Two hours had passed, seemingly in an endless drag, and Otto's large garage had once again filled with familiar faces, young and old. Kip and Tumbler had tried to protest, but Memphis, Sway and Otto himself would hear nothing of it. Someone needed their help, and whether they liked it or not, they were going to get it one way or another.

Memphis paced the room thoughtfully, leather jacket still covering his tall slim frame. His frosted blonde hair was neat and styled, his intelligent, gentle eyes ever watchful of the people around him. One hand rested near his mouth, as if in deep thought, the other on his hip firmly.

Otto hovered in the doorway to his office, Junie gone home for the rest of the day. The large lazy mastiff lounged sleepily at his heels, drooling generously. Otto's grubby overalls had been rolled up at the sleeves, and the rag hung limply from one pocket. He watched Memphis carefully.

Sway sat reversed in a spinning chair, leaning her chin on her crossed arms patiently. Her blonde dreadlocks rested around her face and on her lean feminine shoulders gracefully, light eyes looking around at the collection of friends and colleagues, new and old. She felt safe to be in such familiar company.

Donny Astricky had taken it upon himself to lean his large frame against the temperamental Ford, and his kind dark eyes admired it knowingly. His large hands were in his pockets now as his eyes flitted about to take in the small crowd. It had been a while in coming, but to him it had been inevitable that they all reunite sooner or later.

Sphinx, the large silent imposing figure that he was, held a switchblade firmly in one hand, proceeding to flick it out sporadically, pushing it down again with his free hand. His strong face looked as mean as ever, and the penetrating eyes never left the weapon.

Kip slouched in a grubby armchair at the far side of the room, hair gelled back, eyes staring at a nonexistent point on the wall opposite amidst tools and keys. He had been lost in his own little world for some time now, and had not said much in almost fifteen minutes.

Standing cocky as ever not too far from Sphinx, his dark sunglasses covering his eyes, was Mirror Man, nodding away to his own silent beat in his head. His bright, over-the-top clothing singled him out from everyone around him, and he seemed content to be so original and individual.

Hovering in front of an active laptop, typing away frantically and effortlessly was Toby. His blonde hair was wispy and somewhat tousled, as if their phone call had woken him from a much-needed sleep after a long night of surfing the net. His innocent eyes never left the screen.

Freb stood curiously, seemingly a little nervous, close to Otto, glancing at everyone frequently in turn. He sighed restlessly often, waiting for the plan of action to be announced, made public knowledge as it were. His all-black trademark clothing almost made him unnoticeable.

And finally, there was Tumbler, seated near Kip on a cleared workbench, not sure what to do with himself, eager to get his all over and done with as soon as possible. He didn't even want to be here, was much more concerned with getting everyone else uninvolved. It struck him that it was his fault... all of this. It was because of him that Kip had agreed to this. His blonde hair, lighter at the tips, was dishevelled, but still spiky as always, gelled into place. His blue eyes were observant and concerned. His youthful face wore a frown.

There was only one figure missing, and the reason for their ominous silence was because of this absence. They had contacted him, and were just waiting for his report on this threat. Lyle Shepherd... that was what Kip and Tumbler had called him.

As if on some sort of cue, Atley Jackson appeared in the doorway, swinging the wooden door closed behind his lank frame, looking down distractedly at a scribbled collection of notes on a crumbed piece of paper.

Memphis and everyone else along with him turned their heads collectively towards Atley, and waited, just like they had been for the last hour or so. It had in truth only taken a short amount of time for everyone else to arrive, but Memphis wanted to wait until Atley had arrived until he got down to business.

"I think we got ourselves a problem," Atley said without provocation. His shaded eyes met those of Memphis, sway and Otto, and he sighed loudly. "One Lyle Shepherd," he continued, flashing the paper momentarily, "is a convicted convict, charged in the past decade for just about everything under the sun. And I mean everything."

Memphis waited... more waiting. Why was everything determined to make him wait recently?

Atley's eyes scanned his paper as he read from it loudly, "Theft, attempted murder, assaulting a police officer, grand larceny, disturbing the peace, kidnap, causing grievous bodily harm."

Tumbler frowned considerably, and Kip glanced up at him on the workbench from his slouched position in the armchair. Kip furrowed his brow, and gave his friend a reassuring look.

Atley had moved across the garage, through the small collection of car thieves, young and old, and handed Memphis the paper. Memphis let his gentle eyes look it over, and groaned, rubbing his head once over, ruffling his light hair, before passing it to Sway. She let out a whistle, and discarded the paper, letting Otto take a glance.

"I think problem is an understatement," Otto commented quietly, laying the paper inside his office before Freb could take a look. The youngster frowned, tried to peek, before Otto was forced to actually close his office door to prevent him from doing so. There was something on that paper that they didn't want the young crew to see.

Sphinx and Donny sat patiently on their respective sides of the room, eyeing the others curiously. They would get their look later, they knew. They knew how to be patient. Years of boosting cars had taught them such endurance.

"So what exactly is it that we're doin' here?" Mirror Man asked bluntly after a moment of prolonged silence. He looked around through dark shades, and shrugged his lean shoulders, glancing hurriedly up at Sphinx. The large statue of a man simply blinked.

"We're waiting," Memphis replied, his eyes never meeting Mirror Man's. The young dark-skinned man waited, and then slumped his shoulders back against the wall, taking his hint to shut up and sit tight.

A few eyes darted momentarily in Tumbler's direction, and the young man tried his best not to notice, glancing to this and that as if he was distracted. Memphis knew he did realise the attention he was being paid though... he also knew Tumbler didn't like it.

Memphis sighed lightly, and made his way for the exit at a calm pace, tapping Sway on the shoulder as he went. She glanced up immediately, her eyes looking around once before she followed silently, a little meekly... odd for her.

Sway came to meet Memphis outside the door moments later, her blonde hair cascading in controlled tight locks over her feminine shoulder, her eyes curious. He had a purpose for calling her out here; she just didn't know what it was.

"What is it?" she asked quietly, careful not to let herself be heard inside the closed garage. She stood close to the taller figure of Memphis, as if the proximity helped to calm her nerves.

As Memphis touched her arm, she shuddered slightly. What had her so spooked? It wasn't as if Shepherd had threatened her life. But Memphis knew what it was almost as soon as he thought about it... it was the fact that someone she knew was being threatened so vehemently. Shepherd's record was impressively frightening.

"I think we ought to consider getting Kip and Tumbler out of Long Beach... Tumbler especially," Memphis informed her after a moment of serious consideration. It hadn't taken him long to come to the conclusion. It was the only sensible thing to do.

But Sway shook her head almost instantly. Apparently she did not agree. "No," was all she said.

"Why not? If he stays, then we risk getting him killed." Memphis was being insistent but not harsh in his words. He chose them carefully, spoke them cautiously. The last thing he wanted or needed was to offend the woman he loved.

"What happens if Shepherd finds out we shipped him outta town, huh? What do you think he'll do to the rest of us," Sway corrected firmly. "And then what's to stop him from tracking Tumbler down? Kip too if you send them both away." Another strong shake of the head. "They wouldn't be able to live with themselves if that happened... I know I wouldn't."

Memphis let the words sink in, and then embraced Sway tightly and affectionately. Sometimes she was so much smarter than him. She had a good head on her shoulders. He kissed the top of her head, and then her lips gently. He nodded.

"You're right," he whispered to her. Then he said louder, "All right... everyone stays... if they want to."

* * *

Tumbler had taken it upon himself to slump himself down in the far corner of the room, where it was quiet and distant from everyone else, and just think. He had been down here for a good ten minutes now, whilst everyone else talked. Memphis and Sway were still outside speaking secretly.

He didn't care what they were talking about. He just wanted everyone to leave... he wanted to go back to his apartment, lie on his bed, and think about how much of an idiot he was. All of his life, he had never let anyone use him like that... never.

His back was rested firmly against the wall behind him, his knees drawn up loosely in front of him and his elbows leaned on them. His hands dangled before his legs, and he spun one of his large rings round and round his finger as if it would help him think. Not that there was much to think about.

This was his problem... well, technically -to Shepherd at least- his and Kip's. Nevertheless, he wanted Kip out of danger. He wanted to handle this himself.

The door opened as his mind resolved itself, and his blue eyes immediately darted to meet the face of Memphis, followed by Sway, as he re- entered the garage. There was a look of certainty on his own face, as he motioned everyone to listen.

"I've been thinking," Memphis said loudly, drawing attention to himself, "and I've decided that not everyone needs to be involved in this... not if we're careful. With a little bit of deception, we can make Shepherd believe that everyone he wants involved is taking part. One car here and there if you're not willing, then there won't be any problems. I don't want anyone to feel obliged to put themselves at risk."

There was a moment of silence, and everyone looked at one another, fleetingly at Tumbler, who sighed and glanced at the floor, trying not to look bothered. He tried to give off an air of nonchalance, and wasn't sure whether or not he succeeded.

"So," Memphis continued purposely, "who's in?"