jeremy asked and waited for an answer.
Shortly after Jeremy, Tyler and Therin left the house; Renaud got up and wandered into the kitchen. He put a sandwich together, got an energy drink and went out the back door to sit outside. He noticed a patio with a few tables and chairs through the window earlier. He really wanted to see the night sky and just be outside in the fresh air.
He ate his sandwich while listening to the night sounds. He didn't get to enjoy the night like this since he was thirteen. Renaud sat back and thought of the time before he was thrown out of the house. Then it hit him. Renaud tapped his ear piece and said, "Um, Daileass? Can you really hear me?"
"Yes, Renaud, I can hear you. Is everything alright?" Daileass asked. He didn't expect to be hearing from Renaud.
"Yeah, um, yes. Everything's just fine. I was wondering though; can you find out if Chad Alden still lives here, in the Vallée Plaisante? He was a friend of mine, a long time ago." Renaud asked and explained.
"Yes, I can find that out. Give me a minute. But, shouldn't you be getting some rest? You should be asleep. You went through a lot today and had us all worried about you for a while there." Daileass inquired.
"I couldn't sleep. I haven't had a good night's rest in years. I don't remember how to sleep at night anymore. I've spend too many nights out on the streets to be able to just shut off the instinct to be moving and surviving." Renaud paused for moment, "I don't know how long it will take me to be able to sleep and rest peacefully in the evening Daileass. When morning gets here, I might be able to rest then." Renaud sighed, and stared at the night sky.
"And you're alone right now. Maybe when Jeremy, Tyler and Therin get back and you know there is a physical presence in the house you might be able to rest more." Daileass paused for a moment and then continued with a smile in his tone, "Ah, there they are. I have a Chad, Travis and Mark Alden, living with their parents and it looks like they have been in the same home since Chad was born. They also have the same phone number."
Renaud stood up slowly, "Good, it looks like I'm going to be heading into town Daileass. And since I have you with me, I will keep the ear piece activated, just in case something happens and you need to transport me to the base or home. Alright?"
"I don't like this. But I have a feeling that no matter what I say, you're going to go anyway so, any signs of trouble you better tell me right away so I can get you here to the base. Deal?" Daileass scolded Renaud. He didn't like this one bit. And short of transporting him home every time he stepped out of the boundaries of the house, Daileass knew he would just have to be there in case something went wrong.
"Deal." Renaud agreed. He went inside and got a light jacket and headed out the front door. He started a slow walk into town and headed towards the Alden home.
During the walk towards town, Renaud thought about his friend Chad. They swam together and wrestled together on the school teams when he was younger. The day that he won first place, Chad took second. They were so happy. Renaud could see them jumping up and down and hugging each other. Chad threw his arm around Renaud's shoulder while they talked and accepted congratulations from their team mates and the coaches. Then he went home, and his whole world changed. That day was one of the best and worst of his young life.
Renaud shook his head and realized that he was standing on the sidewalk in front of the Alden home. He was so lost in his memories of him and Chad growing up that he didn't even realize that he was already at the Alden's house. He stood there staring at the house, not sure what to do now. He started to look around, "I need a joint, calm my nerves."
"No you don't Renaud, you can do this without one. I know you can. You just think you need one. Talk to me, don't give up yet. Please!" Daileass responded immediately with a pleading tone to his voice.
Renaud ran his hands through his hair, making the long strands spike in all different directions. "I know I don't." The frustration showed in his voice. Then he leaned his head back and looked at the night sky, "Damn, this is hard." Then more to himself, "Just a habit to get through the pain, there is no pain now, you can do this."
"Yes, you can! And we'll help you Renaud. You aren't alone anymore." Daileass softly said, with so much compassion in his young voice.
"Thanks Daileass. I needed that." Taking a deep breath, Renaud looked at the front door of the Alden house just as it opened.
"Ren, is that you?" Chad couldn't believe it. A big smile flashed across his face as he ran out of the house and threw his arms around his best friend. Right after he hugged Renaud, Chad pulled back and his whole expression changed to anger and hurt as he punched Renaud in the arm. "What the fuck man? What the hell happened to you? You just up and disappeared and never called or wrote! Do you realize how worried we were?" Chad started yelling.
While he was yelling he would walk away, think, turn back, yell, and repeat. "We looked for you everywhere we could think of. My parents hired a detective to find you, man. Where did you go?"
"Your parents looked for me? They hired a detective?" Renaud asked in shock while rubbing his arm where Chad had punched him, "Why?"
"Why? I can't believe you sometimes. Why? Because we love you!" Chad walked up to Renaud and pulled him into another hug and just held on this time letting tears fall from hazel eyes as he sobbed, "We thought we lost you. I thought you died."
Once Chad's crying started the ease, he pulled Renaud to the front porch so they could sit on the steps like they used to when they were younger. "My parents got a phone call from your father. He told them that you were a sinner and perverted. That if we harbored you, he would ruin our family. Man, my dad flipped out. He told your dad, in no uncertain terms, that as soon as you showed up at our door you would have a new family that loved you for who you were." Then Chad looked down, and softly explained, "But you never showed. In the morning we all started searching. We couldn't find you anywhere. My dad filed a missing persons report and hired a private detective. It was like you just vanished from the face of the earth."
Renaud swallowed hard. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He thought how different his life would have been. And then he saw Eddie in his mind and a soft, sad smile showed on his face as he thought to himself, "but then I would have never met and loved you Eddie."
Renaud looked over at Chad, "I, um, took a bus to Shreveport. I don't think you want to know how I survived on the streets. Let's just say that most of the past three, well, almost four years, hasn't been pretty. My dad said he would kill me if I stuck around, so I just ran." Silent tears fell down Renaud's face.
Chad draped his arm around Renaud's shoulders and they just sat there, each lost in his own thoughts. The Chad whispered, "But you're home now Ren. That's what matters. You came home where you belong." Then Chad pulled Renaud closer and they both cried as Renaud put his arm around Chad's waist and held him tight.
The front door opened and three more boys came outside and sat down on the steps above Chad and Renaud. "Are you going to stay with us Ren?" Mark, the youngest brother, asked.
Renaud let go of Chad and the two boys moved over, one to each side of the three boys and he looked at them. He couldn't believe how they had grown and changed. He smiled as more tears fell and simply said, "No, I have a home here now. I will be going home after a little while, Mark."
Then he looked over at the two boys sitting next to Mark. He laughed, "Well, Travis and Curtis. I always knew that wherever you were Travis, that Curtis wasn't too far behind. It's good to see you're still friends."
Renaud really looked them over. Chad, Travis and Mark all had brown hair and hazel eyes, but other than that, all three were so different in their appearance. Chad had his hair disheveled and short, Mark had a buzz cut and Travis let his hair grow a little longer than Chad's. They all had that long, slim, swimmers build. Then he looked over at Curtis, disheveled blond hair, pale green eyes, and same build. But with Curtis, there was a defiant look to his face. A look that said he wouldn't tolerate being messed with. Renaud used to think it was a look that spoke of trouble, now he knew it was a look that spoke of survival and determination.
Renaud heard Daileass talk softly through the com in his ear. "When the boys head home they are bringing a boy named Scout with them. He's the boy that was with the drug dealer you dealt with."
Renaud mumbled "Thanks Daileass," so he wouldn't be heard then smiled at then smiled at the boys sitting on the steps, "It's good to see all of you again. It's good to be home."
After a few moments of silence, Chad asked, "So what are you going to do now?"
Renaud thought for a moment, "Well, I'm going to be a part of The U.N.I.T. and Clan Short. There are two guys who are putting together a Security Detail for the Sabre brothers. It seems that the Sabres are going to be a part of the Clan; they just don't know it yet. Then, when they do become a part of the Clan, they are going to need a Security Team. So far there are four of us, but we need to bring it to ten. Jeremy said we could either find friends, people who want to help work with them, or we could recruit from the U.N.I.T. base. I don't know a lot about the Clan yet, but I'm learning. I just got healed up so I need to catch up on the news."
Before Chad could say anything, Travis spoke up, "Count me in then. I know Jackie from school. He's always protecting someone. They're good people. And the Clan is all about protecting and rescuing kids from abuse, or being homeless or whatever. I want to help."
Curtis was nodding his head, "Me too! Count me in."
Then Mark added, "They are always volunteering at that soup kitchen in town. Finding homes for kids that show up there. They never pressure, but they won't tolerate anyone picking on someone smaller and weaker. They keep all the bullies at school in line. Just today Talon stopped Dwayne from bullying the new kid. I want to join too. Talon is cool."
Chad looked at the three of them, "I don't really know them. But I know you Ren. I'll be there by your side like we always were. Friends. Count me in too." Then he laughed at the shocked look on Renaud's face and added, "You just got four more people for your team, man. You should be happy."
Renaud then had to ask, "What about your parents? What'll they think?"
Just then, Bill and Carina Alden opened the door. The boys didn't realize that the parents were listening at the door. Bill grunted, "What they think is that you all are standing up for a good cause. And if those boys need a Security team, then they couldn't ask for a better group of young men to stand by their sides. That is what we think."
Carina smiled and then made her way through the boys until she got to Renaud. Pulling him up off the porch step, she pulled him into a hug, "Welcome home. And I agree. It won't be easy. There is a lot of danger involved from what I have seen on the television. The Montana massacre just happened and so many children died." She pulled back and looked Renaud in the eye, then she looked at her three sons and their friend, "And I couldn't be prouder to know that all of you want to help. I will worry every single day, and pray that nothing happens to my boys, but I will stand proud to know that each and every one of you stands for a good cause and fight to protect those in need."
Renaud just nodded. He didn't know what to say to that. Swallowing so he wouldn't break down in tears again, he said, "I better get back to the house. I'm supposed to be resting." He looked at everyone and stopped at Chad. "I will get a hold of you tomorrow and let you know what is going on. Maybe the four of you could just come out to the house tomorrow after school."
"That would be great Ren. But, where are you living now?" Chad asked with a laugh.
That made Renaud laugh, "Oh, yeah. The U.N.I.T. rented the house right across the road from Jardin Haven du Marais."
Chad smiled and giggled, "Ah, the Sabre Plantation. We all just call it 'the Haven' for short or 'Garden Haven' at times. Well, the name does mean Garden Haven of the Marsh or swamp." Then Chad looked over at his brothers and Curtis, saw them nodding, "Alright. We'll be there after school."
Renaud smiled and then he heard Bill, "Let me get my keys and give you a ride home Ren. You look like you're getting tired and now that we have you home; I don't want anything happening to you."
Renaud just nodded and accepted another hug from Carina, "Don't be a stranger now. You may have a home, but this will always be another home for you to go to." Then Curtis, Mark and Travis stepped up and hugged him also, each saying something small to let him know he was missed and loved. Bill walked back out the door with his keys and Renaud and Chad followed him to the car.
Not a word was said on the drive to the house. When they got there, Chad got out with Renaud and hugged him again. Then all he said was, "It's good to have my best friend home again. See you after school tomorrow, man." Then Chad got back in the car, Bill waved and they drove away.
"Don't worry Therin, we'll find him. Daileass?" Jeremy asked and waited for an answer.
"He just got dropped off in front of the house and is walking in right...now." Daileass giggled.
The boys all turned and ran out of the bedroom and into the living room. Therin threw himself into Renaud's arms crying, "I was so scared that you left. Where did you go?"
Renaud stumbled at first; he wasn't expecting Therin to throw himself into his arms. He wrapped his arms around him and held him, "Shh, I just went and visited an old friend of mine. We used to be best friends. And, well, I guess we still are."
Renaud got Therin calmed down and maneuvered them to the couch so they could sit. He noticed the boy standing in the hall. He kept looking and it finally hit him as to where he knew the boy from, "Hey there little man. I see you got away from that jerk. Are you going to be staying with us?"
With all the emotions running threw him, Renaud totally forgot about Daileass telling him that Scout would be there.
Jeremy went over and put his arm around Scout. "Renaud, this is Scout. Therin talked to him at the soup kitchen tonight and Scout agreed to come and stay with us. One of our strike teams took down the drug dealer and Scout ran and hid." Jeremy lightly squeezed Scout's shoulder to let him know everything was alright.
Scout just nodded. He was afraid that Renaud wouldn't want him around. He waited and watched Renaud sitting there comforting Therin.
Renaud opened his other arm and motioned for Scout to 'come here' with his hand. Scout slowly walked over to where Renaud and Therin were sitting and sat next to Renaud. Renaud then wrapped his arm around Scout and whispered, "You're safe now little man. Welcome home."
Scout peeked up at Renaud and saw him smiling down at him and then he saw Therin smiling over at him. He peeked out and saw the same smiles on Jeremy and Tyler's faces. Scout leaned in and relaxed into Renaud's embrace.
Jeremy and Tyler sat down in two chairs by the couch and Jeremy asked, "So, what happened? What made you go into town?"
Renaud thought for a second. "I couldn't just lie in bed. It's been so long since I was 'home' in the evening and not working, that I didn't know what to do. I got up and ate. Sat outside on the patio out back, my memories started to wander and I thought of my friend Chad. I started to think about what you said about the Security Team and I knew that if I could just talk to him, that he would be someone that I wanted to cover my back. So, I went to his house."
Renaud laughed, "He hugged me and then punched me and yelled at me. He told me that his parents hired a private detective to try to find me all those years ago. All this time and I had a home to go to." Then Renaud sounded like he wanted to cry.
Stopping the tears, he continued, "We caught up about a few things and I told him about the U.N.I.T. and the Clan and what we're doing. Well, Chad, his two brothers Travis and Mark, and Travis' friend Curtis are all in. They all want to be a part of the team. They'll be here tomorrow after school to meet everyone. Now we only need to find two more people."
Scout looked up in confusion, "What team? Can I be a part of it, if all of you are?"
Jeremy smile and said, "Of course you can." Jeremy then told Scout all about the U.N.I.T. and Clan Short and about the team they were putting together and what they would be doing.
Scout looked back at Jeremy, "So, those kids in uniform. The ones that took my Uncle away, rescue kids and protect others. That is what this team is for, to back up the Sabre brothers?"
"Yep, that's right." Tyler said while they all watched Scout to see what he would say.
With a determination that he hadn't shown until now, he said, "Alright. I'm in. If it means helping those brothers and protecting others so they don't have to go through what I did, then I wanna be a part of the team too." Scout finished talking with a firm nod of his head to emphasize his point.
"Alright then, we only need one more to complete our team then. What do you say about getting ready to get some sleep?" Jeremy said as he stood and took Tyler's hand.
The other three boys also stood. Renaud looked over at Scout, "Hey little man, how about you go with Therin and he can show you where the shower is. When you are done in there we can all go and try to get some sleep."
Scout looked over to Therin and saw him getting up. Therin walked over and took Scout's hand, "Come on, I'll go with you."
The two boys went off down the hallway and then you could hear the water in the shower start and some giggling as the two boys got cleaned up and ready for bed.
Renaud looked over at Jeremy and Tyler, "I, um, hope I didn't over step there. I just needed to do something and knew that Chad was one person that I could trust before."
Jeremy went over and stood in front of Renaud, "You didn't overstep. I'm glad you found people that can be trusted. I can't wait to meet them tomorrow. We were just really worried because you still need to rest and heal. You're our brother now and we love you."
Renaud just nodded. He went from having no one, just Therin to protect; to having all these people helping and saying they loved him. He wasn't sure how to deal with all these new emotions yet. So, he just nodded again and walked down to his room. He carefully got undressed, keeping his boxers on and setting his clothes within easy reach so if he needed to dress quickly and move they were right there. Then he climbed into bed. The next thing he knew he heard Scout whisper, "I don't want to be alone tonight, can I sleep with you Therin?" Renaud opened his eyes to see Scout climbing up into the upper bunk and snuggling down with Therin. He closed his eyes and finally fell asleep.
While Renaud, Therin and Scout were getting ready for bed, Jeremy and Tyler went out onto the back patio. Jeremy pulled Tyler onto his lap. After holding him and kissing him for a while Jeremy whispered, "How about meeting me in our room. I just need a little time to talk with Adam and then I'll be right there."
Tyler kissed Jeremy, "I'll see you in a little bit. Tell Adam I miss him too."
"I will." Jeremy kissed Tyler one more time before saying, "Daileass, will you connect me to Adam please."
A short time later, in the next room Jeremy and Tyler were getting ready for bed, "This was an interesting day." Jeremy said as he held Tyler close to him.
Tyler agreed and snuggled down into Jeremy's arms and let sleep take over.
The Lady has done it again! What a cool chapter. So much has happened, it is neat to see the U.N.I.T. move in to help and see so much happen. I really like everyone that showed up in this chapter and we got to see so much more of Renaud and Therin. Gotta Love Renaud's best friend's family! What cool people they are. Seeing the Sabre's in action was cool too. They are good people and I can see how they would be guys that the U.N.I.T. and the Clan would want them to be a part of their family.
Can't wait for the next chapter!!!!
From you friendly neighborhood editing puppy,